Archive for June, 2010

10 days later and the truck is still parked on my chest

June 26, 2010

or at least that is what it feels like 10 days out from the TRAM FLAP surgery.  I might add that it is not exactly uncomfortable, not really even painful, just a lot of pressure.  Really, really tight skin which makes me hunch over.  Hunching over without the support of the walker causes significant lower back pain.  So.  I use the walker…not really to walk, but to prevent back pain and support the front side.  I don’t want to sound like I am complaining, because, truly, I have it pretty good.

It’s good to be alive even if I am bored with convalescing already.

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home, all in one body

June 25, 2010

Yes, I am finally home from a quite long stay at  the land of St. Vincents.  I think I was in a total of 6 days, it was a very long and strange trip.  I didn’t post much as I had problems with connecting to the internet, as well as connnecting to my brain.  But now that I am home, I actually feel pretty good, and have to remind myself about all the things I am NOT supposed to do.

I am NOT supposed to move anywhere without the walker.  While I actually feel pretty good, I have to remember all the abdominal tissues that are working on healing.  Big, huge sections of muscle and skin and tissue healing.  It is extremely difficult to sit back and let others do all the work.  Wish I could have a masculine mind for just a week or two.  They make it look so simple to sit back while someone else does the work.

I am NOT supposed to use my abdominal muscles, and I am NOT supposed to stand up straight.  I’m supposed to hunch over like an old lady, and when you add the walker into the picture, I really do look like an old lady.  Ick. 

But I am still alive, and for the first time in 13 months and 3 weeks, all of my body parts are inside of me.  This has been a time I have patiently waited for.  I know it may be hard for some to understand, why I have opted for reconstruction, but I think it is difficult to really understand unless you are in the position of having had your parts removed.

For now, I am reserving judgement on my scarred and sewn up body.

newsflash!!

June 23, 2010

4:15 wednesday afternoon, 6 days post surgery.  JUST RECEIVED MY BRAND NEW WALKER!!  woooo hoooo!!!!  I feel like I have really crossed some kind of invisible line into “old fartdom”.  You might think I am ambivalent about this, but noooo…I’m pretty jazzed about it, actually.

It is NEW and has nice soft handles and folds down flat and everything!  So now, I am on a mission to name her and maybe even figure out how to dress her up a little.  As soon as I get home, I’ll get some images posted so you can send me your best ideas.  No suggestion is too irreverent.

oh, BTW, just in case you were wondering, Dr. Barone was in and said all scar tissue looks great, I’m healing like a champ!!  I just have to remember to take it REAL easy for the next four or five days.  So, it is your turn to call or email or snail mail me.   Just don’t make me laugh (right out loud….that silly silent kind of laughing is ok though!)

so much better today

June 23, 2010

Comparatively speaking, I am so much better today, 6 days after TRAM Flap surgery.  I am well enough to be a little annoyed with some hospital practices, but not willing yet to bitch about them too loudly.  I’m still at the “being nice” level of complainer.

The things I can do: type, cruise the internet, eat mediocre hospital food, make it to the bathroom without an escort, and….well, that is about it I think.  I thought it would sound like a more impressive list when I started that line……….

Things I definitely need help with: getting a drink of water, brushing my teeth, getting a shower, getting dressed, and about anything else you can think of.   Even something as simple as “coughing”…I had to be shown how to do it correctly to minimize the pain.  It is really quite a humbling feeling, to be so dependant on others for so much.

It feels like a big ring of super sensitive tissue from just below my collarbone to below my pubic bone, and it is all tight skin in between.  This is why my new postural stance is like the hunched over little old lady.  Kind of protects the scars and muscles in the front, but wreaks havoc on the lower muscles in the back.

BUT-no, more whining from me.  Being on the “burn unit” makes me realize how lucky I am in a thousand different ways.  This too shall pass.

new adventures

June 21, 2010

got three tubes removed from my body!!  i’ll spare you the gross details, but i have just three tubes left….may have them removed tomorrow if I am a very good patient.  Dr. B came in tonight and wants more movement and weaning off the Fentinol pump.  Still will have pain meds orally.

