shaved head

shaved head
Channelling GI Jane

Monday, January 31, 2011

Mondy, Jan.31, 2011

Just came back from Dr. G. She is concerned that I heal before radiation. I must meet with the radiologist first to get a feel for his plan. If we can slide a bit on the timeline I can heal on my own, if not (I'm due to start in 2 weeks) I will need a stich or 2 in my left breast. My last drain was pulled out. OUCH! But, I am so happy to be free of the tubes. No baths or jacuzzi until my drain holes heal completely and my breast tissue. Dr. G informed me that radiation therapy will last 5-7 weeks and I need to heal for 4 months before the second surgery. She suggested that we may complete the second surgery on all my body parts BUT the left breast, so that I don't have to walk around unfinished until the summer. That would leave the left breast and nipple only to finih in the summer. Argh, 5-7 weeks of drining daily to Santa Monica. Next year at this time I will look back and laugh. And be proud of the hard work I have put in.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday, Jan. 30, 2011

Went house hunting yesterday with Jax. Soooooo exciting! We saw some vintage specimens, just beautiful. But, after putting in so much work into this house, I not sure I want to do it again. We will see. I was distracted so I didn' hurt so much and that was nice. My fluids are way down the past 2 days, so my last tube is comin' out tomorrow! Paula has graciously offered to drive me to my appointment tomorrow, so I look forward to a visit with her. I had my first dream last night that included my new body. My unconscious has appearantly accepted its new digs.:)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday, Jan. 28, 2011

I continue to heal nicely. My single drain will surely be able to be removed on Monday, it is hardly draining anymore. My breasts continue to hurt where the dead flesh was cut away. I assume that will continue for a little while longer. Please God, I hope she doesn't do that again. My stomach really is healed, at least the outer incision. I can see the pretty, thin line just under my mini tire. I ocurred to me yesterday, as I was looking in the mirror and noticing that my neck/chest area was smooth now, that she pulled that skin tight when constructing my breasts. Dr. G, you are a talented and generous woman! I'm still plagued with thoughts of; will I ever heal? But, I'm sucking it up and I'm resigned to the fact that it will take another two weeks to get over this hump. I can do it. Considering the alternative I can get through this, no problem.

Hair: Eyebrows grow in over night. It's amazing. I no longer have to pencil them in. Bottom eyelashes have sprouted, but seem to take their time in growing. Top lashes have thinned again, but also have many sprouting. So, do I go for Latisse? It's $125 for a tube that lasts about 3 months. I can't believe I'm actually considering the money aspect after all the crazy money that has been spent on medical bills thus far, but I am. Do I need it? No. Do I want it? Yes. The hair on my head is growing in, my eyebrows have grown in and I look funny without eyelashes. What a fabulous position I'm in that this is my biggest concern right now! I'm a lucky girl and every day I recognize that fact.

Weight has stablized. I'm slowly losing, but not very quickly at all. As soon as this drain comes out I will start walking. And, I need to get a compression sleeve for my weak arm. It's all good. :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011

This mornig my heart aches/breaks for friends of mine. I am praying for them.

Sitting at home, unable to drive, has given me too much time to think. By the end of the day yesterday I had begun to feel low. I'm healing so quickly and now my nerve endings are repairing and I'm in constant pain. I was feeling like this journey has been one long journey through pain. Every step of the way has been brutal so far. So, how do I get through it? What motivates me? My family, epecially my boys.

Last night I confided in my husband my fear (and understanding) that he may be tempted toward a transgretion at this point in time. Our lives have been consumed by my sickness for the past 6 months. Marital relations are almost impossible and non-exitent. He is a single dad and my nurse-maid. His response to me was that he "never felt closer to me in the 15 years we have been together." Yet another gift that cancer has given me. These past months have been hard for Erich and me, but we have also laughed a great deal during this time. Cancer has brought us closer in ways I never imagined.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wednesday, Jan.26, 2011

Gettin' a little stir crazy in the house! I'm lonely and bored. Even my favorite striking Viking isn't destracting me today. I 'm having Target withdrawal. I've decided wearing dresses are good way to deal with my hanging drain, although I think I have an idea now of what it feels like to have balls (or a ball). My breats are sore and beginning to bruise, but my left arm is lifting better and less painful. OH! I was able to color my hair and take a shower by myself. I can't tell you how good that felt. AND, my eyebrows are growing back (and fast) and although my eyelashes are falling out, new ones are sprouting up. Finally I feel like I'm back on the road to normal. And have I mentioned how much I love my boobs?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011

