Countdown to Surgery

Just about a week away—time really does pass so quickly.  I was pretty upset when my surgery was rescheduled to mid-March.  That two week delay felt like a big deal, I didn’t want to wait all that extra time.  Truth be told, it was a good thing.   I had hoped to finish chemo and then be back to normal two weeks later, by the time I would have normally headed back in for another infusion.  The effects of chemo are cumulative, though, and so I’ve needed that extra time.  That last round really took a lot more energy out of me.  The achiness and bone pain weren’t quite as bad, but man, have I been tired.  Plus, we have a big nine year old birthday party this weekend, and then I need to have everything ready to celebrate her big day with family, her classroom, and her bus stop friends on her actual birthday, so there’s a lot of planning, purchasing, and baking that I need to do before surgery.  Those extra two weeks have been a surprise blessing.

I’ll head to the hospital early on Wednesday the 13th, there are several pre-op procedures that I need to do.  There’s still that one pesky lymph node that lit up on my PET scan but no on has been able to find since.  So I’ll start off my morning in nuclear medicine for a CT scan/localization of that node.  The head of the women’s imaging will be doing the procedure himself to make sure they can find the node in question and remove it as part of the surgery.  They’ll also Inject some sort of dye (technical, I know!) that will help them find the sentinel lymph nodes—those are are the first lymph nodes that filter the lymph fluid from the breast.  If the sentinel (first) lymph nodes don’t have any cancer cells in them, then it’s pretty safe to assume that the cancer didn’t travel beyond the breast.  After all the pre-op procedures and doctor’s visits, I should head back for surgery around noon.  I expect to be awake (and very hungry!) around dinner time.  I’ll stay in the hospital overnight and will come home around lunchtime on Thursday.

I spent almost an hour this morning with a physical therapist at the recommendation of my plastic surgeon.  It was a great appointment, very informative, and the physical therapist was such a delightful woman.  Someone from her department will stop by the morning after surgery to chat with me and give me some tips and exercises.  I’m so glad she met with me ahead of time, though, so I don’t have to try to process and remember all that information while I’m sore, sleepy, and drugged!  For the first two weeks, I’m not supposed to lift my arms above shoulder level and I’m not even supposed to carry my own purse.  After two weeks, I can start working on increasing my range of motion but I’m still not supposed to lift anything over five or ten pounds.  After six weeks I’ll be free of any restrictions and can finally go for a run, but I will still have to work to slowly increase my flexibility and strength.  Both she and my plastic surgeon have really encouraged me that I should not be just sitting around with my arms at my side.  I need to walk around and try to act as normally as one can within the limits they’ve given me.   The confidence this appointment has given me is invaluable.  I’m not afraid of overdoing it and hurting myself, and I know the importance of staying “active.”  She said it might take a year to get back to where I am right now, but that there won’t have to be a “new normal.”  I’ll just be normal.

Of course, I’m apprehensive, but I’m looking forward to surgery next week.  Mostly, I’m looking forward to putting all this behind me.  I’m ready to start the slow road to normal, and to see what steps will be next.  Spending a couple weeks unable to drive, lift my purse, or even pour a full gallon of milk will be tough.  But I’ll have lots of support and am looking forward to hanging out and passing the time with friends and family.  And so with just a week remaining, I have a few more things to squeeze in.  There are lists to make, shopping to do, bags to pack, and I’m hoping to get in another run or two before I take a hiatus.  This will be a busy, fun week!

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