Thursday, November 28, 2013


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 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.

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


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!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Habra Espanyol?

It started as a gentle rain. The trees rustled in the breeze shaking off the fine water droplets much like a dog shaking off the water from it's coat. The windshield wipers on my car were set to intermittent. They swiped across my view every 5 seconds to scoop the droplets and clear my line of vision. Soon I would have to reset them to move the water off faster as the rain increased in it's intensity.

Beneath a tree on the left side of the road, stood a young woman seeking shelter from this storm. The rain was denied finding her beneath this leafy tree while she waited on the school bus that would leave her son which she would escort to their home.

My destination was across the street directly opposite from where this young woman stood. I was going to stop in at Pat's for a short visit. As I turned into Pat's driveway, the storm seemed to lunge forth pelting the streets with a deluge of water. The young woman was no longer being sheltered. The rain was breaking through those leafs and pounding against her. I quickly backed my car down the driveway and motioned for her to come and stand beneath the carport. Smiling though the rain, she darted across the street and beneath the shelter of my friends carport. The rain continued it's onslaught, heavy and relentless, the streets were soon covered. Peering through this downpour, I motioned the young woman out of the way so I could pull my car beneath the carport. She moved to the side, still being protected from the rain while I pulled in beside of her. Motioning her to get in the car, I told her we could wait beside the road for the bus. 

It was when she tried communicating with me, that I found she spoke very little English. My new friend was Cuban and my Spanish is nonexistant. In her broken English, she explained she was waiting on her son to arrive via the school bus.

Through the pouring rain, the bus stopped and her son was greeted by his mother who dashed from my car to where he was climbing down into the rain from the bus.  She secured him in the back seat of my car and I drove her to her house which is on the same street as I live but further down the road. Abby was able to communicate her name and her thankfulness for my coming to her rescue. 

Occasionally as I'm driving through the neighborhood I see Abby walking to and from the bus stop. A few days ago Abby stopped in. I wasn't home but the husband was and they were able to have a conversation in Spanish. He told me about her when I got back home and he said she would stop in again.

Today Abby arrived once again and this time with a friend and a big bowl of food. It is her anniversary and her family was having a BBQ. She wanted to bring me some food. She knew I was having surgery but she thought it was next Thursday. She wanted to apologize for visiting but I made sure she knew I was happy to see her and thanked her effusively for the food she bought. 

I only wish I could speak Spanish. As she spoke with the husband, I could understand a few sentences then as the conversation turned, I lost the track and sat quietly until the husband could translate for me. 

She told my husband she thought I was a very nice lady. I'm always amazed that people can come from another country not knowing this language and find their way to supporting themselves and coping with all the strangeness they must encounter here. Would I have the guts to do the same? Would I travel to another country to live not knowing anyone but my husband and child? I try to imagine how I would feel and from that I treat them accordingly.  She has an eight year old son, exactly Carrie's age. I think I might have found someone for Carrie to spend some time with when she is here with me. I'll get with Abby and arrange some play time for them. 

i can remember when my mother in law and I would walk around her apartment complex in Arizona. As we walked she would point at things and tell me in Spanish the names while I would reply in English. Her English was much better then my Spanish.  Her grandchildren were amazed to hear her speak English. She was never comfortable talking to her family in English but with me she didn't have a choice. I knew no Spanish so she was forced into speaking to me in English. 

To this day, I wish I were bilingual. I would have liked to speak either Spanish or Italian. While in Italy, the husband could communicate quite easily with the Italians by using his Spanish. He was able to understand Italian as they are both Latin based languages. My Italian mother  could converse with the Spanish people in the same way. I am always impressed by anyone that is bilingual. Impressed and envious of their ability.

It's time for another Percocet. I'll be unavailable for coherent typing for about 3 hrs. 

I'm done here for now!

Two Days Post Op

I love watching sports. The best part, at my age, is how impressed I am about the physical condition of these people. Football Saturday and Sunday, I watch those players get hit full force on. I watch them hit the ground in all manners of bone cracking, muscle tearing contact. They go from "full out flat on the ground" to "standing erect" so quickly that you have to pay close attention to how they do that. I find myself watching this display of strength. Do you notice this too or am I alone in this?

