I’m not really leaving on a plane and my bag isn’t packed yet, but as I ready myself, my home, my kids, & my life for the next round of surgery, I find the lyrics to that song running through my head. Peter, Paul & Mary; Janis Joplin; and John Denver all recorded versions of this sappy little love song, with its catchy yet insidious chorus that will get stuck in your head for half the day if you’re not careful. It’s meant to be an ode for lovers, and I’m usually immune to sappy stuff and odes, but with the big surgery rapidly approaching, I must be going soft because this goofy tune is reminding me how hard it is to leave my family, endure a nasty procedure, and be cooped up in a hospital room. I am a terrible patient. No truer words have been written.
I have written a lot about what a terrible patient I am. Not that I won’t do what needs to be done to get to where I need to be in this “cancer journey” but that I hate every minute of it. I’ve also written my fair amount of scathing posts lately about stupid things people say, so I won’t go there now, but suffice to say if you were planning on telling me that at least I’ll be getting some rest, or to enjoy being waited on, you can skip it. I don’t like to rest and I really don’t like having someone wait on me. As a determined two-year-old might say, “Me do it.”
As terrible as I am as a patient, though, I’m ready. I’m at the point in which I’ve prepared all I can, and whatever doesn’t get done will just have to wait. I’ve been a busy little bee lately, feathering my nest and gearing up for what I know will be a hideously gross surgery followed by a long recovery. This process is akin to getting ready for vacation: at first the list of things to do seems miles long, then time ticks on and the list is whittled, and then you become exhausted from and sick to death of all the prep and can’t wait to just get going. While I’m not exactly going on vacation (!), I am done with all the prep and ready to just get going.
I still haven’t watched the video consultation that explains and illustrates the surgery I’m having tomorrow. Maybe I’ll just use my imagination. You know it’s a big deal with you get 12 pages of pre-op instructions, followed by a 3-page alphabetized list of medicines to avoid.
One of my instructions is to shower with Hibiclens, an antimicrobial wash, for 3 days prior to surgery. No problem. You know what a germaphobe I am. Some of the other text from the informed consent section of the paperwork made me laugh out loud, especially the parts about who’s not really a good candidate for this surgery: women who require more complex breast reconstruction (what’s more complex than this surgery??). Women who are good candidates are those who have inadequate chest wall tissue (me); those who have concerns about breast implants or tissue expanders (I wasn’t too concerned but my body apparently is); and those who may have contracted a post-surgical infection. Yep, that’s me.
The literature then goes on to explain that infection is very unusual after surgery. Yeah, maybe for some people. And that patients must inform the doctor if she has any other infections, “such as ingrown toenail, insect bite or urinary infection.” A bug bite? Really??Oh, mercy, if only it were that simple. How I would love to say I have an ingrown toenail instead of a mycobacterium fortuitum.
There’s also a lot of scolding in the section on bleeding: “Increased activity too soon after surgery can lead to increased change of bleeding and additional surgery. It is important to follow all postoperative instructions and limit exercise and strenuous activity for the instructed time.” Yeah, yeah. Blah, blah, blah.
Yesterday was a near-perfect day: I had a few hours at home to get things in order, then on to Beauty Envy to get the hot new shellac manicure. It’s supposed to last a couple or three weeks without chipping; we shall see. I’m not going to be doing any manual labor anytime soon, so the prognosis is good. Got my toes done, too, which is always nice. Even though my toenails are short as can be, they still take a mighty beating from tennis, but they are pink and shiny now. After the nails extravaganza, it was off to lunch to enjoy the sunshine and margaritas in the company of some first-rate girlfriends–a trifecta for sure. You can have your acai berries and super elixirs; for me, there’s nothing more fortifying than the sun on my face and a drink in my hand with my friends.
Today will be equally good with my last tennis drill of the season, then lunch with whichever members of the team are game for a little noontime tippling. I also gotta make a quick belated birthday meal for my dad, who recently turned 75 but looks a decade younger, easily (I’m hoping it’s genetic, but not very optimistic). I’m whipping up pastichio (Greek lasagna) and a pineapple upside-down cake, two of his favorites. He’ll be ferrying the kids to and fro and keeping up with Macy’s near-constant stream of chatter, so he’ll need a good meal.
Speaking of Macy, she’s at it again: leaving me a note to find when I least expect it but am most likely to need a little pick-me-up. She’s a little apprehensive about me going back for more surgery, but the long summer of me and revolving hospital door must have toughened her up because instead of being sad she’s curious (which hospital? how long will you be there? can we come visit?) and stoic.
She needs a little work on the spelling (I assume that “Your asomest chid” means “Your awesome-est child”) and “Hopefuley” she will keep writing without regard for menial details like spelling. Most important is the message: if Macy says this is my last surgery, then I can go into it with a clear mind and a happy heart.