I made it through the port placement, but no part of it was fun. I couldn’t get comfortable enough to sleep well last night, and this morning it feels like someone slugged me hard in the tender area between my right collar bone and shoulder. There’s a dressing over the incision, but I can see that the area all around it is becoming black and blue. Raising my right arm too much pulls on the bandage, so I’m moving about like I have a broken wing to protect.
Yesterday was one of the few times when, no matter what I tried, I just could not get myself to calm down. No amount of breathing exercises, prayers or visualizations seemed to help. Each of the health care workers I met offered reassurances that everything would be fine, but the anxiety just kept building as we went along. When they put me on the table in the procedure room and began covering me up with that blue surgical paper – including tenting my head so I couldn’t see anything – I really started to panic.
They were aiming for “conscious sedation” so they kept me alert right up until the doctor was about to make the incision. The nurse gave me something in my IV to relax me, but I was still crying and trembling when they began cutting. I heard her say, “I’m giving you some more medication” and I finally became drowsy enough to not care about the pressure and tugging going on at the right side of my chest. I heard the doctor say, “we’re halfway through,” and I remember thinking, “please hurry.” I was becoming more alert again as the nurse was stitching up the incision. I could hear her making the quiet sounds of slight frustration as she sewed, but finally I heard her mutter, “There!”
Tasya was waiting for me with a smile when they wheeled me back to the recovery room. Half an hour later, I was dressed and walking out of the hospital holding onto her arm. (It’s pretty shocking how fast they’ll discharge you if you can convincingly say, “Really, I’m fine.”) We stopped at Backstreet Bistro to get my favorite Hungarian Mushroom Soup to take home. The man behind the counter, whom I’ve seen many times before, looked at me and asked if I was alright. I’d managed to get passed the recovery nurse, but my post-procedure zombie look wasn’t fooling the guy at the restaurant.
I climbed into bed right after the last spoonful of soup. The right side of my chest felt very heavy. I slept for quite a while, but awoke feeling pretty sorry for myself and had a good cry. I think it’s finally dawning on me that this tube in my chest is really just the beginning of a long, challenging road.