As You Read This (The Surgery)…


Monday is sort of a blur. I remember some things, and not others. I want to share what I do remember for those of you who may being going through the same thing. Also, for those of you who have already gone through it, and for those who may go through this is the future.

If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, you may want to read these posts before moving on with this one:

  1. As You Read This…
  2. As You Read This (Continued)…
  3. As You Read This (Revisited)…
  4. Confession: I’m Scared
  5. As You Read This (The Calm Before The Storm)…
  6. Update From Jeff

If this recap seems disoriented, it’s because that’s how I remember it. Also, it’s easier for me to remember the situation when I write in present tense.

There are approximately 10 hospital employees who know my birth date. Probably more. I lost count of how many times I was asked.

It is 10 a.m. and Jeff and I have been sitting in the lobby of Albany Med’s South Clinical Campus for less than five minutes when a woman with big, blond hair calls my name, and leads us to admitting. Her office is decorated with pink ribbons, and I wonder if she knows why I’m there.

She asks me a bunch of easy questions. Questions that on any other day, I’d be able to answer with no problem.

She asks for my parents’ cell phone number– a number I usually know by heart. I start to answer, and then can’t remember. I fumble for my cell phone, and can’t remember who to look for in my contacts. She probably thinks I’m crazy.

When she’s done asking questions, she straps a bracelet around my wrist, and walks us to another waiting room. She smiles, and says, “good luck to you,” before turning and heading back to her office.

I do a newspaper word search while I wait. The theme is ‘things you’d find in cereal.’ My name is called, and Jeff and I follow a nurse to Pre-op.

The nurse introduces herself, and says she needs a urine sample. I think, how can I possibly give you a urine sample? I haven’t had anything to drink since midnight. But, I manage somehow.

The nurse tells me to undress from the waist up, and hands me a hospital gown. I put my clothes in a plastic bag with my name on it, and Jeff comments that the gown looks nicer than ones he’s seen at other hospitals. I lay down on the bed, and wait.

I am freezing and have goose bumps when the nurse comes over to put the IV well in my arm. I hold Jeff’s hand, and close my eyes as she inserts the well into my left arm. When she is done, she disappears for a few seconds, and returns with a cloth robe, and a heated blanket.

A physician comes over and listens to my breathing with a stethoscope.

A anesthesiologist comes over and explains how he’s going to knock me out. 

A few minutes later, the nurse says it’s time to go down to X-rays. On the walk down, the nurse explains that I am going for a needle localization, and that a doctor is going to insert a hollow needle into my breast to find the area where the surgeon will have to go later to remove the lump. She says that it is usually done by mammogram. When I tell her that I had a bad experience with a mammogram in February, she arranges for me to have an ultrasound instead.

The nurse walks me through the radiation waiting room, where around 10 people are sitting waiting for appointments. I am wrapped in a robe and blankets, and I can feel everyone’s eyes on me.

I follow the nurse into the same room I was in when I went for my follow-up ultrasound in August. I’m used to ultrasounds by now.

I lay staring at the ceiling, as the technician locates the lump on the screen. A nurse comes into the room and stands on the left side of me. She tells me her name and puts her hand over mine. Finally, a doctor with short, blond, curly hair walks into the room. I tell her I like her hair. She smiles and thanks me.

The doctor explains that she is going to give me a shot of medicine similar to Novocain to numb my breast. She inserts the needle, and it hurts for a few seconds, and then fades away. She explains that she’s going to give me more skin numbing, and then will insert a hollow needle into my breast to find the lump. After a while, I can’t feel the numbing needle at all.

All of a sudden, I feel a sharpness in my breast where the lump is. The doctor sees that I’m uncomfortable and asks if I can feel it. She gives me more numbing, and then continues. When she has reached the lump with the needle, she says that she’s going to insert a wire into my breast, so the doctor can find where to go during the surgery. She writes her initials on my breast, and tells me I’m done.

A nurse walks me out to Jeff, who is sitting in a small waiting room. My head is pounding from dehydration and hunger. I am uncomfortable from the procedure. A different nurse enters the room with a wheel chair, and pushes me back to pre-op.

I am told to undress all the way, except for my underwear, and handed hospital socks.

When I’m done, a nurse inserts the IV into my arm, and says it’s for hydration. I feel a little better.

I’m supposed to go into surgery at 12:10. It’s 12:45. My head is still pounding.

1:00 comes. The breast surgeon walks by, and smiles at me.

I watch him look at my films from the ultrasound. He walks over, and shakes Jeff’s hand. He turns to me and asks me my birth date.

The RN nurse, and the anesthesiologist come over. The nurse says, “this usually works pretty quickly, you probably won’t remember going into the operating room.”

I say bye to Jeff, and the nurse pushes me on a stretcher through a freezing cold hallway. I enter the operating room. A bunch of doctors and nurses are sitting around. I am moved onto an operating table. I stare up at the ceiling and wonder if the anesthesia is working…

I open my eyes and the nurse is taking the oxygen mask off of me. A blanket is over my head.

I reach up to touch my breast, and another nurse pushes my hand away and says, “don’t touch that.” They move me over to the stretcher. I don’t remember getting to post-op.

Another nurse is there, and I ask if my boyfriend can come in. She tells me I have to sleep for a half hour.

