Tag Archives: surgery

I Walk With One.

3 Aug

Hasta la vista, Righty.

Took the noon surgical appointment yesterday, instead of my tried-and-true 6am.  Bad call. Left a little too much time to fill. Took Xia to school (Discovery Tree, best ever), went to the grocery store, lifted too much (but we seemed a little past that point), and headed home.  Bad headache, took a few tylenol, and threw up a few times.  Not eating was not a problem.

Then John took me to the hospital to lose a breast.  Again.  How tired he must be. We sat in the corner, our “regular” seats. With the air vent on full tilt, the two TVs blaring and the other waiting room waiters chatting, I folded over in my chair and put my forehead on John’s legs in front of me. And that’s how we stayed until the nurse came to get us 30 minutes later.

I’ve got Pre-Op down, amigos. They just copy my chart from last time and off we go. Lynn, Bonnie, you are both lovely.  Thank you. Nurses rock.  Dr. C., your anesthesia is, I’m sure, the bomb.  But it’s your humanness I like the most.  When they wheeled me into the OR, I was trying very hard to be a grown-up, and said, “I don’t know why I’m crying.”  Dr. C said, “Rebecca, with what you’ve been through, I’d cry too.” Thanks Dr. C.

And then I was out.

At home, John set me up with Saltines, Susan sent pizza our way (after hosting Xia for a swim date), and Dawn dropped off ginger ale and my favorite cookies. Yum.  While I was out, Xia drew a collage of a school bus, a fire truck, a train, Dora, and the featured piece, President Obama.  Then he taped it to his bedroom door.  That made me laugh.  For those of you who know my husband, you are laughing, too.  If you had told me a few years ago that John would let a picture of a Democrat hang in our home, I would have suggested you consider a crack pipe intervention.

Today, I feel better. I am trying to ignore that Right Drain is back. Instead, I am thinking of the endless t-shirts I can make for the walk:   I Walk With ONE.   Reconstruction Zone.  I’m a Little Lopsided.  Or how about my new friend, Mastectomy Barbi, screened onto a T?  Too much?

Becca

Skin. Eeek.

18 Jul

Ah Peeps. Guess what??  Back under the kuh-nee-fay. (Get it? Knife?) And here’s the best part.  My surgeon is using EFFING CADAVER SKIN. Oh My Lort, as Jana used to say.

Or as my brother, Andy, said just this evening… “It puts the lotion on its skinnnn.”  Barf.

As a tribute to my brother, I have decided to name my new cadaver skin Hannibal.  When I do something stupid, I will blame Hannibal.  For example, trip and fall?  Oh Hannibal, stop screwing with my equilibrium.  Drink too much? Hannibal, you moron, you know I don’t like tequila.

But Really.

I am pretty grossed out by this.  In the spirit of denial, the American Way, I am watching The 40-Year Old Virgin, drinking a little iced tea (no beer for me this surgery eve – that didn’t work out so well last time), and trying very, very, VERY hard not to think about the person whose skin I will incorporate tomorrow.

Eeesh.

WORSE THINGS THAN CADAVER SKIN:

– Bedbugs.

– Having to hang out with that weird guy on My Strange Addiction who is “married” to a doll.  Creeper.

– Clowns.

– Being allergic to Mexican food.

– Cancer.

See ya on the flip side.  Again.

Becca

A Day of Thanks.

12 Jul

Ay readers, another surgery today.  Don’t even ask. I’m so tired of this that I’m boring myself.  I will say that a few beers the night before a surgery does not make anesthesia sit well.  But I’d do it again because those Coronas were divine going down.

THANK YOU.

I have a Village of people who don’t think, they just act.  They inspire me to be better. They believe in random acts of kindness, and I am too often the lucky recipient.  A few shout-outs today:

To Jill. 

Who let me bitch yesterday about all this. And she let me bitch and bitch and bitch. She let me bitch, and listened to it all, while I forgot that her sister, Janet, also has BRCA2.  And Janet got to find that out by getting ovarian cancer.  I am ashamed of myself. Jill, being Jill, said nonsense, brought me food, helped with my son, and then served me beer.  Good friends know when you need a drink. And when I woke up to a medical emergency, Jill knowing my husband was out of town, rearranged her work schedule, came over, and got my butt to the hospital. Note – while I was typing this, Jilly popped over with some ginger ale.  See? What else do you say about a friend like this? (And let me tell you, after the time I’m having with the anesthesia, the ginger ale is much appreciated.)

To Holly.

Holly 001.  The 1 and only.  Who lets me text her gross details, lets me get frustrated, and always provides perspective.  Holly lost her mama, Juicy Lucy, to cancer just a few short months ago. Perspective.  My running theme.  This might be a breast cancer walk, but I’m walking for Lucy first and foremost.  Lots to say about Holly, but it boils down to this – when my son is proud of something he does, he always wants to show “001.” Kids see into your soul, and Holly’s is pure as snow.

