This day way was AWESOME!!!!! My mom says to me that for some reasoN they delivered us a paper today so she was going out to get it (this was 830 am) I am still laying in the recliner trying to open my eyes and mom comes back into the house and but it wasn’t my mom. It was my little brother Patrick whom I haven’t seen since June. happy can’t even begin to describe my feelings. That little butthole drove all through the night from Tennessee just to come see me!!!!!!!!!! Wow.best. Feeling. Ever. Made my year.
Thanksgiving was awesome this year and it’s just gonna get better tomorrow. I ate so much I almost puked and it was fabulous. I had homemade cherry crumb pie and that was heavenly. But………it only gets better tomorrow. My sister Annie, brother – in law Jared, my nephew Gabe ( apparently we now call him beeb), my other cute little nugget nephew Greyson, and my dad are coming. Soopa dooopa pumped. Now only if Michael, Amy , Emma, and Amy could be here it would be perfect.
I am thankful for so many things this year. I DONT have cancer, I have a beautiful family, God loves me! I have two awesome dogs, THE BEST FRIENDS A PERSON COULD HAVE, ihave a nice house with heat filled with food to eat, have clothes to wear and clean water to drink. But most of all, people have sent me many pairs of fuzzy socks that I am gonna hide from my sister Annie so that she can’t steal them like she likes to do.
thank you everyone for the love and support. I hope you all had as great of a day as I did.
Well, the day didn’t start out so well. We left the house 2 hrs early for my 4pm appointment, thinking we had plenty of time to get there seeing as how it only takes us an hour to get the Office. Nope.
We were approximately 45 minutes late. I called, at 3:45 trying to be nice to tell them that there was an accident and that we were stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. that was fine. About 20 minutes later I get a call from one of the ladies at the office and I got a not so pleasant response from (we will call her Mrs. Happy Pants). Let me tell you this has not been my first fun phone call with Mrs. Happy Pants. Anyways… She says “you know the dr. Has to leave in 20 minutes.” um, yeah, thank you Captain Obvious.
So I get there and my anxiety level is at about a 20. I didn’t get nervous when they were gonna cut my boobs off, but being late for an appointment made me have that not so lovely hoagie sweat. Anything that I do that inconveniences another person or makes them upset tends to cause me high anxiety. yet another tragic flaw.
I wait in the lobby for 5 minutes before anyone comes to check me in. The physical therapy tech calls me back and I start apologizing, almost in tears cause I probably ruined his evening, but he was nice and told me not to sweat it cuz shit happens.
The physical therapist came in and he was WONDERFUL. So nice and happy. I love happy people. He asked me the normal questions and asked when I had my procedure and then I had to lay on the table. This was when the real fun began. NOT. He pulled my arm up over my head, ok that hurt but nothing crazy, then he rotates my arm out and begins lifting the muscles under my armpits. Holy crap if you could have seen in my head it probably looked like this (AAAAAHHHHH MOTHER F$&/%*#, bleep, $&@/%^*******+}>.%,€}. ) then he moves to my other arm and same thing . I was sweating, and I mean like beads of sweat on my lip sweating at this point. Then….he begins to pinch under my pectoral muscles to lift the expander. My toes were curled and not in a good way. Those drains that I was hoping to have removed are now pouring out blood. Apparently this is normal. I guess we are at the point were I should name them. Suggestions anyone?????
So physical therapy sucked, but apparently I am way ahead of the game and the physical therapist was very impressed. He gave me some exercises to do at home and gave me 5 instuctions that I must follow.
Luckily I am a really good at eating and my mom is a fabulous cook. And I am really good at resting.
The last thing that my physical therapist asked me before I left (and he has been the first medical professional to ask me this) was how my head was. Of course me being a bit dense said ” it’s good, I don’t have any headaches” and he laughs and says “no funny, how are you emotionally.” I told him “honestly it’s great. I was not attached to my boobs, they were attached to me. I guess you could say that I believe that I am greater than the sum of my parts.” He just kinda looked at me and said “wow. How mature ( if he really knew me and knew that i at I can’t help but laugh when anyone farts he may think differently!)
Even though therapy sucked and it was no fun, I will go willingly and with a smile on my face because of the kindness and genuine empathy that my physical therapist showed me. There are really good people out there and in all the crap you see on TV and read in the newspaper, remember that the good people are out there and they will hopefully cross your path when you need them the most.
