Posts from the ‘reconstruction’ Category

Sorely lacking the funny.

Plastic surgeon sent me to an infectious disease specialist today.  There is a red spot on frankenlefty.  They’re putting me back on Bactrim (started Levaquin yesterday) but I can tell they’re trying to prepare me.  I think there’s a good chance frankenlefty’s going to fail.

I can’t find anything funny to say about that.

But give me a couple days.

Drainless with a side of itchy

Sorry to keep some of you in suspense about my drain.  I’m sure much sleep was lost over it.  (I wonder if someone will ever design a sarcasm font.  It would be helpful.)  They took it out on Monday.

In fact, I’m full of all kinds of good news this week:

1. Drain is gone

2.  Infection is looking better, so I might get to do a one stage surgery next time instead of two (short version: no expanders, straight to implants)

3.  For better or for worse, I’ve reached my out of pocket expenses for the year so everything from now til the end of December is 100% covered.  I’m really hoping to get that one stage surgery in under the wire.

4.  I was told I have a beautiful colon.  How many people can say that?

5.  I don’t have to drink Gatorade with Miralax for 10 years (maybe 5 with my cancer history).  It’s awful.  I mean really awful.  Lemon lime Gatorade is bad enough but the Miralax turns it into a syrupy mess that just horrid to swallow.

I do itch though.  On the frankenlefty side.  Which is so weird, because I have no feeling there.  I actually run into things with my frankenboob and can’t feel a darn thing.  Shut it in the car door.  Really, I did.  Nothing.  Except the itchiness.  That I can’t scratch.  Because there’s no feeling there.  It would be funny if it weren’t happening to me.  😛

Ok.  It’s a little bit funny.

Alfie

After last weeks meeting with the plastic surgeon, I was resigned to the fact that my drain was going to be with me for some time.  So I named it Alfie.  Mostly because I was watching the movie Alfie on tv (the new one with Jude Law)  (and isn’t he pretty by the way?)  But just like fickle Alfie in the movie, my drain decided also have commitment issues.

Last night I noticed that the stitches which hold my drain in had broken free and my drain was starting to come out on its own.  Basically this makes a pretty inconsistent seal which causes the drain to leak where it’s attached to me.  (Awesome.)  I called the doctor and he said I could either take it out on my own (yikes) or wait until Monday.  So I’ve now taped the tubing so it can’t work it’s way out and am waiting until Monday.

And as a bonus prize, sometimes, when I raise my arm, it squeaks.  The drain, not my arm.

Back to the drawing board.

Plastic surgeon had to take the whole thing out.  Turns out the expander was infected big time.  The alloderm, on the other hand, did it’s job beautifully and is now incorporated into my own tissue.  This is good.  It might give me some different options down the road for reconstruction.  (I.E. Not just a lat flap.)   And yes.  I said down the road.  I need 4 to 6 months to heal.  4 to 6 months of once again being lopsided (though this time it’s the other direction and I don’t have to wear a bra.  Don’t laugh.  I take my perks where I can get them.)

Frankly, I’m not in the best of moods.  On top of this, we just lost another girl over at YSC.   Too young.  Too soon.  One of too many this summer.

So I’m going to share with you something that made me feel better.

Edited to add: I wish I could take credit for the following funny, but it was one of those viral emails that makes it round and round the internet.  I realize I didn’t label this very well, and don’t want people to think it is mine.  🙂  One of my fellow YSC’ers posted it on the YSC bulliten board.  So I wish I was that funny, but, alas, I am not.

Random thoughts from people our age…

More often than not, when someone is telling me a story all I can think about is that I can’t wait for them to finish so that I can tell my own story that’s not only better, but also more directly involves me.

Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you’re wrong.

I don’t understand the purpose of the line, “I don’t need to drink to have fun.” Great, no one does. But why start a fire with flint and sticks when they’ve invented the lighter?

Have you ever been walking down the street and realized that you’re going in the complete opposite direction of where you are supposed to be going? But instead of just turning a 180 and walking back in the direction from which you came, you have to first do something like check your watch or phone or make a grand arm gesture and mutter to yourself to ensure that no one in the surrounding area thinks you’re crazy by randomly switching directions on the sidewalk.

I totally take back all those times I didn’t want to nap when I was younger.

Is it just me, or are 80% of the people in the “people you may know” feature on Facebook people that I do know, but I deliberately choose not to be friends with?

Do you remember when you were a kid, playing Nintendo and it wouldn’t work? You take the cartridge out, blow in it and that would magically fix the problem. Every kid in America did that, but how did we all know how to fix the problem? There was no internet or message boards or FAQ’s. We just figured it out. Today’s kids are soft.

There is a great need for sarcasm font.

Sometimes, I’ll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and suddenly realize I had no idea what the f*** was going on when I first saw it.

I think everyone has a movie that they love so much, it actually becomes stressful to watch it with other people. I’ll end up wasting 90 minutes shiftily glancing around to confirm that everyone’s laughing at the right parts, then making sure I laugh just a little bit harder (and a millisecond earlier) to prove that I’m still the only one who really, really gets it.

How the heck are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

I would rather try to carry 10 plastic grocery bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my groceries in.

I think part of a best friend’s job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

The only time I look forward to a red light is when I’m trying to finish a text or finish applying my makeup.

A recent study has shown that playing beer pong contributes to the spread of mono and the flu. Yeah, if you suck at it.

Was learning cursive really necessary?

