I Felt Like a Recovering Alcoholic

29 01 2011

I’ve been thinking long and hard about which is worse: getting ready for surgery or the actual surgery itself. I think I’ve got a winner: it’s the surgery prep — the “Here’s a list of what you have to do. Oh, and nothing to eat or drink after midnight.”

I’ve lost count of the number of procedures and preps I’ve had to do in the 19 days since I first found the lump. Today’s surgery wasn’t scheduled until 2 p.m. Typically, afternoon surgeries require fasting 8 hours prior. But because the schedule was in flux — they might decide at the last minute to take me earlier in the day — midnight was my deadline.

Not a biggie in the food department. But not to be able to take a drink of H2O? That was like some sort of twisted Chinese water torture. I caught myself in the bathroom this morning, looking longingly at the faucet, wondering if I could sneak just a tiny sip. Surely I could keep this dirty little secret. No one had to know.

After all, a little sip of water couldn’t possibly be the dividing line in a successful surgery. Could it? I felt like a recovering alcoholic, tempted almost beyond the brink.

In the end, I chose the high road. I closed the bathroom door and avoided the kitchen. No agua for me. This surgery was simply too important to risk compromising. And it paid off.

Everything went like clockwork. Wiith some input from my sister, Julie, an RN, anesthesiology was able to take some preventative measures so I wouldn’t have a repeat of Tuesday’s uncontrollable, relentless post-surgical heaving and wretching. Some anti-nausea drugs added to my anesthetic cocktail did the trick, and I made it through recovery without incident. I happily sucked down apple juice and chewed on graham crackers all the way home.

The port is in and though there’s a two-inch incision just below my right shoulder, it’s not causing any pain. My surgeon even worked around the outline of one of my summer tank tops so that the port won’t show!

It’s going to be a fantastic addition to my arsenal in the weeks ahead as it will not only mean that I won’t need an IV poke every time I go in for an infusion, but will allow the direct injection of dyes used for the tests to track my progress as well as prevent or minimize the damage that repeated IV pricks and strong chemotherapy agents can cause to smaller veins, such as those in the arm and hand.

No news yet on the results of Tueday’s lung biopsy. Perhaps that is a blessing for now, as though a positive result will change my staging from Stage 3 to Stage 4, it won’t change the treatment protocol. Sometimes, it’s key to keep your mental focus on all that is good, all that is working in your favor, rather than hearing results or reading survival stats by stage.

My gut tells me that the lung biopsy will be positive for cancer. But I can deal with that because even if that is the case, this cancer is still survivable by a long shot. I don’t care what treatments I have to endure as long as the end result is survival. The means will be what they will be; my eyes are on the prize: remission.

This evening, I gathered around the dining room table with my family — my sister Julie, sister Lisa and family, niece Natalie and hubby Blake, Don and Theo. We all held hands and thanked God for all of the miracles we are witnessing on a daily basis. It is truly amazing. We enjoyed a pot roast dinner and cherry cobbler. And we sat around a roaring fire, just enjoying each other.

All is as well as it can be at this juncture. Chemo was postponed til Tuesday at 1 p.m., when I will begin my regular schedule of Tuesdays and Fridays for two weeks, one week off, repeat.

It was another excellent call by my physicians. As desperately as I wanted to get started today — my breast tumor continues to grow at a steady and alarming rate, there is pain radiating from my right clavicle, and I’m coughing — three days isn’t going to make or break my prognosis. I do not think my body could have tolerated being pumped full of anesthesia, the surgical procedure itself, and recovery, followed by 3 1/2 hours of chemo.

I look forward to a weekend in which I can regain my strength in preparation for Tuesday’s chemo kick-off, as well as one in which I can simply hang out and enjoy my family.

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4 responses

29 01 2011
kristi

Beautifully said and written (who knew!!). Love ur positive outlook and I’m all for the prize – remission! Enjoy ur family and remember how many people love and care for you!

29 01 2011
Marybeth

Yet again, you have brought tears to my eyes! I’m glad to hear that the procedure went well, and I was thinking about you all day. Have a restful weekend with your family. I’ll be praying for you all the way!

29 01 2011
Amy

Amy, your courage, strength and positive attitude are a true inspiration. You are my hero! I was thinking of you often yesterday and was so glad to hear that the procedure went well and that there was no repeat of the bad reaction from the other day. Keep your eye on that prize — remission!!! You go, girl!

As always, sending love, hugs and positive thoughts!
The “other” Amy

29 01 2011
Bob Adams

Amy, think of it this way…it’s one more chapter in that book about your life you’re writing. But enough drama! Let’s get to the chapter called Hurray, Remission!

Bless you, girlfriend. You’re always in my thoughts.

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