The surgery yesterday went without a hitch… it was the moments leading up to it that were wrought with pain and suffering.
My parents arrived early to check in and make sure everything was in order. The nurse in the admissions department almost demanded that my father ride to the next destination in a wheelchair. My father explained that it certainly wasn’t his breast they would be operating on, so he’d pass on the wheelchair, thankyouverymuch. The nurse, not knowing when to back down, looked at the salty former Marine in front of her and said, “Sir. It looks as if you aren’t breathing well. This is a very long walk.” At this point, my father slapped his cover (hat) on his head, dropped his book on my mom’s lap and informed her that he was going outside. To smoke. He has emphysema. My dad doesn’t deal well with these things, he kind of shuts down or shuts everyone else out.
Once in the pre-op area they took my mom back to start her IV and do additional mammograms, X-Rays, etc. The nurse came to the waiting room 45 minutes after they took my mom and asked us to join her in the room. The nurses (4 of them, actually) were having a hard time getting an IV started. My mom explained she has a disorder called, Disappearing Veins (really, she does… and it’s quite fascinating to watch) but the nurses ignored her. Disappearing Veins are like this: the nurse will gear up to get the needle in, the vein will be popped out almost shouting “Come get me!” only to disappear as soon as the needle comes close to making contact. Thus begins the game of hide and seek, only it’s not so fun when you’re the person getting jabbed over and over again without sucess. Finally, they called a surgeon in and within 3 minutes of her being in the room, she was washed, gloved, wrapped the arm, got the vein and out the door. Ahh.
They took mom to have additional mammograms after the IV debacle. Of course, after the biopsy a few weeks ago she’s developed hemoglobin and a blood clot in her breast. Oh, and during the biopsy they left a metal clip in her breast where they took the sample from… so it’d be easier to find this time around. The mammograms lasted 45 minutes. Well, let me put it this way- my mother was in the little stool, forehead pressed against the cold metal head rest with her breast smashed for 45 minutes with the hemoglobin, blood clot and metal clip! The remainder of the mammogram cycle lasted another hour. This includes the nurses placing a wax-covered Dixie cup over 4 needles that were extended from my mother’s breast and taped it to her. It made for a good joke with the surgeon about “Whistlin Dixie” and “D (for Dixie) Cups.”
When she returned from her mammogram/X-Ray trip her face was tear streaked and anxious. She didn’t want to move, she just wanted to get it over with. She wasn’t expecting that much pain. Apparently, she’d asked for some Happy Juice (a suggestion she took from me- I learned during my surgery. Happy Juice? Yes, please.) The nurses didn’t think she was serious, so my mom went through all of this without any pain meds or anti-anxiety meds. Now, I’ve seen my mom cry before. Lots of times. She’s my mom. A bit hyper, a lot dramatic… so seeing her tears aren’t new to me. Yesterday’s tears were. They were raw, unscripted and full of pain. In that moment, I decided I didn’t want to witness her illness. I didn’t want to be there. I wanted to see sunshine and breath fresh air. This wasn’t about me though. It was about my mom and that’s all that mattered. I might not have wanted to be there, but she wanted me there.
They took her for surgery around 3:50 in the afternoon. They cut open around 4:10 and the surgeon (very nice man) was out to speak with us by 5:10. The results aren’t in. The surgeon explained that from the naked eye, this doesn’t look like cancer but he has been surprised many times when the results come in. He further explained the next steps. They removed the entire lump, she lost some size of her breast (which mom didn’t care about, as she said… her left breast was always the bigger one anyway- so maybe they’ll be symetrical after 61 years!), the incision was pretty and he expects a nice recovery. Good to know the incision was pretty, mom’s banking on a retirement career as a Topless Dancer (jokes). We’d hate to have an ugly scar! She’s to rest for a week with ice packs and copious amounts of pain killers. She was released around 6:00 and The Husband, my dad and I took her home where she promptly said, “hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii” and started snoring.
The rest of the evening was a little slow and tedious. I grabbed takeout and fed everyone and watched my mom fall in and out of fitful sleep. She’d sleep for a few minutes, wake up crying and fall right back to sleep. As long as she ate something with those loony-tunes pain pills, I didn’t care.
This morning she’s doing well. I’ve asked her to lay off the pain pills (or hide her cell phone) because she’s coming up with some really crazy things to talk about, and some things… well, they’re better left unsaid. I’ve told her I’ve got the tassels and edible underroos… so she better recover quickly to start training for her new career. Also, The Brother is deploying tomorrow- and if there’s a history of breast cancer in our family- I need to let him know ASAP she he can have his removed. I have to take advantage of the moments when my mom is hopped up on pain killers. She’s told me several times that she didn’t order a comedian, she ordered a daughter. I’m usually quite squishy around her… and dull.
We’ll get the results on Thursday or Friday this week. For now, they’ve sent the lump to be “shaved” into small sections where they will study each “shaving” and give us results as soon as they can.
Thank you so much to all of you who prayed for my family, sent me wonderful comments and emails. I appreciate it more than I could ever say.