Reconstruction pigmentation

Reconstruction pigmentation…fancy schmancy term for nip tat.  Yup, I get my nipple tattoos tomorrow.  Tomorrow marks the end of this crazy almost 2 year journey.

I.CANNOT.BELIEVE.IT.

No more going to the doctor once a month, no more using my vacations to have surgery, no more inconveniencing the people in my life to come take care of me, no more worrying that my boobs are ticking time bombs.  AWESOME, but a little strange.  I have really gotten to know the people involved in my journey at the doctors offices that I have visited.  They were an integral part of my recovery and mental health.  They were there and supportive every step of the way, rooting for me when I was struggling and cheering for me when I was overcoming.  They have seen me at my best, and they have seen me at my worst.  It will be a little strange not to see them all of the time.  This is a good thing, I know, just a little weird.  They will probably never have another patient who calls herself a petittle…(see my post about my failed nipple reconstruction of that doesn’t make sense).  I have realized how important compassionate care is, and the teams that have taken care of me exemplify that.  I can only hope that as a nurse I can provide my patients and families with that level of care.

I have no idea how tomorrow is going to go.  I don’t currently have any tattoos so I don’t know what getting one feels like.  I also don’t have normal sensation in that area.  Do any of you have any big scars?  You know that feeling when something touches that scar?  It goes right through you. Not pain, but it gives me the heebie jeebies (sp?).  I’m not sure how a few hours of that sensation will be.  I don’t like it when I have it for a few seconds.  Either way, it’s temporary, and will be over before I know it.

In case you were wondering, I am waiting for the day when some person that doesn’t know me that well asks me if I have any tattoos…oh the ways I could respond. Maybe I should just always wear a button up shirt and no bra so I can just rip my shirt open and say “check out these puppies” bahaha.  I would give some poor soul a heart attack.  Maybe I should get smiley faces or green colored nipple tattoos.  That would really throw people off. You never know…?

Wish me luck.

Nip, nip hooray!!!

Nip, nip hooray!!!  I got me some nips!  Everything went as planned during the surgery and I am recovering well.  My throat is sore from the stupid ETT and my pee smells (anesthesia pee…yuck!) but other than that things are looking good!  This time they gave me these nipple shields that make me look like I have headlights (I will post a pic on the pic page).  They are funny, Liz thinks they look like mini fish bowls. Bahahaha.  They are a little difficult to hide under clothes, so I am sure I will get a bunch of strange looks when I am out and about.  I may decorate them.  No pain there though!!!! The Dr. Extended my lat scar on the right another 2 inches or so under my arm so that he could revise my muscle flap.  I think it was for cosmetic reasons to take down some of the bulk there, but that’s were I am sore. I will pos a pic of that as well.  I wouldn’t call it pain, more of a deep ache. He must have really manipulated that sucker, and the incision site burns a bit.  Not too bad!  God was looking out for me like he always does.  I am still in awe of the the skills He has blessed people with.  To be able to recreate body parts and make people feel good about themselves in what could be a truly horrible situation is remarkable.  Well done Dr. Greaney.

Lets hope the bad boys take!!! I will keep you all updated!

Addaniptomy

Addaniptomy (add-uh-nip-tah-me):  definition- the surgical procedure of creating a nipple for someone with Barbie boobs.

Or at least that’s what my co-workers came up with when deciding on a new name for my nipple reconstruction.   Sounds so much more medical to me.  So there you have it…my made up name for what is to hopefully be my last surgery in this over year and a half journey.  Yes, we have attempted this before, and the outcome wasn’t stellar (duh, I have Barbie boobs) but if at first you don’t succeed and all that crap. 😜  One more try and if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.  No biggie… tattoo city here we come.  This time, instead of just reconstructing from my existing grafts, they will be using a biological mesh under the newly constructed tissue to help add support and projection to my wimpy Casper skin. At first he (the plastics dude) had said he was going to use cadaver skin…uuuummmmm…I could have really given my nips names then…old Frank and Charlie, or whoever the past owners names were…bahhahahahaha.  That kinda weirded me out but he decided a mesh was the way he wanted to go.  Wouldn’t that be some shit if I did have cadaver skin supports and ended up having haunted nipples?!?!  Now there is a phrase I bet you never heard before…haunted nipples.  This is all set to go down next Thursday the 28th, and God willing things will go smoothly.  Yet another experience in this crazy journey.  Hopefully this time next week I will be shouting “nip nip hooray!”

One year

One year…

365 days…

That is the amount of time that has passed since my surgery.  This time last November 13 (it was a Wednesday) I was still under anesthesia while doctors were completing my surgery.  In some ways I can’t believe it has been an entire year, and in other ways it feels like my surgery was decades ago.  I had someone ask me today if looking back I would have changed my mind.

No way. No freakin way.

I would do it again if faced with the same predicament (thank goodness that can’t happen)

The past year was quite an experience.  I have learned a lot about myself and others throughout this entire ordeal.  We are all souls that posses a body and boy oh boy did God do an awesome job when he created it.  I think a lot of the time, we as humans look at our bodies being the main entity that possesses the soul.  This is a tragic flaw of the human race.  Instead of looking at ourselves with the respect and awe that we all deserve we get hung up on the physical aspects of our being “why can’t my legs be smaller, or why can’t my nose be smaller?, Why don’t I have curly hair, I hate my waist,etc…” You get my point.  This year has taught me that God constructed my person to be an extremely tough, durable, resilient piece of artwork and I am thankful that he made me this way.  But he has constructed my soul from something tough like titanium.  I am way stonger than I ever imagined I was.  He has also blessed me by surrounding me with an extremely stong support system.  Family, friends, co-workers, doctors, nurses, physical therapists, even random strangers who reached out along the way.  What an awesome feeling knowing that I have multitudes of people who are there to cheer me on.  It’s unreal.  Hopefully someday I will be able to pay it forward to all of you who have lifted me up.  One can hope.

A lot has happened over the last 12 months.

I made it through my recovery, and I must say while it was a grueling process filled with difficult physical hurdles (did I ever mention that I hated PT bahhahahahaha) I  can look back and surprisingly not remember the pain.  There are a few things I do remember like the first time getting up to go to the bathroom right after surgery (OUCH!!!) the drains, and that stupid seroma a.k.a my third boob.  But, the majority of the pain I experienced I cannot remember.

I made it through the implant exchange with flying colors! I went back to work with full ROM in my arms.  It’s hard for me to explain what a big deal that is for me.  Since my lats are in the front now, I had difficulty doing a lot with my arms.  I went from having T-Rex arms to being stronger than I think I have ever been.

I switched jobs. I loved my PACU job and miss all of my co-workers there a ton, but I had the opportunity to work in the NICU which I have always wanted to do.  How blessed am I to be fortunate enough to help prevent myself from being a statistic of breast cancer and score my dream job in one year?!?!? Extremely.

I had nipple grafting surgery.  Unfortunately this was not successful, but if at first you don’t succeed, try,try again.  And I will.  I have an appointment in December to see when we can go ahead with the next attempt.

The thing that I am most proud of that I have accomplished this year was that I hiked the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim.  My good friend Regina asked me to hike with her and I am so proud of us that we did it.  This truly showed how “recovered” I was.  I spent 3 days carrying a pack that weighed 30 lbs. through the Canyon on a 24 mile hike.  I was worried that my lack of muscles in my back would make this too hard.  It didn’t.  Yet again, another example to the strength God instilled in my body.  AWESOME.

If you would have told me a year ago that I would be where I am now, I would have laughed in your face.  This year was far from rainbows and butterflies, but it has shown me what I am made of.  I am sure there are more hurdles and bumps to come, but that is life.

Oh what a difference a year can make.

I finally have me some nips!!!

I finally have me some nips!!! Woooohoooo!  Everything went well today.  I got taken back to pre-op at 645, had to pee in a cup (oh joy), do a CHG bath, put on my purple sumo gown, answer some questions and sign some papers.  They started my IV, and the transporter came to get me and take it over.

image

Nothing better than a purple paper sumo gown that blows up with hot air when you are cold.  Seriously!  The procedure took ably 1.5 hours, went to PACU, was there for ~25 mins then went to ambulatory.  I wasn’t having much pain but they wanted to give me a Percocet for the ride home so I ate some peanut butter crackers and a ginger ale.  Soon I was ready to go, got dressed and out I went. All before 1300!!!!! AWESOME!  Everyone was so nice, fortunately I had a lot of the same nurses and transporters so they recognized me from the last time.  It couldn’t have gone any better!!  I have posted a pic of what the reconstruction looks like on my pics page!  They did an awesome job.  Never in a million years would I have thought they would look so good!  He must of had to really manipulate my lat flap because I am sore on  the outside and I am a bit bruised, but only on the right…I go back in 2 weeks for a follow up, and then get my tattooing done in 3 or so months!  Thanks for all of the messages, phone calls, and well wishes!  I appreciate all of them!!!

Is this it?


Is this it? Am I finally on my way to my last surgical procedure? Well yes I am! Hopefully this will be the last one!!!  It’s 506 am and right now I am on my way to Jefferson in Philly.  My mom came down last night to take me to my procedure.  What on Earth would I do with out her? Luckily I was scheduled to be the first case and need to be there at 700!  The 415 wake-up was a tit-bit early.  Bahhahahahaha.  Boob humor cracks me up.  So today I am having a bilateral nipple reconstruction.  I can’t believe the rough stuff is over, and I am already at this point.  The doctor said that it should be a 2 hr procedure give or take a little.  That’s a piece of cake compared to the 12.5 hr mastectomy and reconstruction I had. :)

Here is a little diagram from breastreconstruction.org that shows kinda what He will be doing today

 

image

Pretty neat!  I will soon have 2 new body parts! I am so ready to have this be done!!!  Ok, time to get those volcanos 😉

 

Nipple reconstruction

So I am finally onto the last step.  I had an appointment with my plastic surgeon last Friday to re-evaluate my readiness for nipple reconstruction.  The last time I was there, my scars were still too active to be able to proceed with this step.  He wanted me to wait a few months to see if things would settle down and “fall” into place.  Bahahaha.  Literally.  I have noticed that I am not symmetrical, but I didn’t know if it was just me being overly critical because I obsess a bit over this, or if I really was a little “off”.  The appointment went well.  He agreed with me that things were not symmetrical, and said that he could fix that when I go into the OR to have my reconstruction done.  He told me that it’s hard to get the placement correct because you never truly know how the implants are going to settle into the pocket he created.  I can’t say enough how much I like my plastic surgeon.  I really think that’s a large reason why everything has gone so smoothly for me throughout the entire process.  He was very pleased with how things were progressing.  Apparently I scar well.  That sounds like a bad thing, but it’s not.  My lat scars have almost completely disappeared, and none of my scars are raised like a keloid.  That’s ++ for me!  It never fails, during my plastic surgery appointments  I make him laugh (inadvertently) with something “random” as he says.  So as I have shown in a previous picture, my nipple grafts have hair on them.  Eeeeeewwww. Nipple hair.  Say that out loud.  It makes your nose wrinkle in disgust just saying it.  This REALLY bothers me.  The skin grafts were taken from my back, and apparently I have a hairy back.  It’s not like its dark hair, it’s very light and fine like my arm hair and you can barely see it, but I KNOW it’s there and it needs to go.  So, I flat out asked him how to get it to go away.  He laughed and said “I love how you had a major operation and the only thing that has really bothered you throughout the process is a little bit of hair on you grafts”.  He said the only thing that will really get rid of the hair is laser hair removal.  Just the thought of having that part of my body lasered makes my non-existent nipples hurt.  The only stipulation is that I have to have it done at least 2-3 weeks before my nipple reconstruction is done.  Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you, it’s scheduled for July 17th.  I finally get my nipples!  Woohooo!  Anyways, I researched some places that do laser hair removal treatments, called around, and luckily I have a consult tomorrow and if I decide to go ahead with it they will do it right then.  I love it when a plan comes together.  😉 Talk about awkward phone call.  “Uh, yes, I am calling because I want the hair removed from my nipples”  I wanted to dig a hole and place my head in it.  Thankfully, they didn’t even seem to think it was odd.  I know they are professionals and do this all the time, but still… So, tomorrow I embark on yet another experience I never in a million years thought I would have…nipple laser hair removal.  Bahahahahaha. Thank the Lord that I still don’t have much sensation, because from what everyone says about laser hair removal, it feels like someone is flicking you with a rubber band over and over.  Great!!!  I will let you all know how it goes!

