Ta Ta for now ~
The days leading up to my mastectomy were a real mix of emotions. Our youngest son was still living with us at the time and finishing up a second degree. We welcomed him home after teaching English overseas for a year and we were quite happy he decided to be frugal and “room with the P’s” while paying for and completing his second degree. Our oldest son came down from Seattle to be here for Mother’s Day prior to my surgery “just because”. He arrived on May 6th, returned home to his lovely wife on the 13th only to return on the 19th to be here for my recovery after surgery. The 19th was his birthday. Who is lucky enough to have sons so great? Me!! It was a fantastic week before the mastectomy sharing time with the family. Being surrounded by my husband and two sons and talking and decompressing from the events of the past month was cathartic and healing.
Let’s Do This
I had to take our oldest son back to the airport the day before surgery. He is the one who coined the phrase, “Ta Ta for now.” I was OK with him leaving because I knew he’d be back in a week. There are usually a few tears at the airport but as he grabbed his suitcase and I hugged him good-bye we looked at each other dry-eyed and I said with great affirmation, “OK, let’s do this. All good! See you in a week.” He flashed his amazing grin. Our traditional farewell at the airport always included the sign for “I love you.” With his free hand he continued the tradition, signed “I love you”, and walked into the terminal.
A Tearful Good Bye to the Ta-Ta’s
The evening before surgery the enormity of everything collapsed on me. I called my parents, sisters, and their family to tell them tomorrow was the day. I was a train-wreck. I was emotional and tearful as they each wished me well and assured me through their prayers and positive thoughts I was going to make it through this. They sent me all their love and long distance hugs. I lay in bed and just held on to my breasts gently with tears streaming down my face, as if I was giving them one last good-bye, and in fact, I was. I cleansed them carefully, as instructed, the night before surgery and again in the shower the next morning.
Time to Pull Up the Big Girl Pants
The morning of my mastectomy was here, May 15th, 2014. It was time to pull up my big girl pants. This is how I operate. I got all my yah-yah’s out the night before. I was feeling strong, steady and ready. Let’s get this damn stuff out of me and kiss “the girls” good-bye. I had on a button up shirt, as instructed…. again, and my husband insisted on one more look before I buttoned the shirt up to head to the hospital. What was going on in his mind must have been epic but I had my own thoughts to deal with so we each maintained our own composure.
Needles and Numbing
I arrived at the hospital and they called me back for prep. I was on the surgical bed with IV’s in place while my husband sat on a chair in the corner. A parade of doctors began arriving. I met the anesthesiologist and informed her of my propensity to get sick every time after any surgery I had. Two other doctors walked in, one being a resident, and began painfully inserting needles into my back along my spine to inject pain medication. They assured me this would make my life easier when I woke up. Was I paying for it in spades ahead of time? It certainly felt like it! I flinched each time they found a nerve to deaden to result in no-pain when I woke up.
Dr. Ley walked in with a huge smile on her face. She had a picture of her children on her hospital badge. We chatted about her children before she took out her pen and began marking me up. The anesthesiologist was not too happy to hear I had a dime size area of shingles that appeared couple of weeks prior to surgery. I attributed it to all the stress I was going through. It was located just behind my left arm-pit. I was taking the prescribed medicine and they were barely visible. Dr. Ley sensed the anesthesiologist’s concern, put on a pair of surgical gloves and quickly slapped some Tegaderm over the spot. She confidently said, “No worries. Let’s go.” They wheeled me off to remove the Ta Ta’s. I remember being wheeled down the corridor to the operating room. I was moved to the surgical table and in minutes I was out.
Waking Up During Recovery
The first thing I asked for when I woke up was the “barf bin”. Damn! I was really hoping to avoid it but there it was. I was unbelievably groggy but at the same time became very chatty. The latent effects of anesthesia must be very entertaining to the hospital staff. It feels as if you’re talking in your sleep. I was begging for ice chips and water after being intubated with the breathing tube during surgery. After a few hours I slowly swung my legs over the bed to rest my bum on the portable potty the nurse brought in. Once again, “barf bin” please. The slow movement of my head sent me reeling. The hospital was short on rooms for the evening. I got out of surgery around 3 pm but didn’t get into my room until 11 pm that night.
Taking A Peek
I took a peek in the dim light of my hospital room. I was surprised to find I had no bandages and only covered in Tegaderm to protect the incisions. I looked at it in amazement and was not at all upset. The girls were gone sans the nipples. My surgeon had successfully performed a skin-sparring, nipple sparring mastectomy (NSM). I was feeling pretty good at this point. I felt the squeezing of the leg compression all evening as I drifted in and out of sleep.
There was another lady in my room and her husband stayed the night in a recliner. I remember it was a full moon the night I was in hospital. I was assisted by the nurse the first few times to the restroom. After those few times I was determined to make it on my own. I tried to grab the back of my gown while maneuvering my IV pole at the same time to cover my bum. It didn’t always work. I kept thinking my roommate’s husband is seeing a double full moon tonight. ARGH!
Home the Next Day!
I woke up the next morning and called my parents who live in a different state. They couldn’t believe they were talking to me less than a day after my surgery. We were almost giddy in our conversation. Then I got busy texting everyone as fast as my fingers could fly. By noon I was dismissed and on the way home. I couldn’t believe it. I just had major surgery, a double mastectomy no less, and I was headed home. I was amazed at how little pain I was in and how good I was feeling. On to healing and waiting for lab results. The “Ta Ta’s” were gone and I was home.