Say what?

After over a dozen appointments with Medical Professionals over the past two months,  I feel qualified to say that preparing for breast cancer surgery is, at best, confusing and exhausting. At worst it is an absolute nightmare for Type A personalities and people suffering from anxiety disorders. Did I mention I’ve recently started taking Prozac? I can officially say my over has been whelmed.

Here are some of the things I have been told:

INITIAL PAPERWORK:

  • New primary care physician: Please fill out this new patient paperwork including medical history and current medications, then create a login for our patient portal.
  • Breast Imaging Center: Please fill out this new patient paperwork including medical history and current medications, then create a login for our patient portal.
  • Oncologist: Please fill out this new patient paperwork including medical history and current medications, then create a login for our patient portal.
  • Breast surgeon (same office as Oncologist): Please fill out this new patient paperwork including medical history and current medications, because we can’t use the ones you filled out yesterday for the Oncologist (I asked).
  • Plastic surgeon: Please fill out this new patient paperwork including medical history and current medications, then create a login for our patient portal.
  • MRI Imaging: Please fill out this new patient paperwork including medical history and current medications.
  • Hospital: Please fill out this new patient paperwork including medical history and current medications.

ADDITIONAL PAPERWORK AND INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Let me tell you what to do and then send you a copy.
  • Let me tell you what to do and then you must download a copy.
  • Do you want a copy of the thing we told you to download?
  • Here is the paperwork for you to fill out that we told you to fill out before you got here. Oh, you’ve already filled it out? Great!

TAKING CURRENT VITAMINS, SUPPLEMENTS AND HERBAL REMEDIES:

  • Seven days before surgery.
  • Two days before surgery: “If you haven’t stopped taking your supplements yet, please do so now” while reviewing a piece of paper specifically stating the last day I took said supplements.

TAKE NOTHING BY MOUTH BEGINNING AT:

  • Midnight the night before; nothing the next morning, not even water.
  • 11 p.m., but you can take your Prozac in the morning.
  • Midnight, and we highly recommend you take your Prozac in the morning.

SHOWING WITH HIBICLENS BEFORE SURGERY:

  • Go buy HibiClens and shower in the morning, and the night before as well if you’d like.
  • Go buy HibiClens and shower in the morning; no need to also shower the night before.
  • After we’ve purchased HibiClens: Here is a free bottle of HibiClens and you absolutely must shower both the night before and the morning of surgery.

ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Prescriptions for post-surgery medication: Fill the first four right now (two weeks before surgery and including the one that I won’t need based on the information sheet and the info they provided on how they’d suture the wounds, and also including the prescriptions for non-prescription items), but also take the fifth prescription to the pharmacy so they can special order it because they won’t stock it as it’s expensive and rarely used, then if we decide you need it, fill it. (I hope the pharmacy has a money-back guarantee.) Oh, and we’ll give you your prescription for painkillers while you are in surgery and you’ll need to fill it before you leave the hospital.
  • Somebody will give you one post-surgery bra. Be sure to wear a bra 24 hours a day and change into a clean one daily.

PRE-LYMPH NODE BIOPSY INJECTIONS (rendering Lefty Lucy radioactive until tomorrow mid-morning):

  • It’s gonna hurt really bad.
  • It’s gonna sting a little like the Lidocaine  you got for your biopsy.
  • Some people say it’s the worst pain they’ve ever felt (oh, great!) and some say it didn’t hurt at all.
  • NOTE: For me, it hurt like a BIG DAWG for about two minutes, and then went away.

ARRIVAL TIME:

  • You’ll need to arrive at about 5:30 am.
  • You’ll definitely need to be here by 5:00 am.
  • You’ll need to be here at 5:00 am but as long as you are here by 5:30 am it might be be okay.

POST-OP EXERCISE:

  • Don’t raise your arms over shoulder level.
  • Raise your arms until it hurts, then don’t raise them any higher.
  • Do all of the exercises on the sheet we gave you except the ones that require you to reach higher than shoulder level. Do those later. But we’re giving them to you now.

POST-OP WALKING:

  • Walk 150 minutes a week five days a week.
  • Walk twice daily.
  • Walk four times daily, 5-15 minutes each time.

POST-OP DRAINS:

  • If is imperative that you empty your drains every eight hours around the clock and log it.
  • You must make sure you don’t produce less than 30 cc of drainage every 12 hours when you empty your drains.

ADDITIONAL POST-OP INSTRUCTIONS:

  • We will give you one post-surgery bra. Be sure to wear a bra 24 hours a day and change into a clean one daily.
  • Use your pillow. (Turns out it is for my arm to rest on, and I thought it was to put in front of my surgery site to protect it from Brigid the Demon Puppy. I wonder why it had a handle/strap on it.)
  • Get plenty of rest, but each day take  your meds every six hours around the clock except the as-needed meds which you take every four hours and every eight hours, respectively, and do your exercises and remember to walk. But get plenty of rest. (I have 11 daily reminders programmed into my phone right now, plus a calendar reminder for unscheduled daily things, plus two additional reminders for the first three days, plus a reminder three months out.)

And, on a more positive note…

COMMENTARY ON MY SURGEONS:

  • I’m sending you to Dr. S. She’s the best.
  • I’m sending  you to Dr. P. She’s the best.
  • Oh, good, you got Dr.  S! She’s amazing.
  • Dr. P’s work is excellent, you are gonna be very happy with the results.
  • Oh wonderful! you are in great hands with Dr. P. and Dr. S. You are going to be fine!

I can’t wait for my surgery tomorrow morning. Being knocked out and on that table for about four hours is going to be the only rest I’m going to get in the foreseeable future.

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