It has been a while…

It has been a while…

Which is a good thing in my book.  I am finally falling into a nice rhythm.  The nerve pain seems to have eased up a little.  The muscle spasms are much less frequent (thank goodness). Every day is getting easier.  I’m not gonna lie to you, the first month back to work was EXHAUSTING.  I don’t think I have ever been that tired and worn out continually in my life.  But, for all of you out there, it does get better.  I don’t finish every day blown to smithereens.  When I first returned to work, I couldn’t sit down when I got home until I had completed everything I needed to do.  If I did, I would be toast.  Burnt to a crisp kind of toast. There were days that I made that mistake, only to wake up 2hrs later with my badge, shoes, and winter jacket on with my car keys still in my hand.  Now when I get home, I feel like a “normal” person.  Sure, I am tired, but it’s just the kind of tired you get from standing and working all day.  My scars are feeling better.  Regular bras don’t bother my lat scars even close to as much as they did.  I’m not having any pain and my ROM is very good.  No problems reaching for things for this girl.  I have noticed that I have a hard time doing things like tricep dips.  I have a feeling that has to do with the new position of my lats.  I continue to do my PT. It really isn’t difficult anymore, just an annoyance that I have to do it, but I will continue to do it because no matter how much I hated it, I feel that PT helped me the most. So, if there are any words of advice that I can offer someone having this procedure, having gone through it myself, it is DO THE PHYSICAL THERAPY.  I read a lot of other peoples blogs who are still having lots of pain 6 months, a year, 2 yrs out, and I often wonder if they were offered the extensive PT that I was and if they continually did it.  I am almost 2.5 months out from my last surgery and I must say, I FEEL GOOD!!!!  So ladies that are doing research about possibly having this done, know that there is light at the end of the tunnel and it does get better!  And if any of you out there have questions, leave me a message on here, I will happily answer!  God is good.

Hakuna your ta-tas

image

Hakuna your ta-tas.  It means calm your tits.  bahahaha.  I saw this shirt online and ordered it instantly.  Remember that song “Hakuna matata” from the Lion King?  What are the words, something like “it means no worries for the rest of your days” ?  Correct me if I am wrong.  But this shirt represents how I feel now.  When I got the BRCA1 results, I felt like I was in a cartoon and someone had an imaginary anvil hanging over my head, waiting to be cut only to drop and flatten me like a pancake.  So, I did something about it.  I don’t expect everyone, or anyone for that matter, to agree with my choice, but I wouldn’t change a thing.  It is well with my soul.  I know that there are still BIG BAD SCARY things out there that can get me, but now I feel like I have run up the hill and am finally reaching the top.  This experience changed me.  In many good ways, and I am thankful for each way.  God is good and protected me throughout this process.  I am blessed, undeservingly blessed, but blessed beyond belief.  So I hope that those in my life who need a little pick me up can look at this shirt and get a chuckle.  I am praying for you all.

Liz-hopefully that little nugget decides to make an appearance today.  Definitely a little boy, knows how to aggravate you already and knows which buttons to push.  You are almost there!!!

Aunt Patty-I hope today brings you a little more relief and you will be feeling better soon!

Bev – hang in there buddy, this will all get sorted out.  Hakuna your ta-tas is appropriate for you as well.  I need to get you this shirt.  Remember I’ve got your back (and your front) bahhahahahaha 😉

La – Glad things seem to be better for you this week.  Hopefully you can stay on the un-eventful train for a while!

I know there are many other people in my life that need prayers and love sent their way that I have not mentioned, trust me, you are on my mind.  The prayers are going up and the good vibes are going out!

Hakuna your ta-tas everyone!!!!

 

6 week post-op recap

So here is the 6 week post-op recap….

Looks like everything is going very smoothly.  The areas around my nipple grafts where I am having some drainage is completely normal.  He said these areas are where the stitches under the surface are trying to poke through the surface.  I should expect to have that happen until my scars settle down.

I talked to him about the difference between my breasts.  He said it could be due to a variety of things, but all in all he thinks things are progressing well and he wants me to wait another 2 months to allow them to fully settle.  We will re-evaluate then.  So I have to go back in 2 months.  My nipple scaring will have settled by then, my implants will be more settled, so we can talk about nipple reconstruction providing everything is to my liking.

He took a look at the scars on my back and thought they were looking a little bit better and didn’t want to do the steroid injections yet, if at all.  Another thing we will re-evaluate in 2 months.

As for the muscle spasms, he said he expected them to increase because of the increase in my activity.  For now, he wants to me to continue to do PT (yippee) .  He thinks it will help with the spasms and take the Valium when I need it, hopefully getting to the point where I don’t need it at all.

Speaking of PT, I was supposed to see Richard per his request today, not sure what for, but at my last appointment he asked me to come early to meet with him.  I ended up seeing Dr. Greaney first, then waited for an hour and twenty minutes to see Richard, but when they finally got his attention, he said he didn’t really need to see me, he wanted to see me in 2 months. Lol.

All in all a pretty good appointment.

After my appointment, I met up with Pinder and saw Noah.  It was a very interesting interpretation of the biblical story, but entertaining none the less.  We had heard the reviews before we went so we knew what we were up for.  Apparently a lady that was in the theatre with us didn’t know that it wasn’t a direct representation of the biblical story and she let us know that she wasn’t happy about it while we were in the bathroom after the movie.

6 week post-op appointment

So I got this Pin from my friend Julie Hamilton yesterday and I couldn’t stop laughing.

image

Apparently I like boob humor.

Tomorrow is my 6 week post-op appointment.  Can you believe it has been 6 weeks?

I CANT.

In one respect it feels like all of this happened so long ago, but on days like today when I’m sore and tired, it feels like it just happened a week ago.  It’s mostly my back that is giving me issues.  Lately even when I lean back against a chair my scars bother me.  It’s uncomfortable, I wouldn’t say it’s pain, just discomfort.  That also causes a problem when I go to wear a “normal” bra.  The part that goes around my torso cuts right across my scars and makes them uncomfortable.  That area also feels tight.  My lats are still connected in the back up near my shoulders, but they wrap under my armpits and are settled at the base of my breasts.  I really only tend to feel this when I am having a muscle spasm or if my boobs lock up.  Gosh, I sound like a car.  Bahhahahahaha.  Sometimes they do Tho.  If I have a particularly strenuous day at work, or if I have been doing a lot of things with my arms, they stay almost in a constant state of contraction and that is not comfortable.  Sure, I have Valium for the muscle spasms, but I can’t take it until I get home, because yes, that whopping 2.5 mg dose still makes me sleepy.  I swear, my body doesn’t build up tolerance to things.  Tomorrow is the day that I am possibly going to be getting the steroid shots in those scars.  Hopefully that helps the situation.

I am interested to see what he has to say about the areas on my breasts that are “leaking” .  I have serous fluid that comes out from around my nipple graft somewhere.  Hopefully it’s nothing. I am starting to get some sensation to my breasts.  I can feel deep sensation.  For example, if you were to press on my breast I would be able to feel it at the base of my breast and the sides and I would feel the pressure.  But I can’t feel surface things.  If I scratch the skin, I can’t feel it yet.  It’s a real pain in the tit when you have a phantom nipple itch and can’t scratch it.  (There is a sentence you don’t read everyday!). Seriously almost caused me to lose my mind one night.  I can’t imagine what it would feel like to lose an arm or a leg.

Hopefully tomorrow goes smoothly and the shots don’t hurt too bad because I have to drive myself to meet Pinder so we can see Noah.

New pics

I just posted the newest pics of my knockers on the pictures page.  Wonder who came up with the name “knockers”.  Lol.  Anyways, you will see there is still a bit of difference between the lest and right.  Maybe my lat was more dense on the right because in am right handed? Who knows.  I also have been having some serous drainage from my right nipple graft.  I had noticed it last week, but thought it was just some staining on my bra, but then I paid attention and I noticed that I had some everyday.  There is no odor, no redness, no swelling, and it’s not hot, so I figured I would bring it up at my appointment.  On the left side there is a stitch sticking out that I can feel when I am putting lotion on (NOT aquaphor) and hopefully he can look at that too.   I wonder if the difference in my breasts are because the right hasn’t fully settled yet, or if a bigger implant should have been placed on that side because of being expanded further on the right.  I will be interested to see what he has to say about it all.

Sore

PT yesterday was much easier than in the past so I wasn’t expecting to wake up so sore.  As soon as I moved I was aching.  Mostly under my armpits and my “side boob”.   This is where my entire lat muscle was threaded through to be placed at the base of my breast.  It’s all muscular pain, I know that.  It’s like when you go to the gym and workout real hard and really feel it the next day.  It’s just such an odd place to hurt.  My side boobs…bahhahahahaha. I also had my lats massaged out, which is more like deep penetrating pressure on them, so I think a lot of toxins were released just like they are with any massage.  I tried to drink plenty of fluids to flush them out.  I am such a wimp, I know.  But sometimes you just can’t change who you are.  Be it a wimp or a Beast.

I crashed pretty hard when I got home from work today.  Normally I am very careful not to sit down when I get home from work until I get all my stuff done, but today I made the mistake of sitting for a second to pet Vee and Lola.  Well, I woke up 2.5 hrs later with my coat still on and zipped, my sneakers on and my bag still on my shoulder.   oops.   Needless to say I wasn’t Patty productive when I got home from work today.  Oh well, I guess I needed the rest more. I am really looking forward to the day that I am “normal” again and can do simple things without needing a nap.  thursdays are usually my toughest days.  I looI forward to not being constantly exhausted.  I hope this isn’t a permanent state.

One day at a time, one day at a time.

PT no more?

