Friday, February 29, 2008

Busy Day, Drainage Done

We left here at 6am, and zoomed up to n. Atlanta. My surgeon has new offices and they are very nice. A big improvement for patients over the last office. Every trip up there takes about 1.5 hours and every time we go, I think, "Jewel will go into nuclear meltdown and we'll never make it because the girl will just not be able to handle the long trip." She was awake and played with little dangley toys but was a perfect jewel on the trip up there. Like so many before. I was anxious enough about this procedure that I broke down and took a bit of a xanex to let me relax a bit, and it seemed to help. I wasn't crying about it so much today as I was last night.

They took me in to ultrasound to make sure I REALLY did have fluid that really needed to be drained. Amazingly, I did. The tech asked me if I wanted the fluid drained? Well, yeah, that's why we just got up before the crack of dawn and drove for 1.5 hours! But I was nice and just nodded "Yes."

The doc was nice and she took off a LOT of fluid. Jenn looked a little green around the gills from watching the proceedings. If the fluid continues to build in this way, she may have to put in some kind of nasty packing that Jenn would have to tend to. (A) I'm not wild about further surgery to put in the packing, and (B) I'm not wild about more pain and probably some really yucky stuff that will need nursing skills to tend to it. So, we're all going to think positive about the fluid not building back up again! They joked in the surgeon's office today, "We've voted and the next time if you come back, we're assigning you a parking space." Evidently I'm a high maintenance surgical patient. But, I have to be realistic that I'm high maintenance as a surgical patient because I'm fat, and the doc and I agreed that if I could have figured out how to fix my problem I'd have done it years ago, and if she had the solution to it, she'd be RICH! She's a very gracious and cheerful lady (my surgeon). She did tell me that she wouldn't be there next week, but if I need to get attention there would be folks there to help me out. Glad I took the xanex. It was a protracted procedure. I was able to remain cool (I thought--maybe Jenn or the doc would have a different viewpoint.).

We left the doc office and did a couple other errands. Jenn got some very cutie clothes for Jewel at a Buckhead consignment store with upscale clothing at reasonable prices. Then we went to a spot over by Georgia Tech and found a nice "nused" jogging stroller that Jenn can use with Jewel as she does her walking program.

Then we rushed back so I could get to the BOE and take care of some business. MADE IT there in the nick of time!

I was exhausted by the time we got back, and I sat down to watch TV and woke up about 6PM.

I'm working hard to pick my grumpy self and get my attitude back up. I know that things "Come to pass, they don't come to stay," BUT this passing is a bit like getting rid of a kidney stone. It's not an easy passing.

I'm going to try and see if I can do some drawing practice over the weekend. I'm wearing my dreaded binder to try and stop the dang fluid from collecting. It's exhausting for me to ride up to n. Atlanta. I'm going to try really hard to do all I can to avoid fluid build-up, but to a degree I'm at the mercy of my body.

I put a pot pie in the microwave and I'm going to eat. I'm going to put my nightie on shortly and lay on my nice warm bed. With luck, prayer and the dedicated use of the binder, maybe I can avoid another trip to n. Atlanta. OK, I'm working on getting myself up out of the pit of depression, but I think it's mostly a combination of getting over general anesthesia, a completely new body profile, loss of 8.5 lbs of very important and up-front flesh, and the on-going fatigue that continues after chemo. They told me it would take 3 to 12 months to get back to myself, and I'm wanting to be back to myself in less than 2 months. So it should be no surprise that I'm not there yet! I'll allow myself a little while for a pity party, but I won't wallow here. If I didn't have some kind of reaction to all the physical changes and recent medical intervention, I'd be made of stronger stuff than the average Jane, and I'm not. I have the right to mope for a little while.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


Going at 6am tomorrow to let the doc poke some holes in me and get the fluid build-up out. I can hardly wait.

I'm 7 weeks out from chemo. I'm 4 weeks out from major surgery and general anesthesia. I want to be ME. I want to feel like ME. I want to have energy again. I want my life to get bigger because I can do more. I'm frustrated because my life is still small because I can't do much before I have to go home and take a nap.

This too shall pass, but I want it to pass now. Right now. And I don't want to have to wear the chest binder anymore either. It hurts and makes me feel like I'm going to suffocate, but if I don't I'll build up fluid again -- and I don't want to force Jenn to drive 130 miles round trip for the doc to poke holes in me again, so I have the suffocating, uncomfortable binder to look forward to as soon as they drain off the fluid tomorrow. Oh joy!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

No Calls

No return call from the surgeon's office so I can go get my fluid drained.

No return call from MD Anderson.

I created a long post and Blogger ate it. Too tired to re-create it tonight.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


My cleaning diva was here today, and so my place is so much more nice than it is any other day of the week. She is so awesome, and my place would be so much more crappy if it weren't for her care. I took a list of organizational ideas with me to Target and came home with a bunch of stuff to help keep things tidy now and in the future.

