Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I'm here at home, back from surgery. My surgeon seemed very happy about the success of the procedure, which makes me believe him a little more when he tells me I should just rest and not worry. Wait. Not worry? That is my job. I excel at worrying. I could win worrying contests. Go on to Olympic trials for competitive worrying.

But I digress. He was very happy and that was good because he was attempting new surgical feats in my surgery. Namely, he wanted to install my chemo port without using an x-ray or any other kind of radioactive imaging techniques. Let me explain first. A chemo port is a device the surgeon will place under your skin on your chest that hooks into a central vein. The idea is to give your veins in your arms a break that might start to weaken under the repeated chemo treatments. Usually surgeons use imaging to make sure the line doesn't accidentally go into your lung or the wrong vessel. But in consideration of the baby, he was going to attempt the procedure without imaging. Apparently his surgical buddies blanched at the feat. But he was very happy about the results. Hurray for confident doctors. Go Dr. Habibi.

So I'm happy about that accomplishment. The baby's heart rate was plugging away like normal after the surgery. I'm happy about that.

But honestly, I'm not happy about everything right now. I'm working on it though... with lots of naps, my mom's chicken rice soup and homemade rolls, some 30 Rock re-runs, and prescribed periods of not worrying. Here is a list of the things I'm not super happy about right now:

1. Who came up with the idea to make that an outpatient surgery? Seriously. Maybe other women fly through that surgery. My pre-op paper said it would take me about an hour to wake up from general anesthesia and get my pain under control. Three hours after I exited the operating room (and I woke up soon enough to remember exiting it), I was still half-incoherent, vomiting, and crying uncontrollably from the pain. But it was time to close-up shop. I was the last person in the recovery room. Here are some pills for your pain (that haven't been working so far). If you get home and still can't handle the pain, you can call about coming back. Awesome. Did I mention that I wasn't handling the pain too well when I was leaving? Did the tears not give that away?

2. I can't feel much of the right side of my upper body, especially my armpit, the right side of my chest and under my right arm down to my elbow at times. Yet I still feel pain. Might this numbness go away? Yes. Might some of it stay? Yes. When they pull out your lymph nodes sometimes the thinnest and most invisible of your nerves get cut. I didn't know about this side effect. I'm not feeling super happy about it right now.

3. My hand swelled up suddenly on Sunday morning. I couldn't close it. I spent the rest of the day with my arm hoisted up on pillows to help it drain. Of course I'm panicking the whole time that this swelling means I'll have lymphedema. We spent the day back at the hospital to see the surgeon about that issue yesterday. Apparently, the swelling is a normal side effect of the surgery. I shouldn't worry that the swelling means I will have lymphedema. I've been repeating those words in my head a lot in the last day. Did I mention that I worry a lot?

4. Okay maybe some people don't want to look at their incision. But I've looked. I was under the impression that you wouldn't be able to tell after the surgery that anything had happened since my tumor was almost in my armpit. But that was not my impression at glancing at my arm. To me it looked like someone scooped out a chunk of flesh from my armpit. My surgeon told me to stop looking at it, that it would look different when it healed, especially once they took the drain out. Really this is probably the least of my concerns. So I keep telling myself, "Stop looking. Stop worrying."

Truly the big concern is our meeting next week when we find out the pathology of the cancer - How far into my lymph nodes did the cancer spread? When will chemo start?

Right now I should just follow my doctor's orders in blissful ignorance: Don't worry. And rest. Thank you so much for everyone that is helping me follow those orders, especially that second one.


  1. I'm praying that the news next week is positive. Hang in there KJ. XOXO.

  2. My stomach hurts reading this. I'm actually surprised it was outpatient surgery. Pain requiring IV meds is enough of a reason to hospitalize. How awful!!!!

  3. I'm surprised doctors haven't figured out that when a patient hears "don't worry" it only increases anxiety. Wish I had a fix for that, but I seem to have misplaced my magic wand. I guess a whole crap load of prayers will have to do. Love you.

  4. All your worries seem pretty reasonable to me. That surgery day sounds miserable. I hope that now, a few days farther down the road, you're feeling better. Keep on writing. Everything. Love to you, friend.

  5. kj --
    i'm so sorry this is your struggle! i'm thinking about you and pulling for you... and grateful for flicker - your guardian angel. much love, wallace

  6. We are thinking of you daily. So glad you have the motivation to write you are so inspiring. You have proven to be much stronger than I could ever be. You will come out on top!! I totally adore you. Hugs!!