Day 17 - Getting Real

We had our plastic surgery pre-op appointment this morning. We were running a few minutes late by the time we got to the hospital -- and the darn hospital is so big, that by the time we parked and walked to the breast center - filled out the paperwork -- it was close to 8:45 am. We finally were called back and led to an exam room. I changed into the very stylish coverup and sat on the exam table across from Mike. After about 10 minutes - we were bored. We guessed they were running late -- or punishing us for being late. So to entertain ourselves - Mike and I started poking around the exam room. We looked in the cabinets ... joked about using the "exam tools" to look in my ears or eyes. (We didn't touch those instruments though, I didn't want to break it!) Just as soon as Mike threatened to go into the hall and start chopping heads, Dr. Aycock knocked. Whew!

Dr. Aycock measured me for the tissue expanders and we talked about whether going directly to implants versus starting with the expanders was an option. She said I would be a candidate for going straight to implants but depending on whether or not I needed radiation - that would affect my skin around the implants. She said she preferred to take the reconstructive process in two stages with the expanders -- that she felt she had better results with two steps. I agreed. I didn't want to complicate things if we went straight to implants and I had to have radiation. With my luck - I would have to have radiation and then the symmetry would be lost. We went over the pre-op paperwork and notifications about the drugs I'd be receiving etc etc etc.

After Dr. Aycock was done, one of the nurses came in and we started talking about whether or not I needed to have a pre-op appointment with Dr. Kounalakis, the surgical oncologist. She left us in the room to call and verify. When she came back, she wasn't empty handed -- and I don't mean she was carrying paperwork!

The nurse, Colleen, walked in with examples of the drain bulb and catheter as well as an example of the chemo port.

She went over the drain bulb, it's proper "setting" when it's attached -- how we have to drain and measure the fluid -- ick. ick. ick. THEN -- she moved on to the chemo port. Wow. Talk about getting real. Here's how she explained it: This round, quarter sized piece sits just under your skin by your collarbone and this catheter is run through one of your arteries and down next to your heart.

Whoa - wait. Down by my heart?! And oh yeah, if you wake up and find a small incision on your neck, that was from them putting in the chemo port. They needed to make an incision so they can guide the catheter down. Holy cow.

And then she shows us how I would "plug in" via the port. Colleen whips out this device with a needle on the end that's almost an inch long and tells me they push this end into the port through your skin, and then you plug the catheter in and receive your treatment.

I about passed out! It took everything in me not to faint. Luckily I was facing the nurse and Mike was sitting behind me and he couldn't see my expression. Colleen tells me, it doesn't hurt anymore than getting your blood drawn. I guess she doesn't know that I think it hurts when I get stuck for a blood draw.

As we walked out of the breast center, Mike put his arm around me and let out a big sigh. He asked me how I was, and I answered with questioning him on how he was. He said this appointment was probably his most anxious appointment - that those devices made it really real. I agreed ... really real.


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