Sunday, April 18, 2010

Surgery and Recovery

Surgery went well!  I am recovering comfortably and moving back and forth from the bed to my chair in the den (the command center).  I'm not in pain when I sit still and it is manageable when I move around.  I am still taking pain medicine around the clock, but tomorrow I'll ease off and see how I feel.

Scott's Mom spent the night with us on Wednesday night so that we didn't have to worry about dropping Annabel off the morning of surgery or having Mimi drive all the way here.  I wasn't very stressed out the evening before or the morning of surgery.  We all left together, Scott and I to the outpatient surgery center and Mimi and Annabel to Lavonia.  Scott and I got to the surgery center on time at 9:30.  They took me back to the pre-op area right away.  A nurse came in to start an IV soon after that and she gave me some versed to take the edge off.  My surgery was scheduled for 11:00, but I guess they were running late.  My plastic surgeon came in and marked me up and then I was on my way!  When I got to the operating room, I saw my plastic surgeon's nurse and everyone else introduced themselves.  It was good to see a familiar face in there!  I should say it was nice to hear a familiar voice because I couldn't see anything.  I had to leave my glasses with Scott.  I wasn't awake in the operating room for very long before they put me to sleep.  The next thing I remember is being in the recovery room.  I felt a little queasy, so I got something for nausea and I'm not sure how long I was there before they let me go home.  I was really impressed with everyone at the surgery center; they were all very professional and made me very comfortable while I was there.   Scott and I were home by 3:00.

When Scott and I got home, I went straight to bed and slept pretty much until Friday afternoon.  I have just been resting since surgery and Scott is taking good care of me.  Kim got here last night and Scott is going to get Annabel this afternoon.  I miss her so much!  I can't wait to see her!

So far, I like my new boobs, but they seem small.  I haven't examined them too much.  It looks like he used the incisions under my bumps to put the implants in.  There is only gauze and tape under my boobs all the way to my sides, so the top part is exposed and they seem flat and smallish.  I am trying to keep in mind that they will look different as I heal.  I started wearing a sports bra yesterday afternoon as directed by my doctor.  I am glad to have the new boobs, but I know I will be disappointed if they don't fluff out.  My follow up appointment isn't until Wednesday and I'm anxious to see my doctor and hear what he has to say about it.  Scott said that my doctor was happy with surgery and that there wasn't much evidence of infection in there when he took my expanders out.  It was a relief to hear that; I was really worried that I'd wake up from surgery with one boob or something.  Also, no drains were required and I'm really happy about that. 

I am including before and after pictures.  As you can see, I have a furry nurse!  Suki has been stuck to me like glue.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Spring Fever!

Our lives seem to be especially busy lately and I am happy to report that I am keeping the pace!  I really feel a lot better these days and seem to have less fatigue.  I still lay down with Annabel at naptime, but I am starting to feel fidgety about it.  I typically don't nap with her, but there are days that I fall fast asleep.  When I don't, I just have some quiet time and catch up on my tv shows or play on the computer.  The weather is still amazing here.  Our springs are really short; it doesn't take long around here for things to heat up to unbearable with high humidity, so it's nice to be able to spend time outside during the day and especially in the evenings when Scott comes home.  We do have lots of pollen, but it hasn't been bad enough to keep us inside or close the windows the past few days.  Annabel loves to play on her playground and in her sandbox.  She picks lots of flowers...and weeds...and rocks....and leaves.  Lots of little presents!  She doesn't like bugs or worms or snakes and is always quick to point out an ant or worm and tell them to go away.  Ah, the great outdoors!

