April 15, 2010

Feelin' Groovy

Amazing things happen when you get your C-PAP fixed after, unbeknownst to you, it hasn't worked at all in over a month and hasn't worked well in a year or more.  Case in point:  I put the mask on Tuesday night at 10:30, lay my pretty little head on the pillow, and heard nothing more until the next morning when my compadre said, urgently, "It's 10:30 and if we aren't at the hospital at 11:30, they'll have to reschedule your surgery."

Twelve straight hours of sleep -- can you think of a better start for the day?  I felt rested and relaxed and happy to be getting on with things.  Michael's shirt was crisply ironed -- I think you could have sliced bread with the crease in the sleeves.  And we were only seven minutes late.

The day was filled with adventures, including my being given a Valium which turned me into a laughing Chatty Cathy.  I had a great time talking to Danielle, the patient navigator whose job it is to resolve any questions or difficulties and to fill breast patients in on all of the services available to them.  I had a late-blooming question about possible sentinel node biopsy repercussions; I'd drawn a conclusion but told her my logic, which she confirmed.  I talked nonstop on the ride to mammography and throughout the installation of a wire and what I picture as a fishhook and the taking of a dozen more mammograms. Back in my holding area, the anesthesiology resident came to talk to me and then the anesthesiologist came to talk to me, and of course the nurse was in and out doing her tasks.  My surgeon arrived; and he'd shaved his head, reminding me of Bradley and Devin who got their heads shaved for the first time when they were 4 and 8 or therabouts.

He said, "So today we're doing the balloon installation, right?"

I replied (because I'm a geek and was on happy drugs), "Technically we call that a mammocite."

He said that word was above his pay grade and then the topic turned to the blue dye that was going to be injected (yep, I knew that) into my nipple or maybe my areola (nope, didn't know that). Sounds like it would hurt like hell, doncha think? B the time I blinked, though, some REALLY happy medicine was injected through my IV. I knew four people in blue scrubs with oddly shaped flat caps were fiddling around on my left side, but I was watching Michael scowl at his computer while the nurse with the beautiful red hair held my hand.  (Wasn't that nice?  The whole day was like that; people unexpectedly doing nice things that made me happy.)

The memories are like a dream, where you hop from one place to the next without any transitions. My next image is arriving in the operating room, which resembled a motorcycle garage with cabinets all over the walls with stuff tumbling out.  HUGE room.  They had me slide from the stretcher to the bed which was 1950s elementary school green plastic and looked cold.  The only reason I agreed to the move is that the nurse promised he'd get me a warm blanket if I did so (I must have received a dozen of them through the course of the day; every time someone asked I said yes, because the idea was so luxurious). Busy people were swarming around doing I know not what.

Next I was in  a room like a stable with a line of stalls. In each stall was a person on a moving bed and a computer and beside each computer was a nurse.  Except I and my nurse were the only people actually in there at that time of day.  I'd hear the nurse say, "Take deep breaths," and I'd concentrate hard and take two breaths and go back to sleep, and she'd wake me up by saying, gruffly, "Take deep breaths," and I'd take one or two and go back to sleep.  I don't know how long we played that game, but I remember being asked if I were in pain, on a scale of 1 to 10. I was going to say 3 but it may have come out as 8, because she said, "I'll give you a percocet."  (Actually, I'm not sure of the gender, or even if there was a nurse there.  Maybe it was the voice of God, or a ventriloquist speaking through the computer screen.)

Then I was back in my original little home away from home where Michael was still glaring at his laptop.  He'd spoken with the doctor several times and sent a text message out saying I was fine. I was physically exhausted but still chatty enough to ask if they found the fishhook in the tissue (proof that the chunk excised was the right one), and the answer was yes.  And then came the best news: the lymph nodes were perfectly normal, meaning all the troubles were localized.

Next thing I knew we were home, maybe by magic carpet because I don't remember getting in or out of a vehicle. Michael went to the drug store and got my pain meds, gave me two, and then fixed chicken noodle soup. Later I noticed he'd bought Nutty Bars. Michael cautioned that eating one might make me sick; and, while I trusted his wisdom, I admitted that I'd rather upchuck later than not eat a Nutty Bar right that minute.  After another nap, I had some ham salad on crackers.  Who knew that a day with three surgical procedures and meeting a hundred or so people would stir up such an appetite?

I slept five or six hours, and when I woke up I took more pain pills and drank another half gallon of ginger ale and smiled in the dark, listening to Michael snore and Koko grunt in his sleep, well satisfied with my happy, busy, productive day.

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