Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pecs/breasts of steel!

You know how they have exercise regimens for "Abs of Steel" & "Buns of Steel"? Well, I have a regimen that I DO NOT recommend for 'Pecs/breasts of Steel'! You should see the ripples when I flex my muscles... Not a pretty sight! ;-)

I am so embarrassed & you guys are the only ones I'll admit it to... Yesterday, when the pediatricians office told me the kids appointments weren't until today I was sure they were yesterday. Well, it turns out they WERE supposed to be today! The reminder on my phone went off this afternoon! I don't feel too bad b/c I KNOW I got a phone call from them Monday telling me the appointments were on Tuesday. However, it is pretty embarrassing regardless!

Had a day w/ the kiddos today. I pushed the big stroller up to mom's w/ Rachel in it. For some unknown reason I can apparently feed Lukas (my nephew) better than my mom, so that was my 1st order of business. Another unknown reason kind of thing is that my mom can make Rachel quiet down when she won't even begin to respond to me! So that was one of mom's tasks! Otherwise we had a good time playing outside once the big-kids woke up from their nap.

Although I'm still pretty much hating the foobs, the pain is mostly going away. Tuesday I found a couple of dresses with my mother-in-law for Easter... Now the big decision is which dress makes me look the slimmest and disguises the foobs best. My mom and Abby (niece) have their favorite. I'll have to ask Andrew next. I found out really quickly after going through my closet that one of the biggest differences between real breasts & these foobs I have for now is that real breasts have a certain amount of compress-ability. Even if a top is a bit too small, real breasts can compensate by spreading out. However, my breasts of steel are always the same. The implants are supposed to be quite a bit more like real breasts, so hopefully I'll be happier w/ them.

Speaking of the implants, I emailed both my plastic surgeon and the gynecologic oncologist offices last night. It looks like I'll be free to have my combined surgery sometime in early July. The gyn-onc is actually available starting in June (she's on maternity leave until then), but I'd rather be not in post-surgery pain for my birthday. Of course, I could try to schedule the surgery for early June & hope the pain is gone by my b-day and have more 'normal' foobs. However, from what I've read it can take months for even the implants to feel more normal, so I think I'm going to wait until after my b-day! I'll be 29 this year... If I have the surgery on the day I want, it'll be almost exactly a year (just needs one more day) from my diagnosis. That means I'll have started & hopefully mostly finished this journey in a year! Its been a long one, but I'm making it. Thanks for all the support guys!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Reconcile yourself

Well, today I rested. I still don't feel great, but I guess maybe I'm not as bad as I was. Mother Nature is definitely taking her pound of blood from me though! I met w/ my Creighton Instructor today & even though I'm limited for how long I'll be doing this, it is nice to know the information so I can spread the word! We also went to the Sacrament of Reconciliation tonight. It was Andrew's first one. I tend to avoid this Sacrament b/c I have too much pride to tell another human my faults and weaknesses. However, tonight's Confession seems to have made me feel better.

What a wonderful thing. It is nice to know that even though we have sinful natures, we are always allowed access to the Sacrament of Reconciliation to reconcile with God and beg His forgiveness. While it may seem possible (no doubt easier) to do this one-on-one with God, adding in another human as a 'stand-in' for God (as well as a human who's been there done that & can give advice) gives the whole reconciliation aspect new meaning. You must first humble yourself before you can truly admit fault. You must first humble yourself to discuss your faults. The courage that it takes to do this can only come from God. The ability to discern your faults is a sign of a developing conscience. Having a 'stand-in' for God allows you to understand that this is a step forward and to ensure that you don't go too far. In other words, the Sacrament of Reconciliation uses the priest (the 'stand-in' for God) to help you mend your relationship with God through humility, courage, and conscience. I don't think its truly possible to do that on your own...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

My apologies & appreciation!

I'm sorry for the downer post yesterday. I was feeling really down. I think it worked out ok today though. I'm still not thrilled w/ my new body, but I have a little bit of a better understanding right now of 1) why I felt that way last night & 2) that even if *I* hate my body, no one else sees it like I do. Andrew (and lots of others) were very sweet to me last night! I really appreciate it.

I'm still feeling bad (hurting a lot) right now, so I'm actually going to send both the kiddos to my mother-in-law tomorrow. That's a first EVER! Hopefully I'll feel better by Tuesday - they both have doctor's appointments.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

HATE my 'new' body

I guess I should say part of what started this was that even my 2 year old son, when he accidentally saw my new breasts said 'balloons' and kept staring with a quizzical expression on his face. I'm 5 weeks post BM w/ expanders filled to 700cc's. I look so artificial its horrible. I hurt too. I just want to cry. I HATE the way I look right now. I've never really been in love w/ my body, but at least I knew it was mine & God gave it to me. I had a decent body prior to this (well, b/4 this last pregnancy since I was dx during pregnancy). I was 5'6" about 140 lbs, 34DDD/36DD chest, 28-29 waist, and 38 hips. I didn't have quite the perkiest boobs b/c I had a lot of under-arm breast & nursed for a full year in 2008, but they were decent looking. I had a flat stomach (that's why I wasn't eligible for TRAM like I wanted). Heck, I was 20 wks pregnant & didn't look pregnant at all...

I've never had a whole lot of self-confidence, but these expanders are ruining what little I have... I know they're only temporary, but I just can't imagine the implants looking that much better. My body is shaped to have under-arm boobs (my ribs are *very* narrow and kind of cave in at my chest). I'm asking the PS to see if he can't put the implants a bit closer to my breast-bone, but since I kept my nipples, I'm not sure he'll be able to do that w/o a lot of implant being under my arm.

I don't typically swim much (there are some years I don't put on a bathing suit at all), but I'm planning a trip to see my grandfather on St. George Island, FL this fall (after I get my implants). With the scars under my arms, the *huge* indentation on the left side right where my arm-pit meets the breast (where my tumor was), and foobs, I just don't know that I'll be able to over-come my self-consciousness. What kind of bathing suit covers those scar areas, covers the indentation, disguises the foobs & still looks like I'm a normal human?

Actually, I've never really been self-conscious about my breasts b/4. I've always wanted to hide my legs, so I'm more likely to wear a bathing suit top w/ capris or something... Now I'm paranoid about both. :-( In the hot-humid KY summers I generally wear tank tops all the time - even to work (they're just the dressier type). With my new build I don't think I'll be able to do so. At least now at my job there are some other women instead of just guys... Although I don't know if that's truly better or not.

I know I should realize that this is just temporary. The implants will look better than these expanders. However, there's nothing that can be done for the scars and indentation (there's a moderate one on the right too). Plus I'm afraid that since implants can't fill up all the areas where breast tissue used to be (like below your collar-bone & beside your breast-bone), I'm just going to look weird. Until this last fill I guess it wasn't as obvious to me how foreign I look. I was focusing more on the feel. I guess I'm kind of getting used to the feel, but now the look is bugging me.

