Monthly Archives: April 2009

Venting Again

I think sometimes I try too be to upbeat here, but over the past week I’ve been struggling.  I just had a good cry when I got on to my facebook account and was invited to join a facebook group for a little girl who is only 11 who has invasive ductal carinoma…..stage 2 breast cancer.  Here’s her website if you care to cry and pray with me.  Every where I turn it seems like someone is being diagnosed.  I’ll be honest, it gets really hard.   This disease is horrible. 

We’re now picking up the pieces, and we’re having to face finances as well.  I want to say it doesn’t matter.  My life is way more important than money, but the truth is, that most places don’t care and they like to make your life miserable.   If you get cancer and you are already struggling financially, you just might be screwed.  We think we’ll make it but I need to get back to work very soon since our student loans DO NOT CARE THAT I HAD CANCER!   Thanks for letting me vent…..lol!

Yes, but I have breasts that feel real.  Don’t look very real, but feel real.  And hey, I look great.  I should be able to snap right back don’t you think.  I’m all back together again…..it’s like nothing ever happened. 

I need to go to bed.

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Good-bye Drain

Ok…..one other thing I forgot to mention.  Elastic Pants.  Yup.  I had to go get more a few days ago.  I’ve been living in sweats and elastic waist band pants and I finally had to break and get some more.  I think it will be a few weeks before I can manage jeans with this tummy tuck. 

On a positive note, I did get my last drain out.  It’s always nice to see my surgeon and her assistant.  It did hurt a little but she did it very (did I say very) quickly.  I think it hurt more immediately after than it did while she did it because she did it so quick.  Dr. Kalinowski is awesome.  I was very worried since it had been in for three weeks.  I was convinced it had become one with my body.  It wasn’t so bad.  It’s so good to be free of the drain. 

My 4 year old had a party.  “The blood thing is gone!”  She celebrated.  So did I.  One more door to close on the cancer reconstruction phase.

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DIEP Summery

So I thought I’d share a few insight before I completely forget.  A few of you have emailed me and let me know you are headed for  a DIEP flap soon and I wanted to share a few thoughts and suggestions.  Before I had my surgery I sat down and talked with a wonderful woman named Gay here in Kalamazoo and she shared so much with me….I felt completely prepared going into the surgery.  Sometimes I think Dr. D thought I was clueless because I never asked any questions…..lol!  But the truth is….that Gay told me so much I felt like I knew what to expect.  So here I am, two weeks from the surgery and there’s a fe things I thought I’d share.

1.  The tummy tuck is miserably painful.  Like….can’t move painful.  Some very kind nurses will gather around you for the next few days and hoist you back up as you creep down in the bed.  You will have no way to lift yourself to a sitting position.  Not to fear though….the first few days were the worst.  After a couple days it did get better.  I’m still in pain at two weeks but nothing like the first few days.

2.  After a day or so they wanted me to get out of bed.  My entire body felt like a ton of bricks.  I think this may have been when I thought….what have I done to myself.  But not to worry, every time you get up to walk it gets easier and your body does not feel like a ton of bricks forever.

3.  Bring chapstick.  In the first hours after surgery your mouth will be incredibly dry and they will only give you a sponge (like that does anything….lol).  I suppose 10 hours of surgery would make anybody dry.  You will want something for your lips in the days following.

4.  I was unpleasantly surprised that other parts of my body hurt so much after surgery.  I’d love to be a fly on the wall during surgery to watch what they do with you, but I suppose comfort is not their top priority.  I guess they put you in one position and leave you there.  I suppose operating in a lay-z-boy is out of the question.  When I came to, the insides of my arms and the back of my head hurt like the dickens.  I had ice packs everywhere.  Don’t be afraid to ask for those.  I’m sorry to say my arms are still healing from whatever strange position I was in….lol!

5.  You will look incredible!  Ok…I can’t gaurentee this.  But I am so happy to see my new curvy body in the mirror!  Besides this darn drain left, I can see that he took every bit of fat off my middle and I LOVE it!  I love having breasts…..and they feel great! 

6.  You may start your period.  I did and the nurses told me it was quite common for women to start their period even though they might not be expecting it.  Nothing like bleeding from everywhere to make you feel great….lol!

