Staci and I made our way up to the 3rd Floor for check in. Walking past the Starbucks stand where the gal makes the most amazing, dark brew coffee almost killed me. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t open yet. I knew the potential of that stand and I knew that I wouldn’t be having any coffee until much much later in the day. I hoped I wouldn’t get a caffeine withdrawal headache. Then I would have to admit that I was actually addicted to it.
We got lead to preop and I got to put on the gown (opening to the back). It was a funny little gown with a slit in the front covered with a pocket. “For a cell phone,” I asked. Nope, EKG electrodes. Too bad. Staci and I figured it would be a great spot for a phone and ear buds. They let me keep my sports leggings and socks on so I was happy especially since I would spend the next few hours being wheeled all over the VA and OHSU. My throne arrived and off I went being pushed by a former Atlantic fleet Machinist Mate from the south with a long gray pony tail and a penchant for trying to push the chair and walk beside me at the same time so he could talk. We had to go all the way across the skybridge to OHSU’s breast cancer unit and it felt like we went 5 miles. I had my nice warm blanket on my lap and I was super happy for it because it almost became a security blanket for me throughout the day. I felt so exposed being wheeled around. I wanted to pull it up over my head.
Once at OHSU, Staci went to go get much needed breakfast. She also went to go get some coffee that she wouldn’t have to drink in front of me. There was worry that I was going to leap out of my chair every time we passed a coffee shop in the hospital. I contemplated mugging the woman who got in the elevator with us but she admitted to only drinking tea. At OHSU, I left my chair and laid on the couch with my blanket wrapped around me and my crabby socks reading one of the celebrity mags Staci was wise enough to bring for me. After all, who can think about the fact they are about to slice me open when I need to worry about Ben Afflect’s new love and Angelina Jolie’s custody battle? At OHSU, they used an ultrasound to put in a wire locator. It was very obvious that the doctor and the ultrasound tech didn’t get along. I almost asked if they would like a mediator to work through their issues, but thought better of it. Holli, the RN was super sweet and laughed a lot. She told me I was super cute. Everybody loved my socks. I got the wire lead put in and she gave me an extra dose of lidocaine when I asked her if it would eventually stop stinging. A blue dye was put in to help locate the lymph nodes and that’s what hurt. I would be really grateful for that extra dose later as things got backed up due to the Nuclear Medicine Doctor’s concern about my girl status.
With a beautifully taped wire protruding from me, I was wheeled over to Nuclear Medicine for my atomic gamma injection. Wheeled into the room by a super nice tech named Jim, I was greeted by another giant machine that looked like an MRI. It had the tray you lie in and the giant wheel. Jim asked if I wanted a woman in the room and I declined. Then Doctor Lee came in. He looked at me and looked at my chart then looked at me then said, “Where’s her pregnancy test? Where are the results?” I must have just screamed fertile to him. I told him I had just had one yesterday in Eugene and there was one on file from the 21st, but apparently Eugene VA and Portland VA don’t have synced computers. He adamantly refused to work on me until he had one in his hand. So, off Jim and I went to the lab where I happily peed in a cup once more. Then, we waited…and waited…and waited. I could have gone to Walgreens, bought a kit, peed on the stick and had my results ten times by the time the lab finished with mine. Jim apologized and said it could take an hour. So, I sat in my chair in the waiting room of nuclear medicine happy that I wasn’t any of the other very miserable people waiting too. I eventually curled up in my chair, pulled my blanket up and fell asleep for a bit. Jim came back. I looked at him and said, “I’m still not pregnant, right?” He affirmed and apologized again for the wait. I have to a say that I’m glad Dr. Lee was playing it safe. It’s always better when a doctor does that.
So, back in the room I go. Once again, Jim asked if I want a woman in the room and I say no. He also admits to me that they do very few women here. That’s comforting knowing the doctor is about to stick gamma rays into my nipple. I asked about topical numbing and the doc says they don’t use it. Again, thank you Holli for the extra at OHSU. Doc puts atomic particles in sugar water at 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock. Stung like a hornet for about 2 seconds each. Then we waited. Takes about 20 minutes for the particles to light up. Jim let me stay lying in the tray and turned the lights down for me. It was very soothing other than my boob feeling like it was the size of Manhattan. After about 15 minutes, Dr. Kwong, my surgeon, came in and we talked a bit about the procedure, pain management, and then great eateries around Portland. She highly recommended a gyro place not far from the hotel. For the five millionth time, I said my name, social security number and the procedure I was having done. She initialed where she was going to do her work and I got to rest for a bit longer.
When Jim came back in to check the dye, he put the screen right above me and I lit up like a candle. I asked for him to let me see and he did. The doctor came back and had this little rod that he put on my skin and the rays would all clump up and glow. When the rod wasn’t there, they just floated around like fire flies. I was truly atomic sparkle girl. The lymph nodes clearly showed up and we were ready to move to surgery. Dr. Kwong also warned me that I would pee bright green for a while as the rays dispelled. Jim said they have a 6 hour half life. Fascinating. I was wheeled back to pre-op and to Staci who was wondering what had taken so long.