Sunday, March 10, 2013

What I Remember

Hello everyone! I'm home from the hospital and resting. The combination of pain medication and muscle relaxers keeps me in a sleepy fog for most of the day. I will do my best to get this post up before I nod off.

Rick and I headed to the hospital a little after 5:00 am on Wednesday morning. I got checked in and headed to SAU. From that point on, medical providers were in and out of the room. I spelled my first and last name and gave my date of birth no less than a dozen times to no less than a dozen people. That many people also asked what procedures I was having done. I got to wear a paper gown that when connected to a tube circulated warm air. That was real nice! I also had my calves wrapped and every couple minutes they would compress and squeeze my calves...a mini massage!
Dr. Kadkhodayan came in with a Sharpie marker and measured and marked me all up. I kind of looked like a treasure map. Dr. Ogren came in and reviewed everything that she was would be doing, then the anesthesiologist popped in. He told me about the oxygen they would give and then the IV medication would put me to sleep. In all of my surgeries at Children's I was able to choose the flavor I wanted to smell in my oxygen mask as I drifted off. He said they don't do that here. They all initialed the surgery site and then I was wheeled down to the breast center where a fourth doctor injected me with a dye to make me radioactive (and to light up the lymph nodes that had cancer.) The nurse said I was radiant and glowing! Later, Dr. Ogren would use a Geiger counter to see where the dye had spread and whether or not the lymph nodes were affected. I would find out the next day that she had to take two of the lymph nodes since they had cancer in them, and out of the remaining nodes, they found cancer in seven of them. I was not happy with this bad news. Dr. Ogren reassured me that this wouldn't affect the treatment and that she had been anticipating lymph node involvement with the size of the cancer lump, but is still expecting a full recovery. I'm still going to pray that the cancer hasn't spread. I'll eventually have some kind of full body scan to see if any cancer cells have settled anywhere else.

The pre-op nurse was able to get my IV in on het first try! That made my day. All the doctors were in the room along with the nurse anestithist and the surgical nurse who were both breast cancer survivors, I said goodbye to Rick and my parents and was wheeled off into the OR. To my delight, the anesthesiologist humored me and brought in several flavors of lip balm to choose from for my oxygen mask. I drifted off into a deep sleep to a land that smelled like cotton candy.

My mom and dad waited with Rick. Once Dr. Ogren was finished, three hours into the surgery, she came out with an update. She told them about finding cancer in two of the lymph nodes and removing those. After another hour and a half, Dr. Kadkhodayan came out with her update and instructions for follow-up. Another two hours passed and they brought me to my room where I tried my hardest to keep fluids down. My family was sent running on more than one occasion for an emesis bag or zofran.

From there it was meeting new nurses, assessing my pain on a scale of one to ten, learning how to take care of the grenades that will be attached to me for the next month, and drifting in and out of sleep. I managed to stay awake for most of my visitors. Thanks to all of you for stopping by, for the flowers, the treats , the magazines and other gifts, and most of all, the prayers.

I had some great nurses and aides throughout my stay. One or two might need to rethink their career path, or we both met each other on not our best days. The day I left I was able to shower and that made for the best day ever! Dr. Kadkhodayan sent her nurse to do a wound check and to show me how to use some of my new gifts. I'll have an extra JP drain holder if anyone needs to replace theirs!

Rick and Ella are doing a great job of taking care of me. They've got a great system going. My mom and dad are also one step ahead of my needs. My sister, Ali, was here for a couple days and was able to just hang out. She gives really good massages. I will miss that, I mean her. I will miss her. Jamie is back in Minnesota now and she gives really good hand/foot massages. I feel bad accepting help from Jamie as she limps around with her mega knee brace, but am enjoying my time with her.

I spoke with Dr. Ogren today about the results from the pathology report. The actual size of the cancer lump was much larger than she had anticipated or what had been measured from the MRI. She reiterated what she had said earlier, that this isn't great news, but it doesn't change the course of treatment with chemo and radiation.

I'm still in that waiting phase. While I feel good knowing that the big cancer lump is out, knowing that there is still cancer in my body makes me a little anxious.


  1. Thanks for the update Melissa. I will be praying for your continued healing and for the scan to show no other cancer.
    Our heavenly father is the ultimate healer, and nothing is too big for Him!

    Still praying!

  2. Hi Melissa: Thanks for another great post Your mom is doing a great job of keeping me posted on everything and you have amazing friends who are coordinating various kind of help for you and your family. Know you are prayed for and lifted up!
    Love and hugs,
    Jill Kirkwood

  3. Hi Melissa,

    I hope that you are doing well. I sent you a private message through facebook, you must not be checking those messages. I am not sure how else connect with you are in all of my thoughts and prayers.

    Jenn Mayer (IR Woodwinds)