To Andy.

Mi hermano, my brother.  Who, when faced with a decision, will undoubtedly take the craziest option.  But when faced with a family crisis, will rearrange his life.  Like he did when he picked me up from the OR today, got me food, demanded numerous times that I stop using my arm (eeek, the meds make me forget) then took my son to his house for the night so I could rest. Andy’s priorities are usually pretty much in the perfect order. (And he just taught Xia to say, “Uncle Andy is the best!”)

To the Two People in the Moving Truck.

In a frenzy yesterday morning after my doctor’s appointment, where I found out, alas, I was not quite finished with all this, I started crying. In anger, really.  Because I know that, in the scheme of things, this is not a big deal.  I escaped cancer, I should be dancing.  Instead, I was frustrated and irritated, and that made me even more frustrated and irritated.

While I was in my hyper state, I ran a red light.  Not a yellow light, not a close call, a full on RED LIGHT.  Wide-eyed and shocked, I swerved to avoid the cars, just missed them, then heard screeches and brakes behind me.  OMG.

I turned off and pulled over.  BREATHE.

I’d like to thank the people in the moving truck who followed me and pulled up along my driver’s side.  I am sure the man in the passenger seat intended to make a few unkind remarks, but when he saw my mascara-smeared-teary face, changed his mind, and asked if I was ok. Not in a mocking, I have to do this because she’s crying sort of way, but in a sincere way with a sincere look.

I didn’t know how to respond.  I almost caused complete vehicle mayhem, and you’re asking if I’m ok?  All I could do was apologize for running the light, to which he shrugged, smiled and said “things happen.”

Thank you. You’re a nice man.  I hope you stumble upon this so you know your good deed made me smile.

California (narcotic-induced) Dreaming

7 Jul

San Diego! A whole week of cool temperatures, a clear calendar and some R&R. Legoland, Sea World, boating and major walking were all on the books, and as an added bonus, my parents have a teen girl across the street who babysits. Let the festivities begin.

The blog took a hit this week so either I was having a wonderful time with a devil-may-care attitude or something got in the way of my written epiphanies. Enter hematoma.

Scene: July 4, 8:30am. I’m sitting at the breakfast table with my dad and son. Elbows on the table. Talking about, perhaps, doing a little walking. My mom wants us to see Cabrillo Point, a military cemetary covered in American flags that ends with a gorgous view. I would like Xia to see this. I think John would like to go and remember his dad, who served in WWII. The most strenuous thing I am doing is thinking about eating a bagel.

Hmm, that’s odd. My right side goes numb, like a huge charley horse set up camp in my right pec. Rotating my arm does nothing – I can’t feel a thing. Not one to suffer in silence, I jump up and announce, “THIS IS WEIRD.” This gets no one’s attention as most everything is weird in my family. I try, “MY BOOB IS HARD AS A ROCK.” This gets more of a response – some general interest, kind of like you’d see at a circus. But it wasn’t until I went to the mirror and saw that my right side had transformed itself into Pamela Anderson that I got the attention I was seeking. HOLY SHIZZLE, this is not normal. I kid you not, my right breast turned into a size F right in front of my eyes.

(Is this karma for posting that photo of Victoria Beckham??)

My family is a bunch of lawyers and writers – not a medical person among us – so we expertly decide my muscle must have swelled from the exertion of thinking about that bagel. The solution – lay down and ice it with a bag of peas. This seems to work for a lot of stuff so let’s try it. Unfortunately, this did a big, fat nothing except defrost a bag of veggies. Thanks to Rebecca C.’s quick response time and her father-in-law, MD for getting me up and to the ER.

9:30am. Scripps Medical Center ER. “HAPPY GD 4th!!,” I yell to the other patients in the ER! No, I didn’t, that’s the bitterness talking. And who would John and I have yelled that to? The guy sharing my room, who dropped the F-bomb 12,000 times while lamenting the loss of his girlfriend? The passed-out woman gurneyed into the hallway, snoring and clutching her bottle of cough syrup? Or the drunk woman who was getting yelled at by her drunk daughter who did NOT have all day. (Note – when you have a medical emergency on the 4th of July that you did not inflict upon yourself, you seem to get better service.)

9:30, 10:30, 11:30… Examinations. Wide Eyes (as in “Please take off your robe.”…”Oh wow, you aren’t kidding.”). Ultrasound. Lamenting neighbor gets discharged. Nice nurse brings John a sandwich. IV inserted by a nurse who doesn’t like my veins (why would she tell me that?). Diagnosis – we have a bleeder. Book an OR. Oh wait…we don’t have to book an OR because it’s the 4th of July. They’re all open. Take your pick.

