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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Done

Another cold day here. I was going to wait until it became a little warmer before I carted all the Christmas d├ęcor from the house to the storage area. I didn't wait. I was up at 0500 hrs., a fresh pot of coffee brewed so between sipping on my coffee, listening to the news, I pulled the ornaments off the tree. Within an hour I had everything gathered up and stashed in the tote, the tree lying on the floor in the dining area waiting to be dragged to the shed.

I'm done for another year.
The remainder of the morning was spent doing a little housework and as soon as the husband rolled out of bed, we did more of nothing.
There is a marathon of the TV series, Breaking Bad. This show neither one of us had ever seen and it was a series that garnered many awards. Not only for it's actors and actresses, but for the story line, it cleaned up at awards time.
We caught the first episode and then stayed sprawled out on the sofas the remainder of the day gorging on more and more of them. This series has been on for 5 years. I don't know where we are right now in the viewing year but we are still watching as I type.
Another series I've watched a few times was The Blacklist. I'm not as enamored of it as I am with this series.

Carrie is crashed out on the sofa. She called and wanted to spend the night. We shot her bow filled with the nerf "arrows", each one of us taking turns hiding beneath a blanket as the shots smacked into the blanket. Carrie would squeal and hide and scream. It was too much fun playing with her.

I'm off to watch more of this show and during commercial break, I'll scoop the child up and take her sleeping self to bed.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Day "After"

It's over! Next year I'll have a different plan. The grandchildren have grown into adults. Carrie is the only child remaining that Christmas still means something magical. I'm making a vow to cut way back next Christmas. Gift certificates and a limit on spending will be imposed.
We did have a nice Christmas but I find the best part of it was when everyone gathered here for the Christmas meal. Laughter rang out from room to room, friendly teasing inspired. The meal was fabulous! Both roasts were perfect. Plates were heaped high and carried to the table.

I must admit, I'm glad it's over. I've already started removing the baubles from the tree and hopefully by tomorrow it will be packed away. I never wait until New Year's to do it. There is not a superstitious bone in my body and fear mongering is not my strong suit.

My appointment with the oncologist revealed her plans for me. 5 weeks of radiation and then Xeloda by mouth starting in February. The radiation will start immediately or as soon s they can get me scheduled.

That's my report for today and I'm done here!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Tamales and Christmas

Today is the eve of Christmas eve or ..just two more days until Christmas.
The daughter, granddaughter and Kristen went to a pre Christmas lunch. The streets were crowded with shoppers trying to get to the stores and the progress was slow. We met at Olive Garden and over Cokes and Dr. Peppers, sipped while enjoying a leisurely lunch, we laughed and planned the Christmas meal. Kristen and I left in my car to go shopping for some things for Lessie for Christmas. She was the last person on my list, having done most of it weeks ago. April and Lessie left together to go home so Lessie could get ready for work this afternoon.

Kristen made short work of helping me find things that Lessie would like. We were at Target and while there I picked up turkey breasts that were on sale. I bought 5 of them! These will be cooked during the coming year when we have mini Thanksgiving meals.

We are having a beef roast, a chicken stuffed with crawfish and jalepeno peppers, mashed potatoes, broccoli with cheese sauce and macaroni and cheese and hot rolls and oof course the tamales. Everyone will arrive on Christmas morning for gift exchange and the Christmas dinner.

Continued: Christmas morning:
Right now it's quiet and peaceful.  I have been up since 0500 hrs. doing food prep. The potatoes are peeled, the dirty rice is cooked and the sweet potato puff is out of the oven. I am waiting on a call from the daughter to tell me everyone is awake and ready to open their gifts. I want to be there with my camera to record the event.

It's time for me to get dressed and get the car warmed up. We are experiencing yet another cold spell which is perfect for this Christmas morn.
Merry Christmas and a healthy New Year for everyone!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Hair, Here and There

A little note to the wise or in some cases, a little note to help you in 'becoming' wise.

Don't tell a chemo patient "It's only hair. It will grow back."

I know we should be focusing on living and hair shouldn't be that big a deal considering what we are facing BUT it's OUR hair and it IS important. We can't sit and think about dying all the time though it is a big part of our living right now, but having to do it PLUS having to deal with NO hair makes me want to snap someone's head off when they say "It's only hair...." 
And about that mastectomy and getting new perky boobies. Let's go there for a minute shall we?

I didn't choose to get rid of the ones I had to get "perky ones'. Getting perky ones this way is very painful. It's not about just getting implants. It's about getting stretchers placed BEHIND the muscles in your chest and  having that muscle stretched in increments week after week until it leaves a pocket big enough to place a saline and gel implant which will have to be changed out every 10 years. The nerves that have been severed and are trying to regenerate are painful. The burning sensation sets your teeth on edge. This is being said from someone that has done better then most of the mastectomy patients. I haven't gone the tissue expander route so though I've bypassed that painful part of this procedure, the pain and discomfort from the surgery is enough. I wasn't a candidate for this type of reconstruction because of the radiation I will have to have. The reconstruction option for me will be to have abdomen skin grafted to my chest. This is a 12 hr. surgery with too many risks for me to even entertain having this done. Infection is one of the big risks and happens to many. Usually these patients have 3 surgeries to get the end result. I'm not up for that.
My hair is growing back. I have a soft 1/4" of hair. I have been off chemo since the last of October and I hope my oncologist will not prescribe more of the same chemo that took my hair. I know I will be taking more of the chemo that targets the colon cancer but that had it's own side effects but losing hair wasn't one of them.

Clinical update: The burning sensations have lessened. The chest tightness is also relaxing. The incision sites which can almost be described now as scars, are healing. No drainage noted. No redness or odor. Edges well approximated.
Numbness remains to the breast line.

I wear a soft camisole beneath my clothes. I am comfortable with pulling shirts on over my head now.

On a lighter note and after this post, I need to lighten up a bit...the temperatures are into the seventies and it's a beautiful day! I dropped Carrie off at school and didn't come home. I did some shopping. I still have a few more gifts to purchase and some groceries for the Christmas meal  but I have  time. Carrie visited a few days ago and I found her beneath the tree shaking packages. She recognized the new packages that she hadn't wrapped and correctly surmised they were for her. She mentioned something about opening one of her gifts early. I quickly put a stop to that. "Carrie," I said, "that one gift you open early is usually on Christmas eve..not two weeks BEFORE Christmas!"

Carrie makes Christmas what it is supposed to be. The excitement she feels has long passed most adults when it comes to Christmas. Even Ted and Lessie are approaching that age where the magic is gone, replaced by the stress of jobs and shopping.

Ah, you are only a child once and it passes much to quickly. If only they realized that when they were children.

I will publish this. It won't be posted to Facebook.
I'm done here.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Moving Along, A Saturday Morning in December

Toe test done. It's actually warm outside. It's warmer out there then it is in here but the humidity is lower inside. A light rain is in progress which accounts for the air moistness.

