Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The ABCs of Surgery

image from
With reluctance, I've become rather expert in being a surgical patient.  Although I consider myself the picture of health (hello, I'm a triathlete!), in the past 10 months I've "gone under the knife" on three occasions - and not a single operation was cosmetic.  Allow me to share some information I've gleaned from my experiences.

  • A is for Anaesthesia - I don't know how you feel or respond to pharmaceutical medicines, but they just don't agree with me.  I generally get incredibly nauseous, usually vomit and take hours to recover my faculties after being put under with general anaesthesia.  Each time I encounter a well intentioned anaesthesiologist, I indulge them as they describe their remarkable ability to "give me something for that" when I explain my body's aversion to narcotics.  During my surgical adventures in these past months, I've learned that advocating for myself using the words "local anaesthesia, please" works wonders, and I have dramatically decreased my discomfort level following a surgical procedure.  It may not work for everyone, but I am huge fan of less being more when it comes to (pharmaceutical) drugs.
  • B is for Benign - This is absolutely the news you want to hear when you receive the results of your biopsy.  While only (only? really?) 2 of my 3 surgeries this year involved having tissue removed from my body and being tested to determine cellular composition, I am very pleased to share that last week's neck dissection resulted, for the first time ever, with a benign finding.  I honestly believe that the third time was the charm and my "necklace" of scars is now complete.
  • C is for Cancer - Receiving a diagnosis of cancer is frightening.  Actually it is incredibly frightening - who am I kidding?  I have a dear friend who was unable to even use the word cancer when I was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer about 10 years ago, insisting instead on calling it the "C word."  Ok, we all know what the "C word" really is, and I always felt that whispering cancer  instead of speaking about it in a normal tone, gave far too much power to some renegade (potentially Palin-esque) cells.  No, thanks, I'd prefer a discussion to denial any day of the week.  C can also be for conversation.  The worst thing by far, in my experience, is the discomfort friends and acquaintances have demonstrated with regards to talking about my health challenges.  I understand that everyone is unique in the way they experience trials, but I much prefer dialogue to dismissal.  Which I suppose would be letter D, but since I'm officially (says me) done with cancer, let's just finish with the fact C is also for conclusion and cease and culmination and closure and completion and .....


  1. Hahaha I think it's a good attitude to have, and a creative way of describing it. "Palin-esque" made me laugh. :D

  2. That's great news, Silvia! Let's hope your necklace of scars is complete, and that could be an interesting title for one of the books you have in you. xo

  3. Thanks, Maya & Rachel!!
    I swear the clouds broke yesterday and I am so very excited about life and the opportunities ahead of me. Good call on the potential book title, Rach. Who knows what may lie ahead - these days I think anything is possible.

  4. The clouds broke. The blue skies shone through. And the only 'negative' thing about you is your biopsy result. Yay to you. Bravo.

  5. Thank you, Anonymous. Very sweet words.