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On Tuesday I scrubbed myself raw with a surgical sponge and donned gown and paper slippers once again to get my boobs cut open once again. Reclining on my hospital bed in the holding pen, listening to the sounds of various razors stopping and starting on hairy chests, abdomens and legs and patients telling their health histories to nurses and then again to surgical staff, I was definitely less nervous than I was in February. I felt pretty proud of the champ I'd been post-op up to that point in my life - nary a bad reaction to anaesthetic big and small. Yep, quick recovery all around for this girl, so let's get this party started.
When young Dr. T showed up in his scrubs, he was even relaxed, joking about all the old blind people getting a peek inside my curtain and then not remembering a bloody thing anyhow because of all the drugs in the place. He whisked his little sharpies around my chest to mark the cut and fold lines and I barely sat back down again before the sides of my bed were lifted and I was told I was next.
Instead of going to holding hallway #2, I was wheeled right past all the other pre-op sheep and got into a traffic jam in the beautiful, light-filled, high-cielinged hallway leading to the operating rooms. It might be a disgusting bloody mess, but I was without glasses by that point, so blind to the details. I think I caught a glimpse of Dr. T sitting at one of the computer kiosks along one wall - likely looking up some last minute techniques on boobstoday.org.
We got jammed behind another bed and that nurse said to my nurse, "look at your client, all perky and looking around! My client refuses to open her eyes, poor thing." I narrowed my eyes to get a look at the lady, but only saw a grey-haired fuzzy image of a person curled up on her bed. My operating room was at the end and it was beautiful. All gigantic lights and buzzing hospital staff - all completely focused on me. I even had a student. "Do you mind if I observe, Mrs. McCart?" Very civilized, despite the fact that my teeth were chattering by this point.
My anaesthesiologist introduced herself and I was mildly disappointed it wasn't the tiny, efficient man who did me last time. He was good. Completely painless. This one jabbed into my hand and I felt the gush of the fluid as it entered my vein - like a faucet sputtering. The oxygen mask went over my face, but instead of emitting a calming stream of air, it was stagnant, and I was breathing in and out my own CO2. Before I had a chance to protest, I was out.
When I woke up, my heart was racing. I was in the initial "watch her closely" phase, so drifted in and out of consciousness without guilt as I listened to the nurses talk about bad television. When I finally got to my post-op recovery spot, I knew I had to perk up but my heart wouldn't settle down. Every time I reached for my water or turned my head on the pillow, it was like getting a jolt to my chest. And my nurse was concerned. Instead of being able to let me go home in an hour, she stayed with me for the next five hours, once giving me morphine in my arm, once ondansetron (my old chemo dance drug) after I asked for the fish and chip tray once too many times, and then, when I keep drifting in and out of it, administered two bags of liquid food when Dr. T checked in by phone and said I must be dehydrated.
When my heart rate finally slipped below 100 and I had gotten up to pee without losing my saltines, they fairly kicked me out of the joint, in the sweetest way possible. But not before mentioning, in an offhand way, "it says on your chart they gave you epinephrine while you were under... that might account for your elevated heart rate."
Really? You think adrenaline might elevate my fucking heart rate? So did I go too far under? Did my notoriously low blood pressure drop my heart rate too low when they were mid-cut? I'll ask Dr. T when I see him next week. But I'm not impressed. My post-op rep is in tatters.
In the meantime, les girls are here. Don't get all excited. I'm still the son of a nipple-less goat, and these puppies do not look anything close to a beautiful set, but they're slightly less cartoonishly high than what I had before. They're slightly larger and a tad softer, and they're attempting to fold under a little at the bottom, like a normal breast. Dr. T did the best job he could with the left one especially, considering the massively radiated/tight skin and long mastectomy scar, and the right would never pass as normal, even to Mr. Magoo, but it's done.
I may have a moment someday when I weep over the fact that I'll never have normal looking breasts again, but for now, as I come off the T3s, say goodbye to the toilet hugging from my post-op day and the drug haze the couple of days following, I feel another closure. And it is good.