I had my lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy on Sept. 17th. I am going to address some of the questions that I had asked in my earlier postings.
In preparation for the sentinel node procedure, I had the radioactive tracer injected in 4 shots around my nipple, while in nuclear medicine. The radiologist said that he would be drawing up lidocaine with each injection but there might be a slight feeling of pain. It was painless and all I felt was a little pressure. I am a scientist and I guess I mentally put on that hat while they were taking the pictures to see if the tracer had found my sentinel node. If it wasn't that I was there for cancer surgery, it was fascinating to see this technology! They had pictures of the nodes in 20 minutes.
Then I was just back in my room for a few minutes to talk to the anestheseologist, who said that it would be general not just IV sedation as I had hoped. The technician from the ultrasound department came to take me to get the wire placed. It was the same radiologist. He said that he would again be injecting me with lidocaine and the pain should be minimal. One of the ultrasound techs came to hold me hand while he put in the wire. I'm not sure if they thought I was going to cry or have pain but everyone was very comforting. Again, all I felt was some pressure. I said something about that not being bad at all. The radiologist said that I had the highest pain tolerance of any patient he had. That gave me a positive outlook going into surgery, that I would not have much pain after the lumpectomy.
Boy was I wrong about that! I woke up in the recovery room. They pulled the trach tube out as I was waking up and I had never experienced that before. Tears ran down my face because I hurt so bad. There was a clock on the wall and I could see that I had been in surgery for almost 2 1/2 hrs. I was immediately awake and talking. The nurse kept telling me to close my eyes and rest. Something they had given me was like speed and had really hyped me up. Did any of you have that feeling? They kept checking on me and asking why I was crying. I said it was because of the searing pain in my breast. Did any of you have that level of pain? I have Fibromyalgia and I don't know if that was the reason I hurt so much, but it wasn't really like the FMS pain, which is usually an all over ache kind of like you have the flu. After about 20 minutes they gave me some morphine. It did not dull the pain at all and I wondered if they were just saying they had given me something. After about 30 minutes, they took me to my room and I was so releaved to see my husband. One of our friends sat with him during my surgery. I asked what the doctor had said and he hadn't talked to him yet. The pain kept coming in waves. They would give me something more and I would hope that was it, and then another one would hit. They still hadn't gotten the pain under control when the day surgery closed at 4:00 p.m., so they put me on the surgical floor. That was a big waste of time, since the nurses rarely came in. I'm not sure if I was supposed to call them or what, but didn't get any explanation to what to do either. All this time I am wide awake and I had only slept about 3 hrs. the night before. I would LOVE for them to give me something that would make me sleepy! It got irritating to be told that I needed to rest when I felt like I was about to jump out of my skin. Now I wonder if they had give me epinephrine at some point, even though I told them I was extremely sensitive to it.
I finally got fed up around 6:30 p.m. and told them that I was ready to go home. I was tired of dragging the stupid IV around (which of course they refused to take out even though I didn't have any bleeding or nausea). I was drinking a ton of water to try to flush everything out of my system and of course that made me have to run to the rest room about every 15 minutes. They were giving me Dialudid by this time and it had spaced out the waves of pain to only one about every 30 minutes. I decided I would be more comfortable at home and saw no reason to stay there when they were not really doing anything. About 5 minutes before they came to take out the IV, some respiratory tech showed up with some plastic device that was supposed to help me take deep breaths. I felt like this was an after thought and wondered what they were going to charge me on the bill for this "service". She said that there has been a rise in the cases of hospital acquired pneumonia after surgery so they give this to every patient. Did any of you get this plastic breathing device?
They did not put any cold packs on my breast and it was so swollen when I got home. The nurse who released me told me it was ok to put one on when I got home. It immediately helped with the pain!!! Why didn't they have me do that in the hospital? When I had the biopsy, they gave me a little cold pack to put in my bra on the way home. They also didn't give me any instructions for what to do when I got home. I kept asking about it and the nurse said I was supposed to call the doctor's office in 2 days and they would tell me. That has never happened before. I called the office the next day and they said that the doctor had typed it all in and I repeated that I did NOT receive it. All I got was a print out of my allergies and my medications - big help that was!
I have had cellulitis in my hand before so know what that looked like. However, I had a pink cone around my breast that isn't terribly painful and doesn't have any streaks radiating out from it. I wonder if that is some kind of delayed allergic reaction to the radioactive tracer. Have any of you had that kind of reaction? There isn't any pinkness or look of inflammation around either of the actual incisions, just quite a bit of bruising around the sentinel node incision. I have my followup appointment with the surgeon tomorrow, so hoping it can wait until tomorrow.
I'd appreciate any responses about the level of pain I experienced. I can't imagine how badly I would hurt if I had a mastectomy. With negative nodes, I'm hoping that won't be necessary any time soon. - Kay