I have been awake since 0500 hrs. The news reports are spilling out of the television while I cruise my
Facebook, check out my email and sip on a cup of hot coffee. That's my usual routine. Isn't that how everyone wakes up these days? I am now past the point of remembering what my days were like without the internet. I have been online so long that my days revolve around it.


I check my mail, do research and pay my bills and monitor my bank account. I spend less then 10.00 a year on stamps, my photos are digital and stored on a separate hard drive and family updates are gathered from the same source.

Could you have imagined this at the time we were children? I used to love to listen in to my grandparents reminisce about their childhoods, thinking all the time "OH MAN! are they old or WHAT?" I couldn't imagine living the life of mounting a horse to get somewhere. Though we did raise most of what we ate, there were friends of ours that lived in town and had no gardens. I knew there was a more leisurely lifestyle. Eventually we became "townies" and the gardens were a thing of the past. I would never have imagined cell phones; always in touch. Had we been told as a child about the future with those phones and the internet, we would have turned away from that news, shaking our heads at the cracked pot notions delivered.

Now when the grandchildren listen to us talk about our childhood, I'm sure they are thinking "Man! Are they old or WHAT?"

My own daughter at one time asked me if we had cars when I was a child. Now at her age, I'm sure she is getting some of those questions from her own children. "NO internet Mama? Man! are you OLD or WHAT?"

I remain in awe of all the technology. We have went from vinyl, to 8 tracks to cassettes, to iPods. From libraries, to book stores to E Books. From renting movies to having them downloaded or viewed via Hulu or Netflix. What a ride this has been and I know there is more coming.

I also am aware of how UNAWARE I am of all the new technology out there. I stumble on to inventions I had no idea were available. The medical field and their surgery techniques with robotics; procedures and medicines, all have moved forward in the 5 yrs. I have  been out of the mix.

I'm amazed, impressed and excited about all this. I'm also scared and nervous about a country that relies so much on computers to manage our lives. Along with all the conveniences comes the bad stuff. The hackers that invade and destroy our identities, our bank accounts and our computers. It comes with the territory; those that have to take advantage of any system.

I'm watching the weather reports on all the snow coming in to the north east and I'm grateful we have only humidity and a light rain to deal with.
Another cup of coffee and I should be ready for my Saturday. I'm done here and gone!

  

Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday and Post 4 weeks

It has now been 4 weeks since surgery. The bilateral mastectomy incisions are healing and the swelling has decreased. The tight band feeling across the chest has also started to fade. I am able to now move my arms without having nerve pain stab through the axillary area. The burning sensation remains to the right arm but it is not as intense or as often. The mornings remain sensation free but the afternoon and evenings, the stinging and burning will return. 
We are still under a cold spell here. The temperatures swing into the thirties at night with a daily high in the fifties. Tomorrow will bring some 70 degree temperatures but only for that one day and then the storm creeping across the USA will bring  more cold weather. I'm not complaining as our roads are still dry and snow free. 

My car needed cleaned. After the rainy days we have had, I would normally have hand washed it but the temperatures have stubbornly stayed too low for me to relish getting out a bucket and brush to clean it. I drove it through a car wash today and sat in it while the huge brushes whisked off the dirt and grime of the past month. I inspected the wash when I got home and of course it was not up to the standards of a hand wash job. It will have to do until the weather gets better and I can take a brush and clean the spoked rims and other portions of the car that were missed.

I've finished most of my Christmas shopping. The stove oven has been repaired and I've promised the husband I won't use the "self cleaning" option on it again. It always burns out something each time I've used it.
Nothing much to report from here. Relaxing and lazying around consumes much of the days right now. The husband's job is slow and he doesn't expect it to pick up until after the first of the year. We are cruising!
  

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Chilly Morning and Icicles of the Foil type

I'm sipping on a cup of hot brew, wearing flannel pajamas, wrapped in a pink fuzzy robe and covered up with my soft brown plaid blanket. I can hear the furnace revving up, the warm air drifting down from the vents in the ceiling. YES! Winter is here this week.

The street I live on has a few houses with outdoor lights and decorations gracing their lawns. We are one of those. It's not that the spirit is stronger with those few houses but it relates to the fact that those houses got their lights up before this cold front wrapped it's frigid arms around us. It's too cold for the natives to be decorating the outdoors.

I may brave the weather and make another trip to the little storage house to get the garland that should be hung around the front door. My tree is standing and loaded with the crocheted angels that I am very partial to. While working at a nursing home, a little lady was making them and selling them for a dollar a piece. I bought a bunch and only wish that I had more of them. They are starched stiff and adorn my tree each year.

Icicles; the kind that go on Christmas trees. Remember those? As children we weren't as particular as the adults we have become. I can remember our family saving the icicles from the year before and putting them back on the tree for the next Christmas. We had to be frugal.

 We hung them carefully for the first few minutes then as the novelty worn off, I can remember pitching them at the tree. Yesterday I bought some icicles. I haven't put them on a tree in years.  As an adult, I carefully draped them over each branch, watching as the lights picked up the foil and the whole tree glowed brighter. I now have a trail of those icicles littering the rug and the hardwood floor. I stoop to pick them up and toss them at the tree, remembering the times we tracked them across the room on those child Christmases. Ah, yes. Icicles. How did I make it without them all these years.

Soon I will put on some warm clothes and start the car to let it warm up before I leave to collect Carrie for her ride to school. At least we don't have nasty slippery roads to contend with. The rain has moved on through and by Saturday it should be in the mid seventies..but only for ONE DAY and then another blast from the north. What a strange winter we are having.
Clinical report: The major improvement I have noticed is I can now raise my arms above my head, move them across my chest and wear pullover t shirts. The nerve/burning sensation beneath my right upper arm gets worse as the day wears on. I'm taking a couple of Tylenol throughout the day.
The incision sites are healing with a minimal amount of swelling now.
I'm done here and I'm off to get some warm clothes on. Time is rushing along.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

No..Nope...Maybe?

The temperatures we are experiencing right now are unseasonably cold. Usually February delivers us into temperatures that drive us to find socks and real shoes with not only soles on them but tops too.
I watched the weather forecasts for last night but still I slinked to the door this morning, reached for the door knob while trying to peak through a portion of door  that has areas of clear glass. Opening the door a mere crack, I was swamped by the cold air that rushed in to wrap itself around my pajama clad body. I should have worn my robe.

Not only was it cold, but It was a very wet cold. The rain drizzled down and at 37 degrees, we were but 5 degrees too warm for snow. Occasionally throughout the day, I positioned myself in front of a window expecting to see the rain turn to snow. Just a light skiff would have been wonderful. This wish was not for me but for Carrie. The last time it snowed here was 5 years ago and she was only 3 years old. She doesn't remember. I have entertained the thought of taking her north during the holiday break from school so she can experience some snow. I don't relish driving in it again.

