We couldn't have been more lucky than to have such a beautiful Sunday before surgery! We played outside all day long! The boys played football, Rylie gave me lots of snugs, we had Steak and S'mores. We soaked all of the day in. I couldn't be more grateful to be able to have such a wonderful day with the family!
Day 1: Surgery Day arrived on April 25th. What seemed like the longest wait ever creeped up faster than I anticipated.
I dropped the kids off for school one last time for the school year and Jake and I set off for the hospital. It was a whirlwind after that. We met with the OR nurses, the anesthesiologist, and the surgeon. My reconstruction surgeon (for May 9th procedure) even stopped in. I was wheeled off to nuclear medicine, which was NOT pleasant. They injected some isotope into my nipple to "light up" my lymph nodes so the surgeon could find them during surgery. I would be ok never having to take that injection again!
After about three hours of prepped, I was wheeled into the OR for my double, simple, skin sparing, not nipple sparing double mastectomy. Staring at the bright lights above me, my surgeon told me to "pick my dream...to go back to Portugal....and to go to sleep." I felt her hold my hand as I fell asleep.
Waking up took a little longer than normal. Might be because it's my first time being under....or because I have sleep apnea tendencies. I did NOT wake up timely not gracefully. My wonderful, bearded nurse, was feeding me ice chips as I woke up....and I had to tell him to stop because I was short of breath. He told me it was likely because they had me wrapped up so tight. My oxygen was at 100%. I told him it was getting worse. I found myself in a full on panic attack. He tried to soothe me with lavender aromatherapy and some calm music. The drugs would keep making me fall asleep and then I'd stop breathing. I'd wake up to the nurse yelling at me again, "Amber! Take a deep breath!" The next thing I remember is waking up in my hospital room with Jake by my side. It was still a struggle to keep my eyes open. I remember my mom popping in, my aunt, my dad and step mom. I wondered how they had bypassed the 2 visitor rule. Jake laughed and told me they had been scolded several times throughout the day while they hung out in the hospital waiting for me. My sister had been there earlier too....but was a saint and went home to help at the gym and to pick up the kiddos!
I was told that surgery went great. There were no complications. They had to remove nine lymphnodes. I was told that I lit up like a Christmas tree. During surgery, the surgeon puts a blue dye into the tumor site to see where the cancer would potentially spread to (via lyphnodes). Unfortunately, for me, there were nine. The surgeon did say that she dissected the first 5 and did not see anything concerning. We would have to wait for the whole pathology report of the breast tissue and lymph nodes before we would know for sure. We are hoping for no lymph node involvement, because in theory, that means no chemo needed.
I had to kick Jake out at 9pm when he was falling asleep sitting up. I told him that I couldn't even keep my eyes open. He needed to get a good night rest. He reluctantly left and was back by 8am the next morning.
I slept ok throughout the night, with the exception of nurses checking in on me every 90 minutes. Either to check my vitals or to give me more pain killers.
Day 2: My surgeon came in around 5am to follow up and cleared me to go home. I was given the last task to eat without being nauseaous and my soon-to-be-nurse, Jake, was given a lesson on how to empty my drains twice a day. Before we knew it,
I was saying good bye to my wonderful nursing staff by 10AM.
Jake tried to find the smoothest route home. Turns out, all roads from Rockford to Byron are garbage. It felt good to be home. He settled me in to my recliner, which would be my new home for the unforeseeable future.
Auntie Awesome brought the kids home right after school! We were all ready to see each other!
My brother and girlfriend stopped by for a visit. I remember thinking that I was coherent and doing well, however, in hindsight, I barely remember him being here!
Also - my mom thought it would be a good idea to make spaghetti squash for my homecoming. The irony was not lost on us!
Day 3: By Wednesday, I really was feeling pretty good. I slept in a bed at home for the first time (thanks Jarett, for relocating for the next few weeks). I am fortunate to have an adjustable queen size bed! I tried getting in my bed, but that was a quick no-go! Sitting somewhat upright is a must! Lots of pillows is also a must! I was able to be up and about. Even though my mom, sister and Jake were here to take care of me - I was able to pretty much take care of myself. I was able to get dressed on my own, give myself a little wipe bath, get my own food/drinks, etc. I even squeezed in a little work on the computer. It felt good to be moving around. I thought I would be able to go to Dylan's first baseball game, but my caregivers wouldn't let me ;) .
Day 4: I hit some major milestones. I pooped and I slept through the night (with some melatonin). Everyone can relax now! We figured out that the pain meds they gave me was triggering migraines - so that put an end to the meds. My first outing was physical therapy. My range of motion was pretty good. I can get both arms above my head. We focused on breathing - it's been hard. The binder around my chest is super tight, making it hard to breathe. We also practiced how I would get in and out of bed after my next procedure. My abdomen will be stitch from hip to hip, making it harder for me to get around! On our way home we stopped by the gym to give all the kiddos a quick fist bump!
Day 5: Feeling pretty good, all things considered. My biggest complaint are the damn drains. I have two drains (one on each side). I am constantly aware of not only where they insert into my body, but I can also feel the tubes under my skin. They are the worst. I have a robe with inside pockets to house them so I don't tug them on anything, which helps,
but they are not fun. I am really hoping to get them removed at my post-op on Monday. I am having some nerve issues. My skin around my left tricep is numb and when I put my arm in certain positions I'll get a lightening bolt through my elbow. It's painful enough to warrant a yelp every time it happens. I can actually feel that same nerve tingle under my scapula and all the way to my spine. I'm hoping that is temporary! Got another good night sleep and had a field trip in the morning for a beautiful family friend, Gloria, to wash and braid my hair. I, unfortunately, am not allowed to shower until my DR appointment Monday. I felt like a new woman leaving Gloria's! My afternoon field trip was to watch Dylan and the Hairy Cow baseball team win their second game! Felt good to get out, even on a rainy day. I will say though, the five hours of not propping my left arm up, made for some sore armpits!
Day 6: Here we are, Saturday, Day 6. Every day is a little better. My armpits are a little more sore than they have been. Mentally, I'm dreading the next procedure. I know it will be longer and harder - it's super hard to stay positive about. I am tired of this stupid binder around my chest making it hard to breathe and I'm VERY tired of these drains. To think that I have another 3-4 weeks with drains is soul crushing. While I am positive most of the time, I do have some weakness, some second guessing, some doubt and negativity.
Two more days until my next appointment. Hopefully she can make me a little more comfortable then - and hopefully we have some pathology results! As always, thank you all for your meals, help with the gym, help with the kids, friendship and support. We really could not do this alone! This is just the beginning. We love you all.
Oh yeah - and when I pinch Jake's nipples now, he says it's not fair. Tittie twisters are now banned from the house.