My surgery was performed this past Thursday, the 8th. The surgeon said the mass turned out to be a little larger than she anticipated, but she's confident she got all of it out. I won't know for certain if she's right, or what was found in the mass, until I go back this Tuesday. That's the date of my follow-up visit, when the surgeon will check the condition of the incision and go over the pathology results with me.
Until then, I'm living in limbo on two different fronts. The obvious one is not knowing what's in the pathology report. The second is that I can't really get off the starting blocks on my new, single life until this matter is settled since I don't know if more treatments or surgeries are in my future. For now, I'm stuck living in the ruins of my old, married life. And it's very, very hard.
But none of that is what this blog post is supposed to be about. The night before my surgery, I collected some of my thoughts and wrote them down...
It's ten pm, and I'm due to check in for my surgery in exactly twelve hours.
I've taken my Silkwood chemical shower. At my pre-op appointment, I was given two sealed surgical scrub sponges and told to wash myself from neck to waist with one of them in the shower tonight, and repeat with the second tomorrow morning. It seems like overkill, since I know they're going to swab my entire torso with betadine antiseptic---that awful orange stuff that irritates your skin and stains---when I get there anyway. And if this extra bit of washing is really critical to the surgery, shouldn't a nurse be doing it? I mean, it's not like bagging your own groceries.
I've been told not to eat or drink anything past midnight. That's no challenge for me at all, since I've had no appetite ever since my life imploded. Except for the frequent emotional breakdowns in public and the total lack of motivation to do anything, divorce + breast tumor = the best diet ever!
='/ [that's a rueful emoticon, in case it's unclear]
I've lost over 15 pounds in the past two weeks, thanks to living on nothing but twice-daily servings of beef jerky and the occasional Carnation Instant Breakfast drink. I figure if jerky kept the Native Americans alive through harsh winters and long journeys, it'll do for me in a pinch. It's easy, protein-packed, and unlike all other foods at this point, doesn't taste like cardboard. It tastes like jerky-flavored cardboard.
Part of me wants to chow down on every scrap of junk food I can find right up until midnight, but the rest of me thinks it's childish and isn't hungry anyway.
It's finally sinking in, at the worst possible time: I'm going under the knife tomorrow. One of the possible complications of surgery is...death. I'd better plan to leave my laptop with my very dear friend Paula, who happens to be a freelance web developer, along with instructions for how to login to my various sites as Administrator. That way, in a worst-case scenario, she can let all my online peeps know what happened and close all my accounts.
I'll also have to let my Mom know where my important papers are, where the kids' important papers are, and where to find all my financial account information. I know that in light of my recent separation, planning for the worst is very necessary. But it sure isn't helping me "hope for the best," as they say.
For some reason, my thoughts turn to what I'll be wearing on the table, and what I'll be changing back into for the ride home. In the supercharged melodrama of the moment and circumstances, it suddenly seems important not to miss this opportunity to seize on the power of symbols and talismans.
I've been trying to follow Paula's (wise) advice to me when everything first fell apart; she said if there's anything I can do, say, write, wear or think that will make me feel even the tiniest bit better or stronger, I should do it without hesitation or embarrassment. You know what always makes me feel a tiny bit better? Wearing my sock monkey slippers and Ladykillers pajama bottoms:
Comfy, warm, and sort of like having two sock monkey dolls with you wherever you go. What's not to love?
They say things like, "Look at you with all those curves and me with no brakes!" and "If you were a laser gun, you'd be set on stunning!" and "I'm new around here, can you give me directions to your apartment?" They always make people who see them laugh, and laughter makes me feel better.
So my pre- and post-op wardrobe is set.
I remember the two Ghirardelli chocolate bars my Mom bought for me earlier today, hoping to entice me to eat a little more. Maybe I should take one in my bag for tomorrow, after it's over and I'm awake again. Chocolate-flavored cardboard is better than plain cardboard.