In celebration of the start of my 6th year of cancer fee living, I thought I would share a chapter from my short story, Boob Bon Voyage. The tattoo, a badge of courage on my reconstruction breast. In loving memory of my left breast because after all she was with me for 58 years and we had a lot of fun together.
Monday, the day before the surgery K finally makes it home. It’s late and we don’t have much time to talk about much of anything. Before I know it’s time to get up and head for the hospital. My last day with two breasts that are all mine and I’m wondering how bad is this surgery really going to be. I know I’m in good hands; I have the love and support of my family and my friends so it’s going to be fine.
I make it through all the final preparations: hospital gown, stockings, IVs, meds, answering all the pre surgery questions, approving the surgery, checking all the forms. I even have to initial my left breast so everyone one knows which one is getting whacked off. Which tells me that somewhere down the line, someone had the wrong breast removed. Now that would be a real bummer. Dr. W shows up in a flannel shirt, blue jeans and cowboy boots. Great operating outfit I’m thinking but I don’t really care as long as he does everything right.
We say our, “see ya in a few hours,” and I’m being wheeled down the hallway with K and Kel walking beside the gurney. Kel is taking photos of me, gotta love a kid that takes photos of you in your surgery outfit! But she’s making me laugh. Probably wasn’t all that funny but with all the happy drugs I have on board just about every thing is funny.
The operating room is freezing cold and they ask me to scoot over onto the operating table that is about twelve inches wide. Really, by butt is not made for a twelve-inch table. I want the queen size table but they tell me they have to use a small table because they have to move me several times during the surgery. Great! Now I feel like a beached whale that people are moving around in the shallow waters to keep alive.
No worries because as soon as I get on the table some nice doctor gives me an IV push of la la land juice and I’m gone. The next thing I remember is waking up in the recovery room. Someone is talking to me, calling me by my first name. Who the hell is calling me Karen? Telling me to wake up. I don’t want to wake up and stop calling me Karen!
I do remember the “F” bomb flying out of my mouth several times and I’m thinking that’s about the funniest thing I have said or heard. The more I say it the more I laugh. Not only am I laughing but the nurses are laughing too. Every time I say the “F” word is say, “oops, I’m not suppose to say that” and crack up. I’m talking about this and that, my hair, my gown, my boobs, my feet or what ever comes to mind. They finally sober me up enough that I am moved to my room. The last thing I remember there was the nurse telling K and Kel that I have some kind of dirty mouth and laughing.
I barely remember the nurses waking me up just about every hour during the night taking my vitals. I do remember K being in a bed next to mine. Kel had gone home to take care of the dogs. When I wake up in the morning all I can think about is my talking and laughing in the recovery room. I tell K and Kel that I need to go down and apologize to the nurses, as I was bad.
I’m feeling really well considering what all was done to me in a six-hour surgery. I’m not feeling any pain and I look like something from Star Trek. I have more tubes coming out of my body than a 1956 short block Chevy engine. “What’s with all the tubes?” I ask the first morning nurse to visit.
“Those are your drain tubes and you will have some of them for several weeks” says the nurse, as she checking all of them to make sure they are all in place. Funny as it seems, nothing is hurting. I am bound up to keep my new implant and bandaging in place. I didn’t know about the drain tubes but since they weren’t hurting it’s no big deal. I’m hungry!
“As soon as you eat and use the bathroom you can go home, “ she says.
I don’t know if everyone gets to go home the next day after a big surgery but I don’t care. I’m heading home to my own bed and get some good sleep. No one poking me all night long making sure I have a blood pressure and such. Feed me, let me potty and I’m out of here!
Before I leave the surgeon comes in to check on me with the good news that the biopsies on my lymph nodes came back clean. The cancer had not spread at all. That’s just about the best news anyone can hear. I know I have said that I try not to ever do the ‘what ifs,’ but I did have a plan on what I would do if the cancer had spread. And even though they have told me that it’s a five-year wait to see if it comes back, I do not worry about that possibility. I have other things to do.
So many things have changed over the last six years but I still try to live not worrying about the what ifs. I’m learning a lot of new things which is making retirement fun. I am reaching for dreams I wouldn’t have let myself reach for ten years ago. Holy Crap! I finished a novel, am learning to promote my writings, wrote a short story, started a blog, and got the courage to put my photography out there for the public to view. I am a very lucky woman as I have the love and support of my family and friends. I know that even if I fail, I’m still loved. And in the big picture of things, that is the important stuff.