Aggressive Brightsiding - Surgery Edition

I had my surgery yesterday and now I'm home resting. I'm feeling pretty low so here is some aggressive brightsiding to try to lift my mood. 

- Heated blankets. I don't know why I love these so much but whenever I'm in the hospital, I make it my mission to have a constant rotation of heated blankets. They're just plain flannel sheets that are folded and stacked in a blanket oven but I freaking love them so much. After my surgery I had the chills and one of the recovery nurses stacked six heated blankets on top of me. It was bliss (apart from all the pain and bleeding).

- I did not have a single panic attack. Not when I went under and not when I came out. It was actually the smoothest general anesthetic I've ever had.

- It only took two tries to get my IV in. I have rolly veins. I don't actually know what that means but it usually takes 3-4 attempts to get an IV going (my record is five. Shout out to the paramedic trainee who will probably never forget me and my rolly, gushy veins.) Yesterday the nurse got my IV in on her second attempt and I didn't even get woozy.  

- After my IV was placed, Shawn sat with me for about half an hour while we waited for the operating room to be ready. Our parking expired, and we were told I'd be heading in in the next five minutes, so I told Shawn to go. And then there was another delay and I waited 45 minutes by myself. Normally this would be the perfect time for an anxiety spiral of doom but instead I tried some of the coping techniques my therapist has been working on with me. I was anxious but did not panic. I was able to identify my anxious thoughts and calm myself. It was so gratifying to see my hard work paying off.

- One of the recovery nurses was a goddamn hoot. She's been a nurse for 48 years. She retired years ago but is called in for casual work when there's a shortage. She gives not a solitary fuck. Y'all, she was amazing. She gave the patients identifying nicknames, which is probably something nurses do when talking amongst themselves, but she referred to us openly as "frozen guy," "throat bleeder," and "little lamb," etc. (I was little lamb or lambikins. I don't know why.) While reviewing my discharge info with us, she told Shawn to "take matters into his own hands" when going over sex restrictions.

 - We are surrounded by love and support. It has been a huge comfort to know how wide our circle of support is. I am basically one step up from useless right now but my people have stepped up to handle it. It is a huge weight off my mind to know that we've got oodles of backup. 

 

A List of Things That Scare Me

  • General Anaesthesia. This will be the sixth time in five years I am put under general anaesthesia. I hate it. My body fights going under. I have woken up screaming. I have woken up vomiting. I have woken up being restrained by nurses because I was trying to claw my way out of the bed. I am disturbed by the thought of being put under again (and that doesn't even touch on all the "put under and never woke up" story arcs on medical dramas).
  • The surgery itself. Things go wrong. Bleeding happens. Infection happens. Bad things can happen when you are cut open.
  • The results. I've been told the mass growing on my ovary has about a 2% chance of being malignant. Which is a very small chance, I know. But it took six months to be diagnosed with thyroid cancer and during that six months I was told by many medical professionals I had a 5-10% chance of actually having cancer. Spoiler alert: I had cancer. I find no comfort in numbers right now.
  • The weather. Y'all, it has been a long, hard winter. And even as we stumble toward spring, the weather forecast is calling for more snow this weekend. I don't want to miss summer. If something goes wrong with this surgery, my last glimpse of the outdoors cannot be another grey, dreary winter day.
  • My babies. This is the big one. The hardest one. I don't know what's worse: knowing that if something goes wrong with the surgery it will mess Grady up something fierce, or knowing that if something goes wrong with the surgery Poppy won't remember me. It's uncomfortable to talk about, and to be completely honest I don't want to talk about it with anyone who is not my therapist, but writing is a form of therapy for me so here I am. I am really scared that something is going to go wrong with my surgery and I am going to miss out on watching my babies grow up. They're the coolest humans I know and I want to hang out with them for as long as I can. I'm scared I won't get that opportunity.  

One more week of feelings vomit, lovelies. I apologize in advance. Thanks for being here. 

Dates

I was supposed to have surgery today but a few weeks ago the date was changed to late April, and then it was changed again to late March. My anxiety is...not so great right now. 

I don't know how to explain it to Grady. Poppy is delightfully oblivious. And I'm stuck in a bit of a doom spiral, fluctuating between breezy and terrified, fine one minute and crying the next.  

It's kind of a weird place to be. I try not to wish time away but this next week cannot be over soon enough. 

Milestones

When your life changes, there is before and there is after. The after is made up of milestones, some big, some small, some joyous, some not, that remind you that you're not the same. First Mother's Day after your baby is born, first job after you graduate, first Christmas in your new home, first positive pregnancy test after your miscarriage -- what is just an ordinary Tuesday to you may be a major milestone for someone else. 

When you are diagnosed with cancer, you are introduced to a whole new set of milestones. Anniversary of being diagnosed, number of treatments, end of treatment, test results, tumour marker levels, remission, etc. It is consuming and then all of a sudden it isn't. Real life starts to creep back in and you can go weeks, or months, without thinking about what milestone you've reached. 

I had been doing a really good job at not thinking about milestones, until I was not doing such a good job. I have a big milestone coming up; this spring will mark five years since I was diagnosed. Five years is a big deal. At five years, I will graduate to once-per-year appointments at the cancer centre. It is exciting and nerve-wracking and also terrifying. I will have one more surgery before I get my five-year-all-clear. I'm looking forward to getting it out of the way but I'm also scared. 

The night before my first surgery, I did not sleep. I held baby Grady all night long and stared at his beautiful sleeping face and cried silently for hours. He was in that sweet spot of toddlerhood where he wasn't a baby anymore but he wasn't old enough to remember me if something went wrong. Poppy is the same age now that Grady was when I was first diagnosed and it is messing with my head. It's a milestone that came out of nowhere and I wasn't prepared for how it would make me feel. 

This surgery will be my sixth surgery in the last five years. There's nothing about it that should feel ominous; it is an item that needs to be crossed off the cancer checklist before my oncologist will release me into the world of annual monitoring. It isn't nothing, but it doesn't have to be a *thing*. It doesn't have to fill me with dread. But it does. As I get closer to my five year milestone, I'm scared something is going to come along and screw it up. I could use some positive vibes is what I'm saying. (Also therapy. I could use some therapy. But there are only so many hours in the day.)