I think this watching of those players recovery from those hits and pop back up on their feet without a struggle relate back to the time I could sit "Indian fashion", my legs crossed each other at the knees and from this position I could scissor myself into a standing position without ever having to uncross my legs. My legs were at the high point of their "being in shape". I snow skied every day and keeping my legs in top shape was a priority for me. I could ski all day long and my legs never tired. I worked on keeping them in shape. In the summer, I laced up a pair of ice skating boots and did laps on ice at the arena which kept my legs strong for the upcoming winter ski season. I cannot scissor myself into a standing position now and have NOT been able to do that for many years, hence my obsession with watching those football players pop up from their ground position to their feet in seconds.

This is my second day post op. My instructions are to "fold my arms across my chest, the right hand touching the left shoulder and the left hand touching the right shoulder. This keeps me from using my hands and arms to propel myself upward from a sitting position from the sofa or from a lying position when getting out of bed. If you forget and use your arms, you will be in much pain; something I've already had Lesson 1 on. I should have worked on leg strength before this surgery. Biking or walking would have helped had I thought about it.  

I am careful where I sit. Pillows piled behind my back push me forward on the sofa to the edge. When I get ready to stand, I fold my arms, wiggle forward a bit, plant my feet on the floor and rock forward a few times until I rise to a standing position. My husband offers to help but I decline to accept. I need to do this alone. I need to figure out what will work in the event I'm alone here. I hate being "needy". I've never been a "needy" person. I know I have limitations right now and I know it will get easier as time goes on and I also know my limits and I'm willing to accept those for now.

I swallowed my Lortab as soon as I got to the kitchen. My new rule will be to take the damn thing BEFORE I attempt to get out of bed. Going from a lying position to standing shifts the skin on my chest and the incision sites suddenly get pressure on them and it's most uncomfortable, bordering slightly on pain.

I checked the drains this morning. The two in the right chest wall are about 10 to 15 cc's while the two on the right have about 50 cc's. The higher drainage on the right is expected as that area was where the lymph nodes were removed so the surgical site is "deeper" there thus more drainage.

If this is more information then you need, just remember, I write these blogs not only for myself but for others on this path. Just as with the blogs on my knee reconstruction, I like to write about the experiences that might help others that Google for info on this. The emotional and the physical impact on ones life is immense. The things I have read on online forums and talking to friends that have had friends go through this, talking to women that have went through this was what was a big help to me. I don't know if I could have done this electively.

An unexpected part of this is being a bit excited about the wardrobe change I will experience. I look in the mirror and see the button up shirt I'm wearing and the button holes are not gaping open from the strain of my breasts against them. This doesn't make me sad. I WANT to NOT want the reconstruction. I WANT to WANT to be satisfied with this look. If I were in my thirties, I would probably know at this time that a reconstruction would be mandatory. At my age, do I really care? Only time will tell. Many women that thought they wanted one, ended up NOT and others that stayed flat chested for two years eventually ended up having the reconstruction while still others opted out. I want to be in the "opted out" group. Only time will tell.

Do I feel lighter? I've been asked that question. Can I tell they are gone? I've been asked that question too. My answer to this is "the support thing they put me in post op is the same support I had with the bras I wore pre surgery. My breast never felt "heavy" while wearing my bra because I made sure I wore GOOD supportive bras." That's my answer right now. The difference now I notice is...I can see my stomach and feet. I notice the shirt I'm wearing is huge now on me. I don't need to buy a huge shirt to encompass my chest which then held it away from my waist and hips which didn't need all that roominess.

It's almost 0800 now and my daughter should be here soon to strip or  'milk" the tubing on the drains and empty and record the amount. Her doing this is always good for a few laughs. She borders on hysteria while doing it. The nervous laughter is loud and soon tears are rolling down her face. She will never be in the medical field. Her facial expressions when she is performing this task ranges from fright to disgust. Her exclamations are something you would never hear from a professional health care worker doing a task on a patient. I can fully understand, from my position now, what her patient would be thinking. She tries and that's the important part; her wanting to help me. I appreciate her for putting herself through this for me and  my knowing it's not easy for her.
 I watch closely as she goes about her chore and I'm as relieved as she is when the last drain is cleaned.

