Kicking Breast Cancer's Butt

Monthly Archives: March 2013

Quick update… recovery….

Tina is home.. we checked out of the hospital around 1pm Friday…

Our family room is now a dorm.. with Tina, Terrie and her niece all sleeping in the recliner / reclinder sofas.

the improvement over 24 hours is good.  But she is still exhausted.. etc.  But doing well.  Pain management and the drains are a process to be managed..

May be a day or two before we write again.. just adopting the new reality.. etc.

I know I need to work off some stress.  I drank three hard ciders this afternoon.. and barly got a buzz.  Normally one would do it because we don’t drink alot. So sort of like pain meds I think there was stress it countered first….

 

7:55 am UW Surgery Reception

Tina, Terrie (sister) and I sitting talking about hair and being hungry.  I will be live updating today on this post.

8:25 into surgery prep

Very “Grey’s Anantomy”  back here.

9:00 am  Surgery Prep

IV and agree to donate tissue for research.  For half a zanex she’s pretty silly right now

9:25 Surgery Prep

Dr came  in and marked the right boob which is the right boob to operate on. Tina dozing.

10:00am Surgery Waiting room

Tina got the first happy juice.. Now giggling…:)  Terrie and I have moved to the waiting room Tina has been moved to surgery.  They have promised periodic updates during the next 3-4 hours.

(I see people are reading today.. go ahead and submit comments if you want I will read them to her or she will read them when she gets out of surgery.  You do that by clicking on the title for this blog entry and then on that page you can leave comments)

 11:ooam Surgery Waiting Room

Got the first update call.  Anesthesia and first incision went well.  May be the only update from OR until she is out.  Its a very straight forward procedure.

12:45pm Surgery Waiting Room

Got a new update call.. everything is going fine.  Almost done DR will be down soon to give us the summary.

 1:15 Surgery Waiting room

Just met with her lead surgeon.  She is starting a 1-2 hour waking up process.  But she is out, no indication of spread past the original diagnosis so in the new reality.. really good news.

 6:00Pm From Home..

All is good I am home with our daughter.. Tina’s sister is with her and says she is getting better since I had to leave at 5pm.  Even before I left while groggy and having nasia she was complaning about the loud chatter boxes in the next curtain.[which is a good sign :) ] they must have had 3-4 visitors behind the corner… Yammmer Yammmer Obama, Yammer Yammer multiple orgams, yammmer yammmer New tattoo on his head.. on and on it was like four 9 year old girls but it was adults.  I nearly wanted to puke too…

We are tired.. and surley and happy to have completed this key milestone in kicking cancer’s butt.

Signing off have my daughter to entertain….

Ken – The HAPPY Husband..

 

 

 

 

Less than two and a half hours to check in, and I can’t sleep, I have a headache, I can’t take ibuprofen for it, nor can I drink coffee (or water).

My eyes are itchy and my nose is stuffed from crying last night over my soon-to-be-lost breast.  I wish I could take an ibuprofen and go back to sleep.

But I don’t feel anxious (much), at least not yet, and I’ve got the Beach Boys “Don’t Worry Baby” running though my mind.

I had a bit of an epiphany last night.  I’ve been moaning all this time about how sad I’ll feel upon waking up after the surgery, and seeing the surgical dressing where my breast used to be.  I realized, that’s actually a HAPPY thought, because that means I can envision myself waking up after the surgery.  Whoo, hoo!

Type at you later.

Got the call from the anethesia nurse.  My check in time is 7:45am tomorrow.  I’m going in a couple hours later than I first expected, so it looks as if I’m not the first surgery of the day.

On the plus side, I get to take my daughter to school in the morning.

 

We’re now less than 24 hours to hospital check in.  At least as far as I know.  Unless another patient has moved ahead of me, I’m first on the schedule for surgery, and my check in I expect to be around 5am.

I had a pretty good night, no tossing and turning like the night before.  Woke up around 5am needing to pee, because my blood pressure medicine is a diaretic.  The recommendation is to take it in the morning, so you aren’t being awakened in the middle of the night with a need to use the bathroom.  I take it at night, as I’d rather be awoken in my own home, and have just a few steps between me and the bathroom.  Usually, I fall right back to sleep.  Not this morning, obviously.  I keep worrying about things that hadn’t occurred to me before – such as, I’m supposed to shower tonight and tomorrow morning, putting on freshly clean clothes each time.  It occurred to me – Shit!  I need to wash all my bras, will they be dry in time for tomorrow?  I should wash my post-operative camisole, will THAT be dry for tomorrow?  And damn!  I wore the zip up hoodie I planned to wear home on Friday, I need to wash that again.

