Maxitrectomy – I Did It

I did it! I went ahead and booked an appointment with the podiatrist for the maxitrectomy on both big toenails. The chemo drugs did such a number on the two big toenails and they weren’t growing in nicely. Plus they were uncomfortable.

This is my before the procedure picture. When my granddaughter asked me what was wrong with my toenails, I told her it was from some of the drugs I had to take for my cancer. After that, I never wore sandals again.

I was told the maxitrectomy is to remove the entire toenail and there is a 90% success rate that the toenail will not grow back. The doctor kept asking, are you sure you want to do this? I kept saying yes, I want them gone. The nurse suddenly turned and looked at the doctor with wide eyes and gasped. I asked her, what is wrong? Especially when the doctor kept saying I would be sore. The nurse laughed and told me that she thought I meant to have all of my toenails removed. No. That was not happening. Just the two big toenails.

The doctor went ahead and sprayed my toes with a very cold numbing spray then injected both big toes with an anesthetic. The needles hurt a little. But it was not bad. They left for a few minutes to let the anesthetic settle in. I asked to be lying prone as I did not want to watch the procedure. As long as I don’t see it, I am fine.

The doctor came back. Pulled off the gross toenails, which I did not feel. Then all I felt was some pressure as he applied a chemical to the nail bed. The chemical would eat away the source of where the nail grows from. This did not hurt either. Then both the doctor and the nurse applied gauze and bandages. They ran out of blue and I asked for purple. So one blue toe and one purple.

The nurse gave me detailed instructions on the care of my toes and I was good to go. The actual procedure took, maybe, five minutes. Absolutely no pain. Just tingling from my neuropathy. I made a two week follow up visit and walked out. Drove home. By myself. 

I was a little apprehensive the next morning before my shower about taking off the bandages. I wondered what kind of grossness would be waiting for me. Slowly, slowly took off the bandages. I was surprised. Not too bad. It looks like I painted my toenails red. The redness will disappear after a while and I was told that some oozing should be there for a few days.

Took my shower and let the water drizzle on my toes. Didn’t hurt. Dried off then sprayed the toes with the cleaning agent I was given. Didn’t hurt. Put the ointment on that I was given. That didn’t hurt either. It didn’t totally gross me out either. Walked around and there was no discomfort. With the neuropathy I just have a constant tingling feeling in my toes. They are on the numb side but nothing terrible. Not sure where all the soreness was or if it would begin.

Being impressed with myself, I took the above pictures, I sent them to my kids. My daughter-in-law has a total phobia against feet so I knew I would be reprimanded for sending her the pictures. My son and oldest daughter both reacted with, Gee thanks, Mom! So gross. My youngest daughter, who is in a nursing program said, I’ve seen worse. Feeling a little satisfied, I am still waiting for the soreness to happen. Nothing.

Through all of this, before the doctor did the procedure and he kept asking if I was sure and that it would be sore, I told him with everything I had already been through this would be a piece of cake. He agreed with me.

I still consider myself so lucky. I have gone through a lot. But when I think of every other cancer patient, I am lucky. I thank all my friends who prayed for me. Most of all, I am lucky to have a Father who loves me and is there for me. I have a plaque that says, Lord help me to remember that nothing is going to happen to me today that you and I together can’t handle. Amen.


Lumpectomy – My Cancer Journey

Is there anyone who looks forward to surgery? I am such a lightweight when it comes to medications. The slightest dose and I am done.

I was disappointed with Bill from the night before. He fell asleep on the couch. I needed his arms around me, holding me during the night. But I didn’t verbalize that, merely wished it and when it didn’t happen, I was disappointed.

We arrived at the hospital on time. Registered and then I was called in. Bill was instructed to wait until I was settled. I had been informed the week before that I would be receiving the wire the day of the surgery, not the seed. Bill was ushered in after the nurse had taken my vitals and I had changed into the hospital gown.

I was then taken to radiology where they would do another ultrasound to pinpoint the precise location of the tumor and insert the wire. Bill had to remain behind. The doctor arrived to insert the wire. The doctor said the area would be numbed prior to the insertion of the wire. She said it would be like a bee sting. It was. It startled me because, even though the doctor said, I am giving you the needle, I jumped. I think it had something to do with my nerves. The wire was inserted.

This procedure is done when the tumor is small. My tumor was 1.5 cm. The wire would give the exact location of the tumor to help my surgeon find it. Wire was left protruding out. The technician came and put a clean urine sample bottle over the wire. This was so that I wouldn’t bump the ends and inadvertently pull out the wire. The bottle was taped down to my breast. I was really tempted to take a picture of this to send to my children but I think they were already pretty upset. They didn’t need to be permanently traumatized by seeing their mother’s breast with a urine bottle taped to it. Madonna, move over!

I was wheeled back to my pre surgery bed. My surgeon came next and told me what to expect after the surgery. I don’t think I really heard everything. Okay, all I heard was that I was healthy and I would come out of it great.

My anesthesiologist came next. Dr. Doolittle. How cool is that? I was tempted to ask him if he talked to animals but figured with me there, that was close enough. I told him I vomit easily. He looked at my throat and my charts and said, I will take care of that. Not to worry. He then clapped his hands (really) and said, great. You are healthy and young. You will be fine. I tried to breathe evenly.

Soon enough, they came to wheel me away. I really appreciate how you are very aware of your surroundings one minute and then you are gone. And the next thing you remember is being told to wake up. The nurse got a little annoyed when I said I don’t want to.