Yesterday was my second check-up with Dr. G. I had the distinction of becoming her second patient (ever) to lose a drain. I didn't really lose it, my body expelled it and I carefully placed it in a baggie and brought it to my appointment. Dr. G was so pleased.:) She left the second drain in because it was still raining fluid out of my tummy and she said it would do the work for the second drain that fell out as well. She was pleased with my healing and she was kind enough to show me how pleased she was by whipping out a pair of scissors and cutting away flesh from my new breasts! And she says it hurts her feelings that I only take a vicodin before I see her anymore. My new breasts were constructed with layers of my tummy skin anticipating that a layer or two would peel off. I slather on a burn cream that keeps the layers healing and guarantees no scars will form on my new boobs. I'm convinced Dr. G is part magician.

No driving yet. And after she explained why I'm OK with that. I do not have full movement of my arms yet, so driving would be dangerous. I have some lymphedema in both my arms, but we remain concerned with my left side where they removed the lymph nodes. My new lifestyle will include propping my left arm up above my heart as much as possible and wearing a compression sleeve. We discussed radiation therapy. She too is a fan of Dr. Song. She says he does exceptional work and does not alter tissue in "real breasts." After all as she put it, "they are half mine now." I continue to sit at home on my rump eating fruit instead of bon bons and whatching my beautiful TV, resting, napping, and healing.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saturday, Jan. 22, 2011

I am amazed at how quickly the human body heals. I can walk around and move freely on my own. This morning I scrambled eggs for the boys and myself, and even folded a few pieces of laundry. Holy crow I tell you. My drains have hardly any fluid in them which means I have a very good chance of having them removed on MOnday. I have slowly been losing weight (and fluid I'm sure) and I am 2.5 lbs away from the weight I was when I began chemo. That is still some 40lbs overweight, but a goal none the same. Baby steps.

I miss staying at my parents' house. I got used to the comforts and the pampering. Aint none of that at home; not with two healthy boys and an overwhelmed husband. But it's still nice to be home with MY family. My boys are doing really well and I know they are happy to have me home. They no longer want to see my re-constructed body, which is fine with me. I wasn't sure I should show them in the first place, but they really wanted to know and it felt like they were letting their imaginations run away by not knowing. I hope this won't be a major topic with their therapists in the future.

The hair on my head continues to grow as does the black hair on my face. Can't I catch a break? However, the few botton lashes that held on through 6 rounds of chemo just fell out. What the hell? Top lashes holding strong and eyebrows slowly growing back in. No more chola look for yours truly. I'm finally losing the round, pudgy chemo face: Nice. My stiches are healed in my tummy and breasts, but the lymphectomy stiches continue to be very tender. The skin that bubbled on my breasts, due to the tape they placed on them, is pealing off and revealing a beautiful layer underneath. Dr. G says this is to be expected. I continue to be very pleased with my body. I'm even more pleased that Erich seems to be elated with my new body. That man has loved me through many bodily changes (weight gain and pregnancy) it feels good that this change is delighting us both.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011

Back home today. Mom dropped me off, shopped and cooked dinner for all of us before headin back home.
LAst Tuesday I saw Dr. C and Dr. G. Dr. C reported again to me that she removed 2 regions (a total of 18) of lymph nodes, 2 of which were positive for cancer. The fact that I had 2 positive nodes and a tumor sized at 6 cm, radiation therapy is a must. She refferred me to a radiology oncologist fromSt. John's hospital who she works with and highly respects. Dr. G took out 3 tubes (all from my chest) and left the 2 in my abdomen until MOnday when they should come out. When she took the small ones out it didn't hurt, but I gotta say the big tube smarted a bit when she pulled it out. She also took out the stiches in my new belly button, which I must say is a piece of art. It looks like a real belly button. I got the OK to raise my arms a little bit, ditch the pillows propping my head up and the ones under my knees. I can walk standing straight now although my stomach is stretched so tightly it feels like it might rip. I'm still in love with my new body. I was born to be a "c" cup. Every day I get stronger, have more energy, and am in less pain. In fact I am on just ibuprophen these days, no more vicodin. I plan to meet with my oncologist Feb 2, when we will talk about his recommendation for next steps. Then I make a decission as to which approach feels best to me. Radiation therapy in about 4 weeks, recovery, then second surgery, and more recovery....And the beat goes on....