We did spend a little time this afternoon wrapping some Christmas gifts. Carrie enjoys this and her skills have improved through the years. The Christmas tree is up and decorated. I always grumble about doing this but once it is lit I enjoy it's lights and baubles. The crocheted white angels and snowflakes appear each year traditionally to establish their place in the grandchildren's memories. They expect to see certain things on this tree and the one at their mother's house.
Each year Carrie repaints a wooden decoration that hangs above my kitchen sink. It's a snowman with a picture of her in the opening of it's head. Carrie changes the paint colors on it every Christmas and it hangs there another year in it's new colors. Another tradition we hold onto each year.
I still have more shopping to do but it's not overwhelming and I'm not pressed to get it done. I like to save a little bit of shopping which gives me an excuse to join the Christmas crowds and get into the mood of the season. I'll spend a few hours in the mall, a place I might visit twice a year.

Right now, it's time to get some bath water ready for Carrie. She hasn't decided if she is spending the night here but since I have an overhead heater in my bathroom, she will get a bath before heading home.
I'm done here.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Friday

The incision sites are healing though not a pretty site, I'm getting less burn in the right arm. I say that now but it's early in the day and usually it doesn't start bothering me until the late afternoon. I don't spend the entire night in my bed. Usually around 0300 hrs. I wake up and move to the living room sofa so I can turn on the television without disturbing the husband. 0500 hrs. arrives and I'm awake again and ready for a cup of coffee.

I'm doing all my normal daily chores. I can get a t shirt over my head now without too much discomfort.  Time and stitches, a combination that works every time.

I peeked out the door and did the toe test. The cold met with the humidity we have been experiencing for the past week and the view was heavy with fog. It was so hot here yesterday, I thought we would have to turn on the a/c.
That storm roaring across the nation and leaving everyone encased in ice is pushing cold air into the deep south.
This week will be sock weather for us. I'm so thankful I no longer live in the frozen north. I drove those icy, snowy roads for years and years without incident other then a lot of fright from viewing some of the accidents witnessed during those storms. ENOUGH! I totally enjoy the fact that I now live in an area that is snow and ice free.


My next appointment with the oncologist is December 26th. I missed my appointment on Dec. 2nd. I thought it was for the 4th and when I appeared on that date, I was informed of my mistake. I requested the receptionist check with the doctor about being off chemo this long and I'm now waiting to hear from her on what the doctor said. She (the doctor) I'm assuming, is alright with this delay or the receptionist would not have scheduled that appointment.

I dread starting back. I have hair which will be lost when the chemo is resumed. I know it's "only hair" unless it's YOUR hair. I know it's "only breasts" unless it's YOUR breasts and then it makes a difference.

April wants to make a gumbo this weekend. I'll be at her house supervising. I offered to make it but she is adamant about learning to do it herself.

I'm going to shut down here and finish putting the baubles on the Christmas tree. Carrie didn't get to stop by last night to help. She likes to wrap gifts so we will get to that this weekend.
I'm done here! 


Sunday, December 1, 2013

How bout that Auburn!!

I stayed away from football this Saturday except for the 'Bama/ Auburn game. I must say..it was worth watching especially that last ONE second!  You heard me right..the last one second determined the winner of that game which was tied up and going into overtime except for that ONE second. 'Bama kicked it for a field goal from about 56 yds out..missed the goal and the ball was caught by Auburn player beneath the goal post and ran back 109 yds. to score a touchdown at Auburn's goal post! The announcer for that game was screaming as that player passed the 50, then the 30 and on and on and the announcer's voice was following him expecting that player to get tackled. As he neared the end zone the announcer went wild along with the crowd. Touchdown Auburn and Bama lost their first game of this season. Nick Sabin was so upset he didn't cross the field to shake hands with the Auburn coach. The Auburn fans flooded the field. This was a historic game and I'm happy that I watched it!

The Saints play Monday night football against Seattle so I think I will go shopping today. I've showered and dressed and this will be the first time I'm out of the house in the last 6 days. The temperatures are supposed to hit into the 70 degree range today. It's time to unhibernate (I know that's not a real word).
Carrie found her iPod. She just texted me using it. It was lost in the chair. The recliner ate it and it has been missing for weeks now. I'm always lecturing her on NOT laying it down when she isn't using it but to take it to the night stand in the bedroom and plug it into the charger there. When she doesn't listen and loses it, she shies away from letting me know she doesn't know where it is. She doesn't like lectures.
I have my Christmas list and though it is short, I want to pick up a few things today. Carrie will visit this afternoon and we will dig out some Christmas lights and the decorations for inside and start putting out some things. I don't do a lot of this because it means I will have a lot to put away as soon as the season is past.

Clinical report: The right arm has full range of motion; the stinging and burning continue. When the sleeves of what I'm wearing rubs against it, the nerves become agitated and the burning sensation starts. There is still one level of movement that will cause shooting pain which is as improvement over a week ago when more then one level of movement was affected.
The incision on the right side has steri strips in place with a small amount of drainage. I was going to use peroxide to clean it but after researching, I forfeited that idea. Peroxide interacts with an enzyme in the skin which causes the bubbling and turns the peroxide into water. The problem lies with..though it is an oxidizing agent, it not only kills the bad skin cells but also the good ones at the site which might cause more scarring. I took a shower and used the spray attachment to flush out the incision site really well. I'll keep an eye on it to make sure  infection doesn't appear.
 Emotionally: I don't mind giving up what is gone IF it takes care of the problem. The problem IS, did carving up my body really fix me? I'm sure time will tell but meanwhile, I gaze at the skin that some describe as  "bat wings" that are not a part of my arms but a part of the axillary area. Small baseball size protrusions fill the "armpit" or axillary area. This is common with most mastectomy patients and is very disturbing to most of us also.
I hear people complain about lines and wrinkles, hair color and body shape and I want to tell them, it could be so much worse. I know it could be worse for me too so I persevere. I can still be up and about, shopping, cleaning house and spending time with the family. I'm still independent and for that I'm thankful!

I'm done and gone!



Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving!

I started this morning. There is no rush as the dinner won't be served until 1400 hrs. and there isn't a big bird cooking but a big turkey breast that will take about 2 hrs. in the oven. The ham was sliced and the brown sugar and cinnamon glaze poured over it.

I put together all the side dishes to be slipped into the oven an hour before the meal.
The daughter arrived and set to making a few appetizers. The house is filled with the aroma of cinnamon, pumpkin and roasted turkey.

The daughter has brought along her two God children. They are 3 yrs. and 5 yrs. old. Their mother had to work today so they will spend the day with us. 
 In and out of the house they go to play in the leaves in the back yard. I watched as they grabbed the rake and tried to gather all the leaves into a pile. Carrie is 8 yrs. old and she watches over them as a big sister would.
 It's cold here but the children don't seem to mind. I'm sure we were the same as children.
We are waiting on one more grandchild to arrive and dinner will be served. I'm ready for some dinner and a nap to follow.
I have received holiday wishes from Facebook friends and family, telephone text messages and a few actual voice calls from family and friends. The best part of the holidays is being in touch with these people.
Here's hoping you are having a good friendly holiday for family and friends.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Moving Toward Turkey Day

It has been 15 days of smoke free here at the casa. The husband complains that nothing tastes "right". His coffee in the morning and his beer with football has left him with a bad taste in his mouth.

