Sunday, September 1, 2013

Axillary Lymph Node Dissection Surgery

I can't believe it's been almost THREE weeks since my lymph node removal surgery, but the time has been filled with anywhere from three to five doctors appointments a week and the beginning of my fertility treatments....which is hectic, stressful and exhausting.

After my double mastectomy, pathology had found .04 cm of cancer in one of the four lymph nodes that were removed. Not long after that was determined, my surgeon had recommended to have the remaining lymph nodes removed from my right side under my arm.  I agreed. 

My surgeon also informed me that the Radiologist did not recommend radiation, mainly due to the fact that they can't do it with my expander in-but they would know more definitively once the remaining lymph nodes were removed. (Which I was happy because I'm not a fan of radiation).

I was healing really well and getting more range of motion in both my right and left arms after my mastectomy surgery, which was making me feel really good.  I still couldn't over extend myself or do all that exercising that I don't do anyways, so I was fine with that, but every day I was making progress.

The night before my surgery I was looking online to figure out the process for this surgery.  Most importantly I wanted to find any photos of where the incision was going to be and all I could find was pictures of people with severe lymphedema, which kind of worried me.

My surgery was scheduled for August 13th, 2013.  We got to the hospital at 11:00AM, surgery was scheduled for 1:00PM.  I wasn't nervous like my previous surgery, I almost welcomed the surgery knowing I was one more hurdle closer to being done.

After checking in, changing into the very stylish gown they give you, I waited and waited until the anesthesiologist came in and started giving me my IV and my anti nausea patch (since I was so sick after my previous surgery). 

auxillary lymph node dissection surgery, breast cancer, double mastectomy, nausea patch, surgery drain

I only started tearing up a little before my surgery but it was not nearly as much and it was the only time I cried that day.  Again, after being put under, and what felt like five minutes later (actually 2 1/2 hours later) I was awake in post-op and feeling WAY more pain then I did in my mastectomy surgery.  A nurse came over to check on me and told me that I was on morphine, which did nothing for me, so they switched up my meds and brought me into my room.

It felt so good to see Chad and the rest of my family again.  This time around, although my surgery was shorter then the other surgery, I felt absolutely no nausea and was able to eat, which was definitely a total 180 from my last surgery!

auxillary lymph node dissection surgery, breast cancer, double mastectomy, nausea patch, surgery drain

auxillary lymph node dissection surgery, breast cancer, double mastectomy, nausea patch

A few hours later, after eating some food and relaxing a bit, the hubs managed to help me see what the incision looked like and I was pleasantly surprised... 

auxillary lymph node dissection surgery, breast cancer, double mastectomy, nausea patch
The only thing I was bummed about was the fact that I had another drain....

auxillary lymph node dissection surgery, breast cancer, double mastectomy, nausea patch, drains

auxillary lymph node dissection surgery, breast cancer, double mastectomy, nausea patch, surgery drain

But the drain was only in for six days and wasn't very uncomfortable... so I can't complain.

The one thing I LOVED about my surgeries was the "bronzer" that I got complimentary....

auxillary lymph node dissection surgery, breast cancer, double mastectomy, nausea patch, surgery drain

Dr. Kepple said that she would be sending any lymph nodes she removed to pathology and they would be contacting me either later that week or early the following week with the results.

The following weekend the hubs and I were on our way up north with my mom when I got a phone call from the hospital.  My favorite nurse ever, Judy, called and said they got the results back from pathology and there were two important things she had to tell me:

1. They removed 22 lymph nodes.
2. They found NO CANCER in any of them.

YEE HAW!!!!!

That was the greatest news ever and we were ALL able to actually breath again.  Hearing that news made that trip up north SO much more better and we celebrated!

One upper and one downer to my surgery.  The upper: The extreme burning sensation I was feeling on my right side from my expander went away since I was numb on that side.  The downer: I found that my mobility is EXTREMELY limited on my right side.  I had issues putting my hair up, which left me with no option but to have Chad try to put my hair up, which was interesting...needless to say.

With my lymph nodes removed I do run the risk of lymphedema in that arm, which will be something I will have to work on for the rest of my life. (I'll take that and have peace of mind rather then always wondering if there is any rogue cancer cells hanging out).  I also can't shave under my arm pit, which looked lovely after a few days, but now I have to use an electric razor which makes things go a little faster.  I do run a higher risk of infection on that side, so I have to be careful when gardening or using sharp knives or scissors.  I was also told that I have to be careful with water temperature because of inflammation.  I love, love, love hot showers, so that has been a little hard for me to work on, but I'm managing.

Now, three weeks after I'm still really limited on my right side and my right arm is half numb still.  In the middle area of my arm where I have half the feeling back it is EXTREMELY sensitive to touch or leather.  If either touch it, it feels as if pins and needles are being jammed into my arm.  My mobility is about half back, but I can't lift my arm up more then half way without it feeling like my arm is going to fall off.  I've been going to physical therapy, which has helped out tremendously and I have a ton more appointments to go to so I can get back to 100%.  The one thing that I am SO happy about with this surgery was that the lymph node removal also removed my fat roll in front of my armpit... (I'm trying to see the glass half full humor me)

Right now I'm an emotional, exhausted mess growing 16ish + eggs for my fertility treatments before chemo, but I found out today that I can now add another medication to my routine, which is great because that means I'm one step closer to this being all done and I will probably have the retrieval scheduled for later this week.  (THANK GOD)!!!!!  I'll be working on a post about all of the fertility stuff that Chad and I have had to do this week...

As of right now I have my port scheduled to be installed on the 17th of September, I'm shaving my head for chemo on the 21st and I start chemotherapy on the 24th!!!! Bring it on!

I hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend! The hubs and I spent it riding on our Harley and enjoying the Harley 110th Anniversary part-ay!

1 comment:

  1. Those drains are uncomfortable Emily and I'm glad to hear that things are moving forward for you let alone recovery days be pain free as possible. One of my girl friends had a hip surgery recently after weeks of soul searching and pondering thanks to the mounting depuy asr lawsuit from patients whose units had failed on them. No doubt, it's becoming difficult to decide these days, which ones to believe or not. But I'm not going to spoil your recovery days with my bad news. Wishing you well!