It's Tuesday, June 20th and I'm scheduled for my port surgery. I'm to report at 10:20 a.m. I'm not nervous, I know the drill. As I just getting out of the shower, I see my sister Denise has called. I call her back and tell her I'm on the way to the hospital. She yells - "No, you can't go there, you'll can't afford to get germs!". I respond - "What are you talking about? I'm on the way to the hospital to get a port." It seems my mom was taken to the hospital that morning for vertigo. Denise thinks I'm on my way there. OMG never a dull moment!
We arrive at the hospital. When I go check in, one of the ladies says "Were you here two weeks ago wearing a pink lei?" Yep, that was me I answer. She laughs and responds, "I remember you!" I hope it was a good impression!
I am taken back to my little presurgical room to get prepped. I've never had a problem getting prepped in past surgeries. When I had my mastectomy, it took two pokes to get the IV in. Yep one big bruise that lasted a few weeks. This time, I'm giving my information to the nurse, Theresa and Anna is attempting to put in my IV. Attempting would be the key word here. I tend to talk while that's going on, distraction helps. They first inject you with a Lanacain to numb the area, there's a burning sensation that follows but trust me it's worth it.
While discussing my surgical history with the nurse, I tell them about bringing the "boob" cake pops to celebrate my last surgery. They laugh and say " You're the one! We're still talking about those cake pops!" That makes me happy that I brought some smiles to people that day.
Meanwhile, Anna makes her first attempt. Yep, you heard me first attempt. Stinging sensation complete, needle goes in and it doesn't thread. Okay then, let's try again. This time Anna tries a vein on top of my hand. Stinging sensation complete, needle goes in and once again it doesn't thread (whatever that means). I'm not a happy camper right now. Anna turns to the nurse, I'll go get a nurse anesthetist. Okay this is not sounding good. Anna leaves. Theresa takes over.
As Theresa is looking over my veins (truly an uncomfortable feeling. It's like spinning the roulette wheel honestly), in walks Tom. My response - "Who are you?" He laughs and says - I like that you asked me that. Theresa does poke three on the side of my hand and it works. Tom who came to the rescue wasn't needed. Tom, Theresa and I discuss the pros and cons of nurse practitioner versus physician's assistant. What I got out of this: nurse practitioner has more autonomy and next time around only let the nurse set up my IV.
Bob comes in and we wait. I turn on Pandora and listen to music. A little Michael Jackson, Earth, Wind & Fire, Alicia Keys and John Legend. I'm grooving. Dr. Ruark comes in and says she'll be with me in a few minutes. Something must have come up because she arrives a half an hour later.
She begins by looking at my mastectomy site. She asks when I'm scheduled to begin chemo. I tell her July 12. She is not a happy camper. She tells us how she likes things to progress quickly. Studies have shown that with Stage 3 cancer, quick treatment helps insure no recurrence. She wants me to call my oncologist and start a week earlier. I tell her we are working around the wedding, so I'll have energy - her response, they'll just be happy that you're there.
My immediate response is anger! My mind has been geared toward July 12th. I've planned out the next three weeks. I'm ecstatic that I won't have a chemo treatment the week of the wedding. She's just squashed all of that. This has just thrown me into a tailspin. She leaves and I start to get worked up. Bring it back Carey. I realize that she only has my best interests at heart. I trust my life to this woman. I need to let it go for now and tackle the surgery. Like Scarlett O'Hara - I'll think about it tomorrow.
Bob and I wait and finally they come to get me. I'm having twilight sleep this time as the surgery will last only 50 minutes. I'm given a sedative, kiss my husband and off I go. This time I'm awake when I get to the operating room and actually move myself onto the table. I've always wondered what the operating room looked like.
Surgery is complete. I'm in recovery, not too sore. I can't go home until I've eaten. I have some graham crackers and cranberry juice and head home. Note to self: bringing one's truck to drive home after surgery is not a great idea. It's difficult at best climbing up after surgery.
I'm home I go to my lazy boy and promptly fall asleep. Recovery, once again, begins. I am sore and my body knows it has a port in it. That night, I sleep once again in the lazy boy. It keeps me upright and cocooned in. Of course, after sleeping all day, I wake up at 2:00 a.m. and am not able to go to sleep. I watch TV, I read and listen to music and I think.
I think about my port and what it means to me. It's weird to me that I have this in my body. I feel it when I move, particularly in my neck. Will it be like this the entire time? Will they have to make a big hole every time they administer the chemo? Will it do it's job? I'm told this will make it easier. What did they do before? Those poor people.
The day after the surgery I'm talking with someone. I tell her I had a day of anger. Anger that my surgeon wants me to start my chemo early. Anger that I'm tired of being sore, but that my mindset was better today. Her response, "You need to quit acting like you're so positive. Stop the facade." I'm crushed, she has wounded me. My response, but I am positive. Yes, I have bad days, but I choose not to stay there. I don't need the negative in my life. I get off the phone sad, hurt and angry. Cancer is hard work both mentally and physically. I have to work every day at staying present and keeping my mind positive. I'm naturally positive and see humor in just about everything. I refuse to let cancer take that away and to have someone so close to me say that to me crushes me. I'm reeling.
Between the cruel words and feeling physically uncomfortable most of the week, I'm in a deep funk. I can feel the port in my neck. It feels better to sit up than lay flat. I'm not able to sleep in my bed. I have to sleep in my ever faithful lazy boy. I'm unable to go to Traverse City for my future daughter-in-law's bachelorette weekend because I'm so uncomfortable. I'm angry, cancer is once again affecting my life, taking away the joy. It takes me a few days to get out of my funk. Then I realize, I let someone's words affect me. An opinion that has no merit. I allowed the negativity to bring me down. I've learned a valuable lesson here. I will never again allow someone's cruel words affect my well being. I will limit access to me from negative people. I know that I can't prevent someone's cruel words but I don't have to allow it in. Navigating cancer is hard enough, I don't need to focus on useless words or opinions.
I also realize I was forgetting gratitude, I was forgetting humor, and I was forgetting this all a part of my journey. I'm missing out on a celebration for my future daughter-in-law but because of my upcoming treatments, I will be able to create many memories with her in the future. I realize that all of this is a part of my journey, that there are people who have it much worse than I and that I will look at all of this in gratitude.