Archive for July, 2009

Plus one.

Drain that is.  Frankenrighty has been giving me some trouble.  Unexplained redness and extra fluid.  Rather than risk further infection with multiple needle aspirations, the plastic surgeon decided it was safer to put a drain back in.  Everybody cross your fingers for me.  If this doesn’t work then it’s back to the drawing board with the right side.

The worst part isn’t actually the drain, it’s the set back in recovery.  I feel like I did two weeks ago.  So tired.  And sore.  Being awake for the procedure was a trip.  I’m used to having the drain fairy visit while I’m under anesthesia and then just waking up with them.  This time it was done under a local.  I got to see the vacuuming of the fluid (oh so gross.)  and just how much they yank you around during surgery.  I sort of feel like a truck has run me over and is still sitting on my chest.  Oddly, I’m pretty grateful for the drain.  It is relieving a lot of pressure that I was having on that side due to the extra fluid.  The doctor is pretty stumped by that actually.  All the fluid has been tested and shows no sign of infection, but the red marks worry him.  So I’m also on massive amounts of antibiotics.  Figures I’d get the weird reaction to something.  Just once I’d like for something to go smoothly without a hitch.  Is that too much to ask for?

Most super awesome week ever – Part 3

Which brings us to Wednesday.  Still.  No.  Power.

Tired of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and still afraid to open the refrigerator for more than 2 seconds, I decided to try and use the outdoor gas grill as a sort of stove top.  Ever tried to boil water on a propane grill?  Boiling water for coffee that morning should have been my tip off that it really wasn’t going to work.  I also made some passable scrambled eggs which my daughter asked for then wouldn’t eat.  Ah parenthood.

Compared to the day before, Wednesday was pretty uneventful.  The neighborhood kids played.  I pretended to clean things.  Lunch rolls around and the kids want mac and cheese.  Anybody care to take a guess at how long it takes to make mac and cheese on a gas grill?

Heck, I’ll even make it a contest.  Haven’t had one in ages and I’m sure I missed some blogversary somewhere.  So yeah, leave your guess in the comments and I will have one of the urchins randomly select from the correct answers.  May as well have some fun this week.  🙂

Most super awesome week ever – Part 2

Helping Mama.

Helping Mama.

So Tuesday morning rolls around and still we have no power.  We actually lucked out in terms of damage but there was (and is still) a lot of clean up to do.  Taking the children aside, we talked about how when things like this happen, we come together as a family to help make our yard right again.  Got the kids on board and we cleaned up the driveway.  In fact, it was pretty cute.  We have a neat gaggle of children on our block, ages 3ish to 11ish, and they were all at each others’ houses helping with the pick up.  So, when we were done with the driveway, I let the kids go play in the basement.

Here’s where my day starts to droop.

We have one of those ancient bouncy horses in our basement and apparently the kids decided to see if they could exceed the maximum load.  Of course the horse fell over and the kids bonked their heads, but they seemed ok to me, so I finished my conversation with a neighbor and about 15 to 20 minutes later I went to check on them.  Couldn’t find the girl.  I asked her friend where she was and he told me she had gone to bed.  Mama Spidey Sense is starting to tingle now, so I wake her up and she is still crying about how much her head hurts.

So let’s take a reality check here.

1.  Tired kid after hitting head.

2.  Mom on medication who can’t drive.

3.  No power.

After checking with my friend the PA in GA (heehee) who is quickly becoming my medical interpreter, the decision is made to go to the hospital.

Luckily the grandparents were home and one took the boy while the other took the girl and I to the hospital.  L barfs in Grandma’s car.  Mama Spidey Sense is now smashing me over the head with a frying pan.  And I get to hold a barfy towel for the rest of the trip.  We made it to the ER without further incident and took L inside to get checked out.  They got us right in but there was a really long wait for the CT.  (Cat spelled CT not CAT, L likes to tell people when she tells the story.)   The nurses and doctors had L retell the story of how she hit her head a bazillion times and I will say it’s very scary when your 6 year old who usually knows her birthday cold has to be prompted.  The first tellings of the story were very confused, probably sounding a lot like I did last year on chemo.  Much too freaky.

Towards the end, after the CT, she began to perk up and start speaking her little college professor English again.  The last time she told The Story, it started off like this, “Apparently, you’re not supposed to put 3 people on a bouncy horse…”  (Apparently, she has heard her mother use the word “apparently” a  few too many times…)   The other thing that made me laugh was her insistence that the room smelled like barf.  No YOU smell like barf darling.  Because you barfed.  She just couldn’t be convinced that was what it was.

We made it home and their daddy called to see how we were and whether I was still going to Planina.

Heck ya, I’m going to Planina.  Are you kidding?

Oh, and bring some McDonalds please.

Shouldn’t we be eating out of the…

MCDONALDS PLEASE

I had pie for dinner before rehearsal.  I’m such the picture of health.  Grins.

To Be Continued

My most super awesome week ever!

Ok.  Not really.  It’s been some sort of week anyway.

This weekend I was spiking fevers of 102 and 103 at night, which can be pretty scary.  It could have been a few different things but the Ockham’s razor says that it was most likely an infection to the surgical site which can lead to all sorts of problems.  SO, I had to stop taking my pain meds and not eat or drink on the off chance that the doctor had to admit me when he saw me bright and early Monday morning.  That was pretty brutal.  Luckily, all my incisions look great, so then they sent me off to the regular doctor to see if we could find some other reason.  We’re still not sure.  Could be as simple as a sinus infection or a UTI (woo).  I’m on a pretty strong antibiotic that knocks out pretty much all of the above.

