Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Advantages to Being Breast & Ovarian Free

1.) My OB/gyn visits are shorter. There is barely anything to examine now!

2.) Save $$- no more tampons or birth control. Offset somewhat by the cost of the estrogen patch, but still some upside.

3.) I can wear white pants ALL the time.

4.) Bras can be just for decoration. No need for function (support, shape, etc.). Bring on the frill.

5.) Justification for buying all new bathing suits and tops.

6.) No more PMS! Steady state, courtesy of Vivelle.

7.) And of course, BIG reduction in worry over cancer. Best of all.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tatted Up

May I say, HOORAY!! I'm officially done with all the Foob procedures, now that I got my ink this week. The Fipples are fully tatted up, although not available for viewing under the big square puffy bandages (see Fipplegate posting). However, only a few more days to go and the year-long process will be complete.

I do need to share deets on the tattooing process, since it was a completely different experience than a regular "Hi, dude, can you put a big ole tramp stamp heart & flower thingy on my lower back and try not to give me hepatitis" type of tattoo. A medical tattoo means you get to first select your shade from the Martha Stewart Paint Chip catalogue. Seriously, I got to pick my shade from a series of chips: Flesh, Tan, Pink, Brown, etc. I wanted to call in reinforcements from a decorator. How was I supposed to know what shade to pick?! I went with a basic Flesh shade. Then, the PA took a makeup brush and painted the shade on the Fipples. Finally, she brought out this tool which I think she borrowed from my dental hygienist. Instead of buffing my teeth to a shiny white luster, she sandblasted the color right into my skin. (I was pretty numb, so no pain.) 45 minutes later, voila!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Today was the day I was supposed to get my fipples tattooed. The final step in a yearlong process! Totally exciting. I thought about what shade-- maybe a nice bright magenta for spring? I also thought about what shape-- should I be bold and choose a heart or a star instead of some boring circle? I arrive and am ushered in to the onsite surgical room. The Physician's Assistant comes in (I know her from all of my prior appointments) and she gets right to work. We decide on a rather innocuous flesh shade. She takes out a super long needle and gives me some local anesthetic on the right Foob. NOTE: One benefit post surgery is that super long needles stuck directly into a Foob don't really hurt! Not a ton of sensation. I ask her about restrictions, i.e. no swimming, etc. She tells me that I can't take off the big square puffy bandages for one week.

HOLD ON! I was not informed that there would be big square puffy bandages involved in this procedure. I did get a tattoo about 20 years ago in a seedy Chicago tattoo parlor and I really don't remember any bandages. Perhaps not the best comparable? Anyhoo, I was pretty perturbed because this weekend is the 10 year wedding anniversary trip to New York City. Big puffy fipple bandages do not work with my chic wardrobe selections. Big puffy fipple bandages are not really a major aphrodisiac either.

Luckily, the PA was really, really cool and rescheduled me for next week. So, my numb Foob and I drove off, tattoo-less but looking forward to a fab NYC weekend.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Unicorn, Universe, Uterus

My kids are an endless source of material for me. Witness the interaction in my car on the way to lacrosse practice. In the backseat are Jacob (son, age 7), friend Justin (also age 7) and Will (age 5). They like to talk about bodily functions (poo, farts, etc.) and sports. I believe these topics will continue as mainstays of their conversations for the rest of their lives. Justin volunteers, "I had my adenoids taken out." Jacob counters with, "Well, my mom had her uterus taken out." Uhhhh. Hmmmm. That's awkward. I brightly interject, "Who wants ice cream after practice?"

Then, I hear from Jacob later on that they are learning the long "u" sound at school. Last week was the long "o" sound. The children come up with lots of "u" words, write the words down, use the words in sentences and so on. Jacob says, "You know, Mom, like Unicorn, Universe and Uterus." I'm sure the first graders in his class were amazed and delighted to learn so much about the female anatomy.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Points to ponder

Or, Where Have All the Bonbons Gone...

