It’s Sunday, three days after the surgery. I am home. I didn’t think it was possible, but I actually got out the next day, as predicted. I’ve managed to take short excursions out of the house and I feel like I’m operating at about 50% power. I’d love to take my regular three mile walk and I think I’d give it a try, if not for the drains. It’s warm today, and breezy. After church today, we spent a few minutes at Ala Moana beach park.
I would kill for a proper shower and I’m still loopy much of the time, but I think considering everything, I’m doing well.
Going in I was wondering how I’d ask to stay an extra night. But if I’d been told to stay in the hospital on Friday night, I don’t know how well I’d be doing. Hospitals are places of healing and rest, except when they’re not. I wonder if in some cases, hospitals actually make people sicker. The constant comings and goings of nurses isn’t conducive to rest on the best day, and in my case, my ward was populated by a lot of angry, loud people. One man shouted at the top of his voice from dawn until the time we checked out, stopping only briefly while he catnapped. I was angry. There was no way I was going to stay another night, and was ready to yell and make demands at the mere suggestion.
Being here with my family makes anything seem possible. I still have to meet with my oncologist this week and learn if I’ll need further treatment, but the change of scenery has improved my outlook. Ryan has been ordering me upstairs twice a day to sleep, so I’m not doing much at all, but still, things feel closer to normal than they have in a long time.
I don’t remember much of the big day.
It started off like any other day, I suppose. I woke up with Ryan in time to get the boys to school. I was getting them dressed and feeding them, not wanting to acknowledge the giant white elephant in the room. I was not going to be there when they got out, and we all knew it. I was starving. I had to fast since dinnertime on Wednesday. Katie was going to the midnight premiere of “The Hunger Games” with her friend that evening. She was planning on going with me, and I know she was disappointed that she couldn’t. My surgery wasn’t until early afternoon, so I had plenty of time to spend with her and Ryan.
It’s strange how time can both pass extremely quickly and crawl, simultaneously. I wanted to be able to remember every minute at home; to enjoy the last few hours of being me as I knew me, but I also wanted it to be over. I wanted to get on with my life. Even now, I want to be speaking with my doctor, figuring out where we’re going. I didn’t feel the utter dread and terror I’d anticipated. I felt oddly at peace. I figured I’d burst into tears as we approached the hospital, but I didn’t. I was calm. I was going to get healthy again.
Surgery feels like a momentous, life-changing thing to the patient. It feels immense, like something that requires some kind of ceremony. At least it did to me. As I arrived, and filled out more paperwork and talked to hospital staff, though, I noticed a complete lack of ceremony. I wasn’t the first person to have a mastectomy, I realized, and I wasn’t the last. I wasn’t even the first mastectomy my surgeon had done that day. This was part of an endless cycle of people coming and going. The people helping me prepare for my surgery wouldn’t even remember my name. I would recover from this, I realized, just as women before me had.
I was told to undress and wipe myself down with disposable cloths. My gown was bulky and had warmer vents and I felt like I was preparing for a space launch. There was still time to kill, as Dr. Yee was still with a patient, I was told, so I found myself playing the brand-new Angry Birds Space. I was hoping against hope that Ryan would neglect to photograph me in the act, but he’s managed to develop some serious stealth photo skills.
I voiced concern to my anesthesiologist that I would wake up in the middle of the procedure. I realize now that she must hear that fifty times a day.
And that’s the last clear memory I have of Thursday. Everything else is just a haze.