Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Lumpectomy and update

It's been a few weeks now, but I wanted to post about the lumpectomy for those who have to have one and want to know what to expect. Feel free to ask me any questions you have. Current update at the very bottom.

The procedure I had is actually called a biopsy/excision of breast mass/ lumpectomy with needle localization. The day began with getting checked in, vitals taken, and an IV started in the back of my hand. Unlike when I had my mastectomy, they actually got it in on the first try and it wasn't super painful. So, it seems my veins have recovered a bit from chemo. Yay!

Then I was sent downstairs to get a mammogram-guided localization wire installed and blue dye shot into the area so the surgeon would know where to go and which tissue to take out. This was actually the worst part of the whole thing, because the mass (technically, a mucocele-like lesion) was located about as deep as it could be and still be breast tissue--right in the middle against the chest wall. They had to try several times with the mammogram machine to get me in the right spot (you might recall we went through this with the needle biopsy), and none of them were comfortable. A couple were downright painful.

They finally got me in position, numbed my skin, and then injected something to numb the whole area (lidocaine, maybe?). There was a little bit of burning, which was unpleasant, but then it was a breeze after that. I didn't feel the wire or the dye going in, and then they bandaged it up so the wire wouldn't catch on anything and sent me back upstairs...but not before all the nurses asked me about ballroom dancing and planned to all go out together. See, Linda? I'm marketing! ha!

So then there was a little bit of a wait, and Michael was able to come sit with me while various members of my OR team stopped by to say hello. It was a little funny, because the anesthesiologist was the last to stop by. He was doing something with tiny bottles and my IV while he talked, and then the world suddenly started rocking back and forth and coming in and out of focus. It was very fast, and then we were rolling down the hall and Michael kissed me goodbye. We went on into the OR and I got on the table, I noticed the light above me was spinning (only to me, I suspect), they put a mask on my face, and I was out. The next thing I knew, I was already back in my little curtain room, trying to wake up.

Recovery was not terrible. I did feel weak and tired for a few days--I did not do the 5K the following Monday, nor any exercise for about a week and a half because that's how long it was before I felt really ready. I was a little tender and there was some bruising. I mostly just took ibuprofen for the pain, although a couple of times I went for the Norco, mostly after a lot of movement so stuff probably got jiggled more than it should have. My scar was glued together, so no stitches or steri-strips to deal with. It was three weeks ago, and I now feel about like I did before the procedure.


Fast forward to today, I still get tired every day. By 2:00, no matter how much sleep I got the night before, I'm generally unable to function, but lying down and sleeping (when I can) for a couple hours is usually enough to refresh me for the evening so I can do dinner and maybe go out. The other day I had a really long and hard day, and I was painfully exhausted at the end and it took me two days to get over it. I'm not doing much dancing as it's usually more than I feel up to. I usually mange no more than a couple of hours of work per day. I am exercising several days per week, which is good--and important for getting back to my old self.

I met with the physician's assistant at my oncologist's office yesterday for a sort of cancer debrief. Mostly she told me stuff I already know. But she ordered a blood test to check my thyroid in case the fatigue is from that, but she said it's not adrenal fatigue because then my sodium would be low, which it's not. [Update 9/29: my thyroid is normal, so I just need to be patient.]

So, things are fine. I'd like to recover faster, but I don't get a vote on that so I'm trying to accept where I'm at and do what I can.


  1. Your candid and heartfelt blogs are so touching. I hope anyone going through something similar that has the opportunity to read your words takes strength and encouragement from them. Wishing you a complete recovery and a return to your energetic self as soon as possible for you.

  2. I hope they test your adrenals when they do thyroid. That falling asleep at 2 sounds like adrenal insufficiency. That is the magic time most of us get that way.

    1. I asked her about that, and she said my sodium would be low if there was an adrenal problem.