I also know that I should just be happy to be alive and cancer-free. I am - trust me. I count my blessings every day - starting w/ my little miracle baby, Rachel. My husband is wonderful (even when he's not behaving that way ;-) and a beautiful 2 year old. I have a wonderful family and an extensive (more-so than I ever realized) network of friends. I am truly blessed. Its just that sometimes I feel blessed & cursed at the same time. Sometimes the bad overshadows the good in my mind. This is one of those times.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Fill 'em up!

Well, I had my last fill today. I think I'm up to 700cc's - that's almost a liter - on each side! They look *really* huge & fake like I've got melons under my skin! I guess if someone asks to see my melons, they won't be talking produce! ;-) He was also pleased with the progress of my right side tissue. I'm set to go back to work April 15th. He also acknowledged that these last couple of fills are usually the most painful. However, he as nice enough to give me some medicine for it! I don't have to go back to see him for another 2 weeks! :-)

Since Andrew is still under duress from his kidney stone, my dad & I had the day together. Its not often that we get to spend much time one-on-one. I'm a mamma's girl at this point, I guess. Anyway, we spent the whole trip talking about this & that. After my appointment we went out to eat (Olive Garden - yummy) and then to the Liquor Barn (ooh-la-la)! Then we talked the whole way back too! It was a pretty great day!

Well, going back to work April 15 seems so far away, yet its so close! The worst part about going back to work is how attached I've gotten to being w/ my kiddos so much. Its also going to be difficult just to get proficient again. My job (Forensic Biology) has people's lives in the balance, so I can't be off my game or make silly mistakes. We have a lot of redundancy and review, but we also require stringent proficiency proofs. Another down side of going back to work is that I still have some time donated from the wonderful folks that make up the State of KY - KSP. They've kept us alive during this time of strife by donating their own sick time to me once I ran out. Once I return to work, they get their time back. However, my journey will not be finished yet. In 3 more months (or so) I'll be having the 2nd surgery for my reconstruction as well as a complete hysterectomy and oophorectomy (uterus, ovaries, & fallopian tubes removed).

This last part isn't 'required' at this point, but it is a seriously good move in my opinion. Removal of these organs, while making me sterile, will also reduce my chances of getting either breast or ovarian cancer again. My grandmother died at 58 from ovarian/breast cancer. Her mother was even younger at 42. The 'rules' indicate that you should begin closer screening for these cancers about 10 years prior to your youngest relative's death. For me that would be 32. However, considering I have already had breast cancer, I'm worried I'm going to beat them at ovarian cancer as well. Those 4 years of fertility(between my current 28 and 32) are also really limited to 2 because the doctors indicate that pregnancy w/n 2 years of chemo can cause serious bleeding in the mother, miscarriage, and horrible birth defects. There's also no guarantee that my eggs survived the chemo undamaged. So for my peace of mind and health, we (Andrew & I, along w/ my doctors) have decided to get these offending organs out as soon as possible.

I would *love* to have more children (please no donations as of now though). However, I would much rather live for the ones that I already have. Ovarian cancer (OC) is *much* more difficult to detect early than breast cancer (only 20% of OC is detected early). The 10 year survival rate for OC is 39%. I got this information from the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. Of course, it also indicates that the median age of getting OC is 63. However, I'm not sure how my gene mutation (BRCA1) affects that. Nor am I sure how my young age of BC affects that age either. To my logic, if I got BC early, then it only stands to reason that I'll get OC early too. So even as awful as my doctors make surgical menopause sound, I'm convinced I'm making the right decision.

Back to work... This time literally. The recovery time for both my exchange (expanders to real implants) and the hysterectomy is 6 weeks. Combining the surgeries together makes this a one time shot. However, I'm afraid that I'm not as sympathy inducing now that I'm not pregnant w/ cancer. Plus, technically once I had my breast tissue removed, I became a breast cancer survivor. Therefore, I'm unsure if people will feel the same pull to donate their hard-earned sick time to me. However, I am the bread-winner in our house-hold at the moment and I also am the one that has our health insurance. If I miss a pay-check then we have to come up w/ health (and cancer) insurance premiums out of pocket. So far, that's not happened, but with all our expenditures w/ my surgeries, chemo, trips to Houston, medications, trips to Louisville, etc our Donation/Benefit account (Thank you to everyone that contributed!!!! :-) as well as our Health account (through my insurance) is empty or very nearly. I won't have time to build up much sick time in the 2-3 months b/c I doubt I'll be physically capable for a while of extended hours (over-time). I do accumulate some sick and vacation time per month, but there are going to be some doctor visits in that 2-3 month period that I'll have to use this time.

For what its worth - this was not supposed to be a downer of a post. However, since I use my blog to express my feelings, worries, and emotions, that seems to be what's happened. I'm also not trying to drum up more donations or anything. Its just that I think a lot of people think that if you have insurance you're covered financially for something like this. That's not true. Cancer treatment is very expensive - especially if you seek out the best in the profession. Even our cancer insurance policy (American General) is doing very little to *really* allay the costs of treatment. Its not like the AFLAK commercials make it seem. Yes, they give you some money, but you wait & wait for it and it is limited in several ways. For instance, just my 1st visit to Houston for testing cost over $10,000. However, our cancer policy only paid out a very small fraction of that. My surgery cost about $64,000, but my cancer policy only pays $2000 for bilateral mastectomy (there are some other additional monies that are paid out for the hospital room, etc - however, they don't come anywhere near the true cost of the experience). Again, I'm not complaining or expecting further donations/sympathy/etc. I'm just trying to make people aware.

Even though the cancer policy isn't as easy as the commercials make it seem - it is very worthwhile. It does help to have a little bit of money come in here & there to help out. Sometimes its too little too late (ie you've already overdrawn your bank account several times paying household bills as well as medical ones), but overall, its some money that you don't have to come up w/ yourself. Our agent has been great at filing claims for us and generally doing everything but go with us! I'm also not really trying to sell cancer insurance to any one.

Well, since I'm such a Debbie-Downer, I'm going to sign off now... Have a blast!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Still hanging in there...

Well, Andrew is still hanging in there - or should I say his kidney stone is still hanging in there somewhere... :-( He's not in terrible pain, but he does try to keep ahead of it. This is day #2 of him not being in the shop, which is hurting business I'm sure. He even has one guy's vehicle all torn down (he was waiting for parts), but he called the guy & explained. Guys have WAY more sympathy for one another w/ kidney stones (and most other illnesses I've found) than girls do for each other or guys do for girls. I wonder why that is? I mean, most women that I know LOVE to tell a pregnant woman (especially a first-timer) how horrible labor is. If the woman is a 2nd (or multiple-timer) they tend to not get *as* many horror stories, but then it becomes a comparision - mine was worse than yours, etc. Anyway... Just an observation. I try to be the opposite. Both my labors were easy as were the pregnancies (well, if you discount the cancer in the middle of this last one). So I tell *every* pregnant woman that wants to know (and probably some that don't) that it *is* possible for pregnancy, labor, & delivery to be easy - even the 1st time!

