Tuesday, January 8, 2013

I am back... and with good news!

I finally feel like I am getting back into the swing of things, at least a little! I am told my surgery last week went well -  I really don't remember much of the surgery itself but here is what I do remember from that day:
Our day started out in Nuclear Medicine where they did two injections of a radioactive dye into the top of my ear. The first one wasn't too bad but the second one was a duesy! Once they did that, they took a bunch of images as the dye filtered to the lymph nodes in my neck. This would help them to know which lymph node(s) to remove and where to find them. I had to lay there as still as I could as they did all of the different images. We were in there for about 1 1/2 hours. I was doing OK until the machine kept getting closer and closer to my face! I knew the tech had left the room and I started to have a mini panic attack inside as to what would happen if the machine didn't stop moving and I was stuck under it. Lucky for me it did stop and they were able to get great images of two lymph nodes. They were then able to use the images to make a mark on my neck as to where they could find them.
From there the tech walked me to the pre-op waiting room. Just as we sat down a nurse came and got us. It was game time! I think my stomach sank with nerves! She took us to a room where she had me do a mouthwash rinse and spit (this was to remove any bacteria that could get pushed down when they intubated me in surgery) and then told me to remove my clothes and put on the lovely hospital gown. Next up was the IV start - in the past I have been a tough start but the tech I had did a great job. I hardly felt it. Once it was in I was a little annoyed by it being in my hand and not really being able to move my fingers without it hurting but I guess it didn't really matter once they put me out anyway. My nurse, Marilyn, was wonderful and calming. She hooked my legs up to the thromboguards (sleeves that are hooked up to a pump that fill and empty to help with circulation) which I actually really liked. I thought they were kind of relaxing in a way. Hey, maybe I need to get some of those to help with post-long run recovery!. She also had to ask all of the normal pre-op questions and had me sign the consent. The Anesthesiologist also stopped in to see us and go over a few things with us. It was kind of a whirlwind!
 My parents (Mom, Dad, and Step-Mom) arrived and we had a little while to visit before it was time to head to the OR. When it was time to go they got me up to the bathroom one last time and my parents wished me luck and headed to the waiting room At some point during this time the nurse gave me some medication to help relax and calm me (I have to admit now that I was very nervous as to how I would do with this medicine! Aidan got very silly and acted like a very drunk little 3 year old when they gave it to him- I think I did OK!). This is where things get fuzzy... I remember being wheeled to the OR... I remember moving over to the table from the bed and that is where things end! 
Next thing I remember is trying to "wake up". At this point things were still kind of fuzzy. I remember a nurse asking me if I was cold and then telling me that I had been so sweaty that they had to change my gown. I guess it was from something they had me hooked up to in surgery (The Bear-hugger?). My throat felt really scratchy and it hurt to cough. I remember being moved to a different area where things started to come together a little more and before long my husband (who I have to say has been so amazing and wonderful) and my mom were brought back to see me. I had some water and Sprite and before I knew it I was up using the bathroom and getting dressed. At some point in this area I remember Dr. Connelly stopping by and saying that things went really good and he thought the nodes looked clear. He said something (not sure what) to make me smile (which I did) and he said that is what he was looking for (He had explained to us in our consult that much of the surgery would be very close to the nerve that controls part of the face so he was checking to make sure it still worked). I remember thinking to myself that I knew what he was doing and I was relieved that I was able to smile!
Next thing I know I am getting in a wheelchair and am headed home! Once we were home I tried to get comfy on the couch. My head and neck were all bandaged up so it was tough. I knew I needed to take some pain medicine but that meant I also needed to try to eat something. I decided on toast but that didn't go so well. I couldn't really open my mouth or chew. Plan B- yogurt! I was in tears for a while because it hurt and I couldn't get comfortable. I am so grateful that my dad and step-mom had picked the boys up from school and daycare and had taken them to their house for the night! I was very good about drinking water but then that meant that I was up all the time to use the bathroom. I didn't sleep well at all that night.
The next morning I was feeling pretty good as long as I stayed ahead of it and made sure to eat with my meds. Aidan came home late in the morning and was super sweet. He kept asking me if I was feeling OK and kept checking on me. He spent most of the day playing with Grandma in the basement. Riley and Isaac came home after school and Isaac also had to check on me right away. He was so sweet too! They headed to the basement for much of the night. I slept off and on much of the day and did what I could. That night I stopped taking the strong pain meds because they were making me feel awful and I started taking ibuprofen.
