Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pink Ribbons - The Port-a-Cath Surgery

Pink Ribbons is a feature series I have started that is posted every Wed.  I am a Pink Ribbon Warrior, having gone through the chemo, surgery, radiation, the year of waiting and recently stage 2 reconstruction...which I find is really the first of many little surgeries.  I am at a place in my life where I am willing to open my journal from that time and share with you my anger, fears, challenges and pain of finding out you have cancer.  At the end of the post, you will find the links of the previous posts from the most recent first and going back.  These are not current events.  This is me sharing with you from the other side of breast cancer.

August 12, 2010

I don't know whose bright idea it was to schedule a doctor visit with the radiologist the morning after surgery. I'm okay just really sore and not wanting to move. The port is in that hollow between your collar bone and shoulder in my left side. I told the nurse it felt like a bad sprain. But before I got home I decided it felt like a bullet hole! My arm has limits in what it will do without making that muscle seize up. They gave me Vicodin for pain. I just don't like it. I don't know why it has such a high street value.  It has never helped my pain.  It does make me sleepy though.

Mr. Rosey stopped to get it at the pharmacy and she quotes him a total of $153 and he started sputtering "the copay for vicodin is $10!"

She told him, they had 12 medications for me to pick up. Apparently Doctors had been faxing in scripts for chemo care, diabetes plus pain meds. The pharmacy tech got rather snarky when he told her he was there to pick up the vicodin.  It was the drug I immediately needed.

She questioned him why we bothered having the other meds called in! ergh. He in turn got impatient and rather heatedly said...."Look lady! My wife has breast cancer and she just got home from a surgery. She NEEDS the pain med now. The others can wait until the weekend when I can get back in with the rest of the money for the other meds."

She apologized but Mr. Rosey doesn't know that he won't speak to the pharmacist anyway. He is already feeling like he's operating in crisis mode. He had a really bad morning at work. They probably don't mean to but they really guilt-ed him about leaving for my surgery.

The Port Surgery -  First I don't know why they schedule a person for afternoon surgery and keep them NPO from midnight before! I was dehydrated when they were trying to get blood. *squeezing my eyes shut in a wince* My faithful pumper wouldn't pump. So the nurse called for a phlebotomist that looked like she was still in Jr high. I didn't want to be insulting but when I saw her I knew she'd have trouble. I am a hard stick. I was dehydrated  She was 13 if a day...:) After a bit of digging and twisting she finally quit the spot. She did finally get blood from a tiny vein in the hand....soooo comfortable in the hand you know. It took 10 minutes to fill a tube it was such a tiny vein.

Then my surgeon's associate came in. Dr. Etters - (MY surgeon is away at a conference getting more education. That's always good.) Since he was out of town, his associate Dr. Laks did the surgery. They sent in Doogie Howser! --------------------------->

He was delightful but I had a hard time believing he had graduated high school much less medical school. I was reassured by his whiskers. That was my vantage point...lying on a gurney under that joke of a gown.  I could see the bottom of his chin where he had real man whiskers, not just boy fuzz.

Why do the snaps of a hospital gown NEVER work? 
Seriously how many THOUSANDS of dollars
 are they going to charge for this surgery? 
Yet I was given a gown that had one working snap
 at each shoulder. One near the elbow which did nothing
 to hold it up and the other side about half way down. 

They did provide blessed warm blankets, so regardless I was laying on my back looking at Doogie's chin.  I showed him where I didn't want the under a bra strap. I had written all over my chest where my bra lines were..where the seat belt lines where. I had a hay day with markers.  Kind of like a kindergartner with the permission to write all over with markers?

He was amused by my artwork and said he would try to keep the port away from my lines. But warned the port often chose where it sat. He wound up backing it up to the line over the L girlie. But I didn't tell him I made the marks using my widest strap bra. So when I put my normal bras on....the straps sit well away from the port.

