Hospitals are designed to make you want to go home

So sayeth my surgeon! Indeed, last night was not terribly fun. Actually, there were some fun times yesterday, but really, it mostly sucked.

The day started at 5am, and I was hungry and thirsty. I took my second of two pre-op showers using stinky scrub solution. My overall thought for the morning was – I DON’T WANNA!

Then, we made our way to the hospital, where I got admitted. I took off all my clothes and put on a most fashionable paper gown. Then, I went down to the breast center where a radioactive dye was injected into my breast so that the sentinel nodes could be located. At this point, a caffeine deprivation headache began to develop. Then, I went to imaging, where images of the sentinel nodes were taken (not always successful – success for me – yay!). Then, back upstairs, where they put in the evil hand IV (hurts, especially when you’re dehydrated). Then, off to surgery, where they did the bilateral mastectomy and sentinel node biopsies.

I guess I came out of the anesthesia pretty fast. The very kranky recovery room nurse told me that people don’t usually remember the recovery room. True, there were things I didn’t remember, like telling my surgeon how fucked up I felt (in a drunken sort of a way) or the extubation (thank goodness!), but I sure as heck remember her kranky butt! And I remember the patient next door was really struggling, and I felt really bad for her. I also remember wanting to see Cheryl and that the kranky nurse was annoyed that I asked when I could see Cheryl.

I remember being transported up to my room, and Cheryl was there within seconds of my arrival. I actually felt pretty good for a few hours… and then started to feel tired. I’m sure there was some drug in there that started wearing off at that point. Couple of friends came for short visits, which was very cool… I had some delicious jamba juice… YUM! Thanks Kathryn!

But then there was the attempt to sleep. Forget about it! Hospital rooms are full of noise and lights, some of which blink nonstop, and all sorts of anti-sleep things beeping and so on. I did have a drain issue in the middle of the night – eeeewwwwww!!! But that was resolved relatively easily.

The biggest problem was the caffeine headache. And by headache, I mean a headache that made all the other pain pale in comparison. Unfortunately, the pain med for the surgery didn’t touch the headache. Eventually, the nurse gave me something specifically for the headache, but it never really went away… I wasn’t really sure whether it was a caffeine headache or a side effect from anesthesia or whatever… Until…. This morning, when I had the delicious latte brought by Cheryl, my headache was completely gone within 30 minutes.

Note to self – if I ever end up in the hospital again, have caffeine as soon as possible, even if it’s late in the afternoon or even in the evening!

Another problem was the need to pee nearly every hour. They really load you up with the fluids during surgery and after. I haven’t peed for about an hour and a half – whoa….

OH YEAH – and during the sentinel node biopsy, the surgeon uses a blue dye to confirm the locations of the nodes imaged using the radioactive dye… LOTS of blue dye, apparently. My first pee was soooooo blue – it literally looked like ink. NUTTY! After about two liters of peeing… my pee had returned to a more normal color.

Anyway, once the horrid headache was fully resolved, I started to feel like going home was realistic. And – viola! Here I am. Home with Cheryl… Tre will be home from school soon. Cheryl just made me some food – actually, she made herself some food… and I wanted some, so she literally gave me her bowl of food… and went back to the kitchen to make herself another (thanks sweetie)….

It seems that bilateral mastectomy WITHOUT the immediate placement of tissue expanders is MUCH EASIER than with the immediate placement of tissue expanders. One of the nurses was telling us that people who get those often stay three days in the hospital and have more pain than I did.

Anyway, I’m glad to be home, where the internets are reliable and supposedly secure and there are not beeping and blinking things all over the place… Glad to be home. Pain totally under control. Headache completely resolved. Food I actually like eaten up…. Yup – home is good.


About rleepenn

I'm a mom and a chemistry professor, and I love to ride bikes! On July 29th, 2011, I received the news that I have breast cancer. This is my blog....
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4 Responses to Hospitals are designed to make you want to go home

  1. Jeannette Brown says:

    Wow. Out of the hospital so soon. They really kick you out. Yes I agree hospitals are meant to make you want to go home. I spent five days in the hospital after my first chemo. In the middle of the night people would come in and want a blood sample. They couldn’t find a vein. I sent one out of the room without the sample. Then they wanted to know if you could sleep. How could I sleep? My room was next to the nurses station and I heard them partying all night! At least that’s what it sounded like.

  2. Susan Burroughs Soltis says:

    Welcome home!! Glad the surgery is now behind you!! Yay!!!

  3. Ashley Walton says:

    I am 28 years old and was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in August 2013. I had my mastectomy August 29th and had a tissue expander places immediately. I was sent home the next day and since then it hasn’t cause too much trouble. Everyone is different and I only had one side operated on with hopes that one day I will have a child and try to breast feed. I can completely relate to you about the hospital experience and the blue pee (weird!!) My recovery was great and I was back up hopping around in no time and just 7 weeks after surgery I’ve had my first intake of fluid in the expander. Not a bad process at all! The sucky part of all of this is the chemo. It’s really got me down and keeps me down up to a week after getting it. I’m digging your page and even though it’s a year old it’s still helping me tremendously! I’m trying the HibiClens on my scalp acne tonight and hope that I’ll see results in a week or so. I’m glad to see you’re doing well and one day I hope to look back on all this as just a bad dream. -Ashley (Middle TN)

    • rleepenn says:

      Oh man – just 28 yo???? Wow… Yeah, everyone is so different. I opted out of reconstruction and had a bilateral mastectomy. Breast feeding was definitely not in my future.

      Was your diagnosis triple negative breast cancer?

      I’m glad to know that you’ll be trying the hibiclens protocol that I came up with. After a week or so of hibiclens / salicylic acid, please let me know how your scalp is doing! I’d love to hear!!!!

      I am doing well – as far as I know. I mean, I am still NED (no evidence of disease), and I hope I get to stay this way for many years to come!!!

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