So today I have been having problems with muscle cramps in my back. I am not real sure where they harvested the muscle flaps from but I seem to only really have issues on my lower right side. They give you Valium for this sort of thing but sometimes it’s just not enough to cut it. You can see it move and cramp and ripple on my back almost like I have a tiny human moving around back there like you would see on a pregnant ladies belly. Wouldn’t that be some shit, “lady goes in to have a bilateral mastectomy and has first ever back baby” hahahahahahahaha.
On the upside of things, I CAN SHOWER!!!!!I no longer smell like a trash compactor! I mean, come on people, there is only so much a sink bath can do for a person. Really.
So, my mom and I were talking the other day and we were discussing the topic of my modesty. I for the most part am a modest person. But after having this procedure done, I really have no modesty when it comes to showing people my chest. Now, if you said to me, “hey, pull your pants down let me see your butt cheeks” I would probably faint. So I have been thinking about why I have had this change of heart when it comes to my chest and it boils down to this — my chest is no longer my chest. It is in the sense that it is on my body, and my skin does cover it, but the tissue inside is no longer my own ( implant), my nipples are no longer mine, reconstructed from other areas, so I guess that I now feel as though my chest is a work of art. To me it is not different than taking a plain blob of clay and constructing it into a beautiful sculpture. I now see my chest as an amazing piece of art that keeps getting reworked to be made more beautiful. And I am very thankful to God that he blessed people on this earth to be able to have the mind and talent to make my body back into that beautiful piece of art that He constructed in the first place. And, in this instance, maybe even a little more aesthetically pleasing. So, even though this situation may not be optimal, and it may hurt, and may not be easy, there are many blessings along the way and there is so much for me to be thankful for.
Like the fact that I can kick my moms ass at Dr. Mario.
My sister Annie came to visit me this weekend. Such a good time. We spent most of our time playing Dr. Mario and putting a puzzle together, but it was the most fun I have had in a while. She kicked my ass most of the time but I still had fun. She made me laugh so hard. Had lots and lots of visitors this weekend. It was so nice to see familiar faces and see that everyone cares. But holy crap did I need a nap. Hahaha poet….
She did ask me a question that I hadn’t really thought too much about. She asked me if I felt sad or upset. The answer, no. I don’t feel a sense of loss, I don’t feel sad that I no longer have my boobs. I just don’t. I understand where for some women it may be completely different, but for me this is not the case. I prayed about it, and waited to get nervous, but I did not. I think that was Gods way of reassuring me that I was making the right decision for me. I have no regrets. Well, maybe one…taking senna,colace, and MiraLax. My colon is in tip top shape. Lol.
Had my first appointment today with the plastic surgeon and the general surgeon. First was the plastics guy. My doctor got called away for an emergency, so I saw one of his partners which was fine. I got 2 of my drains out!!!!!! The ones under the armpit. I was a little bit nervous about getting them out because I thought it would hurt, but I didn’t feel a thing! The drains in my back are still putting out too much drainage so they have to wait until next week. In order for the drains to be able to be pulled they have to put out less than 30 cc of fluid over a 24 hr period. So keep our fingers crossed for next time. The Dr. was asking me about the ulceration on the corner of my mouth and I had explained to him that it was from the ET tube during surgery and that my lip was numb still. He was not happy about this and got on the phone with the head of anesthesia. Talk about advocating for your patients! Wow. I go back on Tuesday for my first physical therapy appointment and hopefully to get the drains out.
Next was to the general surgeon. Let me just say that she was at another hospital today and drove across town at the end of the day just to accommodate me so that I wouldn’t have to make another trip. Wow. I still get flabbergasted by the kindness oF this woman. I would recommend my MD’s to anyone who is thinking of having this done so if you need any info, let me know. So my mom came into this appointment with me because she wanted to meet my doc. Because I am having nipple reconstruction they took a graft from somewhere so it looks as though I have skin colored nipples. In order to check that the skin is still viable, the dr. Has to poke it to make sure that the capillary refill is appropriate (the color returns to the skin quickly). I knew what the Dr. was gonna do, so she poked my boob/nipple and we both start laughing bc we looked over at my mom and she looked like she was about to pass out. It was hilarious. We were also going over some of the paperwork from the hospital and apparently they had charted that I weighed 341.5 lbs, and my BMI was 53.5. Uh, no. She called to change that right away, thank goodness none of my medications are weight based! I am definitely not the most slender person in the world, but I assure you I don’t weigh anywhere close to 341.5 lbs!!!
Benign!!!!! All of the tissue dissections came back benign. Whew! No extra treatments for me! I feel so blessed. That is the best news I have received in a long time…now if I could only get the feeling of having beach balls under my armpits to go away….
I get a lot of people that ask me why I did this.
“Why would you just go and have major surgery when you don’t have breast cancer?”
