Thursday, February 16, 2012

Silicone wins!

Today was a good day.

I felt a little anxious over the past week.  Didn't sleep a lot last night - waking up pretty consistently with a little worry on my mind.  Finally when I do wake up for good at around 5am.  I see a text message from Sarah telling me she was home (at 2am) and that she didn't tell us she was driving late so we wouldn't worry about her.  I also see the power is out.  With no sound or light, I guess my for good wake up time was not 5am but closer to 6:30!!!

I needed to be at the hospital at 7:30am.  Woke up late, jumped in the shower and used the only hot water left, said hello to Sarah, heading out to St. Francis Hospital and get stuck in Arlington HS traffic for 20 minutes!!  We ended up that much late - but to my surprise behind the desk waiting for me was our friend Bonnie!  I was so happy to see someone I knew I forgot about my anxiety of the surgery and being late.  It was just what my day needed - a turn around.

At that point, I was moving.  I went into the prep area where I got to wear a fabulous gown with my butt hanging out.  Compression 'socks' that expand and contract to massage your legs really do feel nice!  Then more of the usual - blood pressure, pulse, temp and, my favorite, an iv line.  The only thing they put in the iv line in the prep room was saline and pepcid for nausea. I had already taken a eMend first thing for nausea too.  That part being done, I was just waiting for Dr. Sepulveda to come see me and the anesthesiologist Dr. Rau.

Dr. S came in and we discussed the size selection that we changed to on Monday.  Bob had a concern about a warning he read for 'larger' implants.  This didn't ultimately become the reason why we selected the smaller implants, but it did cause us to talk about it.  The saline temporary expanders were filled with 450 cc.  The intention was to go down to 425cc when we switched them to the silicon.  But we ended up with 400cc to allow for more movement.  The right breast had shrunk considerably due to the radiation and it was pretty tight and uncomfortable with 450cc in it.  So we chose a smaller implant to allow for space to move and hopefully soften up a bit.

The doctor was also going to make a few incisions to try to loosen it a little.  I honestly don't know if he did that since they put a bra on me and I haven't looked yet!!!  2 days - leave the bra on... I'll find out tomorrow!

They took me in to the O.R. at 9:30am.  I think it was about a 2 hour procedure.  The anesthesiologist was a very sweet man and the nurse was holding my hand as I dropped of to sleep.  I woke up in recovery a little groggy as expected.  Once I was able, they moved me to another location, helped me put my clothes on and sat me in a recliner.  Bob and Sarah came in all smiles and happy to see me - as I was happy and relieved to see them too!  I asked for my phone and did my best to text Alex and the others who asked me to let them know I was done while drinking the needed coffee and talking to the nurse.... technology geek, yup.

We left the hospital at 1pm and headed to Table Talk for breakfast for me.  That's how good I felt!  We ate and talked and finally left so I could nap a little at home.  Not feeling hardly any pain, I didn't take any meds but slept for a few hours before the throw-together dinner that Sarah made and it was delicious!!  We talked and laughed and had a good time - all very normal!!!

Right now - I feel good.  They are softer, smaller and a little sore but nothing to speak of.  I get tired from time to time in waves from the anesthesia but no big deal.  I think I can say that the silicone implants beat out the saline hands down!!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

iPhone action

Well here I sit in the plastic surgeon's office! Thanks to my iPhone, I can blog about it from here.

I signed a bunch of forms and will have my pre-op check-up. All the same warnings. Just hoping for no drains.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

One of my favorite poems... When I die

When I die
Give what's left of me away
To children
And old men that wait to die.
And if you need to cry,
Cry for your brother
Walking the street beside you.
And when you need me,
Put your arms
Around anyone
And give them
What you need to give to me.

I want to leave you something,
Something better
Than words
Or sounds.

Look for me
In the people I’ve known
Or loved,
And if you cannot give me away,
At least let me live on your eyes
And not on your mind.

You can love me most
By letting
Hands touch hands,
By letting
Bodies touch bodies,
And by letting go
Of children
That need to be free.

Love doesn’t die,
People do.
So, when all that's left of me
Is love,
Give me away.

-Merrit Malloy

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The next phase

In a week from today, I'll be having the surgery to finish the job we began in April.

This surgery has been in the works for quite a while.  Much longer than we first anticipated.  The temporary implants were put into place on April 21st - the day of my bi-lateral mastectomy surgery.  Every few weeks, Dr. Sepulveda injected some additional saline into the temporaries to form the breasts that I've been carrying around on my chest for 9 months now. 

Originally, the thought was to replace these with the more natural silicon gel implants within just a few months.  Stretch the skin to support the size of the breast and then swap them out with the gels.  But, we had a little detour when it was determined that I would need radiation.

Dr. S was worried the radiation would damage the work he had already done - needing additional surgery to repair it.  He wanted to wait several months after radiation was done to see what the result would be on the right breast.  Radiation can continue to effect the tissue for this long.  While it didn't damage anything, it was true that there was significant changes to the right breast that were different from the left.

Dr. S filled the 2 breasts with saline to appear equal.  During this time, the left has stretched and softened a bit while the right has pulled in tighter.  The left even hangs quite a bit lower now.  I'm hoping Dr. S will work his magic in surgery to not only replace the implants, but to also make them look a little more similar.  I have confidence he will do a fantastic job - he is a true artist and takes his 'art' seriously.