I had PT today.  First time in a little over a month, and I must say it wasn’t that bad.  I do my PT twice daily at home, but I haven’t had to take the time to drive into Philly like I was doing weekly before.  They were really impressed with my ROM, apparently I am better than “normal” and they were impressed with my strength.  2 points for T.  It was the standard appointment, moist heat, manipulation, more manipulation, massage, exercises ( I got bumped up to the blue band, strength level 3) then some stretching.  Then I got my lat scars massaged out.  Now you hear massage and think “ooohhh, i bet that felt good” no. Nope. Negative. Absolutely freakin not.  That crap hurts.  But, in the grand scheme of what I have been through, I feel like a huge weenie complaining about a little scar massage.  He was very pleased with my progress but told me I look tired and was a bit worried about that.  I told him the truth, that I am in a constant state of tired, but it’s tolerable.  and honestly, no matter when I would have returned I would be the same amount of tired.  It’s a conditioning process and I am still “in training”.  I am trying to optimize my diet so that I can ward off all of these colds that are going around (knock on wood), so I can heal faster, lose a few, and be clean inside and out.  So, no processed anything, very limited red meat ingestion, no alcohol, fish at least 2 x a week (none from pacific coast or imported from other countries), natural sugars, only from fruit, whole grains only, at least 2 probiotic servings daily (I <3 kefir), olive oil and flax seed oil, a high quality protein serving at every meal,  at least 90 oz. of water daily, and lots of green tea.  Why am I doing this?  If I did something as radical as prophylactically removing my breasts and reconstructing them, wouldn’t it be stupid to shove crap in my mouth?  What would be the point of all this if i continue to abuse my body in other ways.  It’s kind of a no brainer for me.  This surgery is an eye opening experience.  Surgery is not the end all fix all for everything, so I need to treat my body like the temple that God created and properly nourish it.  Ok, rant over.

So back to the whole title of post.  I didn’t have to make a new appointment for PT.  Dr. Greaney only has office hours on Monday and Friday.  On Tuesday and Wednesday, an outside physical therapy company uses the office for all of the patients that need PT.  The nurses are there, and on Wednesdays the nipple tattoo guy is there, but no docs.  He is going to come in on April 4th (Friday) when I see Dr. Greaney to evaluate me.  He is going above and beyond, coming in to the office on a day that he is not to be there, all to accommodate me.  Wow.  People do nice things all the time.  This helps me so much because I don’t need to make special arrangements with work for another appointment, I can combine the two.  I have a feeling that he will release me from PT then.  You have all read the words that I have put in this blog about hating PT, but in all honesty, it has helped me more than I care to admit.  I am tired daily now, but if I wouldn’t have been put through the vigorous PT,  I would be in super bad shape.  And I would probably still have T-Rex arms.  Apparently most people choose not to do the PT.  I can’t imagine they have had such great results like I have.  I am thankful for it, no matter how much I bitched about it.

Another hurdle jumped….only a few more to go.

Nice

So the last time I posted, I was telling you all how tired I was.  Yes, I am still exhausted, shattered would probably be a better term, but I got a break today.  I work with a very amazing group of people.  Sometimes, when patient census is lower and we have a lot of nurses working we get flexed down (people get the option to go home early, if no one volunteers, we have a list that shows who is next).  Well today, my co-workers were nice enough to let me be the one who got to leave work early. It was so considerate of them because oh my goodness do I need a nap and my body needs a break.

Its amazing what the human body can do when you just tell yourself you have to.  I am amazed with myself everyday at how far I have come.  My body has been through so much, but I did it.  I still have a long way to go, I know this, and I need to keep that in mind, but with people looking out for me at work like they do, I don’t have to stress so much about staying afloat.

Thank you ladies for letting me be the one that was able to leave work to come home and rest.  I appreciate your kindness more than you know.

Long time, no post

It’s been a while since I have posted and there is a reason for that.  This phase of my recovery has easily been the hardest part.  It is hard to to work everyday.  But the hardest part is trying to manage all of the other aspects of my life along with working a full time job.  By the end of the day I am mentally and physically exhausted. There is cooking and cleaning, and bill paying and trying to figure out ways to schedule appointments, sick husbands, emergency vet trips, call, and two time a day PT. I by no means am complaining, I am just trying to adjust.  I am adjusting, s      l                o                      w                                     l                                              y.

Everyday I am exhausted.  Like if I sit down I won’t get back up kind of exhausted.  But I get up and do it because I have to.  Sometimes you just have to suck it up and just do it.  My biggest problem is my back.  Everyday after work it hurts.  Some days are better than others, but today its particularly bad.  Today was my 10th day of work in row.  Two more to go and then I get a break.  When is this back pain gonna end? I don’t know. But I do know it’s temporary and will soon stop.  I’ve been having some pain under my armpits too but it’s all muscular from my lats.  So when I come home I can take the Valium prescribed for the muscle spasms and there is relief.  The muscle spasms are getting better in the front base of my breasts, but still very present in my under arm area.

I don’t think anyone could have prepared me for this transition.  So I am trying very hard to hold it all together and get everything done.  So 530 am wake ups, to get exercises and some chores done before work, then work, then home to cook dinner do some more chores only to pass out as late as I can possibly stand.  Which is usually 10.  Last week I got done with work early one day, came home, napped from 430-800 got up, used the bathroom, and went back to bed.  I don’t even think I really sleep, I think I fall into a coma.

I will get it together,  it’s just taking me a long time, and my body can only heal so fast.  This is all temporary.  That seems to be my mantra lately, I can do it, this is temporary.

Exhausted

I am completely crushed. I mean, one look at me and you can tell I’m shredded. But, I must say that it is a completely satisfying kind of tired. I went to work and helped someone today. I am useful. I am productive. I am needed by someone. I care for people throughout the day and it feels good. Really good. It especially feels good when I work with women who are going through something similar to what I went through. I can offer some insight, and really understand how they may be feeling. This whole journey has been something that I have shared with whoever wanted to read, but the experience is one that is mine alone. No one can jump into my head and really know what it’s like. It would have been nice to have someone that could tell me who really knew that it would get better. What to possibly expect. I had MANY,MANY, MANY people who could tell me what I might be able to expect, or that it will be ok and I may have some discomfort, but they can’t really know because they haven’t experienced it. I appreciate all of the love and support, I am not diminishing that. It would be like me telling another woman what childbirth is like. Sure, I can give you the nursing knowledge behind it and what I have heard other women say, but I myself have never experiences it. I am not claiming to know what these women are feeling on a daily basis, what’s going on in their head, or their level of pain, but I HAVE been there, and I have an understanding ear that can listen and tell them what I experienced if they want to know. Many times patients say they hurt a lot, and a nurses response is sometimes, I understand. This is when I can say I TRULY understand. This is when I feel useful. I feel that I have a purpose. Maybe I can do something with that in the future. So even though going back to work full time is exhausting, it’s good for my soul.

I also feel needed when I walk in the door at night. My dogs are so happy to see me it’s ridiculous! This is the best feeling in the world. They follow me around, sit outside the shower until I’m done, “help” me cook dinner aka sit and wait for something to drop, make it hard to breathe while stretching because they insist on licking my face so much, and then they always need to be within an arms reach of me. Love this part of my life.
So while I am ripped to shreds every night, I’m doing it, and I am glad to be back.

Ahhhhhh…time to relax

I made it through my first week of work!  It went by so fast, I think because I would get up, do my exercises, eat breakfast, shower, go to work, come home do whatever chores I had to do (laundry, etc.), cook dinner, do my exercises, pack my lunch, give my dogs some love then go to bed.  I have to stay on my feet and get everything done that I can when I get home before sitting down or else I won’t get back up.  I have slept like a rock this week.  Thursday was my hardest day.  I was so tired.  I needed a nap ten minutes after I woke up, and I felt that way all day. But TGIF!   I have 2 days of resting ahead of me and that’s what I plan to do.

My rash is starting to clear up.  Unfortunately, one of the side effects I get from the prednisone are lovely roses red cheeks.  I look like a raggedy ann doll.  Everyone kept making comments at work today about how rosy my cheeks were and they were worried I wasn’t feeling well, but I just explained I am on a prednisone burst and they understood.  Everyone artwork was very helpful and understanding this week.  It’s nice to work with people that look out for you.

I am really looking forward to having two days off to relax and do nothing! Well, not nothing, but at least sit down more!

Wednesday

Anyone that knows me well enough knows that Wednesday is my least favorite day of the week.  Why?  Well, you are stuck in the middle.  You have two days behind you, but you still have two days in front of you. Well, this Wednesday was a tough one.  I started off the day by having a dr.’s appointment at 0750.  Remember that rash I was telling you all about? Well, after trying cortisone cream during the day and an antihistamine at night, heck I even tried Pepcid, I had no success in getting rid of my rash.  In fact, it got angrier.  I walk into the office and the nurse takes me to a room and asks what is wrong and I explain and show her my stomach.  She asks me to undress from the waist up and put on a gown.  I do. The doctor comes in and asks to see and she says “wow! That looks like it itches!” Uh…yeah.  The scratch marks must have given me away. Lol.  It was worse on my breasts which is why I was so concerned.  She put me on a prednisone burst and diflucan daily just incase there is a fungus among us.  I highly doubt that though, because you can actually see the streaking where my fingers put the lotion.  I highly doubt it’s fungal but better safe than sorry.  She told me that I needed to call my plastic surgeon to update him on the situation just incase her treatment doesn’t help then I will need to follow up with him.  Ok fine.

Then I headed to work.  And it was a typical Wednesday at work.  CRAZY.  Super busy, the kind where you are running full throttle just to get the basics done. I did get a minute to call and talk to Dr. Greaney’s nurse.  She said she would update my file and let him know.  She hadn’t realized that I had gone back to work and asked how my pain was.  I told her the truth….that my back hurt, my side boobs are achy, and I am starting to get nerve pain which feels like quick little jolts of electricity when nerves are growing back on the sides of my breasts and under my armpits.  She said she would call something in and usually people need some thing for pain at night for a little bit when you work a job like I do.  Lisa is awesome. She is always one step ahead and you never feel like you are being judged.

So work got very busy after lunches passed and I ended up working a little later than I was supposed to because evenings needed the help.  I never mind doing that because we are a team and if I was the evening shift person I would be happy to have that little extra help to provide safer and more efficient care.

So, how was my Wednesday? Exhausting, my back hurts as well as my brain.  But you know what? After one dose of my prednisone and diflucan, my rash is already better and today made me feel like a productive person again.  It’s nice to feel useful.  It’s also really nice to be able to comfort those patients that come through the unit that have had the same procedure that I did.  It’s nice to feel like you are really helping someone and you are making a difference in someone’s life.  That is one thing I have learned about myself.  I need to have a job that makes me feel satisfied and fulfilled.  Yeah, we all need money, I get that, but I need to feel like I am making a difference.  Hopefully one day I will be able to do some medical mission work.  I just need to figure out how to get involved.

Hope everyone has a happy Thursday.  Thanks God for taking care of me.

Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work I go…

I go back to work tomorrow.  It’s hard to believe.  So much has happened in so little time that its hard to really comprehend everything.  I am feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment, but tomorrow will come, and tomorrow will go and it will all be copacetic.  I just ask that you pray for me to get through the day.  One day at a time, one foot in front of the other.  My scrubs are laid out, my lunch is packed, all my certificates of training modules I had to do while out are in my bag along with lots of Tylenol and ibuprofen.  Oh to be normal again.  Well, I’m not normal, but to be doing normal things again. Lol. Wish me luck!

