Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Not So Great, Very Bad Day

Today I am finally inching my way back into the land of the living.

The two prescription pain meds I’ve been on made me so sick that I wasn’t able to hold down any food until about 6 pm last night. On top of being hungry and nauseated (at the same time) the meds also made me feel sleepy and “loopy” most of the day. All in all? Yesterday was not such a great day.

On Monday morning before I left for my “final fill” appointment, Steve and I had our weekly conversation where he always says, “Are you sure you don’t want me to go with you?”

And I always respond, “No, I’ll be fine.”

I was thinking that the first three fills weren’t all that bad and although last week was a little more difficult, I figured that that was just a fluke and I’d be back to a less difficult fill this time around.

Besides, Steve was jumping through hoops left and right trying to get paperwork filled out and files found and stuff dropped off at the bank to beat the deadline in getting this house closed by the end of the month.

So I headed out alone which was fine, because I’ve always loved taking road trips by myself, listening to books on tape, listening to music or just listening to my own thoughts in the silence. Also, I always leave a little bit early for my appointment each week so I can stop by one of my recently discovered thrift stores in Greenville; it helps make an unpleasant day a little more enjoyable when I get to do something fun thing along the way.

And so all went well for a while. I happily hummed along down the road, making a quick stop for lunch, dropping by a favorite store, and finally checking in at the surgeon’s office at 3 pm. He and his nurse went through their usual tasks of using the magnet to find the port, marking the port, and getting the needles and syringes ready to go. We were chatting about how hot it had been and how our flowers and plants were doing and everything was all light and lovely.

He started the first fill on my right side and it seemed to me that he was having to struggle quite a bit to get the saline to go in. He was pushing harder and harder and it was feeling terribly tight, tighter than it had ever been, actually scary tight. I was about to say something when all of a sudden I felt (and heard) something like a little “pop” in my far right breast area, almost under my arm. Accompanying the pop, was a sharp stab of pain, so sharp that I actually yelled. Twice. Really loud. And I am not a yeller, under most circumstances.

They both bustled around me, quite concerned, asking me if I was okay. Through gritted teeth I asked, “What just happened?”

The surgeon said that in a small percentage of patients, sometimes one corner of the expander gets folded back underneath the rest of the expander. When the final fill is done and the expander is filled to capacity, the pressure of the fill will cause that corner to fill up and pop back out into place. When it does, it rips through scar tissue and any nerves that happen to be left in that area.

And that’s what happened to me. A corner of an expander unfolded and ripped through delicate parts of myself.

I was just slightly traumatized, to say the least.

I said, “Well, will that happen again on the left side?” He said that chances were that it wouldn’t.

And it didn’t. Thankfully. But by that time I was so tense from dreading the fact that it MIGHT happen again, that my whole body had turned into one big tremble.

Before leaving the room so that I could get dressed, the surgeon told me that my right breast was going to cause me quite a bit of pain for at least 24-hours until all the nerves and scar tissue had settled back down and recovered from the trauma.

Once he and his nurse finally left, I stood there in the middle of the floor and just sobbed. Not because of the pain alone, but because of the unexpected shock of that unnerving POP, coupled with the knowledge that the pain was not going to go away anytime soon.

It took me a few minutes to get myself under control; when I finally got changed and glanced into the mirror, I saw that my eyes and face were all red and puffy. I really didn’t feel like going back out to the desk and chatting with the secretary and making my appointment to return in a month.

But I did. And although she didn’t say a word about my tear streaked face, she was extra sweet and compassionate, obviously understanding I’d had a rough go of things.

And then came the trip home. Two and a half hours. An hour before my appointment, I had taken two Aleve, which I do every week so I can get ahead of any discomfort. As soon as I got out of the office, I also took two extra strength Tylenol. Half of an hour later, the pain hadn’t been affected at all; if anything it was getting worse, probably because the numbing agent the doctor had given me during the procedure was wearing off.

I half thought about calling Steve and having him come and get me, but that would just mean trying to get two cars home and delaying my arrival at home for several hours. And all I wanted to do was to go home. And take pills. And go to bed.

Let me just say that that trip home was the longest 2 1/2 hours of my life, apart from childbirth. I never felt like I was unsafe because I forced myself to concentrate intently on the traffic and on the road as I drove. But I hurt like fire, and I was crying to beat the band almost the whole time.

