{Survival} Halfway Out Of The Woods and Almost To The Meadow

On Tuesday I hugged my coworkers and said goodbye for a week. I must say I have some of the most thoughtful coworkers on the planet, they sent me off with an orchid. I was a little nervous about bringing home the beautiful orchid on the bus. To my surprise, the orchid and I made it home safely. The #4P was good to us on Tuesday night. Since I was under orders of no food after midnight, I decided I was going to indulge in whatever I could.

Enter Leann Chins, their house chicken and white rice hit the spot. Not to mention their cream cheese puffs, thou high in calories are absolutely amazing. I love those things. The Marine also indulged in the wonders of Leann Chins and managed to calm my fears. I had a wondrous plan of running away to Canada, it is only a 7 hour drive from Minneapolis. The Marine convinced me that I truly did need to under go surgery and it was the best thing for me. We spent the evening talking about life, the future, and he shared a few stories of his time in Iraq.

It was getting late and I needed to head home, Wednesday was going to be a big day. This wasn’t my first time going under the knife, it’s actually my fourth. That didn’t bring me any comfort and my nerves set in. I snuggled in with the muppet and his over sized cone and drifted off to sleep. The morning, if you ask me came way to early. It always seems to come quick when you have something on your calendar you do not really want to do.

The morning was gloomy and I drank as much water as I could before my 11:15am cut off time. Walked the dog, did dishes, showered, and headed out to pick up my Mama. I think she was more nervous than I was. With my Mama at my side I walked into the hospital and checked in. Removing the largest lymph node in my neck was the only option I had and it would tell us if I had cancer. My biopsy a few weeks back, showed that I had atypical B Cells, which isn’t good. I held out hope, even thou I knew the odds that it was more than likely cancer. In my heart I prayed for a different outcome, I wanted so badly in this moment for it to be a fluke and to not have to under go surgery.

Surgery went down as scheduled. I was prepped and answered the same questions over and over again. The pre-op staff was sweet, my nurse Chris calmed my fears and told me I would be all right. The surgeon came back and marked me, before I knew it I was off to the operating room. The last thing I remember is talking about an expensive spa and then I woke up in recovery. Yay, I made it through in one piece, well minus a lymph node, hell I was alive and that’s all that mattered.

I was able to go home the same day and my Mama stayed in town to take care of me. As I settled in on the couch, pizza was ordered and updates were sent out to friends. I was on the mend, the swelling in my neck wasn’t to terrible and I was getting around pretty good. Thursday the Marine came over to take my Mama back and to relieve her of her babysitting duties. Yes, I need a babysitter, otherwise I would do too much before my body was ready.

I must tell you the Marine is a pretty darn good babysitter, he made sure I napped and iced my neck. Icing my neck is an important part of my recovery. Its suppose to help the swelling in my neck. So much for ice, by Friday afternoon I knew something was off, yet I kept on icing my neck. My neck wasn’t getting smaller, it was getting larger and larger. I thought maybe I did too much and just needed to lay down. I took a lot of naps, the naps and ice were not helping. Not only was my neck the size of a small tree stump, I was starting to feel drained. I don’t remember how I fell a sleep, just that I woke up in pain on Saturday morning.

As I looked in the mirror I could not believe my own eyes. I actually walked out of the bathroom, came back looked in the mirror and walked out and repeated this about four times, before I realized that yes my neck was huge. Saturday was the day I could finally shower, I thought it might help me feel better, so I jumped in. The shower didn’t change anything, I looked closer in the mirror, my incision was a deep red and the artificial skin was bubbly. My heart sunk, I knew I was in trouble.

I searched through my pamphlet of surgery how tos and who to call. The after hours nurse put a message in to the on call Doctor and he suggested I head to the hospital. Great, just how I want to spend a lovely Saturday morning. Reluctantly I went, I kept thinking to myself that everything would be fine and I was just making a mountain out of a mole hill. I arrived and was quickly whisked back to a room. Everyone kept staring at my neck and couldn’t believe how huge it was. The ER doctor came back and said “wow, your neck is huge” and immediately started touching it. He stated that he was going to call the on call ENT Surgeon Dr. Anderson to come in and look at me. He mentioned that they may have to reopen my incision and clean it out.

I was not down with that idea and waited for Dr. Anderson to arrive. After a few hours he arrived and quickly stated “I’ve heard about your neck all morning and I just had to come in and see if for myself.” Dr. Anderson looked me over and explained that I might have an infection in the wound. He stated that they could cut open a small section of the incision to see what comes out, if nothing comes out I would be headed to the operating room to have it reopened and cleaned. I was not amused nor was I down with those options. I chose what he said was the simpler option.

He numbed my neck, which that hurt like hell and every time I flinched he apologized. We took a deep deep breath and he went to work opening part of my incision. To his surprise (I will spare you the details) a bunch of shit came out. Dr. Anderson while working away said “I am really impressed! Your body managed to grow an infection with in two days of surgery. It normally takes 5 to 7 days for an infection to take root.” I looked at him and said “yea, I am talented like that.” He kept on telling me that I was a tough cookie and that most people would have passed out by now. Or asked for localized anesthesia, I wasn’t going under and thou it sort of hurt, I knew that it had to be done.

Time stood still and he just kept on working away, running around and grabbing different things. He placed a drain in the wound to keep part of it open and explained that this will help relieve the pressure. Dr. Anderson tried to bandage me up nicely, but really there is no pretty way to bandage a neck. Necks are hard and awkward. He talked about super strong antibiotics (I would be going home with one) and memorial day weekend. Which I have no plans because I am suppose to be recovering from surgery. Dr. Anderson didn’t want to leave me and my new-found drain hanging so we agreed to meet back at the hospital on Monday for a check up. Dr. Anderson, (who was not my surgeon) takes his job very seriously and actually cares about the patients he comes in contact with. He is giving up part of his day off to drive over to the hospital to check up on me. How awesome is that? Its pretty awesome.

Dr. Anderson gave me one stitch and asked me to rest. By this time the ER was buzzing with patients and I was left waiting for my discharge paperwork. I had been there since 7:00 AM and desperately wanted to go home. I hadn’t seen a clock for hours, so I had no idea how long I had been there. I just knew it had to be forever and a day. When I was finally given the all clear it was almost 3 o’clock, 8 hours of my day was eaten up by the ER. Oh well, turns out my gut was right and I got the medical attention I needed.

I just pray that I have improved and that my incision looks better on Monday, because the reopening thing is still on the table. I don’t want to go back through surgery again nor do I want a hospital stay. I miss my coworkers and want to get back to work sooner rather than later. Amidst all of the current chaos I did get the results back on my lymph node, it came back BENIGN. So I guess fate had to trip me up somehow and decided that I would be the 1 out of 100 surgery patients to get an infection. Because things in my life could never go smoothly, complications love me.

I am halfway through the scary woods, this journey of possibly having cancer was just a bump on the trail. I am thankful that the results came back benign and well we could have skipped the infection. Because it’s not fun and I would like to walk in the flower filled meadow one day. Flower filled meadows always, always follow scary woodlands, otherwise why would we continue to walk. Most of us would give up at the first sighting of a flying monkey or crow, or angrily talking tree. The meadow makes the journey worth it and damn it I want my Meadow!

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