By Sarah Pants
In July of 2011 Sarah was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer. Scared but determined to fight Sarah uses humor to get through treatment.
I don't know what occurred in my brain that led me to believe that laparoscopic surgery would be "no big deal." I actually used those words to describe it when talking to people about my upcoming hysterectomy.
"Oh, it's all laparoscopic. It's no big deal."
I'd never had laparoscopic surgery, so I don't know where that ludicrous conclusion came from. I was completely overlooking the more important part of the phrase "laparoscopic surgery." It's surgery, and by their very nature, surgeries are a big deal.
My hysterectomy was scheduled to take place 16 days after my diagnosis. I think my doctor would have done it sooner if I'd been able to move in with my parents sooner. My nephews were still in town visiting and living in the extra bedrooms at my folks' house, and I needed a little bit of time to get my own place in order beforehand.
I wound up moving in with them on Aug. 2, doing pre-op all day on the 3rd and having the surgery on the 4th. Once the cancer word is mentioned, things seem to move pretty quickly.
Let the show begin
I wasn't nervous until the morning of the surgery. I woke up that morning at a profane hour and stumbled into the living room to find my dad on the couch. He didn't even finish saying "good morning" before I crumbled into tears.
I was given a bed quickly (comfy!) and a hospital gown (drafty!), and then it was time to wait for a bit.
At this point, I was over being nervous but I think my parents were picking up the slack. They didn't show it, but I could tell they were both unsettled. I did my best to keep them and the nurses in good spirits and smiling.
As I was wheeled on the bed through various hallways, I waved like I was on a parade float. I was introduced to the large team of people who were going to be in the operating theater with me. I joked with them for a few minutes before we got news that Dr. Bevers was stuck in some traffic (ahh, Houston) and my surgery would be delayed a short while.
I was wheeled back (waving) to a holding area and my parents kept me company until it was really time. A few more parade waves and I was back in the operating room. The last thing I remember was being told "g'nite" as they started the drug drip.
Keeping it light
About five hours later, I was awakened by nurses calling my name. It took me a few moments to speak. My left arm and shoulder were aching and all I could think of to say was "n'arm" (a quote from "Six Feet Under" meaning "numb arm"), but I knew that wouldn't make sense to anyone.
I now find it amusing that the first coherent thought I had after surgery was a silly television quote. The nurses had gotten my dad so I'd have someone there when I woke up. When I saw him and he said hello, I cried again. Relief, perhaps?
During the five-hour surgery, my mother knitted a scarf, donated blood and fretted over me.
Dr. Bevers said it went very well and that my tumor was a little smaller than they'd originally suspected. I asked if I could have my IUD back. (I blame the drugs.) All of my nurses were very sweet to me and I got every single one to smile at some point -- that was my goal.
Whether we were joking about the drugs, making puns about the industrial fan brought into my warm room (fantastic!) or cheering the nurse who was able to draw blood from my arm in one stick (unheard of!), all of them were great. Even the nurse who made me get out of bed, which elicited an "I hate you right now" response, knew I was joking and laughed with me.
I was hoping my uterus weighed 100 pounds so I'd come out of surgery at my goal weight, but alas, it was not. That's something I'm working on separately now.