Saturday, December 12, 2009

Call me Second of Five

It’s official; I’m a Borg (half human, half cyborg).  The chemo port was put in Wednesday.  Notice that Dr. Quiros put a happy face on the bandage.  Isn’t he just the cutest?

I haven’t looked at the port too closely yet.  I only know that it’s poking out more than I’d expected.  I don’t know, I was thinking maybe it would look more like those turkey doneness things – flush to the skin, but poking up at just the right chemo cocktail doneness.  Sadly, that’s not the case.

We were told to report to the hospital at 10:00 am, which we did.  We sat in the waiting room for about 15 minutes, & then were ushered into the ambulatory preparation room.    After waiting another 20-30 minutes in a small cubicle, Matt went out & asked how much longer we’d be sitting in there.  He was told I wasn’t scheduled for surgery until 11:30.  Um, really?  Why couldn’t I have reported later?  Grr.   Fortunately, there was a TV in the “room”, which kept Matt busy watching Fox News & I brought a book to read.  However, at this point, I was STARVING!  I hadn’t had food or water since 12:00 the night before.  And, of course, when you’re hungry, the only commercials you hear are ones with food.  And trust me, there was no limit to how many commercials featured tacos, ice cream, candy bars, soda, hoagies, & every other food on the planet.

According to the TV, I’m supposed to be loving McDonald’s, having my hunger sated by some German guy when I bite into a Snickers, thanking God it’s Friday, thinking outside the bun & feeling like family at the Olive Garden.  But, that wasn’t to be.  I would have to wait until much later to drive through Wendy’s to get an overly fried chicken sandwich.  Which, I might add, tasted like the best thing I’d ever eaten (hunger can give you severe amnesia). 

At 11:40, I was finally taken to the pre-op room, where I met my anesthesiologist & his assistant.  Remember Skippy the Radiologist?  Well, this guy could give him a run for his money.  PLUS, his assistant had a hard time getting the IV going in my arm.  It took her THREE tries.  And it hurt!  Here’s the result of her handy work:

A heroine addict in withdrawal could have done a better job. 

Dr. Quiros came in, & we talked a little.  Then, it was time for the “happy medicine” to be injected into the IV that was finally in my arm.  Here’s something weird, though.  Matt says that the last surgery I had, as soon as the happy juice got going, I started talking.  I should be more honest – I babbled like a brook going downstream during the Great Flood.  Apparently, this surgery was no different.  I have no memory of either time nor what I said, & from what I understand, it’s probably better that way.

After surgery, I found out that Dr. Quiros’ first choice area to put the port wasn’t working.  He had to put it in nearer my collar bone, which a little riskier & of course, what should have been a 45 minute surgery took 1 & ½ hours.  When he came out, he explained it to Matt.  Apparently, he was shaking his head, & said, “It’s Tamara – what do you expect?”  I just have a way of being Lucy at all times – even when I’m asleep.  I hope Dr. Quiros has warned Dr. Nakajima, my oncologist, about me.  It might be helpful for the poor man to be aware of the hurricane of trouble that’s about to descend upon him.

Now, with the mastectomy on my right side & the chemo port on my left, I can’t lift either of my arms above my head.  I walk around looking like Mr. Burns from the Simpsons:


Sleeping is still a pain.  I’d just begun feeling comfortable enough to sleep on my left side, but now, I have Mt. Vesuvius on my shoulder.  And I can’t sleep on teen boob’s side, either, due to the drain.  If I move in a weird way, I irritate the drain incision, which hurts!  I’m back to lying on my back – yuk!  Having never been a back sleeper, this is really uncomfortable. 

On the bright side, though, Mt. Vesuvius has calmed down a little.  So has the swelling.  I’m able to sleep on my left side, if I move just so.  Hey, I’m all about baby steps.  And, if I’m lucky, I’ll get a Christmas miracle – Dr. Morrissey will remove teen boob’s drain.  I don’t think so this week, but maybe next.

Pain wise, I’m still mad at myself.  I think that the pain I’m feeling from the original surgery is a combination of the surgery along with the exercises I’m doing to raise my right arm above my head.  At least, that’s what I’m telling myself.  Sometimes, I wake up at night, with a spasm that feels like a Charlie horse, & it takes a little while to catch my breath.  I also feel pain in my rib cage, right under where my breast used to be.  That hasn’t let up yet.  But, I’m sure it will in time. 

Now, girls, if you’ve been diagnosed, please, please don’t think that since I’m still having pain, you will too.  Every woman is different.  Plus, I had three tumors in one breast, & Dr. Quiros had to take out 20 lymph nodes.  Don’t worry – each one of us is different.  And trust me; the doctors will help you through it.  We also find out how much strength we have in times like this.  Don’t be afraid to lean on others!

Even though this disease sucks, I’ve realized something amazing.  I’m one of the most blessed women in the world.  Through all of this, I have a wonderful circle of friends & well wishers; most I know & a few I don’t.  People have written, sent cards & flowers, fixed dinner for my family, & shared their very personal stories with me.  Ladies that work in the stores that I frequent have sent sweet “get well” notes.  An old friend of mine from high school that I haven’t seen much other than around town stopped by tonight to drop chicken soup off.  My doctors & nurses have been absolutely wonderful.  Dr. Quiros, Charity, Sue Folk, “Dr. Evil” (Dr. Laurie Sebastiano), & my booby daddy, Dr. Morrissey, have been such a source of comfort & optimism for me.  They’ve never made me feel that I’m bothering them with my questions. 

My family has closed ranks around me & made sure that if I need the smallest thing, I have it.  My crazy sister in law, Teresa, & her daughter, my equally crazy niece, Melody, have made sure to tease me often.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to wake up with my head shaved early to get me ready for chemo.  They know I wouldn’t have it any other way.  My nephew, Tony, made a Denver Broncos plaque for me, but he made the background PINK!

Matt, the kids & Gretchen have dropped everything to take care of me.  I haven’t had to lift a finger for anything (even though I do stuff behind their backs; remember, I’m a fidget – shhh).  The kids have decorated the house for Christmas, & didn’t forget one thing that has been traditionally put up.  They’ve even kept the house clean (just don’t look under the couch, behind doors, or open closet doors).  Even our animals have been extra attentive.

Life has a way of throwing curve balls at us when we least expect it.  We could always be angry & take it out on those who love us the most & anyone who comes near us.  Or we could look around & notice the blessings that we’ve been given.  They come in all sizes & shapes, in human & animal form.  They manifest themselves in smiles, touches, gestures & even tears.  They come in the form of letters, notes, emails & chicken soup.  They’re all around us & we need to look for them & be grateful that God loves us enough to send them to us when we need them.  Or more importantly, when we need Him.

They’re not only available to us when we get sick – they’re there every minute of every day.  The trick is to notice them.

Merry Christmas.

And now, for something completely different & pretty funny, I present the following:


bmwright72 said...

You're beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Another post leaving me laughing and crying. Although I'm behind in reading your updates, you are ALWAYS in my prayers. Enjoy watching the beautiful snow today.

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