I Found A Lump, Part III

Click on either title to link back to:

I Found A Lump, Part I
I Found A Lump, Part II

The knockout drugs worked this time.

I remember the placement of the IV, oxygen mask, BP cuff, and pulse/ox monitor. I remember being wheeled into the operating room and moving myself from gurney to table, wishing I was anyplace else. I had a strangely casual conversation with the surgical nurses about my pulse and blood pressure, which were “surprisingly high for someone of my stature.” Ha. Yep, put me in a medical situation, and my normally healthy numbers hit the roof. Good news for me, according to the nurses — high blood pressure meant that they could give me more of The Good Drugs since my body would metabolize them quickly. I did not argue!

I don’t remember getting drowsy. I anticipated heavy eyelids and that dreamlike “I know what’s happening, but I don’t care” feeling — I have always been aware during sedated surgery, and remember much of it in detail. Not this time. I remember nothing. Totally looped.

I woke up later to too many faces above me, and a sense of desperation as I tried to will my way back toward consciousness. Dr. T. explained things and I wanted to listen, but I knew I wouldn’t remember. I heard her say that my blood was refusing to clot, and that they had pressure wrapped me. I quickly became aware of what would become my primary source of torture — and comfort — over the next 24 hours: a huge ace bandage wrapped several times around my chest and back, stubbornly pinching just under my left arm. I felt tape corners in my armpit and suppressed the urge to rip them off. I wasn’t quite awake yet, but was already thinking about how my skin would object when it was time to remove the tape and the gauze. Hospital budgets may be slim, but my nurses did not skimp on tape. Dammit.

Rest, ice, Darvocet. Repeat as needed. I got home and deposited myself on the couch, feeling relieved and fairly comfortable. But as the local wore off… not so much. Ice did nothing through the thick pressure wrap, nor did Darvocet. I called and spoke to the surgical nurse who said, “With the amount of surgery we did on you, you can double up the dose.”

The amount of surgery they did on me? Hm, that’s… interesting.

Dose doubled, and an hour later, still no relief. Too much pain and too much nausea. Got through to my surgeon at 10:00 PM and will forever be in her debt, because she called in a prescription for Vicodin.

Relief. Sleep.

I went back to the gym three days later. Ha! That was stupid. I had hoped it would make me feel better; more normal. But instead it made me feel weak.

I hate weak.

Spent most of the next week in elective time out, trying to sleep. I was hurting, sleep-deprived and generally not fit to be around humans.

At my post-surgical appointment with Dr. T., the stitches came out, and I learned that the pathology report read: “Benign ruptured cyst with granulation due to probable bleeding. No malignancy. Case closed.” There is no sweeter word than “benign.” I need a copy of that report. I should frame it.

It surprised me to hear that I need a medic alert bracelet that labels me, from here on out, as someone with “coagulopathy.” I am now considered a “free bleeder.” No bike racing for me.

My surgeon told me that she used “quite a lot” of electrocautery to stop the bleeding, and that it simply didn’t work. She said that she finally stopped trying; that’s when they pressure wrapped me. Evidently, I am also not a good candidate for sedation in the future. I am supposed to tell doctors that I need an anesthesiologist and should be knocked out at the next level with Propofol. The surgical team used the maximum amount of sedative, and while I thought I was out cold, they were concerned that I was far too alert. I talked to the doctor and nurses throughout the surgery and they thought I might try to get up, thrash about, or remember things.

I laughed and cringed as I asked my doctor, “What did I say?” She looked me straight in the eye with a half-smile and deadpanned, “You do not want to know.” I didn’t pursue it.

I’m not sure how to process the whole “free bleeder” thing. Dr. T. told me that I would likely have to advocate hard with any physician… she said that most surgeons “will take one look at you, see a healthy, strong person who doesn’t drink a lot or do drugs, is small-framed, and will roll their eyes and be generally skeptical of both the bleeding tendency and your strong resistance to anesthesia.” Even with complete knowledge of my bleeding disorder and my body’s tendency to need more drugs than most, they were very surprised by what actually happened.

So chalk up a couple more medical oddities for my Krypton File. I don’t like the idea that no procedure is “minor.” And the thought of something like a serious accident and my increased potential for just plain bleeding to death scares the hell out of me. But mostly pisses me off.

Eleven days out, I’m still not where I want to be. I am starting to feel more like myself again, thinking about things like school supply shopping, dinner, and catching up with laundry. As I told a friend, I’ll feel a lot better when my left breast no longer looks as if it was in a bar fight.

My new Medic Alert bling should be here by Tuesday.

And my morning coffee tastes better than ever.


9 responses to “I Found A Lump, Part III

  1. Katherine Hennessy

    I had NO idea Kathy………kudos to you for your courage and your benign news. Now easy with the Free Bleeding and enjoy your new bling!

    Thanks, Katherine. -KDF

  2. Glad to hear everything turned out OK. That coffee and everything else will taste better for quite a while.

    You’re not kidding! Thanks for commenting, Davis. I’ve bookmarked your blog. -KDF

  3. Pingback: I Found A Lump, Part II « Why Would I Sleep?

  4. Kathy, I had no idea. I have not had your issues but already at my age I have had cancer, radiation, kidney surgery, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and major sleeping issues. Not to mention the major pregnancy issues with both kids. Your writings kept me deeply in enthralled. It really takes me back to my mental battles and the continuous weight of the chains constantly trying to pull me under. The battle got harder with each issue and you wonder if it will every stop. My desire to not let this crap ruin my life or my attitude and that I can and will overcome it all. Sadly being comfortable with the doctor’s procedures and hospitals. Helping all the strangers at 3 am in the Hospital hallways find their way because you have been roaming the halls for weeks unable to sleep. Looking at myself now, I do believe I am a better more compassionate person for it and in some weird way do not have a desire to change any of it. I like to think that we are just getting our issues done early so we can enjoy what the Lord has given us for the rest of our healthy lives.

    Damn, Trav, you’ve dealt with a lot of crap. I do know what you mean when you say you don’t want to change it, though. It’s not fun to be in the middle of any of it, but once you’ve made it through, it really does amp up the appreciation of the things that are good. I think it also makes one more “game” to go off and do all those things that so many people want to do, but never get around to. -KDF

    P.S. If we’re done with our issues early, do we get extra recess? :)

  5. Holy CRAP! I am so glad to hear you are OK now. Wow, scary. I’m sorry you had to go thru that, friend.

    Thanks, Mrs. C. I’m doing okay. So glad to see that you are, too. -KDF

  6. Kathy, wow, I had no idea…I was scared to read these, but so happy for you that everything is OK! Stay well and hi to all!

    Hey Cath, sorry to scare you. Starting to feel more like myself now. :) -KDF

  7. what a relief!
    although it was news to me that mr. t has graduated from med school…
    there is actually some real research that indicates redheads are more resistant to anesthesia…

    insom, not only did he graduate from med school, he also turned himself into a petite white woman! Am I a redhead? I know I can be hotheaded, is that the same thing? -KDF

  8. I have missed reading about Sam and the girls. I have missed your witty appreciation for life. I had wondered where you have been. Then this series started and I understood.
    I am so grateful for you for the way things have turned out. I am especially grateful that your wit has survived intact. :-)
    God Bless!

    And thank you for coming back! -KDF

  9. *hugs* Glad you’re doing better.

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