Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I Shouldn't Be Online Yet, But YOU KNOW ME

hi everyone, it's me, britta! thanks, andee, for updating my blog in my absence!

so i just got off anesthesia about 7 hrs ago. and i'm doped up on percoset. probably i should be lying down instead of blogging, but...well, you're not surprised, are you?? considering i'm such an internet junkie. and i really can't handle phone calls yet, so at least i can write.

in a nutshell: everything went very well, and i'm so relieved and grateful. i'm so grateful to my family for being with me today (thank you, family), and for you other family members and friends who were there with me in spirit. i really do feel your love like a warm blanket around me and it helps me so much. i had my backpack and my jeans pockets filled with your letters, photos, cards, and all of the comforting objects - buddha statue, angel & heart, sparkle ring, heart pillow, eshka, stones, etc! there weren't many times during the day where i was actually able to take them out of my pockets and hold them, but just having all these things nearby helped. when my breast was pancaked in the mammography machine and bleeding from the wires being inserted into it while i cried, i couldn't quite reach into my pocket for anything - so i ended up just gripping the fabric of my jeans, and praying. that was close enough.

those beginning procedures were definitely the worst part of the day, and possibly the worst part of ANY day. for starters, two MALE doctors i had never met did all of the procedures - as some of you know, i have major issues with men touching me, especially the personal parts of my body. 75% of the mammo dept's staff are women, and it was just my bad luck that men were the ones working today. they were very kind and very competent doctors, so it's not personal... it's just that merely having ANY male, doctor or not, touch my breast for ANY reason is enough to make me nauseous, so i can't even explain how awful it was to have a strange man A) tell me no family members can come in the mammography room due to the radiation, then B) squish my breast painfully into the mammography machine, touch my breast, draw on my breast, clean my breast with an alcohol swab, stick a needle in my breast to inject numbing medication (which HURT, of course - that's the catch-22 of pain med injections), insert a wire into my breast, then repeatedly take more mammos of my breast in different positions. i could not help crying, and much of the time, my head had to be tilted back in order for my body to be in the right position for the mammo, and then all the snot ran down the back of my throat. i did not look at my breast the entire time... i didn't want to see the wires. but i did accidentally catch sight of my blood all over the plastic thing that it was squished in.

i was so upset that this was how my day had to begin, and that i couldn't be unconscious for that part, or at least have a freakin valium or something.
then i had to cross the hallway to the ultrasound room, and this time they let my mom be there with me, thank goddess. that was a big help. they used the ultrasound to insert yet another wire, to mark the site of the microcalcifications that were to be removed during surgery. then they injected the radioactive dye into me (i'm assuming that's why my pee is blue), which HURT A LOT because they couldn't numb that spot first or else the dye wouldn't work properly. it took them a frustratingly long time to find the right spot with one of those needles; i don't know, i wasn't looking...but it just felt like i was on that table forever, being stabbed way too many times. then finally it was over and someone, a nurse i think, put lots of tape over all of the ends of the wires that were poking out of my chest, so that they didn't stab me when i put my shirt back on. lovely.

all of that was so awful, that by the time i was actually in the pre-op room meeting with the anesthesiologist and nurses and my surgeon, it almost felt GOOD...just by comparison, you know? like, YAY, yes, i will totally sit here with this silly gown that i've mistakenly put on backwards, and answer routine questions a million times, and let you take my BP and temp again, AWESOME! because you're not a strange man jabbing a wire deep into my breast! actually, i was a little deliriously giggly with the poor nurse who asked me to recite my full name and birth date for literally about the 15th time that day. i was laughing so much it elevated my BP. i asked why they had to keep asking that, thinking it had something to do with checking to make sure i was okay in the head, but she said it's because they follow very (very!) careful procedures to make sure they have the right patient and are giving them the correct treatments. it just seemed so absurd, to the point of being unreal, when i'm sitting there with a boob full of magic marker X's and wires protruding, that someone was asking me with a straight face, "and which breast is receiving the lumpectomy today?" i giggled about this with K, who rocks. it's kinda amazing how she and i were joking around and laughing as if we were out for coffee or something, when not so long before that in the mammo dept, i was crying and trembling and felt on the verge of fainting. it reminded me of all the toddlers i've known, who are so in the present moment that they quickly and easily flow from one emotion to the next... a toddler will be sobbing on the floor one moment, and then someone makes a goofy face or blows bubbles from a wand, and she's suddenly giggling again. i was kinda like that. K's mere presence puts me at ease...it's too bad i was unconscious for most of my time with HER! oh, and apparently i "giggled like a little girl" while going under anesthesia, although i have no memory of that!!