I’m sure that one of the first, if not THE first thing that people think of when they find out they have cancer is this: What’s in it for me? I mean, that’s not just me, right? For example, at Superdawg you get a free hot dog on your birthday if your last name ends in “ski”. They realize that as with everything, there's no point to it if you can’t parlay it into some kind of benefit.

To this end, folks informed me early on that apparently there are some triathlons where we get preferential bike racks, which almost makes it all worth it because really, what’s worse than having to get to transition at 5AM just to get a good spot on a rack? Or you're in a special swim wave, thus lessening the number of people you have to pummel in order to clear a path in the water. I know you similarly competitive folks out there are with me on this. As an aside, is it then wrong of me to employ my standard “elbows akimbo” racing posture, “gently” moving people aside if necessary? It is still a race, after all.

Another question that comes to mind right away is: What the hell does one say to people? And when? Now, I kind of took care of this by putting everything out on the blog – and as I tell my friends, my rationale is that I’d rather have people know that I’m undertrained AND have cancer, rather than just think I’m undertrained. The problem is that I sort of assume that most people already know what the deal is, by osmosis. So when I go traipsing into the bike shop, for example, I wind up having the following conversation with YCBG (Young Cute Bike Guy) Matt, which right away starts to sound like some weird Short Bus version of “Who’s on First?”

YCBG Matt, with obvious adoration in his voice: "Tasha, how are you? What’s new?"
Me, with a bit of nervous laughter: "Umm, what’s new?"
YCBG Matt: "Yeah, what’s new?"
Me: "Oh, the usual I guess."
YCBG Matt: "What have you been up to?"
Me: "Same old stuff in some ways. Training, cancer, all that....."
YCBG Matt, with a deer-caught-in-headlights look on his face: "Wha....what? Cancer?"
Me: "Well, yeah. I found out I have cancer. I thought you read my blog?!" I wail.

Now, I felt kind of bad springing this on him, but in my defense I was caught a bit off guard. The truthful answer in this situation to having someone you know ask “what’s new?” is clearly not “oh, nothing, saw the Sox play the other day, and how ‘bout them Blackhawks.” That’s a little incomplete. But perhaps blurting out the truth wasn’t the best either. Though I’m not sure what would have been.

But back to my original question. As I tell my friends, here I’m almost coming up upon the 2-year mark since I was first diagnosed, and I have YET to have bonbons heaped on me as a sign of support. A Fuck Cancer cake, boob-decorated cookies, sure. But no bonbons. Well, okay, just a couple of boxes. Anyway! Now, I’m sure there are those of you who are thinking “But Miss Tasha, you really don’t need bonbons, since you’re already shaped like a triangle.” To which I respond.....I say......well.....okay, maybe you have a point. Never mind.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

So, Nu?

The Yiddish word "Nu" means "Tell me. What's up? What's happening? What's new? Anything different?" kind of all rolled into one word. Best said with the voice raised up at the end of the word, combined with an expansive hand-waving gesture and maybe even a shoulder roll. At least, that's how my grandparents used to say it to me.

I was thinking about "Nu" this week after hearing Kelly Corrigan (author of "The Middle Place" and "Lift") speak at Mercy Hospital-- my hospital! So nice to go to Mercy for an alternative reason. Kelly had breast cancer a few years ago and wrote two very funny, touching, genuine books about her family and her experiences. She was a fantastic speaker, totally down to earth. My friend Jeanette and I went to the reading together, and afterwards, Jeanette asked me "Nu?" But in a non-Russian Jewish immigrant kind of way, with complete sentences and multiple words: "Adrienne, do you feel different after all of your operations? How is your life different now?"

Hmmm. Such good questions. I think resoundingly, YES, my life is different. I made a conscious decision to get rid of as much stress in my life as possible, given the huge amount of stress all the medical procedures and bodily changes caused this year. So, I quit my job and am a stay-at-home mom for the near future. Big and very awesome change.

Do I feel different? Definitely. All of the obvious physical differences (larger rack, menopause, etc.) sort of pale in comparison to the metaphysical difference-- this feeling like I dodged a bullet. I swerved around breast and ovarian cancer, spat on them, and kept right on going. I feel lucky that I didn't have to go through chemo and radiation and fear of recurrence and fear of dying and all of the many other totally shitty cancer-related issues that my mom and Tasha and lots of other friends/family members have gone through, are going through now and will continue to go through.