I get up to use the bathroom, I notice the huge pile in the hamper that I meant to wash all day yesterday, but was frankly just too worn out from the night before when I couldn’t sleep.  I go back to bed, to try to recapture sleepiness, and start thinking about the pile of clothes on the bed, and declare again that I must pick up this mess.

I start thinking about how in 18 hours I start another fast, this time with no water, and begin to worry that I didn’t drink enough yesterday, and that I will be dehydrated by the time I check in tomorrow, and the nurses will have a difficult time with my IV.

Last week I was starting my countdown of how much time I had left being a double-breasted woman.  I had thoughts like “next Friday will be my last Friday with my right breast.”  And so on down the week.  This morning, I thought “today is my last day with my right breast” and I started to cry a little.  I’m doing it again, but it’s not a big tear fest – it’s just a few tears, for a few seconds, then I’m back to my mental check list, and trying to find my calm so I can go back to sleep.  Then in few minutes, I have one thought that doesn’t occurr to me too often – it does come up, but not so often, as I am all about the drama (“They’re going to cut off my breast!”).  The thought I have is this:  In about 26 hours from right now (unless another patient needs to get into surgery before me) my tumor will be out.

I read somewhere, long ago, that the origin for the word Amazon meant “one breast” or “left breast”.  The mythology about those women of legend, the Amazon, was that they removed their right breast in order to use a bow more effectively.  So I have this fantastical notion that while I’m checking in with two breasts, one of which is full of cancer, I will be checking out an Amazon tribeswoman.

At a later date, this calls for a fierce new tattoo.

 

There were quick flashes of stress or sadness this week.. but I pushed pass them.  I know we are going to be fine.  But change is coming

Day before surgery and I woke stress level is through the roof.   Wish I didn’t have so much important stuff to do at work, I would take the day off.

No clever quips today.  No flashes of humor.

Tina’s sister is up for a few days.  Love her and her family … really nice people that have had bad stuff happen to them over the last couple of years but they too just keep going.

Family that you can count on is gold.

Last night was TOUGH.  Not only did I toss and turn for literally two hours, but it seemed like I was continually having heart palpitations.  A few weeks ago, the anesthesia nurse and I talked about that, how it feels like my heart skips a beat, and I keep freaking out thinking I’m having a heart attack, always right as I’m about to drop off to sleep.  She said for some people, lying down at night is the first really good dose of oxygen their heart gets.  Or something like that. Ugh, I should record EVERY conversation I have, so I don’t mess up.

Anyway, last night wasn’t just one skip or two, and it didn’t feel like my heart was pounding.  Maybe I just wasn’t taking a deep breath, or maybe I was having a series of panic attacks, but it felt like my heart was racing.  It was as if I’d taken cough syrup with guifenesin, the expectorant.  I HATE how I feel when I’ve been taking that stuff.  I assume that it also raises my blood pressure, so I just don’t take it anymore.

I still feel a little twitchy today, so it’s time for some anti-anxiety.  I didn’t take any last night – I guess I should have.

Today I have an appointment to get fitted for a mastectomy bra and prosthesis.  The Husband said I should do it tomorrow, when my sister will be here.  But I want to get it over with, and I’m worried something will go wrong, and then I’m screwed, as I will then have NO time to take care of this before the surgery.  Today and tomorrow are my last chance to get things done before hand, hence the anxiety I guess.

Yesterday was the last day at work.  I left so much crap on my desk and in the drawers – office supply stuff, but still, someone gets to clean that.  I also noticed that I left all my binders from one of my committees, and now that same someone gets to dump all that in the shredder, and I know the someone who will get stuck with that.  I’m so sorry, Debbie-Doo!  I didn’t want to leave a bunch of mess for you.  You’ve been so busy cleaning up everyone else’s mess, I don’t need to add to it, but I sure as hell did.  Damn.

I’m sitting here at the office, waiting for my boss to call for a final wrap.  I think we’re both dreading it.