The foobs are *still* sore from that last fill. So far today (although I haven't checked since I put the kids to bed) my scab has stayed dry all on its own! Yippee!!! It hasn't gotten pulled up or anything. I even wore Rachel in my HugaMonkey sling while we were shopping. Before you can even think it - yes some slings have been recalled. There is a VITAL difference in those slings & this one (and many others out there). The sling that I use (and the one my sister-in-law Laura uses - PeanutShell) comes in various sizes for the mother's size. This keeps the baby higher on the chest (ie the bottom and feet are around the waist, nothing else is or your sling is too big & you need a different one). Mine also has really light fabric. I can feel every squiggle and wiggle that the baby makes (this sling saved my hiney when Simon was little b/c he was so needy)! The positioning also keeps the babies face visible at all times without having to move material (at least mine does). I have absolutely NO doubts about the safety of my sling & will be a proud user until Rachel gets too big!

Anyway, back to the foobs... They're hanging in there. Actually I've noticed - at least to my feeling - that they are kind of hanging more... I feel like they're sliding down my chest. I'll ask him tomorrow at my appointment whether that's true or not. I've pretty much lifted myself from all my restrictions at this point - I'm not sure if I was supposed to or not, but no sense crying over spilled milk. My main restriction is when they start getting sore and/or my arms are getting tired/sore. Right now I'm craving the single Lortab I'm allowing myself per day. My incision lines are hurting, the foobs hurt deep down (inner chest wall), my arms are sore, and I have a general feeling of soreness. So I'll keep this one short! ;-)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Another night in the ER

Yep, we spent another night (very early morning) in the ER... It wasn't for me though - it was for my husband, Andrew. He has a kidney stone. He was huffing & puffing, moaning & groaning the entire trip into the hospital. I've heard kidney stones be compared to childbirth for men, so I figure he was very much in pain. They actually got to him really quickly and even dosed him with pain meds fairly early into our visit. We arrived around 1 am and left around 345 am. Not too bad considering some previous visits we've had were well over 4 hours...

Anyway, they sent him home w/ prescriptions for pain, nausea, and swelling (Flowmax to be exact) and a little funnel sieve to catch the stone when it comes out. He's spending a lot of time sleeping (all the drugs have that side-effect). I keep waking him up to drink and/or pee to get that thing GONE! Hopefully he'll be feeling better soon.

Simon & Rachel appear to both be on the mend. Both have snotty noses (probably allergies). Simon coughs at night some, but doesn't wake himself up like he was doing. Rachel's rash seems to have already responded to the cream, but before the next time for her rub-down she's itchy & fussy again. Of course, she's also completely made both her fists chapped by chewing on them b/c she's already teething. By this time Simon had already cut a tooth I think. However, they're doing pretty well.

I'm *really* tired. I was driver last night & I have a phobia about being in the ER for a serious reason alone w/ only the patient - especially it seems if intense pain is involved. I had a flash-back to my time in college w/ my then boyfriend (later fiancé). His trip did not turn out well... I was alone w/ him until his parents could arrive & witnessed some of the most tremendous pain in an individual that I think I've ever seen. I was 20, in the middle of finals week before Christmas, and watching my boyfriend writhe in pain. Not a good place to be or a good memory. It seemed to have been set off last night by the sight of skinny hairy dark-skinned legs poking out of a hospital gown while the owner of said legs suffered pain that I could do nothing to fix. I tried to not let it bother me, but by the end of the night I was stretched to my limits & even though Andrew was feeling much better (thanks to IV Dilaudid & Toradol) by the time we left, I was beyond stressed.

Right now stress does funny things to me. For one it makes me much more emotional than ever before. I don't know if its b/c I've been exposed to so much lately that its made me more sensitive instead of desensitizing me. Or if its because I've been told so often that its ok to be emotional and to be sure to share it with those that love me. Anyway, since I had to be strong while we were at the hospital & on the drive to & from, I internalized it all like usual... My breathing gets really shallow, my chest tightens, my shoulders round, my jaws clamp, and I slump forward. The problem with that right now is that these rocks on my chest don't like chest tightening - they take up too much space and aren't flexible enough, plus there's still some healing going on in there from the vigorous scraping they did during surgery. These rocks also don't like when I round my shoulders &/or slump forward. Again, its a space and flexibility issue as well as tenderness from a still healing chest wall.

I kept having to tell myself to take deep breaths, sit up straight, and keep my jaws relaxed. Andrew noticed & kept asking me what was wrong. While we were in the hospital or in-route (to or from the hospital), I couldn't risk telling him - he needed me to be strong since he was concerned it could be more serious than simple kidney stones. So I used the standard "nothing" answer.

Once we got home he cornered me (he was feeling no pain thanks to wonderful IV pain meds) and asked me what was wrong. Even though sometimes I suspect it hurts him for me to mention my late fiancé (for several reasons, he's said its hard/impossible to compete w/ a dead man, he knows there's nothing he can do to erase the pain for me, and he's reminded that we could have never been thrust together), I told him how hard it is for me to be the only one there when there's a serious issue b/c it reminds me of my past. That past to me feels like a failure even though I know there's nothing I could have done to combat my late fiancé's melanoma in his brain. Its irrational, but emotions generally are irrational. Being the sensitive guy that he is (those of you that've met him probably don't see this aspect of him, but its true for me & the kids) he reassured me that he was ok and would be ok. We 'made-up' as it were by talking a little bit and hugging/holding a lot.

That hugging/holding got my right tissue angry... As I said yesterday the scab is formed upside down right now, so it catches on everything. I thought I'd designed a really good form of padding for it to let it air-dry, yet not risk being caught on something & torn off. However, the down-side is that I can't feel my entire breast - much less this tissue. So in my insecurity as we slept holding one another, I apparently put too much pressure on it. When I woke up there was a pretty deep depression all around the troubled tissue and the gauze that wasn't supposed to touch it was stuck deep in it. It took most of the day - including a hot shower (to get all the fibers out), some air-drying as well as blow-drying - before the tissue appeared normal again (ie, not depressed). However, one of the times I went to check it, as I pulled my shirt away some tissue on the bottom side pulled away and made it bleed. Bleeding is theoretically good b/c that clearly shows good circulation. However, bleeding is bad when you have a very sensitive 4 year old girl (Abby my niece) and 2 year old boy hovering around. So I found some 'non-stick' gauze & will be trying it now. I hope on Friday that Dr. W clips some of the loosened scab so there's less to catch on stuff. I'm going to point out that in my opinion the risk far outweighs the possible benefits of keeping the scab intact. Especially from where I'm sitting now!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Living life in a vacuum?

Simon's still coughing, but much improved. Rachel got her first rub-down w/ her new prescription cream, so we'll see about her in the morning. My much worried-about right tissue is doing ok, but still being difficult. Last night it was stuck to the gauze I use to protect it, so I had to shower to get it loose. Then I had to come up w/ some method of protecting it w/o actually having anything stick to it. Then the scab decided to form upside-down - curled out away from my body instead of towards/around my body. This makes it decidedly difficult to keep from accidentally pulling it off - something my plastic surgeon could lead to a hole all the way through to the implant. That would mean the implant would be contaminated & need to be removed... A *VERY* unhappy thought.

