I won’t lie and say that it was a fun experience. For anyone who needs to undergo any kind of surgery, there’s no such thing as a truly fun day at the hospital. However, I’ve never been the type of person to allow pain or difficulty to take over my life, nor do I wish to complicate the lives of others around me by whining and complaining.
So, I made a decision about how this day was going to be, and I refused to let anything interfere with my decision.
I decided to see how many times I could make people laugh while I was there, and I also decided I was not going to need to stay overnight at the hospital. These were the two things I chose to focus my attention on, as my way of dealing with my day.
The first was easy to accomplish. I started by making the first nurse laugh. How? When she gave me the ‘special outfit” I was to wear (you know the style…pale blue, open rear end…an unflattering look for anyone) I came out of the changing room acting like a supermodel. I hammed it up and walked down the “catwalk” in style, letting my fanny display proudly. See, I knew that most people who are forced to wear this awful outfit complain about it, and I’m sure the nurses hear plenty of complaints throughout their careers. I was determined to be one of the few who actually found something to laugh about under the circumstances. It worked. My first laugh of the day came from a wonderful nurse with a smile that brightened my day considerably. And when she told me I looked far too young to be the mother of three teenagers, I felt wonderful!
I continued the trend, cracking jokes wherever I could, and found that I was a lot less stressed than I expected I would be.
Then there was one nurse who had an uncanny knack for seeing past my laughter. I think she sensed that I was scared and nervous. She gently touched my shoulder and said that it was ok if I wasn’t always brave. Here I was, trying so hard to stay strong, and she had to go and show me sympathy like that. I couldn’t help it and started crying softly. It made me realize that this was actually happening to me. I was actually about to lose my breast, and there was nothing I could do about it. It took me a while to regain my composure, and it didn’t help that she kept touching my arm softly and sympathetically.
After I regained some control, I realized I actually felt better after letting myself cry a little. It was like the tears I shed had released something inside of me. It was a relief to me, as it felt like I was finally completely resigned to what was happening, and was at peace with it.
Now, after all the tests and pre-op appointments, the moment had finally arrived and I was being wheeled down the hall towards the operating room. It was time.
I couldn’t resist cracking one more joke before closing my eyes, and I remember falling asleep hearing the laughter from the doctors and nurses.
I came alert slowly, and my first recollection was of checking to see what time it was. The nurse told me it was 1 p.m. and I asked her if she could please bring me a phone so I could call my husband to let him know I was awake and fine. I’m not really sure what I said when I left him a message (I was still pretty groggy) but my next thought was to go to the bathroom on my own, without any assistance. Now, my second goal of the day was to get released as fast as possible, and I knew that if I could stand on my own and take care of myself, I could probably convince the medical staff that I could go home instead of staying overnight at the hospital.
It is amazing how the mind can convince the body that it is fine, even when the body isn’t entirely convinced. I was fiercely determined to get home as soon as possible, so I focused all my energy on regaining my strength.
As I walked to the bathroom, I felt like a newborn fawn, wobbly legged and blurry eyed, but the same instinct that kicks in to tell the fawn that it MUST stand in order to survive kicked in to gear for me, and I found that within a few steps, my body was responding to the willpower I was sending my legs.
I didn’t think of the pain. I didn’t let myself think of the nausea. I just focused on walking.
It worked, and as I came out of the bathroom, I saw two nurses standing their with their mouths open. “Why didn’t you wait for help?”, one of them asked. “Because I am fine and I knew I could make it.” was my response.
They hovered nearby while I made my way back to the bed. The effort had worn me out and I fell asleep with a smile on my face, knowing that I was going to be perfectly fine.
I woke up less than half an hour later. My doctor was by my bedside, ready to let me know how the operation went.
“I have really good news!”, he said. He then explained that the operation was a complete success, and in fact, they didn’t have to remove the axillary nodes like they thought they would need to, as they were completely cancer-free. I asked him if he would please let me go home early, and he said that if my blood pressure was fine and I could stomach some food, he would agree to the discharge. He said he’d never seen someone bounce back so quickly and there was no reason to keep me at the hospital overnight.
That was all I needed to hear, and I immediately wolfed down some toast to prove that I was fine.
When my husband and brother came to visit me at 6 p.m., I was ready with my bags packed. They helped me to the car, where I found a fresh, hot cup of Starbucks coffee waiting for me, and a bouquet of roses.
I’ll never forget the look on their faces when they saw me. My wonderful husband was crying from the relief, and my brother’s smile was brighter than I ever remember seeing it before.
Since I’ve come home, I’ve been living in the slow lane, and being utterly spoiled rotten. My family has been absolutely amazing, taking care of everything I need, and making sure I don’t do anything that would cause me pain.
It will take me a while to get back to my usual level of energy, but I’m letting my body take all the time it needs to heal.
I have everything I need to get well. I have medication to take care of the pain, and the most important thing I need is provided to me in abundant supply…the love of my family and friends.
I am so grateful for all the healing thoughts and prayers that were sent my way that day. I know it helped a great deal, and I never once felt that I was doing it alone. The comforting thought of so many people who cared about me kept me company the entire time.
Life is good…