Axillary Lymph Node Dissection, February 20, 2008


Note: There was a lunar eclipse on February 20, which made it not such a great day for surgery, astrologically speaking, if you follow those kinds of things. After this, I’m becoming a believer. An astrologer friend of mine said that, while it wasn’t the best day, it wouldn’t be fatally bad. Thre would be problems but they would not be insurmountable.

On the morning of February 20, I went in for my axillary lymph node dissection; at the same time, my surgeon implanted my port-a-cath. The dissection went well, but my surgeon advised me that the port seemed to be in the wrong place, that is, the catheter was in the wrong blood vessel. The following morning, the nurses flushed the port with saline and installed a “nozzle” — I don’t know the correct term for it — so the radiologist could check it. Sure enough, it was dumping into the wrong artery.

That meant more surgery in the afternoon to move the port to the right place.

The surgeon said he wouldn’t have to give me a general anesthesia, but the anesthesia nurse indicated that I would, indeed, be getting a general. I’m not sure what happened, because these kind folks, responding to my concerns about the abrupt snapping in and out of anesthesia that bothered me so much, gave me something that would help me forget. If you can’t remember it, it’s like it never really happened, right? It’s an interesting approach to a problem. I do remember having a blue handkerchief over my face, and someone occasionally peeking under at me. That was very surreal. But that’s all I remember until I awoke: not in recovery, but still in ER, and being wheeled through an overcrowded recovery room. I think they took me back to my own room until the anesthesia wore off.

That surgery went well.

I had a meeting with my surgeon on Monday (2/25). He said he removed 12 lymph nodes, and only one was engaged. That meant that my staging wouldn’t change (IIIa) and my treatment could proceed as planned, without changes. My meeting with the oncologist went well, too. She was pleased with the healing already underway and with the news about the nodes.

Chemotherapy will begin at the oncologist’s office in Lewiston, Idaho, on March 11. I start with Cytoxan and Adriamycin for the next two months (one session every two weeks, for a total of four sessions.) I’m staying overnight with my friend Randi and her family until Wednesday, just to be safe. I’ll need to return home right after that, though, in case the fatigue and nausea do hit me on the second or third day. It’s only a 40 mile drive but would be hard to do with nausea and fatigue.

I was in the hospital from Wednesday through Friday morning. I hadn’t planned on staying until Friday, but we also hadn’t planned on having to move the port, either.

I’m still getting stabbing pains in both incision sites, which makes for interesting lectures. They come on abruptly and without warning, and invariably I’ll gasp or say “ouch” and flinch. I often wonder what my students think of it.


About Wild Rose

I’m known as Wild Rose, and I was diagnosed with breast cancer on January 8, 2008. I had no insurance, and my income, which wasn’t large anyway, had just been cut by 2/3. This is my story, my thoughts, and the ideas that I dream up or find elsewhere. I hope that other patients and survivors find solace here.

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