I'm off to the kitchen to get a fresh cup of brew...a brew I did myself this morning. All is well here and for that I'm grateful!

The little Lortab is kickin in..and I'm outta here!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Through the NIght and into The Daylight

Ronnie the day shift RN was on duty when I got to my room. Change of shift bought Marleen who stuck around until 0700 hrs this morning. I swallowed two Lortab 7.5's and nixed on the usual Ambien. 

Marleen was in and out of the room most of the night checking on me and clearing the drains. My pain is not severe and is easily covered by the pain meds. I drifted into and out of sleep, the television my constant. I watched a typhoon   sweep into the Phillipines and drifted off to wake to a Hoover swirling over a dirty carpet. Viewing shows in this order left me thinking I might be hallucinating. 

When it was time for the next dose of medicine, I asked for an order of toast thinking it would be better to not take medicnes on an empty stomach. The toast was awesome, the Lortab taken and 1 hr. later I was vomiting. This didn't work out as I thought it would.

My breakfast tray had arrived and Ronnie was back on duty. He asked if I wanted my tray. "I'm starved!" I say and the tray was delivered. The sausage and cheese omelet were special and 1 hr. later I was vomiting again. The husband passed me the emesis basin and bolted for the door. I had rang for the nurse and he was on his way again.  Cold towels, air stirred with a paper book and a mouth rinse and I was back to normal. As soon as this event passes, I feel great. No weakness; no nausea and never much warning when it starts. I have just enough time to warn the husband so he can get on his track shoes and break all records getting away!

Louise, my RN friend, came to visit. She investigated the drains as nurses will do, and that whoosh of air passing by was the husband exiting the room once again. Just the sight of the drains was enough to make him vanish. In his  defense, he is very good on helping me up, cooking, cleaning and attend to anything to do with sickness that doesn't involve actual body contact. I'm not worried. I can milk the drains, measure and record them. The daughter says she will be here to do it this afternoon but I fear she is no more at ease then the husband on this. I'll assure her I can take care of this. I appreciate her wanting to do this for me but I can handle it if she gets queasy. I'll let them open the medicine bottles for me and change the linens and avoid drainages.

I'm home now and investigating what I can do for myself. I CAN get in and out of bed without help much to my relief. I can get dressed by myself and toilet myself. I'm thrilled that I can do these things for myself on Day 1 post op. 

I am spending the afternoon in bed catching up on sleep missed last night and that's what I am going to do as soon as this sentence if finished! CIAO!!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Resetting My Clock

April and the husband alternated with sitting beside me in holding. More paperwork, an IV started and Lactated Ringers hanging, I'm waiting.  Versed was pushed, a pre op to relax and time passed along.
An hour passes and the curtain surrounding my bed parted, the metal rings it was tracked on sang out it's metallic warning. The surgeon stepped inside and pulled the curtain closed behind him.  He came to tell me and apologize for what he had to say. Jason, his son was doing a thyroid surgery at the hospital across the road and requested he assist him. Apparently, unexpected  complications and he wanted the best surgeon in town, his dad, to come. Doc tried to get his nurse to come and deliver this news to me but she bowed out and in he came.

He quickly discussed the change in what he wanted to do related to the incisions, answered my questions, gave me a hug and was on his way after I reassured him I had nothing else planned for today and to take his time helping his son. I've worked with many of the physicians in this town and there are  some doctors that are home town boys and are tender and much concerned about their patients and this is one of them. The last time he did surgery on me, I was a nursing student.

An hour passed, rough estimate because the Versed dose was repeated and I was unusually charming and agreeable when the curtains parted again and I was whisked into the surgery suite. Positioning, lights, camera and action, I woke in recovery, groggy and asking for my family. In and out of consciousness, stabilized, I was wheeled to my guest room. This place really feels much like a hotel instead of a hospital. The nurses here have two patients to care for and they have plenty of time and attention.
Morphine IVP (IV push) was slipped into the port of my IV line. The incision site is uncomfortable. I'm not in heavy pain; it burns a bit, feels sore and thats it! Im wearing a bustier, eye hooks lined up down the middle to keep it in  place. Two JP (Jackson Pratt) drains attached to each side of it with safey pins.