"It will get better." I say as I slipped looks toward him on Sunday as he spent most of the day in front of the TV watching his football games and making it through two beers for the whole day and evening.

We made it out of the house today and to the surgeon's office where the Nurse Practitioner removed the last of the staples across my chest. She assures me the nerve pain will abate but I have my doubts. I've read on the web where women continue to have the burning sensation in the arms and random phantom pain across the chest for years. I'm hoping I notice some improvement on this in the next weeks. It's only been a few weeks post op and I'm trying to be patient with this.

It will soon be time to drag all the Christmas "stuff' from the storage house. Minimal is my word for this. As I'm removing from the room the table top stuff and replacing with Christmas decor the only thing I can think about is doing this in reverse yet again on the evening of December 25th. Storing Christmas decorations take up a lot of space and I have an aversion against owning a lot of "stuff". 

The rain has arrived. Prior to the wet, the temperatures dropped and the winds rose. 40 degrees might sound like a heat wave to Northerners but here in the deep 
South, warm coats, boots and hats are appearing. I'm not complaining about the weather. We don't get snow nor ice here and for that I'm extremely grateful.

Clinical report on surgery: The staples/sutures were removed today. The surgeon stopped by to ask how I was doing. He wanted to tell me that though there were a large amount of lymph node involvement, the treatments these days were encouraging in halting the movement of cancer cells. He presented cases he has had of cases like mine, the patient 20 yrs out from her mastectomy. We also talked about a case he has tomorrow on a 25 yr. old that found a lump and is having a mastectomy. I'm always saddened to hear of the youth and especially the young mothers going through this.

My emotions took a dip and then rebounded. I don't know how to stay on an even keel all the time. I can tell myself, along with everyone else telling me, "one day at a time". Sometimes that works and sometimes it gets away from me.
I've been down that long dark road into depression and I don't ever want to go that trip again. Getting up and out of the house, involving myself with Carrie's needs and friends that call and stop by are my saviors.

My sister in law has been diagnosed with lesions on the brain from a metathesized melanoma while her husband (my brother) was just diagnosed with lymphoma and a brother in law with lung cancer. To say the least, this has not been a good year for this family. My heart aches for each one of them and their families.

My brother says to me "I'm not worried. It's in God's hands."

Oh but to be so devout as to be able to give up all your fears and worries. I've been a worrier all my life. Planning ahead, anticipating and preparing as much as possible for the future has served me well.

It is now almost 0200 hrs and I'm still awake. Sometimes my sleep hours are all out of wack. I don't fight it. I get out of bed and sprawl out on the sofa, TV remote in hand while I wait for sleep to approach. I have the luxury of being able to take a nap anytime I need to during the day.

It might be time to shut it down for the night. It's sleep time.



Sunday, November 24, 2013

mi Gusto mis manzante

Yes I do! and coming to you from that Apple is a new app I downloaded this morning. I have the answer to my dilemma of not being bilingual. Google Translator app is a marvel. You can either type in your phrase or set the microphone to the "on" position and speak into the iPad. The transator repeats what you said, then translates into a language of your choice! Mi gusto mis internet! (I'll check that to make sure I got that right.
It is cold here! 39 degrees this morning when I rocked out of bed and to the front door. I didn't notice any frost which would be at 32 degrees, the magic freeze number.

Carrie and I are going to make some pecan pies today. The key lime and the pumpkin pies are store bought. Does anyone do all of their holiday baking anymore? I no longer understand the concept of "fully home cooked". I buy the dough balls and pop them into a muffin tin, let rise and bake and VOILA, hot rolls with a minimal amount of fuss.

A turkey breast and a ham will be served here on Thanksgiving and the side dishes are the standards that are served every year. Carrie made sure she got her request in for mac and cheese. She won't eat any green bean casserole, sweet potato puff or mashed potatoes. It's turkey or ham and mac and cheese for her. 
It's time to make that second pot of coffee so I'm off to the kitchen again. 
Another note..it is now 14 days of the husbands quit. I'm so thankful that this is happening. We have all quit here except for Lessie. Hopefully she will be inspired by me, her mother and now her Poppy that have said "no more" to the bad health choice and all the money spent. 

I do NOT harp on them to quit. It had to be a decision they embrace.
It's coffee time. I'm gone.and I'm done!

Friday, November 22, 2013

I Had a Dream OR No More Ambien

I've decided to give up Ambien. I started last night.

Sun, sand and summer! The house was huge and familiar. It belonged to a friend and I had visited a few times. We were here to take possession. I'm not interested in all the legal machinations. That would be the husband
s department. I wanted to check out the pool, the paint colors and the kitchen again.

My next recollection of this visit was the walking. Down the beach away from the house, we kicked sand with our bare feet, dodging in and out of the foamy white waves. The walk extended on into the streets away from the beach and into the housing area.

I was alone. It didn't occur to me to look for the husband. That came later. The little car I was driving halted while I asked the youth beside the road for directions. I must have moved to the passenger seat because he was now driving and until the police cruiser was noticed ahead, I had him pull the car over and took over the driver's seat again.

We moved on into the center of town. A police officer directed traffic, we waved at him as we moved through the intersection. His long curly brown hair slipped out beneath the billed cap he wore. Shorts and t-shirt and sandals boasted the fact that uniforms were unnessary in this beach community.

The car was gone and a bike was my means of movement. I went looking for the house. Up and down the streets moving from one section to another, finding the house again was impossible.

No segue into the next scene, but suddenly I was back down to the beach area walking again with the husband. We met a couple, distraught as we were, we told them we had lost our house. I went on to explain, we just couldn't find it. They walked and walked with us, stopping once to buy some beer and moving on. I had no cell phone nor purse so I couldn't call the daughter or any friends. The young lady let me use her cell phone and the only telephone number I had memorized was my friend in Wyoming.

I dialed, she answered. I listened for a while to some problems she was having and then told her I needed her to call the daughter's number and explained to her what was going on. By this time my stress level was through the roof.

I popped up to a sitting position from where I was laying on the sofa. The TV was on some entertainment channel. It took me a few moments to realize the dream I was having. I seldom dream or at least I don't remember them. I immediately grabbed the laptop and opened it to a blank email. I took notes on the dream; writing a few words to describe some of the scenes.
I remember vividly the jeep stranded in high tide, the driver with cell phone in hand calling for help while I was on the borrowed cell phone calling my friend in Wyoming.

Where DO these dreams come from? This is not the first time I have decided to stop taking Ambien but this is the first time I've had such vivid dreams the same night.

Would I consider this a nightmare or just a dream? There were no monsters nor insects that were huge and long legged. The helplessness was the biggest stressor in this story.

That's my story, disjointed as it was, it all made perfect sense until I woke up.
It's time to collect Carrie and deposit her at her school. The weather is supposed to go through extreme changes today. The rains are to be heavy followed by cold weather by the weekend. We will go from the high of 78 to a low of 34 by tonight. I have shopping to do for Thanksgiving dinner and a turkey to take out of the freezer.
I'm done and gone.





