Archive for March, 2006

I feel psychic

So all of the pain I’m feeling is because of dissecting lymph nodes to see if the cancer is still in my lymph system. Of course, the doctors sent the tissue off to be checked and when I called the surgeon’s office to see if there was a problem with gauze in my drainage tubes (there isn’t a problem), they had the pathology results.

But the receptionist and the nurse couldn’t officially give me the results. I’ll have to wait until next Thursday when I see the surgeon. That’s a whole week, a long time to worry.

But while talking to them, I got surprisingly psychic. I do believe that the results will show that there is no trace of cancer in my lymph system. And that’s very good news. So I thank those wonderful women who helped me become so “psychic!”

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I married a frat boy

Charlie here. I never would have guessed, but Laurie may be a frat boy at heart. She’s very proud of just how far she was able to vomit at the hospital. She’s telling everybody. It was almost the first thing she told her pastor when he visited her at the hospital.

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Home again

Okay.

I’m home. I should be well, dammit, but the drains that are under my left arm (and that will be there for at least another week) hurt. And, for a right handed person, it’s amazing how much I used to use my left arm–I’ve discovered since I haven’t been able to use it.

I’ve gotten used to lots of things, so can probably get used to pain. Or discomfort, as they all call it at the hospital.

Still, I’m really looking forward to Charlie getting home with my pain meds.

The good news is that I have “the magic pink basin.” The techs found it for me last night after my Exorcist incident and I’ve had no use for it since then. I figure as long as I keep it within (right) arm’s reach, I’ll be fine.

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Not Much To Say

Well, up till now, I’ve worried that things have gone way too easy. I don’t feel that way about surgery. I’ve got quite a bit of pain under my arm where they dissected lymph nodes (whatever that means). And the nausea has been Exorcist-like. After just water and Sprite, I managed to vomit strongly enough to hit my feel while I was lying down.

But the MCCG staff is efficient and supportive, so I’m in a dry bed and dry gown now. And I have a bucket next to me now, just in case.

Charlie hasn’t told you about my “magic stockings”. I’ve got support hose and some sort of device that compresses my calves every five seconds or so. Thankfully, they weren’t hurt by my spewing.

I don’t know that I have anything else to say. I appreciate all the prayers, well-wishes, and good thoughts, and I’m sure I’ll be better in the morning.

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In Recovery

Laurie’s out of surgery, in the recovery room. I won’t be able to see her until they move her from there to her regular room where she’ll spend the night.

Her surgeon came out to talk to me, and told me that she’s fine and the surgery went well. She’s going to have a bit more pain than for the biopsy, and she’s going to have a drain for more than a week. But I think she’ll handle that well.

We’ll hear from pathology later this week. The results will guide her radiation treatment. It’s possible she won’t have to have it, but Dr. Conforti agreed that it was almost always used.

The next post you read is likely to be from Laurie herself, once she’s in her room.

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In Surgery

They came to get Laurie about 20 minutes ago for surgery, and the status board shows her in the OR. I ran into her surgeon in the waiting room when he finished talking to the family of the patient he had just finished. He said he wasn’t at all tired, and felt great (after I asked him). He estimated about 90 minutes for the surgery, so expect the next update after 3:00 eastern time.

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Surgery Today

Charlie here. We’re at the hospital, waiting for Laurie to go into the operating room.

It’s been a very slow morning. We got to the Ambulatory Surgery Center at 7:45 and checked in, and were told “you should be down at the other (main) surgery center.” We explained that we’d been told emphatically several times where to check in.

They thought about it, and said that we should go straight to the Breast Center (in the Ambulatory Surgery center). We walked there, and were told we should check in at the front desk first. We said we had, and had been sent forward.

Finally, the main nurse there, Wanda Register, came out, and straightened everything out. She’s fantastic; problems and confusion just melt away when she gets involved. Laurie went back to get a needle inserted to guide the operation.

But that took a long time, because they couldn’t find where the lump had been. Chemo had completely removed it. (What a terrible problem to have!) They finally turned the mammogram machine upside down to get a better angle, found it, and inserted the needle. Laurie says that, for a while, she thought they were going to turn her upside down.

At which point we had to travel a block to the main hospital. They had an orderly drive us over. At the front desk, they told us to walk on up to the pre-op area, where they were a bit shocked that Laurie wasn’t in a wheelchair, or even accompanied by staff.

But since then, everything’s been good. She’s all wired and tubed up (even with pneumatic leg massagers for during surgery to make sure her circulation stays good), and been given Valium. She faded out a bit, but just checked her e-mail to see if there’s anything she had to take care of before surgery! She asked me to post this update so everyone will know what’s going on.

Laurie’s surgeon is doing a complex procedure now, so we will probably have to wait at least an hour longer before she goes in. I’ll update everyone when that happens.

P.S. I just read this to Laurie, and she just wanted me to note for the record that the damn needed hurts. She strongly recommends not having a six inch needed inserted into your breast. Or anywhere else, actually.

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It’s never THAT easy

Okay,

So I figured I’d have surgery this Friday.

But I figured wrong.

Seems when my oncologist’s appointment person called to set up surgery, she just set up a lumpectomy. And lumpectomies can be done in the Surgical Center. And you can go home the same day.

But, since I had cancer in my sentinel lymph nodes, I also need to have some lymph nodes under my arm removed to check to ensure the cancer’s gone from there. This is a much bigger deal. You get drains put in. You have to spend the night.

And you need to be in a different operating room. One that my surgeon doesn’t have access to this Friday.

But he does have access next Monday, so that’s when I’ll have surgery. At least, that’s what I’m thinking now.

Actually, this is just fine. I’m quite glad to hear they’re checking if the cancer is spreading. It gives me one less thing to be paranoid about.

But I had to explain all this to Charlie as he was preparing for his colonoscopy. He always told me I was being a very good patient and he’d be a million times worse. He was right. But it turns out he had nothing major found and the minor thing they found may not be a problem at all (we’ll know after the pathology report, but it’s a question of whether he needs to be retested in 5 or 10 years). And Charlie decided the procedure wasn’t bad at all. The sedatives they give are good.

But I had so much fun going to the Napier Building/Breast Center and not being the patient!

I’ll be doing preop Friday (I think…I let Charlie answer the phone while he was still on sedatives and that’s the message he got). I should know more then.

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Getting rid of cancer

So, we met with the radiation doctor and my oncologist today and have decided to go with a lumpectomy.

Am I really surprised two non-surgeons would suggest nonsurgical approaches? No, but it’s good to know that going with the smaller surgery isn’t crazy. Especially since Dr. Burns, the oncologist, is going to be the one to handle the follow-up after surgery and radiation are done.

We’ve even got an appointment for the surgery. It’ll be 8 days from now, Friday, March 24. I see this as a good omen…it’s the drop deadline for spring semester. I had my lymph node biopsy and port insertion on the drop deadline for fall semester and it went well. When that’s healed “enough,” I’ll go back to the radiologist’s and get initial work/measurements/etc. done. Then 6 weeks of radiation 5 days a week and then it’ll all be done.

Except for the monitoring for the rest of my life. And removing my ovaries (my genetic defect causes a much greater risk of ovarian cancer and there’s still no good way to monitor for that).

But I’ll worry about all that later. For now I’ll just be excited/happy/contented to know what the next step will be and when it will happen!

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Happy Birthday Charlie

It’s Charlie’s 50th birthday today. And he claims he’s going to be happy spending it going to doctors’ offices with me.

He’s really special.

I’m really lucky.

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