I was up at 4:30am this morning and grabbed my phone to check today’s weather, email, Facebook, Instagram, CBC, weekly postsecret (my fav)…and so on. I know I shouldn’t do this because it stimulates the senses which makes it harder to fall back asleep. Oh well. That’s been my story lately, I can’t sleep…urg! But what I did discover while surfing the web (do people still use this term?) through the endless useless information I discovered something mind blowing – Jeremy Bieber (Justin Bieber’s father) is two years younger than me. Wow. I’m always amazed when I learn the age of someone knowing I’m OLDER. As you age, you come to realize that the mirror doesn’t match the inside. Meaning, I feel so much younger than my physical outer shell.
Two weeks ago today I was wheeled into the operating room to have breast implants inserted into my body. These implants were being swapped with the temporary tissue expanders (pet rocks is the term used by the plastic surgeon, I called them baseballs!), that were initially inserted while having a double mastectomy in December 2013.
I had a few conversations that day in hospital, but I’ll give you the highlights. The first one was with my superstar plastic surgeon Dr. Kirsty Boyd (younger than me) who came in 15 minutes before I was taken to the O.R. area.
PS: Hi Simone. I have with me today Dr.? He is my senior resident. The surgery today will be nothing like the last time. Way way easier. You will however have to wear a bra for 2 weeks straight afterwards.
Side note: What I already burnt all mine! I haven’t worn a bra since I healed from the double mastectomy about 15 months ago. Silver lining of sexy breast cancer!
(As she pulls out the sharpie to draw on my chest and baseballs, she is instructing the resident)
PS: I want her to have cleavage. We need to bring this one up to match the left. Here, here, and there. (like Cinderella’s fairy god mother with her wand turning a pumpkin into a carriage, maybe the drugs made me see magic fairy dust flying around the sharpie)
*omg I feel like I’m on an episode of Nip/Tuk!
Me: I picked out the implants that I want but whatever you think is best is fine with me. I trust your judgement.
PS: Great. Do you have any questions?
Me: Yes. What if you open me up and see cancer? And, I’m nervous about dying on the table….
PS: If I see something suspicious I will take a piece out to be sent to pathology to be analyzed. Also, you have a very low chance of dying during surgery.
Me: Ok see you soon.
Then I was wheeled to the O.R. section by the nice porter. You don’t go directly in, you wait outside the room and a nurse followed by the anesthesiologist comes over to chat.
A: Hi my name is Dr. I have a sense of humour. How are you today?
Me: Good good
*he proceeds to ask a few questions and explain risks
A: Do you have any questions?
Me: Yes. I’m scared of dying on the table.
A: Why would you say that?
Me: Well, Elizabeth Taylor said she almost died while under general anaesthesia and met with her already dead true love Michael Todd who pushed her back to life… so…..
A: Oh ya, I didn’t know that?! Well your chances are minimal. But as soon as you’re asleep in there I’m going to Wikipedia about Elizabeth Taylor’s out of body experience.
Me: Please do it’s fascinating! K see you in there, thank you (my life is in your hands, wink)
Oh and ps don’t be checking the Internet when I’m under please and thank you! He obviously had been joking with me and had a great sense of humour, refreshing.
I was brought into what felt like a large industrial sized refrigerator. My lord it was cold. The room was a hazy shade of grey and very serene/mellow. About 10 people buzzing around in scrubs, hair nets and masks waiting to be adjusted for mouth and nose protection, laying out the tools and doing last minute checks. They don’t really look at you or make eye contact, only a select few will engage – my plastic surgeon, the cool anesthesiologist…and nurse who chatted with me outside the room. There was one guy who caught my attention. I recognized him from my last surgery. I remembered him passing me in the hall because he is really well built and has both arms covered in tattoos, so he stood out amongst the others. I remember wondering if he would be in my O.R. again and he was. Who are you? What is your role in there? I need to know, why I want to know I have no idea except it’s the inspector gadget in me. Weird. For me, once I’d gotten to the O.R. I had already been given some relaxants so all seemed so surreal yet amplified at the same time. It’s hard to explain. God I envy the staff though. So cool to watch someone being sliced open. I wonder if they grade how great their day was or will be based on the cases they witness. I would. I mean at my work when we get a new communal water cooler, kettle or toaster it’s like Christmas. So imagine a cool new operation?! Lunch chatter would definitely be elevated. Anyway, I don’t think implants get them excited at all.
I was instructed to slide onto the slim metal elongated operating table and put my arms out. As I was laying there staring at the 6 large lamps that will be illuminated once I’m put out, I was calm. I could go on and on about details of the room’s atmosphere, the emotions I felt, and everything that happens in the few moments before they put you out – but I will say this…. it happened again and I didn’t even make a request. The sweet nurse held my hand, smiled and comforted me. I will repeat – medical and nursing school 101 – this small gesture was EVERTHING to me. You could potentially be heading towards your grave. It’s not like I’m bungee jumping or skydiving. I didn’t choose this. I can’t tell you enough how this small comforting gesture is a game changer for a patient. Again, not everybody needs or would appreciate this, but at least ask us. We are all human and need each other. In my opinion, the two vital attributes that separates a great doctor vs a crappy one are – competency and bed side manner. Amen.