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Home again

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.


About Theresa Diaz Gray

Born in New York City, I grew up in California, and have lived in 3 countries and 6 states. I'm a first generation Cuban-American who lives in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. I'm committed to living an abundant and creative life and helping others do so too through DIY!


  1. Hola Theresa! Wow, you’ve been through a lot. I read the last post, but saved my comments for here. I’m glad you’re getting the surgery done. Being lopsided doesn’t sound like fun.

    I feel for you. I had a hernia surgery about a month ago, and it’s pretty minor compared to what you’re going through. Still, I know what it’s like to not be allowed to lift anything heavy, though I was permitted up to 15 lbs. And my swelling, etc, is going down, but not gone.

    Your healing process will accelerate after a week, and more after that. You just have to get through this early stage.

    I’m rooting for you!

    Saludos y un fuerte abrazo,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we’re thankful for the wonderful medical care, but would rather not need it.

    • Hi Kim,
      The surgery site is now turning lovely colors. Why is it that bruises etc always look worse while they are getting better? This not picking stuff up thing is awful, I can’t cook which is my normal response to stress. On a positive side, I’ve finally lost that 10 pounds I have been wanting to get rid of. Not a diet that I would recommend.

      I do feel better today than yesterday, though yesterday was really rough emotionally for some reason.


  2. You’re going to be well-balanced and on an even keel once again! Congratulations on getting this behind you and moving forward.

    • Hi Jennifer Rose,
      Today, I go see about getting my stitches out and making an appointment with my surgeon. It doesn’t seem like a week has gone by. Eventually, I hope to get grounded and establish some sort of new routine (one that doesn’t include crying all the time).


  3. so happy to hear that this is behind you. i’ve been eagerly checking every day to see if you had posted. thank God the procedure was a success.

    let all those wonderful friends take care of you and have a good, restful weekend!

    teresa in nagoya

    • Teresa,
      Everyone is wonderful to me. It feels funny accepting holiday invitations but the advice that my friends who have been through this keep giving me is go out when invited, you can always go home. Keep busy, and move forward.


  4. Thank so much for this post. It is so informative to read real life accounts of procedures like this. But most of all I’m very glad that you and Fergus are at home together.

    • Hi Kathie,
      It is really nice to have my dog home again. I can’t wait until I am well enough to start walking him, I really enjoy walking in the early mornings.


      ps: don’t you just hate it when you press send too soon? sometimes I wish there was an “undo” send button.

  5. Let us hope so! Thanks Norm.


  6. The wind is at your back again.

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