About Me

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Douglas, Alaska, United States
I have lived in Alaska since 1978, having come to Juneau as a Jesuit Volunteer. I fell in love with Alaska and now live on Douglas Island with my husband and two dogs.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Little Lump of Fat (And A Bucket Of Gratitude)

No, the title of this blog is not self-deprecatory.

It refers to the little bugger that was removed from my person today.

It was discovered a couple of years ago, examined, mammografied (is that a word), ultrasounded and determined to be a lipoma, that is: nothing serious.

So, when it was time to do it again this year, my doctor said - "It's still there.  Since it is still there, you should have another diagnostic mammogram (meaning: They are going to squeeze the bejesus out of your poor breast).  And when they find it on the mammogram, they will want to do another ultrasound.  Maybe you should just have it removed so you don't have to go through this every time.  It is almost definitely a lipoma (the aforementioned lump of fat)."

So, I said OK.  They scheduled the mammo, and the subsequent ultrasound, I got a referral to the surgeon, and we made the appointment for Short Stay surgery.  She could have done it in her office, but as I told my doctor and the surgeon, I was awake for two C-sections and I have paid my dues, being awake during surgery-wise.

Last night, I was instructed to take a shower, wash with this super antibacterial soap, leaving the soap on the Surgical Area for two minutes before rinsing it off, and then put on Freshly Laundered Pajamas before climbing into my bed which was made with Freshly Laundered Sheets.  I was instructed to get up in the morning and shower again with the super soap and then put on my Freshly Laundered Clothes, take off my jewelry, including my earrings, the backs of which were so firmly attached to the posts, I had to cut them off with a wire cutter, thereby snipping a piece of my neck skin in the process (ow).  When I asked why I had to take off my earrings, the pre-op nurse told me that if by some chance I needed an MRI, the machine would literally rip the metal earrings from my ears.  Not wanting to chance shredded earlobes, I was happy to comply.

So today, after following the directions, and not eating or drinking anything after midnight, we arrived at the hospital and checked in to Short Stay.  They gave me a gown, booties and a warm blanket, they made me repeat my name and birthdate several times, and they put on these cool leg massaging thingies.  Joan, the Short Stay nurse assigned to me, came in to start my IV.  I have no problem with going under the knife, giving blood, etc, but getting an IV put in gives me the willies.  She tried once, apologized and went to get Lena, who is apparently the guru of IVs at Short Stay.  She was a champ.  If they ever have an Olympic IV placing competition, she would win the gold.  The surgeon came in to talk to me and told me that she needed to examine and mark my breast.  While she was doing so, Charles, who didn't know who she was, said: "I assume you are not from housekeeping." Which made me laugh so hard, I am afraid the line she drew was squiggly.

The anesthesiologist came in (we knew him from Church, so Charles wasn't able to use the housekeeping line again), explained about the medication they would give me to "keep me comfortable".  I told him I wanted to be more than comfortable, I wanted to be out cold.  He assured me I wouldn't remember a thing.  I told him I didn't want there to be anything TO remember.  He told me he would be giving me Propofol, the same medication that was given to Michael Jackson, only this time there would be monitors, oxygen, and a crash cart in the operating room.  I assume this was a light hearted attempt to reassure me.

They came in with a syringe which they shot into my IV.  They said it would make me sleepy.  I said that it wasn't working yet.  "Any minute now," Joan said.  They wheeled me down the hall and I woke up 45 minutes later in the recovery room.

"Definitely a lipoma," the surgeon said.  "Not a problem - it popped right out."

I went back to my cubicle, where they fed me chicken soup, Diet Coke, and a popsicle, gave me some ibuprofen and a prescription for painkillers (haven't needed them yet) and sent me home.

So here I sit, with a Band Aid on my breast, thinking about all my women friends who have gone through this same procedure, only with a scary lump instead of an annoying one, an alarming mammogram image, a terrifying ultrasound, a biopsy that turns out to not be a lump of fat, but a lump of cancer, a trip to Seattle for surgery, chemo, and radiation, and I am grateful.

I am grateful.

St. Agatha, Patroness of Women With Breast Cancer


  1. I am so happy for you that it is just a lump of fat..very good news. xo

  2. I'm so happy to hear all this, Paula!!!! Praise God.

  3. Yay Paula! You came through with flying colors!! - and minus a lump of fat! Thank God it was only a lump of fat!! (((Paula)))

  4. So glad you're okay, Paula! Your description of the shower and the soap and the same-day surgery was exactly what I went through last summer when I had my gall bladder removed. I didn't even remember them starting to put me under!

    Glad that is all behind you.


  5. that's plenty to be grateful for. I know what you mean about those c-sections, not fun times. Michael Jackson drugs? Hardly comforting words.

  6. So happy everything turned out to be okay! Thank God!

  7. That must have been so scary for you. I'm glad everything is fine. x


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