Well, unfortunately my genes don’t really swing in my favor when it comes to breast cancer. I have been seeing breast cancer ravish those that I love for a long time. In elementary school my very best friend Lindsay lost her mom to breast cancer. What a young age to lose someone as important as your mom. Patty was like my second mom. I have the opportunity to prevent this from ever happening to my future kids (if I ever have them) or to my loved ones. I’d like to think that Patty is proud of me for making this decision. Then there was my Aunt Joyce. She was diagnosed, and eventually went into remission. With breast cancer though, if you opt not to have a mastectomy, the incidence of the recurrence of breast cancer in the next 5 years following the first is high. This is what happened in her case. She lost that battle and we all watched her suffer through the trials and tribulations of trying to balance a life while feeling like you got hit by a truck. My Aunt Patty and my Aunt Marlana, both diagnosed with breast cancer had mastectomies. They are doing wonderfully. So, I guess you can say that I got my strength and drive to have this procedure from my Aunt Patty and Aunt Mar. They set a good example for me. Thank you ladies. I love you both.
“Aren’t you attached to your breasts? Are you still gonna feel like a woman?”
Well technically my boobs are attached to me and no, I don’t feel a special “connection” with my boobs. two fat sacks sitting on my chest…nope no connection. I have never nursed a child so maybe if I had I would feel differently. You can’t miss something you never had. My boobs, to me, are not something that define me as a woman. Last time I checked I still have other woman parts so I’m good to go there. ;).
“Just because you are BRCA1 positive doesn’t mean you will get breast cancer”
This is true. But, for me, it was like a ticking time bomb hanging over my head. It was always in the back of my mind. Sure, there are mammograms and MRI’s and all that happy crap to screen, but in someone my age with dense breasts, mammograms are not a good detector of breast cancer.
“Aren’t you sad that you will never be able to breast feed a child”
Uh, nope. I would much rather be around to have a child than risk the possibility of getting cancer and not being able to have a kid. I know plenty of women with normal breasts that have tried to breast feed and it didn’t work out.
“Aren’t you worried your boobs are gonna look funny after the surgery?”
No. I took a while to research doctors in the area. This was not a quick decision for me. Sure, I could have had the procedure near my house with doctors in the area, but if I was going to do this, I wanted it to be done by doctors that specialize in this area and do these surgeries all day every day. I could not be happier with the doctors that I chose. My boobs are going to look better after all this then they did before.
Hopefully this gives everyone a little bit of insight into why I did what I did. Feel free to ask me questions or give me input, even if you don’t agree with my choice. Hopefully I can help people understand my choice.
I think that’s what I should have named my blog. Cause boy oh boy have these two titties been on a journey. They have been cut open, removed, stuffed with muscle and had a hard expander put in them. Whew! That’s a lot of boob manipulation. Right now because of the lack of tissue I have left they feel like rocks! There are ripples in my boobs because I am not expanded yet, and I have opted to have nipple reconstruction so I just have two skin grafts where the nipples will be. My mother Eric and I have been having conversations about where they took those grafts from and we can’t figure it out.
I am still pretty swollen underneath my armpits. They get pretty sore. Pretty glad I waxed my pits before surgery because I guarantee I would smell like an Italian hoagie right now.
Through all of this there are people here that keep me smiling and laughing. my mom sets her alarm clock to go off in the middle of the night when I need to take my medications. Shes pretty funny when she wakes up. Well the alarm goes off at 3 am (her alarm ring is different than her call ring) she sits up, answers her phone and says “hello, hello? Aww shit they hung up!” So she lays back down and I say “hey mom? That was your alarm” and she just looks at me and say “oh ” and starts laughing. I laughed so hard my boobs hurt. It’s the little things that make my day. Thank goodness for those little things.
Today was a pretty good day. Had a much easier time getting up to go to the bathroom. Able to eat some and I even took a walk down the driveway to the mailbox to get the mail! Success! My JP drains,( I have 4) have been putting out less and less fluid every day.
I get tired pretty easy, but have been trying to limit my naps. I wanna try and stay awake during the day in hopes to sleep through the night. Trying to decrease my pain medications, but I still need them. i guess that’s what they are there for. I’m pretty sore under each armpit and on the lateral aspect of each of my breasts. It’s weird, because I don’t have sensation when someone touches but it hurts. Hard to put into words.
Do do you know what makes my recovery 100% better? My Mom. She came and picked me up from the hospital (car rides suck!) and has been here taking care of me. She cooks yummy food ( I don’t really have an appetite), helps me get cleaned up, washes and dries my hair, sets her alarm to get up in the middle of the night so I can get my medicine, and keeps me very entertained. I am so very blessed to have her here. No body can take care of you like your mom. I don’t know how people do this without a strong support system.
thank you Mom, this would be HORRIBLE without you. I love you.