Thursday, November 21, 2013

Short Post, Emotional Day

My appointment was at 0930, I arrived at 1030; an hour late. The nurse was having some personal issues and all her patients were being seen by the doctor. I amused myself in the waiting room with my iPad, surfing the internet. The husband sat beside me, a magazine in hand.
Eventuallly I was led back to the small exam room where I stripped off the surgery bra and dressed in the green  gown with the abstract art designs sprinkled over it.

The doctor appeared and inspected the surgery site and in a very straight face, soft voiced said "The pathology report came back. You had massive amount of lymph node involvement." I could see by the look on his  face he was giving me time to absorb this. I looked into his eyes and nodded. It was quiet for a few beats then he said "We went in to clean you out and we got all of them."  It was what he didn't say that sent a chill through me. Until a PET scan is done again, I won't know if it has spread.
There wasn't anything I needed to ask. "Your oncologist will probably want to run more chemo and radiation."

This I knew was planned prior to the surgical procedure. I have an appointment on December 4th to see her. At that time, I expect her to elaborate on the pathology report. Yesterday was an emotional day for me. Right now I'm consumed by fear and the tears fall.

The best part of the day was when my neighbor appeared to visit. She is one of the most positive people one could ask for. She reviewed cases of her friends and family that had traveled this path and are still around to talk about it. 15 yrs. ago Stage 4 and  she is still enjoying her company.

I have a difficult time maintaining a positive attitude and with each parcel of news I receive, I imagine the worst case scenario. I'm a "half empty glass" sort of person instead of a "half full" glass sort of person. If you prepare for the worst and it doesn't happen, it makes the good news that much sweeter.

The surgery site is healing with fluid accumulated in the axillary area. This swelling might be what is causing the nerve pain. I have been given instructions on avoiding lymphedema. A glove to be worn when doing dishes, doing garden work and watch for any signs of infection should a cut occur on that hand.

This will take some training to stay alert and aware of these stipulations.

A Thanksgiving dinner will be  here as usual. The daughter will be here all day and in the kitchen. I'll have the turkey and the ham in the oven and she will take care of all the side dishes.

It's time for me to get ready to pick up Carrie and get her to school. I like being back to my routine.
I'm done!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

We Are Survivors!

I did the weather check this morning. Popping open the door just a bit, I extended my foot beyond the threshold. Yep! It's a cold morning. It was 0300 when I did this check. I woke and relocated to the sofa , covered up with a blanket and flicked on the television.

For the past few days I have been experimenting. I have never been one to spend time in front of a television, not because I'm a television snob but simply because I can't sit still long enough to watch it. I'm clueless as to what is where as far as channel viewing goes. I'm seldom curious about what others are watching though I recognize those shows they mention when I see a commercial for them. Usually what I'm watching is in reruns.  I've made it a point to check out "On  Demand".  I can go back in time and catch some shows that aren't on in the daytime. I"m resting as ordered and resting is very boring. I'll use this time to see some of the evening TV shows that I've missed for the past 10 yrears!

Shows that have been running for 5 years and are still being shown are what I'm viewing. Some of the shows are new ones and I've committed my self to catching up. The Big Bang Theory, Michael J. Fox, and Grimn kept me occupied yesterday. I'm going to give each one a view and my own critique. 

I'll confess. I'm one of the few people that never finished the movie "ET" and "The Wizard of Oz." It would be easier to list the shows and movies I've seen then the ones I haven't. I can entertain myself with television because what is in rerun is a first run for me. 

It's very quiet around here. Should I be concerned?

The husband is still "quit" and we don't discuss anything to do with "it". I haven't noticed much change in his behavior. I thought when I was going through mine, that everybody could see the internal jitters that went on during that first two weeks. Maybe it was just that, an internal thing.

My healing continues. Usually during the afternoon is when I notice the stinging and burning from my right axillary area and arm. This, I know, is from the lymph nodes that were removed. The axillary is swollen while the muscle to my right underarm is a bit flaccid. Hopefully, as time passes, this will mend. I do have full range of motion to both upper extremities. Tomorrow I visit the doctor to check on the staples/stitches.

Carrie has enjoyed her lunch and a movie. 

I've already warned her about my plans for both of us to have an afternoon nap. She can take her book to bed with us and read until she gets sleepy. NO TV. 

I'm gone for a while. Done!





Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday, Day 8 of a a'quit' and Day 10 post Op

Uneventful for the most part, the weekend was spent with the husband watching football and me taking it easy. He appears calm and rational. I tread softly around a quitter. One never knows what might cause that last nerve to snap.

He keeps asking me "When am I going to feel better?"  "When am I going to be coughing up and clearing stuff from my lungs?"

I ignore his questions. He is teetering on the premise of "Why stop smoking if I'm not going to get these results?"
I let it pass but I did say "Looking for an excuse to NOT quit is common at this stage." and I tiptoed away.

April assisted in the first dressing change and I did the second one alone. I viewed the site and survived. The metal sutures run in an inverted T shape. This is the change in surgical procedure the doctor discussed when he popped his head into the holding are minutes before the surgery. When I visited the Nurse Practitioner last week I asked her "why" the change. She explained that the doctor felt with all the tissue that had to be removed, this was the best option for cosmetic results. She also said, as the surgery proceeded, a plastic surgeon was in the surgery area and as he passed by, they commandeered him to come in and take a look. He was in the surgery suite and gave his suggestions to the surgeon. The Nurse Practitioner was impressed; a plastic surgeon on the case no charge!

I must say, the wounds are not as horrific as I had imagined. The flat chest, I think, is the weirdest part. Each time I do a dressing change it's less traumatizing. I know this is done to save my life though deep down I still doubt this will do it. I've always felt this way since my diagnosis. The doctors dance around the prognosis with me. They know my work background. I let it go and don't question too much with them.

Carrie, the granddaughter, 8 yrs. old chronologically but much more mature then that mentally and emotionally kept inquiring "Nana, when can I see your chest?"

I hadn't gotten up the nerve to look yet she was ready. Yesterday was the day. I had changed the dressings in the morning so I had my first real look. This was the afternoon after returning from shopping with her and the daughter. She wanted to come home with me; it was time to change dressings and wash the post op bra. I slipped into the laundry room and set the washer for a small load and peeled off my top.

I could hear her calling for me. "Carrie, I'm in the laundry room. I don't have a top on so you might not want to come in here."
I thought that would be a prep for her or a warning. She walked in, stood and looked with no expression change. I watched closely for any reaction of disgust or horror.

She said "Nana, you don't look bad. You just don't have any boobies!"
The metal sutures, the swollen skin, the bruised coloring and the occasional drain holes caused not a flinch.

On to the next step; one little step at a time.

Clinically: the wound margins are clean on the left side. The right side has reddened areas at the horizontal suture site. Minimal drainage noted to the sites. Cleansing is done with 4x4 sterile pads and hydrogen peroxide. New self adhesive bandages used to cover the areas.

