Raindrops, Roses, Whiskers, Kittens

I had surgery yesterday! I think, though I cannot confirm, that I was a very brave boy.

I don’t think I mentioned in my previous post that I have several tests and procedures to undergo before I can begin chemo. Yesterday’s procedure included a lymph node removal and a port placement. I’ll explain:

I had a lymph node biopsy a few weeks ago to determine the exact type of lymphoma. The radiologist biopsied a lymph node on my neck while I was conscious (I did not enjoy myself at all), and the pathologist determined that I probably have Hodgkin (Hodgkin’s? I’ve heard everyone say it different ways…) lymphoma. Probably ain’t good enough when it comes to chemotherapy. I didn’t realize that there are many different chemo drugs (though it feels obvious now that I know) and they use them in different combinations based on the type of cancer you have. My oncologist wants to be sure that we do the right treatment for the right type of lymphoma. So! That’s where this lymph node removal comes in. They’re gonna biopsy a ton of tissue this time.

The other portion of the surgery was the port placement. I thought they just shoved an IV in you and gave you the chemo drugs, but noooo. Much fancier. The port reduces the need for IV placements each time you have a chemo treatment, and apparently chemo is pretty hard on your veins. Makes sense, right? So they implant this port below the collarbone, and it’s completely covered by skin, so you can only really see the raised outline through the skin. A catheter connects the port to an artery, and during chemo, they use a needle to deliver the drugs through the port into the body. It’s some crazy science shit, y’all.

So, back to the good stuff. I had this surgery yesterday, and boy oh boy, was it an experience.

  1. First, they needed a urine sample from me to determine whether I was pregnant, so they sent me into a bathroom with a lil cup. I tried so hard, y’all. I sat there thinking about the ocean, I turned the faucet on to a drip, I pressed on my bladder…nothing. At one point, I adjusted my arm, and…dropped the damn cup into the toilet. I had to ask the nurse for a glove to fish it out and throw it away and she started laughing. Finally, I peed in a new cup and emerged from the bathroom triumphant, holding my pee aloft like a trophy.
  2. They gave me Valium and I felt like nothing could ever hurt me. Do your worst, surgeon! Cut off my foot. Whatever.
  3. The surgeon. I can’t explain to you how much of an absolute earth angel she was. An American treasure, right up there with Dolly Parton. She came in before the surgery and explained what she was going to do, along with possible complications. The whole time, she had her (very soft) hand on my arm, and in my Valium haze I felt so safe. She marked the places where she was going to make the incisions with her initials, which I later found out were hearts. Hearts, y’all. Then she told me that she’s going to be thinking of me and praying for me, and I basically died. I generally only mildly appreciate it when people say they’ll pray for me, but this time felt so genuine and special (maybe the Valium had something to do with that, but we’ll just never know).
  4. The nurse anesthetist came in to give me my sleepy drugs and said, “Are you ready to get drunk with me? Here’s your party hat!” and slapped a mesh cap over my hair.  She gave me an initial dose of something that made me a little woozy, and I remember complimenting her on her ability to drive my bed through the maze of hospital hallways.
  5. Upon entering the operating room, they put an oxygen mask on me and gave me the sedation medication, at which point the surgeon came over to me and started singing My Favorite Things. Yes, the one from The Sound of Fucking Music. I’ve never liked that movie, but the fact that this very professional yet loving woman was singing it to me while I was basically stoned was so wonderfully surreal. I remember saying, “Wow! You know all the words!” before passing the fuck out.
  6. I awoke in the recovery room and immediately started crying. Is that something any of y’all do after surgeries? I’ve heard it’s pretty common, and sedation meds and anesthesia have made me cry every time, but I’m never quite prepared for it. After about 20 minutes, I was finally ready to have my mom come in and sit with me, but when the curtain opened, my partner Deejay came in first. He’d ridden his bike to the hospital to surprise me. Another earth angel walks among us.
  7. Both he and my mom brought me sunflowers, so now I have two large vases of sunflowers in my apartment. Sunflowers are my favorite flower, and when I first got diagnosed, my friend Mary sent me a gorgeous vase of them without realizing how much I love them, and since then anyone who buys me flowers buys me sunflowers. I feel so loved. They really do brighten my mood.

So that’s all! I’m in a pretty decent amount of pain now, because I’ve had a lymph node ripped from my neck (in a classy way) and a port shoved into my chest (also classy?), but writing this post has been a really nice distraction. I’ll be posting a lot throughout this process, I think, because it’s a good way for me to process everything that’s going on. Thank you for being a part of this. I hope you’ll stick around. But for now…

……..RaiNDRops oN roSEs and WhiSKerS On KiTTenS…….

4 thoughts on “Raindrops, Roses, Whiskers, Kittens

Add yours

  1. The Sound of Music! Love that film. Thank you for describing what you’re going through and all the nice folks you’re meeting who are attending to you. Btw, you have your own apartment? Is that okay right now or are you planning to stay with your parents while you start chemo. What makes it Stage 4 and why does calling it Stage anything make me think of the theater? So glad you’re blogging about it. When in doubt, write. Writing is the most soothing thing so I’m going to assume it’s helping you. Love you, Cappy. Wishing you the very best! :)

    1. I’ve had the most wonderful care team so far (all women except one male radiologist!) and feel so lucky that I’ve been treated so well by some of the best in their fields. I’ll be staying here in Portland where I live with my partner, so I won’t be alone during treatment, which is something else I’m thankful for.
      So! Stage 1 means there’s cancer within one group of nodes in the body. Stage 2 means it’s in two distinct groups above the diaphragm. Stage 3 means it’s in more spots below the diaphragm, and stage 4 means it’s spread outside the lymphatic system and into another part of the body (in my case, into the bone in my right hip). Stage 4 is the most advanced stage. But that doesn’t mean terminal or anything! I’m gonna be okay after all this. It’s just gonna suck first.
      Love you, too, Monica. Thanks so much :)

        1. Oh absolutely! I wouldn’t want to announce to the world that I have cancer and then suddenly go silent!!!!! Plus, writing is so cathartic and really helps me process.

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