Monday, January 17, 2011

Monday, Jan. 17, 2011: MLK BDay

Slept well last night. Had a hard time falling asleep, but slept in late. Erich claims I was talking in my sleep. I've had many nightmares since surgery, mostly guilt ridden dreams about my children like it's been my fault for getting sick. Erich took over the nursing details yesterday and we gave my mom a well-deserved break. So, Erich took to clearing my drains like one might take to cleaning a public toilet. He was so disgusted at first I thought I might have to do it myself, but ultimately he continued with much love. If I ever doubted my husband's love for me I do not anymore. The drains fill a bulb at the end of their tube. I have 5 drains in me now. Through the drains flow bodily fluids; blood, proteins, tissue, etc. When you pull the tubing off to empty the bulbs there is quite a bit of suction, as my mother found out the other day as she sent a bit of soggy tissue flying across my bed and landing on my pillow. Well, Erich experienced a similar situation only the soggy bit landed on him. Gross, funny, not for the faint of heart (sorry E). Oh man, we have cried some, shouted some, but laughed a whole lot through this journey. I laugh with a lighter load these days knowing the worst/hardest parts are behind me now. Tomorrow I meet with my surgeons.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011: My 43rd birthday

I'm 43 today and cancer-free! Life is good. Before I forget I want to chronicle the past 10 days.

Jan. 7, 2011:
4 am Papa J woke me up in time to brush my teeth, take my pills, and dress myself. He dropped mom and me off at St. John's at 5am where we arrived at surgery admitting/registration. It was standing room only and took forever. Afterward we were ushered into the pre-op area. Mom got to come with me because she's part of the medical community. I undressed and slipped into a thick gown, which had a heating hose attached to it pumping hot air through it, and kept me very warm. I was suited with an IV in my arm by the cutest, young male nurse from Louisianna. Dr. Parker came to visit and wish me a speedy recovery. I was weighed and had dropped 14 lbs. in the month of December. I gained 23 during chemo. I was met at the entrance of the O.R. by the aneasthesiologist (sp) who shot something into my IV to make me calm. That's the last thing I remember. Then I was waking up at 10:50pm in the recovery room.

Jan. 8, 2011:
I was alert in recovery room although I was aware of the moving walls the entire time I was there. I spoke to my surgeons, my mom, and Erich. Erich then went to wait in my room for me. It was Friday night in the O.R. at midnight and it took awhile for the 1 attendant in the hospital to come push my bed into my hospital room. It was after 1am when I arrived according to Erich. I was situated and Erich went back to my parents house and I went to sleep. I was up by 8am that same day. I had excellent nurses who came to me hourly to check my vitals (blood pressure, which was extremely low post surgery, temp, pulse, and then to listen to my heartbeat through my new breasts). The rest of the day I was alert and happy to receive family. By Sat. night I was itching all over my body, we think from the Dalotid (narcotic) I was receiving through my IV. I asked for Benydryl and slipped into a sleep that lasted 2 days.

Jan. 11, 2011:
I began to wake up Tues. And I woke with a headache. I was finally given a Cymbalta with water and I threw it up. I had been without food and water since Thursday. I finally had the OK to eat and drink. I loved water, but didn't want to eat. Popsicles were the best. Tuesday the physical therapist came to get me walking. That was the first time I felt pain. Walking felt like I was tearing apart. I began to force myself to eat what ever protein was on my food plate.

Jan. 12, 2011
Wednesday I got up to walk the hallways again. Dr. Grunwald came in to check on me and decided it was time for me to be released. Erich brought the boys to the hospital for the first time. Fred was immediately frightened by how I looked. He didn't want to come very close to me. Erich drove me to my mom's house and she drove the kids. I settled into mom's house and Erich took the kids home. I spent the next 2 days at my parents' home getting stronger and more energy.