The right arm from shoulder to elbow has neuropathy with a burning sensation. Occasionally a sharp short pain will cross my chest. Nerves are healing and this may or may not advance to a stage where it is chronic or may even vanish.

I have an appointment on Wednesday to see the Nurse Practitioner again. Some of the sutures maybe removed if the healing has progressed to that point.

That's my progress update. Emotionally I still have my ups and downs; my teary moments but I'm working through and from all I've read and from reports from friends, this is a normal part of this procedure. I'm hoping they are right.
Done!





Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Shower/Day8

The daughter, her fella and Carrie stopped by. They picked up the chest of drawers (see prior posts), Carrie got her peach colored dress from the closet for the wedding they are attending this afternoon and they were gone. I had my own plans. A shower after 8 day of basin washing.
 I stripped off the corset like bra thing that was placed in the operating room, dropped it into the washing machine and hit the dial to start the washer. The drainage was noted to the t shirt I had been wearing. This is not unexpected nor a sign to be alarmed though it did make me more ready to get beneath a shower and put on some fresh clothes.

I halted, stopped and picked up my cell phone and messaged the daughter. She had barely got home but responded immediately. I wanted her to be here to help with the dressings; I didn't want to be alone to see the surgeon's handiwork. I'm not usually squeamish over surgical scars. This one is different. I am dumb founded over my reactions to this. Much of it comes from observing the pictures on the internet of the post mastectomy chests.

Once again, though I appreciate all she does for me, having April do anything medical leaves me watching her in dismay. As she opened the sterile gauze pads I had purchased on my trip to the store this morning, I gently gave instructions on handling the little pads that would be placed on the drainage sites. We are not doing a "sterile" dressing change that would entail sterile gloves and a sterile field to work in. This was to be a "clean" dressing change though.

"Don't get your fingers directly on the gauze." I said to her as she began peeling off the tape that held the dressings."

"Hold the gauge by the edges. Yeah that's right." I said to her as she began ripping the paper packaging away from the new gauze she would be applying.

I watched the expression on her face for any signs that she may become sick or faint. The expressions were there though she hung tough seeing the incisions. She described what she was seeing. I inspected the old gauze for signs of infection. All was going well and I was impressed by the daughter's ability to help.
"Mom, I'm a "desert" type nurse. I would never make it in a civilized setting. That's what real nurses are for!"

When she picked up the tape, pulled out a long piece and put it in her mouth to rip a piece off I thought of her stranded in the desert using what she had in the worst possible conditions. I took the tape from her and told her "Let me help." I can just imagine a hospital patient watching her technique. This is not the desert.

"What?" she said. I'm not supposed to tear it with my teeth?"

We both fell out laughing and I did all the tape measuring and cutting to finish this task.

We got through this; my aversion to seeing myself right now and her aversion to doing anything involving bandages and drainage.

I haven't seen the husband since we began this task. I'm sure he will show up later when all the mess is cleaned up.




Day 6 Unwavering Quit and/Day8Post Op

We should have scheduled the quit and the surgery on the same day. It would have been easier to track our progress.

Clinically I have some neuropathy on the right side in the axillary area and with that a burning sensation. Both of these side effects are not uncommon for this surgery. I've talked to others with the same results and this might take months for the nerves to regenerate or might never have full sensation and the decrease of the burning sensation.

We are weathering the "quit'. The husband said "after we get you fixed I'll quit." Two days after I was released from the surgery center, he quit.

I can't help but be hyper aware. I am not being obvious but only aware of any behavior that can be translated into anxiety or discomfort from the addiction part of this quit.

I'm just observing and not questioning. It's hard enough to try ignoring something that has been a part of your life for most of your life. I feel the same way about my breasts.  As I pass a mirror, I might glance and then look again. My body has changed and it's something I must get accustomed to. I don't mourn the loss nor think my reflection looks worse then it did before. It's just different. Of course I'm talking about my reflection with clothes on. I still haven't inspected my bare chest. I've found this is not uncommon with women that have had this surgery. Sometimes it takes a month before the patient is ready and the doctors and staff do not push the patient.

I'll be doing a dressing change today after I clean the site. The drains are gone so I'm now allowed to drive and to shower. I'll approach this confrontation as has had to be done with each step in this journey; one day at a time.

I'm also watching the mess that is the Affordable Care Act. I myself have been attempting to use the web site to check on and compare the insurance I have with what is available. Supposedly it is being adjusted and a fix is promised but thus far I haven't been able notice much improvement. I'll be moving to  Medicare on the first day of February 2014 so this will only affect my husband's policy. Blue Cross/Blue Shield was able to grandfather our policy in as it was in effect since 2010. I think that is the cutoff date that will let the old policies slip beneath the limbo pole.

A better fix for this mess would have been a single payer policy as in Medicare for everyone. That would have been too easy for this administration to come to an agreement. Hurray for Europeans that know how to do it. Ba Humbug  to the great USA for the special interest groups that really run our government.


I may add more to this later. I'm finished for now.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday, Day 5 of Quit and The Drains are GONE Baby!

I'm a free bird today. The drains were removed and I was given permission to drive my car. As soon as we got home, the husband parked, I slipped into the driver's seat and I was gone!

I drove to the school and entered the lunch room. Carrie wasn't seated with her class. She was sitting at the visitors table and her mother was seated with her. When she looked up and saw me walking toward her, her face took on a shocked look. Her mother, watching her with her back to me, turned to see what was causing Carrie's expression.

We chatted through lunch. A few of the teachers approached with their delight at seeing me back. On the way out of the school, we stopped in the library. It was great getting back and saying hello to everyone.

I'm back at the house and dressed in something lighter weight then what I started out with this morning. It's a bright sunny day and I'm off to the outdoors to watch the husband do some painting.

Oh..and Day 5 of the husband's "quit". I'm keeping my fingers crossed and staying very quiet. I don't want to keep bringing "it" up if he is trying to forget about "it".

I'll feel better about it when he is 5 months out.

I'm gone!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The "Quit" Continues

He insists "it's a piece of cake".  I know better but I just nod and smile. I've mentioned a few times that I'm proud of him, thinking this bit of encouragement couldn't hurt. That's when he insists "it's a piece of cake."

I notice that the subject comes up a few times during the day. The daughter was obsessive about mentioning them when she was going through her "quit'. Five months later, she never mentions a cigarette which indicates to me she is finished. I'm still impressed by my own 'quit' and equally  impressed by hers. I think she quit because of monetary reasons; I quit because I hated the thought of being addicted to anything and the health reasons.

I'm taking it easy. For the past two days I've decided I might need to rest more. The only reason for this is because I'm causing much amazement from family and friends on my activity level. I'm told by everyone that I might be over doing it. Although I see no reason to not be up and about and doing some housework, I'm scared that should something go awry with the surgery, I'll be hearing some "I told ya so's." 