After visiting Target, I was pooped though and went home to rest.

At dinner with Jenn, et al. she determined that my chest (right and left) need to be aspirated and that I need to call the surgeon's office tomorrow. Yuck. I had SO hoped that we wouldn't have to do that trip again anytime soon. Sigh. Jenn is about as motivated to make that drive as I am, so I'm sure she was just as excited to realize we'd have to make the trip.

Tomorrow morning though, I am going with Eric's mom to take a class in Carrollton. I'm looking forward to it. I suppose I'll put on make-up and boobs to meet new folks. ;)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Activities of the Day

OK, so I have to get my strength back, and that means I have to put in some effort to building myself up. So Jenn, and Jewel and I went over to the Bremen Recreation building and did some walking today. In the mornings it's open to walkers, most of which are retired folks. But Jewel was in a little front carrier on Jenn's tummy and so she jiggled along, lulled to sleep by the rocking of the walking. I'd walk some and rest some, and walk some and rest some. But one has to start somewhere.

Afterwards, Jenn took me over to the school to turn in my contract for next year. It felt good to see a couple folks. I couldn't stay long as after all that walking I really needed to rest.

I spent the afternoon resting and then went to EfM tonight. Which was a little exciting for me, because they had me turn in to Suwanee what way I wanted my name and my address to put on my certificate for completing EfM. When we are done in June this year, I'm done.

I've been asked to post more pix, and I'll work on it. I'm just now beginning to feel human enough, after the surgery, to be able to go to the extra effort pix require.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sunday in the Country

OK, so I got my butt up, I put on my fancy new make-up, and I even put on a skirt and pantyhose for church. Now you know you live in the country when you drive down the road and have to stop and help an elderly lady try to get a cow back into its field. I crest a hill and there is this red cow (calf, heifer, I don't know I wasn't looking under it) in the road. Now this is a road that people commonly do 60 to 70 mph on, despite speed limit of 45 or so. I could imagine the cow becoming hamburger on the grill of a speeding car. The old lady has the brain of a very sweet and genteel flea. The cattle dog that she thought would wrangle the cow, only ended up driving it farther and farther down the road. Now I don't know about you, but I couldn't let this old lady by herself, try and get this cow back in the fence. So I, evidentally not being of sound mind, stop and try to help herd this cow. I, being a total city girl have no idea about how to approach a cow. So, I talk to it like it could understand me. I'm telling it how it needs to get back inside the fence, and "No, not that way; you need to go this way." I spent about 15 minutes trying to help this lady, and finally a man came along that knew her and by this time the dog had driven the cow out of sight. I left him helping her, and retrieved my cell phone from her, which I'd given her to call her son to come help. Then arrived about 5 minutes late to church. But I couldn't leave that old lady alone on the road trying to wrangle that cow. I later reflected that with my bandana on my bald head, I probably made the scene look even more odd. So I got a nice work-out first thing this morning, in a most unusual way.

The up-side to all this is that I did get to church. I put on my foam boobs and just went. The feel weird and don't stay put awfully well. Of course these are the training-wheels of boobs. I'm hoping by the time I'm healed and have the special-fitted, heavier than pillow-foam boobs, they'll stay put.

I came home and took a nap, and worked on catching up on my EfM reading for tomorrow. I'm procrastinating on the forms I have to send to SS.

So the question is, are boobs optional depending on if I'm dressing up, or are they something I wear everytime I step outside the door? I never thought boobs were optional, but it appears they are. Foam boobs aren't something I consider super uncomfortable, but they're not something that I can just ignore. It's a learning process. They seem very impractical for yoga, so I didn't wear them there. I have to say, they do seem like something I should wear to work, church, etc., but I don't feel compelled to wear them to the mailbox or grocery shopping. I do feel like I have a more balanced look when I wear them, but since I don't feel attractive in any way or like appearances make a lot of difference (because I feel so repulsive being so fat) maybe being lazy and not wearing them at all shouldn't bother me at all. I'm very ambivilant about it presently. The one good thing the boobie bra does is that it doesn't aggrivate a spot on my back that I presume will feel better soon, but it very, very sensitive now and which is aggrivated by my "flaten and compress" bra. Life was complicated enough before, now I have decisions daily about boobs. I suppose having choices is good. When I had my own girls, I had no choice they were just there. Now I have the choice.....and I'm not sure what it means to me as far as propriety, or convenience, or comfort, or practicality. I just don't know yet. I don't feel embarassed by not having boobs. It bothers me more that I don't have hair. (The last of my eyebrows fell out today.)