And with that bit of reflection, I am going to head out and enjoy my stay-at-home momdom with a nice long run. Ciao!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I'm Ready, Baywatch!

Now that spring is here and the days are warmer, my wardrobe of sweaters and hoodies has given way to tank tops and tee shirts. Hence, the new Foobs are out and about, and as far as I can tell, enjoying their newfound freedom. Here they are in a new (somewhat unnecessary) bra! Here they are in a fashionably fitted J. Crew Favorite Tee! And soon, the Foobs will be outfitted in new bathing suit tops! The old triangle bikini version is ov-uh. We are ready to debut something strapless. It's quite exciting, albeit a bit pricey what with all the shopping.

However, at the age of 40, I find it kind of bizarre to suddenly have a Rack. My whole life, I hovered between an A cup and a B cup (most definitely an A cup post kids). Now, I've upgraded to a full B and my whole body looks different as a result-- the ways clothes fit, even my posture. I have to say, I am enjoying the new shape but part of me feels a little tiny bit fraudulent. The Foobs are not really "real" to me yet. Maybe it will just take some time to adjust? I have this irrational idea (at least, intellectually it seems irrational) that fully embracing the new Foobs is akin to rejecting the old God-given Boobs in some way. Thus, the next logical step would be to inject toxins into my face, suck out fat pockets, or some other trendy steps to avoid aging and attain some relatively unattainable ideal of Beauty.

Maybe I'll just spray a tan on and call it a day.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

You Want Fries With That?

A favorite topic for me-- the drive through mastectomy. Only in America! You can get both breasts taken off and then be back home 24 hours later. It's totally fine, right, since the hospital provides you with lots of pain medication To Go! There's your aftercare, right in a little bottle. Meanwhile, you still have lots of medication in your system from the operation, a crazy high level of pain, limited ability to even pay attention to instructions (restrictions, drain maintenance, etc.) given by the nurse, BUT you are considered fit and ready to leave. Yep, take your crappy plastic toy and your bag of fries and head on home.

What, you don't have a staff of nurses at home to care for you?

I actually feel fortunate that I had a good set of circumstances: fit and heathy going in, relatively young, no complications post surgery, lots of friends/family to help post surgery. Even so, I thought the nurse had taken some of my morphine when she told me, "We are getting ready to discharge you" the morning after my mastectomy. I finished surgery around 7pm and by around 10am, they were putting the paperwork together. I was out the door by 1pm.

I guess that's safe?? It just seems insane to me that women are sent home so quickly after undergoing such major surgery.

Monday, April 5, 2010


I was sitting in my dermatologist's office, getting my yearly mole examination and overall skin check, about 2 weeks before my hysterectomy. I'm telling my doctor about my upcoming surgery and unbidden, she tells me the following lovely story:

"Ooooooohhhh, you are going to REALLY have to watch what you eat. I mean, you can EASILY put on like 20 pounds after a hysterectomy. Even if you EXERCISE. You will have to eat NOTHING just to stay the same weight. My friend, who is a DOCTOR, had a hysterectomy and gained tons of weight. And she did NOTHING DIFFERENT. She exercised constantly and was on a strict DIET. She is SO MISERABLE.

OK, your moles look great! Oh, and I'll see you after your surgery because you will need all new products. Your skin will get SO DRY."

I am literally like, FFFFFFUUUUUUCCCCCKKKKKK!!!!! Do I need to get a sidecar after surgery for my ass? What the hell should I expect? And why in God's name would she volunteer that kind of information? I mean, even if I totally chunk out post surgery, let me chunk out on my own without some kind of apocalyptic fat prediction!

Meanwhile, I can say that I am now 8 weeks post surgery and things seem relatively the same. Perhaps it's my cute & friendly Estrogen Patch! Hi there, little Vivelle Dot. Who knows.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tee Shirt Topics

Things that I want to put on a tee shirt:

1.) Is That A Port In Your Shirt Or Are You Just Happy To See Me? (Great to wear during the reconstruction process.)

