10 Day Post-Op Appointment

Monday, May 21, 2018

I had my 10 day post-op appointment today. I was looking forward to getting the drain removed.

One of the things I like about this surgeon is that she’s not only a great surgeon and doctor, she’s also apparently a great teacher as well. I don’t remember any of my other teaching surgeons having so many residents working with them. Today, I met another one – my fourth with her. He took notes on where I am with the drain and how things feel. I’ve asked them all what they want to do when they’re turned loose to practice medicine. Dr. P. said he wanted to be a general surgeon. When I asked why not breast oncology, he said that it intimidated him. He knows what a gall bladder looks like and where it is. Every cancer, on the other hand, is different. This is understandable. I’d be concerned about doing the right thing for my cancer patients. I’d be worried that I didn’t get it all or that in order *to* get it all, I had to do a much more radical surgery than the patient was prepared to have. I appreciated his honesty. I hope he keeps that when he goes into practice.

When the surgeon came in, she had another resident with her. Dr. L. was very quiet and when asked, she said she wanted to go into breast oncology. I hope she is able to learn all she can from my surgeon, because she’s *really* good at what she does.

Removing the drain is done in the treatment room. She clips the stitch that’s holding it in, and then pulls the drain out really quickly. She let me know it would feel weird coming out – it did, and it didn’t hurt. I was a little surprised that she also removed the surgical glue. When I had the port put in, the glue just came off on its own. I thought the same would be true with these incisions. The incisions looked a little different, in a good way, without the glue on them. It was easier to see how they were healing.

I had noticed that I had feeling back in my right nipple last week but not my left. I had called the nurse to ask her when I should be concerned. I knew one week post-op was too soon to be worried. She said if it still wasn’t back after a month, I should be concerned, and that some women never get it back. That freaked me out a little. This was the side where she just did a routine reduction, not the side where she had to tunnel under a bunch of major nerves to get to the lymph nodes, and there were no lymph nodes removed on my left side. When I mentioned to the surgeon that the feeling wasn’t back on my left side even though it was on my right, she told me it would come back. I asked her to let the nurse know that telling patients that it might not come back at all is probably not something she should be saying to someone calling one week post-op.

After my appointment, I walked over to the Oncology Infusion Center (OIC) to talk to the oncologist’s nurse. Somehow the anesthesia scheduling person managed to cancel ALL of my prescriptions before my surgery. There are still a few things I need to have open – like the lidocaine cream I put on my port for infusions, massages, acupuncture and anti-nausea meds. I hadn’t heard from the nurse that she’d gotten this fixed, so I wanted to double check with her while I was already there. On the way between buildings, I realized I’d forgotten my hat somewhere. When I got to the OIC, I was talking to the guy at the desk and asked him to call over there to ask if they had it so I could go back and pick it up.

While I was doing that, I told him the surgeon’s phone extension – at that point my oncologist’s nurse was standing nearby and said, “Look at you! What chemo brain?!?”

It had been an entire morning of chemo brain, and I told her so. I remembered putting the hat on in the car while I was in the parking garage. My hair’s not quite half an inch long, and the chemo makes me more sun sensitive, so I don’t go outside without a hat. I don’t remember where or when I took it off. I was pretty sure it was in the treatment room, but I couldn’t be sure. I’d stopped in the bathroom and spent some time in the waiting room where I was trying to fix something on my phone. Any other time, I’d have remembered exactly when I took it off and where I set it down. With chemo brain, it’s a blank. I can remember pieces of where I was, but not all of it.  Chemo brain is exactly this – my brain can only focus on exactly one thing at a time. If I am doing something and get interrupted, I will either forget what I was doing, or forget pieces of what happened in between when I try to remember later. In the end, I had to walk back over to the other building back to the surgeon’s office. They couldn’t find my hat, so I had to leave without it.

For those of you who haven’t had chemo and don’t understand the depths of chemo brain, this was deeply disrespectful and rude. This is a person who is allegedly trained to work with cancer patients who are receiving chemo. Making fun of patients struggling with chemo brain is uncalled for. This isn’t the first time she’s been dismissive of something I’ve reported to her as a problem, and it’s not the first time she’s made a comment about chemo brain. If it were up to me, she wouldn’t be working in oncology.

When I was done at the hospital, I drove up to my favorite mall. I bought a new hat, picked up a few other odds and ends and got a foot massage. Before I left, it occurred to me to look for a sports bra when I saw the Pink store. They sent me over to Victoria’s Secret.

Ladies, if you *ever* have to go through this, Victoria’s Secret isn’t where you want to be 10 days post-op.  Why? Unless you can find a front-closing bra-let, forget it. Their sports bras still have a wire, and between the wire and the “squish-factor,” it’s too much.

Aside from that, I had been really emphatic with my surgeon that after ensuring that she’d gotten the margins and then some so I’d never have to do this again, I told her that I wanted to be 2 sizes smaller than I was when I started. So, when I walked into VS, they asked to measure me. When they did, they said I was still the same size as before. What?!?!? NOOOO!!!! I *just* had surgery and was supposed to be a “B” cup! This can’t be happening! It’s not their fault that I’m still really swollen and they are still pretty much the same size as before. It was a hit to my psyche that I wasn’t expecting. Now I know not to go bra shopping until at least September/October. Until then, I’ll make due with the surgical bras.

I ended up getting a couple of the VS sports bras so that I had something to wear while my surgical bras were in the laundry.

About Pink Ribbon Road

This blog is about receiving and living with a breast cancer diagnosis.
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