I woke up Tuesday morning at 5:15 AM, unable to eat or drink anything, including coffee. Jene’ retrieved me at 6:30 and she drove me down to the medical center. Without coffee, the trip seemed like a dream. The sun started to rise but I was barely lucid. For example, in the parking garage, there are only 11 floors, and I was told to report in to the 15th floor, so the elevator caused me great confusion. Thank goodness Jene’ had been there before and handles mornings and numbers better than I do.
I reported in on the 15th floor around 7:15 and began a long day of waiting. They explained to me there were others ahead of me on the surgery schedule and I probably wouldn’t have the wire insertion until after 9 or so and told us to go up to the 16th floor for that procedure, where we…waited.
I had previously stated that the stereotactic biopsy was the weirdest medical procedure I’d experienced, but that was because I had not yet experienced the wonderfully surreal wire insertion that preceded my surgery.
I don’t remember the technical term, but a doctor inserts a wire anchor/hook (6+ inches long) into your breast at the exact spot the surgeon needs to remove tissue. I am sure medical people know why the wire is more important and exact than an “x” marks the spot, but apparently, this procedure is a must for accurate breast-tissue removal surgery.
I went in and sat in a chair and they pushed me forward and put my breast in the mammogram vice grip before the lidocaine (which I think the lidocaine should be inserted before compression of this magnitude) and positioned me for the procedure. I was instructed to hold still, not move, barely breathe, while they took pictures and aligned my cancer cells to a grid. Then the lidocaine was applied (thank God) and the wire hook inserted. I was praised for being a good (blood) clotter.
To try to assign pain levels to such a procedure is folly, even with the pain killer – they have the breast in a vice grip and they hook the area like you’re catfish and then they leave it there. The wire stuck out at least 6 inches like a fishing line, and to make sure I was “hooked” securely the doctor tugged a few times. I felt like I’d been fishing with my brothers and there’d been an unfortunate accident (or one of my older brother’s “let’s see what this does!” experiments gone wrong).
I got a cheer for enduring the procedure as the doctor wrapped the wire in a spiral around the anchor/hook and taped it down so I could put on a gown and be taken back to the 15th floor. The gowns come in two sizes – for tiny, small people with no curves, and pup tent sizes. I was double gowned in the pup tent size, which I could have fit two or more people inside. It quite resembled a choir gown and I wanted to bust out a, “Hallelujah Chorus,” except that I had a wire sticking out of my breast and I still hadn’t had any caffeine.
They took me to the pre-op area where I waited a couple of hours for my surgery. Jene’ waited with me and I was visited by a long line of nurses, residents, anesthesiologists, and the surgeon. My friend Michelle, who works at the Children’s hospital, came to visit me, too. Finally, after what seemed like an endless morning laying there with the end of the hook poking me in the arm, the surgeon and the anesthesiologist returned and started the IV of sleepy-time tonic. Jene’ said that I spoke after that, but I do not remember anything until I woke up in the recovery area. I was very thankful to be “off the hook.”
There was a man there in scrubs checking my vitals and Jene’ was sitting next to me. I felt like I’d taken a nap but didn’t rest. I was finally able to drink some water and eat a couple of oatmeal bars and then the nice man in the scrubs shot me up with demerol. He told me I could leave when I could prove I could pee. I had motivation and a bottle of water.
I kept looking down at my arm (groggily) and being surprised it was blue (the anesthetic wash). I was surprised by this several times, for several hours as the demerol wore off. Finally, I was able to use the restroom, and then I got dressed and was whisked out to Jene’s car in a wheelchair (demerol does a nice job of making your legs feel like wobbly gelatin).
We went straight to the pharmacy and we were there for over an hour because the resident who filled out the prescription for my vicodin (a narcotic) did not put the required DEA# on it, so we waited (and waited) while Jene’ tried to get all that worked out. I am still going to address this with my doctor, as I had to wait an agonizingly long time for pain relief and they need a better way to get in touch with the doctors after 4 PM.
We finally got home, I took meds and eventually climbed into bed at 10:30, sleeping with a wall of pillows around me so I wouldn’t roll over. I stayed home and medicated the next day, then worked the next two days (doctor said I could if I didn’t overdo it) and have rested the rest of the weekend. There’s a little discomfort left, but not much. Just in time for round 3.