It was 5:45am and I was sitting in the wating room of Duke Raleigh Hospital with my mother, boyfriend and Godmother by my side. I appeared calm on the surface, but really my mind (and heart) was racing. I couldn’t believe today was the day. I was walking in with breasts and things would be a lot different when I left.

I got all checked in and sat in the waiting room. I think everyone was a little nervous as we tried to make small talk in between turning around every time a door opened.

“Miss Yowell” the nurse called.

I swear everything moved in slow motion as I walked over to her. She handed my mom a buzzer that would let them know when they could come back with me, but for now I was on my own.

“Wow, you’re a young thing.” the nurse said as she walked me back to a changing area.

I changed clothes and put on my hospital gown and socks and was helped into a bed. I was freezing even with what felt like a ton of warm blankets over me.

I was so glad to see my loved ones come back with me. They sat back with me as the nurses began placing IV needles and checking my vitals.

My mom had brought my grandmother’s blanket and placed it at the foot of my bed. It made me feel as if she was right there with us.

I was told I would have to have an injection which would allow the surgeon to see my lymphnodes so she could remove and test a few. I was not prepared for this at all. I had heard my mother talk about how painful it had been when she had to go through the same thing.

I could see the look in my mother’s eyes and it only made me more nervous.

I was relieved when the nurse explained that this ONCE was a very painful procedure, but they had greatly improved the method of testing.

My family had to leave out while a nurse ( whose name was also Monisha) came back and did the injection. It was a quick pinch.

My Godmother must have noticed how nervous I was and we all joined together in prayer. Nothing eases my mind like prayer.

The medicine was flowing through my IV and I was feeling a little drowsy.

It was finally time to kiss my loved ones goodbye as I was rolled through the hospital. I was able to bring my grandmother’s blanket with me in the operating room.

I felt like I was in a movie. The bright lights against the white walls in the opertaing room were blinding. Masked nurses rushed around, machines beeped and it was freezing.

All I could think about was why am I still awake??

I told the nurse that I was a tab bit concerned that I was still wide awake and getting ready for surgery.

“Oh, don’t worry I’m about to give you the good stuff in just a minute here.” she replied.

I remember telling the nurse to make sure my blanket left the room with me. We chatted briefly about my grandmother’s blanket and I was out.

Everything went black…

4 hours later my sleep was broken by someone calling my name.

I struggled to open my eyes. I blinked a few times before my vision finally cleared up.

“You did great!” said the surgeon.

I felt like I was glued to the bed and my mouth was so dry as I tried to mumble.

I looked down at all the bandages. I was completely out of it and didn’t even have the energy to bother being concerned with what was (or wasn’t) underneath all the bandages.

I was rolled to a room where I would spend my night.

I was sore, I was nauseous and extremely uncomfortable.

My nurses had so many questions about my age and how I was dealing with my diagnosis. One nurse shared with me that her mother had passed from cancer and that she hadn’t been feeling well and was concerned and planning on going to talk to her doctor.

She pulled up a chair and set next to my bed and asked me to share my story. She was so sweet, and while her job was to make sure she was making me feel better, I think I was helping her in the process.

It was rough having to sleep sitting up. Even with my room door closed I could hear the constant rolling of beds, squeaking of sneakers and beeping of machines. I found comfort in knowing that I would be going home tomorrow and the “hard part” was over.

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