We dropped the kids off at the babysitter early Wednesday morning. I was having flashbacks to April when we were going to all of my preliminary appointments. Before April, Jordan and I never dropped the kids off together. He went his way to work, and I went mine. It really made me see how far we have come in the last few months. But today was the day. The goal that we had been trying to reach. One more item to check off our list.
It was surgery day!
I had spent the last two weeks trying to get everything organized at our house. I told Jordan 15 times where I had put everything he should need. It had gotten to the point where he just nodded whenever I started telling him where I put something. I had outfits lined up on the kids’ dressers. I rearranged the diaper changing station so that everything had a clearly designated spot. I made sure all of the diapers and pull-ups were in place, and their backups were close by, and the backup to the backups were laying out upstairs. I may have a problem.
Jordan, Reed, and Ryanne would spend the weekend at Versailles State Park for his family reunion. I packed everything I could think they would ever possibly need for their trip but I still woke up at night thinking about what I might have forgotten.
After surgery, My mom would be babysitting Robbyn and myself. Jordan and I neither one felt very comfortable with tiny Robbyn being in the woods for four days without her monitor and oxygen. And the fact that she seems to catch every bug that comes our way. Two of our three children were on antibiotics for ear infections, so I bothered Jordan relentlessly asking if they had received the Medicine. I’m not sure if you have noticed, but I am a teensy bit of a control freak when it comes to my household. I want things done my way, and I usually prefer to just do them myself. These next few weeks were going to be a challenge for me.
Well, post surgery I would need help getting dressed, so I would be in no position to be dressing (more like wrestling) two toddlers and a baby. Things were going to be very much out of my hands.
With the house in order and the kids dropped off, it was time to make our way to the breast center…again. This place was turning into my home away from home.
I had to go to the breast center before heading to the surgery center. I needed to have an ultrasound, and a needle put into my lymph node so the surgeon could find it easier. Once that was completed, we made our way over to the surgery center where we were checked in, and the chaos began. The plastic surgeon came in and drew a mural on my chest with a permanent marker. She explained again what she would be doing and quadruple checked that I was 100% sure I wanted to go to a much smaller cup size than my original chest.
Ready for surgery with my trusty baseball cap!
The Room I successfully destroyed in less than 24 hours.
I had three nurses in the room getting me ready and one preparing my anesthesia block. It took 3 different people and an anesthesiologist to get my IV in since chemo has taken a toll on my veins and my left arm is off limits for the rest of my life. The anesthesiologist gave me some Versed and Fentanyl to relax me while he performed the nerve block. He actually did two. I had one either side of my spinal column on my upper back.
After my block, I was whisked away to nuclear medicine to have a tracer injected in my left breast. They used a probe in surgery to see if the tracer travels to the lymph nodes. Once I was returned to the surgery preop room, my breast surgeon came in to ask if I had any questions, but with the information overload of the day, no questions came to mind. My official surgery consent read: bilateral mastectomy, sentinel node, right port removal, bilateral breast reconstruction with tissue expanders. Whew. A mouthful for sure.
Before going back, we prayed as a family my parents, my in-laws, and Jordan. We prayed for the surgeons’ hands and skill. Prayed that God would carry me through the surgery just as he carried me through this journey thus far. Prayed that the lymph nodes would be negative. Prayed for a quick recovery. And as hard is it was, I prayed that God’s will, whatever that might be, be done. Knowing this was all in God’s hands, I had an overwhelming sense of peace as they wheeled to the operating room.
The breast surgeon started on my left breast (the one that had the tumor). Took out the area where the tumor had been and had a pathologist look at it to see if the edges of the area she took out were free of cancer cells. Then she used the probe to check lymph nodes in the left side. The tracer traveled to the sixth lymph node, so the surgeon took all six of those out and had the pathologist look at them to see if they contained cancerous cells. And they were free of cancer cells as well.
Now, these specimens get sent to a lab where they undergo rigorous testing to see if there are cancer cells in them. This is called the permanent pathology and it more accurate than the test that was completed during the surgery. We would get the final results in 7 to 10 days.
Again with the waiting…
Next up was the plastic surgeon. She put in tissue expanders. Since the breast surgeon removed all of my breast tissue, my skin will need to be slowly stretched before I can have permanent implants. The tissue expanders are, I guess you can say, placeholders. They start off empty, but they have a port in them where saline can be injected into them in the office to slowly stretch my skin before the permanent implants can put in. (This sounds painful to me but who knows. I will have to get back to you all on that!) The plastic surgeon was able to use all of my own tissue since I had a larger chest, to begin with. She didn’t have to use an artificial graft but instead used MANY, MANY sutures.
The surgery took about six hours and all in all, was a success. Although, the last thing I remember is the nasty smelling gas and the nurse’s hand rubbing my shoulder telling me they would all take good care of me. After that, the next thing I knew I was back in my room with my family staring at me and my now very flat chest!
I will post more about recovery and the process of the tissue expanders in future posts! This is a pretty lengthy process and requires two surgeries to complete the reconstruction, and I don’t want to leave anything out!
Thanks for following along as I document my journey!!
Ready to break out! Can you spot my drains?