When the nurse came in to strip or milk the lines and empty them, the husband rushed out of the room. He didn't walk..he RUSHED. I'm afraid he will never study in the medical field and that's ok. The daughter has the same aversion to anything connected to blood, guts and mucous.

The chicken noodle soup and jello was awesome; the first food and drink since yesterday. It's amazing that a simple bowl of soup, a cup of jello and some ice cold apple juice could impart so much joy!

I've been offered another morphine cocktail for dessert but I passed on it. I did agree to the Lortab though. As soon as my nose started itching, I knew it had kicked in.

I thought I wanted the husband to spend the night but I took pity on him after seeing his vinyl covered chair/bed and insisted that he go home.

I know that I promised I would call you this evening and I have made a few calls but I'm not too zippy with conversation. I drift in and out of sleep. Before the next Lortab is due, I decided I would blog this in the event  I was in drift mode.

I'm very susceptible to drugs and althoughLortab is not the king of pain killers, it still sets me on my butt when I take it.  I appreciate that I don't have to have heavy drugs.

It is now 2100 hrs...and I've voided; a very big accomplishment towards my nurse getting rid of the IV pole and fluids. I'm ready to settle down for the night. If this posting is in any way weird...please excuse.

Tic Toc....Time's up!!

It is now almost 0600 hrs. My mouth feels as though I've crammed it full of cotton balls. The tags on the lamp, the fridge and the coffee pot reminds me that I'm not allowed to drink anything.

I have to be at the surgery center in 2 hrs and 15 minutes. My next stop will be a shower and dressed.

How do I feel? I wavier between relief that this part of my journey has arrived and will soon propel me into the next part of this trip I must take to a few tears.
 My health worker background causes me to question every step I travel and will it all be just wasted effort. I suppose that's my main hangup about doing any of this. Sometimes being "blissfully ignorant" would be a relief from my mind that never stops reeling.

Yesterday I was pleasantly surprised by the phone calls and visits I received. Friends from Wyoming, family from WV, Texas, and Arizona made phone calls or left messages on Facebook and Facebook friends posted their good wishes. Thank you one and all.

Tic's time.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Options and Choice, Tic Toc

"Ya know, if you can read, you can do anything." I impressed upon my daughter as a young child this belief. I listen quietly as she passes this along to her own children. Carrie is in the very upper, possibility  the best reader in her class. Carrie and I started early. (see prior post). At three years old we held a school as part of her daily play. We sat around the coffee table and had our pretend classes. Along with learning to NOT speak unless she was given permission by holding up her hand, we studied the alphabet. We didn't over do it by staying with it for hours at a time. Short classes were held.
By the time Carrie entered kindergarten, she was almost reading. Had I known about popcorn words, I think I could have had her make the connection and the segue into full sentences. I had an "ah ha" moment when she bought home her kindergarten homework and the list of popcorn words. Those popcorn words had to be memorized. "the, and, but, or, and a whole list of them was studied every day. Within a few weeks Carrie could read a book and I was one relieved Nana.
Carrie and her siblings can do anything as they are avid readers; they read easily so they don't struggle with that part of information gathering. Being an easy reader makes comprehension of those words within their grasp.

I've seen people struggle through a paragraph trying to decipher the words and in doing that, do not comprehend what they have read.

"If you can read, you can do anything." I still sing this out as I still believe reading is a most important part of ones school life.

On that note, I'm reading. Researching and gathering information. Tic toc, it's almost time. Tomorrow I go into surgery. My choices are limited now on reconstruction. It's not that I'm hell bent on reconstruction but it's the restrictions on my options that bother me. I may not even want that option, but I would like to still have the choice.

Have I confused you? I read some more on the TRAM flap and I don't want to go there. When I read that John Hopkins no longer does them, I'm sure I don't want to go there. The complications of that surgery and the possibility of a large bulge in the abdomen from removing the muscle there to transfer it to the breast is some place I don't want to go. Removing that muscle also restricts the persons ability to lift anything over 20 lbs. That person would have to roll over onto their stomachs to just get OUT of bed. Getting up from a chair would be a struggle.  Any action  requiring stomach muscles to move would be compromised. Breasts are NOT that important.

 I read some more. And some more. There are more options opening up and the DIEP and/or fat cell reconstructions are still choices that are having good results while new procedures are in the near future.

