After I woke up in the recovery room, I realized that my double mastectomy had been completed. I felt hazy as I became more aware of my surroundings. No nurses were near me, as they had been when my other procedures ended, and that made me anxious. I shifted in the bed and felt something wrong in my right breast area. The pain was terrible and it made my muscles move even more due to my cerebral palsy.
When a nurse finally came over, I explained that I needed medicine to relax my muscles so I’d stop moving. I didn’t want to cause any more damage. It felt like eternity being in recovery, but I finally was allowed to go to my room, where my husband and mother were waiting. As soon as I saw my mom, I couldn’t help but cry. I felt many emotions ranging from fear, to relief the operation was over, to pain and happiness to see my family again. Everyone huddled around trying to figure out how to help me feel better.
With some combination of morphine and Valium, I could stand the pain. However, it persisted and was only on the right side. My right arm hurt very much, too, but I couldn’t see it through all the blankets and bandages. I wasn’t allowed to eat anything but water ice. I enjoyed lemon the best. My husband put on the Animal Planet channel and it seemed to have an “Amazing Pool” marathon all night long. To this day, I still can’t watch that show.
That first night in the hospital seemed to last forever. The pain returned every time the morphine subsided. The head nurse wasn’t very kind. I had to use the bedpan. Now, that’s not easy without having cerebral palsy and being in pain. Imagine how it felt having both. Then she just stood staring at me, making me uncomfortable. I couldn’t go, but I did later on with the help of an awesome nurse’s attendant. I was in and out of sleep, but mainly awake staring at the clock. I wished it would hurry up so I could possibly see a doctor and ask if my pain was normal.
Finally, morning came, which meant new nurses and aides. I was in and out, slowly losing my sanity between lack of sleep, high doses of medication and the pain. We finally got the green light to order breakfast. The doctor on call came into my room and I was relieved that he might be able to help me. He was extremely nice and understanding of my situation. He took a look at my right breast and immediately, but calmly, said that he needed to get the operating room staff ready because I had a hematoma!
A hematoma is localized bleeding in the blood vessels from sickness or trauma-like surgery. I think it occurred during the time I was in the recovery room. While I didn’t want to have surgery again, I felt better that I wasn’t imagining or overreacting to the pain. The doctor called my doctor and started to prepare me for surgery. Right then, my breakfast came, but I couldn’t eat it because I was headed for surgery.
At Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, they usually don’t perform surgeries on weekends, unless it’s an emergency. They had to call in nurses, an anesthesiologist, doctors and everyone else that is needed. In a matter of minutes my doctor was at my side. He took a look and confirmed the hematoma. He was extremely apologetic that it happened to me, and assured me I won’t experience any similar pain afterward.
With all of the moving around and being touched, I felt so much intense pain. When they came to transfer me to the gurney, I couldn’t help but cry again. I looked at my husband, and he looked very concerned and sad. Everyone felt for me as they took me to surgery.
Next week: Find out what happened after the second surgery.
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