Wednesday, June 26, 2013


I just finished crying...big ugly tears kind of crying. And yes, it's because I'm feeling sorry for myself. I had my surgery this morning to remove my expander and the necrotic skin. It was quick and easy. I arrived at the surgery center at 6 am where they made me wait in the waiting room for an hour before taking me back to the pre-op area. I love how they do that...make you get up earlier than you needed to so you can wait around. So I went in at 7 am, surgery started at 8, at 9:15 I was in recovery texting my sister telling her to come pick me up, and by 10 am I was home at my parent's house. The kids and I had spent the night at my parents house so my dad could watch the kids while my mom took me to the hospital.  John is in Alaska for work. He asked if he should cancel his trip because of my surgery but my mom and my sister were willing to take care of me and the kids so he was able to still go. Anyhow, I spent the day at my parents house after surgery. I'm pretty doped up on pain killers so the pain isn't too bad. I've had quite a bit of nausea from the anesthesia and had to run to the bathroom a couple of times. I slept on and off throughout the day and then after dinner my parents drove us home. They got the kids to bed for me. After they went home I went to my room to get ready for bed. I took off the bandages and looked at the surgery site where I expected to see a flat boobless chest. That's not what I saw. What I did see horrified me. I'm actually starting to tear up again just thinking about the experience. I'm deformed. Not just mastectomy deformed. I don't even know how to describe the hideous vision of what was formerly known as my right breast. It's this big mess of tight skin and excess skin with a huge incision which lies in a sunken in valley where the expander used to be. I saw this mess for the first time about an hour ago and I cried tears of self pity. Lots of big ugly tears with several sobs thrown in as well. 

I've had two episodes of self pity tears today. The first time happened this morning after I got all gowned up for my surgery. I really didn't like the nurse who was doing all my pre-op preparation. She was stiff and cold. She had no compassion. I felt so strong going into this surgery. I didn't feel too disappointed about losing my foob (fake boob). I wasn't afraid of the surgery or the recovery. I was fine. Then this nurse was cold toward me. She didn't do anything wrong. She just wasn't anything like all of the loving, compassionate, tender hearted nurses that I've had before. Then again, all those previous nurses knew about my diagnosis during pregnancy. This nurse today, all she knew is that I was there for surgery with a plastic surgeon. All of a sudden I felt defensive with this nurse. I wanted to say to her... Do you realize that I don't want to be here?  Do you realize that something is being taken from me today that I don't want to have taken away again?  Do you realize that most women my age having plastic surgery are getting a nose job or a tummy tuck and all I want is to have a second breast but I don't get to because my cancer treatment caused an infection. I wanted to tell her all these things but I was just saying them to myself and causing my own heart ache. Once you start down that road...that road of misery and self pity, it's hard to stop.  Yes, all those things are true. But what's the point of dwelling on them or even thinking about them at all for that matter?  It's so much easier to just ignore those feelings. It's healthier for me to ignore those feelings...because I'm doing fine. Actually... I'm great. I choose to be good...even with only one boob and a deformed right side. I might cry every time I look in the mirror...but cover that crap up and I can forget it's even there and then I'll be fine. I really do believe that we choose how we live our lives. I choose to live well. Oh...that reminds me of a hymn. I'm sure that hymn would describe exactly what I'm feeling.  I can't think of the name. All I can think of is that it says something about being well in my soul. Okay figuring out what hymn that is will be a job for tomorrow because I am too tired tonight. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Paint Me a Picasso

Today I'm feeling pretty dumb. I started radiation in March. My plastic surgeon didn't get to finish filling my expander before radiation began which meant that my fake boob was quite a bit smaller than my real one.  Radiation lasted for 7 weeks and when I finished my expanded breast was the same size as my real breast. I didn't even realize it until last night in the ER. The ER doc poked a needle into the infected area of my breast to get some discharge to swab. Well, that tiny hole became a drain for an unbelievable amount of serosanguineous fluid.  (Serosanguineous fluid is a yellowish/pinkish colored fluid). Every hour the nurse had to redress the wound because the gauze pads were drenched in the nasty stuff. By the time I was discharged  it was still draining. The nurse sent me home with a bag full of supplies and by the time I got home I had to redress the wound again. I'm not kidding you...I think I lost at least a pound from all the fluid that came out of me and my breasts are back to being lopsided. 

