Well. I had such good intentions of using this blog to document my thoughts leading up to and after my mastectomy surgery. However, getting everything ready for a substitute to take over my classroom (I teach 22 adorable 3rd graders) and my crazy nerves got in the way. I honestly just got so nervous that I couldn’t even think about what was getting ready to happen. I was also super nervous about how people would respond to a blog about something so personal. Therefore, no blog. Now that I’m three weeks post surgery, I really regret not writing. It would have been so nice for me to journal my progress for myself as well as others who are BRCA+. So, I am sorry. I guess the only thing I can do is go back, try to fill in the gaps, and start writing about my experiences from here.
So, let’s rewind 3 weeks to October 18th when I followed through with the best decision I’ve ever made! After several pre-op appointments, I arrived at the hospital at 6am. When I arrived, several of my closest friends had come to support me before the nurses wheeled me back to the OR. The nurses would only allow four people back at a time. I’m pretty sure the nurses thought I was crazy, but I insisted that I see each person before they wheeled me back to surgery. One of the nurses even called back to the operating room to tell them we were running late because of my “visitors”. She seemed slightly put out by it all, but I didn’t care! Here is a picture of some of the best friends on the planet showing me some love.
You can’t really tell from the picture, but I curled my hair that morning. If the surgeons weren’t going to let me wear makeup and I was having both my breasts completely removed, I was determined to do it with some halfway decent looking hair! Ha!
Right after my friends left, the best husband in the world came to say goodbye.
In case you were wondering, my husband’s name is Mitch and HE HAS BEEN AMAZING throughout all of this.
Anyway, once my “visitors” finally left, they wasted no time taking me to the operating room. They had me lay down on the table and stretch out my arms onto two smaller tables next to me. My plastic surgeon came over and asked me where I would go to be peaceful. Of course, I said Delray Beach (thank you, Santos family!!)… the place where I found peace about my surgery choice last August. He said, “Well you need to go there…. Go there and you’ll be fine.”
So, I really did start trying to think about the beach. However, the anesthesiologist worked so fast that I hardly got in a thought about a palm tree before I was out. Oh well. I must have had some peaceful thoughts though because, before I knew it, I woke up in recovery.
I woke up from surgery groggy. Prior to surgery, waking up was the moment I worried about most. How would I feel knowing my body was so different? Would I regret my choice to have the mastectomy? I had thought I might be sad, maybe even angry. To my surprise, I actually felt WONDERFUL. Sure, I was in a pain and a little loopy from meds… and I hadn’t seen my chest yet… but I DID NOT CARE. I was so dang proud of myself for facing my fears. I was so relieved that it was over… and I was so excited that I would never have to worry about breast cancer again. None of the other stuff even mattered. I never even shed a tear. I didn’t stay in recovery long before I was taken up to my hospital room.
Have you ever seen Baptist East Hospital’s Park Tower!?!!? HOLY MOLY. It is beautiful. It was like I came out of surgery and they wheeled me right into a suite at the Marriott! I know it had to be great because I was on a lot of pain killers and I remember every detail about the floor as they transported me. This is a picture of what the common areas look like there. The rooms were just as beautiful.
I mean… I’ve spent a lot of time in hospitals… this was just so nice!!!
That afternoon and night, I had a bunch of visitors…my amazing friends and family. Seriously, my friends and family are the BEST. I also had a ridiculous number of phone calls and tons of text messages from people wishing me well. I never went back to sleep after recovery… I was just too excited over having had the surgery and way more excited about how much support everyone was showing me. I cannot tell you how much everyone’s efforts meant to me. I have never felt so loved. Among the many amazing things people sent me, my sweet sister-in-law and good friend went to the hospital gift shop during the surgery and surprised me with a mug once I got into my room. It was absolutely perfect for how I have felt throughout this entire process. Its tall… which means it can hold tons of coffee (YAY!) and has the best quote along the side.
I really just love it… I mean, I just do not have time to worry about cancer and this stupid gene. It’s already controlled my life for too many years. Life is way too short and people are just too amazing. Perfect cup for me. Thank you Lindsey and Krissy!!!!
Once I was a little more with it (not much more though.. ha!) one of my best friends helped me put on a little makeup and took my picture. Here I am about 12 hours post surgery.
In case you were wondering…. there were NO other pictures being taken at the time…. I have no idea where I was looking. I guess I have all of my excellent drugs to thank for that! Ha!
People stayed late with me in the hospital that night. Mitch stayed all night and slept on some crazy pullout bed by the window in my room. Nurses came and checked on me every hour or so. The medications they were giving me were perfect, so I was never in much pain when I was laying down. I slept through the night just fine without any complications.
Overall… the surgery was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. My friends and family were AWESOME. My doctors and nurses were excellent. And waking up from surgery was not sad… IT WAS EMPOWERING. I think back on that night and am just so tickled at how well it really went.
In my future posts, my goal is to fill in the other big events of the last three weeks and also document everything else that is continuing to happen. Here’s to me actually following through with the updates! Thanks for reading.