Monday, January 31, 2011

Recovering nicely and the next big thing......

There just doesn't seem to be time enough to blog. I am recovering nicely from my implant exchange and with each passing day I feel stronger and stronger. My new breasts are looking better every day. I feel more like me with each passing day.

I am so thankful for the return of my strength. Instead of spending weekends on my couch I am able to get out and live a little. The boys and I have been hiking. I have had time to catch up with friends, someplace other then the chemo chair. Life has been pretty busy and ordinary. The laundry piles just aren't quite as high as they have been. It is about time I start addressing the things that I have put on the back burner.

The universe has a funny way of timing things and my divorce happens to be one of those details that has been on my "to do list". Just as I finish the majority of my cancer treatment, I get to follow it up with divorce court. Not exactly the chaser I was hoping for. Yes that's right for those of you who did not know I am still not divorced and am on my way to trial. My wonderful soon to be ex-husband has decided anything we acquired together is all his. So on February 14th (I am not making this up) we get to go to trial where a judge will decide on all the things we can't agree on (everything). To be honest I am thrilled that this time has finally come. I am so ready to close the chapter on that part of my life as well. What a way to celebrate Valentine's day! For the first time my head and my heart seem ready to face this. My separation from Steve were the darkest days of my life. I was a broken battered woman. I recovered, healed and just as I was coming out of that fog I was diagnosed with cancer. Timing is everything, mine is extraordinary. In some ways the pain of separation gave me the strength to cope with cancer, honestly cancer might have seemed easier to understand. It isn't discriminating, it doesn't lie to you, you don't have expectations. Cancer has taught me patience and acceptance like nothing else. So I look forward to my trial with a calm head and heart. I am amazed at how I have grown in the last year. These two HUGE events have taught me to love and nurture myself. Now that I think about it, it is a pretty great gift to have on Valentine's Day.

So I reckon it is going to get a little heavy in the next few weeks. I am blessed and surrounded by love. I will of course need to drink water and breathe....

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Implant exchange

Just when I think I've gotten used to all these procedures one throws me for a curve. A million thank yous to my dear friend Jen for taking me to my latest surgery.

We left for Phoenix around 5:00 PM on Thursday. Surgery was scheduled for 7:30 AM which means arriving at 5:30 AM for paperwork and pre-op. This is not like the airport, when a hospital says 2 hours early I take them seriously and do just that. So isn't Jen a peach for getting up in the wee hours of the morning to hang out in the waiting room with me, then in pre-op, then sit around and wait for me to get out of surgery.

While they are prepping me for surgery there is a little confusion. The OR is booked for 2.5 hours, but the procedure is listed as nipple reconstruction. AAAARRRGGH that is for future blog posts, I need an implant exchange and port removal. It was such a pain to coordinate this trip and I was soooo ready to have all those things out of me. The nurse waits to put my IV in while she checks to make sure my implants are in stock. Are you kidding me????? Thankfully they have them and the surgery is a go. I guess they don't run out of the DD. I have never been so thankful to get an IV. My pre-op nurse is a 7 year breast cancer survivor, she referred to me as her sister in pink, such a small statement filled with so much understanding. I of course take this as a good sign. My anesthesiologist happens to be young and gorgeous another good omen. Everything is coming together nicely. I say goodbye to Jen.

The next thing I know I am semi-conscious surrounded by scrubs and vomiting. I am more looped then I have ever been. Surgery is over people are talking to me and I am vomiting. Every now and then an alarm goes off and from a distance someone says "Sarah take some deep breaths". I pass out again. Apparently I do this for awhile because Jen didn't get called back until 1.5 hours after she talked to Dr. Berardi. It usually only takes about 45 minutes to come to normally. I finally get moved to the 2nd stage of post-op and someone dresses me. Jen arrives at this point and I take some more time to clear my head. They wheel me out in this weird recliner wheel chair, which kind of looks like a chemo chair. I decide I have to go to the bathroom before we depart, so I get wheeled back in. I pee and then proceed to vomit some more. Now I am really having fun, I hate being sick to my stomach. So Jen and I park it in the recovery room until I feel I can try again. Another 10 minutes goes by and we try again. This time I make it to the car, I am armed with a damp washcloth, puke pan, crackers, and gingerale for the ride home. Can you imagine the fun Jen is having at this point?

I drift in and out of consciousness the whole way home. This is why they say don't make any major decisions after anesthesia. I felt like a raving lunatic, out cold one minute, then talking about random stuff the next. The ride home was not memorable, coincidentally neither was the entire day.

Of course I am semi-alert by the time we get back to Prescott which I think is sometime after 2:00. I curl up on the couch, at some point on the ride home I arranged to have Dani come over and "watch" me. I even had the sense to have her pick-up Resident Evil : Afterlife, science fiction usually speeds up my recoveries. I sleep waiting for Dani to arrive. I of course am not sure of what my post-op care should be. I know what prescriptions I should be taking, but am I allowed to shower? How soon can I peek at my new boobies? I call the Dr.'s office and I am told to stay bandaged up until Monday, only sponge baths until then. Sure if you say so.....