Well, today I decided that I'd do some much-needed cleaning on the house... Primarily that (to me) means cleaning the floors. That is something I HATE! I really really really really (you get the point) HATE to vacuum. I don't really know why, but its just the way I am. I told Andrew when we first got married that he would have to do all the vacuuming in the house b/c I HATE it. Well, his idea of vacuuming the house has led to him doing it maybe two or three times a YEAR in the 3 years we've been married. I may HATE to vacuum, but I hate having dirty floors (you know dirty enough that white socks soon become dingy brown/black just from walking on them & dog hair, dust bunnies, & God knows what else jumps on anything near the floor) more. So I've started trying to do more vacuuming. I've been putting it off since my surgery & trying to drop hints to Andrew that it needs to be done to no avail... So today, my limit was reached & I drug the good ole Eureka (bought the end of last year) out of the closet.

Well, it all started well & good. Pushing & pulling the vacuum wasn't too challenging for my chest muscles. I thought it may even qualify as exercising them. We don't have a whole lot of carpet (just our living room 28' x 16'), so I considered it slight. Rachel was happily swinging in her swing after her 10 am bottle. She even didn't mind me bumping the base of the swing w/ the vacuum. Then I got to noticing that even though I kept going over the same spots (I'm a checker-board kind of vacuuming person - I go one direction in a section, then I rotate 90 degrees & do it again), visible dirt (yep - it *was* that bad) was just kind of moving. The visible dirt cup also didn't seem to be filling. About 3/4 of the way through I pulled the hose to suck up some stuff under the couch. That's when I noticed that the suction was *really* poor. So I pull off the dust cup & check the neck where the hose meets the body/dust cup of the vacuum. No clog visible, just some icicles from the Christmas tree (yep - that's probably the last time we vacuumed - after Christmas).

However, I *knew* my vacuum had better suction than that. So out comes the handy screw-driver. Yep, I have to use a screw driver to take the hose completely off the vacuum. However, there is apparently (to my knowledge) a good way to get the hard plastic elbow-neck off the flexible hose in order to clean it out. So on the free end I took my broom handle & shoved it up as far as it would reach. I got some stuff out. I figured, hey, I'll use gravity & centripetal force to get some of this crap out too. So I started beating & banging both ends of the hose outside on the railing of my porch. Stuff came flying out & I should have probably had a dust mask on b/c of all the dust (& God knows what else that lives in that kind of environment) flying around.

I noticed that even though most of the resistance was gone when I used the broom handle, there was still some at what seemed like the very end of the broom handle's reach. That's when I discovered there's no good way to take that hard plastic elbow-neck off the hose. So handy little me, I decide to go get my drain de-clogger stick-thingy. I shove it into the elbow-neck and meet considerable resistance. The end of the stick-thingy just wasn't big enough to pull the stuff out though. So I started beating & banging again hoping for physics to work for me instead of against me. Well, more came out, but not the main clog it seemed. So I again went to work w/ the stick-thingy. I probably jammed that thing in there for 15 minutes trying to break up whatever clog was in there.

So after a good jamming, I take the hose back outside (Rachel has been watching her crazy mom avidly this whole time) and again beat, bang, & swing it trying to dislodge whatever is in there. At this point, I'm kind of expecting a small (large?) animal to come out and fuss at me for disturbing its hibernation. I was half-right... What came out was this nasty, but huge if you count all the pieces, hair-ball with enough dust, crumbs, and what-shall-not-be-thought-of to stuff a throw pillow (if you were of a mind to have all those allergens in a pillow). I didn't try, but I'm pretty sure I cleaned it all out. So at this point, what should have been a 30 minute tops chore has taken me at least an hour & a half & I'm still not done! No wonder I hate vacuuming! I finally finish, but again, it just doesn't seem up to full strength... Geez...

This time I figure since I've cleaned out the hose its time for the dust-cup & the filter to be cleaned. I learned that the filter does indeed come off the housing of the dust-cup. I also learned that some of the nasty dust (and other things) actually form a cake-like/dried-mud-like substance that gets between the fins of the filter. Using time-honored tradition of women everywhere - I again used my porch railing to beat the dirt out of the filter. The dust-cup, thank God, is actually easy to empty, so it was done quickly in the beginning.

Had I really been interested in true cleanliness I would have started all over. However, I apparently don't care *that* much and I do HATE vacuuming *that* much... So while the floor is better than it was, I don't think I'd say its actually clean... Of course, w/ all that beating, banging, swinging, pushing, pulling, twisting, etc my foobs, arms, chest, & head were hurting. I'm just now starting to notice that my eyes are quite itchy as well... I'm also just now starting to realize just how sore my foobs are - quite a bit more than they were earlier today. :-( Oh well, all in the name of cleanliness! After all, cleanliness is next to Godliness the old saying goes.

Monday, March 22, 2010

On the mend, but another one bites the dust?

Rachel's having some problems. She's been diagnosed w/ eczema for her scalp at her 1 month or maybe it was her 2 month appointment. However, she is now covered on probably 70-75% of her body with a rash. She's not been on any antibiotics and I'm using All Free & Clear plus vinegar rinse water (no fabric softener). She is actually coordinated enough to scratch herself - especially her exposed head. She dug in one night & now looks like someone took a miniature rake to her head. I've got her in mittens, but she's already (after one night) figured out how to take them off pretty quickly. The pediatrician's office called in a prescription steroid cream for her, but we can't pick it up until tomorrow. Plus, it kind of worries me b/c the nurse was *really* serious when she said Rachel could only have it on her body twice a day for a week out of a month and on her face only once. Its not a strong percentage of steroid, but I guess w/ her small body size & such there are lots of risks.

Of course, me w/ my mommy guilt and what my co-workers call my need to confess, I'm paranoid that somehow her skin problem was caused by my chemo. I know its almost been 4 months (will be on Friday), but some of these chemo drugs are supposed to stay in your system for a *really* long time! I mean, they've told me (actually scared me & Andrew to death) that I can't/shouldn't get pregnant for the next 2 years b/c of the high risk of me bleeding out, miscarriage (I already have a 4 out of 6 track record on that), and/or serious birth defects. They also all laugh and dismiss me b/c Andrew & I don't practice barrier or chemical birth control. We use the Creighton Model of Natural Family Planning (CrMS).

Now, before you too scoff at this idea, let me explain something to you... The statistics that you know (and everyone loves to bandy about) for barrier and/or chemical birth control methods are for "perfect" use. I don't know about you, but I'm certainly not perfect. However, w/ CrMS the practical use statistic is above 80%. The practical use of the pill is around 70% I think... Condoms are *way* worse - something like 40% or less. Here's a random website I found that gives some of the success/failure rates. Of course, this site (and most like it) neglects to mention the unintended chemical abortions that occur w/ IUDs and hormone birth control. Not to mention the effects of these non-natural methods of birth control on the environment, women's health, men's health, etc. Afterall, where do those condom's go? Where do the hormones the woman's body doesn't use go? (The answer to this one is into the toilet, through the sewage system that does *not* typically try to remove hormones, and back into your drinking water, etc.) What havoc can these hormones cause women while they're initially ingesting them? What happens when unsuspecting men & women (infants, toddlers, children, teens, etc) drink contaminated water, etc? My method (and I'd say any method) of NFP does NONE of that. Instead it uses our bodies in the way they were designed! Yes, it can be difficult to abstain, but people abstain all the time in the name of losing weight, saving up for a big purchase, etc. Why can't we control our sexual appetites - and have it be considered normal - in the same ways? Children are a blessing - not a curse. When I see a woman with multiple children (ie more than 2) I'm especially pleased because children are our future and blessings in our lives no matter how difficult it seems.

