Sorry to keep you hanging there, people… I did wake up! The anesthesiologist mixed a perfect cocktail for me and here I am today bloggin.’ It’s what I do. I figured you would infer that I made it safely through surgery from my previous post, you know, the one I made post-surgery, but I did get some inquiries. I assure you, my ghost did not write my last post. It was all me.
I did not intend for there to be a major cliffhanger. I believe that a cliffhanger, in that context, might indicate signs of pure evil, which I do not possess. Rather, I was so hopped up on drugs (really good ones I might add) that my blogging inspiration and motivation fizzled at the end of my surgery explanation. I told my mom that whoever invented Percocet should be granted a Nobel Peace Prize. She said maybe he should be given one in science instead. No way, that man has for sure spread peace across the world. Good for him. He should have his own holiday.
The surgery went well. I was in actual surgery for about four hours and recovery for about one. The hospital generally gives patients two hours in recovery but they said I was ready early. Figures. I have always been super punctual. I hate to disappoint.
When I first opened my eyes I remember a nurse telling me where I was, that surgery went “just fine” (whatever that means!?!), and that I was there to rest and recover. If you know me at all you can understand how simple instructions like “rest” and “recover” aren’t really my thing. I was already trying to wake up, sit up, talk, or make a new facebook friend. Basically I was dying to socialize in the recovery room. Surgery was over. Let’s party. I needed a full report on what happened in the OR for goodness sake.
After quite the battle I was sent up to my room where my family was there to greet me. I had told them numerous times before the surgery that I wanted to know as soon as possible after I woke up of any complications or problems the surgeons ran into while I was under the lights. I didn’t want to be in the dark. “No matter how hard it is to tell me,” I told them, “tell me. I can handle it.”
So, we discussed my new favorite thing—lymph nodes. Man, lymph nodes are so lame. Going into surgery we were unaware as to how far the cancer had spread. Even after several ultrasounds, MRIs, and PET scans, it was hard to know for sure. (I am already working on a machine to change all that, don’t you worry. Give it time.) There was some indication on my right side (which is where the cancer originated) that there were some inflamed lymph nodes. Also, that area of my underarm had been giving me some pain over the previous months. So it was not a big surprise when my family gave me the news that the cancer had, in fact, spread into my lymph nodes. The only problem was we weren’t sure how many lymph nodes it had gone to. Kind of a buzz kill if you ask me. With that news I went back to sleep for another hour.
The rest of my hospital stay was filled with your normal excruciating amounts of pain and details that are real boring or may scare young or male readers. I am going to sensor myself here and just say it was rough, very rough. But I did get Italian ice that my sister dutifully spoon-fed to me that I was convinced had been imported straight from Italy. I had never tasted anything better.
Now I am home. I sleep a lot. I am currently in a thick cloud of sleep and pain medication as I write this. Some tubes and drains are hanging off me and placed in “holsters” as I like to call them. Oddly, my charades of taking my imaginary shot guns out of my “holsters” like we are in a Clint Eastwood film aren’t a real hit with the fam. Weird right?! I know you are as shocked as I am. And I carry a fanny pack now with my pain pack in it. I am bringing the fanny pack back, just to let you know. It is going to BLOW UP in the fashion world. If fanny packs are on the cover of Vogue’s September issue next year, you heard it here first. And, I got a call a few days ago from my surgeon. He had good news. Out of the 17 lymph nodes pulled, only 4 had cancer. “Is this good news?” I asked my surgeon, still not fully understanding lymph nodes and their role here. “Oh yes, this is very good news,” he assured me.
Although cancer is a terrible disease I try very hard to focus on the positives I can gain out of it. Besides the good meds, the number one positive for me has been finding a part of me that I never knew existed—finding strength in myself that tells me I am going to get through this, and any of life’s other trials, just fine. I am blowing my own mind over here, people. The second item in my what-we-can-gain-from-cancer hierarchy is relationships. Cancer really gives you the opportunity and excuse to cultivate those relationships that may have faded or find new ones. When you are diagnosed your world is going to open up and you will feel very blessed. I know I do. I am literally unable to keep up with all the calls, the emails, all the messages, and gifts. But that is such a good thing. People love me! And you will find that people love you too. What a wonderful thing to discover! Having the C card has given me the ability to open the door to some relationships that probably would not have been opened for some time, if at all. Cancer essentially cuts out all that extraneous stuff that really does not matter in life and allows us to zone in on what does. I understand that no one wants to be dealt this hand. But this experience of going through cancer is powerful and can be life changing. You just need to open yourself up. I bet you will be surprised and delighted with what you find.