Cleared

I had my appointment today with Dr. Greaney.   I set out pretty early because the last few times I have traveled to Philly the traffic has been horrible.  Not today.  Sweet, point #1 for thetracinator.  Yes, I just referred myself as thetracinator.  It’s just that kind of day.  I was 45 minutes early.  I walked into the office and thought maybe they had closed it because there was not one other patient in the waiting room.  GREAT!!!!! This day is starting off well!  Tack up #2 for me.  The receptionist yelled “Hey Trace, I’ll let him know you are here!” When I walked in.  I love that they take the time to learn my name.  I sat down for maybe 2.5 seconds and Lisa, my favorite nurse calls me back.  Point #3 for this day.  She talked to me for a while, it has been nice getting to know these people over the past few months.  It really makes me feel that they care.  I get changed and put on my crop top paper gown open in the front, but this time it’s blue.  MUCH better than that ugly mauve color they had before.  As if this matters,  apparently it did to me.  Score point #4 for me.  Dr. Greaney walks in and asks how I have been doing, and I tell him about how my back scars have been bothering me, he takes a look and agrees with the physical therapists opinion.  He explained that right now  (month 3-5 after surgery) is when your scars have the most inflammation and can really be uncomfortable.  He thinks that I may benefit from some steroid injections into the scars, but it’s too early in the healing process for that.  I have a follow up appointment in 6 weeks (my sister Annie’s birthday) and he will do them then if they are still bothering me so much.  He took a look at my breasts and was pleased.  I am now allowed to put lotion on them which was good, cues those suckers were dry.  He went over the implant massaging that I have to do daily.  Then I whipped out my handy dandy iPhone and went down my questions. (Q is me, A is Dr. Greaney)

Q:  You expanded me further in my right side, I would have thought that you would have used a different size implant.  Why didn’t you?

A:  On your left side I only cut into your nipple on the bottom half.  It was very difficult to get the expander out and put the implant in.  That’s why you see more redness on your left side.  This side had more time to settle, and didn’t need any pocket work.  Because we took off your right nipple graft and moved it, I was able to get in their and do more pocket work on that side.  I was able to form almost a perfect pocket where I could give you the same size implants and you will have symmetry on both sides once they settle which can take months.  That’s why the implant massage is so important.  We don’t want the pockets scar tissue to freeze the implant in one place.

Q:  When will they stop aching when I wake up?

A:  Sleeping keeps your body in a position for a while, and they are sore because when you get up and move around so does the implant.  This can take months to go away.  Remember, you are only 2 weeks post-op.  (I forget this all the time)

Q:  How long do I have to wear a bra?

A:  I would like you to wear a compression bra 24/7 for at least another 2 weeks.  It’s going to be more comfortable for you at work if you wear your compression bra.

Q:  When can I begin high impact exercising?

A:  3 weeks after your last surgery, so next Thursday.  You can go running and things like that, wear a very supportive bra.  I don’t suggest lifting heavy weights.  (I guess I wasn’t supposed to shovel the driveway.  Oops!)

Q:  When can I wear a normal bra?

A:  For you, I think it’s going to be a question of when your back scars will feel well enough to wear a normal bra.  You can wear one in 2 weeks if you want and it’s comfortable, but I think you will find that a regular bra is going to cut across your scars. (Looks like I’ll be letting them wild and free more often because I can, score point #5)

Q:  How about nipple reconstruction.  I will be having this done and I know you said at least 3 months, do I have to wait longer for settling? Will this be a problem when I have my implants exchanged out later in life (they don’t last forever)

A:  We can go ahead with nipple reconstruction in 3 or so months, we can talk more about the specifics of that at your next appointment, but no, you don’t have to wait.  It will not be a problem when we go to exchange out your implants in 10 or so years.  (Point #6)

Q:  I can flex my pecs like a dude.  Also, you can really see my breasts clench when I do something like open a bottle.  Will it always be like this?  (I showed him my technique and he thought it was hilarious.  I need to find some sort of competition)

A:  No.  A muscle must have 2 attachment points to function.  When surgeons do this surgery, they can split the nerve in your lat or keep it in one piece.  I keep it in one piece because if you split the nerve you can tend to see the implant more and see more rippling.  Over time this all dies down, and because your muscle does not have two connection points (only one in my shoulders), the muscle will atrophy and you will no longer experience this sensation.

I expressed to him my concerns about the possibility of my back hurting the first few weeks of work and he told me that will be likely until those muscles are built up. Take tylenol.  I was too chicken shit to ask him for pain medicine.  Being a nurse, this hinders me.  I don’t wanna seem like a drug seeker.  So I didn’t ask.  If it gets too bad I guess I can call and see if they can give me something.  Who knows,  maybe I won’t need it.  He signed my form for me to go back to work And that was that.

It was crazy to walk to the receptionist and tell her that I didn’t need an appointment for 6 weeks.  Good feeling, but strange.  I have come to know these people and they, whether they knew it or not, had become a big part of my support system throughout this interesting journey.  (score#7) May God bless them for all of the kindness they have shown.  Thank you Dr. Greaney, Lisa, Amy, Lydia, Richard, Anna, and Josephine.

I do know one thing, if I can show my patient’s one ounce of kindness they have showed me during this process I’m doing something right.  Maybe a plastic surgeon will want me to work with them to help with their breast surgeries from a recovery and emotional level.  A girl can hope!

thetracinator 7, everyone else 0

Get ready PACU people, you better prepare because as of Monday, giggles is back.

Last PT for a month!

I traveled to Philly today for what I was hoping was going to be my last physical therapy session.  Nope. Wrong.  I have to go back in a month.  I will take that.  They were very pleased with my progression.  I have full range of motion back!  My left is still tighter than my right side, but it has always been that way.  If I were guessing I would say that’s because I am right handed and use that arm more.  Who knows.

The physical therapist was looking at my back and I was telling him that my back scars bother me sometimes and sometimes they hurt.  I can’t wear racer back bra’s because they sit funny on my scars.  He felt around and said that’s because apparently my lat scars had adhered so they needed to be massaged out.  In other words, the fibers were set together like this:  image

 

When the ideal situation and most comfortable position of the scar fibers would be like this: image

 

So what did that mean for me???  That meant that I had to have a very painful massage of opposite directional friction with pressure.  It hurt.  It still hurts, and that was done around noon.  anything touching my back around those scars hurts.  I was shown how to perform this massage, and no it’s impossible to do it on yourself, so I have to teach Eric how to do this.  They suggest that I do this every day with a vitamin E lotion.   Oh boy!

i also got my bands back.  No more isometric exercises for me.  I am to go back to all of the old exercises starting with my red band and progressively moving up to green then blue.  I have no problem doing these exercises on my own so I have no doubt they will be pleased when I return.  I have to do them 2 times a day, so I will have to work them in before work and after.  I am going to be exhausted my first few weeks back at work.  Geesh…feeling slightly overwhelmed.  Might as well dive right in.  Monday is approaching quickly…. I see Dr. Greaney Friday so we shall see what he has to say.  I am gonna go just sit for a while. Wish me luck Friday.

Almost there…

Well ladies and gentleman….the time has come!  This is my last week as a lonely shut in.  I have PT on Wednesday and see Dr. Greaney on Friday to hopefully get cleared so I can get  to go back to work the following Monday.  I am still sleeping upright on the chase in the living room.  They recommended that I sleep this way for at least 2 weeks, (Thursday will be 2 weeks post surgery) but I am still pretty sore when I get up in the morning.  Anyone have any thoughts on this?  Is this normal?  When does this go away?

I am actually nervous to go back to work.  Not because I forgot how to do my job, but my unit is very fast paced and we don’t have many chairs to sit, so I am afraid my back is going to be pretty sore.  Goodness I sound like an old maid. Hah.  I wonder if I am more prone to fatigue in my back because my lats are now in my boobs.  Looks like Tylenol is gonna be my best friend for a while.  I am sure I am going to be exhausted for the first few weeks.  But I will get there.

Hah, I just had a funny thought…I wonder if I could actually make my boobs bigger if I did a lot of exercises that isolate my lats.  If they ever start to sag, maybe this will be a way for me to have a non-medical lift!!!!  I showed my physical therapist my pec moving trick and he laughed pretty hard.  It’s way funnier when DD boobs are involved instead of some meatheads pecs.

Nothing has really changed boob wise, but I will continue to post a pic every week so you guys can see the progression and healing process if you choose to do so.

I can’t believe that this is almost over!  God is so good!

Full Circle

This day, February 14 last year was the day I had my mortifying appointment with the Dr., resident, my husband, and my foul hoagie body odor.  Yes, I knew of my BRCA1 mutation, but that appointment is what got me to where I am today.  Last year was a lesson in many thing, patience being at the top of the list.  But it has all paid off.  Although I struggle with other aspects of my life, as we all do, this is one thing that I no longer have to worry about.  I faced this head on and smashed it into the ground.  I punched it in the throat.  See this little nugget?  Today is her 6th birthday. I must say that I love my dogs more than almost anything and they bring me so much joy.  They were there to love, snuggle, comfort, and make me laugh during this entire thing.  Happy birthday Vee!

image

It’s amazing what can happen in a year.  I will be forever changed for the better and am thankful that God has been watching over me.  My journey is far from over, but I can’t wait to see what this year brings.  I have learned so much this year about myself and about other people.  I was surprised at the people in my life that rallied behind me and supported me, and was surprised by some who I thought would step up but didn’t.  Everyone deals with life’s tribulations differently. I get that.  Thank you everyone for all of the help/prayers/love/support.  But thank you most of all to God and my family who were there to pick me up when I was down.

 

It takes time.

I don’t know if anyone has taken the time to look at the pictures that I have posted, but my sister Annie sent me a text that sums up how I am feeling right now.   She said ” They are probably like a new haircut.  You will like them more and more with time.”  And she’s right.  I by no means think that they look bad, I am just getting used to them and need to wait for them to settle.

I have physical therapy tomorrow so my Dad came down to take me.  I could probably drive myself there but I really have no idea how I am going to feel after.  Better safe than sorry.  Luckily my appointment is early in the morning so hopefully my Dad will be able to make it back home before we get pummeled by this snow we are to get.   I am so fortunate that I have a family that is able to help me so much.

Time.  Waiting.  Patience.  Things I don’t do well with, but I am trying.

Today was a tough day.  I feel like I got hit by a truck.  I must not have slept very well last night because I feel like I have been on the verge of a nap all day and feel as if I could sleep for 7 years. Lol. I fact I feel like I could go to sleep right now and be fine with that.  Maybe I will.

Tissue expander/ implant exchange surgery. Toughest post yet

So I unwrapped myself this morning around 1030, but I was all by myself so I called my sister Amy because I was nervous.  We face timed and she was with me while I took everything off.  Nerve-wracking?  Understatement.  They look good? Maybe? I think?  I’m not real sure how I feel about them yet.  I know it can take a few months for the implants to settle.  I am trying not to be too hard on myself, and keep in mind that they will look different in a few weeks. But I did it, I forced myself to unwrap them.  They look better than I thought they would, but I still just don’t know how I feel yet.  I felt like I was on the urge of a panic attack all day.  I got responses from “they look great! To they look ok.”  Thanks to Erin (one person who told me she thought they looked good) my sister-in-law who talked me through it. I started feeling very insecure and worried that I look deformed.  She listened to all of my worries and helped me so much.  Thank you Erin.  So, I will post pics of the results when I unwrapped today.  This is a very hard thing for me to show you because I don’t know how I feel about them.  But I told you when I started this that I would be as real as I can so I will post pics on my pictures page.

Nervous

Today is the day I am allowed to unwrap myself.  It’s also the first day throughout this process that I have been this nervous.  I was nervous one other time, when I was going to possibly get my drain out, but that doesn’t even hold a candle to how I am feeling right now.  I’m sitting here on the couch by myself contemplating if I should unwrap now or wait until Eric gets home.  I am literally sweating.  This entire experience ends (mostly) with this.  What if they look bad.  I know it takes a few weeks for them to settle, but I really want them to look nice. Who knows, maybe they will be fabulous.  I know it seems silly to be this nervous…but I just can’t seem to help myself.  I have physical therapy  on Wednesday, my dad is coming down to take me.  My next post op appointment isn’t until feb 21st.   Why do I have to be such a wimp.  I know I should just unwrap them and get it over with but I just don’t know if I want to do it while I am alone.  Pathetic, I know.

