This is Shannon again. First, thank you, thank you, thank you for the emails, texts, calls and flowers. Peter and I (and my mom) could not have done this without your support.
Peter already gave you the important info, so I’ll give you my perspective of the day, with WAY more details than any person actually needs (again, mainly for my memory).
We check in at 8 AM, as requested. On the phone, the nurse previously had said to go to the 2nd floor, but the check in person said first floor radiology, and quoted a copay $200 less than I had thought. We go to radiology, the guy starts getting me ready, discussing the injections, etc., and about 10 minutes in, asks if I’ve already checked in a pre-op. Nope. So we go up to the second floor (like the phone nurse had said), and we find out the check-in person didn’t look hard enough and so didn’t check me in for surgery too (hence the $$$ difference as well). Peter goes down to check me in and pay the co-pay because we need to get me going in pre-op and get me back down to radiology by 8:45.
I go into pre-op, get all my vitals taken, get the IV tube put in (not attached to anything), get a little light-headed from that, and then get some oxygen. Just as we are leaving, my plastic surgeon who is doing the surgery stops by and tells me that because of the baby, they have decided to play it safe and move the surgery over to St. Joe’s across the way, instead of the Kaiser outpatient surgery as planned. At St. Joe’s, we’ll have access to the NICU and lots more medical support, if the unthinkable and unlikely happens. So then Peter gets to go down AGAIN to the check in desk to get a refund of our co-pays, since we will be co-paying at St. Joe’s.
At some point in all of this, I get the injection of the radioactive dye that will tell them which lymph nodes to remove. It was very interesting comparing it to the same procedure I had done at St. Joe’s a few days earlier. For one thing, Kaiser injects the site with lidocaine first so I didn’t feel the other injections (WAY less painful!). Even more interesting was the difference in sterility procedures. At St. Joe’s, the guy swabbed the area 1-2x, I think, then injected me. At Kaiser, they swabbed 3x, then used sterile gloves and put down a sterile field with a drape, and THEN injected me. Way different.
What was also neat was that at Kaiser, everyone told me what they were doing at every step, and often said why. I can say it does make a difference in the experience. The tech even told us the element they injected me with, which Peter knew from teaching was an element not found in nature. Awesome!
After the injection, they gave me some cool stickers that had giant radioactive stickers on them, to tell the docs what time I was injected and with how much, so they could calculate the activity in the lymph nodes. We then had a little parade walking between Kaiser and St. Joe’s where two nurses, Mom and Peter walked with me in a wheelchair to the hospital. Thank goodness it was a nice day!
At St Joe’s, I went into pre-op, and I don’t remember too much, other than I had a lot of forms to sign and a lot of people came and talked to me. Normally, this surgery would just have a plastic surgeon and an anesthesiologist. Because of where the lymph nodes were, I also had an ENT to monitor the facial nerve and make sure the surgeon didn’t get too close (I think he was impressed when I asked if it was similar to the monitoring done during a cochlear implant surgery, and he said it was the exact same machine). I also had an OB there who would monitor the fetal heart tones throughout the surgery. I guess they can monitor before and after, but as he said, “I have nothing better to do, so I thought, why not stay the whole time?” Honestly, this was the thing that made me feel better about everything. So I had 4 doctors who each had to tell me the risks of their particular part and I signed consents for each of them, including for an emergent c-section, should it become necessary (although HIGHLY unlikely). The NICU staff had already been informed of my surgery, just in case, which also made me feel better, even though I knew chances were slim we would need them.
Once in the surgery room, the doctors even re-enacted a scene from the Three Stooges with introducing each other, “Doctor, doctor, doctor,” since there were so many of them (it was funny). There was also an OB nurse with the OB and they arranged me so I wasn’t flat on my back, which is a pretty difficult position for me anymore, and reduces oxygen flow to the baby. Then the anesthesiologist and HIS nurse (SO many people in the room!) gave me “oxygen” (yeah, right) and I was asleep very quickly.
I guess I had a rough time in recovery with lots of vomiting, but thankfully I don’t remember much of that. I was VERY sleepy, but the nice nurse let me sleep for several hours. I came out of it and remember feeling much more alert, even though I was still tired. I dozed the whole ride home, but didn’t get sick, even though the less-nice discharge nurse was sure I would (Ha! Showed her!).
Today I’ve felt pretty good, overall! I still am a little lethargic, and definitely get some breakthrough pain every now and then, but I have been doing well just on the extra-strength Tylenol. I also have Vicodin, but I am trying to avoid it if I can, just on the off-chance that there is an effect on Baby. (Speaking of, she has been doing acrobatics all day, so I think she is recovering nicely).
By far the worst part is my appearance. I’ve decided I look like a zombie victim of a vampire attack, with my stitches on my forehead, and bandages on my cheek, neck and collarbone. I certainly don’t think I’ll be going out in public until I can take some of the bandages off (Thursday AM some of them can come off). Hopefully some of the pulling and pain will stop then as well.
Again, THANK YOU for the emails and love. Even though I definitely was not able to respond to them yesterday, I read them all and they gave me strength.
Lots and lots of love,
Shannon and Peter