At one point I was almost tempted to try and find a hospital along the way and go into the emergency room for help. But then again, I knew that that would delay me even more.

So I kept on driving. And crying.

About half an hour from home, I called Steve and through my tears told him to please call the pharmacist and figure out which of my prescription pain pills (leftover from surgery) that I could take in addition to over-the-counter stuff I’d already had. I told Steve, “I want to walk in the house and have major pills laid out on the counter, ready to be taken. Immediately!”

Issuing orders to my husband? That’s how desperate I was.

When I finally pulled into driveway, the front door opened and Sarah came flying down the stairs at a dead run, with Steve not far behind. She opened the car door and looked at me with such great compassion and concern, I almost cried harder. She helped me out of the car and then Steve took over and helped me up the stairs to house.

And thankfully, my approved-by-the-pharmacist meds (two pain killers and a muscle relaxer) were neatly laid out on the counter. Steve told me that what I was taking was going to fly me to the moon and I said, “That’s exactly what I want. I just want to escape this pain.”

They fixed me a bite of dinner (it was the last food I would be able to keep down for 24 hours) and then I was upstairs in bed and down for the count. It took about an hour for the pills to kick in and then finally, I got some relief.

I slept through the night, slept most of yesterday and slept three hours this morning.

Thankfully, I’ve been able to get off the stronger of the two pain pills but I’m still having quite a bit of discomfort so I’m not going to discontinue the second one for another day or so.

So that was my memorable “Last Filling.” I can’t tell you how thankful I am to have those done with. I have a month break, then I’ll go back for a quick check up, involving NO exam chairs, needles or syringes.

IMG_5704 IMG_5702

Then in another month, there will another check up and in another month, I’ll have the exchange surgery.

I’m headed back to bed again . . . thanks for your concern and prayers.

23 Had Something To Say (Just click here!):

LeeAnne said...

Becky, I'm glad you made it home safely....what an ordeal! You are one tough, brave woman to keep on driving like you did. And you're so fortunate to have Steve and Sarah at home to support you and care for you. Now, excuse me while I go find a tissue...there's something in my eye(s).

Karo said...

Becky, I am so sorry for all that you've been going through. Your posts make me just want to cry myself. Just keep holding on, there IS an end to that particularly long road.

Saffyres said...

Oh NO! I've heard of that happening, but not often. :(

Now the 3-month rest begins. See if you can talk your PS into an earlier exchange. Mine originally said "2 to 3 months" and I got exchanged at 7 weeks & 2 days. Yes. I was counting. :)

Beg for "no drains" too - I did. Yes, I begged. Pleaded. Cajoled & bargained. And I left with squishies and NO drains after the exchange. :)

Michelle said...

You poor thing. Hoping and praying you feel better soon!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Becky, I am so sorry this last filling was just plain traumatic. Keeping you lifted up in prayer.

Love, Guerrina in Ledyard

Alyssa said...

Becky, that just sounds plain awful! I am so sorry that you had such a horrible day. Praying that tomorrow brings more comfort.

Shannon said...

Oh Becky, your posts makes me hurt! I am sending prayers that I hope help a speedy recovery!

Anonymous said...

I'm praying for you Becky. Reading this entry almost made me feel your pain. :(
I have a request for when you're back up and feeling no pain...Can you do some more of your "not-a-fancy-cooking blogger" entries? :)
I love your recipes. And the pictures and hilarious text that goes along with them.
Much love and many prayers.
Kim Waggoner
Kingston, TN

MaryH said...

Oh my, Becky - and Ewwwww, on the pop and the flap flipping and I don't know how you stayed upright. You are one brave, strong, determined lady to make that journey by yourself and then back home after all of that and in pain. I am so thankful this is the end of that portion of treatment. I hope you are feeling much better and are still getting pampered and taking it easy. You deserve the rest and extr attention - Snowy, are you on nurse duty, I hope?

Margie said...

Oh Becky- I'm so sorry you are so miserable. I'm glad (as I know you are) that that was the last fill. Sending you lots of hugs.

Marshmallow Woman said...

Sending you a huge virtual hug from Italy Becky.

Jenna said...