Tissue expander exchange surgery

image

That is all over! Whew. Easy easy easy surgery compared to the last time. As soon as I got there they took me back, got me ready and put me in a gown. Like my pretty purple gown? It’s a bair hugger gown. where I work, we don’t have handy dandy robes like this we just have the bair hugger blanket that you lay on top of a person. This robe had the blanket built in. They just hook a tube into an opening in the gown and it pumps hot air into it making you look like a sumo wrestler, but oh my goodness was it wonderful.

image
See, sumo wrestler/Michelin man. Soon after this picture was taken they wheeled me into the holding room. Here I was pretty popular. Apparently they all though I was humorous because we were all laughing.  Apparently they don’t get too many people that get rolled into the operating rooms that are happy.  Well, I was.  I was down right pumped up.  I had about 6 people asking me questions about my decision to have a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy, while asking me about my health history. Got a scopolamine patch to help with Post-op nausea and vomiting, I tend to get sick after anesthesia. Word of advice, if you are having surgery and have gotten sick after be sure to tell them beforehand so they can help prevent you from hurling after. The staff was awesome. Dr. Greaney came in to mark me, we made some adjustments on the right side and he wanted to be sure to mark them. Got 2 of versed as I was being wheeled into the OR, I think I giggled the entire time. They all were teasing me about my funny accent. Apparently I talk funny.  News to me.  I remember the mask and them telling me to take nice deep breaths. Then…BOOM, done! Only took 2 hrs. Definitely better than 12 hrs.

I could tell a difference right away. No more rocks on my chest. Nice squishy boobies!  That was a relief. For some reason after both of my surgeries, my arms ached real bad. This time it was only my right arm. If it was positioning I would figure both arms would have been sore.  Maybe it was the residual effects from the propofol? Who knows.  I was expecting my chest to hurt, not my arm.  Leave it to me to be abnormal.   I woke up pretty quickly this time and only spent about 45 mins in PACU. They weren’t joking when they said this surgery would be easier. I didn’t need any IV pain medicine. My chest didn’t hurt because I still don’t have much feeling there, but I just felt lighter literally.

They wheeled me into the ambulatory room and I started to have some pain in my armpits. This was to be expected. The nurse there took some vitals and got me a drink of ginger ale and some graham crackers.I slowly sipped on that and ate a bite or two of the crackers to be sure I could hold it down.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

image

Like my bird hair.  I know your jealous Jim.  You would expect something to fly out of that nest in the back. They called Eric back in to see me, and we sat a little longer, I walked myself to the bathroom and then changed back into my clothes. This surgery was a cake walk compared to the last. Let’s hope it stays that way. I had 2 Percocet and the sent me on my way.  The drive home was much better. Our my boobillow in place and before I knew it we were at the pharmacy.

I am wrapped up pretty tightly in an ace bandage which I am not allowed to take off until Monday. Still not sure the size of the implants it wasn’t written on my card.  I will have to ask at my post op appointment.

image

Beautiful huh?  My right arm looks like I got a partial spray tan. Hah. I am anxious to see what they look like. I know you can’t judge how they look right away because there is swelling and the implant needs to settle. So glad that is done. Got home and my mom had dinner for me. She left this afternoon and Eric has stepped up to help me out. I’m not supposed to lift anything, push, pull, or raise my arms above my head. So I am pretty limited. Oh well I am content to just relax. I have been getting up and have been moving around. I don’t want a blood clot or anything. Drinking lots of fluids to get rid of the crap in my body, plus it forces me to get up.

Last night was interesting. We had to stop at the pharmacy to get my antibiotic, muscle relaxer, and pain medicine filled. We made it 10 minutes before they closed, they filled them and we went home. No curb jumping this time. When we got home, Eric got my meds out and opens them and mentions that my pain medicine looked low. So he counted them, and I only was given 19 pills instead of the 30 I payed for.   Figures, something had to be difficult. Lol.  But since that was the worst issue I had, I cant complain.  So, I called CVS this morning and told them, they said that they would have to check the inventory and call me back. Well, no one called and Eric was going out to get some dog food, so I called back. The pharmacist put me on hold and counted their inventory and they were 10 pills over stocked, so she got them ready and E picked them up. Not sure where that 1 pill went but I wasn’t gonna argue over 1 pill.

The only complaints I have are that my throat is sore, from the LMA (special breathing tube) I had in during the procedure, and some right arm and armpit pain. Has your armpit ever hurt? Very strange feeling.

Got home and my mom had bought me the most beautiful orchid arrangement.
image

I have never seen them this color. She is so thoughtful.

I wanna end this post with a prayer I had heard from a guy named Phil Cano. It hit home with me.

Dear Lord,

Thank you for allowing me to live each day and thank you for sending the angel that saved me from harms way.  I am eternally grateful to him.  Thank you for the gifts you have given me.  Thank you for letting me enjoy life’s pleasures and to express them with others.  Thank you for my family and the friends I have made.  Please watch over them as you watch over me.  Thank you for any good that I may have done, I’m so sorry about the bad.  Help me to finish the race, help me to keep the faith.  I continue this life for you. Amen.

Thank you everyone for the love and support. It feels like I can breathe again!

 

Here we go

20140206-111614.jpg

So I was getting myself ready to go and the hospital calls and says that Dr. Greaney would like me to be there early, say 1100. Well, the call came in at 1030. I told the hospital that that was impossible because I live an hour and a half away and they said just to leave as soon I could. Stressful is an understatement. I was ready to go but there was car de-icing and other stuff to do. We are on our way now. I just need to get there. That’s all I need to do. My feet are soaked from trying to de-ice the car, but I don’t care. My toes could be falling off but as long as I can get there it doesn’t matter.
I must say the drive is beautiful. There is something absolutely mesmerizing about everything being covered in ice. Saved in its particular state at that period in time. One of the very few times in life when something is completely still, serene and can be seen in it’s beautiful form. A little nature eye candy for my trip.
Am I nervous. No. I am EXCITED. This has been a long journey thus far and this brings me one step closer to the end. Bring it on. I shall punch today in the face and be in the comfort of my phone in a few hours. Just want everyone to know that I am very much aware that all the glory in this situation, the skills of the surgeons, nurses, physical therapists, medical staff, and the sense of calm I have had all belongs to God. No honor should be taken from Him. He is the one masterminding this whole thing. Thank you God.
I shall post when I am able. Next time I post I will be over one more hurdle!

20140206-111558.jpg

Tissue expanders are almost gone…

I got the call today about when my surgery would be tomorrow. I was really hoping they would call and say “you need to be here at 0600″. Not the case. The lady calls and says…”we need you to be here at 1330.”
Crap.
Shoot.
What?
Really?
Seriously? 1330. Bleh. BUT… it’s actually happening tomorrow, so I guess I really don’t care what time it gets done just as long as it does. I CAN’T WAIT to get these rocks out of my chest. Yes, it could be worse, I am very aware of that, but I am WAY over tissue expanders. I would say I was over them about a month ago. But….doot do dooo!!!! Tomorrow is the day. Did I mention this is happening tomorrow? I am more worried about the commute into the city with all this crazy weather we have been having than the procedure. Almost there.

I pray that God blesses the hands of the doctors nurses and medical staff tomorrow. I know he will be with me the entire time. They keep telling me that this procedure is going to be a breeze compared to the last one. Let’s hope so. So please, shoot a prayer up, wish me luck, if you have the time. I would appreciate it!

Oh the lack of lats…

My back is so sore today.  I really have been trying not to complain, but the right side of my back under my shoulder blade up to the back of my neck is is a big knot.  I don’t know if I slept funny or if I am feeling the after effects of the physical therapy.  Tried moist heat, no go.  Helped for a few minutes.  Took some Tylenol so hopefully that will kick in.  I can’t take ibuprofen because I have surgery next week.  Right now I have a icy hot patch on the area and its helping.

Today was just one of those days.  I went downstairs to let the dogs out this morning and when I get down there an overwhelming smell of vomit hit me.  Apparently one of the dogs puked all over the futon but it must have been sitting there for a while because it was completely soaked into the cushion.  That is too heavy for me to lift, so it just is  sitting in the basement all vomitty like smelling ripe.  There is no cleaning that cushion so it needs to be thrown out.  Easier said than done.  Eric’s job for the weekend.   Also, our recliner is broken.  My dad and I tried to fix it but it is unfixable. This sucks because after my exchange I have to sleep upright.  Oh well. I can prop myself up on the couch.  I don’t wanna sleep in bed because I will most likely roll on my side and I doubt this would be ideal. I’ll figure it out.  We also had to take the dogs to the vet today.  I helped my dad load them up in the car, take them in and find out Vee needs more antibiotic, needs her leg wrapped and that Lola has an infection in her right paw.  She was really gnawing on her paw this morning and I looked down and between the pads of her right foot it was all red and bloody.  Poor baby.  Our vets gonna think that we don’t take care of our dogs, but they are my kids, and I treat them that way. I spend more money on them than myself.  While we are at the vet, I get a text message from Eric saying that he got his car stuck in the neighbors yard and he had to take my dad’s jeep to work and just left the car sitting in the yard. Awesome.  Which stunk for my dad because he was planning on going home right after the vet appointment.  My dad and I got the car unstuck and he got to go home once Eric got home from work.  So today was an interesting day.  Almost there, almost there…

And…

Got filled again today. I didn’t really pay attention to how much he put in, but I must say that my breasts are much more symmetrical now.  I will post a picture of them tomorrow.  I would like to tell you that fills get easier as you go, but actually it the opposite.  Now that I have more sensation, I feel like the fills are more uncomfortable.  I can feel more than just the fullness. BUT…hopefully today was my last fill.  I am SUPER PLEASED with how everything is going.  We talked about implant types and I opted for silicone.  I am not a candidate for a  tear drop shaped implant because of the size of my breasts to begin with ( and end with), they are for women with smaller than a C-cup.  Not me.  My bras look like infant hats. Hah.  So, I will have a smooth round silicone implant placed.  We talked about how much my back is aching and he explained that this is normal because your lats are a major muscle group that help with your posture and now that they are relocated to my breast the other muscles in my back have to compensate so he expects me to get sore.  He said just standing or sitting erect in a chair is a workout for me.  I also spoke with him about sleeping.  I have been having trouble lately because I am a side sleeper and when I wake up I have been sore.  So, I remedied  this by sleeping in the broken recliner.  I have been trying to convince Eric to get a new one, but i don’t think that is going to happen.  When I wake up from this position I can feel the soreness behind my nipple graft, but not on the outside because I still have no sensation there.  Dr. Greaney said I should be much alleviated once these hard expanders are out.  Today he filled the right side only.  He then said he was going to send the nurse in with the implant so I could get an idea of what they were like.   I was sitting in my room with the door shut and I hear them talking about sizes of implants.  The supply closet must have been right by my room, and I hear the nurse say, all I can find are 400’s and the other nurse says, well, what size do you need?   My nurse, Lisa, who is awesome by the way, said ” well I have Traci Rocco in there and Greaney wants to show her the implants.”  The other nurse Anna, who is nice as well kind of chuckles and says “you won’t find any of those in there…we don’t have 700’s” lol.  They all know me by name and know how busty I was before this started.  So Lisa comes back in and says ” here is a 400, your smallest implant will be a little over 700.  ( my right breast is larger than my right).  700?!?!?!?!?!?!?  Holy moley!   Best comment of the day…Julie says to me ” well hey if we are ever swimming together and I feel like I may drown, I’ll just swim over to you and you can keep me afloat”.  She is hilarious and witty and keeps me chuckling.  My mouth hit the floor when Lisa told me how big my implants would be and she laughed and reminded me that I do not have any natural tissue left and that the implant has to make up for that.   I asked Dr. Greaney to just fill me enough that I fit into my skin.  I can’t stress again how great this guy is.  He not once made me feel uncomfortable or tried to push me into something I didn’t want.  And for a person who embarrasses easy in situations like these that’s saying a lot.  I am so excited for my implant exchange.   He keeps stressing how much more comfortable I will be once these hard expanders come out. Expanders are no fun, but we’re not the worst part of the process so I must say I am blessed to have had in reality a small amount of pain in comparison to some things other people go through.   For example Lynn Curry’s (my moms best friend) mother,  is in large amount of pain right now and ended up having an amputation.  Please pray for Lynn and her mother and family today.  So, in reality, my pain was pain, but short lived and controllable.  i am thankful for that.  Others aren’t as fortunate.