It’s so hard for me to believe that I won’t be back here again tomorrow.  I feel so panicked, like I’ll never get it all done in time.

I find myself wishing for another month, yet I know I would be in the same situation, here it is the last day, and there is no way in hell I’m going to feel complete with this.

Ok..

Our daughter has been sick this week.. Cold and upset stomach.  So I took over doing stuff, when the “Mama!” call came.  Switched to paper towels in the bathroom.  Trying to be careful to make sure Tina doesn’t get sick.  Being sick would delay her surgery and we are so ready to move on and get that thing out of her.

We had our first visit to UW Surgical Center.  What a nice building.  Parking costs and system not as good as the SCCA, but better than Virgina Mason.  (You knew a parking update was coming…)

We met with the reconstruction surgeon.  Interesting twist…  Tina is back to the type of mastectomy that Virgina Mason recommended.

After seeing Tina and her assessing her size and taking into consideration that she is scheduled for radiation, he has recommended not doing the skin sparing mastectomy.

Pros:

  • Less pain ongoing from the expander and fewer Dr visits to get the expander cared for
  • Fewer complications
  • easier surgery and faster recovery this week
  • And will use skin from her “tummy tuck” that has not been compromised by radiation
  • Easier to model and match with the other side for her
  • He was specific that the “hang” of the breast that is seen standard necklines will be more natural

Cons:

  • Larger scars where the skin sparing would take everything though the removed nipple, this one will have long scars.. but they fade and will not be were most clothing (especially Tina’s style will how it.  Out side of DRs there are only two of us that will ever see them.. I am fine and I like that her initial surgery will be easier to recover from.

We learned two new things. 

  1. After all this is over.. some times the feeling in the rebuilt breast can return.  This is different for everyone.. but interesting to note.
  2. Also if after her mastectomy if signs of arm swelling (Lymphedema) are detected, as part of the belly flesh transplant they can take a few lymphnodes too and improve the proper lymph draining from the arm. Cool

This may have been in Virgina Mason team’s initial thinking.. but it was not communicated as a recommendation / choice. we felt very much steared and not really hearing about options.. AND since we had read about them.. I think this added to some uncertanty that we were getting all our options.   It might be that we know more now it or that there was just not as good of communication.  In general communication and a feeling of involvement is where I think the SCCA team and affiliates seem to excel.  Nipple sparing has never been an option for Tina… but we did touch on it this week in the discussion.  Skin sparing and nipple sparing was never mentioned at VM so we could never really understand why it wasn’t being considered.

On the lighter side

Tina got an unexpect bonus at work.. So we we replaced the long dead and ratty family room sofa and rock hard futon with the first furniture we ever bought together outside of a new bed.  Leather Sofa and Recliner all with power reclining.. mmmmmmm

This will be good for Tina as sleeping partly elevated is where she will want to be for the first few days.. so consider it a medical expense..

Also visiting family will find a night in the reclined ends of the sofa or the chair much nicer then what we had before.

Life keeps moving forward.. though one night as I went to sleep.. I did realize this is one of the most permanent things ever in our life, expecially in hers.

Marriage, kids, jobs, mortgages are commitments and it is possible to walk away from them.. and too often we see that… even when kids are involved.  But this is not commitment.. it is enforced change.. We have had discussions about it and dealt straight on with the fears.  I am not going anywhere.. but I also know that the coming year is going to be tough and build or test some character. Tina needs to be ok with what she is feeling as this happens and I need to make space for her to do that.  Love.. it’s about times like this..  not just the lovely hormone frenzy that cements it all at the start and makes it fun along the way.

I don’t know what it is, but for the first time in a very long time, even since before my diagnosis, I feel like my head is really in the game of life tonight.  I’m getting a little anxious about the surgery and post-op, yes, but today I’m focused, organized, getting papers ready for tomorrow, for our daughter’s school and also for my appointment with the plastic surgeon tomorrow.  Getting dishes and laundry done, the Husband’s pillows washed and dried, the kid’s uniform, library books in the bag, doing the mom thing like I used to do, when I was younger and felt like I knew what I was doing.  I am on a roll!  It’s just little stuff, but it seems like those are the things that have been tripping me up and getting away from me lately, until my whole life is one big, swirling mass of chaos.  But today, right now, I feel like I’m in charge, and in control of my life again.

Damn, I haven’t felt like this in a very long time, and it is great.