SURGERY. Surgery is very different when you aren’t planning on it. There is no time to read waiting room magazines, no nice visit to a pre-op room where a lovely nurse asks you questions, introduces you to your anesthesiologist, and brings in your familliar surgeon. No versed offered to make you loopy before you ever see the OR.

When you come from the ER, you’re wheeled up with no fanciness. (I felt very Grey’s Anatomy. When they wheeled me into the elevators, I expected to see Meredith looking at me with that wistful “I’m hungry” look she has mastered so well.) Right into the OR you go, and might I remind you that I have not yet met anyone who will be holding a scapel. Someone handed us a CV of the surgeon, and uhhhh, it looked good, but what if it didn’t? My right boob is about to explode. It is so much larger than my left side that I literally look lopsided. The doctor could waltz out in a Donald Duck outfit and I’m sort of stuck.

Head covered, blankets on, handshake with anesthesiologist, quick briefing with surgeon, who has very friendly eyes, and off I go. Buh-Bye John. And no drugs so I’m very aware when they wheel me in for surgery. Big lights, lots of beeping. I pop myself over to the table on my own, and get restrained. I don’t love that part. Weird squeezy things are put on my legs. Still no drugs. The surgeon is sitting down reading my chart…because, hello, he only met me 30 seconds ago. The anesthesiologist is jovially chatting it up to whoever will listen which is, oddly, calming. The nurse is busying around, straightening blankets, pushing buttons. I get nervous and start talking. And that is, apparently, how you get drugs in this place. Buh-Bye Becca.

I woke up yelling. I have never done this before with anesthesia, but I had no idea where I was and was pretty forceful about needing to know. Post-op. On the 4th of July, it’s just me. And that’s that. I had a “sheared artery” that started filling up the implant pocket. How did this happen, you might ask, when all you were doing is thinking about a bagel? No one knows. Medical mystery. Harrumph.

*********

Perspective. I missed the 4th. I missed the 5th. I think about how much cancer patients miss, how many events and holidays, how many of the seemingly small, little details that make up a day. I think about my sister and what she missed. I think about the list my team will carry on our 3-Day walk, and how much those women missed. And how much their families miss them.

But I am also selfish. I am so, so, so ready for this to be done. I want my brush, my near miss with this disease to be over.

I missed holding my son on the 4th of July during the fireworks because I was hazy and couldn’t lift him. I missed being on the boat when he overcame his fear, stood on the seat and fell in love with the ocean air blowing his little face into a huge and giggly grin because I was sleeping off the anesthesia. I would very much like to feel 100% today for our trip to Legoland. Instead, sore, a little groggy, and with a drain full of blood hanging from my side that I will try to hide in a pocket, I will go and try not to miss anything.

Cancer sucks. I’m over it. I am more motivated than ever to walk these 60 miles. The irony is that I am not allowed to walk. The fundraising I can do – I can raise thousands of dollars to hand off to Susan G. Komen on a silver platter, but I am not allowed to walk.

Here’s hoping for next week.

Becca

Why I’m Walking 60-Freaking Miles.

13 Jun

A few months ago, I got a nagging feeling that I should be doing a little bit more in the fight against breast cancer.  Lip service is good, but breast cancer has touched a few too many people in my world.  The 3-Day walk was in the back of my mind, but I kept hoping something else would take its place and push it out.

3 Days??  60 miles??  Walking to my car from Nordstrom is an inconvenience for me.  And camping?? Come on now, people. I have hair extensions and botox – do I strike you as an all-pro camper?

Then, as luck would have it, my doctor said, “Holla, let’s carve you up some more.”  Okay, he didn’t say that.  He is a rather serious fellow and quite professional.  What he did say was that I was one of the lucky 10% of people where Reconstruction #1 didn’t hold so well.  So let’s go for #2.

And I was annoyed.  Really, really annoyed.  At no one, in particular, but annoyed all the same.  And I allowed myself to feel annoyed for the better part of a day, and I complained and whined, and said WAH, this surgery stuff is wearing me out. Wah wah wah.

The next morning, I woke up to my then-5 year old saying “Out of Bed, MAMA,” and I laughed. Not because waking up at 5am is all that funny, but because my patient husband and I have waited years for this little dragon to talk.  I thought, what if this next surgery was a “Dear God, I hope I live to hear my son wake me up another day” surgery, and not a “I think we can make you look a little better” surgery.

And that, my friends, is called perspective.

This is why I am walking 60 miles.  I do not have a burning desire to walk for 3 days, get blisters, and sleep in tents with port-a-potties as my morning fun.  I do, however, want to say thank you to those who have worked tirelessly in search of a cure.  I want to raise money for more research, I want to pay tribute to those who have lost their lives, family members and friends, and I want to do something for the bigger picture.

Want to follow along?  Please do.  My team is 5 members strong and hilarious.  Funniness to come.

Still Have to Start Training, Becca