Everyone has been anxious to hear how my surgery went. I'm finally feeling normal enough (come down off the morphine) to write a little something. I'll try to be quick because apparently I have to go rest or something.... ;)
The surgery happened on Tuesday afternoon at the Lion's Gate Hospital in North Vancouver. I have to send a shout out to all the staff I had the pleasure of dealing with. My stay was as incredible and comfortable as any stay in a hospital could be. I started with 2 pints of blood before my surgery because I was so anemic. I kind of felt like a vampire. Seriously, the transfusion is probably what weirded me out the most about the entire experience. I had to ask, "What vintage is that?" I know- Ewwww, gross! We're talking about human blood! I'd much rather talk about poo. But, I'm sure we'll get to that.
I had several friends and family members there with me as I waited for the surgery time. It was great. We just joked and laughed to pass the time, rather than me sitting there nervous and (dare I admit it?) afraid. Pastor Trevor was there and he suggested we pray before they came to bring me down to the OR. They all prayed a lovely prayer over me and just as we said "Amen", the nurse comes in and in a huge voice announces to the patient next to me, "Wow, you sure have been peeing a lot!" Just what you want to hear at the end of a prayer. Even though we were a group of grown adults, we had to giggle a little at the timing of that comment.
They came to get me and I got to walk to my gurney all by myself! I felt like such a big girl. Actually, I felt like I might as well do it while I still can. They wheeled me down to the OR, I kissed my husband goodbye, and they pushed me through the doors that say "Authorized personel only". They set me to the side of the hallway to await my imminent surgery. It was there that nurses and surgeons passed me by, either ignoring my presence because they see so many of us daily, or smiling at me because I seemed to be in such a good mood. I had one of them stop and comment to me, "We don't usual see people as happy as you in this area." I told him, "I figure some of you have had pretty rough days and can use a smile." I don't think he knew what to do with that comment.
It was soon after that a male nurse came running out of an operating room, nearly tripping on his own feet, as he barrelled toward the crash cart in the hallway. It was only about 10 feet away from me so I got to see his expression of worry and anxiety as he called for back up. It seemed like every person in the whole area headed toward that room. I sat there, somewhat in shock, not sure whether I should laugh or cry. Is this going to happen to me? Are they going to go running for the crash cart while I'm in the OR? It kind of freaked me out, to be honest. So.... I laughed. One of the two remaining nurses looked at me funny so I explained, "Not exactly what you want to see 10 minutes before you go in for your surgery." I suppose I shouldn't have laughed. The person in there could have been dead as I laughed. They could have been wheeling a corpse out of that room. I have never been that close to the "act" of death. I've never witnessed it or even been in the next room. Fortunately, I saw them wheel the man out of that OR and he looked fine. A little red and swollen, but fine. I'm sure we all look a little red and swollen when we're being wheeled out of the OR.
My favourite part is being in the actual OR. I become the centre of attention! Those of you who know me well will roll your eyes and laugh knowingly at that comment. They start asking all sorts of questions about me: what I do, how old my daughter is, etc... They took my glasses off at that point, hooked me up to the drugs and I drifted off....
I don't really remember waking up. It happened slowly. I don't really remember much of the rest of Tuesday other than Mike got to come in and see me in the recovery room, then they wheeled me out and I had a whole bunch of familiar faces greet me, then I was upstairs in my room sleeping again. I woke up every 45-75 mins that night. Not a very restful sleep, but lots of attention from the nurses (who were great!). I had a morphine pump, which I did my best not to overuse. The darn thing wasn't working right though! I would press the button, which I hadn't pressed in a LONG time, and it would say I was still locked out. Then sometimes it just wouldn't give me any response at all. No noise of rejection or anything! I swear it recorded me pushing the button way more than I actually wanted drugs. The first nurse I told about the machine didn't believe me. I could tell. Then it stopped working for my other nurse, Sophie (who I love!), so she didn't think I was crazy. At least not for that reason... I'm sure I gave her many other reasons to think so.
I set little goals for myself each day. The first was to walk around.... and I did! I don't quite remember what day it was, but I had set myself the "lofty" goal of passing gas so that I could start eating solids. I knew it would happen that day, I just had to get it out! Things were starting to build up and make all sorts of noise, so I figured it was only a matter of time. I did a LOT of walking around that day (which really did make me feel much better as a whole- give it a try if you are in recovery, even if you don't feel like it). Finally, late that evening, I was walking around with my husband and Mother-in-law, and it happened!!! I wanted to jump for joy, but settled for giant smiles and a sigh of relief. Don't you cherish those intimate moments you can share with your in-law's???
After a bit of a scare with low hemoglobin, I did eventually have a bowel movement, they weaned me off the hard core narcotics and then sent me home. I no longer feel like a pin cushion being pricked every morning as some form of a deranged wake up call. I no longer have to suffer an all liquid diet or the broth that they call "beef" (shudder). I had a lovely room mate for the last couple of days. She is a breast cancer survivor (yes, the 'pretty' cancer), and just had to have the rest of her "lady bits", as she put it, removed as a precautionary move. She was encouraging and great fun to talk to. Overall, I feel very blessed with the experience I had. I don't think it could have gone any better. Sure, I'm sore now and tired, and will be for awhile, but I do feel like all this came together in a way that is beyond what us humans can do on our own. Thanks, God, for taking care of your little one!
P.S. The actual surgery went fantastic; they got it all. We still have to wait for the pathology results to see how advanced the cancer was and if I will need chemo or not. Should have those by the end of next week, could be a bit longer. I will post it when they're in. Love to you all for the continued support!!!