2.) Ask Me Questions About My Estrogen Patch! (Arrow pointing towards the patch on my arm, which was put in that rather visible location by the Physician's Assistant before I left the hospital. I have since relocated the patch to a more discreet locale.)

3.) I'm Not Cold, That's Just My Fipple!

4.) Guess What, There Is No Such Thing As A "Good" Cancer

Which goes nicely with this one:
5.) Anyone Who Says Cancer Is A Gift Gets A Punch In The Face!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Kung Fu Mama

I had a hard time coming up with a way to describe my mastectomy to my (then) kindergartner and pre-schooler without scaring the crap out of them. Kids, Mommy has this crazy-assed genetic mutation and is getting both breasts removed! And some other parts too! So, I concocted a story that would help them understand my limits (resting, no lifting, soreness, etc.) without really going into too much detail about the actual procedure.

Here's what I said:
"Mommy is going into the hospital overnight so the doctors can fix her chest muscles. She got a boo boo, but she's going to be fine. Mommy will need you to be her helpers and lift things that she can't lift. She will have to rest for a while but soon she will be back to normal."

OK, pretty reasonable. Next obvious question from the kids:
"How did you get your boo boo?"

"Well, I was lifting the uh, deck umbrella, and uh, putting it up high in the garage and I pulled some muscles." Not as well thought out by me. But the explanation seemed to work. The kids were great, didn't seem too anxious, and since I was home from the hospital 24 hours later, the story seemed pretty valid. (I do have some thoughts, to be shared at a later point, on the rather insane concept of returning home 24 hours after a mastectomy.)

But maybe it just wasn't exciting enough. My kindergartner was getting a ride home from school with a friend of mine. She called me a few days later and asked me what we told the kids about my surgery. I explained the story and she laughed.

"Your son told my son on the way home from school that his mom had to get surgery because she was stabbed in the chest with a giant beach umbrella."


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Questions, we get questions.......

Q: Okay, so I admit I'm kind of clueless. What can I actually do to help out a friend who's going through all this shit? I guess telling her I'm jealous of her free boob job is a bad idea, huh?

A. Well yes, first off, let’s start with what would NOT be a good idea. A few weeks ago they had one of those feel-good segments at the end of the national evening news, a little vignette meant to be inspiring or show us a bit of Americana, blah blah blah. This time, they featured a woman who goes around to hospitals visiting cancer patients, toting her little keyboard and a guitar, singing uplifting songs like “Wind Beneath My Wings” and so on. It was beautiful, touching, really warmed my heart to see that kind of selflessness..........and let me say this right here and now, that if there are ever any Kumbaya-singing wandering minstrels near me at any time, ever, you are very likely to see me arrested and cuffed to a hospital bed for assault with a deadly ham.

And yeah, the boob job comment? Bad, bad idea. I'm just sayin'.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Stupid Shit People Say

Oh, where to begin? We’re planning on making this a regular column of sorts – and if you’d like your own tales of dealing with stupidity/asshattery chronicled here as well, please email us! – because we can pretty much say with certainty that we’ll never run out of material. Today’s installment:

How are you doing? Are you terminal?

Seriously?? Are you terminal? You might as well just state the truth up front, that you’re a voyeur who watches nothing but reality tv shows and has a sick fascination with the bad shit that goes on in other people’s lives, and hey, seeing someone dying would be, like, way cool. Or something like that. Because I don’t know what other explanation there is for such a bizarre question.

Wow, for me that would be the biggest tragedy EVER, if I lost my rack. You must have kicked a lot of puppies in a past life or something to earn all that bad karma.

Yes, that’s exactly it. So even though I now volunteer with a Doberman rescue group, help older people with their gardens every year, and have a general saintly mien about me that’s beyond compare – it’s all to no avail. I’ll never get beyond the bad luck I’m cursed with from being Attila the Hun in a former life.

All the people I know who had breast cancer really feel that they turned out better for it.

