The morning of the surgery has arrived, and after checking in downstairs, my husband and I are ushered upstairs to wait some more. I've got my armband on, and the pictures of Big Sur are helping my nerves. I'd never had surgery before, so I had no idea what to expect. The most nerve racking part to me was the idea of being put under.
After sitting in the waiting room for about ten minutes, I get called back for prep, wipe myself down with the cleaning pads (which they've warmed up to make it more comfortable) and get into the gown, socks and shower cap. It's a good look, for sure!
Once I'm ready and in bed, they bring my husband back, and I can feel my nerves calming down a lot. I'm ready to get this thing (tumor) out of me, so we can get on with it. The anesthesiologist comes in and she goes through all the steps she will take to make sure I'm comfortable. Some nurses and residents come by and then my surgeon comes in and I'm instantly calm and ready. She has such a great energy that puts me at ease, instantly.
The anesthesiologist returns and gives me my "margarita" (her words) and then we start rolling down the hallway. My husband kisses me, we say, "I love you," to each other and then off I go. I remember being rolled into the OR, I remember everyone moving around like a well choreographed machine, then a mask over my face and... off I go...
I wake up and there is a nurse right at the end of my bed who says, "Hello Lori!"
"How are you feeling Lori!?"
I look down and see a wrap around my chest that is like a very big, and tight, Ace Bandage. Then I look up at her and say, "I'm so happy!"
I think I shocked her a bit. There's a pause. Then she says, "Oh, good! Do you need anything?"
I let her know I need some water. She brings a cup of ice chips, and it feels like this is the best meal I've ever had. I get very excited about the ice chips, and the next thing I know, my husband is there and starts helping me with the ice chips. We are all laughing.
Then, I feel very nauseous, and the nurse puts something into my IV which makes everything better, instantly. She takes away the ice chips and tells me I've over indulged. No more ice chips for me.
The nurse then lets me know that she got me a single room, and that I will be taken to it shortly. Getting my own room is like getting the best Christmas gift ever!
A couple nurses roll my bed up to the room, ask if I think I can transfer myself and in one attempt to move my core, it's a NO. GO. They move me over and I get comfortable and realize my range of motion is very limited, and I'm not able to put any pressure on my arms at all. I need to get used to not lifting anything over a pound and not using my arms to help me move around. Definitely no reaching for things!
All of the nurses are so amazing and nice and make me feel like this is going to be okay. They help me get up out of bed and I realize I can do it and walk to the bathroom and back to the bed on my own. This is a huge deal only a few hours out of surgery! By that night, I'm on pain meds, and am already feeling better. I watch A LOT of HGTV. Best tip from a friend who had been through surgery a few months before me... HGTV is easy to watch while coming off anesthesia and taking pain meds.
The next morning, the residents come by to check on me and look at the scars and say that everything is healing nicely. They announce that they are releasing me! I take my first real walk with my husband (who spent the night on a nice bed they provided for him) around the floor I'm on, and it feels okay. I sit in a real chair for the remainder of the day as I wait for the discharge papers.
My surgeon visits around mid-day, checks everything out and is pleased. I tell her how thankful I am, and I cry, and tell her how awesome she is. She looks at the scar one more time and tells me that this scar is going to look amazing with the tattoo I plan to get. She remembered that I had told her I was seriously considering a cool tattoo across my chest since I was going with no reconstruction. This made me so happy!
I change into the comfy clothes I brought for post surgery (i.e. I am able to put them on with my limited range of motion), get discharged, and then we drive to our AirBnB in Brentwood where we will stay for the next two weeks as I recover and go to follow-up appointments. The ride home is only a couple miles, but every bump, and stop, and go... feels like torture. I have drains that are stitched into the surgical area, and they pull every time the car, well, moves. I am praising our smart decision to stay in LA after the surgery. A drive back to SLO at this moment would have been the worst idea ever.
We park, I walk up some stairs and then plant myself on the couch, where I will be for awhile. Thank god for Netflix!