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Friday, April 23, 2010

Pre-Op & Post-Op and I'm A-OK

So I'm sitting at home watching the Kiera Knightley version of Pride & Prejudice (go Jane Austen!) with best friend from CA Beth and Matthew G-R-A-D-Y (spelling out his name is somewhat of an inside joke, but just sing the B-I-N-G-O song and you'll get most of it).

All in all, I'm good. I'm not even particularly groggy because they were able to sedate me really well rather than giving me general anaesthesia, and aside from being thirsty and a big hungry (all of which got solved in quick fashion both in the hospital and at home), and feeling a bit loopy (no more than when I've had an amaretto sour) I'm doing just fine. So that's the good news--everything went well and I'm healing and resting just fine. If you want more of my long-winded details, keep reading. And if you want to check in later, come back on Thursday, April 30 or Friday morning, May 1 (May Day!)

I have to give big props to UNC Hospital and especially everyone who took care of me from the time I checked into the Lineberger Center to the post-Op at the Ambulatory Care Center. The strangest thing that happened to me was that I almost fainted twice while they were doing some mammography films of my left and right breasts. Because you cant eat anything after midnight or drink any water after 7:30am, I was pretty much on a food and water deficit by the time I ended up being seen at 10:30am. So in the middle of the radiologist and mammography technician doing breast imaging on me as prep for the surgery, I started to get that muffled sound and then see stars and luckily I told them I thought I was going to pass out and before you knew it they had me lying down in this chair (which luckily reclines) and the doc had my feet literally lifted up by her hands and the tech had a cold wash cloth and was telling me to breathe. Apparently mine is not an uncommon reaction to having my breasts squished in the machine with no food and water. And the doctor said that because I hadn't eaten and was so skinny (and Lord, when was the last time someone called ME skinny???) that this was what was causing the reaction. That plus any anxiety I was feeling.

And it dawns on me that OF COURSE I am feeling anxiety in my body, even if I'm not necessarily recognizing it consciously, so how smart is my body for having this reaction and saying "Whoa! What's going on--this is all overwhelming so I'm going to shut down now!"

Anyway, from the Lineberger Center they took us over in a special van to Ambulatory Care--and Kathy from the Mammography clinic accompanied us. Again, I cannot say enough good things about this woman. When I related the story of how I had to fight and argue with the nurse practitioner guide who is supposed to HELP ME in this process to get a biopsy earlier and how she insisted that I couldn't have one--the tech and the nurse shook their heads and told me that that was simply WRONG and this nurse guide person was wrong not to schedule a biopsy for me sooner. And that it was a good thing that I advocated for myself and spoke with Kathy and demanded that I have a biopsy as soon as possible.

And if there's one thing I've learned in this whole process, it is that it is so CRITICAL to ask questions and to be your own best advocate and not to let people tell you to wait or let the process run its course. If that was the case, I would only be getting a biopsy now and I wouldn't know I had cancer until the following week and then who knows when I'd have the surgery scheduled? So for any of you reading this: if you ever find yourself having to go through some kind of health issues, be proactive, be your own advocate, ask questions, get angry if you have to, and demand the tests that you need!

Anyway, back to the surgery story. So at the Ambulatory Care Center they had me all gowned up with my booties as part of the pre-Op. Matthew and Beth were with me for pretty much everything (except some of the film stuff in mammography--they didn't see me almost faint) and Beth took this photo of me with my booties (thankfully she didn't get my face):

The surgery went well--I have no recollection of it, thank goodness, and the surgeon, Dr. Keith Amos (who is wonderful--can't say enough good things about him!) came out afterwards and talked with both of them about how things went. Surgery went smoothly--they will be sending out the tissue samples/tumors/calcifications/lymph nodes for full pathology reports/testing. And I'll have reports back on Thursday or next week (April 30).

So I'd say if you want another update on what's going on with me, check in Thursday night or Friday morning. I'll definitely be blogging about it. Thanks for reading!


  1. So glad to hear that the surgery went well, Jennifer! I'm thinking about you - all my best for a quick recovery and please keep the details coming!

  2. Seconding Robin: I'm glad to hear that the initial prognosis is good. I have to admit that medical language is gibberish to me (I have several family members that are doctors and nurse practitioners), but it's good to "hear" you (in the latest blog) sounding like yourself! I thought, *of course* Jennifer recommends that people "be proactive, be your own advocate, ask questions, get angry if you have to, and demand the tests that you need!" That sounds like my Greenlaw neighbor. I went to a two-year-old Build-a-Bear birthday party today, and I can share that pain (of an entirely different/ metaphoric/ flippant category, and not at all related to what you are going through) with you next time we chat.

    Be well. Patrick

  3. p.s. don't write me at google :) because I used this email only to post here. You can also get me at