The main thing I was worried about before the surgery was the unknown of what came after the surgery. How would I feel? Physically and emotionally. So, before I forget here it is. I hope someone else can find relief in my recount.
Upon arriving at the hospital I was admitted and put into a paper gown. I was wheeled down to radiology so they could inject radioactive material into my right breast in order to find the sentinel lymph node on that side. Then we waited. John and I were pretty calm while we waited. After about an hour they wheeled me away again to take a picture and make sure the radioactive material had progressed enough. I had to say goodbye to John then. They then wheeled me into holding. I saw all three surgeons. They were all reassuring. After they put an IV in my foot (so it was out of the way) and drew the lines for the surgery they gave me versed and wheeled me into the OR. I remember seeing the room and Dr. Wonderful holding my hand while they put me out. She was the last person I remember seeing.
Almost 9 hours later I remember waking up in recovery feeling very drugged up and a bit frustrated. I was cold but couldn't get my mouth to work to tell someone. Time seemed to be moving too fast. By the time they took me to my room I was a bit alarmed because I still felt so drugged up but it subsided quickly. John and his sister were there to meet me. I had a little bit of pain but not much. I had 4 drains in me and a pain pump that had tubes going into my back that released a numbing solution over my incisions so that cut the pain a lot. I was on a morphine drip.
While in the hospital they want you to give them a number for your pain between 1 and 10. 1 being no pain at all. I was mostly a 1 the whole time. That was a relief. I was not able to move easily at first but my mobility increased a lot every day. I am now able to lift my arms up to my shoulder level. I am a bit weak from losing blood and the oral pain meds make me tired too.
The day I left the hospital Dr. Wonderful came in and removed the bandages to re-dress them. I was nervous for what I would feel but excited at the same time. I was so pleasantly surprised. I had tears in my eyes. To the average person if you saw my chest you might be mortified but I am so extremely happy. I can see what they will eventually look like. I have a very small mound that looks like an adolescent breast and they point out to the side - not out in front - but they will eventually be in front and perky. I have nothing but relief. I have no more cancer in me and even though I am without my original breasts I do not miss them. I am not sad at all. I am ecstatically happy. The whole experience has been better than I had played it out in my head. Every day I am stronger and feel more myself. I don't know that I would have listened to someone telling me their story before the surgery but here is mine for someone who wants to hear it.