Friday was better! I had an appointment with Dr. Connelly so I took a bath and tried to clean up the best I could. That really helped me feel better- but I still couldn't wash my hair and that was driving me crazy! Tim and I headed to my appointment while "little man" ran errands with Grandma. When Dr. Connelly came into the room he was pleased. He said again that things went great and he said, "I think we have this beat." He took off the dressing around my neck and I felt relieved to have it off! He also took off some of the dressing around my head. He put an ointment on my incision and said things were looking great. Then, he wrapped me all back up- head and neck both. I think I could have cried! The dressing around my neck was making me crazy and I was hoping it would stay off! Next he told us that we could take the dressing on my neck off the next day but that still felt like forever away. He also told us that the Pathology report on the nodes was still not back. The nurse gave us some bandages and sent us on our way with an appointment for Monday for a recheck and hopefully results on the nodes.
Tim and I met up with Mom and Aidan and had lunch at Culver's and then we headed to Target to find some "dry shampoo" and just to walk around a little while we were out. It felt really good! Once Riley and Isaac were home from school, Grandma and the three boys headed back to Iowa for the weekend! It was really crazy just being the two of us in our house for a whole weekend! We ordered pizza and watched a movie. Then we went to the Pearl (a local old fashioned ice cream shop) and got a chocolate malt. We stopped and walked around another store and then also at Wal-greens to find some Tylonol PM to hopefully help me sleep better.
I slept pretty good and didn't get up on Saturday until about 10 AM. Even at that time I was still a little foggy (I guess taking two Tylonol PM is too much for me). We watched a couple more movies and I took another bath and we headed to Wal-mart to get some groceries to make a "good" supper. With the boys gone we could make whatever we wanted without having to worry who wasn't going to like/eat it! We have a great supper of marinated chicken on the grill, green beans, and ranch potatoes. It was nice to have a quiet house to relax and recover! That night I slept pretty good again. I decided to use the body pillow that I used when I was pregnant and I was able to finally get comfortable.
Sunday Tim and I got up and headed to church. This was different without the boys as well! It was nice to touch base with our pastor and let him know how things were going. We had a little time at home and grabbed a snack as we were going to be eating an late lunch/early supper when we met Mom to get the boys back. Since we had to go past the hospital on our way to get the boys we headed out a little early so we could stop in and see the ladies I work with. I should have been working that weekend so it was my "normal" crew. It was great to feel their support and concern and to let them know how things were going. Then it was time to get my boys back!
I was excited to see them again! We met at one of our favorite places- The Great River Roadhouse. They were excited to see us and tell us all about their adventures from the weekend. We enjoyed time catching up and eating pizza and then headed home. It meant so much to us that my mom was able to take them with her for the weekend. I was amazing how much those few days alone helped! Once we were home it was back to reality. I love my boys dearly but I think we were only home 15 minutes when I was ready for them to leave again- they were CRAZY!!! Plus, I think I was tired from being out and about most of the day. Tim was finally able to get them to bed and we were able to relax a bit ourselves.
Monday morning Tim headed off to work. Lucky for me I slept great and felt really good when I got up. Tim gets the boys up and moving before he leaves and then I just have to get their cold lunches (if needed) and get them out the door. I got up to find that they were pretty much ready to go and Riley had even made his own lunch. They headed off to school and I laid back down for another hour (Thankfully Aidan is great about sleeping in) or so until I needed to get ready to go back to the clinic. I took a bath and got cleaned up as much as I could (I also don't think the "dry shampoo" did much other than make my hair smell better). Aidan woke up as I was getting into the tub so I sent him off to watch TV and told him I would be out soon. I got myself ready and got Aidan dressed and ready to go. Tim got home and we headed to my appointment. We waited for a few minutes and then the nurse came and got us. As we walked to the room Dr. Connelly was standing in the hallway and said hi and smiled. Vanessa, his nurse took me into the room where I realized that Tim had not followed. As I sat down Tim came in with Dr. Connelly smiling. GREAT NEWS!!! The nodes came back clear!!! Dr. Connelly explained that both the nodes and the margins of the area on my ear that he had to remove were all completely clear! Then he said some more great news- the dressings were coming off. Before I got too excited I had to ask, "Are they staying off?" He said they were and I about cried!
He took off all of the dressings and then started the painful part of the appointment- getting off the dressing that had been stuck to my ear and getting the packing out of my ear! His nurse, Vanessa, put her hand on my hands and even let me squeeze her hand when it hurt. She was wonderful and I appreciate all that she did to help me through it. Dr. Connelly also removed some of the stitches in my ear and on my neck. He told me to go home, take a shower, and wash my hair! I didn't even have to ask! He said that I would feel so much better after doing that- Boy was he right!
I believe this has gotten long enough. I am sure you don't care about all of the details and I hope I didn't bore you too much.  While I was living most of it I felt like I wasn't even there. It felt like I was numb and just watching it all happen. I think writing it all out has helped me process it some and document it for myself in the future. I think I was just so scared that I was trying to protect myself by being "numb". 
Please come back again:)

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