I just had a lumpectomy for the breast cancer that was discovered in my breast in late June. As surgeries go, I suspect it wasn’t the worst it could be, but the experience was worse than some of the other surgeries I’ve had. (Specifically, it was worse than the bunion surgery and wrist surgery I had.)
Lots of Pre-Op
On the day of my lumpectomy, I arrived at the hospital at 7:30 a.m. There was the usual stuff — signing forms and showing my insurance and ID cards, etc. Soon I was taken to an upstairs room, asked questions, gave a urine sample (pregnancy test) and changed into a hospital gown.
I was later wheeled down to radiology. This was the worst part of my experience. Technicians took a mammogram to help the surgeon locate the cancerous tumor in my breast. Usually,I don’t think mammograms are that bad, but this time, they left my breast squeezed between two metal plates for what felt like at least 10 minutes. The pain took my breath away.
Later, they put three needles into my breast to inject radioactive agents into my system to help the surgeon locate “sentinel” lymph nodes. Sentinel lymph nodes are lymph nodes to which the cancer, which if it has (hopefully not) spread, are nodes the cancer would be present in first. Of course, the radioactive agents refused to travel from my breast into the lymph nodes to locate them. After several minutes of trying to get the agents flowing, the technician said that the surgeon can inject blue dye into my system instead to locate the nodes.
The technician literally placed a paper cup over the needles that were sticking out of my breast, and just before 9:30 a.m,. the time of my surgery, I was wheeled back to my room to be prepped for the procedure.
The prep for my lumpectomy was fairly quick after I was wheeled back to my room. An IV was hooked up to my wrist, in which I think they put some kind of antibiotic and the anesthesia for the surgery. I talked with my husband and a nurse in the room, and then to a nurse while I was wheeled down the hall, and before I knew it, I was out.
Apparently I spent two hours in the post op room after my surgery. (I was told the surgery took about two hours.) I remember waking up a little now and then and thinking that I should get up — that people were waiting for me to get up. Luckily, I didn’t try to get up.
Before I knew it, after 2 p.m., I was back in the room where I was before the surgery with my husband. A nurse brought me apple juice and crackers, which I ate and drank slowly. (I was told not to eat too quickly, in case I felt sick.)
After a while, I was allowed to change back into my clothes. I discovered that underneath my hospital gown, they had strapped on a very tight black surgical bra. I didn’t feel any pain. Finally, my husband left to get the car. I was wheeled downstairs and out of the hospital and was so happy to leave the hospital in our car.
Recovery After My Lumpectomy
I don’t remember much of the rest of my surgery day. I think I slept most of the day, but I really can’t remember!
As I write this, it’s been 4 days since my lumpectomy. I don’t have much pain and only just took two Tylenol today. I haven’t taken any of the prescription pain reliever prescribed to me. (I haven’t needed it so far.) I’ve mostly been at home and have been only been doing light activities around the house. A few times I have gone outside to water the garden — there is a tomato plant and some peas growing there.
The biggest pain has been from the extremely tight surgical bra I’ve been wearing — it has cut into my skin. I haven’t been able to shower since the surgery, so I’ve been taking sponge baths and washing my hair in the sink. I finally pried off the surgical bra today and put on the most supportive bra I could find from my own collection. I am so happy to be rid of that surgical bra. (I tossed it in the wash, but I don’t think I’ll wear it again.)
I’ve been mostly stuck at home since my surgery and am getting stir crazy! If I feel up to it, I’d like to take my daughters out of the house next week. They have been home with me (since they are still on summer vacation), and are no doubt getting bored (But they haven’t complained at all — they are so sweet.). Luckily, they attended a friend’s birthday party over the weekend.
I am due back to meet with the surgical oncologist on Thursday. I am hoping that there were good results to the surgery and that the lymph node biopsy was negative. I am trying to not think about it until then. (I can probably find the results online in my hospital account, but I don’t think I’ll look.)