Whew, what a relief that it’s over! I ended up being in surgery for 12 hrs. It seemed short for me, but from listening to other people it was torture. I remember waking up and thinking “Wow, that was fast!” I asked the nurse in recovery what time it was and he told me 900. 900 pm….holy moley!
So, what does it kfeel like? It feels like all of my muscles from my belly button to my neck are in one big knot! It took a while for them to get my pain medication balanced. I had a morphine PCA and the only thing that really did for me was make me fall asleep. They took that away early yesterday morning and gave me some Valium ( to help with cramping) and 2 percocets. That worked miracles! Then they changed my meds to dilaudid pills. They did nothing for me either but make me sleep. so back to the Percocet I went. My pain is pretty well controlled now.
My face…let’s talk about this for a minute. For this procedure, I started laying on my back while the breast surgeon removed all of the tissue. Then when she was done, the flipped me onto mu front. Apparently the way I was laying, the tube that supports my breathing put pressure on the sir of my moth. It’s pretty red a cracked…who wants to kiss me ;). My chin must have been resting on something because it is all red and swollen. My entire upper body feels tight, bit let me tell you, I feel so much better today than yesterday. Yesterday I felt like I got hit by a truck, today I feel like I got run over by a Mini Cooper. hah! ok, this is about as much typing as my T-Rex arms can handle today.
Before I get started on my journey, I wanna take a minute to talk about Jim. Jim is one of my dearest, closest friends and one of the 287 crew. He lost his mother this past week to a long hard journey through brain cancer. Today is her funeral and I am so sorry I can’t be there buddy. He has spent the last year of his life caring for and spending time with his mother. I am so proud of you Jim, you have a heart of gold. Your mother was truly a diamond in the rough. So if everyone could stop for a second and send a prayer up for some strength for him to get through this day I would appreciate it. Send the good vibes his way. Love you Jim.
It’s 4:36 am and we are driving to the hospital. Today is the day, I have to be there at 6 am. Thankfully I am the first case! I’m waiting for the nerves to finally kick in. Maybe they will when I get to the hospital? God has my back (and my front). I feel good, I am ready to go.
You know what is making me nervous? My husbands driving. Poor E, I think he’s way more nervous than I am.
I wonder if I will be the person who wakes up from anesthesia and cries, or punches, or acts drunk, or says something stupid, or the one who tells you my deepest darkest secret. I bet I’m the one who wakes up and does something really embarrassing…oh goodness, I hope they don’t tell me if I do.
I’m ready for this part to be over. I can’t believe its finally here. How am I going to feel emotionally? I have no idea, hopefully I will feel relieved. Don’t worry, I am sure I will let you all know.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
When you test positive for a BRCA1 mutation, you need to be hyper vigilant about screening. They recommend a mammogram and MRI rotation. If you want more info check out:
So about my “super screening”….
Let me just start off by saying that I don’t know how this stuff happens to me, but it does. It was time for my breast MRI and this particular day I had to work and was going to my MRI directly after. I didn’t pay much attention to what I wore this day.
I get to my appointment and they call me back to a changing room, tell me to take off all of my clothes except for my underwear, socks and shoes and put on 2 gowns, one open in the front and one that opens in the back on top…ok, I remember thinking “this is weird”. I get to changing and turn around to look in the mirror and I am standing there in hot pink socks, neon green Nikes, and a hospital gown that comes to just below my knees. We are talking supermodel quality here. I knew it was bad because when I went to the room where they start your IV’s, the lady laughed. Never good. They start my IV and she leads me back to the MRI room where there was a closed in MRI and two women. The older lady looks at me and says “take off your gown and get up on the table on your hands and knees”. What.the.hell? Am I in the right place? What exactly are they gonna do to me?
