Monday, September 7, 2009

Two down, One to go

Hello again, dear reader.  I’d love to claim that the title of today’s update is something very clever, but really it isn’t.  Basically, all it means is that two major hurdles in Dianne’s fight against breast cancer have passed….chemotherapy and surgery.  And, there is one major hurdle remaining….radiation.  Oh, I’m not discounting the whole recovery process, both physical and mental, but from a medical perspective it truly is two down, one to go.  So, without further ado, let me take you through what was the day of surgery, and bring you all the way up to today, followed by a brief glimpse into the future.

A lot of what I’m going to write today is pretty much the long version of my Facebook updates which were posted the day of surgery.  So, for all you FB addicts, this is going to rehash all of that.  For those who don’t do FB, here is what happened.

Our day started at about 4:45AM September 2nd.  That is when the alarm woke us up.  It was precisely that moment when I realized what time it was that I truly decided I did NOT miss being a baker.  Nope, I don’t miss it one bit.  I am still very thankful that I woke up to the smell of coffee brewing…if I had to put it all together that morning, who knows what I would have ended up with.  Once the coffee was poured, thermos filled (you didn’t think I was going to drink hospital coffee, did you?), laptop was packed, Dianne was ready…..we left.  And we managed to leave the house without waking up the kids or the babysitter.  It is amazing what one can do with ones eyes closed.

We had been warned that the admitting process at the hospital could take up to 15 minutes.  Well, 30 seconds after arrival, we were done and Dianne was admitted.  So, we went up to Unit 28, were shown the room that she could call home for a bit, and then had to go over some paperwork.   Dear reader, do you remember from the last entry the kerfuffle we had with the whole double vs.. single thing?  And the mix up with the consent forms?  Well, guess what?  Yup, you guessed it….the consent form on record at the hospital was for a single.  It was at this point that I was very very prepared to get very very angry….but I held it in check.  Needless to say, neither Dianne nor I was impressed.  So, we mentioned this to the nurse.  The only thing she could suggest was to make sure the anesthesiologist (wow, my spell checker didn’t barf at that!!!) didn’t touch Dianne until she had a chance to talk to the surgeon.  And so…..we waited.

Around 7:05, Dianne was wheeled away.  So, I sat there, in her room…drank coffee and played video games on the laptop.  Surgery was scheduled for 7:45, and it being about a 3 hour procedure, I was expecting to see her again around 11:30 or 12:00.  At the very least, I was expecting to hear from someone a report on the surgery and Dianne’s state.  But, no.  Nothing.  12:30….1:00….1:15….fingernails worn down to the nub, heart racing, mind racing….video game racing!!!!  w00t w00t!!  Just kidding, I don’t have a racing game on the laptop.  I was tempted briefly to go down and try find someone to talk with, but I figured it would be my luck to have the surgeon show up in the room as I’m wandering aimlessly looking for someone with some information.  So I sat.  And drank coffee.

Finally, just before 2:00, Dianne was wheeled back into the room.  She was awake and alert.  I was given 30 seconds to say hi before I was booted out.  They had to get her into her bed, check her vitals, arrange the drains and catheter, and make sure she was semi-comfortable.  After that, I was allowed in.  We chatted about how she was feeling, the pain level, and the pre-surgery conversation with the surgeon.  My fear was that she’d come back with only a single mastectomy.  Alas, my fear was un-founded.  We had huge confidence in the surgeon from the day we met her, and that confidence was renewed this day.  When Dianne talked to her pre-surgery, her first words were (and I quote, so don’t gripe at me for my language): “What the hell is going on here?”.  Yes, dear reader, the surgeon was apparently livid at all the BS going on.  She felt horrible for us having to go through what we did to get the surgery date changed (it was her that moved the date, so speculation on that is ended).  She was furious that the proper consent form did not make its way from her office to the hospital.  Well, she righted the wrong.  She changed the consent form with one stroke of her mighty pen, and proceeded to perform the double mastectomy with a mighty stroke of her scalpel. 

From what we understand, the surgery was a success!!  One of the two tumors that was in the left breast had disappeared completely (YAY FOR CHEMO!!!) and the tumor that was left had NOT attached itself to the chest wall.  Because of the size of the tumor(s), this was a concern going in.  But, because it was not attached, the surgery was much ‘easier’ than what it could have been.  Also, the surgeon did remove a ‘fatty mass’ from under the arm, but we don’t know as of this writing what was all contained in this mass (IE: cancer, lymph nodes).  There was a pathologist on hand to take the cuttings away for testing.  We are hoping at some point to find out what was what. 

On Thursday morning, I received a phone call at 9:00 in the morning from the Sturgeon Hospital informing me that I could come and pick Dianne up.  So, I quickly fed the kids, got them dressed and off we went to go get her.  The 3 of us were very excited to have her come home…and I’m sure she was happy to be going home to her own bed, home-cooked meals and a much less noisy roomate (I purposely left out the room-mate story, but suffice it to say that there was a lot of burping, farting, chewing loudly with mouth open etc etc).  It was a good day on Thursday.

Dear reader, today is Monday…5 days after surgery.  Dianne is recovering well.  She has almost full motion back in the right arm, but the left arm needs a bit of work yet.  She exercises it regularly during the day, and is hoping she won’t have to go for physiotherapy.  She still has 3 drains attached, which are still draining copious amounts of fluid (well, 2 of the 3 are…the third one just looks bored).  We have had a homecare nurse come in once so far….this was on Friday, at which time the bandages came off.  On Wednesday, she goes for an appointment with the surgeon (hmm…same secretary or different?).  I will post an update here hopefully Wednesday night.

As for the future…well, time will tell.  We will find out some of it during the visit to the surgeon (IE: physio yes or no, drains out or not etc etc).  We do know that radiation will be starting in the beginning of October, and this will run for 5 days per week, and a minimum of 4 weeks.  Beyond that, we just don’t know yet.  Time will tell.

And that, dear reader brings you up to date.  Once again, we thank you all for your thoughts and prayers, and your support in whatever fashion you have provided it.  Every little bit helps.  Check the blog Thursday…hopefully I’ll have another update.

Until then….goodnight.


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