Sorry - I didn't really mean to go on such a tangent, but I'm *REALLY* tired of hearing doctors and other women scoff at *my choice* of birth control when they don't know the facts themselves. Of course, this could lead me to another tangent - "a woman's choice" - but I'll try to save you that! ;-) I have a degree in Molecular Biology. I *love* to do research online for articles about things like this. I *love* to investigate things that are important to me. My health is *very* important to me - otherwise I wouldn't be sitting here w/ these rocks on my chest instead of real breasts taking medications that I hate. I feel that people generally would much rather take the easy path & either ridicule those of us that use NFP (whatever method) or simply ignore the fact that NFP even exists.

Of course, I'm also blaming Rachel's skin problems partially on the fact that she's a formula baby & not a breast-fed one. Simon was *really* healthy & any time he got clogged up or had a slight rash I'd administer some breast-milk appropriately (but not by mouth if you get my meaning). It would clear up very quickly. So poor little Rachel has at least 2 things going against her.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sick Simon... :-(

Does anyone have any suggestions for a little boy who has croup but no fever? When we went to the ER last time (he stopped breathing for a short while), they gave him breathing treatments & a steriod. We've given him 2 breathing treatments in 4 hours already & he's still snotting & coughing. We have humidifiers & have put him in cooler PJs. Poor baby even has Stridor. Its all due to allergies we're pretty sure...

We've got the (3) humidifiers running full blast. One is a hot/steam one & doesn't seem to help. The other 2 (one in his bedroom & the other in Rachel's) don't seem to be helping either. We didn't take him outside much b/c its been raining. He is wheezing & congested, so we're using the nebulizer we got for Rachel's RSV. About 20 minutes aftertreatment he's much better altho you can still see him laboring to breathe a bit. He can then sleep for about 4 hours - then the coughing, wheezing, and stridor breathing starts again. So we give him another treatment.The Vicks (both the baby & adult versions, plus the plug-ins) don't seem to be doing much either. He is drinking & making wet diapers, so he is hydrated. He's not cyanotic ever or even seriously in respiratory distress except when he's upset. Today we got him some children's Zyrtec and he's been dosed 1/2 a tsp. We're waiting to see if that improves his night... I sure hope so!

Even though he's sick he's still a sweetheart. I have the sweetest son in the world! Tonight I was laying down w/ him and pretending to sleep to encourage him to sleep. He very gently started rubbing my cheeks, forehead, eyes, and shoulders. When I opened my eyes he'd say really softly, "Sleep mommy." How sweet is that?

Friday, March 19, 2010


Today marks the 1 month/4 week anniversary of my surgery. Even though I'm still sore & still limited I'm doing SO much better than when my boobs were trying to kill me!

The news from the doctor was good. The tissue on my right is healing - its just taking its sweet time. Right now the biggest concern is that the scab doesn't get accidentally pulled off before its ready. Since its quite large & has some edges that rub my clothes I'm probably going to try to cover it at least part of the time w/ gauze. Kind of a pain in the rump, but better than risking my implant being open to the air.

They gave me another 100cc's to get me up to 600. I got to see a real 700cc implant. It looked giant! However, apparently that's what I'm looking at having & believe it or not I'll probably only be a C-cup w/ that size. Hopefully next week's journey will be our last fill! I asked some questions & got some good answers.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Up & Down & All Around...

Whew today was a physical day for me! I started it by pushing Rachel in her full-sized stroller up to my mom's house. Even though she's next door & that doesn't sound like much, take into account that we're in the country & her house's elevation is probably at least 100-200 ft above mine. Then I forgot something, so I walked back down & up again. Then I still forgot something else so I walked down & had mom come pick me up. Then we went down the hill a bit to pick Daffodils in the field behind my house. That doesn't include all the walking around I did w/ the kiddos to keep them entertained outside (and wear them out so they'll sleep)! I'm exhausted. I think I'm going to bed already b/c we have an early day tomorrow as we journey to Louisville for another doctor's appointment. G'night!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

First day of Nana's Daycare!

Well today was the inaugural day of Nana's Daycare (my mom). For the first time she had all 5 grandchildren at once all day long. Abby, Sarah, and Lukas came early - around 7 30. Simon came around 9 with Rachel & I to follow at about 11. It was a full house. However, I think it went rather well. Abby is 4 and loves to be the 'mother'. Sarah & Simon are both 2 (Sarah's b-day isn't for another couple weeks, but...) and they love to play together. Rachel of course is 3-1/2 months and Lukas is 8 weeks (I think that's right born January 20). They're both still babes in arms. Their older siblings/cousins love them to death (sometimes we're afraid literally). They all ate lunch together (minus the babes), then took naps... Well, Abby & Sarah took a nap, but Simon was too keyed up, so he stayed awake... :-(. When they woke they played for a while, did arts & crafts with me, and then watched Sid the Science Kid and Dino Train. Once they woke up Papa (my dad) began his preparations for St. Patrick's day feast. It was a wonderful day w/ wonderful supper! Tomorrow will most likely be the same minus the feast at the end! Its a good way to not think about my foobs & such, although its also a good way to do something I'm not allowed and/or hurt myself. Overall though, its a wonderful thing. Once I go back to work, mom will have all of them pretty much by herself since dad spends a lot of time on business phone calls & trips. She's in for one heck of a ride! However, these kids are going to be learning a lot from each other & they'll be doing it in a family setting instead of a stranger setting. I feel wonderfully blessed to have this type of relationship and opportunity with my mom for my kids (and nieces & nephew). God bless her for devoting so much time to her grandchildren when she's already raised her own family.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Things I wish I'd known/realized before surgery...

Although hopefully, few (if any) of my audience will have to experience what I have, here's a list of things I've thought since my surgery. I really thought I was prepared because I'd seen mom go through hers (surgery & chemo). However, when its not you, there are SO many things you don't realize or fully understand. Here are some of mine.

