I'm back... and I have one breast.

Sorry about the hiatus. As I mentioned last, my nails/fingertips are a wreck. Typing is not the easy task that it used to be. Today, I realized that not only are my nails/fingertips sore and bruised... not only are the nails lifting a bit... today, one of my fingers started bleeding under the nail bed.

Nice right?

But, that's just one small thing...on a long list. I'm not going to stress over it. I'm hopeful that the doctor will tell me tomorrow that its normal for what I'm going through and nothing more to worry about.

So... to catch you up. I had my mastectomy on January 9th. I didn't write about the date on the blog (or online) because the days leading up to the surgery were very emotional. I cried every day -- most of the day. Learning that I had to lose my breast in order to be rid of all the cancer hurt my feelings in a way that I don't think I will ever really be able to explain to someone else. Learning that I wasn't able to have the reconstruction at the same time of the mastectomy took that heartache to a new level. So, for once I kept quiet about what I was feeling.

On the morning of the 9th, although my surgery was scheduled for 2:30pm and I was supposed to get to the hospital by noon, I got a phone call from the hospital at 8:45am asking me to come to the hospital early. (ha!) That sent me into a tizzy. I barely slept the night before surgery and was actually dressed when the phone rang. But I wasn't ready yet for the hospital. I freaked out a bit, called the boyfriend -- freaked out on the phone with him, called my girlfriend -- tried to be rational with her, and then got my folks to get it in gear so we could head out.

Turned out to be a situation of "hurry up and wait"... because I still waited for an hour before I went into the OR prep. I told my boyfriend not to come to the hospital because he's been so busy lately and I didn't want him to feel like he was wasting time sitting around the hospital. I don't think it was the right call in hindsight. But, oh well. It was good that my parents were there.

Getting ready for surgery was scary for me. I tried to remain calm but I was terrified. But... I'll say this, they have good drugs at the hospital because I remember NOTHING after the anesthesiologist put "whatever" in my port. I went to sleep about 1pm... when I woke up it was 6:30 and my folks were leaving. I went back to sleep and woke up around 8:30pm when they put me in my room.

I was bandaged tightly -- or at least it felt that way and I was groggy as hell when I woke up. My girlfriend stopped by and so did my boyfriend -- and it made all the difference for me. I couldn't stay awake really but I tried... and I held their hands for as long as I could.

The touch of someone who loves you is such a peaceful balm. I hated asking them to come to the hospital late at night but I could not have slept as well all alone that night. I found out later (next day, few days later) that the surgery went well. The surgeon was excited that he got all of the cancer and I have to say that my surgery scar is really quite neat looking.

It took me several days before I could look down at my scar. Maybe 4 or 5 days. I was happy that when I finally did look, it wasn't hideous like I had imagined. Don't get me wrong, its not pretty by a long shot. But its just not horrific. Even now, a couple of weeks later -- I still feel like there is a breast there. Rather, I still feel whole. Until I look at myself -- in the mirror, or look down as I'm dressing or bathing. Then... I feel a little freakish.

About a week after the surgery, I ended up back in the hospital because I blacked out twice. I spent the night in the hospital but... of course, they couldn't figure out why I passed out. I hate going to ER. Although I have to say that riding in the ambulance wasn't as horrible as I ever imagined. My paramedics were nice guys who helped me to feel at ease -- they couldn't help me other than transporting me to the hospital but it was okay.

The bad part about going to emergency is seeing all those doctors. Its like watching clowns getting out of the clown car -- they keep coming and coming and coming, no end in sight. I never remember their names -- honestly, I don't even try to learn them. They all ask me the same questions, again and again. Apologizing in advance for asking me to repeat the same story but still... they ask. They don't know my history, they can't figure out what's wrong... but they keep coming. Med students, residents, doctors, head of whatever... blah blah blah... techs, nurses, blah blah blah. Just a sea of faces. After getting to the hospital at 1:30pm, they knew they wanted to keep me overnight but they couldn't find a bed for me until 10pm. Imagine the fun.

When I passed out, I was in the kitchen fixing something to eat. I never got to eat my food. So I waited for hours with no food at the hospital. Luckily, my RN was a breast cancer survivor so she understood how I was feeling. She was really nice to me. I am still so amazed at the number of women who have to deal with this madness. Anyhoo... She eventually got me some dinner. It was gross. :) But I ate as much as I could.

Eventually I got into a room and wow. I wasn't in a single. I blame the ER doctors. They didn't want to "share" me with Dr. Siegel's oncology team. I really think that had something to do with my less than stellar accomodations. Anyhoo... my roommate was an elderly lady who I think had dementia or senility or something. She screamed and hollered ALL NIGHT LONG. I would go into more details about her but suffice it to say, she wasn't the most ideal partner to share space with.

I was simply cranky. I talked to more doctors the next day -- still no one knew a thing. I felt better when my oncologist stopped by Saturday morning. He didn't have any idea what was going on but it was just good to see a familiar face.

(my fingers are killing me so I'm gonna wrap this up...)

If you're wondering how I'm doing... I'm okay. I need a break from this "cancer thing" like nobody's business. But I'm okay. My scar seems to be healing well and I'm feeling sort of numb about this. I'm almost out of my pain pills... lol... so I don't know what's going to happen after tomorrow but we'll see what Dr. Siegel says.

Right now, I'm waiting to discuss the pathology reports. After the surgery they send tissue samples to a lab to get reports about the cancer etc. My surgeon talked to the pathologist and was excited about the discussion. The pathologists were having difficulty finding where the cancer was. He took this to confirm that the chemotherapy did an excellent job of shrinking the tumors and getting rid of the cancer. (of course I thought of it differently but his way works) I have an appointment tomorrow with my oncologist so I'm hoping that he can tell me what's going on, what we truly were working with and where we stand.

The expectation prior to surgery was that I would have to have 6 weeks of radiation therapy (5 days a week for 6 weeks). Now, we're not sure if its necessary. It depends on the path report.

Have I said lately that this all feels surreal? I promise you that at least 5 times a day I hear (in my head) the hook of the Biggie Smalls song..."it was all a dream, I used to read Word Up magazine..."

Between my surgery, my passing out, my extra 2 days in the hospital, and then the inauguration of the first black president -- I swear I must be dreaming.

I keep trying to dream up a winning lottery ticket but so far, no luck.

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