Now I am at home in Reedsville for my moms birthday weekend.  Should be a nice relaxing weekend.  I can’t wait to see my little nugget nephews tomorrow, we got home tonight after they were in bed.  Hope  everyone has a wonderful day ahead of them and don’t forget to pray for Lynn’s mom, Lynn, and her fMily.  Even if you don’t know them please do.  God listens.

Good day.

Today was a good day.  First off I got to have breakfast with Pinder!  She suggested we go to The Tom Cat Cafe.  Never heard of it, but holy cow it was delicious.  My mom and I met her there around 9, and after reading their 6 page menu of yummy deliciousness we finally ordered.  It was so good to see Pinder.  She made us laugh the entire time.  Laughing is good for the soul.  Breakfast was soooooooo good.  Pinder, as she always does, went out of her way and got me a bag full of goodies.  As most of you know, I like owls, and she got me 2 owl pens, an owl shaped lip gloss, owl shaped hand cream, owl tissues, an Amazon gift card, three little wind up owls, 2 little owl notepads, a pretty glass owl ornament, little owl Dixie cups, and a quilted makeup bag.  All of this came in a cute re-useable owl bag.  AWESOME. Completely unexpected, but extremely nice.  Thank you Pindy!

After breakfast I had an appointment with the doc who referred me to the doctors in Philly.  I will be forever grateful to her for suggesting that I travel down there.  I could not be happier with the results and my doctors in Philly.  Dr. Strieb is the one who gave me the option and names if I chose to go that route.  She deserves some credit for her resources.  Thank you!!

After that appointment I got my hair done.  It felt so good to have my hair scrubbed.  I know I pretty much have full range of motion, but I don’t feel like I have gotten it really clean since my mom washed it in the sink a few days after surgery.  It was wonderful.

Then, a trip to target.  It was so nice to get out and just be able to do something because I wanted to, not because I had to.  It was so nice of my mom to drive my ass around all day!!! Thanks mom!  We had fun today.  And…..we finally finished the round puzzle.  Sorry Jill, it was the round one or the chili pepper one, and the chili pepper one looks hard, so we went the easy route.

i know it doesn’t seem like I did a bunch today, but let me tell you, for me it was a lot and I am sore.  My right side especially because of the extra fluid.  I tend to get sore on the outside of my breast and under my armpit.  It makes pulling things a bit difficult.  I am also just downright tired.  All of the walking around has made my back sore right in the center on either side of my spine down to my lower back.  I no longer have my lats back there for support, so I guess all my other muscles are getting a good workout trying to compensate.

Tomorrow I go back to Philly for another fill. I’m sure to be uncomfortable tomorrow, I’m still not feeling full relief from my fill on Monday.  Hopefully our trip into the city wont be too difficult tomorrow.  Wish us luck!

PT cancelled and no, I’m not upset

We got a ton of snow here last night, 8 or so inches.  Apparently, Philly got over a foot.  Can you imagine central Philly with over a foot of snow in negative degree weather?  It would be like driving down an ice luge.  We weren’t really looking forward to taking that trek, but we got ourselves up and ready to be out of the house by 8 am.  Luckily we were smart enough to snow blow and shovel last night.  Snow blowers are fun, especially when you can manually aim it to blast people. Lol.  Anyways, my appointment was at 11 So we got in the car to head to Philly and I got the brilliant idea to call and see if they were opening today.  Yes, it took me that long to think of this option.  We pull out of the driveway and I call.  5 miles down the road, I finally get through (nice hold music was playing) and a woman answers and says the office is closed for the day.  Winner!  I don’t feel bad, not one bit about this appointment being cancelled.  I loathe going to PT.  The therapist is awesome, but it hurts.  A lot.  I do however know that this is one service that I was provided throughout this entire experience that has done me the most good.  I had an entire muscle group relocated on my body.  I now have almost 98% of my normal range of motion.  The last 2% I feel will be obtained when I have a nice soft implant in instead of the tissue expanders.  I know I say how much I despise PT, but I am very thankful that I was required to do it.  If it didn’t hurt and wasn’t tough then I guess I wouldn’t need it would I?  I am happy that I do not have T-Rex arms for life.  We decided then to go out for breakfast.    At breakfast we found out that my mom has superpowers.  I mean, I always knew she had super powers, but she confirmed it.  She had the power to magnetize her silverware.  If she was one of the X-Men characters she would be Magneto.

Magneto

I am disappointed that I do not obtain this power. Lol.  She had me laughing so hard.  Contact, bounce, repeat. That’s what happens to my chest when I laugh.  It looks odd.  Anyway, I didn’t have PT, I have laughed a lot already, and the day is only half way over!  Hope everyone else is having a good day.

I feel like a water balloon

Yesterday was my session with Dr. Greaney.  Poor guy’s secretary had 45 booked appointments for him.  We had a long discussion about what needed to be done over the next two weeks so that I will be ready for my exchange.  he asked me to tell him what I thought about my breasts and how I was feeling overall up to this point.  I showed him the areas of loose skin and wrinkles on my right side and expressed the concern that my right breast was significantly smaller, and it seems as if the nipple graft that he has place is pointing downward.  I also noticed that I have much more swelling under my armpit  on the right side as well.  He listened to my assessment, re-looked and agreed.  He took a moment to feel the swelling under each arm and explained that when you have expanders in, they like to take the path of least resistance which, in this case is outward.  Because my right needs more filling, you notice the expander (swelling) more than on the other side.  He also explained that because my right breast was larger to start out there is more skin to fill, and that is why it seems that my nipple is pointing downward.  As my breast gets fuller, it will lift a long with the skin.  I told him that I just want my skin to be filled in.  He said I needed some more in my left breast but not much, and that we would be filling the right breast much more aggressively.  I got 60 mL in the left, and 90 mL in the right.  You can notice a difference in the right breast.  This time was a bit more uncomfortable because I have the sensation to the tops of my breast. I felt that needle going in this time. It wasn’t that bad.  The most uncomfortable part was that I could actually feel them expanding. Again overall not painful, just uncomfortable.  The part that you don’t think about is as the front gets bigger it pulls the skin on your back more taught.  This actually makes my scars on my back ache.   It’s hard to explain the sensation after a fill. Yes, you feel like you are wearing an inner tube made for a 3 yr old around your chest, but you also have a strange pain/ache at the insertion site.  The upper parts of your breasts are bulging, they look like water balloons.  The area under your arms and your armpits get sore from the new volume that has suddenly appeared, and you have a muscular constant ache in the front that shoots toward your back.  When you cough/sneeze/laugh/take a deep breath, they move and it’s an odd sensation.  It’s like a muscle contraction with a bounce at the end.  But, the end is in sight!  I have another fill on Friday, and probably next week as well.  but I am almost there and have come a long way.  AWESOME!  Pre admission testing today, if we can get there (it’s snowing like crazy) and PT tomorrow.  One day down, 4more to go… :)

Strap on your seat belt (with boob pillow) because here we go…

Trying to amp myself up for this week already.  I have an appointment every single day this week, and sometimes more than one.  It’s gonna be rough, but I am SUPER excited to get out of the house! I did manage to get the Christmas decorations down yesterday, but the tree is still in the house.  1.) I can’t carry it even with Eric’s help and 2.) it’s still alive and doing well.  I feel guilt that I had a living thing cut down for my aesthetic pleasure and then, while still alive just toss it out on the side of the road.  Plant murder. Hah.  Hippie maybe?  Maybe a little bit, but I would go more with guilt complex/environmentally aware.   It’s probably doing everyone in my house a favor by filtering the air.  If I had my way, I would keep it until it’s no longer kicking, but I have a feeling Eric is going to make me get rid if it soon.   Maybe next year I should go with something like this:

image

 

Then maybe I won’t feel as bad?  Who knows, anyways enough of my rambling.

My mom is on get way here right now.   She was in Pittsburgh visiting my sister and seeing a play.  My sister got her tickets for Christmas.  So now she is driving the whole way across the state to come help me out.  I am still not allowed to drive.  So she will be driving Miss Traci everywhere.  Nice?  Understatement.

Tomorrow we get to trek into Philly to meet with Dr. Greaney and I get expanded.  Because I am not yet filled back into my skin (sounds weird I know) I have a feeling we are going to have to go pretty aggressively this week.  Fun.  But, I all seriousness, it doesn’t hurt, it just feels tight (like a tiger) lol, no really…like I am wearing an inner tube meant for a 3 yr. old.  Trust me, I have felt worse.  But, I now have sensation back to the top side of my breasts where the ports are, so I’m sure it will be a little bit uncomfortable when he puts those needles in.  Nothing worse than an IV I am sure.  Tuesday I have pre-admission testing for my exchange on the 6th.  Thankfully, they are letting me do it here with my primary care physician, so it’s only 5 minutes away and the likelihood of traffic is basically 0 because I live in BFE. (middle of nowhere).  Wednesday I get to go back to PT.  I can’t complain because I got a week break, but I’ve been working hard here everyday.  Thursday is the busiest.  Meeting a friend, Pinder, for breakfast, have my GYN appointment, again so excited I can’t strand it, but I don’t have to have a breast exam so that awkward 5 minutes when someone is feeling you up and you have to make conversation will no longer exist.  I am excited to show my doctor what has been done because she is the one who referred me to these doctors in Philly.  Even though it’s a bit of a hassle to drive down there I am so grateful that she did.  Then I get my hair cut!  I can’t wait.  I know I have good range of motion but I feel like my hair hasn’t been really washed since my mom washed it in the sink. Gross right? I am really excited to get my hair scrubbed.  Then Friday its back to Philly for another expansion session.  Whew! I am tired just typing that.  So pray, keep your fingers crossed, wish me luck, whatever it is you do this week for me!

Resources page

I have finally posted a resources page!!! It took me forever to get everything together and it is by no means even close to all of the millions of resources there are, but these are ones I looked at frequently before my surgery.  If you are on the home page of my blog, the resources are in their own page.  It is listed as as a Resources tab at the top of the page.

If anybody out there has questions about the sites, just post and I will get back to you.  If you have questions as to why I chose the route that I did or anything about my surgery or recovery, please don’t hesitate to ask.  You will not offend me or make me feel bad, every question is valid.  I would love to tell you everything that’s in this head! Post!!! I just hope all of this helps somebody out there.

I had better rest up this weekend, next week is going to be a doozy!