I have been busy trying to get ready for my exchange surgery.  Mostly just getting laundry caught up and organizing things so that Scott can find Annabel's clothes, diapers, etc. to get her dressed and changed.  I don't want to sit around staring at messes while I convalesce (like every other day!).  My doctor and his nurse insist that I am not going to be in much pain and fully expect an easy, comfortable recovery, so I don't have too much anxiety at the moment.  Besides, this is the good stuff!  I am going in with three bumps (counting my port) and coming out with two new and improved bumps.  I decided to go with silicone gel implants and we are shooting for a C cup.  I guess my doctor doesn't like to make any guarantees in that regard because when I asked him about it again, he said "depending on the bra".  I didn't ask him to elaborate, but now I sort of wish that I had.  I am not too worried about it.  He says that many of his reconstruction patients don't have to wear a bra unless they choose to, so I am definitely good with that.  I have a feeling that I will want to wear one because I already know that the right side is going to sit higher than the left.  He will do his best, but the skin is not the same after radiation and it's common for this to happen.  He's really happy with the way my chest looks going into surgery.  I have recovered nicely from radiation and the redness/irritation from the infection has gone away.  Up until last week, my right boob bump looked really nasty.  It was like a really bad sunburn and was scaly and flaky and gross.  My skin is still dry and the right side is slightly tanned, but a serious improvement from the last part of radiation and recovery from it.  It is outpatient surgery, so I don't even have to spend the night in the hospital.  Scott will take Thursday off and work from home on Friday.  Annabel is going to stay with Mimi and PopPop for a few nights and then Kim will be here on Saturday night to help out/visit and take Annabel to school and pick her up on Monday.  The doctor expects me to do basically nothing or next to it for 3 to 4 days and then I can ramp back up, but I won't be able to pick Annabel up for at least two weeks.  I think we'll be ok with that; I'll just have to budget more time when we have to go somewhere because she dawdles when she has to climb in and out of her carseat herself.  I am hopeful that things will go off without a hitch and this doesn't set me back too much.  It scares me to get too excited about it, but I am really looking forward to eradicating the discomfort from these expanders, losing the port, quitting the antibiotics and getting permanent implants. 

Scott and I went to Tybee Island/Savannah for vacation at the beginning of the month.  We really had a great time together and with our friends Lennie and Courtney.  We got to Tybee in the late afternoon and stopped at the Crab Shack for late lunch/early dinner.  YUM!  I finally got my big heaping pile of shellfish.  It lived up to the hype.  Court and Lennie met us there when they got to town and Lennie helped Scott and I finish what was left of dinner.  We all went together to get settled into the condo.  It was really nice and in a great location.  It overlooked the pool area, but was right around the corner from the beach, pier and restaurants and shops on Tybee.  Right in the middle of the action!  Scott and I had to leave pretty soon after we got there because we had tickets to see Wilco in Savannah.  It is about a 20 minute drive, so we had to get back in the car again.  I love to see my favorite band, but I was pretty exhausted from spending all day in the car and I really just wanted to relax and hit the hay.  We ended up leaving 3 songs before the end so that we could get back to the condo and go to bed.  The weather was beautiful on Friday and we went for a walk on the beach and then sat by the pool before taking an afternoon nap.  We drove into Savannah on Friday night for a haunted pub crawl.  It was my idea and I was really the only one "on board", but everyone else conceded when I pointed out that we wouldn't know which bars to go to otherwise.  I was doing my best to convince them that if nothing else, we would have fun bar hopping and seeing the sites.  I enjoyed the stories and even got a picture of a ghost!!  I was excited about the orbs, but this weekend I showed the pictures to our friends and our neighbor Shannon pointed out the GHOST between the orbs!!  Pretty cool.  I wasn't ever scared during the tour, but I did think that the 2nd floor of the Moon River Brewery was creepy and that is where I got the pictures.  We just relaxed on Saturday afternoon and then went to the Crab Shack for dinner again for another big pile of shellfish.  Scott and I had tickets to see She & Him on Saturday night in Savannah and we were in a rush to get there because dinner took longer than expected.  We ended up missing most of the show and only caught the last 4 or 5 songs.  We had to pack up on Sunday morning to check out of the condo and head back to Lavonia to pick up Annabel.  We had lunch at the Moon River on the way out of town before we said goodbye to Lennie and Courtney and hit the road.  It was a wonderful weekend!  The perfect mix of dates with my husband and spending time with Court and Lennie.  I hope we can go back soon.  I really enjoyed both Tybee and Savannah and I'd love to take Annabel to the beach sometime this summer, either before it gets too hot or after it cools down some.  Here is the ghost picture....look between the orbs and see if you see him!!  He's on the right side of the picture as if he were posing for me!  Obviously this was not "doctored".  I am not very tech-savvy.  Whether or not you believe in ghosts, this is really a neat picture!  See it?

