It’s been hard to get a handle on my emotions. After getting the call from my amazing plastic surgeon yesterday, I could finally exhale. Two days of strategizing and coming up with contingency plans to drive less than 10 miles had taken a toll, it was a relief to know that we didn’t have to go out in the blizzard, that the decision was out of our hands, even out of my doctors’ hands. The hospital made the call, and it was system wide.
When Dr. F called, I had just settled in for a nap on the couch. I had spent the morning baking, my efforts to give up sugar abandoned in the stress of the moment. When I saw the caller id on my cell, I knew. He explained that from his perspective, the biggest concern was loss of power. Hospitals have generators, but they aren’t meant to power an operating room through an 8 to 10 hour surgery. “It’s just not safe,” he said. “If we were to lose power, I can’t just close you up and finish another day. It’s not that kind of surgery. I won’t take that risk.”
Later in the day, Dr. P called. “Tell me how you are,” she said. “I know how devastating this is for you.” She told me that she had been informed by the hospital mid-morning that the nuclear medicine department would not be available due to the storm, this before the hospital decided to simply close its doors. “I can’t operate without nuclear,” she said. “I won’t be able to track the lymph nodes without it.”
Power outages. Nuclear medicine. So much I hadn’t thought of. So much I hadn’t considered. But how could I? How would I have known all the support and services that my surgeons depend on in the operating room? They don’t talk about those things on Grey’s Anatomy. On Grey’s Anatomy they just elbow their way into surgeries without any thought to anything.
Dr. P and Dr. F both said they would move mountains to get me rescheduled ASAP — cancel office hours, bump other patients, do whatever it takes. “No one takes this lightly,” Dr. F said. “The hospital is on board. You are the priority. It is unthinkable to have to tell a woman with breast cancer who has prepared physically and emotionally for a double mastectomy that you are canceling her surgery. When I tell you this weighs on all of us, please understand that this decision was made with heavy hearts.”
I love my doctors. And I am grateful for their care and concern, but also grateful that they are unwilling to take risks. Still, this feels like an emotional setback, it’s been hard to get a grip on the sense of relief and the disappointment. One doesn’t cancel out the other.
At some point over the last two days, my cancer was “outed” on FB. I referenced my surgery in a post and one thing led to another and suddenly I was flooded with well-wishes and support — from near and far. In my darkest moments yesterday, I read those words — your words — emails, texts, FB posts, instagram posts, and I felt lifted. My village, my community rocks. And I am blessed.
While it feels like this storm has pushed me two steps back, two steps farther away from treatment and recovery, I know I am not facing any of this alone. My medical team, my family and friends, my virtual village — there really are no words.