Monday, March 21, 2016

One Year Ago

A year ago yesterday, March 20th, I had my lumpectomy. 

It was a Friday. But this year it's a Sunday because this year is a leap year.

It was also my parent's 34th wedding anniversary.

And the first day of spring--which is a big deal when you live in Western Washington. 

But last year, Stacie came over before 7 am--she was up first for Boy Duty. This woman is always first up. Usually. Mostly..... Randy and I had to be at the hospital by 7:15. I think. I was a little late. But it's not like they can start that party without me.

We made the decision to keep Isaac home from school that day, partly because we wanted one less stress, one less place to have to be. Because getting me to the hospital was stressful enough. It's ok to miss a day when your mom is a breast cancer patient and she's having surgery to remove a tumor. Nathan, at this point, had been homeschooled for about 5 weeks. Because, life is what it is.... And, had something happened, I wanted my kids to be together. Because with cancer, there's only so much that you can control. So I took control of what I could.

This was the third time Randy had driven me to the hospital, in my 4Runner, with this feeling of, we'll be home...we don't know when, but we'll be home....and we'll be relieved...and something will be different...but it won't...and we just gotta go do this...... The first time was when I was laboring with Nathan; the second was when I was laboring with Isaac.

Funny, all three trips were to remove something growing inside my body, and they just all had to come out! YES!

At the hospital, Stef was my nurse. She's a frickin rock star. She took care of me. She's also a friend--small town--and the reason my kids now eat chicken pot pie. Thank you Stef. And thank you for holding my hand while the nuclear med tech, who happened to be a former student of Randy's--small town--injected my breast in several different areas around my aureole (that's the part that surrounds the nipple, just so ya know) with this blue shit that's also called "contrast" and basically that means you're gonna glow. And your pee turns turquoise. And that shit burned like a MOTHERFUCKER. A LOT. Like liquid fucking fire being injected into your breast--several times--around the circumference of my aureole and the surgeon--who you totally trust--is going to cut you the fuck open. Not just cut you open....but....cut you the fuck open, on your B-R-E-A-S-T.

But I digress....they injected the contrast so that she could see my lymph nodes more easily because with cancer patients you gotta know if the lymphatic system is affected because if it is, then, basically, your entire body is infected with cancer.

So then at some point, Christine showed up for Boy Duty. And she totally kicked ass! She's an early childhood educator and she gets my kids like nobody else. Because she's Christine. And at some point they did this delicious crazy goodness of an obstacle course with Jedi's and colored masking tape's what it looked like. She texted me pics. Because she's awesome and she loves me and I love her. And she knew it would help.....and it did!!!!!

And we waited....and we waited....and my surgeon came in and checked on me--which, you know--you don't want someone to have someone else knock you out, and then cut you open on any part of your body, let alone your breast. Right? So, on March 20th, she'd done several surgeries before mine...and she wants the contrast to sit in for a long time because up in Alaska when she used to do this, she'd sometimes check women in the night before because the longer the contrast can sit, the better.

And I waited some more. And I hadn't eaten anything since the night before, and I had taken two showers at home--one the night before and one the morning of--and they give you this bag full of stuff when you leave your surgeon's office for your pre-op--like it's the fucking spa that you're going off to or something. They put in this nasty smelling pre-surgery soap called Hibiclens--and you scrub everything down so that you're clean. Because you don't wanna bet getting the MRSA from the hospital. Oh no.

And I'm not hungry. I'm not freaked out. I'm just sitting there...Randy's waiting for me to go back so that he and Larry can go to Sergio's for lunch (bastards!). But you know, people are having surgery and they're running late...and Stacie brought the Nuggets by to see me. And Amy stopped by. And Kelly visited with me for a long time. And Stef was in and out and being a bad ass.

And I'm reading my book and I'm on and off facebook and I'm telling people to check their breasts--did you check yours yet? For reals. Do it. Men, too. Don't be shy.

And the boys are having a blast and they're eating and they're together and they're being well taken care of by families who love us and whom we love....

And then Jeff shows up with Dean and Reid, and shit got real. Because all four boys all became Jedi's and they were tromping through the forest that is our back yard and they were on Endor looking for troopers. Of course.

And at some point Bonnie came over and she fed them and medicated Nathan--which is quite the cocktail to make...and only the most trusted of people can do this particular thing. Which, it's not brain surgery, it's just mixing some medicine in some ice cream and feeding it to him. Because you have learned that medicating him is the way to get him to calm down his brain so that he can go to sleep...and that hopefully he has fewer seizures during his sleep than he does when he's awake....and that shit is worth it's weight in gold--figuratively and literally--and you want to get every little bit of medicine into him so that he'll go the eff to sleep, yo.

And she brushed their teeth, and she may have read them stories, and she put them to bed. And at some point Caitlin came over. I am unable to recall if it was before the boys were in bed, or after. But it doesn't matter...she was there when I got home at like 9-freaking-30 PM!


Because I didn't even get wheeled back to the freaking OR till way late in the afternoon and then it took my surgeon longer than she anticipated because my tumor was bigger than she anticipated--the size of a lime--and then it was stuck to my skin. So I was kinda a tricky case. I seriously hope she had a delicious glass of wine that evening.

BUT, my lymph nodes--all six of them--the reason they injected me with the goddamned contrast that burned like a motherfucker and made my pee turn turquoise--were negative for cancer. Lucky. Lemme repeat that. She pulled a total of 6 lymph nodes, and had pathology run 3 different tests and all 3 tests came back negative for cancer. Thankful. Not Jesus. Just thankful.

And it took me a while to come too....and they gave me Vicodin...on an empty stomach. Oh, think I had some chicken broth....and maybe a little chocolate pudding...and it came up...shocker!...because that's what that shit makes you do. And they asked me if I wanted to spend the night and I said no. No fucking way am I spending the night. Get me a wheelchair because we're on Two West, and I may not be able to walk to the front goddamned door, but I can sure the hell climb into my 4Runner and let my husband drive me home and spend the night in my own bed and see two of my most amazing friends and see my children in the morning. Thank you very much. I want to go home. And I will.

Randy will you please get the truck? Thank you. I love you. For being by my side. For loving me. For supporting me. For 20 years. For not leaving. Except when you went to Sergio's. And didn't even bring me anything. (bastard!)

And I got home and Bonnie and Caitlin were there and they helped me to bed--and I peed and told them not to flush the toilet because I was going to get it just the right shade of turquoise and then find some fabric to make a quilt. And I did. But my other friend Bonnie--and Micki--made that quilt, which is a post for another time.

And last year, on March 20, 2015, I slept in my own bed. Next to my husband. My Math Prof Rock Star. (Thank you Tam and Andrea)

I am thankful the year has passed.

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