I remember being woke up as I came out of surgery by the nurses saying " your nodes are clear". I can't even remember a face at that point but I do know I cried all the way from the OR to the recovery room. I am assuming that is the news alot of women are waiting to hear. I am still waiting to figure out what that will exactly mean for treatment or my future. The recovery nurse also told me that I looked a little blue from the dye they had injected during the sentinel node biopsy. Let me tell you it turns more than your skin blue. Use your imaginations.
I spent the night in the hospital with family and friends coming and going. I was a little euphoric as I had been pleasantly injected with morphine in recovery. I do however remember the crash I experienced at around 10pm at night when meds wore off and I had downgraded to a atasol 30. Needless to say I had a rough night. I waited patiently the next day to go home. I wanted to go home yesterday at this point and was beginning to fall apart.They let me go home at four o'clock "thank god"! I remember just before I went home they came in and said they were going to change my bandages. Two nurses came in at that time to do it, one was a student and a senior nurse. I shuddered at the thought of them touching me. I would now have to deal with the fact that " it " was gone. The bandages helped to hide the truth or at least distract me from it. As I would do many more times in the coming weeks I cried as she removed the bandages and changed them. I remember the senior nurse standing over me and holding my hand and stroking my hair. She made me feel validated as I cried as I felt so exposed and changed forever. I was grieving. Grief can come from all kinds of loss. I mourned my breast.
I was told on discharge there would be a two week follow-up with the surgeon and hopefully he would have my pathology report. I wondered what that was going to say, and what it would mean and where it would all take me.
The next couple of weeks at home consisted of public health nurse visits, and many many friends dropping by. The bouquets of flowers were bountiful and my home looked very springy. I was grateful. People brought food oh how I was grateful for the food as my husband is limited in his cooking abilities although I really did not get a chance to put them to the test due to people's generosity.
The public health nurses were kind and patient as I panicked at each visit that entailed removing a drain from chest or the " gulp" staples being removed. I seemed to have some sort of anxiety ritual I went through each time and then later I would realize, after it was done, that it was not that bad. I had help from cousin on several occasions, she coached and caudled me through things. I am glad she was there.
My husband had to return to Houston for work two weeks post-op. We had an appointment with the surgeon just before he left. I wanted him to hear what was said so he understood. I needed him to understand.
We showed up at the hospital to be given the impression that they were unaware of the appointment, but were going to accommodate us. You know what that meant. Waiting!!! We were an hour sitting in the hard chairs and at this point I was still crashing and needing to lie down at various points of the day. So I had a nap, once again on my husbands shoulder. His helplessness never seemed to translated into not having a soft and safe place to lay my head.
" Sondria Browne" they called my name. " Great" I thought, I wanted to get this show on the road. I was completely freaked at what he was going to say, what the report would say. We went in and waited in another room, and I sat trying to wake up from my doze in the waiting area. It took a while. My husband went around touching everything and joking about what we could use at home. It broke the tension cause we were laughing. In came a doctor, but not mine. I believe he was a resident with my doctor. He sat down and said " we have your report". I thought okay good. He looked at us and then said " well its definitely cancer". I remember thinking " it better be cancer". I never in a million years would of thought that those words would go through my head or that I would even think something like that. All I could imagine is that my breast is gone, it better be gone for a reason. He began to go through all the info on the report about the fact I had two tumours not one as previously thought and oh yeah they were two different types of cancer just to top it off. I made notes on my iPhone for good measure so I could remember. The Resident clued up and then went to get my surgeon. They returned together and the surgeon spoke for a minute and then examined my incision and said it looked good. He said to me that I made the right decision to have a mastectomy based on the report. Really what every woman with breast cancer wants to know is " am I going to die" a question not easily answered at this point. Its such a broad question cause we are all going to die, some sooner than others. I personally am concerned about my mortality at this point. My husband wanted to know if I could travel during treatments to come and see him in Houston. I am thinking " I won't be going anywhere during chemo!" I know he was just trying to figure out how to make it work, to make it easier and somehow keep me close.
We clued up with the knowledge that I would be referred to the cancer clinic and should hear something in one to two weeks. As I write this I am almost 6 weeks post-op and no word. So my advice is bring your patience in these cases.
I dropped my husband at the airport a few days later not really knowing what the future held or where he would be in the coming months, all I knew is I would be here waiting. I guess I am not going anywhere for a while or that is how I felt.