Posts Tagged ‘breast cancer’

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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quick update

December 8, 2010

I’ve been remiss in not updating my progress here.  Sorry.  Fulltime work, going to PT and medical appointments along with motherhood and life in general…keeps me busy.

PET Scan – Radiation Oncologist said, “stupid test, too expensive, inconclusive..”  Also said he’d make the appointment for me to see Dr. Butler….the queen of all docs, the “Surgeon” and I say that with a mix of both fear and respect.  Butler has more experience than anyone else in town with breast cancer and has seen plenty of fat necrosis, tumors, and all things foreign in breast tissue.

My appointment with Butler was this past monday, and her opinion on the lump, after a considerable amount of time wielding the ultrasound wand was…………the lump is “rib”.  The lump will not have a needle stuck in it. Too close to the heart and the lungs, and risk of puncturing a lung or worse is too great.  Great…good news, right?  Wish I could get my mind to believe that.  In my heart I don’t believe it, but I guess I have to believe it.   I’ve had Medical Onco, Plastics Guy, Radiation Onco, and now the Surgeon all say, “nah….probably not tumor.” 

My Supreme Surgeon did, however, express great concern with the decision of GP to take me off of blood thinners after only three months.  Concerned enough to insist that I call the Hemetologist/Oncologist at U of M to get another opinion, and while I’m at it (she said in her most authoritarian way) get her opinion on the method and plan for the finish of the reconstruction (which is currently planned for late January.)  She didn’t like the PS plan to just remove the lump….because after all, she thinks it is my rib.  My rib grotesquely contorted out of shape.  From the plastic surgery. 

*Sigh*

Compartmentalize this!

October 28, 2010

So yesterday I had a regular checkup with Dr. Barone but of course had my surprise, the big hard lump/bump on my left chest to show him.  I had expected him to kind of brush it off, but he instead gave me an order for a CT scan.  Which I’m afraid to say, is exactly what I wanted.

I’m beginning to feel like a medical junkie.  Like I can’t wait for the next “fix”, the next procedure………..just when I think I’m out of the woods for a weekly medical appointment, something new comes up (this time, literally.)

CT scan is scheduled for next week, November 5th.  So for now, I have to place all the anxious thoughts about this lump in my chest that  seems to change shape weekly and place them in a box out of the way of my conscious mind.  Let’s see how much self control I can impose upon myself for yet another week.

October 19, 2010

It’s been over ten days I’ve beeen living with this super hard mass in my left chest.  Today I had my regular appointment with Dr. Schott, Oncologist at U of M.  She sent me for an ultrasound, and the verdict is……………..!  Right–no real answer.  They are pretty sure it is not a tumor, but no idea of what it is….well. they have an idea.  It might be fat necrosis, none of the docs are 100% sure. 

SO-the plan is to watch it and wait……….

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.

lucky me

May 31, 2010

lucky me, my support person, BFF from 20 years back, Sue, has arrived in Ohio to be the back-up backbone of the family while I enter phase four of the cancerland ride. 

In three days I will have the first of three surgeries (the “delay procedure”) for the breast reconstruction process.  Tomorrow morning I have an appointment at St. Vincents Hosptial for a pre-surgery exchange of information and body fluids. 

Eyes wide open, I am anxious, in a good kind of way, for this process to begin. Once it begins, it is then just a matter of time and experiences before it will be done.  and over. 

I feel no fear at all, so please don’t be afraid for me.  It’s just not necessary.

drain tubes

May 23, 2010

I have 14 days worth of “drain tube” records documents at my bedside.  Filled my prescriptions for pain medications, an antibiotic, and post surgery vitamins.  The days I have been waiting for are finally drawing near, and I am slightly unsettled, and getting anxious to be moving forward.

 

For the last couple of weeks in addition to being tired, everything also aches.  These aches seem to come from deep within my bones.  Side effect of Arimidex?  maybe Zometa?  I think both are possible and neither can be positively confirmed.  Every day I compel my body to get up and move.  I just put one foot in front of the other and then repeat.  If I keep doing that eventually I’ll feel like moving.  Some days that trick works and other days, well, I just keep putting one foot in front of the other.  

things are beginning to pick up around here.

May 19, 2010

 

Nothing says “it’s time for surgery” quite like an autologous blood donation.  So yesterday I went to the Red Cross and stuck out my arm so I could bank a bag of blood.   With any luck, it will have been a needless precaution, and Dr. B won’t have to use it during my “big deal” surgery on June 17th.

I haven’t posted much as I have been dog tired after days that begin at 5 am and end at 10 pm or later.  School is almost out, and that means lots of extra work from grading to packing up two classrooms, final reports etc.  In addition, trying to get ready for two surgeries, plus be a mom, and try to pick up the slack at home since Lou has been disabled by knee surgery.  It has been an intense month in all spectrums of life.

But I’ll keep you posted on all the highpoints right here.

Today, May 4, 2010 is the……..

May 4, 2010

……….1 year anniversary of my bilateral mastectomy.  

Like most of my days lately, it was very busy……slept in until 4:45 am, then got up to finish grading poorly written papers before the coffee was even brewed, cleaned the kitchen, made son a 3 egg cheese omelet, and then drove him into T-town for 9 am medical appointment, and back home with just enough time to rush off to work myself, worked half day, taught four classes, 86 kids, and then entered grades for two classes with moments to spare before the grade entering window slammed shut.  Was done at school by 4:20, dashed off to purchase supplies for food demo and labs this week and got caught up in the 5 pm rush at the store……….only to discover the first store didn’t have all the required ingredients….. big sigh……hustle back to Perrysburg, and oh-bonus activity, got to stop by the library to vote, THEN home to make dinner, spaghetti for us, pita pizzas for kids, clean up the kitchen, head back out to second grocery store to buy the rest of supplies…..big sigh again…not enough of the whole wheat pitas there either dammit, will have to go grocery shopping AGAIN tomorrow morning BEFORE school…moderated a fight between the boys and then got the kids ice cream at the good Hershey’s Ice Cream Shop.  Actually sat down for a couple of minutes to watch the local girl on American Idol.  Figured out what to wear to school tomorrow. ALL THE WHILE THINKING………..gee, that whole breast removal thing that occurred a year ago today…..seems like such a big damn deal that I should recognize it somehow.  Maybe even celebrate it in some way.  All day, I was perplexed at the thought of how do you recognize such a wierd, life-transforming event as a mastectomy?   Find something you love and cut it off?

Only now have I realized that I did celebrate that stupid mastectomy.  by living.  by still being here for my kids (as imperfect a parent as I am….)  still being a teacher.  still moving on this planet.

stupid cancer hasn’t killed me yet.  chemotherapy and radiation, survived both of them, too.  They all really suck, and I’m going to some day get beyond this phase of life of daily incredulous rediscovery of…..my life with stupid cancer.

But on the bright side, it could be so, so much worse.  I am grateful for all the gifts I’ve been given…even crappy ones, for each experience, if it doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger.