For the past several days now, I have been moving from being asleep to being alert to being groggy and to being all things in between. Being on pain meds makes it difficult to keep track of what is real and what is not; it is also tricky trying to figure out what I have already heard or said or done.
I am a person who is easily hypnotized. My imagination is pretty vivid; I can run with a suggested thought or idea and quickly give it a life of its own. (According to people in the “fear of flying” business, my imagination is what gets the best of me when I am on a bumpy flight.)
I have a colorful, plentiful array of dreams each night.
Throw all this together, and voila! You get a pajama-clad patient experiencing past and present fade-ins and fade-outs by the bucketful. The movies that have been rolling in my head since I woke up in the recovery room have really been entertaining. There is no sense of editing; the pictures overlap and move backward and forward without any warning.
I am a five year old - who just had her tonsils removed - enjoying a visit in the hospital from her curly headed boyfriend, Harry B. He brings me a gold birdcage in which is perched a plastic green warbler. Each time I open the cage door, the bird lets out a sweet, high-pitched whistle, and Harry B. shoots me a lopsided smile that is missing a couple of front teeth. A few thoughts (hours, days, doses?) later, I am treating my grandmother, cousin and sister to cheeseburgers, fries and vanilla milkshakes at my hometown drug store/soda joint with the ten-dollar bill I recently found on the sidewalk. Waking up on another occasion, I am riding my bike home from elementary school, then from a Sociology class to my tiny college dorm room.
You get the idea.
Time seems to be warped right now. Everything runs together.
Some of these scenes are “real” and some are made up. The night after surgery I was standing alone on a street corner in a small town very late at night. I was wearing a hatbox on my head. I’m fairly certain this image falls into the made up category, but then, it’s kind of fun not giving a lot of thought to which scene goes where on the continuum of my life experiences.
OK, I know, you would like for me to be less abstract and fill you in on how things went during surgery and how I’m doing now.
The surgery went a bit longer than expected – four hours. The great news is that the sentinel node biopsy revealed that there is no invasive cancer present. Only four nodes had to removed; they were the ones that took up the dye. As soon as the breast surgeon did her job, she passed the scalpel to the plastic surgeon who began reconstruction by putting a tissue expander in place. In about a month, I will begin receiving saline injections. Then the expander will be replaced with an implant. From what I understand, this whole process takes about three months and is no walk in the park.
So, it really is good news all in all. No chemo, no radiation. Thank you, each and every one of you who kept me in your thoughts and prayers and who have helped me get this far. You have no idea what a huge source of comfort and encouragement you have been.
As far as how I am doing now? The pain meds are masking the reality of it, that’s for sure. I am scheduled to give a talk about my work this Sunday. I am hoping to be able to pull it off. It’s giving me something to reach for, plan for, and that is a good thing.
Excuse me… time to drift off again!