Well, I'm done being self-centered for now.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Cold and Windy

It's the kind of day that makes me wish I had a fireplace again. But not a "real" fireplace like I had in my old house. It was work, work, work and getting wood for it to burn was hard and inconvenient. I love the fireplace Jenn and Eric have with the gas logs. Anyway, it's a day to have a fireplace and be lazy beside it.

It's brisk, chilly, windy and grey outside. In other words, it's winter. I like that because it kills the bugs. I hate it because it's winter! I ventured out for food today though. The grocery store knows me know and the check-out lady is so nice to me. Wal-mart is nice to me if I venture over there, and they'll take my groceries to the car, but it's just too big and busy, so I hang with our little Ingles. I like the one in Carrollton better, but I needed food today. Bremen grocery about 2 miles. Carrollton about 16 miles. You see now why I shopped in Bremen.

The HUGE navel oranges are in the grocery now, and I just adore them. If I can choose between ice cream and one of those huge oranges, I prefer the orange. Nummy.

The mail today had a great thing in it though. My contract for next year. I will probably take it over personally on Monday to ensure that it gets there. This is important enough not to trust it to the mail! Fortunately I feel well enough to go that far now. It makes me feel good to get that contract though. Really, really good. It helps me feel that I really will be working there next year, and it's where I want to be and what I want to be doing.

I got some really, really long questionnaires to fill out for Social Security. I hate it that my long term disability forced me to go through this process. It's such a lot of useless paperwork. I will not be out of work for a full year as required by SS and so I will not qualify and never thought I would. I'm going through the motions to ensure that my long term disability is satisfied and keeps paying until I can go back. So I guess that tomorrow I'll fill out and return this crap load of useless paperwork. The "joy" was spread out too because my "Emergency Contact," Jenn got a packet too! She's happy about that!

It appears that camisole tops seem to help a bit with coverage under tops, so I ordered a couple more today. I get hot so easy that wearing more clothing close to my chest doesn't seem like a good thing. I hope I don't end up living an even hotter life with more clothes, but I know it's early to tell. Things are still healing. Very sore spot on my back tonight.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Busiest Day Yet Since Surgery

I called M.D. Anderson this morning and left a message with my contact there.
I called my case manager at United Healthcare this morning and left a message with her.
I called my chiropractor this morning because MetLife insisted on contacting him about his treatment with me.
I call my oncologist this morning to encourage him to submit forms to MetLife.
I went to "gentle" yoga, sweated like a pig.
I went to pottery for about an hour and enjoyed myself a lot, but had to leave because I got tired.
I went home and rested for a bit before visiting with Jenn and the kids.
I got to cuddle with Liam for a bit. It's the closest he's allowed me to be with him in a long time. He's a bit puny with some kind of kiddie crud, but it made me feel good that he'd get all cozy with me while he felt bad. He asks frequently if I still have my boo boo? I think in another week or so I can say "no." I think he's scared to be with me while I have the boo boo. But to be honest, I'm a little scared of a rambunctious three-year-old presently. I think maybe soon I can worry less about him accidentally hurting me.
Went back to the pharmacy to get a script because I have THRUSH yet AGAIN!!!!!! This time the Rx is for liquid Nystatin instead of Diflucan. I hope it really gets rid of the stuff. I bought a new toothbrush. I'm rinsing my mouth with special mouthwash that has hydrogen peroxide in it. The oncologist's nurse said that it's not uncommon for people to have recurrent thrush after chemo. I guess I'm being normative but thrush is irritating.
My last drain hole drained a bunch today. It was really pretty gross.
Thanks to Amber who came and replaced my old shower head today so I wouldn't have to struggle with raising my arms right now (or calling the oldest living contractor). Good thing too, because if I'd tried it, I would have blamed myself for "issues" with the thing, without realizing it's likely defective.
I found out today by a total surprise that a very nice colleague honored me in the last October 3-day walk by being one of the major sponsors for the tee-shirt the folks at school bought to support those walking in the 3-day. I hadn't worn the shirt until this morning, and when I read the back side, my colleague's name and my name jumped out at me. I really appreciated the many things that others have done to honor me in so many ways and show support in my struggle against this disease. Blessings to all who have done anything big or small. From feeding my fish to "milking" my drains, to feeding me, to cards and/or mail, to hauling my butt to a doc, to walking or sponsoring someone in their walk.....every thing done on my behalf, I wish blessings on you for your many kindnesses.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Zero Drains Now!!!!!!!!

OK! The doc first looked at my left --- whatever that is that's over there. It's not a breast. It's not a side. It's something, but I have no idea what to call it. It had grown to the size of a chicken cutlet though, and while I prevailed upon her that it was skin, she quickly set me "right" that is was fluid accumulation. Remember me telling you what "aspiration" really was? Well she put that needle in and took out 80 cc's and then there was no more cutlet; I was just flat. After that fun adventure, she removed the last drain. OMG but I feel so much more FREE and less anxious about getting my damn drain caught on a door knob or stuck in a chair arm when I'm getting up and PULLING the stitch at my side! I've been anxious about being in a crowd because the one place I went (a funeral) this lady kept bumping into me while we were sitting down and she was bumping my bulb to my drain. Talk about feeling paranoid! I really, really didn't want to find out what it might feel like if that bulb got squished and all the gaaaak went backwards! Yuk!