We went to Knoxville for Easter weekend.  On Friday night, Scott and my Dad went to see George Strait and I went over to Jeff's house and hung out with he and Suz on the porch.  It was a great time!  Jeff fired up the chiminea and had a fridge full of yummy beers to try.  We took Annabel to an Easter Egg hunt on Saturday afternoon and then went out to dinner.  Annabel wasn't too impressed with the Easter bunny, but she enjoyed the egg hunt and carried her Easter basket around for a few days.  The Easter bunny visited her again on Sunday and she got lots of goodies, candy and otherwise.  We went to brunch and then headed home.  The interstate is still closed through the mountains for a rock slide, so we had to take the windy road through the mountains.  It is a nice drive on a pretty day!  We haven't really enjoyed the detour much since the rock slide because it was treacherous at times during the winter.  I will still be glad when I-40 opens up again and we can cut some time off of our trips to Knoxville.

I had a few doctor's appointments last week....a follow-up with my radiation oncologist and pre-op with the plastic surgeon and then to the outpatient surgery center for more pre-op.  Annabel seems to be enjoying Mother's Morning Out.  She is exhausted and crabby when I pick her up, but chats about it in the evenings.  She is also eager to get there on school days and I am happy to report that she is eating her lunch.  She is just going on Mondays and Tuesdays from 9 to 2.  The picture up top was taken on the ride home from school today.  Yeah....she doesn't want to talk about it!  I guess she needs some time to process it all.  I have spent some time lately wondering where my baby has gone.  She is growing up so fast! 

Last weekend was busy again.  We went out for dinner on Friday night and then went to see our friend Andrea's band.  They play outside at a shopping center on the weekends, so we got a table outside with Steven and Brad and had a beer.  It was nice to be able to take Annabel down there to do something different and I think that she enjoyed it, too.  She got some pink ice cream out of it, too!  On Saturday night, we grilled out here.  Scott made ribs and it was great to have friends over and be social.  I haven't really felt like it much since I've been so run down and in various phases of treatment, so it was especially nice to get caught up.  Annabel did a great job of entertaining herself (within eyeshot) and was pretty sociable as well.  We spent the day with Scott's parents on Sunday.  They came up here to visit and we went out to lunch and sat outside for a bit, too.  Mario and Shannon had us over for delicious dinner on Sunday night.  It was so good to get to spend time with friends!

This morning as I was walking Annabel into school, a woman walked past me and said that she loved my hair!  She truly made my day and I wanted to grab her and hug her, but I resisted the urge.  I just thanked her and smiled a whole lot for a long time afterward.  It wasn't very long ago that people noticed me because I was a hairless, bandana-wearing Mom.  That lady thought I did this to my hair on purpose!  I do like it, but I guess I can now confirm (instead of hoping) that I don't look like the former chemo patient that I am.  I'm in need of a ear and neck trim.  Today, I decided to see what would happen if I didn't brush it after I took a shower.  I just ran my fingers through it and it looks better than it did the last time I brushed it when it was wet.  It is still really short, so it's hard to tell whether it is going to be curly, but it definitely has some waves in it at this point. 

Today, I met with the counselor at the Cancer Society.  I go to the support groups, but sometimes go to see her alone.  I guess I needed some reassurance that this phase of my journey is normal.  I am having problems staying focused on tasks.  I feel like I get distracted really easily and am very forgetful.  I think I have this constant undercurrent of anxiety taking up too much space in my brain.  That and/or chemo brain....and/or radiation....I don't know.  I have a prescription for anti-depressants, but I am not ready to pull the trigger on that just yet.  I don't feel sad; I just feel overwhelmed at times.  I am definitely an advocate of anti-depressants when necessary, but I just feel like I need to get through this in the most authentic way possible.  She said that what I'm feeling is normal and I think I just need to get through the process of dealing with what's left behind from cancer and treatment.  The anxiety is not like the panic attacks that I was having after my diagnosis; it's just there, occupying space and occasionally tossing out a little "food for thought", lest I become too comfortable in my lack of cancerness.  I don't know how else to explain it.  I also don't know how to make it better, but I think it's just part of the journey and as long as I'm ok and Scott and Annabel are ok, I will just keep plowing forward.  I am confident that time will take care of it, and if not, I will find something that does, whether it be anti-depressants or therapy....we'll see.

That's the news!  This time in two days, I'll be recovering from surgery.  Call me & I'll tell you all my secrets while I'm drugged up.  On second thought, maybe wait until Friday, at least.  Here are a few pictures that were taken on recent adventures.  The second is of Annabel and I with my brother Jeff and my sister Kim.  Rarely is every looking the same direction AND smiling!  The first is our "scary" picture from the ghost tour in Savannah with Court and Lennie.  Good times!