Surgery day has arrived very quickly! We arrive at St George Private Hospital by 6am. We get all booked in and fill in all the paperwork. I have been nil by mouth since midnight.
The first “procedure” of the day is to have radioactive isotope injected at 9am. This is to see if any cancer has travelled out of the breast to the lymph nodes. It is a fairly new procedure so I am glad I get access to this new technology so to speak.
We meet another lovely lady and her family in the waiting room. She is there also to have the same procedure for a lumpectomy today. You can just see the fear on her face. Poor love. We make small talk and try to act like everything is going to be ok.
My lovely man Marc is with me every step of the way. Any one who knows us knows we cope with life through humour and lots of it. The poor technician that takes some images of me is very straight laced. Marc is trying to make him laugh and he is almost tripping over himself just to get out of the room more quickly. I am laughing so hard for a moment I forget what I am at the hospital for.
The injection of the radioactive substance really hurts but it only lasts a little while. This will trace the pathway from the breast to the lymph nodes so they can be biopsied and tested for cancer. I am then escorted back to the preparation area for surgery. I wear what I think is my most comfy mastectomy undies only to be told they are made of the wrong fabric and I need to wear these ridiculous paper ones. So uncomfortable, honestly there is no end to the embarrassment you experience.
The Breast care nurse comes by, she is lovely and makes me feel really at ease. She explains that I will receive some support regarding a prosthesis after the surgery and also receive support at home post surgery due to the drains I will have in place. She also tells me I will get a soft prosthesis and a bra to wear after surgery.
The anaesthetist comes by and I feel like he has stepped of the set of mad men, he looks like he is right out of the 1960’s. A lovely man, funny, happy to chat, I am glad for the distraction to be honest. Its getting near 12 and I still haven’t gone in for surgery. I am becoming really thirsty and agitated, lets get the ball rolling people!!!
I finally go in for the surgery at 1pm. I get the smooth talking South American orderly who is as smooth as silk. He is wheeling me along and says in his smooth accent “So what is Santa Claus going to get you for Christmas?” Without even thinking is say “Breast cancer how about you?” Poor guy, does not have an answer for that and I am far too focused on the next part of my day to apologise. I didn’t mean to sound nasty that is my bald sense of humour at times.
I am aware that I am awake and back in room by 5pm, I feel sore but ok. I have a dressing on my right side chest and a drain coming from the right chest wall as well as a PCA for pain. At the push of a button I can get pain relief. Marc is there when I wake up which is nice. He has to leave at dinnertime so that the kids get fed, and I settle in for a quiet evening.
By 10pm I have the nurses encouraging me to get out of bed and use the toilet. This is not easy, it is very painful to move and I am not able to go. We realise pretty soon after a few attempts that it is more about performance anxiety than a surgical complication. PHEW!! I sneak to the loo by myself and am able to go, then tell the nurse that all is well.
Then at about 1030 the anaesthetist comes and says “hello.” What an unexpected and lovely surprise. After some routine small talk, he asks “so do you remember anything during the procedure?” I answer, “No should I?” He responds with a weird, “Nooo”. He then vanishes into the night.
After he has left I look in the mirror and notice that I have a black eye!!! What on earth happened in that operating room? As I lay there, laughing to myself, pondering the endless possibilities I drift off into a broken sleep, first day after my mastectomy, I have survived, in fact I did quite well, I wonder what tomorrow will bring?