Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Day 200 - "200 Days of Breast Cancer"

Yesterday was day 200 of this whole ordeal. It was my first day back to work after my exchange surgery. I felt good. I'm feeling like me again -- that didn't take long. The exchange surgery was a quick one. We got there at 5:45 am. They took us back to the pre-op room around 6:30. My nurse, bless her heart ... tried to numb my arm before she put in the IV. She numbed it ... but she didn't get the IV in. She ended up blowing out my vein. 6 days later, the bruise is fading. The anesthesiologist wasn't very happy with her. I didn't help the situation. I was crying and anxious - my usual demeanor when they're about to poke me. He must have had a soft spot for tears. He gave the nurse a stern look and told her to just use my port to start the IV so they could get me under, then once I'm under they'd put in the IV. I understand why she didn't use it to begin with - they were taking it out that day - but the anesthesiologist was a softie. Thank goodness for that.

He was really nice. He put in the mind eraser drug closer to when I was wheeled into the operating room - so I vaguely remember the room, seeing the OR nurses in their blue scrubs scurrying around as I came in. I remember scooting myself onto the table and the anesthesiologist cautioning me that the table is narrow so not to move too far. I remember the gas mask going over my face - that's when the visual part of my memory gets fuzzy. I remember the voice of the anesthesiologist, and his accent, and his instructions to take some deep breaths ... the sound of my breath as I inhaled ... and then he tells me this is the part where you pick out a nice dream.

Mike told me it took 2.5 hours for them to finish - the maximum amount of time they said it would take. He joked it was just like me - taking a long time. I woke up in what they called "Phase I" - the initial room where they monitor you very closely as you wake up. Again, they came out to tell Mike they were just waiting for me to come out of the anesthesia - evidently I like to take my time. When I did wake up, my mouth was bone dry and my left underarm hurt tremendously -- as if someone were pushing up in there, pinching the nerves. Evidently, my plastic surgeon had to separate my muscle to get to my port in order to take it out. It hurt. But that was all. Nothing else was hurting.

When I came around fully and could keep some apple juice down, they moved me into "Phase II" - the you're doing great, let's get you ready to get dressed and go home room. Much better than last surgery's "Phase II" - which meant a hospital stay. Mike and Julia sat with me in there as I kept some graham crackers down and more liquids. The nurse took out my IV, Mike helped me get dressed, Julia grabbed my things and they wheeled me out. We were home by 2:30 pm.

I stayed up and talked with Julia for about an hour until she went to pick up her little boy. After she left, Mike and I ate, and I checked out. I evidently checked out for 3 days. I woke up - I just mean I checked out emotionally for 3 days. Thursday was mostly spent sleeping ... and peeking. Friday, when I was allowed to finally shower, I did - and then I came downstairs and laid all my worries on Mike. I broke down - and my poor husband didn't see it coming. I had a good old fashioned pity party. I was sad things were "uneven" - that things were smaller than the expanders were - that I didn't want to have to go back into surgery if for some reason they put in two different sized implants -- did he think they put in two different size implants? He just kept reassuring me that I'm 2 days out of surgery, things are swollen, especially the left side since they had to do some work to get the port out. I just kept weeping. I was tired of being in Recovery again. I was so happy that I was feeling like myself again before surgery, that my spirit really took a beating after surgery.

Saturday was much better. I needed to get out of the house - a sign I started feeling like me again - so I dragged Mike out Christmas shopping. Sunday was better than Saturday, and Monday was better than Sunday. Today, I'm feeling close to where I was before I went into surgery. The only thing that is somewhat of a bother, is my left side. It doesn't hurt very much at all - but my range of motion is limited right now, and so it only hurts a little when I really try to stretch for things or push that limit. (Or push myself up or try to turn the steering wheel.) But other than that, I don't have pain at all from the implants. I'm truly surprised. Every day I feel more like me. I like the final product more and more. Each day there is a little more pep in my step, and a little more hair on my head.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Exchange Surgery Morning

So it's pushing 5 am and I'm just hanging out waiting to leave for the hosptial. I woke up at 2 this morning because I was nervous I wouldn't get up at 4. So I went back to sleep and when my alarm went off at 4 - I hit snooze.