So picture this: Me, up on a table on my hands and knees in my underwear with hot pink socks and neon Nikes. Lovely. I mean truly lovely. Then the lady says ” see those two holes In the table? I need you to lay down and put your boobs in them. She seriously was my new favorite person at this point. Bossy much? I wanted her to walk over and stick her boobs in the holes to demonstrate. Hah. I do as she says, and then two women come to each side, reach under the table, grab my knockers and reposition them. Awkward much? They have me put my arms up on either side of my head and out infront of me. So now I am laying on this table like superman with my boobs in holes in hot pink socks and neon Nikes. Go me. Miss bossy pants places a remote in my hand and says “here is your panic button”. PANIC BUTTON ? You have got to be kidding me… did I say she was my favorite? I am a liar. She then asks me what kind of music I wanna listen too and proceeds to tell me that they have Sirius. Sweet. I tell her I wanna listen to alternative music. You know, Bastille, Pearl Jam, the neighbourhood, etc. Get my drift? She jams these earphones in my ears (gosh I hope they were new) and turns on the music. It was jungle music. That was her idea of alternative. I swear she was doing it just to torture me. Great… If you have ever had a closed MRI you know that they are loud. I’m talking like construction workers are pounding on the outside of the machine. clic click click, boom boom boom boom boom screeeeeeeeech click click click boom boom bang! You get my point. 45 minutes of construction noise + jungle hymns = pure bliss. I did not have to use my panic button but I thought about it once just to give my ears a rest. MRI’s are fun!!!
moral of the story…hot pink socks and neon green Nikes are never a good idea.
I have great friends.
They think of things that I will need for after my surgery that didn’t even cross my mind. Apparently they have been doing some research…
Today, Bev, Julie, and Keri asked me to come into the break room at the end of the day. Today was Danielle’s bridal shower. Good luck Danielle, I hope your big day is all you want and more. I figured they wanted me to sit and enjoy another piece of the 8×10 fat girl pizza that we chowed down on at lunch since Julie wasn’t there.
Nope. They had baskets full of stuff for me to help make my recovery easier.
I love your guts Bev, Julie, and Keri. You are good souls. And what does that song by the Starsailors say?
“Thank goodness for the good souls. They make life better. As I turn to you and I say. If it wasn’t for the good souls, life would not matter.”
I wake up this morning to a massive amount of well wishes and support on Facebook.
holy.crap. Do I know this many people?!?
I am flabbergasted (such a good word).
I can’t believe how many people took a few seconds out of their day to leave me a note. People from elementary, middle, high school, all of my many colleges, co-workers, family, acquaintances, and friends of friends. I haven’t talked to some of these people in years. People have shared my blog on their pages and told others about what I’m doing. Hopefully this will help others.
There are two people that really made me really realize how blessed I am to have such good people in my life.
First, Lercy. Lercy is a woman that I work with. Poor Lercy, she is the only person on our unit that fluently speaks Spanish, and in the area where I live there are many Spanish speaking people. Anyways, we were sitting in the break room on Friday having our lunch and the girls and I were talking about all if the things I had to do this past weekend to get ready for this surgery (cooking,cleaning, running errands, etc.). I was really dreading the cleaning, and Lercy sits there all quiet and just looks at me and says “Would you like some help? I would be happy to come and help you clean!” i thought this was so nice. Who offers to help somebody clean? Lercy does. Thank you Lercy, you are too kind.
Second is a friend I haven’t seen or spoken to in a long time. He lives out in LA and works in the entertainment business. As I am laying in bed last night my phone beeps and I see he sent me a personal message on Facebook. He apparently knows a lot of high profile MD’s out there and offered to get me in contact with some of those Dr.’s if I have any questions at all. He offered his support and told me if I need an opinion or anything at all he could put me in touch with the right people. Wow. The fact that he would go out of his way to help me out blew my mind. So very generous you are Kris. Thank you.
I’m just an average girl, living an average life who made a not so average decision. You know what is not so average?!?!?! The amount of people I have on my team. Wow. Just wow. This morning my heart is the size of a hot air balloon.
God is good and he reminds us of this everyday by the acts of kindness he has us do for others.
I’m glad I don’t believe in luck because if I did I would be the most depressed person you could meet. I was letting these two little nuggets outside yesterday and as I was reaching for the door I pulled a muscle in my neck/back. Seriously…what the hell. Who does that? Apparently I do. Now I smell like icy hot and look like I’m wearing an imaginary cervical collar.
Ok, here it is….my first attempt at blogging so please be patient with me.
What’s the point? Well, there are three actually.
I want you all to know that this is NOT going to be all rainbows and butterflies and I am not going to make you think that it is.
It is going to hurt. A lot.
It’s going to cause me to have T-Rex arms for a while
I will look like a 15 year old boy from the waist up. (for a short while)
I will have 2 drains in my chest and two in my back that will piss me off I am sure.
I will act like someone peed in my Cheerios (hopefully not for long).
These are things I am expecting, but the truth of the matter is that I HAVE NO IDEA HOW ALL OF THIS WILL BE. It’s not real to me until it happens and it’s happening Wednesday. Am I nervous? Not right now, but ask me Tuesday and I’m sure I will give you a different response.
ok, enough for now…