I took a sport bra last night -- a really TIGHT one from when I used to go horseback riding, and I sewed the cups into flat area, and faced the interior with flat spandex so that I'd have a stretchy but tight binder. Evidentally it's important to keep the scars flat and the tissue flat (so fluid doesn't build up) and so the skin can begin to adhere to the chest wall again after being moved around. The doc and nurse were well satisfied with my adaption, and I like it a lot better than Ace bandages because it doesn't become ONE huge rubberband-like thing that gets squished up into a strangling bit of torture. It's not comfy, but it's not torture either. I'm told I should wear it all the way through April! We'll see how well that goes.

We stopped for a late lunch after leaving the doc's and then got caught up in the most hellish Atlanta traffic I've been in in quite some time! It took us 2-1/2 hours to get home because of that strange stuff that no one in Atlanta seems to be able to drive in: RAIN!!

The really good news for my daughter is that unless there is a problem that comes up, I don't have to see the surgeon until a YEAR from now! Yeah!!!! I'll be able to drive myself the next time!

I have a friend coming tomorrow to put up the new shower head! Yeah! My side is a bit sore right now, so I'm reserving judgement on if I'll try "gentle yoga" tomorrow or not. I'll see how I feel in the morning. Right now I have gotten rid of 2 metal clips that were in me, my port is now gone, and 4 foreign tubes have been removed. I feel like I am no longer one of the Borg: I do NOT have to assimilate!! In fact, I'm totally unassimilated because the only foreign body in me know is the clip they used to end where my gall bladder used to be. I'm free, I'm free, I'm free.

I'm also very, very tired from a very, very long day. I do hurt just a little, but I'm so, so happy that we don't have to make that long trip up to north Atlanta again anytime soon! God bless little Jewel. For a kid that doesn't have a passport, she has hundreds of miles under her two-month-old butt, and most of them are running her grammy back and forth to north Atlanta and back.

Now that the drain is out, I can call back MD Anderson. That is for sure one of my agenda items for tomorrow!

God bless Dr. S. She was sickies today and saw all her patients while wearing a face mask. I'm SO happy she was able to do so, because even if she was feeling like crap, she made me feel better!

So, what would you call the nothings I have now? They're not breasts? They're not anti-breasts. They're just scars? A left scar and a right scar? My left chest or my right chest? My left or right breast's former location? Mmmmmm, in my spare time, I'll give that some thought.

Good Lord but I'm happy (if exhausted) tonight!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Doc Again Tomorrow

30 cc's yesterday, and 37 today. Don't know if they'll remove the drain tomorrow either, but we get to drive forever to get the answer! I took an old sports bra and made the cups flat, so that it could be a better binder for my chest. The many other strategies I've tried have been inadequate.

We leave at 6 am tomorrow to be there by 8.

My son-in-law graciously sent a fax for me today to the company that pays my disability. It was only 120+ pages long. Yipes. The sure neededa lot of information.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Damn, Damn, Damn!

OK, I've tried to keep a positive attitude, even when I thought thing were positively dreadful. Jenn, Jewel and I made the trek all the way to n. Atlanta to the surgeon's office only to find that, "No, the drain needs to stay in a bit longer." Actually the curse word I used when we left the office, wasn't as nice as "damn." I want it out! But, they're suspicious that I'm retaining some fluid on the other side (and we don't even want to talk about aspirating fluid.......shiver). So, we go back Thursday. But to offset the ugliness of the drain issue, we made appointments today at Saks Fith Avenue at the hoity-toity mall, Phipps Plaza, to get make overs. My skin has changed and my color has changed as a result of the chemo. I'm more pale and my foundations just don't work right now. I don't wear a lot of make-up but I like to wear a little, and what I have now is no longer the right color for me. Jenn wanted to try a "Bobbie Brown" makeover because it's supposed to be more natural looking and not use so many chemicals. So, Thursday we're having Mother / Daughter make-overs. I was just in a pink jogging suit today .... not really nice enough wear for Saks, but Thursday I'll dig around a find something a little more fancy to wear. The make-up costs the same no matter where you buy it, so why not enjoy the hoo-doo that the fanciest place can do for ya?

I bought a new shower head for my bath the other day. It still needs to be installed. I'm sort of not looking forward to it, not because it's a hard thing to do or anything, but because I have to raise my arms for a bit to do it. That's still a bit uncomfortable.