I've been asked if I was nervous or excited for this surgery. My responses have been that I'm just anxious and ready for it to be over. My eyes opened this morning and the first feeling that registered was fear. I guess I am nervous. I keep thinking about the IV, because I just love being stuck with needles. I am worried about the chance of my "spared parts" not surviving the second surgery. They made it through the first one but I could be pushing my luck asking for them to hang in there a second time. I'm worried about the anesthesia - I've been having this thought leading up to today - what if I don't wake up. It is surgery after all.

For as much as I don't remember of the first surgery - I remember enough about the moments leading up to it and those feelings - the nervousness and anxiety - I remember. Maybe that's what's registering, a remembered fear.

We did fondue last night. Michelle and Jason and Jessie and Mike came over - both with their little ones. It was really good for me to have them here - to host dinner for them. It made me feel good to have friends around before a big day like today. It kept my emotions in check while I focused on them - didn't give me time to worry about today.

Julia just got here. She's going with us and going to keep my hunny company in the waiting room. Away we go.
(Sent from my iPhone)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Boston Pictures

View from his uncle's back door

Patriot Place

Mike and  his long time friend Nic


"Oh, I bet you say that to all the bald girls"

His happy place

Victory!!! Patriots beat the Colts

Day 191 - Surgery Week

My exchange surgery is this week -- Wednesday. We're scheduled for another 7:30 am slot which means we need to be at the hospital at 5:45 am, to give time for getting me hooked up to an IV and pre-medicated. All in all, it should be a 2 hour or so procedure and I should be home by lunch.

I had my follow up oncology appointment last Monday. I must admit - my Onc has a way of talking to me that gets me to let go of any of reservations I have about further treatment and just "try" things. "If something were to manifest itself in a few years down the road, you don't want to wish there was a pill you could have taken to have prevented it" she says. Did you see that? There it goes -- all my gusto about not taking Tamoxifen. Fine, I tell myself, I'll try it. See how it goes. Who knows - chemo wasn't nearly as bad as we were expecting. Maybe I won't have any seriously noticeable side effects on Tamoxifen. We'll just have to see. And in the end, I can say I did try everything advised to me - I did everything I was suppose to do to prevent a metastasis in the future. And if a metastasis happens to present itself - well hell - then it was suppose to. I don't know any other way to look at it.

This Thursday I'll be 5 weeks from my last infusion. I feel good - as close to normal as possible. Things taste good. I'm happy about that. I'm starting to notice other - things. Sometimes it feels like I have swelling or fluid retention around my knees. Sometimes I feel like I could just break down crying. It's overwhelming and it's very strange for me. Yesterday Mike and I were in the grocery store and I was just suddenly sad. I could have broke into tears right then and there in the produce section - for no reason at all. Mike asked me what was wrong - he could see it on my face - he saw my mood switch - and I just asked him to ignore it and I tried to talk through it - keep shopping. By the time we checked out I was better. I didn't feel as debilitatingly sad. Instead I was concerned. I'm very much a level headed, emotionally stable person and to feel suddenly sad like that - is off putting. I don't like not being in control of myself.

Another thing I've noticed is my nails. I have white lines throughout my nail bed - almost as if you could count on them - 1 chemo, 2 chemo ...

I really think in a few weeks I'll see the third ring. Not sure if there will be a fourth though. I'll have to watch. They're bumpy as well - dented. The most noticeable dent seems like it is between what was healthy and what as after the first chemo. It's very distinctive. My guess is this is all from the "attacks rapidly dividing cells" thing. And then, as the drugs finished their job, my nails returned to their normal growing state for the brief intermission between infusions.

Mike said today that it looks like my hair is starting to come back. I told him not to tease me. He said my head looks darker - it must be coming back. I'm not going to get excited until I can pull it.