Tuesday was a lesson in patience. Thinking that I had the process figured out because I had done it once, I didn’t bother to go to the window when I arrived. Last time, they had told me that they would call me when it was my admitting time. At 1:35, when they had not called my name, Nora and I walked up to the window. I passed my original authorization chit, that my surgeon had simply crossed out my last appointment and written my new date on.
The clerk looked at the paper, asked me a couple of questions, then asked to see my carnet, (in this case it’s an ID booklet in which my appointments are supposed to be written, but aren’t). I almost didn’t bring it, since I had not needed it last time, but at the last minute decided to just bring all my Seguro Popular stuff, just to be safe. She leisurely wrote on a slip of paper, then asked me if I knew where to find the archives because I needed to go and pick up my file which hadn’t made it to the admissions office.
Off I went with not a little bit of anxiety. The last time I had had to pick up my own files they had been sent to the women’s health center instead of to my oncologist, I was lucky, this time they were in the file room. Quick like a bunny, I walked the block or so back to the hospital (it’s a fairly large campus) and handed my file over.
Now all that was left was to wait. And wait. Did I mention waiting was involved? Around five, my friends and I were feeling a bit anxious. If I had been admitted right then, after you add an hour for prep (just an arbitrary number that I picked) plus four hours for surgery, it would have been 10:00 pm by the time I was finished. Nora went to talk to the social worker, who went to find the surgeon, who came out to talk to me. He wasn’t happy either. He returned my chit with a new date written in, Friday. He said that he would speak with the head of the department, explain that this would be my third rescheduling and insist that I be the first person on the list for Friday.
On Friday, after arriving early, I marched up to the admissions window. “I realize that I don’t check in until 1:30 but would you be so kind as to make sure that I am on the list and that my file is here? This is the third time I’ve been scheduled for this surgery.” The clerk checked and everything was copacetic.
Nora and I almost knocked over our bench leaping up in excitement when my name was called promptly at 1:30! For what seemed the hundredth time the clerk asked my age. “I’m still sixty, it really hasn’t been that long since my last attempt at this” was my reply. Fortunately, both the clerk and her coworker found that statement amusing.
Eventually, at 3 pm I was in the operating room. I’m not sure when I woke up, maybe 6? When they came to check my vital signs, I was just laying there crying. This really concerned them, they immediately wanted to know if I was in a lot of pain, but I wasn’t in physical pain, I just was missing my husband. Around 9 I asked the nurse when was I going to get out of recovery? To my surprise, he told me that I was going home and we were waiting for some tramites (paperwork) to be completed.
Since my oncological surgeon had done such an excellent job of anticipating what would be needed for reconstruction when he performed my mastectomy, I didn’t need the Lattisimus Dorsi flap reconstruction combined with the expander. My surgeon was able to place the expander directly under the muscle on my chest wall. This means I didn’t have two surgery sites, so no drain for my back. Plus no loss of muscle tissue from my back. Therefore I was free to go home instead of spending four days in the hospital!
It’s been almost a week, I spent the weekend with friends. Well, mostly I slept the entire 72 hours but it was so nice being taken care of. My throat hurt from having a tube down it, I can’t imagine what Duke’s throat felt like after after having one for a month, because my was raw after 3 hours. Monday afternoon I went home, I was up to wandering from bed to sofa and back again, and just wanted to do it at home.
Now I am at the miserable stage where I feel better but can’t really do anything. It’s really hard since I my arm side is definitely dominant. No raising my arm over my head and no lifting of anything over five pounds (is there anything weighs less than 5 pounds?). It makes it hard to brush my hair, or my teeth. Betsy (who is staying with me) put my hair in a pony tail for me today. Since I’m not supposed to use my right arm to push either, getting out of bed is awkward. I actually have to think the steps out before I do them. Furgus is back home, but Rita is stopping by in the morning to walk him since I haven’t left the house yet.
This morning I got up and changed into regular clothes, I feel that is a milestone. Friday, I need to go to my Centro de Salud to have the stitches removed. In three weeks I see my surgeon again at the O’Horan in Consultas Externas, and the inflating process begins.