Today I had the big adventure of walking very slowly to the bathroom not once, but twice!  Both ventures resulted in a trip down nausea lane.  got more meds and just waited for the room to stop spinning.  It was no fun!  This is why I was never a big drinker when I was younger…..just feeling nauseated makes me a big crybaby. 

Lucky for me though, had a great nurse, Cindy.  Took a lot of time with me.  Some of these nurses are really so patient and kind.

sitting up!

June 20, 2010

three days after the tram flap surgery and I am finally sitting up in a chair.  I was so worried that it would be real painful, but so far,  it has been “OK”….not nearly as bad as I thought it would be.  Of course, I still have pain medication in an IV plus a handy little pump.  Gives me a little extra boost if I need it.

As long as I don’t laugh, or cough, or use abdominal muscles I’m good. 

Tomorrow – walking with walker.

june 18, 2010

June 18, 2010

i hear all went well during surgery yesterday, only 5 hours long.   today is my “quiet” day, no moving except my hands and feet.

they keep asking me about pain, and as long I  stay real still, i’m ok.  but any moving like to sit up and in my mind i say, “ow ow ow ow ow ow!!”

In 24 hours

June 16, 2010

I will be arriving at St. Vincent’s Hospital for my tram flap (reconstruction) surgery.  http://breastcancer.about.com/od/reconstructivesurgery/tp/tram_flap.htm  I am so ready for this, even though I know it will be challenging.  For my friends who are worried about me…..don’t be.  Worry is such a useless emotion, and I know it wells up from deep within, but if you notice anxiety or worry creeping into your consciousness, change your thinking.  Worry won’t help you or me.  Instead, think of clarity for Dr. Barone and his surgical staff, think healing thoughts for me, and coping skills for my family.

I am reminded of a comment I heard this last weekend (even though it was spoken in a completely different context).

“This will be difficult.  If we stick together, we will get through it.”

-Captain Daniel Sydes RMR

So just stick with me, think good thoughts, if you are around, stop by for just a short visit, or send me a card.  If you are really motivated to help,  come and take my kids out for ice cream, or a movie.  Call Lou and ask how he is and offer to take him out of the house for awhile.  Relieve BFF Sue of the cooking drudgery for our family and bring over a kid and husband friendly meal. 

….and thanks for your support.

The Power of Optimism

June 13, 2010

 

Optimists…..

  • Are never surprised by trouble
  • Value partial solutions
  • Believe they have control over the future
  • Plan for regular renewal
  • Have heightened powers of admiration
  • Interrupt their negative trains of thought
  • Are cheerful even when they can’t be happy
  • Have an almost unlimited capacity for stretching
  • Build plenty of love into their lives
  • Share good news
  • Use their imaginations to rehearse success
  • Accept what cannot be changed

 

I can’t take credit for this writing, this is something Mr. Kurtz sent to all the faculty at Penta several years ago.  I love this.  This is how I have always lived my life, from striking out on my own at 16, to living in California in my 20’s, and finally settling down after I turned 30. 

Being so optimistic also made it difficult to process and accept the cancer diagnosis, but once I decided to turn it into something that would serve a greater good, to be a teachable moment, my perspective changed.  Of course, this is one of the main reasons for this blog.

nurses are…

June 12, 2010

incredible.   This entry is inspired by one of the images that Bill Jordan captured last Thursday.

This is Suzi, and was taken “pre-op”.  The funny thing is, I don’t remember this moment.  She is such an experienced nurse, knew my meds had begun to take effect and it was highly likely that I wouldn’t remember anything at this point.  But look at her smiling eyes, her hands giving me a “hug”. 

I am so grateful for the many great nurses I have met on this cancer trip.  They have given me the opportunity to share my worries, and then gently diminish them.  I love the fact that I can email my oncology nurses with questions about test results, and get a message back the same day.  My radiation nurse one day called me back at the end of a visit to have another look at the burns, and provided a different method of dealing with desolate and destroyed skin, because she didn’t want me to experience any anxiety over the weekend.

I love it when they say, “Keep the questions coming.”

How do you thank someone for that kind of caring and experience?