Jan.14, 2011
On Friday I asked Stacey to pull Fred from school and meet my mom to bring him up to her house. He had been having a tough time without me, so I thought he should be with me. We spent the afternoon together and he seemed to be extremely happy to see me alive and better. Erich came to get me that evening and Fred stayed the night with his Nana. Friday night I slept through the night for the first time in a week! I was happy to be home. The only issue I had at this point was that I hadn't moved my bwels in over a week. Sat. morning, with the help of my ever-loving husband and a suppository, I finally pooped. Ah, yet another way cancer has brought Erich and I closer.

So, this brings us to Sunday, my birthday. Dr. Chung tells me I am cancer free. My tumor was found to be 6cm large. It turned out that I had one sentinal (main) lymph node infected with cancer and one small node next to it that was also infected with cancer. She removed a total of 18 lymph nodes, which included the 2 infected. So, they removed the tumor and had clean margins all around it as well as the lymph nodes. All other pathologies on several more lymph nodes in the left breast and tissue in the right breast showed no cancer. She tells me I am cancer free! I gotta say I'm breathing a sigh of relief.

And on the lghter side: My new body rocks! I love my new boobs. Dr. G was able to make me a FULL "c" cup. They are firm and sitting high and small and perky. My tummy, although still very swollen, is so flat. I can see my feet now when I stand up and look down. Dr. G told me that Dr. Chung found 2 very large, strong arteries in my breasts for her and that she was able to excavate 2 fabulous arteries to transplant from my abdominal muscle. Dr. G found a mountain of scar tissue from my c-section in 2004 and took a great deal of time to clean that mess up, which included using mesh to pull together my abdominal muscles that were severed in the c-section. She is very pleased with her work, which lasted a total of 14 hours. My new belly button is almost completely healed now. I sufferred from several blisters from the adhesive tape, but those are healing and ready to flake off. I see Dr. G on Tuesday so she can remove the 5 tubes and drains that are coming out of my boobs and abs. I am still laying down, but healing every day. Happy birthday to me.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Today is the dye test! I'm waiting for Dove to pick me up and give me a ride. My family will join me at my parent's tonight, which makes me feel good. I didn't want to have to say goodbye this morning. Everything is on course and I am looking forward to tomorrow. Finally, I get this "thing" out of me! I won't be awake until Monday, so I will write about the experience then.:)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Yesterday I met with my cardiologist (good God, another specialist I have added to my list!) for a consult and another EKG. This EKG was better, but he says I have a mild condition called tachycardia, basically a rapid heartbeat that comes and goes. I am going back today for an echocardiogram, a heart ultrasound, just to be sure there is nothing else going on. This will clear me for surgery. Yeah.

Kids are back in school today after 4 weeks at home with me. I have to say it is nice to be alone in the house once again. I enjoyed spending time with my boys. So, the week is full of doctor's appointments, coffee gatherings, a facial, and a pedi. Can't have my toes looking ugly in the hospital. I can't believe I really think of those things considering that I have no hair. I actually do have some hair and it is growing in quickly, but it has alot of growing to do. I'm still amazed at how gray it all is and I'm fighting ingrown hairs which can be a pain in the butt. I'm over my cold/flirt with asthma. I'm feeling good.:)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Saturday, Jan. 1, 2011

A new year! Happy new year. Several people have asked me what my new year's resolutions are and I am not sure. I want to get well and recooperate from 6 rounds of chemo. So, I guess that is my resolution for 2011: Recover from cancer, lose weight, get back in shape, live a healthy lifestyle, oh and yoga. And I want to remember the life lessons cancer has taught me: Don't sweat the small stuff, embrace my kids every day, don't do anything I don't want to. In essence, life is short, and I want to enjoy every minute of it. I have learned to keep my friends close and the importance of some sort of communication more frequently. I'm so bad at that, but I'm working on it. I couldn't have done as well as I did this past year without the support of my friends and family. I will always reflect on this year as one that changed my life. I have always believed that stuff happens for a reason. Where others may ask: Why me? I think: Why not me? Everyone has a path in life some with just a few more hills than others.

So, 2011. New boobs! The ability to go out in public without a bra. I can't wait to walk into any store and buy a top or a bra. I have already bought a few since I can't drive for 5 weeks. I can't tell you how easy it was to find a 36 C. NO more specialty shops for me. No more neck pain and divets in my shoulders from bra straps. I am so excited. I've dreamed of this since Iwas a kid. I'm battling a cold that wants to drop into my chest, so I'm taking it easy today. Laying low and dreamin' of smaller boobs.:)