Recovering from ‘major’ outpatient surgery

Recovering from ‘major’ outpatient surgery

You guys.

As those who know me best can attest, I’m not speechless very often.

But I’ve been at a loss for words for most of the past couple weeks, as I’ve been showered with love (and way too many gifts) after sharing my recent breast cancer diagnosis.

THANK YOU.

Seriously. I’m not sure I deserve you all, but I’m definitely glad I have you in my corner.

Surgery was last Friday, and a lot has changed in the decade-plus since my first trip to the operating room to fight cancer. I had pre-admission testing (even though it was outpatient surgery) and pre-surgery homework that included doing breathing exercises, using special soap, and drinking a protein shake that promised to boost my immune system prior to my ‘major’ outpatient surgery.

I was apprehensive, as you might expect, but everything has gone well so far. We left for the hospital shortly before 7 a.m. and were home with my prescriptions well before 6 p.m. I alternated muscle relaxers and pain pills until yesterday, when I stepped down to Tylenol.

The biggest difference with this surgery was that I came home with two surgical drains — tubes coming out of small holes in my chest that allow various fluids to escape. The drainage gathers in bulbs that my husband Bob and I empty and measure twice a day. When the flow slows eventually, I’ll go in to have the drains removed. (I had to watch a video that showed a drain being removed, and I am not looking forward to it one little bit.)

Today I got the surgical pathology report, which my surgeon said was great news. The only cancer detected was the tumor we already knew about. And although it looks like the cancer had begun to find a path to travel, it hadn’t hit the road yet. Now it won’t.

My recovery has been a bit more active than I anticipated, since my doctors want me to keep moving to prevent pneumonia and keep the drains flowing. So my mom and I have been making daily outings; we’ve been to Holland Park, Noblesville’s Square, IKEA, and Hamilton Town Center so far. Nothing like a little retail therapy to make you feel better!

#strong

Well, that didn’t work

Well, that didn’t work

Twelve years ago, I had just finished chemotherapy and was preparing for radiation to treat Stage III breast cancer. Now I’m 12 days away from surgery to remove a tumor discovered during my annual mammogram in November.

Yeah, it’s back.

My initial response to the news was predictably profane. Hearing you have cancer once is unreal. Hearing it a second time is surreal.

Still, I’m optimistic. We caught it early. The tumor is small and doesn’t appear to have spread. I have a wonderful medical team and the best family and friends around.

A lot of things have changed in 12 years (including most of my doctors), not the least of which is COVID-19. I’m scheduled for surgery Feb. 18 – more than three months after that suspicious mammogram. When I was diagnosed in 2009, it was less than a month from squeeze to surgery.

Anyway, I haven’t told many people not because it’s a secret, but because I wanted to wait until I knew what happens next. Now I know: bilateral mastectomy and about 4-6 weeks of recovery. We’ll know more about any additional treatment after the docs get a look at the tumor. I LOVE my oncologist (as does literally everyone who sees her name on my medical chart), and I trust her implicitly.

Last time around, I shared my story (in what was probably way too much detail) on Caring Bridge. This time, I’ll be updating this long-neglected blog with my medical musings. Feel free to follow along.