CW: Cancer stuff
So I’m finally organized enough to talk about the surgery, which was Monday, and I’m still trying to get my sleep schedule back on track after spending three hours passed out cold Monday afternoon.
I’m going to spare you all a photo of my incisions, but trust me, they’re extremely elegant. Dr. Rose seems to be a very tidy closer, and not only was there not a single spot of blood on my bra or shirt when I got home, but yesterday when I took the gauze off it had only adhered in a couple of places.
The procedure I had was a nuc-med sentinel node imaging with needle/wire localization of the tumor and resection, which essentially means that they injected radioactive blue dye into my breast near the tumor, imaged it to see where the lymph drained to, and then used ultrasound to thread a wire through a hollow needle into the tumor. Then I was placed under general anesthesia and the tumor, wire, and two lymph nodes closest to it were removed through two small incisions.
This is a much more advanced and less invasive procedure than the old form of lumpectomy, which involved taking a much more generous chunk of tissue and many lymph nodes, which could result in long-term edema and lymph drainage issues in the breast and arm. Because the tumor was close to the surface, I didn’t even need a surgical drain. I could even shower 24 hours after the surgery, which was an amazing privilege and relief.
I’m sore, but I have good drugs, and I’ve been managing to sleep and even take some gentle exercise. I’m tired of sleeping in a bra, but unfortunately it’s really necessary still—the tissue is too sore to be left unsupported even when lying down.
So that I don’t bury the lede too much, I got my pathology report back this afternoon, and I’ve got clear margins and no signs of metastasis into the lymph nodes. Which is an enormous crying-in-my-tea relief and as soon as I am not on opiates anymore I’m going to have myself a very very fancy glass of Scotch to celebrate.
My friends and family and Scott have been amazing, and I am surrounded by flowers and cozy blankets and chocolates and cats. I’ve been casting the Fat Bear Week cam to the TV in the living room, so it’s like we have a window to Alaska, and the cats are fascinated. I think this one bear has just dozed off mostly underwater, honestly.
In more frivolous news, things I have learned in the past week include the following:
the radioactive blue dye suffusing your areola really makes your nipple visually pop.
My kidneys work, and the dye on its way out sure makes it look like your pee will be strongly blue-raspberry flavored for the first day, and rather like ecto-cooler on the second one.
Vicodin works GREAT on tennis elbow.
All in all, best possible result so far, under the circumstances.
I’m about to write some subscriber-only posts for the next week or so, including the monthly book report, a musing on the animated series Centaurworld, and a little rant about why some dude who writes opinion pieces for The Atlantic is wrong about literally everything to do with books. So if you’re interested in any of that, mash the button below to subscribe—or you know, just hang out here and get most of the content for free. :D
Now I’ve got to try to finish this short story, get some traction on The Folded Sky, and get a couple of Sekrit Projekts underway…