The 3 P’s of Pre-op. Poking, Prodding and Paperwork

blue and silver stetoscope
June 6, one week before my surgery. Getting very real now.

I’m so fortunate to live in an area that has as many hospitals and medical centres as it does Tim Hortons. The clinic for my pre-op was less than 10 minutes away, very convenient. The appointment itself….well a bit longer.

Even though I had a scheduled appointment for 10:40, I was told to take a number.  I was #25 in a waiting room full of people of every age, size and shape. The pre-op clinic serves patients having surgeries of every kind in any of the area’s hospitals. As I looked around the room I wondered, “What are they in for? Do they have cancer? Are they in pain? What’s their prognosis? Are they scared too?”

Over the next four hours I was weighed and measured. The nurse took my blood pressure, which was very good apparently even though I could feel my heart pounding like a speaker at a rock concert. I was sure that it was audible to everyone around me. The nurse drew blood….lots of it! I also was told I have great veins! Who knew? Maybe I can add that to my CV.  ‘Advertising Executive, Speaker, Writer and bearer of award winning veins.’

The nurse reviewed my medical history. What operations I had undergone previously, what medication did I take, any history of kidney disease, heart disease…….on and on. I had seen the other people in the waiting room with their giant ziploc bags full of pill bottles. Dozens in some case. I thought geez, I may have cancer, but other than that I’m pretty healthy! I was grasping at anything positive I could think of. And its true. I know how lucky I am.  I am healthy and I am strong and I am determined to get this all behind me as quickly as possible.

The nurse continued reviewing the medical questionnaire and posing the litany of questions.

“Do you smoke?”


“Did you ever?”

“No”, oh wait, “Do cigars count? I mean, I DO like a nice cigar now and then, but I don’t really inhale. You know… but they are really nice with a glass of scotch or bourbon…but it’s not something I do all the time, so does that count as smoking? Oh no… does it?!”

She looked at me wide eyed trying her best to process the deluge of words that had just flowed out of my mouth. I had spewed more information than she had asked for in a sense of panic that I had done something bad; something terrible that would be recorded on my chart in perpetuity. I felt like a kid awaiting my parents punishment and disapproval. “No” she said with a smile, ” you ‘don’t smoke'” and shook her head.

Guess I passed the test, and was therefore sent back to the waiting room until I could see the anaesthesiologist. There were six on duty that day, and they were working at a frenzied pace. When finally called, I was greeted with a warm smile and an elbow pump. He had a cold and didn’t want to shake my hand so we bumped elbows and then he cleaned his hands again with purel. There’s a lot of sick people at medical facilities and apparently he was one of them.

He looked at my chart and said “Oh, you have a dynamo surgical team! I got my mother-in-law in to see them”.

“Do you like your mother-in-law?”, I asked. Fair question I thought. He laughed and said “I love my wife.”

It was the anaesthetist that gave me the low down of what to expect the day of my surgery.

  • arrival 6:15am to register
  • volunteer takes me downstairs to day surgery area to have radioactive dye injected into my lymph nodes
  • 9 am bilateral mastectomy performed and skin stretchers inserted behind chest muscle ( procedure approximately 4 hours)
  • surgery complete then taken to recovery room for 2 hours
  • Once awake and out of recovery, wheeled back down to day surgery area to spend the night lined up with all the other surgical patients
  • 6:15 am Thursday….discharged

Seriously? I spent more time in the hospital when I had my tonsils removed. Apparently removing two tonsils is more complicated than removing two breasts!




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President of As You Like It Marketing & Communications Inc. Award winning speaker and author. Breast cancer fighter and blogger. I’m sharing my journey…the good, the bad and the ugly. Hoping to help anyone else that has been touched by breast cancer be it you or someone you know or love.

3 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Hi Patti…thank you for opening your life experiences as you travel along this new adventure. Your insights and personal touch will no doubt be an inspiration for those who are or may be travelling the same route. We wish you the very best as you seek answers and recuperate fully. Really BIG hugs…but gently. Much love…

    Perry and Suzanne


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