Remember when I said the worst thing about having a biopsy is wearing a bra for 24 hours?
HA! I just had to tempt fate, didn’t I.
It’s two days after my lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy and my right breast is wrapped up like a drunken mummy. Pieces of tape are starting to peel off and the adhesive left behind catches lint from my shirt, making my chest resemble a pointillism canvas. My pee is blue. I’m a little dizzy, a little chilled, a lot tired. Amazingly, the pain is miniscule. I’d say that’s due to the codeine, but I haven’t had any in eleven hours. I want to pull the rest of the tape and gauze off – it’s been more than forty-eight hours so I’m allowed – but I like my skin attached to my body, thank you very much.
All-in-all, this whole experience has gone smoothly, blue pee and sticky skin and the whole “c” thing notwithstanding.
It was raining on Tuesday. I couldn’t wear my contacts and the only thing in focus was the drops on my window as I looked out at the blurry fields. It had been raining since the night before. I took it as a good sign. “Rain brings life,” I said to Jim. It’s still raining. The grass in our backyard is now more green than brown. We arrived at the hospital a few minutes early and were the only ones in reception. The wristband felt like a handcuff and I looked out at the rain.
We’d been seated for less than ten minutes when a nurse brought us back to the room where they’d prep me. I put on a lavender robe with the ties facing forward, which meant I put it on backwards. I took off my Jingle Bells socks and put on their purple pair. A nurse took my blood pressure, my temperature, and my blood. I’d already peed in a cup to confirm I wasn’t pregnant. (It was yellow and I’m not.) I said goodbye to Jim as another nurse rolled me down to the Nuclear Medicine lab. It’s a little disconcerting to be rolled into a room with a big warning about radiation. I lay down flat on the imaging machine and the nurse injected radioactive tracers into my breast near the nipple. Those four pokes were the most painful thing I experienced during this whole deal. The tracers pool in the lymph node that gets the drainage from the tumor. A giant machine took pictures. The tracers shone bright against a black background, like a tiny galaxy. “Gorgeous!” she said. “These photos are gorgeous!” We talked about places to go during a pandemic with kids, especially campgrounds.
She wheeled me back upstairs and to Jim. I was doing OK. Asked a lot of questions. I don’t know now what they were, or what answers we received. The anesthesiologist came in and I learned that MAC wasn’t an option and I would be going under General anesthesia. There would be a tube. She called it a Big MAC a few times and I told her she was making me hungry. She laughed. “You don’t want a Big Mac! No! You want a steak! Get her a steak!”
“I like you,” I said.
She laughed. “You can have a glass of wine, too.”
“Now I really like you!”
We all laughed. Nervous tension? You betcha.
Then it was time. I don’t know what actual time it was, but they rolled me to the operating room. And that’s all I remember until I was back in the prep room with Jim. They gave me some ginger ale and a couple of shortbread cookies, and since I kept them down we were allowed to leave.
I don’t remember much of that evening. I know we ordered food that I couldn’t eat. I slept. I drank as much water as I could stomach. Went to the bathroom. “Jim! My pee is BLUE! Wanna see it?”
Our couch has recliners on both ends and that’s where we slept that night. We set alarms for my next dose so I wouldn’t ever experience pain I couldn’t handle. I kept stretching the time in between. Yesterday, when I wasn’t going to the bathroom, I was on that couch, sleeping, reading, eating (finally), and watching another superhero movie.
Today has been better. We ended up in our own bed sometime in the middle of last night and it was like falling into billowy cottony clouds. I slept in and Jim made oatmeal for breakfast. Lunch was leftovers, and tonight we’re having pizza. I’ll go back to my uber-healthy diet in a few days. I just had part of my body carved out, so I’m going to eat whatever I want (including peanut M&Ms – thank you, my love!).
Jim’s making me behave, giving me the stinkeye if I try to do too much. He ran to the store yesterday and I decided to be all Miss Independent and that didn’t turn out too well, so now he’s keeping an eye on me.
I’ll take my codeine tonight. I won’t lift, push, or pull heavy things. I’ll drink my water and continue to unwrap myself. In about a week and a half I’ve got a follow-up with Dr. B. to see if this is well and truly done, or if there’s more hanging around in there.
I didn’t know what to expect and haven’t had any idea how I’d feel. What I do know is that I am loved, fiercely, and by many.
Once the bandages are off I’ll have to wear a bra all day and all night for several days until I’m healed.
And this time, I won’t complain.