Umm, no. No. I liked myself just fine before, thank you very much, so I don’t think the “new me,” the one with radiation fatigue, scars all over, lopsided boobs, and extreme bitterness from having to deal with the clowns at BCBS and their fraudulent practices, is going to be any better. Besides, what ever happened to just going to a day spa for self-improvement?

Anyone else care to chime in?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Step Away From The Mouse

The value of good girlfriends cannot be underestimated. Two nights before my ovaries/fallopian tubes/uterus surgery, my friends came over to keep me company and share some laughs. I baked a most delicious cake in the shape of a uterus, complete with gummy worms to represent the fallopian tubes and cupcakes topped with M&Ms to represent the ovaries & eggs. A few glasses of Champagne later, I open up the "Fuck the Hormones Basket O' Goodies." Screw you, Menopause! I'm getting some presents: Pocket Rocket vibrator, K-Y Jelly, soft washcloth (for those pesky night sweats), and a couple of other fun treats. Thank you, ladies!!

Meanwhile, I put my basket o' goodies on a low shelf in my home office located just off my bedroom. A few days after surgery, I am hanging out in bed when my 5 year old, who is rustling around in the office, comes out with the Pocket Rocket in his hand.

"Mommy, what's this?"

Without missing a beat, I say, "Honey, put that down. It's something for Mommy's (pause) computer."

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Fipple and Other Fun Words

I want to start a running glossary list of all the new and extremely fun BRCA and BC words that Tasha and I have learned and/or made up:

Anything with the word "Foob" means Fake + Boob. Foob. Say it loud and proud!

2.) FIPPLE. This is like Foob, but for nipples. Fake + Nipple = Fipple. Fipples give visual closure to the Foobs.

3.) PIE CRUST FOOB. Well, this is when you sometimes get an unfortunate and annoying complication of a Foob settling in a weird way, creating dimpling that looks like a pie crust freshly made with thumb prints in it. Replacing the Foob implant with a nice new one a little bit larger resolves the problem.

4.) ANGRY EYES. A la Mr. Potato Head. For those who have upgraded and gotten larger Foobs than pre-mastectomy cup sizes, there is an interesting side effect when the Fipple is added. Fipples are located below the original mastectomy scars. The scars look a lot like eyebrows (at least until they fade) and the Fipples look a lot like eyes. Thus the rather disconcerting "Angry Eyes" effect.

5.) APPALACHIAN MOUNTAIN BOOB. This is when surgery/radiation makes the boob look like what happens to the tops of mountains in Appalachia. Easily explained with a slash motion of the hand. Not to be confused with the "Hiking the Appalachian Trail" concept.

6.) AQUARIUM BELLY. After a hysterectomy, the tummy swells up a lot and makes many sloshing, gurgling, bubbling noises. Looks and feels like a 55 gallon fish tank is lodged in there. Especially noticeable in bed when turning over from back to side.

7.) FAT-N-SURLY. This is another name for the drug Tamoxifen, which is used to treat and prevent breast cancer. In addition, "Fat-N-Surly" is a good name to describe pretty much how all women feel after surgery.

I know there are more definitions out there. Feel free to add.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Garden of Pharmacological Delight

Having major surgery means you get to try out lots of different types of drugs. Legally. Percoset, Vicodin, Oxycontin, all the big boys. Unfortunately for me, painkillers make me nauseous and shaky. Dammit! I think it would be a lot more appropriate and fair if I got a huge buzz from painkillers. Right? I mean, recovery would be a whole lot more fun.

Now, if only my doctors would prescribe some morphine for me to take at home. I could not believe how RIDICULOUSLY EUPHORIC I felt my first night after surgery on that stuff. After settling in to my bed, the nurse placed a little joystick (aptly named) in my hand, with a button on the top. "If you feel discomfort, just press the button and you will self-administer morphine."

Me (rapidly pressing the button over and over again as though I'm playing Space Invaders, and YES, I recognize that referencing Space Invaders completely dates me since this is only relevant if you grew up in the 70's): "Um, I assume you have this rigged up so I don't accidentally overdose myself?"