LOL has gone from meaning, “laugh out loud” to “I have nothing else to say”.

I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

Answering the same letter three times or more in a row on a Scantron test is absolutely petrifying.

My brother’s Municipal League baseball team is named the Stepdads. Seeing as none of the guys on the team are actual stepdads, I inquired about the name. He explained, “Cuz we beat you, and you hate us.” Classy, bro.

Whenever someone says “I’m not book smart, but I’m street smart”, all I hear is “I’m not real smart, but I’m imaginary smart”.

How many times is it appropriate to say “What?” before you just nod and smile because you still didn’t hear what they said?

I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars teams up to prevent a dick from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, my peeps!

Every time I have to spell a word over the phone using ‘as in’ examples, I will undoubtedly draw a blank and sound like a complete idiot. Today I had to spell my boss’s last name to an attorney and said “Yes that’s G as in…(10 second lapse) ..ummm… Goonies”

What would happen if I hired two private investigators to follow each other?

While driving yesterday I saw a banana peel in the road and instinctively swerved to avoid it…thanks Mario Kart.

MapQuest really needs to start their directions on #5. Pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

I find it hard to believe there are actually people who get in the shower first and THEN turn on the water.

Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.

I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t at least kind of tired.

Bad decisions make good stories.

Whenever I’m Facebook stalking someone and I find out that their profile is public I feel like a kid on Christmas morning who just got the Red Ryder BB gun that I always wanted. 546 pictures? Don’t mind if I do!

Is it just me or do high school girls wear skimpier and skimpier clothing every year?

If Carmen San Diego and Waldo ever got together, their off spring would probably just be completely invisible.

Why is it that during an ice-breaker, when the whole room has to go around and say their name and where they are from, I get so incredibly nervous? Like I know my name, I know where I’m from, this shouldn’t be a problem….

You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you’ve made up your mind that you just aren’t doing anything productive for the rest of the day.

Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after DVDs? I don’t want to have to restart my collection.

There’s no worse feeling than that millisecond you’re sure you are going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far.

I’m always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.

“Do not machine wash or tumble dry” means I will never wash this ever.

I hate being the one with the remote in a room full of people watching TV. There’s so much pressure. ‘I love this show, but will they judge me if I keep it on? I bet everyone is wishing we weren’t watching this. It’s only a matter of time before they all get up and leave the room. Will we still be friends after this?’

I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? Dammit!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voicemail. What’d you do after I didn’t answer? Drop the phone and run away?

I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.

When I meet a new guy, I’m terrified of mentioning something he hasn’t already told me but that I have learned from some light internet stalking.

I like all of the music in my iTunes, except when it’s on shuffle, then I like about one in every fifteen songs in my iTunes.

Why is a school zone 20 mph? That seems like the optimal cruising speed for pedophiles.

As a driver I hate pedestrians, and as a pedestrian I hate drivers, but no matter what the mode of transportation, I always hate cyclists.

Sometimes I’ll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.

It should probably be called Unplanned Parenthood.

I keep some people’s phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

Even if I knew your social security number, I wouldn’t know what do to with it.

Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey – but I’d bet my ass that everyone can find and push the Snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time every time…

My 4-year old son asked me in the car the other day “What would happen if you ran over a ninja?” How the heck do I respond to that?

It really pisses me off when I want to read a story on CNN.com and the link takes me to a video instead of text.

I wonder if cops ever get mad at the fact that everyone they drive behind obeys the speed limit.

I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lites than Kay.

The other night I ordered takeout, and when I looked in the bag, saw they had included four sets of plastic silverware. In other words, someone at the restaurant packed my order, took a second to think about it, and then estimated that there must be at least four people eating to require such a large amount of food. Too bad I was eating by myself. There’s nothing like being made to feel like a fatty before dinner.

Posted over at YSC.
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Colonoscopies, surgeries and and a potential new flap.

So here’s the skinny.

Onc wants me to get a colonoscopy.  This was something she wanted me to do last year and we never got around to it, so no worrying.

Plastic Surgeon is still stumped by misbehaving frankenrighty.  It has still not healed after being on 5 courses of antibiotics over a 9 week period.  So he’s going in.  If everything looks good inside, he’ll take out the Alloderm and see if that works.  Otherwise the expander is coming out.  My next option is to have another lat flap done.   I have said I would just go flat if this reconstruction failed, but here’s the thing;  Frankenlefty  looks awesome.  Better than it did when it was mine.  I’m just not willing to flatten it.  So once again, I’m eating my words (I really should just learn never to say never.)  and I’m considering donating tissue from my right side to make them match.

There goes my dreams of being quarterback for the Broncos…

Oh I know.  Bad of me to mention the team that should not be named…

Turtle on!

That’s a saying over at the YSC that describes going through cancer treatment and reconstruction.  The drain came back out today.  Not because it had finished draining, but because, after all the testing, there is still no infection.  And having drain much longer could actually introduce one.  So I’m drainless and wearing a sports bra to compress the fluid.  Woo.

I also had my first expansion today.  Weird experience.  GIANT needle with saline.  Luckily I can’t feel a thing.  It’s actually sort of funny how they find the port of the expander.  It has a magnet in it so they use a little device similiar to a stud finder.  Then plunge the giant needle in.  I have no feeling whatsoever in frankenlefty; too many nerves severed.  But frankenrighty is a little uncomfortable.  Ah well.  It’s part of the process.

Turtle on!

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?

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

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.