On the up side, I’m down to two drains, which feels like a vacation compared to 6.  I’m pretty sure the last ones will come out Friday.  I’m working on my arm range of motion.  It’s slow but it’s coming.

This brings us to Monday.  Not a bad day all in all.  Kids went to bed.  I went to bed and watched the pretty lightning show off in the distance.  Or so I thought.  Suddenly a chilly breeze came through the window and I realized it was raining.  Really raining.  The kind I called Florida rain as a kid, when you can’t see anything except the rain.  Then the hail started and it suddenly occurred to me to start closing windows.  I turned the light on in the backyard and was just amazed at the amount of hail bouncing around outside.  It sounded like rocks pummeling the roof.  (And yes.  Both kids slept through the whole thing.)  It was the first time I’ve ever watched a hailstorm and felt like I needed to back away from the window for safety.  Then we lost power.  And there was really nothing to do but go to bed.

To Be Continued

Friday Feel Up

I’ve got racks on the brain again, so I actually remembered this month’s FFU reminder.  It also didn’t hurt that my friend Sarah just posted about the one year anniversary of her last chemo.  Sarah and I found each other last year through our blogs.  I’ve posted links to her wonderful recipes before (I think I may have lived on the italian soup one for quite a while).  Sarah found her cancer through a self breast exam.   So on that note, check out her blog, see wonderful pictures of her life over at Sprucehill, try a soup recipe, and go do your exam.  🙂  Just a friendly reminder.

Checking In

Me, at the hospital last week, probably after pushing the magic painkiller button.

Me, at the hospital last week, probably after pushing the magic painkiller button.

I’m still here.  Pretty sore.  The frankenboobs look, well, frankenbooby.  This probably lets you in on my twisted sense of humor, but when I look at them in the mirror it’s like they’re making faces at me.  The flap side looks like an orange smile (you know when you put an orange wedge in your mouth and smile?)  The other side looks like a wrinkly frown.  Maybe I have a little Harry Potter on the brain but it reminds me of the Sorting Hat’s mouth and I half expect it to shout out “Hufflepuff!” when I’m putting on deoderant.  Yep.  That how my imagination rolls.  Can’t really blame it on the percocet either.

It sort of feels like I’m holding nerf footballs under each armpit, which is kind of weird.  Pain is still the worst in my back.  I think the most annoying part is the not lifting/pushing thing.  As long as something is at arm’s height I can do it, but if I have to get it at an angle, there’s just no way.  I’ve been watching a lot of the Food Network which makes me want to cook and then I remember, Oh yeah, I can’t even get the jug of milk out of the refrigerator.  Or get something into/out of the oven/microwave.  Oo.  I just realized the toaster oven is at arm’s height.  That opens up some options for me.  Maybe I should start a blog for gourmet toaster oven recipes.  Hmm..

I’ve been knitting.   Socks.  The cable dress is too heavy.  I get a row in here or there but then my arms feel like they’re going to fall off.  So I just finished my first pair of toe up socks, started way back when I had purple hair.  Made a pair for J, of which he has already lost one, and I’ve started a pair for L, using some Tofutsie I bought when I first was learning how to knit.

Me with my best friend last week, the magic painkiller button.

Me with my best friend last week, the magic painkiller button.

Home Again

Today’s blog is not for the faint of heart or stomach, o fearless readers.   So finish your sandwich or latte and come back when it’s well digested.

You were warned.  🙂

So Monday I went to the hospital and spent most of the day under anesthesia while my surgeons did the complete right mastectomy (pathology was clear on that by the way, yay!) and created a couple of  frankenboobs in their place.  Something I did this time around was look for as many pictures of my procedure as I could so I had a pretty good idea what to expect.  There is a thread on the Young Survival Coalition bulletin board that I highly recommend to people that is devoted to reconstruction.  Brave young women post anonymous pictures of themselves at various stages of their reconstruction so that people like me can get a better idea of what it really looks like.  I plan to post mine as well (though I forgot to take a “before” picture).  Paying it forward and all.  So basically my surgeons are very pleased with how the skin looks (I sort of think frankenlefty looks like a baseball.)  And based on the pictures I saw, my recon is right on schedule.

My chest feels pretty tight (ironically like I’m wearing a bra).  The expanders are in place and I’m pretty sure the plastic surgeon said frankenrighty is already 2/3 expanded.  I have a bazillion medicines to take and I have to admit it freaks me out a little.  I made the rookie mistake of taking 4 ibuprofen at the same time as 2 percocet.  My stomach quickly reprimanded me for that.  I have to give myself  a shot of blood thinner every day.  Which also freaks me out a bit.  Better that than clots though.

As usual, I felt like I received great care at our local hospital.  My room was huge.  Corner suite (or “isolation room” as they call it.)  Apparently word got out about what a scary patient I am.  Grins.  By Wednesday I was regularly walking laps around the cancer ward (I started calling it the Poop Loop.  Anyone who has had surgery can figure that one out.)  The hospital was testing their alarm system on Thursday.  Woo.  One time the alarm was Code Red, so I stuck my head out the door and asked the nurses if we were supposed to be walking out single file.  You can take the teacher out of the school and all…

So lots of people came to visit me at the hospital and I thank everybody who came by 🙂  I had been trying to figure out whether to put my compression sleeve back on and my physical therapist (thanks for visiting!) reminded me that I actually have 4 drains on that side right now and that my arm is probably at an all time low in terms of edema.  Which it was.  I could actually slip all the identification bands off my left arm without cutting them by Thursday.  

So I have 6 drains that I will probably have for a while.  Last time I only had 2 and I had them for weeks.  I still think it’s kind of weird that we have to drain and measure the liquid every day. 

So anyway, that’s what I’m doing, where I’ve been.  I am glad to be home again.