I went back to see Dr. Rubble, who informed me that my infection had cleared, but that my incision needs to remain open to heal and prevent re-infection. He also reminded me to Q-tip my wound but shot me a look that suggested that he knew I’d avoid Q-tipping at all costs.
He discussed the possibility of me having an unlovely scar on my left breast that might need revision (aka a cosmetic procedure), but that we’d worry about that after I have healed. Yep. I will need it. I feel rather depressed and self-conscious over the whole thing. Not that a nude photoshoot or Girls Gone Wild appearance is on my to-do list. But man, I don’t want to look like a Fangoria centerfold either….
Much gratitude to Mom for springing into action at a moment’s notice to help my disabled self! She has baby-sat, given me rides, stopped by the store, picked up prescriptions, and cooked meals for us. Whew! Today she did double baby-sitting duty at 2 am for Liev and at 10 am for me at the doctor’s office. In anticipation of another painful procedure, I took a full dose of pain meds leaving me feeling groggy. I needed her to drive and take notes on Dr. Rubble’s latest treatment plan.
We were lucky enough to snap up the last two unoccupied seats in a waiting room packed full of miserable looking couples. A half-hour into our wait, we encountered one of Egor’s senior colleagues, Dr. Crowe, who we knew to be a cancer survivor. Walking hunched with a cane, he looked disturbingly bloated. His eyes were yellowish and bulged unhealthily; one was cocked permanently to the far left. I tried not to appear shocked by his condition, but I am a lousy actress. Nevertheless, he chatted amiably with a smooth graciousness that only Christopher Walken should be able to pull off. I admired his affable attitude made a mental note to send him a card.
After another ten minutes passed, our neighbor Mr. D entered with his wife. She looked very unwell and in considerable pain. Although the couple recognized me, they immediately avoided eye contact. I took the hint and remained silent, but I felt sorry for them, both for being there and for feeling the need to avoid me. Mom and I continued to chat and make jokes, being occasionally joined by Mr. Crowe and his wife. Some of the other patrons smiled at our hilarity. I wondered how many people we annoyed. When they finally called Mr. Crowe, he came over to shake hands with us before he left. What a cool guy.
When it was my turn, Dr. Rubble gave me a thorough inspection and answered my neurotic questions (yes, you can take Ibuprofen, use any brand of Q-tip, and of course, your antibiotic and pain meds are compatible with breastfeeding, etc.). He pronounced me well, reminded me to shower and Q-tip clean and said he’d see me next Friday. On the way out, I gave the lone Mr. D a nod and sympathetic smile, which he grimly returned.
I went in for surgery today at 12:30 p.m., twelve hours after learning that internet surfing at light speed under the influence of Tylenol 3 makes me barf, big time. I spent the rest of the night worrying about dying from my infection before surgery (think Jim Henson) or dying during surgery (think my grandpa) or waking up in recovery without a left breast (think neighbor lady).
Around two in the morning, pain woke me. My giant red lump birthed a purplish center. Since I still had no fever, I called our nurse hotline and chatted with Barry, who assured me I would not die–abscesses sometimes develop purple centers. He told me to truck down to the emergency room if I developed a fever or red streaks (which I knew since I googled my condition for days). Overall, he was sweet and reassuring; I felt relieved. Mwah! Big kiss to Barry.
How ironic that someone who worries so much over her health was taken by surprise and wound up needing surgery. Someone should have told me to see the doctor if a milk duct is plugged for over three days. I also should have pestered the radiologist sooner. Waiting the extra day and a half for surgery allowed my abscess to triple in size–the difference between a needle in a doctor’s office and general anesthesia in the hospital. Well, I survived the ordeal and cataloged it for you below.
9:00 I arrived at Dr. Rubble’s office. When she saw my abscess, the nurse gasped. Tight-lipped, she dabbed topical pain relief lotion on it. I laughed. “I don’t think that will help.” Frowning in concern, she told me the doctor would be in to lance the abscess shortly. I
9:15 Dr. Rubble entered, examined my abscess dispassionately, and glared at the nurse over the numbing lotion. He told her to schedule me for general anesthesia and an Incision and Drainage at noon today. I expected this. I requested an IV from Dr. Rubble since I feel so dehydrated from last night’s puking festival.
10:45 At the hospital with Egor, an IV sloshed glucose, electrolytes, and water into my system. Relief! A loquacious Asian nurse made me comfortable and discussed Asian culture with me until her lunchtime. I appreciated the distraction.
11:00 Mom and her backpack arrived. She left in an hour to relieve Tanya, who babysat Liev.
11:15 I am grateful I brought my breast pump since one is not readily available. I pumped for a half an hour and worried about general anesthesia while E tried to stay awake. The abscess agonized me, and I could take no meds for it.
11:45 The anesthesiologist arrived. Short, swarthy, and Boo Radley-like, his inscrutable dry sense of humor was a treat. To prevent another barf-fest he orders medication to prevent nausea. Oddly enough, the anti-nausea drug nauseates me. The pink puke cup is my friend!
