The Joy of Needles!

So, I’m finally getting around to sharing my pre-surgery experiences that I endured 3 weeks ago.  Hopefully this won’t heeb-you-out or bore you too much, but if it does, please know that it’s helpful for me to reflect on my experiences, however ridiculous they might have been at the time. I’ll leave out the hours of minutia and just get to the good stuff!

Once I was admitted and walking around with my fancy hospital wristband, one of my first stops was to the Nuclear Medicine department where I was to be injected with (I shit you not), radioactive isotopes directly around my nipple!

And let me quickly explain why I needed this procedure, because modern medicine is actually very fascinating.  Once injected, the radioactive particles travel to the sentinel (main) lymph nodes.  While in surgery, the doctor uses a Geiger counter (still not kidding) to locate the “hot” nodes so he knows exactly where to make the incision.  And here I am worried about eating organic and this crap is going into me…I mean it can’t be good for me, but what am I to do!

So, back to the nurse with the big needle…  The nurse gave me the first shot. Ok, not so bad I think to myself.  Then 2-4 were excruciating and I was tearing up saying “Oh my gosh that hurts so bad!!”  Sympathetically, she says, “Yes, they always say the first isn’t so bad but the rest hurt much worse.”  Ahhh, yea!!!!

I quickly dressed and walked back to Mike in the waiting room, and he gives me a weak smile saying “How was it?”  While holding back tears I said something to the effect of, “It hurt like Mother F…..  It was complete Bull S…!”  You know, words that any respectable, polite, demure, lady would say.

On to the next…

From what I know, not all cancer is necessarily detectable by the human eye.  Even though I imagine it kind of like green-gobbily-gook, it isn’t always visible, which means when the doctor begins surgery he needs to know exactly where the cancer is; which brings me to my next ridiculous needle procedure.

So I’m wheeled off to the ultrasound room where they are to insert a needle into my breast into the cancer area (and are you ready for this!?) and then leave the needle inserted so my surgeon knows exactly where to operate!  At this point it was becoming laughable!  So the doctor slowly numbs up the area with a very long needle, and with the aid of the ultrasound tech, guides this needle wire thing deep into my breast.  While this is going on, I have a total of four doctors/techs who have now entered the room, because apparently everyone came to watch and learn;  not exactly reassuring!  And somehow during all of this I still found the strength to make a crack that “everyone wants to see my naked boobs”.

So, now this thing is inserted and about 3 inches of it is sticking out of my breast and I am near hysterics because I’m so worried someone will bump me.  Their high-tech solution for this… a Dixie cup!  Literally, they took a Dixie cup to cover the needle thing and taped the cup to my chest.  Then I was wheeled into pre-op where I lounged in a hospital bed for an hour or so waiting for my surgery to begin.  I don’t know if I’ve ever had Valium before this, I rarely even take Tylenol, but when the nurse offered up something to relax me, I took it with gusto!

Here’s a snapshot that Mike took while I was sleeping.  My IV had just been removed and my little drawn on wedding band looked so sweet!



3 Responses to “The Joy of Needles!”

  1. jessamyn Says:

    oh, megan. I was going to leave a comment about the radioactive isotopes (like, “yeah, stay away from that stuff, it’ll give you cancer!!”) but then I read the rest and it made me simultaneously sad and scared for you (I think I would’ve freaked out with 3 inches of a needle sticking out of ANY part of me, much less a boob!) and very touched at the photo of your sweet little wedding ring.
    let me know when you’re ready for your first real tattoo and I’ll come and take pictures! : )
    ps my aunt (not the one who had breast cancer – this one had ovarian, fun. they are both living long, healthy lives!) had to do some kind of barium drink – where the technician was in a full protective suit and said “WAIT until we leave the (lead) room, then drink this.”
    very reassuring ; )

  2. Terri Richards Says:

    Robert, number four in our brood, has had to ingest the isotope twice so they could do a fluoroscopy (live action x-ray) on his stomach for 90 minutes. His stomach likes to hold on to his food for too long.

    The dixie cup is actually pretty common. They are often used to stabalize impaled objects in trauma patients. It seems really dumb, but it works.

    I think the drawn on ring is great. I know I would have loved to have had the same thing when I had my crash c-section, but there wasn’t time.

    It was really good that you kept your sense of humor through it all. Laughing when things get tough helps. In fact, here is a good giggle for you.
    I went for a post op check up after having some bladder surgery. The doctor had gone through the vagina to do the procedure. So, there I was splayed out on the table ready for my exam and the doctor walks and exclaims “Wow!”. Needless to say I was mortified, but so was the doctor who followed the exclaimation with “that didn’t come out right, did it?”

    So, now that you are laughing you a** off (hopefully) have a wonderful Christmas and know that we are all praying for you.

  3. Mom Says:

    I truly started guffawing when you say “I shit you not, they are going to painfully place radioactive isotopes in my nipple to help cure the cancer.”

    Science does know what the most outstanding outcome is, but the pt. approach of dumping it all on you from their medical shopping carts, is just too much of a good thing. Them’s Doc’s still need their bedside manner tweaked to the more human experience.
    Love, Mom

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