I open my eyes and she asks who is waiting for me in the waiting room. I ask her if it’s been a half hour, and she says yes. She asks if I want anything to eat or drink, and I say, “water.”

“You don’t want tea or juice or anything?” she asks.

No. Water.

She walks me over to a big blanket-covered chair, and then goes to get Jeff. I don’t remember the time between when she walks away and when Jeff is there.

Jeff says that the doctor talked to him while I was sleeping after surgery. Turns out the doctor who did the needle localization didn’t reach the lump all the way with the hollow needle, and they had to do another x-ray  while I was sleeping. But the doctor managed to get everything out. He told Jeff that he’d call in four days with the results of the biopsy. We are OK’d to leave, and a nurse pushes me out of the hospital in a wheel chair.

We stop at Uncommon Grounds on the way home (where else?), and I eat three heart thrive cookies.

And that’s the story of my surgery. If you got this far, congratulations, and thanks for reading.

Jeff told me that I could have anything I wanted for dinner that night. All I wanted was cheesy pasta for some reason. Enter Buca Di Beppo take out:


(Jeff took pictures for me)


I also really wanted a chocolate shake from Friendly’s

DSCF4461Don’t judge.

Jeff made me a fabulous breakfast yesterday and today:


My sisters-in-law sent me an Edible Arrangement yesterday:

edible arrangement

And Jeff took this crazy picture of me eating dinner last night:


I’m wearing his huge button down shirt, and eating the butternut squash soup my mom brought me on Saturday. This is not a flattering picture,but it makes me laugh.

The end.

PS: my mom is coming to visit tomorrow!!!

PPS: Going to Uncommon Grounds today!! 

Also, feel free to ask me any questions at all. I’m happy to share my experience with you.

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  1. I felt really sick after my surgery. The anesthesia or the pain meds made me nauseous. It was not a fun experience but I’m glad I did it so I had 100% certainty it wasn’t cancerous. Feel better!

  2. I am so proud of you for sharing your experience with others. You will never know the lives you have touched because of your openness to share…there is probably other women out there who have the exact same thing going on who will read this and be proactive about THEIR own health. Go you and go pink!

    I remember the same things you remember about your surgery. Funny how anesthesia can take clumps of time and make you so foggy headed for so long! You’ll be back in top form in no time, though.

    Two more things:
    1) Went to Buca Di Beppo for the first time ever this past weekend, the night before my marathon. Talk about perfect carb-loading! We loved it!
    2) I could eat your Edible Arrangement through the screen. That is all.

    (((HUGS))) Praying, and BELIEVING, for perfect results!!

  3. Been there, done the exact same thing in 2006. I was 29. Mine was noncancerous, but I wanted it out to be sure and I’m glad I did it since it took a lot longer than the surgeon thought to find it all. Apparently, the tumor had spread out like an octopus, with “legs” everywhere. GIANT scar, weird hollow spot, and 4 years later everything seems to be on the up and up. I’m still pretty self-conscious about the scar from time to time, but it was relief to have it out. Glad the surgery went okay for you. Big (gentle) hugs for a swift healing process!

  4. good reporting! but really, Buco de Beppe? I don’t usually cook for students but i may have to in this emergency case.

  5. I can’t even express how much I appreciate these past few posts you have written. You are so brave to share your story will us all. I know that you are going to just fine. We are all here to support you, and if you need anything, you needn’t do anything more than tweet it. Hugs for you girl!

  6. Thank you for sharing your experience. It’s so scary, but you did great. Your recovery meal and shake look just about perfect.

    Thinking of you as you await the results and hoping for good news!

  7. I am so glad that you were honest enough to share this experience with us. I’m sure the waiting will be tough. I hope everything comes out okay. I’m thinking of you. Feel better soon!

  8. You wrote it very well. I know it must have been an impossibly hard day but it is done now. The coming days will also be hard, but you have made it this far and shown an amazing amount of resiliency and bravery (even if you don’t think you have).
    Thank you for sharing. And I hope the chocolate shake was as good as it looks mmmm….

  9. Rebecca – What a recollection! I don’t know that I’d remember that much from any of my whole 2 previous surgeries! Both were laproscopic! I have not been through this, but know way too many friends, family, and friends of friends who have. You have come through with flying colors! I’m praying for good news on your biopsy! Sending you healing energy every day!

    I despise cheese, but just have to say that the pasta looks really good anyway!

    Jeff is such a dear! Take care of yourself!

  10. Wow, Rebecca, I read this glued to my computer screen, gasping during some parts, with my boyfriend sitting next to me on his own computer, who kept asking what I was making all those noises about. Thank you for writing about this — I don’t think I would have the guts to share something so personal. But the fact that you did shows how much courage you have! I hope you’re resting up and feeling better soon!

  11. Glad you made it through okay. I got a chuckle out of the post surgery eats and drinks. Before both of my surgeries I made sure my hubby was clear on the coffee chiller I wanted and dinner. He did great both times and I enjoyed every sip and bite. Funny what food can do for recovery.

  12. Hey Rebecca,
    Thanks so much for your email and for your sharing your story with us. Sounds like a not so fun today, but you obviously have a lot of people in your life who care for you very much. 🙂 I’m glad you were well taken care of, and I hope that you are feeling okay and not too sore. Glad you enjoyed yourself some cheesy pasta and a chocolate milkshake. You deserved it! 🙂

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