I did not want to wake up and see half my boob gone. I did not want to wake up and feel like I wanted to throw up. I did not want to wake up and see one hill rather than two where my left breast used to be. I just did not want to wake up. But when the nurse said, rather sharply like my mother could, Sylvia, you need to wake up, very reluctantly and very slowly did I open my eyes and told her that I am awake.

I looked up at the ceiling. I did not want to look anywhere else. I looked at the nurse and then the ceiling. That was it. The nurse checked me over and I don’t really remember everything that she did, I was so busy avoiding looking at my body. But I was finally wheeled to where Bill could sit with me until I was discharged.

The nurse there checked me over and gave me time before she said I would need to use the restroom and then I could get dressed. I was feeling pretty good. Whatever Dr. Doolittle had given me left me with no nausea, merely a happy tired feeling. I told the nurse I could probably use the restrooem.

I toddled off to the restroom and did what the nurse asked. When I got up to flush the toilet, I was shocked to see the toilet bowl filled with blue. I walked out of the restroom and with a frown, told the nurse that my pee was blue. She said good. That I would have blue pee for a number of days. It was from the radioactive dye they inserted into my lymph nodes to test for cancer. Apparently, the surgeon removed 4 lymph nodes.

Then I was told to get dressed and I was forced to look at my chest. I couldn’t see much as it was all padded with surgical pads and tape. I was told I had to keep everything dry and the padding couldn’t come off for two days. My surgeon would see me in one week. When I looked, it appeared as if my left breast was still there, for the most part.

None of it hurt. I was just tired and wanted to go home and go to bed. I went to sleep the rest of the day away.

Probe – err – Port Placement – My Cancer Journey

I was nervous about having something foreign put into my body. It’ll be great – I was told. You will love it – I was told. I was not sure about this. I felt like aliens would be putting a probe into me with a tracking device.

Bill’s sister, Susan, took us to the hospital early that day. Bill was still on brain rest and could not drive. He was still suffering from dizzy spells. Don’t we make a pair? She dropped us off and we went in to the hospital. We did not have to wait long and I was taken to a bed to get into a hospital gown.

Bill was given a not very comfortable chair to sit in. I was hoping he would have something more comfortable so that he could sleep while he was waiting for me. But, Bill can pretty much sleep anywhere.

I was, again, given an iv. I think I am starting to feel like a pin cushion now but this nurse inserted the needle so beautifully, that I did not even feel it. It was wonderful. The nurses I had today asked which side the lumpectomy was done on and were very good about doing everything on the right. One of the nurses placed sticky pads on my back. Both nurses noticed my butterfly tattoo on my back and asked about the ball and chain. I told them the butterfly breaking free of the ball and chain was in celebration of my divorce. Both nurses laughed and were complimentary of my tattoo. I told them I was thinking of getting a tattoo once my chemo and radiation treatments were  done to represent me being a breast cancer survivor.

I was reminded that I would be sedated today. I told them I would be asleep. They asked about anti nausea medication and I told them I would probably be nauseous. I was given more medication and then told I would be sleepy. I do remember being wheeled away for the procedure. I do remember scooting over to the operating table. I do remember seeing two men who said they would be taking care of me and putting the probe, I mean, port into me. Then I do not remember anything else.

I was back with Bill. He kept telling me to drink the water and eat the crackers. There was a table in front of me with the items and I said, okay. I drank some water, ate some crackers and said to Bill, I am going back to sleep. He said to me, oh no you don’t. You need to stay awake now. I told him I don’t want to. I want to sleep. He got a little anxious with me and told me I needed to finish off the water and crackers and get dressed. Apparently, when the nurses first wheeled me back and told me to wake up, I just laughed at them. As I kept sleeping, they were getting concerned and thinking about admitting me to the hospital.

Well, I managed to finish the water and crackers and got myself dressed. I did say to Bill, are you happy? But then I do not remember at all how I got to the car. Joe, Mary’s husband, picked us up at the hospital. I just remember climbing into the back of his car, buckling myself in and saying to both Bill and Joe, I am going back to sleep. I managed to lie down on the back seat and promptly fell asleep.

Joe tried to help me out of the car when we got home and I told him, I’m okay. I managed to walk into our bedroom, got into my pajamas and crawled into bed. I had the best sleep and finally struggled out of bed at 6pm. The procedure had been done at 8am that morning. So what is wrong with just sleeping away the entire day?

I cuddled with Bill on the couch. There was a large plastic see-through bandage covering the port. I also had an incision close to my neck. My neck hurt and was strained. I think the doctor turned my head in such a way during the procedure to be able to get good access at my throat to place the tube. At any rate, my neck was stiff and sore for a good five days after the placement.

Bill was told that I could not shower for 48 hours. The bandage could not get wet. But after the 48 hours, I could shower and remove the bandage. The steri strips covering the port needed to stay on for at least five days. When Bill removed the bandage, I had two areas around the bandage that were red and very sore. Poor Bill had to take care of my lumpectomy incision and now this area. Both areas grossed me out but I did manage to put Neosporin on the sore bandage areas. I thought my skin was allergic to the bandage. Bill thought it was from the tension due to how tightly the bandage was put on to cover the area.

I was getting that much closer to the chemotherapy treatments. I still had an appointment with my surgeon in regards to the lumpectomy incision. It would be her decision if I could proceed with the chemo.