Right now my sister and I were supposed to be on a plane headed to Cancun. I had booked us first class as a special treat (Jennie will be finding this out as she edits this post). We were going to celebrate her schmiftieth birthday. we were set to stay at this super bougie vegan wellness resort for 4 days of cenotes, guacamole and inevitable sunburns. Our generous mom was footing the bill for the whole thing as her gift to Jennie.
My body loves to ruin things in fantastical ways and did not disappoint with this one. Instead of accepting our welcome cocktails in the palace like lobby this afternoon, Jennie will be slogging away at her new fancy job and I will be crying in the same pajamas I wore 5.5 years ago when I had my mastectomy.
Let’s back up to surgery two days ago. I had to be dropped off due to Covid restrictions. I was feeling totally chill. Not nervous at all (note this for later). I even made this Drop It Low Challenge for TikTok cause I am a very sad middle aged lady who thinks she nails TikTok when really she shoud delete the app.
Last thing I remember was giving shit to the poor resident named Ian. Ian, if you ever read this, I am deeply sorry.
I woke up in a panic. My throat really hurt, it felt swollen and full of mucous (turns out that was from bad breathing tube apparatus placement 😡), and my heart was racing. I can see that my nurse is just staring at my monitor. I angle my head up and see that my heart rate is 125. I tell my nurse that I do not feel well, I am very anxious and my heart is racing. She pages Anesthesia who says she can give me Versed, knocks you out, yes please. Then she pages Plastics who says no Versed, .5 diazepam. I take the Diazepam (Ativan) knowing it is a bullshit dose and will do nothing. After an excruciating 45 minutes my HR hadn’t changed, I beg for the Versed. She gives me half the dose. UGH, help me people!
You know that feeling of your heart racing and you can’t catch your breath but you are perfectly still? Is there anything scarier? I have had a lot of surgeries and have never had a reaction like this. I am always hilarious and jaunty post-op.
I beg them to take me out of surgical recovery because listening to all the other sick people retch and hearing their providers talk about removing things and urine output, I simply can’t stand it.
Things don’t get better in my own recovery room. my heart rate is still between 110-125. After 2 hours I somehow put on my Meryl Streep hat and convince them I am fine and ask calmly to leave. These dopes believed me and Joe was called for curbside pick up.
I knew the longer I stayed there, the more anxious I would be and then tests would start and I would be stuck there.
The ride home was hell. I felt so sick. Racing heart, nausea. I couldn’t tell Joe. Admitting it was too scary.
Once home, more of the same though I had to do more SAG/AFTRA work for the kids. I took a healthy (not healthy) dose of clonazepam and kind of slept.
Day two- repeat day one. I start reaching out to doctors. My doctors, doctor friends… They all say that tachychardia (increased heart rate) is a common-ish side effect to anesthesia and the more water I drink and time that passes, it will ease. I end up taking one of my mom’s beta-blockers to try and slow my heart. Was this a good idea taking a 73 years old woman with congestive heart failure’s prescriptions? I’ll let you decide. I heard back from my primary care who prescribed me my own beta blockers.
I spend the rest of the day after surgery manically walking around the house. You can’t be still with a fast heart rate. I walked 3600 steps yesterday. I do not think that is normal for day 1 post-op.
The good news is that I hardly notice any breast, chest, arm pain cause I am MAAAAAANIIIIICCCC (Oprah voice).
This morning, day 2 post-op I am feeling better. My heart rate is back within normal ranges. I took my first shower this morning with the help of Joe. This is when I transitioned from being panicked about my heart rate to seeing my chest for the first time and weeping for what has actually happened.
It looks deformed that is for sure, but that is not why I was crying. I was crying because I had to do this again. AGAIN, 5.5 years later I am back crying in the shower as a loved one has to bathe me and I begin to reconcile that my body is a traitor.
On the phone with the plastic surgeon yesterday he told me that there was so very little breast tissue left from the mastectomy that he was shocked Greg was even able to grow there. This cancer is a beast. It may have been removed (again) yesterday, but that does not make me feel better because I know how sneaky and pervasive it is. I am healing and will again ‘be ok’, but this has shaken me.
And to my sister Jennie, I am so sorry that my cancer ruined your birthday trip. we will try again later in the year and there will be even more to celebrate. I am so sorry, but I think we all know whose fault this is…