1) The pain you imagine (even if you've seen if 1st hand for someone else) can be *much* worse in reality. The skill of your nurses *really* counts about above pain & its control.
2) The daily activities that you do without thinking suddenly become more like climbing Mt. Everest. I'm even talking about wiping your bottom after a poo, getting up from a chair/bed to go take that poo, to taking that poo, and even something simple like laughing at someone's joke. Love yourself and let others help you w/ even the smallest things if its too painful (or your doctor prohibits it).
3) The support you had before your surgery becomes even more important after surgery. Not only have your breasts been removed (and possibly replaced) causing physical pain/disturbance, your emotional state is in upheaval too. Its OK to be an emotional as well as a physical wreck. Its also not just your breast/chest area (even if you have implant/expanders or no reconstruction) that's affected by the stress of surgery - your whole body can ache. Its very important to utilize the support team you have available & if necessary ask for more. Don't be shy or proud! Just DO IT!
4) You lose *all* modesty around doctors - sometimes even shocking them w/ your lack there-of. Once one guy (or gal) has fiddled w/ your breasts to check for masses, you've had countless mammograms/ultrasounds/biopsies, etc - what's the point? Sometimes (especially me I think) you even lose that internal edit about TMI cancer-related (sort-of) things around regular people too. I mean, geez, to you its all out in the open (so-to-speak) anyway!
5) Becoming a member of this sister-hood (breast cancer - or really any cancer) enables you to share things you probably wouldn't share with your *real* sister (unless she's a member too). Plus your real sister (w/ same explanation) probably wouldn't understand fully. We've all been-there-done-that (even pre-vivors), so although we understand, it doesn't become real to someone else until it happens to them. No amount of explanation will really make these people understand no matter how sincere they are.
6) Everyone's experience is different. Although it doesn't necessarily hurt to read other people's stories, look at their photos, hear what their doctors tell them, it does *not* pertain to your cancer, surgery, treatment, feelings, etc. You are your own individual w/ similarities, but differences all the same.
7) When someone says these new breasts on their chest feel like rocks, etc - they're not joking! Sometimes you can actually feel a cold or hot beverage/food go down what feels like 'through' them (even w/ expanders).
8) Even though you hear stories of nipple sparing nipples falling off, etc - when they're yours its much more traumatic. Its even worse when you don't have a doctor with great bed-side manner.

I'm sure there are probably more that I have in the back of my mind and/or will think of later, but these are the biggies for me...

I sincerely hope none of you out there have to realize any of these things! Good luck & God bless!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Breast news yet!

Today I met w/ Dr. W in Louisville. I have been really worried for the past week about my right side. I was also not looking forward to meeting w/ him again b/c the 1st time I found him a bit abrupt. However, this time one of the first things he did was put his hand on my shoulder & ask me if I was ok. This was after he shook my hand & asked the same question. I told him that last time I was freaked out by the news & such. Then he examined me. He was actually quite happy w/ the progress my right side has made. He's pretty sure we've reached the good side of the fence as far as that goes.

One downer is that the right expander has rotated in my chest a bit. I don't really understand, but he indicated that the expanders are designed to fill on the bottom side away from the port where he fills it. Since mine has rotated some its going to expand tissue a little more toward my arm. However, as it sits right now he doesn't think it's going to be a problem.

He is just a little bit concerned about my incision line on the right side. There's a large spot that looks like the stitch popped out and gaped a bit. Its got a scab in it, so its fine now, but if the scab falls off too soon & exposes the expander, the expander will have to be taken out. So my orders are to keep that area dry and not put much strain on it. The skin on the right also has a decided pull toward my arm-pit. I'm supposed to do some stretching/massaging exercises with that skin to make everything more anatomically correct.

He's not concerned about the left at all, even though I thought it had moved (he doesn't). He went ahead & gave me another 100cc's today. Immediately afterwards he tested the capillary refill time on the 'bad' tissue & its fine, so my job is to keep pressure off it and let it continue to heal. He even sort of lifted my restrictions. I can drive when/if I feel like I can 'defensively' drive. I can pick Rachel up from her swing or anywhere but from the floor. Simon is still a big no-no, but I expected that. I tried out the driving on the way home b/c I knew we'd have some straight stretches that wouldn't challenge my muscles too much. However, I'm pretty sore now (I only drove for 30-40 minutes). The main trouble for me was the on/off ramp curves. So I guess that means I'm not really ready for defensive driving.

Overall, I'm very pleased w/ my meeting w/ him today. I'm encouraged that things are progressing as I'd hoped they would from the very beginning. In about 4 months - if all goes well - I should be having my exchange operation!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Nothing much...

I don't have a lot to say today. Tomorrow is the big day where I find if my vigorous yet gentle scrubbing of my right side has yielded the results I want. I think it has helped, but the doctor will be the one who ultimately decides. My goals for tomorrow are to come home w/ a good report on the right side & possibly some expansion to further my progress. I also hope to come home w/ fewer restrictions, but I'm not really counting on that. I'm having a really hard time w/ the restrictions dealing w/ lifting Rachel & reaching over my head. Otherwise, today was a pretty decent day... I hope tomorrow is the same!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What's w/ these rocks?

Well, today was a beautiful day outside. So mom & I took the kiddos outside. Rachel wasn't a big fan of the sun and wind, but we rigged a tent for her in her umbrella stroller. Simon on the other hand LOVED every second of it! I had forgotten some cold things on the counter at home when mom picked us up, so Simon & I walked to my house. The walk to my house is mainly downhill from mom's, so it was pretty easy, however, it is fairly long - maybe a 1/4 of a mile. Simon ran the whole way. Of course he absolutely LOVED it. We got our stuff & popcicles and started back. Initially, Simon still thought it was fun. There are some mud puddles that we call 'gunk pits' b/c of his favorite show (Bigfoot presents Meteor & the Mighty Monster Trucks). He was also still fascinated by the tracks Andrew's Bronco leaves in the dirt. However, we got to the point where we had to start climbing & he didn't think it was so much fun anymore. He wanted me to carry him, but of course that wasn't really an option. He made it up the hill though I just had to pick things that motivated him.

It wasn't until we got back that I had big signs of trouble w/ the foobs. They felt like they'd doubled in weight and were throbbing. They also felt *really* hard - not just to touch, but actually hard from the inside (my chest wall). Of course, silly me hadn't taken any pain meds since 7 am (it was going on 2 pm by then). They're doing better now, but note to self - take pain meds b/4 walking a fairly long distance.

I also had trouble w/ them this morning b/c last night I'd used some gauze to keep the bacitracin ointment on them over night. I went to pull it off as I usually do & the left (good) one started bleeding like crazy. The gauze stuck to the scab & started pulling it off. Luckily I noticed b/4 I'd completely severed the connection. I doubled up on the gauze & went back to bed (this was at 7 am for Rachel's morning feeding). By the time I got to take my shower (around 11 am) it had loosened enough on its own to come off w/o any effort on my part (or using the shower). Needless to say I was *very* gentle on the left side today!

The right (bad) side seems to be doing a bit better. It seems like I can get some blood flow by gently scrubbing at it. I'm not 100% sure if scrubbing is actually recommended, but to my way of thinking that's what you do to something that's not getting enough circulation. If you think back to when women were fainting all the time (b/c their corsets were too tight) they'd always vigorously rub their wrists & hands. I think people still do that in some instances. Plus, I'm using baby wash-cloths w/ plenty of bubbly soap to make it less rough. Since I personally think there's improvement, I'm going to continue - at least until Friday's verdict.

