Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Another Surgery Down

I feel like a pro at getting surgery now. That's probably not a good thing. It occurred to me it's kind of like travelling. The first time in an airport is a bit terrifying. It's confusing and chaotic and nothing seems to make sense. Then after a few times, you learn the drill and get used to the types of weird requests made: when to take off your shoes, how to make the bag check tag machines work, and whether or not you can make it to the bathroom once they announce "now boarding."

Getting surgery means explaining who you are and what's about to happen to you over and over to each new person. I assume there have been some serious mishaps in the past to necessitate that level of triple and quadruple-checking. It's really scary walking in there the first time, but it's so much easier once you know the kinds of things that are likely to happen: what the O.R. looks like, how many people will be milling about in there, how it feels to be put under, what it looks like when you wake up in recovery, and then again on the ward with family around.

This time it was an axillary node dissection to see if the cancer's spread to my lymph nodes. Weirdly, my kids and I were re-watching a bit of Archer the night before, and we landed on the one where Archer gets cancer. It was an uncomfortable coincidence. I didn't register the event in the series, just the jokes, so it took me by surprise.  It's not funny when it's so close to home.

I had zero nausea after surgery, which was awesome, and I felt great while I was in the hospital. But then the heavy drugs wore off, and it was a rough night. The pain was out of this world. Yes, it was worse than labour. I took the maximum pain killers allowed, but they seemed to do nothing. It was as if my whole armpit and shoulder area was filled with molten lead, hard and fiery. I imagine it's pretty much how Wolverine felt. I moaned and rocked pathetically for hours instead of roaring like this:

Then, suddenly, it got better. Today, just 36 hours later, I feel great again. Well... human at least. I still have to get my kids to open my many pill bottles. I won't be able to expect much of my left arm for a while. Luckily, after years of toting a rotation of toddlers on my left hip, I learned to do everything one-handed. But why all meds come in child-proof containers is beyond me.

The doctors and nurses were all lovely, but many of them seem to come from a different era. Or something. Before the surgery, I was sitting with my two oldest kids in the waiting area when the nurse called me in. She told me only one of my kids could come in. I exclaimed, "Oh no! It's just like Sophie's Choice!" and people in the waiting room laughed. My daughter stepped up because my son had sat with me for the last one. But then the nurse gave my kids a little lecture about taking care of me. She thought they were hoping to stay behind, but they both wanted to come with. We've gotten that throughout: people surprised or confused at my kids taking care of me so well. After a few minutes in an empty ward, my daughter texted my son to sneak in. We're rebels like that.

Then after the surgery, the nurses told my daughter I wouldn't be able to do any housework so she'd have to do all the vacuuming. We don't even own a vacuum. But, once again with the lectures. And why all directed at my daughter? I hate to think it's a necessary part of their job because most families don't help each other without being told. And it also sucks that it appears so female oriented. It's still seen as women's work to do all the caretaking and cleaning. That's dumb.

I might be able to get my drainage tube out tomorrow, which is more exciting that you can know! It's disturbing having a bulb of soupy blood clipped to the bottom of your shirt while you're out and about, trying to be a normal person.

And then we just wait and see.


Lorne said...

Wishing you a quick recovery, Marie. I know you have been through a lot.

Marie Snyder said...

Thanks Lorne. This year is kicking my ass! And they couldn't take out the tubes today. Maybe tomorrow. So I'm in class this afternoon, watching philosophy seminars, hiding my bulb of blood under my shirt. Classy.

Val said...

You are one very brave woman. So glad you shared the good news with me at school today. Keep taking lots of vitamine C in all forms daily and have a restful and peaceful long weekend.

Marie Snyder said...

Thanks, Val!