As much as I am looking forward to a more natural look and feel, I cannot wait to have the ports removed.  They still sit on my ribs on either side of me and easily get irritated when sleeping on my side or wearing a bra.  Bra - not that I need one!!! I wear one if wearing a sheer top or sometimes just because it's a habit! 

The 3rd port on the left side of my chest is also being removed... this port delivered the Chemotherapy drugs to my body 6 times last year.  I will not miss it!!

I am looking forward to sleeping on my stomach.  To stretching in jazz class to my side/gravity stretch without feeling pain.  I'm looking forward to putting on my seat belt without it rubbing and irritating the strange bump that protrudes from my chest.  I'm looking forward to this week of doctor appointments and tests because it means I'm that much closer to it being over with.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

It's Complicated

Yup, life is complicated.  I've wanted to update this blog for over a month now.  It seemed that as every day passed, the more the task was daunting.  It grew and grew with more things I wanted to say about the fantastic events of December, that it caused me to just stop.  I didn't know how to start.

But that's not right either.  I enjoyed doing this over the past year so why not continue something that makes you happy - just makes you feel good.  Here I am.  New Year's is as good a time as any to start it all up.... keep it short but write often.  I'll look back and reflect - laugh a lot, cry a little - as I recount my days once again.

Today, I stood with Bob in the middle of the Everglades - a beautiful experience.  He turned to me and said 'we really don't matter'.  I call it feeling 'small'.  Feeling like you are just a tiny spec when you consider the size and age of the universe and the history of mankind.  But the more I thought about it, the more I think he's wrong.

As Bob would tell me, pick your relatives!  I matter to Bob and Bob matters to me.  We matter to our kids and to all the people we meet and so on.  It's these relationships that we build that make us feel BIG - bigger than life itself.  Each person builds on each other and they become building blocks for our society - the world we live in.  One block falls out of place and it all comes tumbling down.  No matter how small or big, we all have an important role in each other's lives.

It's this kind of reality I look back on in 2011 and thank all who I know, all who have touched my life.  You build me up each and every day to get stronger and be a better person.  This year, 2012, is the year to pay it forward.

And so on.... Happy New Year!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Giving thanks

It's Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend.  It really was quite an eventful few days starting with Sarah coming in Wednesday and ending with Sarah flying home this afternoon.

In between we saw a local community play, celebrated Thanksmas with my side of the family,  hung out at Karma, showed our apartment in Newburgh and cleaned the house.  I don't take part in any Black Friday activities, so I saved my shopping for this week.  Even without hitting a store, we had plenty of things to do and it was jammed with fun.

Most notably this week was Thanksgiving Day, of course.  In our family, we are traditionally guests of other people's TG spread.  Over the past few years, we've traveled to Dawn and Sean's for an early dinner and then moved to Patti and Stuart's for dinner later in the evening. 

This year was a little different... Dawn and Sean had quite the eventful few months themselves.  They were hit by the flooding from hurricane Irene and lost their home back in September.  Coincidentally, they had already been looking at a new home and quickly closed on it and moved in. Happily, we sat in there new dining room eating the turkey Dawn cooked in her beautiful new kitchen!!!  A true reason to be thankful.

As I sat and ate next to my sister, I mentioned missing Mom this week.  This was the first holiday without her.  I saw a picture of her with my nephew Ben during the week and the emotions just flowed out of me.  I remembered picking her up and traveling through the county to get there for dinner and talking about anything and everything.  While it wasn't easy the last few years, she was still Mom - all laughs and love.  We missed her as we talked about the rutabaga Donna couldn't cook this year. 

My memories of last year flooded in a few times too.  I sat there eating and remembering what it was like last year.  Last year, I walked in knowing that I had breast cancer.  We didn't tell anyone and we tried to act normally.   I think we were successful although it felt like we walked with a cloud over our head and everyone could see it.  Either way, it was a very strange feeling. 

This year was entirely different.  We sat around the new table at the Ackerman's and ate and talked and laughed.  Reminisced of years past and were grateful for where we were today.

We moved on that day to Patti's.  Again, no one knew.  The four of us sat at a table in the back with just a few others.  It's like we were holding each other up because we were the only ones that knew our secret.  Bob shared with Patti that day.  Her mother-in-law Deena noticed our different behavior and asking about it.  This year I talked about my year and my journey to the family and friends that were there.  I was grateful that it was just part of my past now.

That night we drove home - me, Bob and Sarah.  Last year, Alex was going to celebrate Thanksgiving with Melissa's family but at the last minute because of the diagnosis, he changed his plans to be home with us.  This year, he made it the Clark's for the holiday - as much as I missed him, I'm thankful he was able to keep his plans. 

Life has gone on... I'm thankful for the gift of life.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Year In My Life

It's been a year... a year since a distraught Bob walked through the door of the studio to tell me the news.  A year since we heard the words and saw the pictures.  A year since we told the kids. A year since every thing changed.

Memories come flooding back of those days.  When I could only think of the people I had to tell and what I had to do next.  Scheduling appointments was a priority and trying to figure out how to fix it.

I sat at my desk today and the messages came in marking the day from my family and friends.  Emails, tweets, texts, facebook are the reminders of the people I love and the connections I've made over this year.

I was happy.  I was sad.  But I do know how lucky I am.