I have been home since 10 am this morning. I had the longest shower ever, shaved my legs, my armpits and put on perfume. I feel like a human being.
It is hard to believe it.
And it's hard to think back on the past 9 days and not cry.
I was so naive to think any surgery is a 'minor' procedure. I went in last thursday fully expecting a 30 minute surgery to install my chemo port. If you remember, they weren't even going to put me out, but I insisted, being the big wimp that I am. My biggest worry was the I.V. poke.
I feel so foolish. Now, after 9 days of the most pain that I've ever experienced in my life, I am no longer naive. Each medical procedure, no matter how minimal it seems to be, carries risks.
I almost feel jaded.
Like when you have your heart broken for the first time, you no longer trust the same as before... that is how it feels. I no longer trust that 'the doctor will make things better'.
Even though I gladly signed the consent form before surgery, I wish I had informed myself a little better of all the risks...I wish I had thought about each one at length. I still would have chosen to go through with it, but I would not have been so shocked when it all went south.
Before you read any further, I should put in a disclaimer - I will be posting pictures in this post. Some you may find them pretty yucky. I've thought about not posting them.
But I will.
I figure, this is my outlet, my venting space, and that is what this blog originally was meant to be. Now that all of you have come along for a ride, I sometimes wonder if I should censor more, especially pictures... but I think that would not do my experience any justice.
If you don't wish to see them, just don't scroll down.
You're a big kid, you can decide on your own.
I get emails nowadays from complete strangers who read my blog and are just starting to go through the same things as I am. Women I've never met, emailing me telling me that they've been diagnosed with breast cancer too.. It always baffles me how this blog has grown... just look at the world map - I've never even BEEN to some of the places that my readers are from!
So, if you are going through this 'journey' too, and you are about to get a chemo port put in, please do not worry yourself to death, the rates of collapsed lungs as complications from the surgery, are extremely low.
I mean super low. But, they happen.
Just like cancer.
I am really thankful that I have Brad, who was with me at the hospital the entire time, and there with every procedure, by my side, holding my hand whenever he could and just outside my door crying silently when he could not go in. He told me he could hear me screaming down the hall sometimes when they were inserting tubes in me or taking them out, and I believe these nine days were equally hard on him, as they were on me.
All I remember is pain.
Once the lung was poked, there was pain. When the lung collapsed, there was pain. When they inserted the lung chest tube the first time there was pain. When that didn't work and the lung collapsed again, I felt pain. When they took the tube out, I cried. When they put in a new bigger one in my lung I screamed.
In between procedures, I spent a lot of times on heavy drugs.
I found out I don't like houses with bushes (apparently - according to Brad's last post) and time and time again, when Brad asked if there is anything he could do to make it better for me, I asked for a Bonzai tree... go figure.
Two things I never knew about myself.
I am now okay, happy to be home and healing. Brad even got my engagement ring fixed, and for right now, all is well with the world.
On monday I see my oncologist, do blood work, and re-schedule my chemo date... I think it may be wednesday - I missed about 10 days, but the show goes on.
I will now post pictures from last week below.
(yes, I made Brad take pictures so I could look at them later, when I was no longer in pain, and I could 'remember' what I went through ... but even without, I don't think I could ever forget)
This is about an hour after the port a cath surgery, when I found out the surgeon
had poked my lung by mistake. I was in pain with every breath I took.
That evening the on-call doctor was called in to insert the first tube into my lung... he was poking around to feel which area was the most 'inflated with air' - that is where he'd have to insert it.
Due to the time constraint and lack of empty rooms, he proceeded to 'gown up' right beside my bed and the first procedure took place at my bedside.
I learned this week that the lining around the lungs is one of the most sensitive spots in the body, and even though he froze me, the many needles it took to freeze me completely were very painful.
This is what the hole looked like before the tube went in.
At this point he stuck in a syringe with a tube first, and proceeded to suction the air out that was there... Brad said that he suctioned air for about 10 minutes before he was satisfied that he got most of it.
After the suctioning was done, he inserted a small white tube to do the job
This is me exhausted, after the procedure was completed. If you look carefully, you'll see a small bump on the left side, around the blue part of the tube ... it's the port a cath showing under the skin...that's what that looks like. A small quarter size round bump.
This is day three, and my admission into the ICU. - The first tube didn't work
Brad was not allowed in for this procedure, but this is immediately after it took place.
I think I was crying.
This time they inserted a slightly bigger and longer tube, but through my back instead
and up inside my lung. I was also hooked up to a suction machine for 72 hours straight.
Here is a picture of what I looked like on the inside. You can see the port a cath,
as the round thing in my artery, and also, if you look carefully, the long white tube
inside my lung, going upwards.
The good news is, it only hurt when I breathed.