After going to the surgeon's office, and then doing a bit of window shopping at the fancy mall, I'm done in. BUT I think walking and getting out and doing more is important to gaining my strength back.

Jenn and Eric have the History channel at their house, and while I was staying there, I loved watching "The Naked Archeologist." I miss it now. That's a fun program for someone that loves history. I like his sense of humor.

I just finished reading, "Three Cups of Tea," and highly recommend it. It's a true story about how one man is changing a piece of the world and it's a most amazing story. You can read more about it at: if you are interested.

Now I'm on to a Patricia Cornwell novel. I am excited too that my son-in-law's mom and I are going to take an art class together for the next six weeks. She's much more advanced than I am, but I've always wanted to learn how to draw, so since I can ride with her and it's rather modest in cost, I'm doing it!

It's only 6 pm, but I feel tired after being so active today. It felt wonderful to see the glitz and glam of the mall for a few minutes. My world has been so very small for so long, that the opportunity to get out, if only for a few minutes, to the fancy mall (there's an Armani and Tiffany store there -- very upscale) was refreshing.

One of the ladies at the doc's office has been through treatment. I asked her today, how long it took for her hair (fine -- similar in texture to what I did have) to grow back. She said it took about 5 months before she had 1/2-inch. While I have fuzz now.....I do hope it will grow out a bit faster than her's. She had hoped it would come in thicker and curly as so many people suggested might happen, but she got her same thin, straight hair back. Jenn says that eating avocado's will make your hair shiny. As soon as I get some, I'll work on that. Right now there's way more scalp than hair.

If I was a person that drank, I'd drink something tonight! Crap on this drain!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Energy Levels

This morning it was my plan to go to EfM tonight. But I still have this dang drain. I put out 70 cc's for a 2 day period and 33 cc's today. We're scheduled to go to the doc tomorrow, but Jenn is going to call and see if they will even bother with it, as supposedly it's supposed to under 30 cc's. Conversely, they don't like to leave the drain in this long, so I have no idea if it will come out or not. The drain caught on the door knob this evening and it REALLY pulled at the stitch, and so I'm a very grumpy, and unhappy camper presently.

I just still don't have the umph to be my best self yet. I wish I did, but I don't. Maybe next week I'll be able to do the EfM goal.

I just got a call from my wonder cleaner lady and she has flu at her house. She is graciously staying away from me. That's the second person I've talked to lately that had the flu. It's a little scary. Although I had a flu shot, they say it's only 40% effective. I hope that the 40% I'm immunized against is all I have a chance to encounter because the flu would surely be disasterous for me in my present state. I'm betting on the anti bacterial hand stuff and luck!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Wow! Yesterday Really Used a LOT of Energy

I've been living in this deluded world where I thought I was approaching the place where I could drive myself to the doc again in north Atlanta nd let Jenn off the hook for chauffeur. After yesterday's trip of 25 miles there and 25 back, I rested all day today. I'm grumpy because of the drain and how irritating it is. My chest feels tight, not from the outside stitches, but what I suspect are a set of interior stitches under the skin that just pull and tighten my chest. I want to pull off all the tape and take a bath in vitamin E. I want to go do pottery, but don't have it in me to drive to C'ton. I'm so fatigued today after so little effort yesterday. I'm seven weeks out, now, from the last chemo. I am feeling better, but clearly have not recovered as much energy as I thought I would by now. Grump, grump, grump.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Requiem Times Two

I went to the Requiem Mass for my colleague, friend and former congregant (I used to go to her church -- I was the one that moved.), Diedre. She passed into larger life this past week after a long battle with ovarian cancer. She would have been so proud of her daughters Amy and Emily who spoke at her memorial service. They were so articulate and such lovely young women. The sanctuary was filled to bursting with people who admired her for a life lived with selfless grace. That service was only 25 miles from my house. It took all I had to get there, stay for a bit after the service and drive home. I'm profoundly glad I went.

I also wanted to attend a service for a friend and fellow geocacher in Pell City, Alabama but it was too far. How do you decide which funeral you'll attend? In my case it was the one closest to me. I wish I could have attended both but they were literally at the same time. I'm exhausted after going to the closest one. I know I couldn't have managed to go to Pell City and back.

Cancer claimed both these friends. I am hoping that I will not be a statistic of another taken too soon, but when two friends die in the same week prematurely from this evil disease, it makes one frightened.

It was warming to see so many people who own a part of my heart, even though I don't see them often. We don't take enough time to be with those we care about. At least, I feel I don't.

I like the fact that so many, lately, are electing to make themselves a part of the carbon cycle by committing their ashes to a garden. I think our immortality is in the carbon cycle with our atoms moving around through the world endlessly.