7.  I am incredibly grateful that Gay recommended Dr. Dumanian and his dozens of residents (OK, maybe I didn’t love having all the residents looking me over, but how can I blame them for wanting to learn from him! )  I would never have guessed that I would have ever seen a plastic surgeon and I have so much more respect for the field!  Dr. Dumanian is well known for his work with prosthetic arms, so I’m grateful he has the time to put a stay-at-home, cancer survivor mom back together again and giving her and her family some normalcy.

7.  My email is listed in the “about me” section and if I haven’t answered all of your questions about what to expect with the DIEP flap, I would be happy to answer any questions you might have!

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Not So Bad

“Mommy, can you hide that blood thing?”

My daughter says, nostrils flaring.  My big concern with coming home was that my children would want to see the new bod and they would pass out upon seeing the scars.  When asked to see the new nana’s, I was very cautious.

The Girls: “Can we see your new nana’s mama?” (seconds after being in the door)

Me:  “I’m not sure you really want to see them yet, let’s let them heal a bit more.”

The Girls:  “Please mom, we really want to see.”

Me: “How about you feel them instead….they feel real don’t they!”

The Girls: (feel my breasts….boy does that sound funny) “Wow, mommy, they do feel real!”

Hours later….

The Girls:  “Mom, we really want to see.”

Me:  (I show them a bit of the scar line on my breast, but not the worst part.)

The next day….

Meleah pokes her head in while I’m bathing….

Me:  “Meleah….I really don’t think you want to see me yet.”

Meleah:  “Yes, mommy, I do!”

Back and forth banter….

Me:  “Ok….but I warned you.  You might feel scared a little bit.”

Meleah:  (Looks at me, tongue out, nose flaring) “Oh mommy…(pause)….that’s not so bad.  But what’s that”  (pointing to the one drain left)

Me: ” This collects fluid and blood leftover from surgery so I can heal better.”

Meleah:  “eeewwwwww.”

Meleah….anytime my drain is peeking out…..”Mommy….can you hide that blood thing again…..it’s gross!”

I’m so relieved my children don’t find my bruised and sewn together body gross…..and I will have to say….the drain MUST go soon….very soon….we all agree!

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Home

We’re home!  We went in to see the doctor in the afternoon yesterday and he took out all but one of my drains.  He says I’m doing amazingly well and the fact that I walked around Chicago for two hours, only six days after my surgery was incredible!  He said I could call my local surgeon here in Kzoo to remove the last drain (Hi Tracy!)  So I’ll be calling her shortly to see if she’ll do that for me.  It’s still collecting quite a bit of liquid (YUCK!)….so I have to wait till next week.  I can’t express how good it will feel to be completely drain free!

The ride home took forever!  I couldn’t wait to get home to my babies!  We had a wonderful reunion.  Elijah doesn’t want to leave my lap.  He’s doing pretty well about being gentle.  I’m home, I’m loved, and it feels really good.

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They’re Real!

We caved.  We ordered internet for the evening here at the doubletree.  One certainly needs to be careful at these hotels these days though….we’ve noticed the nuts and candy jars next to the coffee pot are “motion” sensitive.  So we carefully move around those, so not to get some outlandish charge on our credit card.

Jeremy decided to get me internet tonight because he’s going out with a friend.  He knew I’d need to blog.  It’s either TV, internet, sleeping or reading.  I’ve pushed myself enough today.  I actually walked for several hours here in Chicago with Jeremy.  The original plan was to walk a few blocks to WaterTower Place where we could rent a wheelchair he could push me around in for a while, but I actually felt so good we kept walking.  We took a break at starbucks.  It was a nice afternoon and I’m glad I could get out for a while.

I’m feeling a bit emotional about my breasts these days.  It’s hard to explain how happy I am to look down at my pajama tank-top and see two mounds.  I’m not being sexual here.  It’s really not about that for me although I feel like I’m easier on the eye with breasts now.  But they feel so real.  Really real!  Since my mastectomy and the radiation my chest has hurt.  I got used to it but it never went away.  I had two strips under each scar of skin that never loosened.  It remained completely red and tight.  But now, with the reconstruction it feels soft and relaxed.  It doesn’t even hurt where the surgical transplant took place.  It truly amazes me.  My kids have their pillows back!  Yay!

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Released

I’m going to be released from the hospital today.  Sometime this afternoon.  My doctor is very pleased with what he sees and how I’m moving around.  Once again….I am a model patient….(now if only I could have been a model student)….lol!  Really.  I am quite certain the prayers I receive are a big part of my ability to recover so well.  I just don’t know how it could happen otherwise! 

