Tuesday’s surgery was followed by a “procedure” on Thursday. This time they stuck a needle in the starfish and left a marker there. This is a little electronic marker/reflector that beeps when the surgeon gets close with her Geiger counter thing. The idea is that Dr Surgeon can use the marker to still find the place where the starfish was, even after it has been fried to kingdom come by chemo.
They make a small incision (mine is maybe 1/3 inch), poke in some lidocaine (which burns initially a little bit – not too bad in comparison to the kinds of pain we have all felt in our lives), then you feel the pressure of them pushing the needle into place – which sounds like it would hurt – but actually doesn’t. I was able to watch the screen and could see the whole thing. It sounds much worse than it is. It takes maybe 4 minutes tops, and there isn’t much pain either during the thing or afterward. They’ll test the thing to make sure it’s working and you’ll hear the noise it sets off.
This procedure involves less pain and less time than a biopsy, and less bruising afterward. They mop up the blood (KIDDING) they put pressure on the spot until the bleeding stops and then glue you back together with a steri-strip.
Unfortunately, in this particular case, Dr Radiology was MIA. So the tech put me on my side resting on that newly installed chemo port, and then back a bit in a position uncomfortable for my newly de-lymph-noded left arm. It was the pits! (Who doesn’t love a good arm pit pun?!) This was the position I was to hold, and I tried for a while then gave up and got a little more comfy. But Dr Radiology was MIA for a long time while we all (two techs and me) waited.
I’m always cold when I’m nervous, and this particular office has a huge air conditioning vent right above the table where I was, gel on my skin from the ultrasound. #brrr I was getting colder and colder as the time passed waiting for Dr Radiology. The appointment was at 2 and we got out after 4, so I was there a while but I had no concept of time, just the cold and the aches from surgery/uncomfortable position.
As soon as it was over they let my Austrian in and I was soooo glad to see him!! My body trembled with massive shivers as I leaned into my warm man. It took me a bit to get my feet under me and they brought me a warm blanket, which restored my soul. #kindness
Then you’ll be whisked off for another mammogram to confirm the marker is in the right place. Nobody ever mentions that there is a mammogram afterward, and I can tell you that those things vary greatly by who is doing them, but it’s over super quick. I like to know what to expect. I realize not everyone is like that, but I don’t like surprises.
So, lesson of the day… you’ll be in useless hospital garment from the waist up. Wear super comfortable and cozy pants and shoes, the warmest thing you have. I doubt they will have to search the Arctic circle to find your Dr Radiology, so you could be in and out as quickly as 15 minutes. Aside from the wait, it is not a difficult or painful procedure itself. I was able to do a little shopping and dinner afterward.
Stepping outside into a beautiful warm afternoon was absolutely restorative. Opening the car door and sitting in the warmth felt like heaven. I had to wonder if God made that beautiful vivid blue sky and unseasonably warm February day just for me. #fingerprintsofgod
What I wish someone had told me: If you are going for a marker placement, they will show you the position you need to be in. Then relax. You can return to position as soon as Dr Radiology is in the room. Don’t feel like you have to hold it if the Doc doesn’t show up right away. I hope you don’t have to wait like I did, and since efficiency is the name of the game in those places where they move you through like penguins, my experience was most likely a fluke. (But flukes happen – dress warm!) Relax, and when the Doc shows up, move back into position. It’ll be over soon. Remember, the dread of pain for a procedure like this one is worse than the pain, so try not to lean into the dread too much, ok? I know it’s difficult, it’s ok to not be ok.
Sending you love on your healing journey. May you sense the nearness of Jesus as you heal – spirit, soul, and body.
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