I'm tired beyond tired right now. I'm holding the bed down and have no ambition to do anything else. Period. It's nighty night for me!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Friday: I Bought a New Purse

In my small world a trip to drop off forms at the oncologists' office gave Jenn and I an opportunity to do a little visit to the Vera Bradley store in C'ton. My excitement was buying a new purse.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Small Accomplishments

It's not a big thing, but it's big in my world. I went grocery shopping today. That means: I drove! (3 whole miles and then back.) The vittles were getting pretty scarce around here, so I was glad to restock.

The cats have decided that they are no longer angry with me, and are cuddling up again.

After resting for a bit, I went into C'ton for an appointment. I stopped by the pottery shop to pick up some of the work I left for glazing before the surgery. A couple things really turned out pleasing and made me happy. One of the pieces that I was most excited to see, broke in the kiln. :( You just never know if anything you send to be fired will really make it.

I'm tired, but I've had my drain drained (35 cc's) and have actually been upright and done some real activities today. That's the most active I've been since surgery. I'm not in much pain anymore, but there is still a lot of uncomfortableness. However, I can take it all, now that I can sleep on my left side again!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Drains, Bindings, and Docs

OK, I slept in my bed last night, and because both drains were out of my left side, I could sleep on my left side and it was WONDERFUL! Today's output on drain #4 is above the level required before it can be removed. Jenn is going to call the doc's office tomorrow and find out more details about how long I have to put up with it.

Over the stiches I'm supposed to be wearing a binding to help flatten things out and encourage the chest skin to begin to adhere to the chest wall, AND to prevent fluid from building up where they took the drains out. I am fed up with the Ace bandage solution because they just roll and make this huge "rubberband" like constriction on my chest. I've tried two different kinds of Ace bandages. I've tried various kinds of wrap techniques, and today I'm on variation #467. I'm hoping I've found a winner here because otherwise, I'm afraid my "compliance" with wearing a binder may go down significantly! To say it's uncomfortable is an understatement!

I'm looking forward to a shower at Jenn's tomorrow (I still need help as long as I have a drain.) and she's going to check to see if we've got to go to north Atlanta regarding the last drain or not.

This week two friends have gone on to larger life. One is a dear Geocaching friend that was taken swiftly with pancreatic cancer and kept his health condition so private next to no one knew he was ill. The other is a friend and former work colleague who has been fighting ovarian cancer for about four years now. She told her family she thought she was ready to surrender her fight and that she was ready to die. About five minutes later, she died. Cancer has not just effected my life significantly, but this week has taken two people I hold dear in my heart.

Whatever you can do for the Cancer Society, Lukemia and Lymphoma Society or the Susan G. Komen Foundation -- even if it is just praying for the scientists who work on cancer research, do what you can. Every little bit helps to assure those who have cancer can live longer, and that those who don't have cancer may never get it.

I wish you and those you love, a cancer-free life.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I'm Home!

I'm sleeping in MY bed tonight!

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Joy of Drains

OK, who knew there were different kinds of drains? I mean, I sure didn't. My daughter the nurse didn't even know that my drains were different than the kind most medical folks are used to handling. Anyway I was all tense and white knuckled thinking, "Geeezzz, I hope I don't shame myself by screaming or yelling when they take out the drains." The surgeon explained how she had personally gone to the Drain Committee (who knew a hospital would have a whole committee to consider the pros and cons of different drains?) to approve her using a different kind of drain. The REGULAR kind of drain is bigger on the inside than the spot going through you skin, so when they take those drains out, it's a big owie. Now my surgeon got the hospital to approve her using different drains which are the same size from top to bottom. So sliding them out the hole is no biggie. Really. It was weird, but it wasn't painful. No screaming. No crying. Just a lot, lot, lot of relief to know that I can now consider rolling over onto my left side tonight. They took three of the four drains out. It's very strange to feel something like a small snake zooming around under your skin. Jenn was mildly yucked out watching it from the surface. I feel less like I'm a part of the Borg tonight. Only ONE drain left. With luck I can ditch it on either Thursday or Tuesday. I'm so, so glad I drove a gazillion miles to go to this doc in north Atlanta, because from the first appointment to the removal of drains, she's just really made things as easy as possible on the patient. I'm so appreciative to her.

Oh, I got my first mastectomy bra today. It'll all be a learning experience to see how that piece of equipment works (or doesn't). I have to be about six weeks post surgery before they fit me with the REAL nice mastectomy bras and the REAL nice boobs. Weight and softness are the important issues right now. Weight keeps the bra from riding up so that you end up wearing it around your neck. The softness is an issue for obvious reasons. When the time is right the insurance company will pay for the nice new girls.

