I have a lot of news! And it’s all good!
Friday Phone Call
On Friday, a nurse from my surgeon’s office called to let me know the pathology report was back. After surgery, 25 lymph nodes were found in the removed tissue. All 25 were negative! No sign of cancer in them. This is great news!
During that same conversation, she informed me that my oncologist appointment will be on December 3. That seems like forever away, but I have been assured this is normal timing. And more great news: I will be with the doctor that I wanted. He has been described as a bit of a “mad scientist,” but I have also read that he is caring, thorough, creative, and absolutely brilliant. I’m super intrigued.
This morning, I went for a check up at the surgeon’s office. Both the doctor and nurse were surprised by how quickly my fluids have gone down. The nurse kept saying, “Well, she is very young.” I loved that! Living on a college campus, I’m usually the old lady! I was thrilled that she kept throwing around the words “very young.” ha!
All of that to say, MY DRAIN IS OUT! Thanks to the low level of fluids that have been coming out of the drain over the last few days, they were comfortable with removing the drain, even though it has only been 13 days since surgery. I had been warned I could have it up to 6 weeks, so this was awesome to get it out today.
I was very nervous about what this process would feel like. It was actually very simple and painless. The nurse snipped the stitches around where the tube exited my body. She had me take several deep breaths, and as I exhaled on the last one she pulled the whole thing out. I hardly felt it, and what I did feel wasn’t painful.
Removing the drain means I have to watch my right arm and underarm pretty closely over the next couple of weeks. My body is going to have to figure out how to remove fluids on its own, but hopefully it is ready to do so. I will go back in to the doctor in a week to make sure there are no pockets of fluids. If they find any, they will have to open me up again and drain them. I don’t want that!!
The nurse also removed all of my staples. It wasn’t bad at all. Some of them I didn’t feel, and the others were just little pin pricks as they came out.
I was sent home with instructions to continue wearing the compression band that I was given after surgery (similar to a giant ace bandage that wraps around my chest and helps keep swelling down in my surgery site). I’m also supposed to take it easy for another week while my body adjusts to not having the drain.
While I’m supposed to take it easy, I’m also supposed to begin stretching to recover some of my flexibility. Right now I can’t even lift my arm up to shoulder height. I also can’t totally straighten my elbow. It gets very painful beyond about a 90-degree angle. The surgeon suggested several stretches for me, and I’ll start doing those several times a day.
I’m still in some pain, but it gets a little better each day. The weirdest part has been the feeling returning to the back of my arm. I had been warned before surgery that some nerves get cut in the process, so I could expect some weird nervous system side effects. During the week after surgery, the back of my arm between elbow and shoulder blade was completely numb. Over the last few days, feeling has started to return. It is like a cross between it being asleep and it burning. And when I’m in a cold room and get the chills, I feel them ten times more intensely in my arm… The rest of my body has normal chills, but my arm has mega chills. Like the voltage is all wrong. It’s so bizarre! The nurse told me it’s normal. It does NOT feel normal.
The nurse will call me this week to set up a physical therapy appointment to learn more about lymphedema (swelling caused by not having those lymph nodes!).
I have several weeks to continue recovering, then my first oncologist appointment on December 3.
Specific Prayer Requests
Many of you have so kindly offered to pray, and you have asked for specific prayer requests. Wow! I feel so loved by this! Here are some things on my mind:
- My incisions would continue to heal properly
- There would be no infection this time
- My body will adapt to not having the drain, and fluids would not gather
- My flexibility will increase
- My energy and stamina would get back to normal