MMM (Monday, May 4th, Mastectomy)

The first week of May will never be the same for me.  No longer will it mean “Cinco de Mayo”, or dancing around the May Pole, or even “the last month of school”.  No, from now on, May means a rebirth of sorts.  Kind of like “life before you have kids” and “life after kids”.  May means a depth of understanding that you can only achieve by direct experience.  Of course this kind of experience I never invited into my life, nor would I wish it on anyone.  But since I am living it, might as well embrace it completely.

Monday, May 4th was the BIG DAY.  I was kind of surprised that my emotions did not come bubbling up and over the cups of my beautiful (and expensive) Bra-llelujah brassiere.  I was only hours away from surgery, and really kind of upbeat. Happy to finally get this rock ‘outta there.  Invader that it is…

First stop was Dr. Barone’s office to get up close and personal with his “Sharpie”.  Didn’t take long to measure and mark, and mark and measure.  He indicated on the canvas of my chest his preferance of  incision  lines for Dr. Butler, since she had the first stage of surgery.  Such a surreal moment.  

Then, on to St. Vincent’s.  Once again I almost felt “upbeat”.  (In a television show announcer voice) “And NOW, ladies and gentleman, the moment you have been waiting for…….time to change into a hospital gown!”   Ooooh, getting into the blue cotton gown, made it more real.

The Bee Sting Lie

 After I changed into my new hospital attire, I was sent via wheelchair to NUCLEAR MEDICINE.  I was kind of vague on what exactly was going to happen here, all I knew was that I was to be injected with something so the lymph nodes would stand out in my tissues.  The nurse in this room did warn me, “Now honey, I’m really so sorry, but this is going to hurt”   Awww dammit!  I had been having such a good time up to that point! The doctor came in, another small man, but at least he held my hand with his smooth-as-silk hands for a just a minute as he explained that he was going to inject the medicine (I don’t even remember what it is, now) four times around the perimeter of my left nipple.  And he said it would hurt a little like a bee sting. Well, you know, I have had a bee stings before, and apparently they were kinder, gentler bees, for what this doctor did was so incredibly painful, it ranked at about a 15 on their cute little 1 through 10 pain scale.  After two of my injections, I thought I had only one left, and nearly cried when he said, “oh no, only two left to go.”  This series of seconds were so intense, it has given me a whole new platform of pain I am able to endure, and still live to tell about it.  Amazingly though, the intense pain only lasted maybe 30 seconds per  injection.  While that seemed like a long time at that moment, by the time I was rolled out of there, I was ready to move on to the next event in the operation line-up.


The Breakfast Survey

In times of great anxiety/transition/intensity I have found that it helps to connect with people around me.  The nurses in the pre-op area were kind and played along with my oddball  (I’m pretty sure if I wasn’t laughing, I would have been crying) sense of humor. For some reason it became really important for me to know just exactly what everybody had for breakfast.    While talking with three nurses who were poking and stickering me (with adhesive pad things) I discovered the nurses at this pit-stop had yogurt, granola, cereal or toast for breakfast that morning…..not too bad.  Then, I noticed a strange little man hovering in the background.   Hmmmnnn….who could he be?Perhaps he is just the driver waiting to navigate my rolly bed into the OR?    ….Nope…..    He muttered his name, and then proceeded to tell me just how he was going to relax my lungs so much that I wouldn’t breathe on my own….and blah blah blah.  Couldn’t really focus on anything else he said after that little bit.  SO, I asked him, “How are YOU feeling this morning?  And what did YOU have for breakfast?”  His immediate response, “Diet Coke”.  OMG, Diet Coke?  “You had diet coke for breakfast?”  The nurses chuckled, while I was just a tiny little bit freaking out. Someone said, well at least it’s  diet.  “Yea, but it has aspertame!”   (I wondered, don’t these people who WORK IN HEALTH CARE know how terrible Aspertame is for you?!) I’m pretty sure I was the only one who cared.  That was an anxiety producing moment!  Really, really bummed me out that this guy, an actual M.D. who is going to hold my ability to breathe in his hands, is so careless with his own diet, health and wellness.  Now, he did have a nurse on his team, and she had yogurt and granola for breakfast.  I quietly asked her to stick close to “Diet Coke” because I didn’t have a lot of faith in him. *  

Next thing I knew, I was rolled into the OR, it was COLD, I had to scoot myself over to an awaiting gurney, and there seemed to be LOTS of people there, like 5, 6, 7, 8, or more.  I knew they wouldn’t be answering any more of my questions.   But the next question I had was, “what time is it?”  The answer was: 6:30 PM.  Wow, a whole day was lost.  A new reality has begun, and the interpretation of my new self is up to me.  



*By the way, Dr.Butler, the first surgeon, had Kashii cereal, skim milk, fruit juice and I think she said peaches.  Made me feel so much better.  She won the prize for the most nutritious breakfast!


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One Response to “MMM (Monday, May 4th, Mastectomy)”

  1. Marilynn Wentland Says:

    Hi KL,
    I can’t believe that you asked everyone what they had for breakfast! I wonder what you would ask people if you were headed for the guillotine!? Eek! You do have an off-beat sense of humor but I think that is a wonderful as you make this bizarre journey back to good health. Your sense of humor will help you through the rest of the glop you will have to endure. You go girl! MW

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