So, today was a big day, but thankfully, not nearly as painful as I had imagined it might be. God bless Dr. S. for lobbying for the new-fangled kind of drains!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Shield Your Eyes if Your Squeemish

I personally think that (a) the only reason to be modest about my upper body, was the chance to peep at my boobs. I don't have boobs now. Therefore my chest is about as erotic as any man's chest, and they cut the grass without their shirts on. So if you're offended by, or squeemish about seeing surgical incisions, don't look! Additionally, (b) I think my scars look like the Great Wall of China as seen from a high ariel view. I was told I'd get two smilie faces, but it didn't work that way. So someone I know has a couple smilies; I have the Great Wall of China. Here is a view of the Great Wall of China. You Compare and see what you think.
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Yellow arrow shows
...................................................where port-o-cath was.
Great Wall of China in a
........................................horizontal ariel view.

The chest isn't pretty, but I'm happy with it because it doesn't have any significant pleats or craters in it. Keep in mind that the surgeon was also dealing with someone significantly overweight and that means that healing takes longer and is more likely to have complications. It also means that when she was cutting she had acres of skin to deal with, not the normal sized 34B's. I think she gets a gold star for neatness. The scar from my Sentinel Node Biopsy looked really ishy for the first month, but then it got better looking over time. This will improve as the swelling goes down and the scar heals and ages. I'm happy with the outcome, all things considered. My surgeon is probably 5' 3" tall and I'm betting she had to S T R E T C H just to reach across my big 'ol self all during the surgery.

My long-term-disability policy requires that I apply for, (and get denied) Social Security benefits. So Jenn took me to SS today in Carrollton. I have to tell you, I was really, incredibly impressed. For having to deal with the government, they were polite, tried hard to be helpful (and were) and fell all over themselves doing the best they could to get everything we needed done and done completely. I was in and out of that office in less than an hour and I had a couple things to take care of. I was shocked because I really expected to be treated like a number and that I would look into the eyes of an exhausted drone that could not have cared less. I, however, was graciously helped the whole way through the process by very courteous and helpful people! Who knew that a government office could be that way?!

Today was Jenn's birthday. I wish I could have made it a little more special, but next year will be a better time. As of tonight I have three drains putting out less than 30 cc's. I'm mentally hoping that I can get rid of as many of these torture devices as possible on Monday. I don't know how it will turn out, but I want them out! They are sometimes painful, but more than anything they are just dang UNCOMFORTABLE. It's just really hard to relax in any kind of position with these things coming out of me. I got rid of the Port-o-cath which made me feel like part of the Borg (Star Trek reference), but now with all these tubes coming out of me, I still feel like I'm "Part of the collective. You will assimilate."

So, I hope I haven't offended your sensibilities, but just provided you with objective information that you can use to evaluate how big/small/drastic/minimal the surgery was. If you were grossed out, remember, I had a warning and I said, don't look if you're squeemish! So if you're squeemish and you looked, it's your fault, not mine!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

At Thurman's Request

Thurman wants to know if I REALLY have any hair growing yet. I thought I'd let the pix tell the tale.

This attractive shot not only shows my several chins, but the tiny, tiny hint of five-o-clock shadow on the top. You can, unfortunately see that I've lost most of my eyebrows. But I've been lucky. I didn't ever lose my eyelashes (a real problem for many) and I didn't lose any finger- or toenails. I count that as a blessing. There's always time though. The effects could still show up even though I've completed chemo.

This attractive shot is a close-up airial view from on top. The foreground is a pillowcase (thank you Nancy), and the top of the picture you can see the hint of my eyeglasses. It is not a picture of an osterich egg! You can see some fuzz, but you really have to be in JUST the right light to see it. Obviously, this is NOT the just right light.

Today I can confidently say I only feel like I've been run over by an SUV. Which, in my book is a great improvement from feeling like I was run over by a train (last week).

As of today, three of the drains are putting out less than 30 cc's of fluid. That's the criterion for loosing them. So there is a possibility I'll get rid of three of them on Monday. It would be bliss! (Although, I'm afraid the process of losing them will make me want to consider homicide or grasping the ceiling while screaming. I'm such a baby.) Good riddance when they go!!!!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Doc Reports and Democracy

Monday was a L O N G, marathon day. I saw the surgeon at 1 in north Atlanta. She checked things out. Everything is healing normally. The really GOOD news was that, surprisingly, the pathology report had come in. Somehow in my brain, I have a hard time understanding this. As the person who went through what my oncologist calls Godzilla chemo, I should understand it the best, but I just have a hard time wrapping my brain around it.

It seems that the tumor that I did have that was the fastest growing, most abnormal cells you can get, had all been either killed off or turned into just abnormal cells that are not cancer. There was no cancer found in either breast. I'm not sad that I decided to take them both off though. No telling if there might have been cancer in the left breast but it got killed by the chemo and just doesn't show up right now. Dr. S., the surgeon, says this is the BEST predictor of recurrance (or lack of it). Dr. P., the oncologist, was pretty happy too. Of course, no one can say the "c" word (cure), but I have gotten the best outcome possible of all the possible outcomes. YEAH! But, most of me can only think about the real "c" word, (cancer) and that with my luck some sneeky cancer cell is hiding out somewhere waiting to come back. I should be jumping with joy, but I'm really still scared that I should be preplanning my funeral.

