Thursday, February 7, 2019

More from the Cancerland Diaries.

Surgery 5 is now behind me. My last three surgeries were at the day surgery center rather than in the main hospital building. I was a little thrown to find out a couple of days ago I'd be back at the main hospital because they last time I was there I had very painful nuclear medicine injections and then was in surgery for 7 hours. I just didn't want to go back there. But this whole journey has been filled with steps I didn't want to take, so I arrived at registration a little before 6 am yesterday, as instructed. Fortunately, everyone was (as they have been through all of this) very kind. I asked the nurse in pre-op for a numbing shot in my hand before my IV and she said it had already been ordered. Once that was done, I relaxed - the worst part for me was over.
The hospital blankets have gone high tech - they have these weird inflatable space blankets instead of the warmed cotton blankets. No like. For one thing, the range between settings was pretty big, so I had to toggle between too warm and too cold. I had a little bit of a wait before surgery, so I curled up and slept for a bit while my husband snoozed n the chair next to me.
I went to see my breast surgeon give a talk last week about advances in breast cancer treatment. She teared up as she talked about her passion for working with breast cancer patients and again when she talked about her role in getting a clinical trial going in partnership with MD Anderson and Memorial Sloan Kettering, bringing top tier research to East Tennessee. After the talk I stopped to say hello and she hugged me and told me I looked great. She's incredibly skilled, which is obviously important, but also huge-hearted. So when she ambled in yesterday morning, putting her mug of coffee on the table saying, "brain fuel," and said it was good to see me at the talk, I felt immediately at ease. She explained the removal surgery including something I didn't know - that a tube of scar tissue forms around the catheter feeding into my jugular vein and that she would have to stitch it shut to keep it from being a tube blood could flow through. I've gotten used to surgeons scribbling on me with a marker in pre-op, but this time my surgeon initialed and dated where she marked the incision site. My older son said I should get it tattooed. As much as I love my breast surgeon, I'm settling for this photo to remember.
Yesterday evening, we went out for sushi and edamame to celebrate. We did the same thing the evening of my port placement surgery, so it seemed fitting. The numbing injections were starting to wear off and I was hurting. I was ready by the end of the meal to get some sleep. Except that when I went to brush my teeth, I saw that I had dark bruises on the edges and underside of my tongue. Because I'm the queen of weird surgery side effects. Naturally, I stayed up late googling "tongue bruises" and "lymphoma symptoms." It's difficult with cancer not to immediately fear that any symptom is a very bad sign. But I sent my surgeon a message and I'm going in to work this afternoon - aching former port site, purple tongue, and all.

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