On Friday I thought “Oh God….what have I done.”  Seriously.  I don’t often pray prayers like that but that was what was going through my head.  The pain was incredible, the itching was incredible and when they made me stand up I felt like a ton of bricks.  I could barely move my feet.  It’s amazing to me that 4 days later I am walking (but slowly) and able to get in and out of bed without excruciating pain. 

I’m not sure we’ll be able to get internet at our hotel…..and I’m not sure we want to pay the $10 a day to have it….lol!  So you may not hear from me again until I get back home…..which should be on Wednesday.   My doc wants me to stick around for two days nearby, just in case.

Thanks so much for all your prayers!

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“Hungerectomy”

On our way to Chicago on Wednesday I noticed a billboard ad along the toll way.  At first I thought I was misreading it.  Basically it was the logo for a snickers candy bar with the word “hungerectomy” inside, rather than the word snickers.  I can’t recall what it said above the logo, but the message was that if you ate a snickers bar you would lose your hunger.

I’ll be honest, as someone who has had a mastectomy, I don’t understand how you can relate a candy bar craving to anything related to a serious surgical procedure.  I’m not just offended, it actually makes me a bit angry.  I’m angry for anyone who’s had a hysterectomy, a lumpectomy, an appendectomy, an oophorectomy or any other ectomy surgery.

I have gone to sleep knowing that when I wake up I will not be the same person.  A piece of my womanhood would be gone.  I don’t see how anyone could think it would be funny to relate a surgery that would remove something that is dangerous or cancerous to hunger for junk food.  Obviously the person who designed this campaign has not experienced an “ectomy” surgery nor do they know anyone who has gone through this experience.

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Maybe I need to light’en up.  But I just don’t get it.  Maybe that’s because I’m 4 days out from a reconstruction surgery, I’m in a lot of pain, and yes, I am still a tiny bit angry I’ve had to go through all of this.  It’s not a joke to me. 

What do you think?

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Feeling a Bit Better

I’m happy to report I’m feeling much better.  We’ve found a medication that does not cause itching and this has relieved a lot of my pain and stress.  I was able to get out of bed a handful of times today and walked around the block in my section of the hospital.  I had visits from two dear friends.  My friend Beth Setty lives here in Chicago and came by yesterday and a friend of mine, Kelly Stevens Page from Michigan happened to be visiting family and came by as well. 

I’ve been able to examine myself a bit more closely today and I’m pretty happy with what I see.  It’s really nice to have breasts again.  Meleah….who often says “mommy, I miss your nana’s”  will be happy to have them back.  They make great pillows for little ones….lol!   I actually think my chest area feels better now.  I’m wondering if the new skin from the transplant meant that I actually lost some of the radiated skin and this might offer relief to some of the areas that were still sore from radiation. 

The tummy tuck is quit interesting.  I have a new belly button.  I think they cut out the old one and sewed it back in after they pulled my belly fat south.  The scar line runs from hip to hip and is right on my pelvic bone.  He went very low for the scar.  Bikini in my future…..probably not….lol!  This is by far the most painful part of the surgery.  It makes me wonder if this feels similar to a c-section?  It hurts to cough….man…it hurts to burp!  I’m very cautious when I move about.  But I can tell I feel better than yesterday and so I think everyday will be a bit better than the one before.

Thanks for your prayers and positive thoughts.

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Lotta Pain

I wish I could tell you I’m doing great….but telling you that would a flat out lie.  I really feel horrible.  Probably the worst pain I’ve had in my life with the exception of childbirth.  I’ve had a horrible time with the pain meds they’ve been giving me as they cause an allergic reaction and I itch all over.  This makes me extremely uncomfortable and I had two panic attacks yesterday because of it.  They gave me valume after the second.  It was miserable.  On top of that they act like it’s so weird that I’m having this reaction and I feel like they aren’t really willing to try something else.  The doctor’s are very aggreeable, but then they leave the room and they don’t give new orders to the nurse and I’m stuck with it for another 8 hours.  Thankfully new orders came this morning and I’m trying something new.  I’m hopeful it won’t make me itch like crazy.

On the brighter side…..the incision sites liik great.  I can tell some of the swelling has gone down in my belly area and the breast transplants seem to be taking very well.  The doctor seems very pleased. 

I’m not going to type much because I feel pretty bad.  Hopefully I can right more later.

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