Early this morning, I peeked out the door. Across the street, the neighbors has set a tall chest of drawers at the roadside. I shut the door and promptly opened it again to get another look at that chest. What IF it was a solid piece of furniture? Nothing is made of solid wood these days and if it were the price would be so prohibitive, the average person couldn't afford it. I had to check it out. 

Across the street I went in my nightgown and robe, and bare footed. After checking it out, this solid wood chest had all the drawers intact and in good condition. I tipped it on it's side and tried to drag it across the road to my carport. Immediately, the neighbor guy appeared and he lifted one end of it and we both carried it across the road. I thanked him profusely. I wish I were two months post op. I'm ready to change the paint color on it and get it to April's house. 

That's when I made the decision to take it easy today. I don't think post op instructions included hauling furniture around. I've rested the remainder of this day and stayed in front of the television or online.

Clinically:   The drains have slowed down but still not to the point where they can be removed. I am still sore and the incision site beneath my right arm burns and will occasionally have a short sharp pain.  I have an appointment on Monday to see the PA at the surgeon's office for a dressing change. The Cancer Center called and scheduled an appointment for December 4th. I'm assuming I  will be resuming chemo. What a shame. My hair is just beginning to grow back. 

It's medicine time and time to drain the JP's, eat a Lortab and get ready for bed.

I'm done for today.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Hour 58

Casually in conversation last evening, the husband mentioned it has been 58 hours since his last cigarette.
How could I have not noticed? I reel back to Sunday, his quit day, and review. Was he gnawing on the furniture? Was his speech impaired. Did his eyes bulge from their sockets? Was his words a blurred drooling roll of incomprehensible sounds? NO. wait. That was me when I did my "quit".

Had he not told me, I would never have known and maybe that was the way it was supposed to be. I don't think he wanted much attention. Neither did I. I really wanted to find a cave somewhere and crawl in and die. No, folks, quitting was NOT fun and I have great empathy for anyone traveling that road. I also have great admiration and respect for those that make it and sympathy for those that don't.
Try again. My only answer to someone that doesn't make their quit. "You can always try again." There is no condemning nor 30 lashes. "Quitting" is a personal thing and nothing to be approached lightly. It matters not how committed you are to do this, sometimes it just doesn't work out. I think my third attempt was my final attempt and every day of my life I rejoice that I made it. I feel that proud of my daughter for making it also.

I love my husband and everytime I see him light up a cigarette, it scares me. I'm afraid he is taking time away from our life together. It's a health issue with me now. He smokes outside. We can afford it, much unlike so many others that are addicted. Money doesn't bring back the health he loses with each cigarette he lights up.

I don't say any of these things to him. He is well aware of the costs monetarily and health wise to his body. I wouldn't insult him by having this conversation with him. I will be here to gently cheer him on and offer any support I can.

I know how proud of himself he will be should he make it all the way in this quit. I'm his best fan and cheerleader!

Itchy feet. I have itchy feet. I know I have more rounds of chemo to finish and I want to get this dance done with. For a few days I had a bit of a pity party for me. It was exclusive and no one around knew it was even going on. There was no drama to witness. It was all encased in my brain. I didn't share it with my best friends, nor my family. I wanted to lash out and whine about continuing this treatment. I wanted the wound to heal from this surgery, the drains to be off me and I wanted to dress in a nice pretty sweater and slacks and get out of this house for a while. I'm in a cage, albeit a nice comfortable one. It is filled with all sorts of entertainment, food and drink. It is where I spend every day all day. During my pity party, I could only envision one future. That was filled with more chemo dates, radiation dates and a rigid schedule I would have to follow for an unspecified number of months. With no end in site and no guarantees on the outcome I felt my soul take a nose dive. My sympathy for myself overwhelmed me. I was standing at the top of the worlds steepest slicky slide and one little push would have sent me down that long run, watching as my up to this time life whizzed by in a blur of recognizable better times.
I should be ashamed. I am ashamed but not mentioning it and denying my feelings doesn't negate the fact that I was feeling all this.  I didn't take that push from the top of that slide. It would be a long trip back and I know I don't want to approach that trip.

My party was short and only took a little time to get turned around. It happens and it's part of this process of illness and healing. "Nobody is promised tomorrow". Not you nor you nor you. It only takes getting to a certain age, not specified in any "book on living"  when this message will be pertinent to each one of us.

It's sweater weather here and I want to put on a sweater and a pair of jeans. It might only last a day and I don't want to miss it. The heat will return as it usually does so we seize the moment and enjoy the nippy weather. Frost was expected but when I finished brewing a cup of coffee and carried it to the front door to step outside and see my breath in the crispness, there was no frost on the ground or the roof tops.

I'm also spending my time searching the web. My keyword is "flat". I have such an aversion to having surgery unless it is something that cannot be avoided. I've been looking at pictures of "small breasted women", "flat chested women" and investigating what they say about what nature didn't give them. I've also read about the many women that did not want reconstructive surgery, and about the problems the ones that did have it and how they felt. I'm looking at this from all angles and viewpoints.

Hopefully, I will be able to make a better judgement on this once I can dress in street clothes. The thought of having something foreign attached to my chest does little to have me looking forward to reconstruction. Is it to early for me to be studying this?

I know I will have to finish chemo and radiation before this can even become something I have to think about. Months before this possibility, I will be dressing in street clothes long before the decision has to be made on "to reconstruct or to not reconstruct."

As of this time, facing surgery times three is not a plan for me.

Will  I publish this or keep it in draft?


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

11.12.13

Todays date....11.12.13

I've been told this won't happen for another 100 years so I thought I might as well take this opportunity to put it in print.

I've blogged this 5th day post op already but it's now the end of the day and I'll update my activities a bit more:

My hands remain strong and I'm able to do most of the house work. I ran the sweeper today, and mopped the kitchen floor, made a meatloaf with potatoes and fresh candied carrots. I did take a lot of down time on the sofa this afternoon but only because I had done all the housework that needed to be done.

Tonight is supposed to be the coldest night of the year so far. Frost warnings are out. I've seen where my home state of WV has already got their first snow fall so winter is officially here and I'm thrilled. I step outside occasionally to feel the brisk air that is our current temperatures. Winter in this state is my favorite time of year!

I'm looking forward to the time when I can get the JP drains pulled and be free of them. Each day there is less and less drainage to collect.
20 cc on #1, 22 cc on #2 and 20cc on #3. Number 4 was removed on the 4th day post op.
And that's my final update for today.

Tuesday, Day 5 Post Op

Clinically: The drains are collecting less and less fluid. I'm now wearing a wonderfully flowing Maui Maui (clueless on correct spelling of that) but it works wonderfully to not hooking those tubes from the wound site on the bed posts as I careen around the bedroom and on other pieces of furniture as I wander around the house. I've been told that "walking" was not what I do. I speed and I have only one speed which is HIGH.

I'm getting antsy around here. I'm ready to get the drains out and get out and about. The pain level remains low, some stinging and burning is answered with a Tylenol ES. I drained the JP's last night, relieving my daughter of the task and assured her I would be alright taking care of them this morning.

