Archive for the ‘reconstruction’ Category

6 days post surgery

February 2, 2011

Six days post surgery and things seem to be going quite well.  No real pain, just mild discomfort.  I think most uncomfortable are the remaining two drain tubes stuck in my sides which continue to drain the fluids which come from who knows where, but with any luck, these will be removed this afternoon, even with a Level 3 Snow Emergency in Lucas County.  I haven’t even really tried to reach, lift, move much.  I’ve decided to behave in a super cautious manner for another week yet…

This is what was left of my “pain balls” on Monday.  When I went home from surgery, the tan tube looking things were actually like balloons and completely filled up the space inside the plastic box.  Somehow it continuously delivered some kind of potent pain medication directly into my blood stream.  Must have worked well, because only two days were kind of difficult.  By Saturday and Sunday I felt like I could get in and out of chairs without a lot of “ouchouchouch”.

So far, I am reserving judgement on the obvious, the looks of the girls.  They are pretty similar in size and location on my chest.  That is a plus.  But at this time, still a little swollen yet from all the manipulation.  Plus I am still wearing an uncomfortable surgical bra to hold all the dressings in place, and once I’m past that stage, things will be much more comfortable, and happy.

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brief update

September 30, 2010

yea, I know not much has been posted here lately.   Partly, that’s good news.  Means I’m at least still at work, and not at home recuperating in bed.  I have had lots of news to share, just not the time to write. 

Life seems crazy busy, and I feel as if I’ve been swept onto the fast train.  It’s not all bad.  I’ve had some really cool opportunities come my way and had fun.  But also have new responsibilities both at home and work, and not another minute has been added to the day to get it all done.  I’d be frustrated, but I’m too tired to work up that much energy.

In the meantime, a quick update:  Seems as if the recent ultrasound (ovaries) was OK, but really I’m not completely convinced.  Maybe it’s the cancer apprehension speaking, but I think when I see the U of M onco next month, I’ll schedule the genetic (BRCA1 and BRCA2) testing.  Might as well know those odds.

Reconstruction surgery #2 has been delayed due to DVT, but the plan now is to have that surgery in January.  And speaking of DVT, I’m still on blood thinners and my goal is to be off of them by November.  I’ll be very lucky if that happens, but that’s what I have set in my mind at this point in time.

Just this week during my radiation oncology visit my substitute-doctor told me the weird metal taste I’ve had in my mouth for a week now is Thrush.  Great.  Another medicine.  Another thing to deal with.  But, I guess on the scale of all the things that could happen, I should probably be grateful that I have a stupid fungal infection now.  At least I’m trying to talk myself into that mindset for the now.  But, it also means that my immune system is not where it should be………sigh…….it’s all so disappointing. 

But in the meantime, I just keep getting through each day, and hope that I might actually be seeing a sliver of light at the end of this really crappy tunnel.

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.

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.

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.

5 days later….

June 9, 2010

and I’m still here and happy to say I can laugh out loud again.  This is not to say that I haven’t had a good time in the last week, but because of the “delay” surgery, laughing was……well, difficult.  On thursday, the day of the surgery, I came home feeling pretty damn good, because they give you great drugs when they knock you out for surgery.  By Friday, well, that was another story.  I felt real “ouchy”, as in every time I moved or laughed or coughed or sat down or sat up I would go, “ow ow ow ow ow” both from the incision and the muscle layers that had been disturbed in the procedure.  Not that it was terrible pain, it was just damned uncomfortable.  BUT, I took my main pain meds for only two days and by Sunday I felt decent enough to drive myself to church and stay for the potluck with the Unitarians.  Today, Tuesday, I can say that I feel much, much better.

Since I last posted I’ve been back to Dr. Barone, and the official report is that I have great anatomy and am a “good healer”.  By the way, I asked about why this surgery, the snipping of the lower epigastric artery in preparation for the TRANS (Transverse Rectus Abdominis Myocutaneous  flap ) is called the delay procedure and received this unimpressive definition: “delay” refers to performing the rest of the surgical operation at a later point in time.  Thought it might be more clinical than that, but no..  Apparently delay procedures increase the likelihood that the following surgery will be more succesful, due to the subsequent bulking up of the superior epigastric artery, which is the primary initial blood source for the whole muscle and fat flap that is to become my new left breast.

my new left breast.  In a way, it will kind of be like going to the hospital to have a baby.  You don’t exactly know what to expect, except that it will surely hurt, and you hope that the prize will be worth it all.  Kind feel like I should be thinking of a name for her.

Got any ideas?