I can't travel to MDA until my drains are out. But I will be coordinating with them via phone. I still plan to go, if they'll still have me.

I had to see the oncologist yesterday because I have thrush AGAIN, probably from the antibiotics they gave me in the hospital. Anyway, I have a whole new round of diflucan to get rid of that problem. The surgeon would not treat me for it. Jenn had to drive all the way from north Atlanta to Carrollton so I could go straight from the surgeon to the oncologist. The surgeon says these kinds of things are basically outside her scope of practice and so we had a very, very long day of driving. It was also my first day being up and around very much. By the time I got home yesterday I went to bed, and I slept!

The left shoulder continues to improve. Less pain and a little, tiny bit more strength each day.

Today's historic accomplishment was getting my butt to the poll so Jenn and I could both vote. That's it. Hope you voted! It's the fundamental right of Americans, and the gods know that this year we need all the voters involved because whatever we get after George is going to be very important because that president will sure have a mess to clean up! It's an interesting race.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Weekend Report

Saturday was a good day as far as pain and being able to feel pretty decent. Then I got a headache. How do you do that when you can take pain meds that are made strong enough to sedate a rhino? I don't get it, except I had a real huge headache all night.

Sunday I had a group shower experience again. I'm clean but it sure does wear me out. Before my son-in-law left to watch THE game, he took me up to my place and I got to get my mail and take care of the fish.

Thanks Carolyn for the lovely Valentine goodies. Special, special thanks to Pam for the BEAUTIFUL tote from the Lydia project. My daughter and I were both stunned with the beauty of the tote! It's gorgeous. When I can post pix, maybe I can take a picture of it and post it. I don't know how to do that here at their house. Thanks Randy for the card. It's very cutie.

I think the thrush has come back. Jenn says it's because I was probably on IV antiobiotics in the hospital. Whatever. We go back to see the surgeon tomorrow. My left arm is still recovering from the whack it got (shoulder really) when I fell Wednesday a week ago. It may not be broken, but it's doing a good immitation of it. Chest is sore but not as bad as it's been being.

This is a BIG surgery with BIG cuts and a BIG recovery. I don't know how I could recover from this without the aid of my daughter and son-in-law. I couldn't manage these blasted drains, which I'm sure are better than not having them.....but they are literally a pain. It's every bit the kick-in-the-gut that I thought it would be and more.

Thanks Bob for dropping me a call. It was nice to hear from school folks. Aren't you a sweetie for sending a card Belinda. Many thanks to those of you thinking of and caring about my present journey.

Going back to hold down the bed now. It'll be interesting to see what the surgeon says tomorrow and IF I get rid of any of these drains. It is a very, very bizzare thing to have four holes in you about the size of a .22 calibre bullet with plastic drains 18-inches long hanging down from you. It's also YUCKY and very, very IRRITATING in a painful kind of way. Somehow I missed the information about the misery of the drains. I hope you and no one you ever know, gets to find out about them, ever!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Friday is for Fuzz

I said I'd have fuzz in Febuary. It's February, and I have the tiniest, teeniest bit of almost invisible hairs that feel like rubbing velvet, which I categorize as fuzz. The fuzz is arriving. Not in large, overwhelming quantities, but as the tiniest, timid hairs a person can have, but it's there.

We (and it IS a group experience) had a shower today. It helped a LOT because it refreshed me, and it eliminated the death smell, which must have been residual blood from surgery or something. At any rate, not only do I feel refreshed now, I don't smell like the funeral home on a hot day.

We (and this is also a group experience) got through three drainings of the drains today without anyone, especially me, screaming. This is a very good thing! When I scream and cry, Jenn also screams and cries, and it's just a real bit of drama that no one needs in their life.

I actually slept a refreshing and restful sleep last night. It is very hard to sleep on your back when you want, want, want to sleep on your side. It's also not so fun sleeping with these holes in your back with the drain hoses coming out right where you're resting on it. Who thought of this as a good idea? The sides have been "re-engineered" to fit the difference between boobs and no-boobs. So there's significant changes on the side. No sleeping on the side. Obviously the front is dramatically changed. No sleeping on that side either. Esthetically, so far, I'm really happy what the surgeon accomplished. The drains are a bummer though.

Thanks to St. M's and Liz for the goodies today. We're very grateful in this household with a new baby a revised grammy and a pretty stressed out mom. Dad and Liam had some time to play today because they didn't have to run around and rush to make dinner. Thanks for giving us that joy.

Hope you and those you love are doing well today. I'm getting a little better each day. I'm hoping for human in the next few days. Not quite there yet.