Yesterday, without stress, I washed dishes, did laundry after stripping the king size bed and replacing the sheets, swept the kitchen floor, shook out the rugs and placed them in the washer. I really haven't lost any strength in my hands. I can grip a lid on jars and open them. I can get in and out of bed with ease. I'm sleeping through the night on my back. Occasionally I will wake because I have rolled onto my left side and become uncomfortable. I reposition myself and go back to sleep. I am taking my Ambien at bedtime.

 I'm doing small tasks spaced apart in time.

Last night as the husband was watching Monday night football, I slipped into the living room and turned on the TV. Piers Morgan was on and interviewing women with breast cancer. Some of these women had already had their bilateral mastectomy. It really struck home as I am just days out from that same surgery and all the emotions that went along with having it done. It's a surgery that impacts a a persons psyche like no other. Some of these women just wanted the cancer cut out immediately while others feared and mourned this loss. I watched the video of the doctor in the OR dancing with her surgery team prior to her bilateral mastectomy. I never arrived at the "joy" prior this surgery. We all handle it differently.

I have yet to see the incision site. I'm not ready. Carrie has already questioned me about when she can see it. I told her we would look at it together soon. I want to be able to have her view it as any other scar, be it on a leg or on a arm. I don't want her to be cultured to believe that breasts are the most important accoutrement on the female body. We stress that her brain is the most valuable part she has.

  I'll have some pretty camisoles to wear by the time all the tubes and dressings are removed. We will view it unemotionally is my hope.

I left a message with the Cancer Center for my oncologist to let them know the surgery was finished. I'm sure I will have weeks dedicated to recovery before the remaining chemo and radiation is started.

It's not over with this surgery. I might be 1/2 way there though!






Monday, November 11, 2013

November 11th, First Post Op Visit

This will be a short post to record the first visit post op from the mastectomy.

The PA came in and inspected the site. She changed the bandages and looked at the drainage recorded  to each JP drain. Number 4 drain has less then 10 cc for the past 24 hours so it was pulled. She snipped the stitch holding it in and gave a little tug and it was out. No pain noted. I have an appointment in a week for her to check the site again. She said I could come in any time during the week and get other drains pulled if they showed 10cc's or less drainage in a 24 hour period.

We talked a bit about the surgery. She said it took the doctor longer then expected because of the size of my breasts. She wanted to know if I could tell a difference now that they were gone. Was my balance off? I must admit, the first time I stood up at the hospital I staggered a few steps. The nurse thought it was because of medications but at the time I thought it was the difference in what was missing!

Eleven pounds of breast tissue was removed. A gallon of milk weights 10 lbs. Imagine a 10 lb bag of potatoes strapped to your chest? Ok, I'm just trying to relate!

I did tell this young flat chested PA that I wasn't interested in a reconstruction. I think being flat is awesome and something I am going to embrace. She said there were young women who were fine with not having reconstruction and that there were 80 yr.  old women that wanted reconstruction. "It's a very personal choice." she said. I'll be interested to know if I have a change of heart a few years from now. And this same PA said she had never been interested in having a bigger chest! Bravo!
I think even small busted women's breasts pass a stage where they are no longer perky. Breasts have an expiration date on "firmness, perky and sexy." Age stamps the expiration on both large and small.

I don't want to spend more time then necessary focusing attention on a chest. Had it been a leg or arm, I might feel differently.

My question now is since we here in the USA have such an aversion to nipples, can I go shirtless? The women on the beach wearing nothing more then pasties and a thong are "legal".  Will I get arrested in New Orleans for removing my shirt at Mardi Gras?
I'm off here to relax for a while. I'm not allowed to drive so I'm dependent on others still. I'm always impatient  on this kind of thing. Chill...breathe....relax.

Day 4 Post Op

How did I sleep you might ask on this 4th day post op?

I woke a few times when I tried to position myself on my side. The drains offer up a protest if you lay on them just right. I wiggle around a little bit until I find a position that takes the weight off my back and hips from lying flat so long in bed. I managed to spend the full night in bed. My usual routine is around 0300 hrs. if I wake, I slip out of bed and into the living room, get beneath a blanket I keep there just for this purpose, flip on the TV and watch until I fall back to sleep. This habit keeps me from disturbing the husband's sleep.

I feel that making it through the entire night without the sofa visit is quite an accomplishment.

The daylight started filtering through the bedroom window which was my cue that it was alright and the right time for me to get out of bed.

Yesterday I switched from Percosets to Tylenol ES. I think the Tylenol is all I need to manage the soreness from the incision sites. Today I visit the surgeon so he can examine his art work on my chest. The drains have slowed in output but I'm sure he won't remove any of them today. I don't let them bother me or restrict my movements. I have them safety pinned to the little corset thing I wear so they don't flop around and I have to be careful not to get the tubing hooked on, say the bed posts, as I pass by. The husband squeals really loud when he sees this happen. OK, so it has happened a couple of times and unfortunately he has witnessed it. I'm sure his imagination sees blood flying every where in the room should they become disconnected. His plan of action is to disappear should that happen so he gets nervous and scolds me for not being more careful. He would rather I sit still in one place and he get up and get what I need.

I try to tell him I need to get up and move around. Blood clots are not a pretty thing and a big hazard to ones' health post operative.

I noticed this morning as I was brewing a pot of coffee, the rugs on the floor need to be shook out and run through the washing machine. I can do a lot of things but bending over when I drop something or picking something up from the floor is impossible. Now when I drop something, I get so frustrated because I have to ask for help. I have been able to sweep and do dishes and help make the bed but a simple thing like dropping a piece of paper or a pill on the floor has me dependant  on help.

I got into bed last night and I pulled the comforter down, and then expected to peel the blanket back and then the top sheet. The husband has put the blanket on before the top sheet. I didn't say anything. I just slipped beneath the blanket onto the fitted sheet and pulled the bedding up thinking "I will fix this tomorrow". I'm blessed that he is trying to help. I must appreciate that fact alone. Before he gets to the laundry room, I might have to get a load started and let him take care of switching them over to the dryer.

The old saying "two women can't share a house" probably originated from house hold chores and the differences in how they are done. I have never minded cleaning house and have never really felt as though it was done unless I did it myself. We all have our quirks!


Carrie will be driven to school by her mother this morning. I think they are going to stop by before they go. One of the first things I want to ask my doctor this morning is "when can I drive?" I think the only reason they would restrict me is because of the pain management and since I'm on Tylenol now, it shouldn't be a problem. That's my theory anyway.

Clinically speaking, I have more soreness in the right axillary then in the left. The incision site is deeper on the right side so the pain and soreness correlate. The drainage is down to 30 cc on the right and about 10 cc on the left side.

The pain is at a "2" but only if I strain with that arm. No continuous aching. I am able to lift my arms above chest level with no consequence.

I'm getting dressed and see if I can talk April into letting me
ride to school with her and Carrie this morning. She might even let me stop by a store to pick up some Tylenol!