Thursday, November 1, 2012

In Which Pumpkins Play a Role

October 31, 2012:

Halloween...better known this year as Surgery Day. Which, by the way, starts WAY TOO EARLY! Especially when you are not allowed to eat or drink anything. Perhaps I should have had that caffeinated beverage with dinner last night. A caffeine headache is really not a good way to start the day.

After a fun-filled morning that involved getting the teenage boy upright and had my mother showing up at the house at 6AM (let's imagine how well everyone was getting along since we were all tired and caffeine-deprived), we arrive at the hospital at 7AM, right on schedule. My detailed sticky notes with the directions on where to go have mysteriously vanished out of the car, so I'm not sure exactly where to go. (Not so mysterious, really...I blame the husband with a penchant for clearing everything out of the car before he drives it). But my vague memory gets us to the right "zone" and the right floor and the right nurses station for check-in.

Pre-op is the first stop, and everyone is nice (even though I can see their Starbucks beverage containers and smell their coffee breath). The nurse in charge of getting me set for the day does a much better job at inserting my IV than the anesthesiologist did last time. I hope she's getting paid the big bucks. 

At 8AM I get to head down to "Nuclear Medicine" for my injection of radioactive dye. Can you even imagine how science major me is remembering reading all those books on Marie Curie right now? Must not think about it, and they promise me it's a small dose. This dye will show the surgeon what lymph nodes the cancer likely traveled to first. Once injected, I have to walk around the hospital, in the awesome gown, moving my arms around to get the dye moving. Let's hope there's no surveillance footage of that.

At 9AM I am scanned by some crazy machine that reads the radiation and shows that the lymph nodes can be seen. This is good and means I'm ahead of schedule. It also means no more roaming the halls flailing my arms around. Back up to pre-op, where I get everything finalized for surgery.

At this point, can I just say that even though EVERYONE has my paperwork and I have a newborn baby ID tag on my arm with all my vitals, I have been asked no fewer than 10 times what my name is, what my date of birth is, and what procedure I'm having done. They say this is just standard double check protocol, but it's becoming annoying as hell. I'm up for barcoding the info on my forehead at this point and just running me through a scanning station.

Back in pre-op (on a pretty comfy bed that I'm considering stealing), I meet with the surgeon one last time. She draws all over my left breast just to make sure she gets the correct one in surgery. We kind of laugh at this, and I'm grateful that she's not dressed up for Halloween. We joke about this too. Then I meet the surgical nurse, and a new anesthesiologist. I have to say this now, and I'm surprised I didn't say it out loud at the time, but this guy's arm is in a cast, which I am pretty sure is not part of a costume. Seriously, are you injecting me with needles? Poking sharp instruments into my back? Do I trust you to do all this with a cast? But I think nothing more is getting poked into me, just fed through the IV, so I'm not as freaked out as I probably should be. But it was pretty funny because it really is how this whole process has gone.

About 9:40AM the happy meds are pushed, and he tells me that this will just make me feel a little woozy and then when they get me to the operating room, I'll have the dose that knocks me out. LIAR. At 9:41AM, I am 6 inches out the door of pre-op and out like a light. Don't remember anything else. Hope I wasn't supposed to. I wake up at 12:15PM in recovery all bandaged up.

I finally leave the hospital at 1:30PM or so, after getting my pain meds. Note to anyone in the future, when they ask if you want to get your meds from the hospital pharmacy, JUST SAY YES. Forget your damn Target rewards for using their pharmacy. The hospital pharmacy gal will BRING IT TO YOUR ROOM before you leave...no making stops on the way home. 

Surgery details: surgeon claims to have scraped everything out around the original tumors. She removed two lymph nodes which are going to be biopsied. Guess what? More waiting for results! These won't come in for 5 days or so...grrr...

Now, you're still wondering how pumpkins play a role, right?
(1) When the surgery was over, I was ORANGE from chin to waist from the iodine (still am, by the way, as I'm not allowed to shower for 2 days). And I was carved up like a pumpkin, so the joke is that I was dressed up like a pumpkin for Halloween.

(2) A friend dropped off pumpkin bread the day before the surgery, and quite honestly it has kept me alive because it was the only thing that I felt like eating yesterday and this morning. 

(3) Pumpkins began showing up on our doorstep yesterday afternoon and didn't stop arriving until evening. It was a little pumpkin vigil that was someone's brainchild, but I don't know who to credit, or even who all the pumpkins are from. It was a super sweet gesture and at the end of the night, I think there were 15-20 pumpkins on the front walkway. 

And just so you're wondering how the family is holding up:
Keith: Today he stopped by my parents and my dad said, "wow, you look exhausted!" So he's obviously not looking so hot if my dad is noticing.

AJ: Stopped by the house in the middle of trick-or-treating to say "hi." She was concerned that I not hug her because I might ruin her vampire makeup...not that it would hurt me, but that it would ruin her make-up. Your mom's health clearly not super important when trick-or-treating is involved.

Alex: Some friends brought teriyaki to the house for dinner last night, and that is the thing that he was most grateful for yesterday. Oh, and he's wondering who's job it is to clean up the pumpkins from the front porch :)

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