Well, I'd better go let these rocks on my chest rest a bit. I'm tired & the kiddos are in bed. Andrew's waiting for me too. Good-night/day!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Before & After as of 2 weeks

Here's are some shots of me Pre-op vs Post-op w/ 400ccs. They'll be in that order side-by-side. I think one of the biggest differences to me is my hair! You can really tell that its growing in quite well. I don't think my shirt does much justice to the girls, but its what Andrew picked out for the photos... I'll try to keep it consistent.

Pre-op Front & side

Post-op front & side 400cc expanders.

Also, the smile below (post-op) is b/c Andrew thinks it looks better - not because I really feel like smiling all that much. The expanders feel like a really ill-fitting & tight under-wire bra on my ribs & like rocks on my chest... Oh well...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Not dead, but not out of the woods yet

Well, I'm not dead & neither is my tissue yet. I hate to whine, but it is terribly miserable to be useless/helpless. Its bad enough I can't pick up my baby, but I can't even open the tops to my pain pills 1/2 the time... Sigh... If I ever get breast cancer again I'm going to be *REALLY* mad!

As for the tissue, it seems to be holding its own. I don't know whether no change is a good thing or not. The base area seems to be healing well w/ some nice pink new skin showing up. The other part is yellow near the base and still black on the top. The nurse I spoke to today indicated that yellow is not dead. I interpret that as there is still hope. Of course, the biggest question is whether I get an infection or not. They've got me on antibiotics and I'm using antibiotic creams on all my 'wounds' - of which there are many.

As far as the helplessness goes I'm not doing much better. I try, but it seems like I always do something I'm not supposed to be doing. However, I pulled a no-no the other day & I can't tell, but something feels different on my left side. Sigh...

Rachel is growing like a weed & Simon is learning at the speed of light. Andrew is finally back at work after being gone for 4 weeks b/c of me. Hopefully in a few months this will all feel like its worth it & it will merely be a memory. Right now its my living day & nightmare.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Is it a tid bit nipple-y in here?

NOTE: There is much talk of nipples in this post, so reader beware. Its mostly the 1st paragraph.

Friday we met w/ Dr. W in Louisville, my 'local' plastic surgeon. Some of his first words were that my right nipple didn't look like it was getting enough circulation and that I might lose it. That completely freaked me out. I don't want to lose the nipple, my surgeon worked hard to keep it. Plus, the next things he said weren't comforting either - that my skin is too thin to take stitches and since the circulation isn't very good it might not heal at all. There was even talk of having to take the implant/expander out. That is NOT good news. He didn't fill me b/c he thought the increased pressure would just further decrease the circulation. We're in wait & see mode & its freaking me out. My next appointment is for March 12 (this coming Friday). If the right nipple doesn't look better I'm going to see if I can just get him to cut the dead tissue off and try to let the good tissue heal itself. I have extra to spare & I can't feel them anyway, so why not? There is some good re-growing tissue under there, its just covered by the bad tissue.

I'm also still on all my restrictions plus another antibiotic and another restriction - no bra. That was actually the high point of the meeting. I've always hated bras, so to be released from them is great news. Bras have been a particular enemy of mine since this surgery since my rib cage is also terribly sore. However, I was hoping he'd say I was healing well enough to start picking up Rachel & stuff. You don't realize how limited you are when your chest muscles don't work until it happens to you.

This weekend has flown by in a way b/c immediately after my appointment we (Andrew, his brother - Matt, and I) drove to Springfield, MO to pick up Andrew's new toy. Its a red 1995 Cobra Mustang. It was super low mileage & in pretty decent condition for a great price (well under book value). He sold his red 1994 Mustang GT a little before we got married. He's missed it terribly, so since this was such a good deal, we bought it. He'll hopefully teach me to drive stick in it. Eventually it may even become Simon's car. The downside is that Springfield, MO is over 7 hours from home. So we didn't get back until almost 6 pm tonight - we left at 6 am Friday. :-( Poor mom has had the kids all that time. I know she's exhausted, so hopefully this week we'll be able to take some of the strain off of her.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I'm free!!!

Today was the day... I went to Dr. M's office to get some paperwork & also to see if I could get my drains removed. They did it!!!! They're gone! It feels so much better. The right one hurt *really* bad though. It was wrapped in the muscle or something and my whole right side hurts. I've taken some pain meds & I'm hoping it'll go away soon. I also told Dr. M about my negative pathology reports & he was very happy - he high 5'ed me! The nurses said the foobs look pretty good. Tomorrow I go to Louisville to meet w/ the plastic surgeon.

As we were leaving Dr. M's office some of the padding I'd had around my peeling nipples came fell on the ground. I had to replace the padding when they did my drains. The padding I'd been using were old nursing pads one w/ the inside cut out & the other over the top of it to protect the tip. Anyway, I had my hands full, so I asked Simon to pick them up. Then mom looked at me & laughed. She said its not everyday that you get to give your child a counting lesson with nipple pads! Simon didn't seem to mind.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

All's well on the chest front!

Last night must have been a turning point for me. I'm not feeling nearly as emotional right now. Maybe I needed a good dose of my babies to help my emotions recover. My mom (bless her heart) came down to the house today with both babies. She would lift and/or place Rachel where-ever she needed to be then I'd do what I could from my position. I also played big duplo blocks with Simon. We had a really good day!

Simon is having bed-time issues for probably only the 2nd or 3rd time in his life. He fights naps & bed-time like crazy. Except for this big trip to Houston, he's had the same routine for bed since he was a tiny baby. However, he's also in that 'terrible-two's stage, so some rebellion is expected. However, Andrew & I are working on being firm, but also comforting to him. So far it seems to be working. I can even get him to do something he doesn't want to do w/o having to wrestle around with him. The next thing we're going to work on is the dreaded POTTY training! :-(

My pain has also decreased significantly. That's excellent! The foobs still look weird, but they're kind of 'growing' on me. All my stitches/glue looks to be holding well. Some of the glue is peeling of around the edges, but that's normal. Nothing is red or irritated either. (If you're uncomfortable thinking about specifics of the breast, you may want to skip to the next paragraph.) My biggest concern right now is my nipples. After surgery they were bruised, swollen, and *really* dark purple. <---Actually about that color. Anyway, both the breast & plastic surgeon said they looked fine, but to keep an eye on them. No specifics, just keep an eye on them. Then when we left the plastics guy's office he mentioned that it would be completely normal for the really dark skin to peel off and look kind of raw for a while. The resulting nipples would be maybe a little lighter than that that doesn't peel off (that wasn't damaged), but would look normal. Its kind of scary to see them peeling like this. What makes it especially scary to me is that I can't feel them yet (if ever), so I'm not sure when they're super inflamed except by looking. I intend on having them looked at this Friday. I hope he has the same opinion I do - they're angry, but ok.

So it seems like everything is going well. Thanks for the prayers - please keep them coming! Know that even though I probably don't know 1/2 (if that many) of you who are praying for me I pray for you every night too. Simon even adds random people to his prayer list at nap & bed-time. So hopefully, we're all covered w/ blessings from our God!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A new member of the team...

