If you have surgery at Virginia Mason Memorial in Yakima, I highly recommend Irena in the pre-op area, she is the best I.V. starter I’ve ever had. But first I got to change into nothing but a gown and ugly no-slip beige socks. Then they piled me with warm blankets… one of the best things about being in the hospital is warm blankets. The other best thing is orange sherbet… but that was later. Then Irena did my I.V. Then Dr. Wooten stopped in and marked which breast she would be removing, with my approval. Then Briana from Nuclear Medicine came to start the sentinel node location.
DETAILS OF HOW SENTINEL NODES ARE LOCATED (warning: may be TMI for some of you) Briana carefully explained exactly what she was going to do… it sounded pretty uncomfortable, and it was. In order to send the radioactive isotopes into the lymph system, she was going to inject the isotopes into my breast… in each of four quadrants… within the areola… but first she would inject the injection sites with lidocaine to numb the 4 sites up… in each of four quadrants… within the areola… Get the picture? I was going to be injected 8 times in one of the more tender places on my body. I was very very glad when she finished with the 8 injections (serious toe-curling ouchiness here!). The next step was to wait for an hour. The wait was so that the isotopes had time to collect in the sentinel nodes.
After an hour I was walked down to nuke med where it took 10 minutes or so to scan me and determine that the isotopes had collected in the sentinel nodes. Later, after I had been given happy medicine and didn’t know or care, they also injected blue dye into the same four quadrants. To do the sentinel node biopsy the surgeon first uses a Geiger counter to locate the nodes, and then after cutting down into that area, can actually see the nodes because of the blue dye. This is just heresay… I was in lala land for the actual biopsy.
When I returned to the pre-op area from my trip to Nuke Med I was given Versed (I think) to “relax” me, and I don’t remember much after that!
Apparently the surgery went very well. At least, that’s what Dr. Wooten told Kevin. I seem to excel in sentinel nodes… normal people have 2-3, and I had 5. The sentinel node biopsy and the mastectomy were all one surgery. When I woke up in my hospital room I had lots of lovely pain meds on board, so felt okay. I was still pretty evenly distributed chest-wise, since the mastectomy dressings were equal to (if not greater than) the left-sided itty bitty titty. … to be continued