Nurse (curtly, perhaps?): "Of course, you can only receive a prescribed amount."

'Nuff said.

Basically, I hit that button regularly all night long and experienced moments where I was completely one with the universe. I figured out how to achieve world peace. I understood calculus. I came to terms with my feelings about my mother. I haven't felt like this since the Dead show at the Meadowlands in '89. WHEEEEEEE!!!!!!

Ah well. Short lived euphoria in the garden of pharmacological delight. Now it's back to reality and a bit of ibuprofen now and then.

Monday, February 15, 2010

No Foreign Objects

As I am getting ready to leave the hospital post ovary/fallopian tube/uterus removal, the PA (Physician's Assistant) comes in to walk me through all of the details I need to know. I get a nice little checklist of medications, when I have to come in for follow-up appointments, rules about no lifting, rules about no exercising, etc.

My favorite part of her speech comes next. She takes a breath, and then like an auctioneer at an antique show, gets right into "There can be nothing in the vagina for 6 weeks, no douches, no tampons, no foreign objects (WHOA, HANG ON FOR JUST A MINUTE-- I want to interrupt and ask exactly what kinds of foreign objects other women thought might be a good idea to insert after surgery but she is on a roll so I am going to hold my question until the end), no sexual intercourse, did I mention no sexual intercourse for 6 weeks." Then she looks at my husband, Jeff, and reiterates loudly "NO SEXUAL INTERCOURSE FOR 6 WEEKS!!"

I am quietly giggling to myself. This is like 8th grade health class. I suppose Jeff and I should be really clinical and mature, since we are discussing post surgical restrictions and all, but it feels like a lecture from a very stern pro-abstinence Sunday school teacher. Jeff doesn't even know where to look. "Great, OK then, I'm going to just pull the car around and I think we're all set. OK, thanks, perfect."

I never did get to ask about the foreign objects.

The Art of Communication

I like surgeons. I've gotten to know quite a few this year, and in general, I find surgeons to be a straightforward, no bullshit, cool, confident, highly skilled, competent bunch. They fix people! It's totally impressive. I've been in the business world for about 20 years now, and I can say that working an Excel spreadsheet just can't compete with neatly slicing a person open, removing an offending part, and then sewing the person back up. Lots of times in one day, even!

However, there is one area where I would argue that former English majors and MBA types can teach MDs a few things-- the fine art of communication. I want to take a moment to share some actual phrases doctors have said to me this year:

1.) You have a lovely thorax.
2.) You could become hirsute.
3.) We will get you a larger size. We really don't make implants in your size. (Gulp. Really.)

I'm going to elaborate on each one, because each one, in my opinion, is so damn funny.

Pre-mastectomy, I am sitting in my plastic surgeon's office discussing the upcoming procedure. He has some kind of senior resident visiting patients with him. We talk about implants, how they will be put in, what kind, what size, etc. The resident peers closely at my torso and says, "I think you will get a great result because you have a lovely thorax." Thorax? What am I, an insect? Why would you say THORAX?? That is just bizarre.

Pre-sub total hysterectomy (now that's a fun cocktail party phrase), I am sitting in my gynecological oncologist's office after the exam. I have a list of questions for him regarding side effects of going through menopause at the ripe old age of 39. I want all of the options and the various pros and cons, kind of like a female anatomy decision tree. He is very obliging and we start to walk through different scenarios. We get into sex drive and how that could be impacted by hormonal changes. I ask for some possible solutions, and he says that adding testosterone can increase sex drive (yep, any teenage boy overdosing on testosterone will certainly agree). But then, the kicker-- he musingly states, "But you could become hirsute." I can no longer focus on anything he is saying. It's like the Charlie Brown teacher... "wha wha wha wha, wha wha wha." Background noise. Did he really tell me I am going to become HAIRY?? What, so my choices are smooth skinned and sexually disinterested, or hairy and horny? Holy crap.

