I slept quite well, though woke early. My sister was there. The nurse offered “a little something for my nerves,” a small pill. I left it on the night stand. “I feel fine. I don’t need it.”
“We recommend you take it regardless,” she urged.
“Really, I’m fine. I don’t like to take medicine unless absolutely necessary.” (Ha! Wouldn’t that change!) She shrugged and left it on my nightstand.
Jen and I hung out for a little while. My entire ward was women all there for BC related surgeries, and I liked that thoughtful organization. My roommate was Marin, a mother of three there for her second go-around with BC and on the same surgery schedule. They also avoided putting a fresh patient in a room with someone who was just ahead of them in the surgery process, as not to scare or stress the “new girl”. Jen and I explored the place as if it were a resort and we just liked to hang out there. I wasn’t even nervous. Finally, she and I returned to my room from goodness-knows-where, and the nurse was there with a hospital gown. “It’s time to change.” I just stared at her. “It’s time to go. We need you to put this on for surgery.”
Completely accustomed to being top-naked in front of strangers by now, I took my last chance to show off my small but beautiful rack. Too bad the nurse didn’t have Mardi Gras beads to throw at me. The left one was just going to have to retire without that sophisticated honor.
Off came my top and I put my arms out like a zombie to accept the cotton garment, which opened via a line of snaps in front that ran from my neck to my armpit on either side. (How handy!) Now I was scared. Now I was sad. NOW I wanted that “little something” for my nerves. Why, oh, why didn’t I have a warmer attitude to drugs?!
Tears started to stream down my face. There was no more distraction from why I was there and I admitted my fear. I’d never even been in the hospital before, much less under general anesthesia. Jen asked me if I wished mom were there. I said no, I was glad she didn’t have to watch me do this and I believed it. I laid on the gurney. They took my glasses and the world went fuzzy as well as wet. Jennifer walked beside me as far as they allowed her, holding my hand. I really did not want her to leave me. I felt a little silly, as no one on TV or even anyone I’d seen on gurneys in the hall ever rolled by blubbering. It was not my “bravest” moment. I suppose I didn’t jump up and cling to my sister like a money, so it could’ve been worse.
I got into the prep room and Dr. Awesome came to say a few words to me as I was given the first steps of anesthesia. He comforted me and said he understood that I was scared but the he was doing my surgery and would take very good care of me. His words and presence did help. I stopped crying but my face was all blotchy, swollen and red like it gets if I really cry. (It’s like I’m allergic to tears or something. I’ve been accused of having the measles before. You can imagine that it helps my comfort level about crying in “public”.) Next they wheeled me into the very cold OR. The assistants were struggling with English, so I proudly got a little Dutch practice as I helped them get me positioned correctly. I looked over and saw Dr. Awesome in the corner, back turned, looking at my chart, seemingly taking a private moment to prepare himself. And then blissful ignorance…
Some hours later, a nurse would wake me up once or twice, seemingly just to get me to respond. I remember being unhappy that they woke me. I was still under the blanket of heavy sedation, but I could tell I hurt and I wanted to sleep through every minute of discomfort possible. Finally, they came to wake me for real, with my sister and Del in tow. They looked down on me lovingly and I asked, “Hey…so who won the game?”. This was June 28th and the soccer World Cup was on. Now, I like me some WC, but even I am impressed with myself for that.
They visited for a little while and I was glad to have them, but mostly I just wanted to sleep. The rest of the day was a blur of discomfort and fatigue. I was tired and I hurt, and I couldn’t move, that’s all I knew. They had taken 12 lymph nodes, I would find out, which seemed to cause the worst of the pain. For this first day they had doubled a sheet over with my arm in the fold and the length of the sheet running under me, so that I could not move my arm accidentally (or on purpose for that matter). Nurses came in here and there and pressed on my chest, nearest the armpit. That hurt a lot though I was too out of it to care strongly about much of anything. Apparently I had some blood pooling just there and they stuffed some extra material in to increase the pressure and force the fluid to drain. Suddenly I thought a bed pan was the most wonderful invention ever, so grateful I was not have to face walking and moving. At the moment that seemed an enormous task. I just wanted to lie there and sleep for the next month, to wake up feeling all better. Unfortunately, they didn’t go for that idea.