12:00 The chatty nurse told me Dr. Rubble would arrive shortly. In sotto voce, she explained he is running late.
12:30 The nurse administered happy meds. I’d be sillier if I weren’t so groggy. Pain decreases, yay!
12:45 Dr. Rubble arrived, and staff whisked me off to the operating chamber. I semi-hallucinated that I was a patient on House M.D. as they placed a mask on me. Loads of laughter then lights out.
1:?? I awakened in recovery, still believing I was in the operating room before surgery. During the fog, I tried to make jokes for Dr. House but no one grasped how hilarious I was. Egor arrived. Dr. Rubble gives me detailed instructions related to wound care. I managed not to laugh, despite his voice sounding like Barney Rubble from the Flintstones. I repeated everything back to him without a single snicker. He prescribed Oxycodone. The next hour vanished.
3:30 On the way home, lack of pain meds kicked in. Every bump ached like stabbing spears, waves of nausea pounded. I cursed and whined at E in a never-ending stream. His solution was to drive faster increasing my agony. Escorting me to the couch, he disappeared to Walgreens to drop off prescriptions. At home, Mom listened patiently as I blathered on endlessly. Must have been the drugs left in my system!
4:00 I called Pat to let her know I survived the surgery (she told me I would) and to beg her to stop by with some trashy mags after work. Tanya naps and Mom continued to tolerate my rambling.
After the pain meds kick in: Pat arrives with a super-sweet Halloween ghost-bag full of goodies: The Enquirer, Star, Sun, The Globe, Weekly WorldNews (“Alien Mummy Goes on Rampage,” YAY!), Acoustic Guitar Magazine (for E), chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, and my favorite kitsch candy–a Christopher’s Big Cherry! Pat takes over for Mom in listening to me prattle on, even giving me a foot massage! Friends and Family rule!
My breast ultrasound took place early this morning, so I spent the rest of the day twiddling my thumbs, waiting for results. Fortunately, the cool US tech girl gave me a heads up on the radiologist’s propensity to drag his feet on sending reports. I spent an hour on the phone harassing various agencies to get my results sent to my doctor’s office. Lucky me.
Almost ten minutes to the second after my final phone call, a Dr. Rubble calls me. I have no idea who he is, but he will be my surgeon tomorrow! I have a serious breast abscess. I need surgery. Would I like to come in tonight? Perhaps tomorrow would be better since I need to be without food for at least six hours to avoid aspirating my meal and dying a horrible death?
A nine o’clock appointment with Dr. Rubble is scheduled for tomorrow. The evening passes with about five more phone calls to prepare me for tomorrow’s procedure, including a call from Sarah Seamstress for stronger pain meds (codeine). I make a few more phone calls to my Mommy (Wah! Poor me!) and to Pat (Wah! Am I going to die?). Damn, I was hoping to avoid all this.
Today was a day from hell. Despite a night of little sleep due to breast pain, I woke up at 2:00 am to take Liev for the remainder of the night. Twenty minutes into my shift, I felt very unwell and achy–still no fever. Alarmed, I woke up Egor to finish my shift. I felt terrible. At dawn, I’d call Gretta Granola for an appointment. I’d also reschedule Liev’s two-month shots today since Egor did not want to miss work to take him. Dr. Settles would not reschedule me, and Gretta said she’d see me at 2:00.
I made Liev’s appointment with E in attendance. We were stuck watching a video on immunizations, and I asked the nurse to skip it so we could make my 2:00 appointment with Gretta. It was a last-minute circus since Liev was fussy/crying after his shots, and E wanted to take him straight home, and I needed to go straight to my appointment since I was miserable. I wound up meeting Mom in the parking lot. We raced across town to dash into the doctor’s office at 2:01, only to find that Gretta had called. She was delayed in traffic.
When I showed her my poor swollen breast, she gasped and called the doctor who immediately wrote a prescription for strong antibiotics and a slip for an ultrasound at the hospital (the ultrasound will rule out a condition called a galactocele). I also received a prescription for yet another breast ointment, and the doctor dismissed my primary physician’s concerns over being allergic to Liev’s saliva. When I went to the hospital for my ultrasound, I spent an hour struggling with the medical staff over scheduling concerns. One simply doesn’t request a walk-in for a breast ultrasound. After much aggravation and four phone calls to the doctor’s office, they scheduled me for an appointment first thing tomorrow–much better than late Wednesday afternoon!
I’ve spent the balance of the afternoon distracting myself on google, looking up “galactocele,” and praying that I don’t have to go in for surgery to have my breast drained. Surgery horrifies me, especially since I squick out easily. I’d have to hire someone to care for my healing wound, I swear! Fortunately, surgery is uncommon, and I haven’t had a fever so that it might go away with antibiotics. I do curse myself for not calling Gretta on Friday. I thought this would go away with heating pads and massage.