Friday, September 9, 2011

Boob Tube

First, let me say that Ethel doesn't live here any more. And in even better news, while Ethel was a completely unwelcome visitor, she was also pretty good to me during her stay. She left without packing up my breast, instead leaving with a lump of tissue about 3 cm by 5 cm. The surgeons also took three lymph nodes to biopsy for cancer and they were all clear! YAY! This is the best possible news I could have gotten. Well short of someone saying "Hey, that lump isn't cancer!" which wasn't really a possibility. So celebration all around! (I celebrated by drinking water at 5:00 pm yesterday. It was delicious. Paul also let me have 10 spoonfuls of gelato before he apprehended it from me.)

Want to hear about my surgery? Of course you do, that's why you're here. At about 11:00 am yesterday a nurse came in to start an IV. They opted for my foot since there was a possibility that I would be getting flopped all over during surgery. The nurse starting this IV was so nervous because my veins were not easy to find. I guess it is because I have cold feet which means the veins are smaller to begin with and I hadn't had any water or food in about 12 hours so I was dehydrated. After much debate she settled on her vein of choice. But first, I had to don my lovely compression stockings. Yes, that's right. I went into surgery wearing nylons. I guess this helps with preventing clots. All I know is I plan on keeping these things to use for long flights since I also get cankles when I fly now. Like, seriously body, what are you doing to me?

After the IV was started we sat around for another hour until someone showed up to wheel me to the OR. I rode there on a bed which made me feel slightly ridiculous but by then I had already been given some shot of something meant to help relax me so I didn't feel totally ridiculous. I think it helped because in the pre-op room there was a Korean woman wailing and some part of me knew that should freak me out but mostly I was just enjoying staring at the ceiling. I'd like to think ordinarily I would have more empathy for others in pain.

Then into the OR where I met my anesthetist. We spoke for about 11 seconds, he wished me a sweet dream and someone put a mask on me. I was breathing in this scented oxygen thinking "I don't think this stuff is working" and then suddenly I though I could understand all the Korean being spoken in the room and everyone was talking about crazy foreigners and how anesthetic never worked on them. This clearly is not the case because the next thing I knew I was back in recovery. Chances are I didn't suddenly become fluent in Korean as I can't understand it now. I'll just assume my brief sojourn into fluency was actually the drugs. Anyway, first thing I did after waking up was feel myself up. Although I have a lot of dressings on the wound and a compression garment I was pretty sure that I still had my boob. Hurrah!

One of the things I was super impressed with here is the way they keep families up to speed on what is going on. Like in an airport where you can check in on flight status, you can do the same thing here. A board will tell you when your loved one is in pre-op, getting surgery and in recovery. Here is my board:

Once the pain was more under control I got wheeled out to meet Paul. He was actually the one to give me the good news about Ethel. I suppose it is possible that someone had already told me this in recovery but I was still pretty out if it and in quite a bit of pain. He was quite shocked that I had no idea as he had known what the deal was for about an hour by the time he saw me. Again, thanks to drugs, I wasn't too concerned that no one had told me anything. Once back in the room I got more drugs (hells yes) and had a tiny nap.

It was only after waking from this nap that I became aware of the drain. I won't post pictures of that because, frankly, it's gross but it did inspire the title of this post. I have my very own "boob tube". Basically it is a tube coming out of the incision so all the fluid that would normally be building up inside me has somewhere to go. All of this stuff is going into a bottle which looks kind of like a super turkey baster that has been deflated - I guess to act as a slight vacuum. I'm told it helps with healing. All I know is I have a bottle of blood in my front pocket. Yes, I know, it's gross and maybe I didn't have to share that last part but I just can't help myself. To make up for it, please enjoy this picture of me post-surgery, eating my Korean dinner and looking gorgeous.


  1. Wow with all that technology the best they could do was "Itchell Lau"? Its worse than a bowling alley screen haha. Glad to hear everything went as well as possible. I was mortified to hear about your condition (you are friend/family member #3 to be diagnosed with cancer this year) but it is very optimistic to hear about your progress. Hope you're feeling better quick!

    Adam :)

  2. Actually, scratch that - #4 this year. Damn that's a lot of cancer.

  3. I see that Popp Tart had surgery on the same day as you. I'm learning so many things from your blog!
    I'm glad we(they) were able to kick Ethel to the curb while keeping the rest relatively intact. Do you get to keep Ethel in a jar? What are the visitation rights?
    Adam, are you a cancer contagion carrier or something? That's too many for one year! Stress!

  4. you know when I suggested you get compression stockings to wear while flying on an airplane I meant just go buy a pair-- By the way you make those PJs look very good

  5. Best blog yet! Ethel was a loser, good riddance!

  6. Yeah! Congrats Laura, soooo glad it went so well and that your lymph nodes are clear!!

    If you won't post pics for all, at least email pics of fluid drains to those of us who might appreciate it, like *ahem* me.