Sending you a gentle hug and big prayers from a few thousand kilometers away.


LizW said...

Oh, Becky, I am so sorry you had to suffer through this! I am thinking ice pack as I am reading your horror story. Can't believe the doctor didn't give you any more instructions for dealing with such pain and discomfort. Sure hope there is some chocolate in your recovery plan! My prayers are with you.

Anonymous said...

Oh Becky!! I am so sorry!! You have got to catch a break sooner or later right? I'm so glad your team was there for you when you pulled in the drive.

Kris H.

deb said...

I thought I had left a note earlier but I guess it didn't go through.

Just wanted to send you oodles of commiseration, empathy, and sympathy. I am so sorry you had to go through such horriblness! You were very brave and I'm glad Steve and Sarah were there to take care of you when you got home.

We love you!

Deb and the guys

Anonymous said...

Oh, Becky, I'm so sorry that the last was the worst by far. That doc is lucky that it was you sitting there and not me. I have a feeling my "reflexes" would have landed a sharp right to his jaw so that he could adequately "feel my pain". I'm praying that you are feeling better now and that you'll be able to get off of the pain meds completely by tomorrow. Thankful that you now get a break (you deserve one!), and praying that all goes as smooth as glass with the closing. LOTS of prayers... I need to go get busy! {{{hugs}}} (very gentle ones... )

Anonymous said...

Wow, it really gives you a whole new appreciation for the wonderful blessing to simply wake each morning and just feel normal, without any pain.

Thank you for the effort to make a long post even when you really were not up to it. Go back to bed and rest as long as you need to.

Best wishes to you Becky -

Jean C.

Ann Martin said...

So sorry for your unfortunate event with the last fill. I was praying it would be easy. Maybe I better stop praying. Hoping tomorrow or rather today as it is after midnight will be much better for you. Take care and rest all you need. You deserve being pampered. I know Steve and Sarah are doing that for you.

Sue G said...

I'm just so grateful that you respond well to pain medications and muscle relaxers. Anything that is supposed to help ameliorate the symptoms usually just do the reverse. Instead of sleep and pain relief, I get wired and pain intensifies. So, thank God that you receive your meds as they are intended to work.

You really are a good patient, Becky. You do all the things you're supposed to do, you listen, and you make the best of the worst circumstances. Soon this will all be behind you and hopefully cancer will just be something your family used to deal with.

That's where I'm putting my prayers and my spiritual money. Join me?

Anonymous said...


Please forgive me for hijacking your website. I just wanted to post this "addy" (above) in hopes that people will go over there and leave some words of comfort for this family (I am certain; I think) it would be something you would do, right?

Ellie Potvin lost her battle with a rare and aggressive form of childhood cancer at the age of EIGHT (8) leaving not only her mom and dad (Amy and Tim) and her twin sister Grace. This girl fought with every fiber of her being but the cancer won.

As for you, Becky, I am sorry this last fill was so bad for you. I so wanted to call you yesterday to see how you were but felt silly and now knowing that you felt terrible I am glad I didn't.

I also don't want to invade your privacy!

And last (certainly not as important as the rest) I had a day like I have never had before (that bad and compared to you and the Potvin family I feel guilty for even thinking it---let alone writing about it----The Jewish Guilt---Oy Vey). But, I am still crying; 24 hours later. I guess being called a "hateful person does that too you (and to think that was the good part of the day).

Love to you and the family!


Anonymous said...

what an awful experience!
makes me cringe, that's for sure.
Hoping today is a feel-pretty-good day for you!

mrs pam

randybethmo said...

Boy Becky - those fills sound very far from easy (not trying to minimize). I am so glad that you made it home safely and that your support group was right there waiting for you to drive up and get you inside. You have such a special family and through your experiences we can see the work of our God right before our eyes.

I've had to catch up on the updates, because I've had a bit of the same problem viewing your site -- but at home all is well -- just work computer (guess they want me to work and not check my blogs at lunch :) ).

Have a great Friday and FABULOUS weekend. Still in our prayers!


Anonymous said...

(((HUGS))) Becky... I am so very sorry your last filling was so tough. Owch... You're amazing, to have made that drive home. Wow. You're one strong lady Becky Smith!

I'm glad you're feeling a bit better now. I hope you have a restful weekend!