So we watch Resident Evil, which is LAME beyond my wildest expectations. So horrible that I am adamantly refusing to watch the next one they so obviously are going to create some day. The Vicodin does not even dull the pain of a weak story line coupled with knock-off special effects. This was by far one of my larger movie disappointments. Just bad.............

I of course wake up on Saturday feeling a little curious about my implants. Kate stops by for a visit. Then my mom. I lay around while they help with the chores. I am ever so thankful for all the help that I get. They all leave and I finally decide I need to take a look at my new chest. If I had been thinking clearly I would have done it with Kate or my Mom here. Wrapping 15 feet of ace bandage around my chest with the pain from the surgery was kind of tough. So my new boobs are soft, they kind of looked flat and smooshed???? I really wanted small and perky...maybe Dr. Berardi didn't understand me. I am kind of like oh well, you get what you get.

Thankfully my friend Dina gives me a call. She had an implant exchange in November. She wanted to explain to me that hers kind of looked flat and left her wondering what was the point. She said after the bandages were removed and they "dropped" into place they would look much better. I thanked her for her wisdom and waited to here what Dr. B would say on Monday.

The kids come home from their Dad's Sunday morning. We run to the grocery store. The boys are very helpful because they want to go to Walgreens and spend their allowances directly after shopping. We go home, unload the groceries, and make lunch. The boys decide they want to meet a friend at the YMCA pool for a swim. It sounded like a good idea to me. I could knit, they could get some exercise. Being at the pool filled me with anxiety. The cleanliness of that place always has me wondering. I felt particularly exposed due to my recent surgery. I was fighting off air born MERSA germs with my knitting needles. I kept telling myself what a dummy I was for taking one of my bandages off and exposing my skin to this hot humid germ filled air. Clearly the drugs were still clouding my judgement. About an hour or so later we depart nothing like the Y pool to make you appreciate fresh air.

So Monday afternoon I have a follow-up with Dr. Berardi. Kate drives me down and we make an afternoon of it. Hanging out with all of my girlfriends is a perk of the cancer trail. When I see Dr. B he seems pleased with surgery. I am like but......Then it is like I don't have a brain at all. I had a million questions to ask him some how I am totally thrown off subject. He then starts showing me how I am supposed to massage my new implants. This massaging will help shape the muscle pocket they are in. This part is painful and I am writhing in the exam chair. Why is it I finally have a hot guy touching my "breasts" and I am wanting him to stop. Needless to say I do feel super self conscious around my hot doc. I just hope and pray I don't say something really obnoxious when I am put under for surgery. So I am sent home with orders to massage firmly 3 times a day. Then I see him in 2 weeks to see my progress. I thought for sure this part would be easy, but like everything else on this journey it is always a process.

I returned to work today and I am doing light duty. No lifting some light chopping I am still trying to shake off a little surgery fog, sometimes it all seems like a dream.

Drink water and breathe....................

Monday, January 3, 2011

My 5 o'clock shadow..........

No this is not the recent lunar eclipse this is my new hair that is growing back.

If you look closely you can see my eyelashes returning!

Even my eyebrows are starting to return. Unfortunately I will have to start plucking and shaping them soon. There are some perks to being hairless :)
I will spare you all the images of the rest of the hair that is growing on my body. The great news is I feel better and stronger each day. I do experience numbness and tingling in my hands and feet. The arm that had all the lymph nodes removed is just different, lots of odd sensations not really painful just weird.
This Friday I am scheduled to have my implant exchange. I am so excited to get these rock hard expanders out of my chest and get some nice new squishy, perky, bouncy did I say perky? breast implants.
Life is moving forward toward recovery and healing. This past year has been so hard, yet so full of blessings. I am hoping the year ahead will be a little smoother then the last. In the year ahead I am focusing on the good things and appreciating every single one to it's fullest. The "not so good" things I will accept as such. I also feel like we need to pass on all the blessing that we have. Which leads me to a Christmas gift I received this year from a dear friend whom I share a lot with but do not know so well. My friend dropped off a gift at the restaurant. I did not have time to open it so I moved it out of the way. I guessed by it's shape that it was a candle, after lifting it I decided it was the heaviest candle I have ever held. I opened it a few hours later and it was a medium sized glass container full of change and a few bills as well. I thought to myself "that is the most peculiar way that I have received a monetary gift in all my life". I was in no way not appreciative because in these times every little bit helps. I did however think it was a little odd. My friend calls me the next day to give me an explanation of the jar of change. She says it is a "pay it forward jar", someone gave it to her last year at the holidays. She spent what was in the jar and proceeded to fill it the rest of the year with her change. My friend passed it on to me this year. Now through out the year I will throw change in this jar each time thinking of my dear friend and this simple gift knowing that next Christmas someone special will come into my life that I can pass this jar on to. Now the reason that I am blogging about this little story is that I think maybe we should all start little jars at the start of this New Year. It seems like a little goodness can go along way and the world could use some more of it.
Of course my New Year's Resolution is to drink water and breathe.......