surgery only took FORTY-EIGHT MINUTES! i guess because everything had been marked so precisely during that awful time in the mammo dept, and also because K rocks. did i already say that? :) and then apparently i started waking up from anesthesia after only SEVEN MINUTES! (i thought it would take an hour or two!) i was of course dizzy, woozy, shivering, etc., but i wasn't babbling like a drunken idiot or anything, which i was glad about. my family members came in to see me, 2 at a time because that's all there was room for, and i was glad to see everyone and have that much love around me. i drank some water, and the nurses wrapped me in HEATED BLANKETS... that was so nice. and i dozed awhile. then they kept asking me if i wanted some saltine crackers and i kept politely declining, because i don't really like saltine crackers and have been trying to avoid white flour and processed foods. HAHA, i didn't realize that me eating crackers was a required part of the discharge procedure, so that i could take a percoset with something in my stomach. once i understood that, i said okay to the crackers, and then had to swallow my laughter when a nurse tore open the plastic package of crackers and just kind of tossed 'em onto the blanket covering my chest. my arms and hands were pinned under the blanket, and one arm still had an IV (inner elbow - so i didn't want to bend it), and then i was fumbling to get my available arm out of the blanket to eat these silly crackers that i didn't even want... for some reason, that moment is when the whole day/situation felt especially surreal to me. like, WHAT?? i'm lying on a stretcher half-naked with a needle in one arm, concentrating on finding a way to eat the required crackers that are spread across my chest? really? they left crumbs all over, and it was just so stupid/funny.

OMG, here i am going on and on about the crackers, when really i should be going to BED. i'll update tomorrow with more details. leave it to me to forget to say the big things, like "lymph nodes appear healthy but we'll find out for sure on friday," to instead babble about saltine crackers. ha. time for another percoset.


  1. I'm so glad to hear from you and thanks to andee for the updates. I've been thinking about you all day. Considering all the pre-op stuff you had to do, you'd think SOMEONE would've explained about all the procedures pre-surgery? Someone? These hospital types should know that the expected hard stuff isn't always the hard stuff for everyone....glad you ended the day giggling, though. Enjoy the percoset. I have a fond memory of demerol post-Jonah's birth....

  2. Love and hugs, Britta! I love reading your updates! :) I'm so glad you are in good spirits!


  3. Regarding the hospital process, :oO !!

    I have no words.

    But I'm glad that you're doing "well" enough to fixate on things like crackers instead of the terror of the hospital. That's super reassuring! Yay! ::happy thoughts still being sent to you::


  4. britta, you are a brave, brave woman. i'm sorry you had to go through the pre-op stuff that way. i can't imagine! that was just so obviously wrong for you, so absolutely opposite! surreal is right! omg! sending lots & lots of love. i love that the actual surgery went so quickly and so well. you will heal so quickly now. xoxo! <3 <3 cathryn

  5. Oh, the heated blankets! My dad loved those. They have a box that looks like a giant refrigerator, but it's a warmer that's full of BLANKETS! I always make sure my surgery patients have extra blankets and a warming pad, too.

    The pre-op stuff sounds awful- i'm sorry it sucked, and i'm sorry you had to deal with guys touching you. I am on both sides of the "guy doctor" thing. On the one hand, once you've seen as many naked bodies as they have- a boob really is just another boob. Once you've seen one or two- it's really just another body part, and medical staff really can mentally seperate between "touching a breast to perform a procedure" and "touching a breast sexually." I touch penises and anuses all the time and it's just another procedure...

    On the other hand though- i prefer female doctors for female-specific conditions, because no man can ever understand what it feels like to have painful breasts/menstrual cramps/etc... because they just don't have the same parts. I certainly don't know what it feels like to have a penis! I wouldn't feel comfortable telling someone what to do with theirs... I feel a level of comfort with a practitioner that has the same parts as me- so that at least they know what it must feel like to have your breast squished between those plates! I'm sure your guys were professional and very good practitioners, but i think women can be more sensitive...

    and the crackers... i'm sorry but that's funny. Did you at least tell them you don't like saltines? LOL.

  6. thanks, everyone!
    jill - they had SORT of explained it to me ahead of time. i knew that i would have to have a wire put in my breast and that it would involve a mammography machine. but i didn't know that it would take that LONG, or have so many steps, or that my mom couldn't come in for it, etc. maybe if i had known all the horrid details ahead of time i wouldn't have had the guts to even enter the room!!

    steph, i had a choice between saltines and graham crackers. i like the taste of both but neither is healthy/good for me, which made me resistant, ha. (like, hey, i have cancer! shouldn't you be giving me kale, instead of refined carbs?!)

    as for the discomfort with male doctors thing...logically i know that they are professionals and that to them, touching a patient's breast is not sexual. but it doesn't matter to me what's going on in THEIR heads, because it still FEELS wrong to ME...you know? it just irritates me that there are so many male doctors who specialize in women's reproductive systems/women's body parts. WHY? you don't see a bunch of female doctors specializing in prostate cancer...