I want to be one of those women that just "don't need" to have this done. Unfortunately I won't know that until sometime after this surgery. I feel better. It's some measure of control.

As an RN, we were trained to offer the patient as much control of their own care as possible. Some procedures were not "a choice"  so it was important to offer choices when possible. We knew body image was an important part of a patient's well being. I am curious as to how I will feel on this. I know how I feel now about "control". In this past year, I have lost most of that. Making the appointments, and taking the chemo and all the oral medications, I'm floating down a river without a paddle. I follow the directions given me without hesitation. I may not enjoy this trip but it's mandatory. "Plan B is not an option."  I can still hear my husband whispering that to me.

Tomorrow's surgery is Plan A because Plan B is not an option. 

Tic Toc, I'm ready.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tuesday Countdown, Tic Toc

I have moments of fright? Is it fright, depression or self pity?  I don't know how to get to a point of total acceptance. The tears start and stop. I have stern conversations with myself. I won't be having expanders put in as I have to have radiation therapy after this surgery.

I've been told that I can have flap reconstruction but upon researching this online, I've discovered that this may not be something I want to chance. Will it really be so bad not to have reconstruction done? I've always envied those women with small breasts and have never understood the need for all those enhancements that were being done. Is cleavage so important? I've toyed with the idea of a breast reduction as I've grown older but backed away because of the surgery that was not a necessity but more of a desire to wear a button up shirt comfortably or a dress that I didn't have to buy in two sizes larger then my waist and hips so  that it would accommodate my chest size. Maybe the time is here?

I've learned that there are a lot of women that don't feel the necessity for a reconstruction and all that it entails. My options on what I can have for this reconstruction are now a DIEP or a TRAM. John Hopkins have now stopped doing the TRAM. The transfer of skin from the stomach to the breast is a 12 hr. surgery. Nerves and blood vessels have to be reconnected. A "tummy tuck" is the added benefit but it comes with hazards which I'm not convinced is something I want to chance. Hernias and the restrictions of lifting only 20lbs, infection and necrosis of the transfer skin gives me pause. The recuperation time is twice as long as the implants that could have been done had I not had to have radiation therapy.

I haven't talked to a plastic surgeon about this. My surgeon says the main thing we are trying to do here is save my life. Cerebrally I know this. Emotionally I am not there. If I were in pain, I think this would be an easy step to take. When I needed a knee replacement, I didn't hesitate, though the pain of recuperation and therapy was expected. This is how I feel. It may be silly to others. I'm putting this in print, letters on a page which someday I will review. I may look back  on this as a shallow silly reaction to this time in my life.

My husband, bless his heart, said "Breasts are way overrated. They don't matter."

Thank you husband. You are a prize.

I've washed off the roadster and dropped the top. I'm going to drive it to the school to pick up Carrie. It won't be driven for a while. Shifting a 5 speed transmission will be something I'll try again in a couple of weeks.

Tic Toc, Tic Toc.....
It's my reaction

Monday, November 4, 2013

Monday, and a Visit to the Surgeon

It's that time. November 4th and an early appointment with the surgeon. I will find out today the details surrounding this upcoming surgery. Right now the only thing I know is the surgery date on Nov. 7th. I'll be informed of the procedure and the time to arrive at the hospital and how long I will be hospitalized. I've talked to women that have only spent the day, some had an overnight stay and some were there for 3 days.

The husband has an appointment with the dentist this afternoon and a urologist tomorrow morning while I have an appointment with  a new GYN doctor. Mine retired after being my doctor for over 20 years. We will be busy this week, to say the least.

Moving my arms above chest level will be impossible. No t shirts or pullover tops so  I have gathered button down shirts from the closets and hung them at waist level on a stand in the laundry room. Elastic waist pants will complete my "dress up". For home,  silk pajamas lay across the guest bed; easier to slide in and out of bed with silk pajamas. I've been warned that I will be able to do every little with my hands and arms after this surgery. Even opening a child proof medicine bottle will be impossible. I will have drains that will have to be milked, emptied and measured.

I keep telling myself, "six months from now, this will be but another memory". I usually make it through major surgery repeating this mantra.

I'm off to make a pot of coffee, watch the news and wait for that visit with the surgeon.
To be continued at a later date.