The most amazing part to me is that I didn't realize how much pain I had been in until all that pressure was relieved. The pain started with 2 weeks left in radiation. I was having horrible pain. It had become painful to even wear clothing that put pressure anywhere near my breast.  I'm talking even the smallest amount of pressure...even the pressure from a camisole tank top was uncomfortable. Another interesting fact is that the headaches I was having started at the same time as the pain in my breast. 

This morning I took the kids to VBS, called my plastic surgeon and informed him of the new situation. I went in to see him immediately. He took a look at my infected foob (fake boob) and informed me that the skin is dead and will have to be surgically removed. The expander will have to be removed as well unless by some miracle the infection has not spread to encompass the expander. Chances are slim to none but that's what I'm hoping for. Surgery needs to happen very soon. He also referred me to an infectious disease doctor. I love my plastic surgeon by the way. He is so quirky. Anyhow, I went and saw the infectious disease doctor and he thinks the infection is staph. He prescribed 14 days of IV antibiotics. He called in the prescription to Walgreens Infusion and they delivered the IV supplies and the antibiotic to my home and then Walgreens sent out their best nurse to set up my IV and teach me how to administer my own antibiotics. That amazing nurse just happens to be my very own amazing sister, nurse Cyndi. Pretty awesome right?  My sister really is amazing. Besides being a Peds nurse at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara, she also works for Walgreens Infusion.  Oh yeah...and she also has her own mobile phlebotomy business too. So she always draws all my labs for me and saves me from sitting in another waiting room. I don't have to tell me...I'm blessed to have her.  On top of her 3 jobs she also has a husband and 3 kids. She also somehow managed to go to almost all of my chemo appointments with me too. I wish I could send her a cruise. 

My plastic surgeon called me after he had spoken with the infectious disease doc and they have me on the surgery schedule for next Wednesday. Cut out the dead skin and remove the expander. I will once again resemble a boob. That guy would have loved to paint my portrait. I'm sure of it. Actually, I think this one might be of me. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

a CT and an IV

Life is busy...a wonderfully normal kind of busy. It's been great. It's been exhausting. There is so much to update. I turned 34 years old on June 1st. That was also the same day I moved into my new home. I've been running around like a mad woman for the past two weeks doing field trips and class parties with the kids, doctor appointments, unpacking, and just normal mom stuff. It's unbelievable how much less energy I have these days. By mid afternoon, I feel like I need lots and lots of ibuprofen and caffeine or just a really early bedtime. 

On June 6th I was scheduled to have an MRI of my brain to find out if the headaches I had been having were caused by cancer. I went to my appointment and getting ready to start the procedure the tech says, "did you say you have a breast expander?  Does it have metal in it?"  Well, the answers were yes and yes. No MRI for me...duh...I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner. You can't put metal in a big magnet. That could have turned out really bad. I immediately drove over to my oncologist's office and told him and he got me scheduled for a STAT CT for the following day. Those days are really hard for me.  The days when it feels like things are just all wrong.  The days that are filled with frustration and fear of what could be wrong. It is also those days that are so hard for me when I get to experience blessings. That night while I was making dinner, my doorbell rang. I opened the door to a delivery of an edible arrangement from two of the sweetest people I know. These two ladies have blessed me so much throughout this past year and so many times it was on days when I needed a little pick me up and to feel loved.  Well, the following day I did have my CT scan and received the results that same day. My brain is fine. And you know what?  It's amazing how much better my headaches are now that I'm not spending so much time stressing about them. I thought they were just stress headaches but now I know how much the stress and fear was actually exacerbating them. 

I am currently a patient in the ER at Santa Paula Hospital. About two weeks ago I started experiencing some issues with the skin on my fake boob. I went in to see my plastic surgeon and he prescribed an antibiotic and some skin cream. Well the skin has gotten a lot worse. Today I showed it to my sister nurse Cyndi, and she wanted me to go to the ER. I was surprised because it has to be pretty bad for her to suggest an ER. So here I sit with an IV dripping away.  I've been here for 4 hours already getting pumped full of the strongest antibiotic they've got. I have a couple more hours to go because the IV can only drip so fast and they have given me an extremely high dose. We're not sure what type of infection it is but these bags full of IV meds will kill it, I'm sure. Unfortunately it looks like I will most likely have to have the expander removed. Another surgery...just what I don't need.  Oh well. 

Here I am in the ER with my sister, Cyndi. 

Here's my new home.