Snow Flake

"Snow Flake" by Kat Caverly, Self-Portrait, December 13, 2013

Tom had spent about three hours in the dark OR waiting room. It was peaceful. He had watched as other gurneys were wheeled by quietly. He had spoken to the surgeon. Then he heard this commotion, as the big double doors burst open and a “bald Lucille Ball was yucking up two nurses and I knew it was Kat.”

I was sitting up on the gurney, laughing up a storm, telling jokes. The nurses were saying that they wanted me to come back every day, to teach Patient 101. I didn’t want to ever come back, thank you very much!

The first thing I said to the nurses in the recovery room was, “Hey, I’m hungry. I guess that’s a good sign!” They asked me about pain, and I asked what would they give me. “Morphine” was the answer and that scared me more than any pain. I said no to any pain killers that first day, and on day two too. I was so excited about the NO PAIN by the third day I did a little dance and sung “I feel fabulous!” Tom laughed and made me blueberry pancakes.

I had been most worried about just simply waking up after surgery, then my concern was pain and not being able to sleep. I prepared for every inevitability, but learned, gratefully that I did not need to sleep on my back. I never sleep on my back! So after one night with the wedge pillows, sleeping on my left side on the special bed Tom helped me make, I was able to sleep on the futon, on the floor, no problem. I had full use of both arms, and the core strength to get up off the floor easily.

I made it through surgery, and healed fast enough so the one drain was removed after just one week, but a lot of nerves had been cut during the lymph node dissection, and predictably I started to have strange sensations in my right arm. It’s all part of the healing, I keep telling myself. I am worried about lymphedema, and have already started to ask what I can do to prevent it. For me it is a success when I can avoid the worst, by doing my best.

Fatigue is the hardest part for me to endure with any grace. I wasn’t low energy enough to sleep and didn’t have enough energy to be my usual ebullient self on some days. In fact I was a torrent of the irritable. Poor Tom. He did his best to cheer me up, yes, with blueberry pancakes!

All in all, this is going very well. I made it through chemo with no permanent side effects. I made it through surgery with no pain and haven’t lost even one night of great sleep. My muscles are strong. I have full range of motion in my arm and shoulder. I am still laughing.

Next up, radiation. I am sure I will be fascinated by the technology. And my hair is beginning to grow back again. Will it be white? Will I have chemo curls? Stay tuned!


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