It’s been a little

I haven’t posted in a few days because I have nothing really to tell you about.  I have this week off, my doctor is on vacation.  It’s hard because I have to see a plastic surgeon, and they are only in the office 2 days a week, Monday and Friday, the other days are operating days.  See, the breast surgeon only removed the breast tissue, the reconstructions are only done by plastic surgeons and they manage all of your drains/scars/expansions/medical management.  Sure, I could have seen one of the other two doctors in the office, but I am comfortable with Dr. Greaney.  That is important to me.  So I opted for the double pump.  Whew, a double fill next week, should be an interesting week.  I have been getting my resources page ready, I just want to make sure it is correct and legit before I post it.

I have been trying to get some things done around the house.  It takes me a while and I have to take breaks, but I feel productive.  I’m still not able to drive so I am home bound.  Erin got me the first three seasons of Dexter to watch while recovering and I’m not gonna lie, I get sucked into them.  I really need to take down the Christmas decorations… Cant do anything about the tree, a little over my lifting limit.

I have been having some trouble with muscle spasms.  My entire lat is now in the base of my breast, but they still function like they would if they were in their proper position. I think I may have already told you this.  When they cramp up, it’s like my boobs turn to rocks.  It sucks when it happens in the grocery store when you are with your dad and you have to go stand in the corner and work the knot out under your coat. People must think I’m nuts/ creepy.  They gave me Valium for this, but it messes with my head.  Hopefully on Monday I can talk about trying something different.  It hasn’t been as bad today, not sure why, maybe I didn’t do as much reaching above my head.

Sleeping is a bit difficult as well.  Gravity isn’t really your friend.  You can lay on your back, there is no flopping of anything, but I think my muscles work so hard to keep the expanders in place that I usually wake up sore.  It’s easier to lay at a 45 degree angle, but to prop yourself up like that hurts my lower back.  Last night I just said screw it and went down and slept on the recliner.  I am a side sleeper and sleeping at 45 degrees on your side isn’t very comfy.  The breast side you lay on feels uncomfortable and the opposite breast is fighting gravity. I just roll up a hand towel or wash cloth and place it between my breasts, or hug a body pillow.  That’s the best I can do.

And there are the dogs.  Vee is doing great!  Poor Lola.  Her ears are still hurting her.  The she has itched them so much that the tips of her ears have scabs on them, but dogs ears are so pliable that when she shakes her head, they crack and bleed.  I was walking down the stairs to the basement the other day and there was blood splatter all over the lower wall.  It looked like Dexter in my house! Poor baby….Eric is taking them to the vet tomorrow so maybe I will be able to tag along and get out of the house!

It’s the little things

It’s the little things.

It’s amazing how it’s the little thing that really make your day.  These are the things you tend to remember.  It’s that person going out of their way because the wanted to, it’s that person who took a moment to send a prayer because they wanted to, it’s that person who picked up the phone just to say hi because they were thinking about you, and it’s that person who posted something nice on your Facebook wall or sent you a nice pin on Pinterest.  I never really paid attention to the little things.  Well not consciously anyways.  This entire experience has proved to me that the little things matter.  The little things make up the big things.  I have really gotten to take a step back and pay attention to the little things…

a phone call from my brother Michael everyday

a second card in the mail this weekend from my co-workers in PACU just telling me to heal because they miss me at work

countless amount of cards from countless numbers of people

its the wonderfully beautiful pin that Julie Hamilton sent me on Pinterest that made me smile.

its the pictures from my brothers and sisters showing me the funny things that my nephews and nieces are doing, like fake tattoos and an elephant named earplugs

image     image   image     image

it’s the message on Facebook from my Aunt Kim telling me a funny story that explains no matter how silly the question, it’s been asked before and is valid.

its the card sent every single day from my Grandma that makes me smile

its Brock Stine who sent me the nicest email anyone has ever sent me

its my sister Annie who came to take care of me one weekend, and who always answers the phone when I need someone to talk to

its Lois Atwood who is my moms friend that doesn’t know me very well but came to visit me and see how I was doing just because she wanted to and prays for me always.

its my brother Patrick surprising me on Thanksgiving by driving up from Nashville

its my sister Amy, her boyfriend Mychal, and my brother Patrick coming to spend New Years Eve with me even though we weren’t doing anything special, just so I could have a fun night

its the many people who left encouraging messages on my blog cheering me on!   I love them

its the super fluffy robe from my Aunt Judy that made pinning my drains after a shower so much easier

its Julie Lurwick who continues to visit me even though I am really no fun

its the people like Kris Armstrong that have offered help and support from afar

its my sister-in-law Erin South who researched bras for me and recommended some

its people like Liz McElroy who has passed my blog on to her plastic surgeon friends so that they can experience from a patients perspective, who also with her other WOCN nurse Kersten sent me a beautiful Sabika breast cancer awareness necklace.

its the phone calls from La at work just checking in even though she’s going through a major health issue herself

its the very thoughtful gifts of things from Bev, Keri, and Julie to help me through my recovery

its the people who took the time to drive here to visit just because they wanted to see me

its all of the people who prayed for me because they loved me enough to do that

its people like Keri Sowers whom I haven’t seen since high school that follows my progress and leaves me wonderful uplifting messages on my blog.

its people like Vera who make little notes on my blog frequently that let me know she is reading and she cares

its my husband Eric that cheers me on everyday while I am doing my exercises, is patient with me because I am still slow, cooks dinner even though he doesn’t really know how and has been known to burn things (it was good),takes the time to talk to me when I am feeling anxious and reassures me that it will be ok, sucking it up and doing all the things I normally do because I can’t yet.  These are little things that to me Are BIG things.

its my Dad who came and spent countless hours doing nothing with me and driving me back to Philly (this is a BIG thing), who cooks dinner for me, who has breakfast and coffee waiting every morning when I get up,  who uses the snowblower to clear my driveway and sidewalks when we get 6 inches of snow

and it’s my mom.  This is a BIG thing and a bunch of little things all wrapped into one.  She was there every step of the way, taking care of me when I had a hard time taking care of myself, taking care of my dogs, sleeping on the couch for weeks because I had to sleep on the recliner just so she could wake up in the middle of the night to give me my medicine, the many,many trips to Philly even though it stressed her out, she cooked a month worth of meals to put in my freezer so dinner would be easy, the phone calls on a random day just to see how I am doing, and the prayers.

And it’s God.  He blessed the hands of the doctors and nurses that took care of me, he heals my body and soul, he is listening to the countless prayers that I have sent up even though I don’t deserve his Grace.  He listened to all of those who prayed for me.  He showed me that people are good and people take the time to show his Grace by doing the “little things”.

See, these are all little things, things that people have done, not thinking twice about doing them that mean so much to me.  It’s these “little things” that helped me get through this.  So, you see, the little things aren’t little things at all.  They are H.   U.   G.   E.  

Thank you everyone.  There are many,many other people who have done “little things” for me that I have not mentioned, but please know I know who you are and I appreciate your love and support and am thankful.  Oh so very thankful.

 

 

 

This made me chuckle

I did NOTHING today.  Ok, so I woke up laid on the couch, took a 4 hr nap, did my exercises, and then cleaned the blood splatter off the wall that I somehow totally overlooked for the past week after Vee cut her leg. Oh, I put together a 500 piece puzzle and was on Pinterest.  This made me chuckle and I wanted to share.  I love clever hilariousness.

image

Questions

A lot of people that I have talked to say that they haven’t seen any pictures on my site.   When you get to the home page, where you are now, you will see different hyperlinks at the top.  One says home, one says about me, one says my story, and the last says Pictures (very graphic, if you have a weak stomach maybe you shouldn’t look).  That is where I post all of the surgical pictures.  Some people may not want to see my anatomy, I respect and understand that, therefore I put them in their own space.  I add to that page frequently, so just keep checking and scrolling down.

Speaking of questions, I always have a multitude of questions for Dr. Greaney when I go see him.  I see him once or twice a week.  How can one person have so many questions?  Who the hell knows, but I sure do.  I even surprise myself with the amount of questions I have, but I have always been that way I guess.  I like to learn and understand even if most of it seems like commom sense to others.  I type them as I think of them on my iPhone notepad and when I walk into his office before he does an exam or an expansion he asks to see “the notepad”.  He chuckles at some of my questions,  but takes me seriously and answers all of them, no matter how silly they may be.  I wish I would have saved all of them but I can remember a few…

1.  I have metal ports with a squishy center ( like a Port-A-Cath) in each breast.  I asked ” If I have to go through a metal detector, am I going to set of the alarms?”  He just kinda looked at me odd and said “In all of my years of working as a plastic surgeon, no one has ever asked me that question, but it’s a valid one.  And no, you won’t need a card to carry, if you go through a full body scanner they will see them, but when they pull you into the room all you have to do is pull up your shirt and they won’t ask anymore questions.” I thought that was funny.  So I’m either stupid for coming up with that question, taking this waaaaaay to seriously, or am a superior question asker.  I like to think the latter.

2.  As most of you who follow my blog already know I had a 3 inch section of hair missing from the back of my head after the surgery.  For those of you reading for the first time, it was the start of a pressure ulcer, check it out on my pics page.  So, one of my questions that day was “Dr. Greaney, did you have to shave my head for neuro-monitoring during the procedure? I have a three inch section of hair missing and I am a little bit curious why.”  He laughed at me and said no, I think he thought I was losing my shit, but I pull out my handy dandy iPhone and show him the picture.  I took (and take) pictures of EVERYTHING.  His face got red, like he was angry, gets his gloves on and looks at my head.  He said “Holy Crap, that is the start of a pressure ulcer! This is ridiculous, this should have never happened!”  He turned around, picked up the phone and called head of anesthesiology and had a few words with them.

3.  I ask the vain questions like “Will there always be hair on my nipples?”,  “Why is my right boob smaller than my left?”   “How many mL’s are in them now?”  “What can I do to help with my scaring?”  Yeah, I totally ask the vain questions. LOTS OF THEM.

4.  But then I ask questions like “Can I cut my Valium dose down? It’s not making me feel great emotionally and I don’t think I need this big of a dose.  Can I strictly use it as a PRN if I have a spasm.”  He advised me to cut my dose in half for 2 weeks, then use it as a PRN.

5.  L.      O.    T.     S.    AND.   L.       O.        T.        S.        AND.          L.          O.          T.           S.    of questions.

Dr. Greaney is awesome.  Never once has he rushed me, he takes me seriously, and he can joke around and just have a person to person conversation with me.  Never ever in my wildest dreams would I ever have thought I could have a normal conversation, feeling comfortable, with a complete stranger (well not now) with no shirt on.  Boobies hanging in the wind (well they don’t really hang, but you get my point) Heck, he knows more about my boobs than I do, he made them!  I AM SO HAPPY HE IS MY DOCTOR.  I can’t say it enough.  He is good stuff, a good soul that God blessed with some crazy good surgical skills.  Same goes for Dr. Lazar who was the breast surgeon.   Top notch.

One of these days that I have a little time, I’ll post a resources page for all of those who are interested to learn more.  I should have done that by now, but recovery is hard.

But, I stumbled across this picture today, has nothing to do with boobs or surgery or reconstructions, or cancer, it just made me smile.  My nephews, and G would think this is awesome.