I heard from the plastic surgeon today. I'm in contact with a doctor in Louisville, KY who's going to do my follow-up care, evaluation, and expansions. He and the MD Anderson doctor are friends or at least pretty close associates. My appointment in Louisville is for Friday at 10 am. I'm kind of dreading it, but I'm kind of looking forward to it too. We're (me & Andrew) are going to have to leave around 7 am, but at least its only a 2 hour drive.

I spent much of the day at mom's with Rachel, Abby, and Sarah. Abby made me some brownies and Sarah showered me w/ hugs & kisses. Rachel did her cooing and smiling for me too! It was a pretty good day. The boys spent the day at home together re-bonding. We're trying to make sure Simon feels very secure b/c this has affected him quite obviously. I think that's why we're all the sudden having such a hard time putting him to bed. He's afraid that we won't be there when he wakes up. He also doesn't want to miss a moment with us. Of course, we feel the same way, but since we can rationalize it out its a little easier for us.

It seems like every day I get a little better at my arms (remembering that they don't work). Of course, I'll find out tonight later whether I did too much today or not. I think emotionally Andrew & I are both struggling to keep it together. Its difficult for both of us and sometimes its easy to lose sight of that. With the kids & my medical issues, sometimes the emotional issues get left in the shadows. Then when you're relieved of some stresses, those you've been ignoring pop right back up. Needless to say, Andrew & I have been going from crisis to crisis since my July diagnosis. Even though the end is near, the wear is showing. I love him & he loves me. While that's wonderful, it can also lead to problems. I love him enough to sacrifice some things. He loves me enough to want to over-protect me. If we don't communicate then feelings get hurt, toes get stepped on, and chaos ensues. However, we're working on our communication as well as our emotional and physical health. Keep praying for us please! We need the support!

Monday, March 1, 2010


I'm not feeling quite as sorry for myself right now. That's probably a good thing. I'm still pretty bummed out & really emotional though, plus still as helpless as ever, but I guess I'm just worn down from it.

Today was interesting to say the least. The kids haven't been sleeping well since we got back. Its probably b/c now our house is the unfamiliar instead of my mom's or Andrew's mom. Anyway, to help Andrew's mom stayed the night & most of the day today. She rocked both of the kids back to sleep in the middle of the night when they woke up. I'm glad she did it on the one hand, but on the other, had I been able, I'd have put them right back into bed after comforting them.

Simon is really having a hard time w/ authority right now. He pulls all kinds of tricks to squirm out of something he doesn't want to do... For instance, if he doesn't want to go to bed he'll grab his pants leg, pull it up, and say, "knee hurts." Some-how that's supposed to get your sympathy & prevent you from putting him to bed (at least for a while). If he knows he's skirting the line behavior-wise he'll look at you w/ those chocolate drop eyes & say "so tired." I think he's heard us excuse his behavior one too many times by saying he's tired. He has all kinds of tricks like that. He'll even use the 'so tired' one to get out of going to bed... He's obviously not thought that one all the way through.

Rachel is just a creature of habit at this point. Since my mom has been keeping her for quite a while (the whole 10 days we were gone & a few weeks before that), Rachel is used to mom's rhythms and such. Coming to our house is different from her 'usual' at this point. Since she's OCD like the rest of us, that makes her a bit unhappy. So we're working on transitioning back into our house (and arms) as soon as possible. Hopefully by the time I get my arms back (so to speak) the kiddos will be re-adjusted to me & Andrew instead of the grandparents.

So that's life right now. Hope everyone else is doing better than me! God bless & keep your chins up!

A Foob-new me... :-(

I never thought having a foob job would make me emotional. Right now, its more like I'm having hormonal flashes, mood swings, & hot flashes as if I'd had a hysterectomy/oophorectomy. I can't seem to find anything that doesn't make me want to cry. :-( I am SO not like this usually. I'm having a hard time w/ being helpless. The helplessness of chemo was NOTHING compare to this. Here are some concrete examples...

I'm supposed to drink lots to flush all the drugs out of my system, right? Well, think about where you keep your drinking glasses (and plates & such). Your answer is probably similar to mine - in the shelves *above* your counters. Part of my plastic surgeon's orders were to not reach above my head. So in order for me to do something as simple & required as drinking lots of fluids - I have to have someone else do it. The same for plates & such.

Think about how you work with your children. For instance, Simon just learned to climb out of his bed when he doesn't want to lay down (typical little boy). So most parents I know would just pick up their child & put them back in bed. Well, since Simon is *well* over the weight of a 2-liter bottle, I'm definitely not allowed to pick him up. I can't even pull on him when he refuses to go/do what I ask. If he isn't feeling cooperative I can't even change his diaper b/c I can't lift his legs & butt. Even as small as Rachel is I can't pick her up, change her position if someone has put her on me, or even hold her butt up to change a diaper. It also seems like our kiddos have become so used to other people's houses that they don't want to sleep here. Neither one has slept through the night since we've gotten home. Both were sleeping through the night fine b/4 we left & while we were gone. I can't help w/ that either. :-(

Now think about how you cuddle with your children. You snug them up against your chest kind of on your shoulder and tucked under your chin (at least that's my babies' favorite position). Well, b/c I can only slightly feel pressure on my chest and I'm worried about putting too much pressure on my nipples, I can't hold either of them against my chest. So earlier today both kids were crying and Brenda (who was helping out today) had one, but I could do nothing for the other. Of course, when someone else is in the room both of them tend to gravitate toward the other person rather than me anyway.

Now think about other more basic needs... like scratching your back. I have one of those extend-able back scratchers that a FORCE member (Thanks Barbara) gave me. So last night I had an itch. I pulled out my scratcher & then had sharp shooting pains in my right arm-pit from using it. I can't pick up my lap-top to move it, so I had to have Andrew set it up on the kitchen table. To be completely honest, it hurts to put clothes on - even my pants or socks. To go TMI on you - it even hurts to wipe after I pee b/c of the twisting motion involved.

Now, I'm not saying this to whine, I'm just trying to explain *why* I'm so bummed out and feeling helpless. I know it will all get better. I know that my kids love me. I know that Andrew doesn't mind having to help me. I know my mom doesn't mind helping either. His mom doesn't mind either. Its not that. Its that I just *HATE* not being able to do for myself. My mind knows on the one hand that I'm not supposed to do, but my mind thinks/remembers that my body can do it. However, my body very quickly reminds my mind that I'm not supposed to do things. So the short-story is that I'm having a pity party. Please *don't* join me... Its bad enough for me to be miserable. I hope everyone else is doing ok.

My Chemo-Jane hair-style

My Chemo-Jane hair-style
I just had to have my mom buzz my hair because it was falling out so badly.

Pre-op wearing my hand-crocheted cap with my prayer shawl.

Pre-op wearing my hand-crocheted cap with my prayer shawl.
My loving husband is watching me distract myself with a game on his iPhone.

2 days after my BMX w/ 100ccs in the TEs

2 days after my BMX w/ 100ccs in the TEs
I even have a fashionable belt to hold up my drains.

3 weeks post-op w/ 400ccs in each TE

3 weeks post-op w/ 400ccs in each TE
The smile is fake because the TEs were irritating!