Note: It's hard to write about major surgery without getting close to the realm of Too Much Information. I will try to avoid most of the actual gory details as I reflect on this date 3 years ago. You've been warned!
May 8, 2009. Friday before Mother's Day, 6 a.m. Nate and I drive through the Phildadelphia streets. We have to be at the hospital by 6:30. We drive in silence. What is there to say? I hurried through getting dressed. Didn't look down. Tried to pretend it was just another doctor's appointment. I will be in surgery for 8 hours if all goes well.
Thanks to heredity and chemo, my already small veins had shrunk to nothing. The poor young man tried five separate times to start an IV in my arm or hand so the doctors could begin administering anesthesia. In case you were wondering, it really hurts to have an IV put in, especially after the third time. Dr. Boraas, one of the surgeons, came over to talk to me as they began try number five. The last thing I remember is her kind voice.
The first thing I am aware of next is the thirst. It is raw, intense, primal. I need water, and I need it now. My tongue feels like cotton, my throat thick and dry. Blinking, I see that Nate is there. "I'm thirsty." He gets the nurse. No water. One ice chip. It barely makes a dent. The first hour out of anesthesia feels like a constant battle for ice. I'm angry. Stop being so stingy about it! I feel heavy and numb.
Next, they move me to a different room. Everything has gone well. No trace of cancer in the tissue, and things look good. I'm thankful, but so tired, and getting more aware of the pain. Where's that morphine pump? I have 8 surgical drains, and a pump that I can hit for more medicine. All I have to do for the rest of the day and night is rest. We'll talk about getting out of bed on Sunday (Mother's Day). As far as I'm concerned, they can postpone that thought for a week. I can't even turn on my side or sit up in bed without the nurse's help. But at least they're giving me more water.