So Mr. Anesthesiologist comes in. Not so young but looked mid 30's. Still young but not "Doogie" young. He looked fresh off the farm. He was in scrubs, but his appearance screamed BUMPKIN!  I'm referring to the OZARK "look out the revenuer is acomin' backwoods bumpkin".   I'm related to a WHOLE bunch of them. 

He walked up, introduced himself.  But he asked the question that I have come to detest.

 "How are you Mrs. Rosey?" 

Now how am I supposed to answer that? No one really wants to hear the truth. Well, I'm scared and really mad. This is scary stuff and you ask me how am feeling?

I told him I was dehydrated and not a good stick on a good day so he gave me one of those "I'm the doctor" smirks. But he poked my elbow veins and missed.  Then he went to the inside of the wrist. Yowza! It kept stopping and they would call him back. He finally taped it to my arm and tied my hand and arm down to a board.  Then he took a black marker and wrote across the tapes - Do NOT disturb!

The surgery was only about 20 minutes so I didn't have to be put totally under anesthesia. They used Versed and Propofol...the Micheal Jackson drug. Seriously. I was chatting with the nurse who was scrubbing and draping me....and then I was waking up while riding down a hallway.   I didn't have any of weird anesthesia feeling. It was pop!  I'm awake and talking. "Where are we going? To recovery? Did they cancel the surgery? No...its over?"   Seriously and I laid back and said, "Dude...if this is what feeling drunk is like, I wanna go home and try it!" They cracked up! I was feeling no pain.

I was turned over to a nurse in Recovery.  I asked her how long I had to stay there cuz frankly I was ready to go. "Well you have to drink something and keep it down.  Then you have to walk without fainting." I did all those things so she helped me dress.  Then they gave me a Vicodin and an ice pack and sent me on my way.

My sisters showed up only 30 minutes before I had to leave for the surgery. They all came in wearing head scarves that they planned to leave with me. Mom kept wearing  hers. It was nice to see my mom. I think she wanted to come for this surgery because she doesn't think she will make the big one this winter. :(  She came into pre-op to sit with me.  It seemed like she wanted to stay close to me.  I hate that I'm putting her through this while she's dying of liver failure.

For some reason I had this visceral gut type response to seeing them all wearing chemo scarves or hats.  Not sure what that was about on my part.  I know they weren't making fun and they were being supportive.  So I don't know why it was such a kick in the shorts for me.

I made a mistake in judgement.  The surgery was short and I guess momma wanted to spend more time with me.  She asked if she could take me to dinner.  Mr. Rosey had to get on home to start HIS infusion.  So we all piled into her van and went to Olive Garden.  While I was sitting there... anesthesia started wearing off and the entire left side of my body started humming in pain.  I just wanted to go home and they were having a good time with dinner.  sigh.

By the time I got home, I was wiped out and just wanted to cry from the exhaustion and pain.  Mom and the sisters sat around chatting,  while the nurses made themselves scarce.  A new nurse - who looks all of 22 years old will be taking over Mr. Rosey's care.  What is going on with all these doctors and nurses looking like they should be earning their scouting badges?  I felt like I had to sit up while the new nurse was here when more than anything I just wanted to go to bed.  Oh well.  I survived it.

We learned my insurance does not cover a shower chair. Do you believe they called it a luxury item? WOW!!  I would challenge them to have chemo and/or radiation and then call the chair a luxury.

I have loved the texts from all you WOW friends. KJ gets all weepy at some of them. He's just like... most of these people have no clue whether you really have cancer. He says, "You could be scamming the whole lot of them." he he he....  That's right.  I have been setting this up for the last 10 years.

Sunday - our weekend nurse came in bringing a shower chair.  An NICE shower chair with a soap holder and a place to hang a towel.  I had asked if I gave her the cash, if she would pick me up a shower seat from her pharmacy?  Well she just walked in with this nice seat and said it was her "contribution" to my care.  How sweet is that?

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