Again, pre-mastectomy, sitting in my breast surgeon's office (he does removal as opposed to reconstruction). He is the ultimate no-nonsense guy. Right to the point. He looks at my chest and says, "Well, we will get you a larger size because we really don't make implants in your size." I pause, considering. A few thoughts go through my mind:
1.) Of course. Makes some kind of weird sense. Why the hell would anyone go through all of this surgery just to reconstruct an A cup? A cups are barely even visible.
2.) Followed immediately by...why the fuck not? I happen to LIKE my A cups. They have served me well over the years. Great for jogging. Nursed two kids. Why would anyone presume that I would choose to "upgrade" and get a bigger size?
3.) Then followed by... sigh. Of course. I'm going for the upgrade. Who am I kidding. Am I selling out in some way by going for Big & Bouncy B cups? Eh. I have "foob greed."

Anyone else have some crazy doctor stories to share?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Night Nurse

This anecdote has been percolating for 10 months, ever since I got my double mastectomy in April 2009. Despite the potent morphine & anesthesia-induced haze during the night post surgery, I remember the details vividly. In fact, the inspiration for this blog directly resulted from My Night Nurse story (thanks, Jill, for pushing me to write it down!).

To set the scene--
I never had any major surgery prior to the mastectomy. I did talk to my doctors, friends, family, women who have gone through the procedure, as well as checked out community message boards to figure out what I should expect. Apparently the night after the surgery would be pretty rough. Best to have someone with you to keep you company and be your advocate.

My mother-in-law, Lisa, with whom I am very close, persuaded me to get a private night nurse. This way, my husband could stay home with the kids and I would get lots of proper medical attention during the night. And I did. Lots of attention. So, so much attention. I am curious if anyone else had an experience similar to mine. Read on.

So, I am squared away in my hospital room, after the hideous transition from gurney (which takes you from recovery) to bed. No one really explains ahead of time that you need to move yourself onto the bed. Without using your arms. After much shrieking and flailing and cursing (from both me and the two hapless techs tasked with moving me), I am situated. Poor Jeff, my husband, was convinced that they dropped me on the floor. Wisely, they wouldn't let him witness the transfer.

The Night Nurse (NN) arrives. She is very experienced and has been a nurse for over 30 years. Great. Jeff heads out & NN gets to work. She is busy. Folding clothes, taking out trash, bustling around the room. I just want to sleep. There is constant commotion. Moving chairs. Rustling papers. Adjusting blankets. I think, "Lady, I need to SLEEP." Finally, I drift off.

Only to be awakened by NN less than 1/2 hour later. Bright and cheery, "Let's get you to the bathroom." We make the trip to the bathroom. Back to bed. Takes a good 20 minutes. Then, "Shall we try the breathing apparatus?" What. The. Hell. But maybe she knows best. I breathe in to a plastic tube that measures my lung capacity or something. "Now for some juice!" I politely decline and firmly close my eyes. "Umm, Nurse, I am ready to sleep now."

This goes on ALL NIGHT LONG. She is constantly waking me up to do this or that. Is this NORMAL??? I have no idea. But here is the crowning moment of my experience-- at 4:45am, NN peers over me. I open my eyes and there she is, inches away. "I think you are ready for your Sponge Bath!" She is positively giddy.

Me (groggily): "What time is it?"
I peer out my window, where it is pitch black outside.
NN (brightly): "4:45am! I think you will feel SO much better."

Me: "No thanks. I just showered 15 hours ago."

NN: "Oh, but you will feel great after a sponge bath."

Me: "Really. I don't want one."

NN (cheerful as could be): "Let me get you ready for your sponge bath!"
And proceeds to busily bustle around the room, getting all of the items organized.
I guess I am getting a sponge bath, goddammit.

Sure enough, NN gets to work. And let me tell you, attention was PAID. To. All. My. Parts. I know I was whacked out on morphine, Percoset, anesthesia and a bunch of other hardcore drugs, but this was ridiculous. This lady was thorough. I wonder to myself whether NN knows Maria, the Brazilian waxer at the local spa. That kind of thorough. And really, does anyone actually need a sponge bath before 5am?!

NN (sweetly): "There. All better?"

Me (shell shocked): "I think I am ready to go back to sleep. G'night."

There you have it.