Chocolate-dipped strawberries and cannoli make staying in the hospital a little easier (thank you Pam and Aneta!) I checked in for my single mastectomy on Thursday, April 16th, with an expected discharge date of Friday the 17th; after one day and one breast lighter, Saint Barnabas Medical Center would be ready to let go of me. The surgery went exceptionally well, but not the healing; Dr. Ross Cooperman, my plastic surgeon, warned me that smoking cigarettes and chemotherapy may cause necrosis; unfortunately his prediction was right: I had some dead skin along the suture line, it was black, like the black hole I felt inside after having one breast removed.

I stayed in the hospital for a second surgery on Monday, where Dr. Cooperman carefully removed the dead skin. He was concerned there would not be enough skin to cover the expander, forcing him to eventually reconstruct me with back fat, a more intense surgery - I became more anxious. That first eve, my mother hired a woman to stay with me; at first, I argued I didn't need her, but after surgery, I appreciate her presence and assistance. The following nights my boyfriend reluctantly stayed with me, while my sister and niece Jessica happily remained the last couple of nights, sleeping on the hospital recliner. Tuesday the 21st I was finally discharged; by then I was so used to having professional care that I was reluctant to go home, but I did, and was comforted when I lay on the couch snuggling my cats.