Surgery day!

As we pulled up to the hospital yesterday morning, the rain was pouring down.  Do you remember the Dolly quote I posted the other day...”if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain?”  Well the rainbow of being cancer free was in site, but we had to push through the rain yesterday for sure.  Everything went so smoothly as I started with the lymph node mapping procedure.  The painful prick of the dye to mark the node wasn’t fun and burned like crazy, but helped my doctor be able to see one node in which to take to biopsy.  Next up was to wait for the operating room to be available for my surgery time.  My surgeon came in the holding area to let me know that they were ready a whole 30 minutes early.   I gave hugs and said  goodbyes to my family, prayed with Preacher David and Condy, and then was rolled down many long, empty halls to the big, bright operating room.  I remember briefly being told to take ten deep breaths through a mask and that was it.  When I woke up in recovery the cutest nurse named Juan greeted me.  He was so dear and checked on me constantly. The ice chips and chapstick he gave me were like gifts straight from Heaven.  He brought J back to see me and he told me the news that the tumor had been successfully removed, with the double mastectomy, and I only had to get two drains, instead of three.  My doctor told them that the surgery went great and that he was super pleased with how smoothly everything went.  No rooms were available at the time so I rested a little bit and then finally woke up again enough to talk to Juan to find out that he was a former Bell’s Crossing student. I could’ve cried when he told me how much he loved that school and his path to becoming a nurse. He has been working here for about 3 years and it was so evident that he loves his job and followed his dreams.  Talk about a little “God wink” there!  A room finally became available, 222, where I was greeted by my family, anxiously waiting to see me after a long wait.  The nurses and my sister helped me transfer to my bed, took vitals, checked my incisions, and began to take the best care of me.  I did get sick once from anesthesia, but ate a little bit of dinner and got to face time with our little guy.  He was too cute, asking to see the room I was in and wanting to see my doctors.  Sleep was easy to come, especially having my awesome headphones play some white noise to drown out all of the hallway noise.  The bad part was they didn’t stay charged all night, which is why I am currently awake.  And of course the nurses checked on me lots, which I’m grateful for, but as soon as I  would get to sleep, they’d pop in.  J slept beside me in the famous “caregiver chair”.  Poor guy turned down a blanket and pillow from the nurse earlier, and I woke up to find her precious self covering him up.  How sweet is that?  

So that’s been my journey so far...breakfast and a visit from my doctor are on the agenda tomorrow morning and then hopefully a trip home!

All day I felt your prayers and the presence of God with me every step of the way.  Y’all know how much I love music and how it truly touches me so!  

Ellie Holcombe’s song, “You love me best” was playing as J dropped me off at the entrance of the hospital and I couldn’t have picked a better song to listen to as my day of becoming “cancer free” began.  

“And there will come a day when all other loves have gone away, 

When darkness hems me in

You’ll be right where you’ve always been

Closer than the heart within my chest 

Because You loved me best.”

Jesus does love you best and we can live knowing that forevermore.  Lord, thank you for the doctors and nurses that took such good care of me during THE scariest day of my life.  And for my family and friends, who stormed your gates with prayer.  

A friend of mine posted this letter that she found before her double mastectomy. God truly places just the right people in this healthcare field to care for others, with such huge hearts.  



Hello, Dear.

Today is the day. I am a member of the surgical team who will take care of you -- the team that will remove your breast to treat the cancer that has tried to make a home in your body. We all have our role today, and the world would see yours to be the "patient." I see it as something more: a powerful gift to us.

Because you remind us why we do what we do.

Today will feel sterile and scary. And I am sorry for that.

I wish there were a better way. Today we will ask you to put on a gown. Women before you have worn it. Women after you will wear it. Be sure to ask for warm blankets, because we always have plenty. We will ask of you your blood type, your medical history, your allergies. We will ask you to lie down in a bed that's foreign to you. We will have to poke you so that we can start an IV.

You will meet many nurses, doctors, and hospital employees. We will write down important things for you to know. Your surgeon will see you soon. He will have to mark the breast we are having to remove today.

We will take you into the Operating Room -- a room only few have seen. There will be bright lights, lots of metal, instruments that you've never seen, and we will be dressed in gowns, gloves, and masks. Over our masks, we hope you can see our eyes reassuring you as you go off to sleep.

Today is the day you will have to say goodbye to a part of your body, a part of yourself. 

And yet. Here we are. We must do our rituals. We must scrub our arms and hands with alcohol so that we can fight off infection before we start. We don our gowns, our gloves, our masks. We must drape your body in blue.

You are unconscious. And it must be difficult to trust. I honor you, Dear One.

My job is to help your surgeon take away the cancer. I get a bird's eye view of the process. 

We carefully remove your breast. It never gets easy to see or to do. You must know this. It never feels natural, it never feels cavalier. It feels sacred to me. Every. Single. Time.

We must send your breast away now. It officially leaves your body. I always feel an ache in my gut in that moment. There is no way for you to fully prepare for this day, Dear One.

I like to think that your body is already healing, as we close the incision we had to make.

Sewing your skin back together feels like I'm helping a little. But I know it's actually all you doing the work. Even as you sleep, Dear One.

We will put a bandage on your incision. We will wake you up. We will tell you everything went well. But the road is just beginning for you.

I saw you today.

You are beautiful.

You are strong.

Thank you for entrusting me and my colleagues.  I am honored to be a witness to this phase of your life.

Because now the healing begins. Now the grief is in full force. Now your breast is gone and in its place is a memory.

I watch you as you wake up. And I want to make it all go away. I can't. Today your body underwent a transformation. And today our team took care of your body. I hope we took care of your heart, too.

There is nothing we can say or do to make it go away. But please know that I care. We care. Behind our masks and gowns are heavy hearts and sometimes tears.

Yours are a gift today. Because you remind us of human resilience. You remind us of strength. You remind us of trust.

I saw you today.

You are beautiful.

You are strong.

I will not forget.

“Let all that I am praise the Lord.  May I never forget the good things that he has done for me.”  Psalm 103:2


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