We arrived at the hospital promptly at 8:30 and were immediately escorted back to a pre-op room. After changing into my couture backless gown and robe, Gene, my mom and Danielle were allowed to spend the morning with me. I was surprisingly calm and kept expecting to get nervous or upset, but I think that mentally, I was just plain ready to get the surgery over with. We laughed and chatted and they all rolled their eyes when I said I was bored. A numbing cream was applied to my breast to help with the upcoming injections.

At 10:00, I was taken up to radiology to get radioactive dye injected into my breast to help identify the sentinel node for biopsy. This was a process that I was worried about, because I had heard that it was quite painful. Dr. Hemann, was my radiologist once again. (She just can’t seem to get enough of me! She has been with me for the initial mammogram, sonogram, and biopsy.) We laugh and joke a bit, and she explains the process. She even comments to Gene that I’m a compliant patient. (I’m hoping she doesn’t lift the sheet and see my pink socks, not to mention the nail polish on my middle toes!)

Dr. Hemann explains that the injection will sting a lot, but it fades quickly (within a minute). I tell her to go for it. The nurse offers to hold my hand, but I decline and consider asking for a bullet. It stings, but I must say that in the scheme of things, it wasn’t that bad. By no means is it the worst thing I have had done. She then takes a marker and circles the injection site, writes the date and time and puts her initials. When we get back to the pre-op room, I tell my Mom that I now have an expiration date on my right breast.

As they wheel me back to pre-op, we pass the cafeteria. I’m hungry. Really hungry, and I try to read the sign to see what the soup specials are for today. I pass a large cart stacked high with plastic containers holding sandwiches and cantaloupe. I like sandwiches. I like cantaloupe. Gene laughs and says this is cruel.

Now I need to wait two hours for the dye to work. At 11:30, I start to get a little anxious. This is really happening. The anesthesiologist asks if I would like something to calm me. You betcha! Don’t hold back. Give me anything you have in that little bag of yours. About ten minutes before noon, two nurses come in and give me half of the injection and tell my family to say their goodbyes. We hug. I expect to cry but I don’t. I tell them I’m okay, and I really mean it.

I remember going into the OR and moving to the operating table. Things look familiar . . . and that pretty much ends my day. I wake up in recovery and feel some pain, but not a lot. I’m very, very tired and can’t figure out where I am. Things start to make sense and I want to ask them to bring my husband back. I have questions from him that I’m not sure the nurse will be allowed to answer, and I know he will tell me the truth. We work through the labyrinth of hallways and then I see Gene. I manage to wait until I get to my room before asking about the sentinel node. He tells me it is clear. I breath a big sigh of relief.