Turtles

I feel like a inner tube, calm your tits

I got double pumped yesterday.   I had a conversation with my plastic surgeon about my fears of not being able make it back to work when my FMLA runs out on Feb 4th.  It seemed far fetched to me that we could get me completely expanded, have an implant exchange, recover, and get back to work by that time.  My gut was correct.  He said that realistically, he would be able to get me back to work 2 weeks after that feb. 4th date.  In order to do this he needs to be more aggressive with my expansions.  See, we are behind in the first place because my right lat drain kept dumping out fluid.   Normally a drain is in for 3-4 weeks, (All of my other 3 drains were removed in that time frame) but my right lat drain didn’t want to cooperate.  It stayed in for 7 weeks.  Then, after that was removed I developed a large “boob” on my back (seroma).  Who knew I would go in and pay for two boobs, but come home with 3! Hah. having that drained was interesting. Boy oh boy am I glad I couldn’t feel anything because you could see through that needle end to end. Bleh.  Eric almost passed out and he was on the opposite side,  it made me chuckle.   Anyways…that whole ordeal delayed my expansions which is what has delayed my retune to work.  So, yesterday instead of getting expanded with 60 mL’s in each side, I got 100 mL’s on each side.  I felt like I was squeezed into an inner tube.  It felt like if you threw me in the river I would float.  But, that surely isn’t the case because right now I am carrying over 400 mL on each side.  I would sink.  I am walking around with almost a full liter on my chest.  I know, i know, that seems like a huge amount, but trust me, I am not going Pam Anderson’s first boob job size.  Remember, they took all of my breast tissue, so unlike a normal breast augmentation, I have to make up for that tissue that normally sits on top with fluid.  I am only being expanded out to where they fit in my skin where there are no more wrinkles or loose skin.  For me, that will probably end up being 600-650.  Remember, I was a 36 D before.  So from here on out, we are being as aggressive as my body will allow.  I have a week break to allow my body to adjust to the extra volume and see how I do, then I will be expanded on Monday and Friday of the next week.  Sounds like fun right?

So I was nervous about this while being over my FMLA time because of my job.  FMLA protects my job and holds it for me.  I was worried that work would be upset with me for going over my time.  I am an idiot for thinking that.  I luckily have the 2 great managers and a whole team of coworkers who are so supportive.  I spoke with my managers today and their only concern was that I was taking care of myself and would recover fully and appropriately.  Whew! Weight off my shoulders.  God is good.

My implant exchange is on February 6th.  I can’t wait!   These expanders are super hard.  I am almost there.  I just can’t wait to get these rocks out and have some nice squishy silicone put in.

i have PT tomorrow.  Woooooohooooooo!  Yet again I am so excited.

imageThis is how excited I am.

 

I have been reading a lot

I have lots of time in between the exciting schedule I have that I explained in my last post, and my current topic of interest is clean eating. It seems many people lately have this form of cancer or that form of cancer and it’s happening to people younger and younger. I was watching an article on a girl who is 23 and had breast cancer, had a mastectomy reconstruction, radiation, and chemotherapy. 23 Holy crap! That is seriously young. Apparently she had kept her cell phone in her bra and it was precisely that area where the tumor was. They can’t confirm that the cellphone did or did not cause the tumor, but it really got me thinking about my everyday activities and things that I could do to make myself healthier. This poor girls cancer has spread and now she is fighting another battle, my prayers go out to her and her family. I can’t even begin to imagine. As a lot of you know, I work in the PACU (post anesthesia care unit) and I work with people who are just emerging from the anesthesia after surgery. This year I cannot tell you the number of 30 something women who came in and had to have surgery/chemo/radiation for breast cancer. That is me! I am 30 something. What are we doing as a society that is causing cancer to ravage us? I was listening to Howard Stern (I know, very controversial, but he is an intelligent man with a lot of intelligent things to say if you weed through the rest) and his co-host to his radio show, Robin Quivers just had a year from hell. She had a form of uterine cancer that produced a large tumor. We have listened to Howard Stern for years and have heard of all the “new fad” things that Robin does to try and make herself healthier. She became a vegetarian, but she talks about her clean healthy eating style and says that the doctors told her that the rest of her body was in such good health that it helped her pull through and attributed to her recovery. It really got me thinking about all the crap we dump into our bodies. Margarine? One molecule away from plastic? That can’t be good. Using plastic bottles and containers that aren’t BPA free. That can’t be good. Meat and dairy that have been fed hormones and genetically modified diets? Do you know how much pus is in you dairy because of the vigorous milking procedures? Gross. Aspartame? I have read NOTHING good about it. NOTHING. We are what we eat, and holy crap, I need an overhaul on my dietary habits. So this is a goal for me this year. I will not become a vegetarian, I like to eat meat now and then, but I will be trying to eat clean. I am gonna try and remove processed, enriched, chemically altered foods from my diet. It’s gonna take a while to get there, and will need to be a thought in my mind all the time. Hopefully this time next year I will be able to say I am a clean eater. I have been reading a lot from a fellow word press writer, her site is cleaneatingintexas.worpress.com She is very knowledgable and if you wanna check it out its a good place to start. That ends my rant for the day.

My Dad is on his way here to be here with me this week to take me to my Dr.’s appointments. I got a call from him a little bit ago that said he had to pull over because his windshield wipers froze. We are getting freezing rain here now so pray that he makes it safely. I LOVE it that my parents come to help me out. It is AWESOME. They are AWESOME. I am truly blessed.

I am currently reading a book (yes,you read that right, it’s not on my kindle) that my grandmother gave me for Christmas. It’s called Grace Happens Here by Max Lucado.  Very nice, easy read, but there was a little blurb I read today that made me remember that this recovery process is gradual and it’s not gonna happen all at once like I sometimes seem to want it to.  This is the blurb:

You are a trophy of God’s kindness, a partaker of his mission.  Not perfect by any means but closer to perfection than you’ve ever been.  Steadily stronger, gradually better.  This happens when grace happens.

I know this is talking about ones spiritual strength but I took it literally and applied it to my current situation.  Hopefully both spiritually and physically I will be steadily stronger and gradually better.  Thank you for the book Grandma! I love you!

p.s. the boobs are doing great!

Fight like a girl

I was worried about today and staying home by myself for the first time (I am very capable) but Eric rearranged his schedule so he could work from home. Thank goodness he did. Thank you so much Eric. Vee cut her leg and we couldn’t get it to stop bleeding, I eventually had to wrap a hand towel around her leg and wrap it tight with tape) and apparently Lola has a raging ear infection. We spend a large chunk of our day at the vet. Vee has to wear this stupid collar and take an antibiotic and Lola has to have a medication put in her ear 2x a day And she is quite the diva. You put that stuff in her ear and she runs a circle around the downstairs of the house, stops in front of you, snorts, then flops herself down on the couch and rolls around grunting for a few minutes. This happens about 3 times and then she’s ok. It’s super funny, hopefully I can catch it on video. Poor baby Vee. This collar she has to wear is ridiculous.
Poor vee
I’m glad they didn’t have to put a collar like that on me after my surgery.

I am feeling more settled now today, my anxieties are relieving. God is good. I am able to do a lot more, and I am feeling pretty good. Sure, there are those days when I am sore, but this is to be expected. I am still taking Valium for my muscle spasms but I cut my dose in half (2.5 2 times daily) because I think the side effects are causing me some emotional issues. I don’t struggle with anxiety and depression on a normal basis so those chemicals and pathways in my brain aren’t mixed up. Yes, Valium is used for muscle spasms, but it is mainly used for anxiety and depression. I think it was having the opposite effect on me. I spoke with Dr. Greaney about my need for this medicine and he told me to continue for a few dats after my seroma drainage but if I felt ok to take half for a few days and then none. Unless I was having spasms. I am doing great so far with half the dose. It’s those little things that make you see how you are improving.
I did discover a new talent today. Apparently even though my lat muscles are no longer located in the normal place (they make up the base of my breast) they still function in the same way that they normally would. For example, when I twist off the cap to a water bottle, my boobs flex. It’s the weirdest sensation, but it’s hilarious at the same time. I feel like Arnold Schwarzenegger very time I open a bottle. Lol. I can beat any man in a pec flexing competition any day of the week. Hah.
Thank you to all of you who prayed for me for being overwhelmed, and thank you to all of you who pray for me just because you do. If means more to me than any gift or treat anyone could give me. Thank you all.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! I am excited that 2013 is over, it was a very tough year for me in many ways. Leave the past behind…onward. So yesterday was Eric and I’s 4th anniversary! Yay us. We had an exciting day of PT in Philly, a trip to the grocery store (sorry, no Bed Bath and Beyond, we didn’t have the time hah), then I came home and took a nice 4.5 hr nap. It was awesome! I had to get up because my sister Amy, her boyfriend Mychal, and my brother Patrick came to celebrate the New Year with us. I have seen Pat more in the past 2 months than I have in the past 2 years! I am not very exciting the day of PT or the day after but it was nice of them to come and entertain Eric and I for the holiday! Eric and I rang in the New Year talking about how we didn’t think we would be celebrating the New Year attending Dr.’s appointments. We we’re hoping to wait to have to to that until we are old and grey, but hey, it is what it is. We have decided we will celebrate our anniversary when I’m feeling better. So to everyone out there who is reading this, Happy New Year and I hope that this year allows your wildest dreams to come true. Thank you God for getting me through 2013.

Another day down.

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.

jp's

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.

Relief

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.

image

 

4:36 am

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

image

Hot pink socks and neon Nikes

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:

www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/BRCA

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.

Glad you thought of that…

I have great friends.

great.freakin.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.

  • 2 new pairs of button up p.j.’s
  • a button up sleep shirt
  • slippers
  • bath gloves (touch yourself and your clean. Stellar)
  • 2 cans of spray deodorant.no hoagies here!
  • a bunch of wife beaters, I’m probably gonna feel like I was beat
  • spray on lotion
  • cottonelle wipes and baby wipes.  (Gosh I hope I can wipe my own ass)
  • a back scratcher ( maybe I can rig up something with this and the cottonelle wipes…hmmm ;))
  • a long handled loofah side note…I love this word. Loofah.looooofah.
  • a super soft comfy blanket (in my favorite color, white)
  • a 4lb bag of candy corn.  I have a serious problem with candy corn, it’s like crack for me. I just can’t say no.  12 step program here I come!
  • super soft socks.  This is gonna be a big issue.  I hate not having socks on. I have been practicing putting them on. but, if I can’t, they bought me…
  • febreeze to spray on my week old crusty socks.  They thought of everything!!
  • chap stick (EOS and Burt’s bees.  My favorites)
  • hand sanitizer
  • a box of individual MiraLAX…nothing like a group of nurses to be concerned about your b-hole! Hah
  • little bottles of body wash because it will be hard to hold big bottles of things.
  • candy…candy…did I say candy?   I’m not a big chocolate fan, but could live on fruity candy like starburst and skittles.  They are fruit right?
  • an electronic toothbrush.  Why didn’t I think of this?
  • Mouthwash.
  • Toothpaste ( I am sensing a trend here. No Dragonbreath here)
  • aquaphor
  • gold bond itch cream
  • small cans of Perrier.  i love this stuff and I drink it like it’s going out of style.
  • coconut water tetra packs.  Another one of my weird obsessions.
  • and a bunch of packs of cinnamint gum. Who needs to brush their teeth when they have all that delicious freshness in a stick?!  Kidding…or am I?
  • and last, but certainly not least, a hot pink and black leopard print GoGo Pillow.  It’s three pillows in one.  It’s multifunctional.  It is hideous.  Hideously awesome.  They get me, they really,really get me.  This pillow proves it.  It’s comforting that my favorites understand and share in my humor.

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.”

MAD.LOVE