Lumpectomy surgery is not so bad, I’d recommend the day I had to anyone if you didn’t have to come away with some pain and a scar.
The day of the procedure, I didn’t require anyone to drive me as I would be able to drive myself home since I wasn’t going under the anesthesia. I found myself not nervous but excited at what I might get to see and hear that day.
The first nurse that came to get me was very sweet and because I was not thinking of me at all and noticing all that she was doing along with her comments and procedures, we ended up laughing quite often. As she took my vitals and was briefing me on the first procedure of having a wire placed into the site directly to the spot to be removed, we busted out loudly in guffaw – okay, I might have been the loud one, but she was laughing heartily too. She was telling me how wonderful the mammogram technician was who would be basically running the show for the placement procedure along with the surgeon who was threading the needle. I was of course picking up on every little point that could be laughed at and we were having a good time. Soon there was a knock on the door and in walked the highly touted technician wondering what the heck was going on in our room as she couldn’t even prepare the machine down at the other end of the hallway for fear she was missing out on some fun at our end. She couldn’t even wait for us to join her as she had heard crying many times coming from this room, but never such laughter.
The placement of the wire into the breast requires absolute stillness while being pressed inside the mammogram machine. I had a different nurse, the tech and the surgeon in there. We were so animated in conversation that the surgeon finally called a halt to any chatter at one point for half a minute so that he could complete his duty.
There is about a 15 minute period after they are done that they do their paperwork and get everything ready to send the patient off to pre op. The head tech let the nurse go off and said she would normally also leave to complete the paperwork, but today she was going to stay so that we could chat some more. We talked of family, old TV shows, food, and kids transitioning into adults. It was quite the gamut. She asked what my plans were for the evening after surgery. I relayed that I might see if the hubby wanted to go out to eat since I felt that maybe I would not want to cook. She said I likely wouldn’t want to go out for I might be too groggy. I asked why I would be groggy to which she then recalled seeing in the paperwork that I was not being put under for the main surgery and she busted out laughing. “Oh my gosh, I want to be in surgery with you today. You are going to get into so much trouble in there”, were her words. She obviously was projecting the time we had in our procedure onto the next. The nurse then came to get me and the tech and I gave each other a squeeze in lieu of a hug as she didn’t want to risk moving the wire now sticking out of my breast.
The nurse that took me from the needle wire placement area to the pre-op area, said that she had previously worked in that department and that I would like the staff there and she was sure they would love me. She introduced me to my nurse and asked if she could hug me goodbye (obviously, she did feel the wire was an issue).
My nurse in pre-op was a joker who more resembled a weekend Harley Motorcycle rider than your typical nurse. We found our sense of ease in sparring comments and joking very quickly. As there was little to do to prep me as I did not require an IV or any special accommodations in getting ready for surgery, we mainly chatted while he did some of his ‘busy’ work. Normally, he would do it elsewhere and just check on his patients, but we were having fun, so he did it with me as we also watched a movie that he procured for us. Normally, the small screen and player is just brought out for kids, but I guess he figured that the two of us combined were pretty childish. We were only asked to hold it down and not be so loud maybe twice, so I figured we weren’t too bad.
We were again laughing at some ridiculous comment when Joyce (my surgeon) showed up with her main nurse for the surgery. Joyce wasn’t surprised at the humor in our space as she and i had already shared some laughs, but the young nurse immediately said I should fill out the customer evaluation form right now while I was in such a good mood and spelled her name so as I could get it right. This of course got another laugh and set us up for fun communication in surgery.
They wheeled me into surgery and I met the other two assistants that were to be in the room as well, making us five women to chat. To my disgust, they draped my head and shoulders off and I realized I would not get to see anything. I don’t know exactly how I thought they would do the operation with me looking on, but to not get to see anything was a huge disappointment. Luckily we were all engaged in the chatter, so my focus shifted from the viewing to finding out what made these gals special. I can now tell you where most spent their childhoods, there family status, where they like to vacation and do mission trips and that one of them also has a unique laugh.
When the surgeon was done and I was all stitched up and they were ready to move me on out to recovery, Joyce remarked that she felt like we should all be going to happy hour now instead of recovery for me and another surgery for them. I think they all learned a bit about each other that day.
Except for the one time that it started feeling like she was using a dull melon baller to scoop out the tissue and I had to request a bit more numbing at the site, it was a fun experience. They all thanked me for a fun surgery and I was off to recovery.
Periodically throughout the day, someone would ask if I had anyone there that they needed to update. They seemed always surprised when I said no, but I would go on to explain that I wasn’t worried about me and if someone else had come, I would then be worried about them knowing they would be grumpy just sitting around and waiting. No one could argue that point and besides that, I felt like I was with people who were genuinely caring about me and for me.
The recovery only really consisted of making sure my blood pressure was good and then they let me get dressed and go – with a prescription for pain killers. As I walked out of the recovery area, I had to walk past the pre-op area and my previous nurse was there talking to another patient. He quickly asked for a brief reprieve from helping his patient to come over and say goodbye and he too gave me a big hug.
As I left, I had to smile at what a fun day it was and how almost everyone throughout the day made me feel like they appreciated me being there.
Here’s to wishing you all great days ahead.
Oh, the call a few days later also confirmed that there was no cancer and all was clear. When I went back for my followup with the surgeon a week or so later, she relayed that the surgical team was still talking about my surgery with laughter.
And Lastly, go get your mammogram done if you are due and especially if you are overdue.