Monday, December 12, 2011


All fall I've not felt the love for blogging. It's not that I don't love all of you--I do, I really, really do--I just feel boring lately.

It's a drag.

I'll tell you what else is a drag, having a 3 inch chunk of skin taken out of your upper right arm along with four lymph nodes.

Just for the record, I'm not a good patient. I'm feeling sorry for myself. But the surgery is over and I'm glad and I fully anticipate that the little melanoma that started all of this drama in October will not have spread.

Let me back up just a tad because the last you knew of the melanoma, I was having it removed on Nov. 8 in the dermatologist's office. Except that when I got to the dermatologist's office, she was not in agreement with my family doctor that we should just do a basic excision on my arm and call it good.

This set off a month-long saga of trying to decide what to do next. The cast of characters included my family doctor, two dermatologists, an oncologist, two surgeons, and a melanoma expert at the University of Colorado. Yes, I know. How many more people can I get involved with over a melanoma the size of the tip of a pen? Leave it to me.

To be fair, my lovely little melanoma had some unusual characteristics (OF COURSE IT DID!!!) that made it a bordeline case, and that's what was causing all of the debate. The excision was a sure thing--a bigger patch of skin had to come off. The part up for debate: to do a sentinel lymph node biopsy or not?

The docs were split on their decision.

In the end, after much deliberation and hand wringing--because I am at my very core, a wimp--I went with the excision with a bonus of sentinel lymph node biopsy. And that means that they injected me with radioactive dye to find the lymph node(s) nearest the melanoma site and they removed those for biopsy. I should have the results this week and of course, I will let you know.

But, as always, I've learned a few things along the way and I will freely impart my knowledge upon you.

1. Don't be a dumbass (like me). Got a mole or any suspicious mark? Get thee to the doctor.
2. Get a second opinion. Getting second opinions gives me angst. It's like saying to your doctor, "Thanks, but I don't really believe you so I'm going to talk to someone else who I will believe." But you need to do what's right for you.
3. Be your own best advocate. Again, this can be hard. It was actually easier to do when it was Finn. It felt less awkward to say, "I'm behaving in this manner to protect my child" versus "I'm just being an ass today."
4. Be careful what you read. This one is almost impossible to follow. I stressed myself out pretty badly reading about survival statistics for my type of melanoma, which quite frankly, were exactly the same as Finn's for his leukemia. But as Eamonn always reminds me, someone makes up that survival statistics--let's proceed as if it's us. Done.
5. Take care of yourself. That pretty much wraps up the first four items into one nutshell. I waited too long. I procrastinated. I forgot. I didn't pay enough attention. And all of those things were very close to combining to become a very bad thing. Don't do that.

So my surgery was last Friday. I didn't think I was overly nervous, but I didn't sleep at all well from the moment I decided to have the surgery until the day of. I concocted all sorts of scenarios that mostly involved me never waking up from anesthesia versus dying of cancer. I wasn't quaking in fear, just pondering going under and never coming back to the point that I filled Eamonn in on where all of the Christmas presents were hidden in case he had to do Christmas without me. But here I am. I guess I need to wrap everything now.

Versed is a weird, weird drug. It's what they used to give Finn when he had his spinal taps. When I've had Versed before (sinus surgery and another minor surgery), I've remembered things--it just made me really relaxed, but I was still aware of saying goodbye to Eamonn, being wheeled away, to them talking to me in the OR, etc. This time it was completely different. I remember kissing Eamonn and then I was waking up in recovery. No recollection of them wheeling me away, going to the OR or ANYTHING. And that is disturbing on many levels because Eamonn said I was talking. To who? About what? It's such a curious thing.

We got home Friday evening about 7:45pm and I went straight to bed. On Saturday we went to Declan's hockey game. However, earlier today I realized what a post-anesthesia fog I'd been in because I thought I'd gone to two hockey games that day. I even asked my friend if I made sense at the rink because I truly don't remember most of the game or that day. I do remember the surgeon calling to see how I was. He asked if I had any numbness. I said no. He said that was good because that meant he hadn't damaged any nerves. Um, yeah, I think that's good, too.

By Sunday, the pain meds and the knockout drugs were truly wearing off and I was uncomfortable. But each day is better. I hate not being able to work out, especially during Christmas cookie eating season, but this too shall pass.

I should probably stop eating guacamole for dinner though or else I'll have to put "Lose 20 pounds" back on my New Year's Resolution list and that will make me very unhappy.

1 comment:

Happy Homemaker UK said...

Good advice - everyone has a medical emergency at some time. It sounds like you are on the mend. Yea! I have a close friend who struggled with melanoma and has been cancer free for 5 years so far - yea!

So glad you found me :) We moved to England from Colorado :) XoL