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The Surgery

Updated: May 4, 2020

Prior to the surgery, I receive a phone call from the hospital. They were letting me know the time, what I had to do prior and needed some information. What is it with weight? Really? Must I tell every stranger what I weigh?!? I am told to wear something easy to get into like a jogging suit. A jogging suit? Do I even have one of those? Now I’m worried about what I’m supposed to wear? Maybe that’s okay because I’m now focused on looking good when I arrive at the hospital.

I only wanted my husband and sister at the hospital, too many people would have been too stressful for me. I opted for the same attitude that I had with my labor and deliveries – I kept thinking suck it up – this time tomorrow this will all be over (now I will admit during the transition part of labor – that attitude slipped!). My nerves are frayed from the anticipation. I didn’t get much sleep the night before waking every hour on the hour. I meditated and prayed in those dark hours. Thought too much – forgetting at times to stay in the now. Wondering what the next day would bring. Would I handle it well? Would it hurt? What was going to happen? Would they get it all?

I get ready for the hospital. I put on something similar to a jogging suit that I found in the closet along with my new underwire bra (more about the bra later!) and head to the hospital. The drive to the hospital is quiet. I’m not ready to talk, I’m holding on by a thread. I’m afraid if I talk, I’ll cry. I’m trying hard to stay in the moment. I want to be calm, not only for me but for my husband. I needed him strong. I need strong energy around me today.

Once I arrive, I’m taken to a private room which will be my prep room. It’s actually very nice and private. My mother had gifted me with a new kindle. I read while I’m waiting – this calms me. I was told while I’m being prepped that I’m to be taken to the mammogram area where I’m to have a wire inserted into my breast which will help the surgeon locate the cancerous area. I’ll be numbed for the procedure but fully awake. Oh yay! More needles! Breathe just breathe is my mantra. A kind volunteer wheels me up to the waiting room to wait.

I’m left sitting in a wheelchair with a blanket around my shoulders and feeling so lost and lonely. Weird right? To feel alone at that time but I did feel utterly alone. No one could do this for me, this was happening to me. I was the one who had to go through treatment and recovery. I truly feel this is the lowest point in my journey. My fear was at an all-time high waiting for the procedure. Fear, anticipation and the reality of what is about to happen is hitting me. I have cancer, I really have cancer. There may have been other women in the room I don’t remember. The television was on I couldn’t tell you what was playing. All I knew at that moment was filled with gut wrenching loneliness, fear and sadness. Tears are welling up in my eyes and I’m trying so hard not to cry. I’ve been brave for everyone but I’m not feeling very brave right now. God I’m so scared. I close my eyes and breathe. I take deep from the toes breaths and begin to feel calmness settling in.

I’m wheeled into a room which has a mini mammogram machine. Normally, patients stand during the procedure but once again my giant tatas come into play. The tech decides to have me sit for the procedure. My breasts will fit into the machine better. Yay! Finally a benefit for the large tatas! Still nervous and filled with anticipation but joking with the tech about the tatas and asking about her has eased my fear a little bit. This is something I tend to do with everyone I meet – I love to meet people. I also want to know who is working on me. Knowing who’s working on me makes it more personal for me and less clinical. Joking with them makes it bearable for me. I find the more I can laugh at everything the better I feel.

The door opens and who should appear – Dr. McDreamy. Really?!? Will I ever get a break? I have to laugh at this and say: “You again? You’re a nice guy but I was hoping to never see you again!” I get a laugh. Tension gone. He begins the procedure. My breast is put into the machine and once again numbed for the procedure. The apprehension was less with the needle this time as I knew what to expect. I can feel the wire going in but there really isn’t any pain. The procedure takes no time at all. Wire in place, I’m taken down to wait for surgery.

My husband and sister come to wait with me. You never really know how strong you are until you’re faced with something like this. My husband is the nicest, kindest man I’ve ever met, but hard issues – usually doesn’t like to handle. He surprised me during this journey, he stepped up, showed up and was my rock.I will say that everyone that I encounter that day is extremely kind and caring. I’m treated wonderfully. I’m given twilight sleep. Honestly, I can see why they used gave this to women in labor – 3 – 2 -1 OUT! The procedure lasts 45 minutes. A 2 ½ inch size golf ball is removed and along with 6 margins. (I’m sad to say taking out that amount still doesn’t shrink the tata!) I wake up in recovery and begin to cry. I thinks it’s a release that it’s over. The Dr. Ruark says that everything went well and she would call me within the week with the results. I’m given a prescription of Vicadin for pain and released to go home.

On to the bra story - Just a word to the wise, when selecting a bra for wear that day – don’t pick the cutesy underwire bra. My sister was helping me dress while my husband went for the car. Trying to maneuver the tatas into the bra took a while. I’m sure my sister, who is a 32A, had never seen anything like that before – I’m sure she’s scarred.

Before I go any further, one thing I realized early on is to check your dignity at the door and maintain your sense of humor. You will be exposing yourself to countless strangers. Maintaining your sense of humor will get you through it. Back to surgery, take it from me, get the bra that snaps in the front, no underwire please!


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