Saturday, August 20, 2011

Why This Birthday Doesn't Suck

Because it's the first day of the rest of my life.

It's such a cliche statement but for me it really is true. Day 1 of Step One.

So, you want all the dirty details?  Okay.

I spent most of Friday morning reading, keeping my mind off of food and drink and the impending surgery. I finished The State of Wonder (and right after I commented about how slow it was it picked up and had a fantastic ending!)

We had my BIL drive us to the hospital. My Grandma lived in the nursing home across from the hospital and when she passed away my Aunt gave me the parking pass so I can park at the nursing home and not pay hospital parking. But of course this is all on the down low so Sean didn't want to take the chance of leaving the car in the parking lot overnight and getting caught.  We got there early enough got checked in and waited to be called back to the pre op room. I ordered (and paid for) a private room because I thought it would be our best chance at them letting Sean stay with me overnight. No way they'd allow it in a semi private or ward room and frankly, I don't want other people's sick germs.

In the pre op I got changed and they hooked up my IV and gave me - get this now - 2 Tylenol 3's and two Celebrex. Yeah, me the person who gets stoned on 1 Tylenol 3. They also said my surgeon was an hour behind schedule. So we sat in the pre op for almost 3 hours. My lower back was killing me, despite the heavy drugs.

When they called me back I gave Sean and hug and kiss but I couldn't look back at him or I would have lost it. I was barely hanging on as it was. And when I got into the OR I almost lost it again. I was shaking, cold and nerves.

The anesthesiologist asked about my reaction to the anesthetic and my surgeon said to him "She's already had two anesthesia consults here" at which point I said "yeah but the one yesterday was really rushed and I didn't feel heard"  So, he asked me again to explain. He reassured me that the reaction I had at 7 was more likely to have been caused by too much narcotic rather than the anesthesia. 

I figured at that point I had to trust that I'd made my concerns heard and he knows what he's doing. And it's not like I had a choice. He then offered me a spinal block which would manage my pain for about 24 hours. I readily accepted but was concerned because of my shaking. He said, not to worry, we'll give you some sedation. All of a sudden I feel a rush and was heavenly. Seriously there is nothing in the world better than sedation. I highly (pun intended) recommend it.  So he shot up my spin about 6 times and then laid me down. He put oxygen on my face and the next thing I know I'm being woken up by a nurse. It really couldn't have been a less scary experience - all because of the sedation. Seriously they should give that out in the pre op room.

So, into my room I went with Sean right beside me. I was still pretty drugged up but aware that I was alive. (and overjoyed!)  Sean and I didn't talk much. He read, I dozed. I think we were both just too relieved for words.

At 9:00 they announced that visiting hours were over and it was 'quiet' time on the ward. We were extra quiet and it wasn't until my nurse came in at about 10 pm and commented that it was so quiet in my room, I hadn't called for anything that she noticed he was still there. BUT - because I had a private room and we weren't being a bother (and because this nurse's sister also had had a mastectomy so she was likely a little more sympathetic) she allowed Sean to stay overnight and even brought him a stretcher to sleep on so he wouldn't have to break his back in the chair all night.

She was fabulous.

So now, I'm on to the recovery stage. They let me out at 9 this morning with my instructions for cleaning my drainage tubes and the nurse will come in everyday to check them and my dressings. I didn't have to take any pain meds until 8:30 this morning and have only taken it once since. My pain is pretty manageable and I'm taking them as needed. So far, so good.

Some girlfriends came to visit me for my birthday and my rebirthday. Two of my girlfriends gave me a lovely silver butterfly rebirth from caterpillar to butterfly. I love it. My other friend brought me a boob cake. (I'll post pics of it tomorrow - I'm on my mom's laptop right now)

This wasn't how I ever thought I'd spend my 38th birthday but I think it will be one of my most memorable ones. It's the day I came to life - again.   I was born on August 20th, 1973 at 9:45 am in Scarborough Centenary Hospital.  On August 20, 2011 at 9:45am I was pulling out of the parking lot of Scarborough Centenary Hospital to begin this new chapter in my life. The one in which I kick cancers ass and call myself a survivor.

Happy Birthday to me!!


  1. Jean - you're just a fabulous human being! I love you and your spirit! Happy Happy Rebirthday to you! I *love* the boob cake, btw! You are kicking cancer to the curb baby! Love and hugs, prayers and well wishes. Have a speedy recovery my friend! xoxo, Stacy

  2. Jean, I really am so impressed with your positive attitude. You are awesome and I just know you ARE going to kick cancer's butt. I'm glad to hear that everything went well and that your pain is manageable.

  3. You are so inspiring, Jean! I am lucky and honored to know you :) I hope you had a great birthday - you deserve nothing but the best!

  4. Love you girl! I also love your survival instinct! ;)