Friday, August 12, 2022

Still Tethered . . .

Today was my follow up appointment with the 2 PAs for my doctors at the South Jordan Huntsman location. I was all set to get my drains out, only to find out that I need to wait until the drainage is at the minimum amount for 3 DAYS!!! Whaaaat???? I did not know it had to be for 3 days, so I had big plans for what I was going to do without having the proverbial ball and chainlike features coming out of both my right butt cheek and below my breast. I feel so disappointed, even though I get to try again on Monday but seriously such a bummer. 

Since I’m off pain killers, I technically could try driving but I’m still sore enough that my sweet mother in law took me and was kind enough to drive me to the post mastectomy specialty store after my appointment. This turned out to be a successful trip to get me all set up with new bras to fit my new body. I can’t wear them all quite yet but I got that little high you get when you go shopping and find things that work! And the best part - insurance pays for it!!! Definitely never had a shopping trip paid for by insurance before . . . If you’re looking for post breast cancer resources, I recommend Feminine Forms in American Fork - the ladies there have been through cancer and have options for every situation you can imagine.

Aside from my appointment today, I really haven’t left the house or tried riding in a car much. But, my boys are getting ready to start kindergarten next week, so I got to do a little outing on Thursday to meet their teacher and look around their new school. It made me so happy to see them have fun and be excited about school. 
I’m definitely still more tired than usual and get worn out. I’m still pretty sore and have limited range of motion.But I’m thankful to have help to wrangle my crazy kiddos and they have each been so sweet - saying the most precious prayers on my behalf. It is humbling to sit next to your child and hear them pray for “Mommy’s owies to be gone” and be thankful that there is "no cancer in Heaven”.

So I know I can make it a few more days with the drains, I’m just being dramatic and can’t wait to get rid of them. It is symbolic to me of moving forward in the healing process and not being tethered down by anything. If you’ve never had surgical drains, count yourself lucky. I won’t attempt to explain them fully but trust me when I say they suck - they’re a bit uncomfortable, inconvenient and well - gross. But they help your body heal by draining fluid from surgical sites.

To be honest, I feel like this is the hardest part. I hope no one takes this the wrong way but a week or two after chemo and after surgeries is the loneliest, hardest time because you’re coherent enough to realize what you’ve been through and feel more of a desire to go and do things but not healed enough to do them yet. And it seems like the most support is shown during and right after the procedures but then real life goes on and people get busy but you are still left healing. I’m thankful to those who have reached out to check on me and the many kind things you have done. My sweet friend from high school came by today and it really lifted my spirits. 

Anyhoo, I am feeling pretty good and happy with my results so far. I know I am going to need at least one follow up surgery to tweak some things and create symmetry but as I’ve mentioned before, this experience and doctor is 1000% better than last time I had cancer (what a weird thing to say?)!

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Healing with the Best News Ever!

Thursday I made it home from the hospital about 12:30 after a very uncomfortable car ride. Turns out it is very difficult to sit on one bun or lay down in the car ;) - especially with a seatbelt on. 

I was so happy to see my sweet kids who made me a cute card and were so eager to help me with whatever I needed - they were fighting over it actually :).  It is seriously so nice to be in my own bed with all the amenities!

I am doing pretty well except for the pain in my butt, which is worse than the pain in my boob :). Trying to find a comfortable position to sit or lay is hard. It feels better to stand and walk around but then I get tired. The hardest thing right now is the lack of mobility from the fatigue and the drains I have in me. Luckily, I get to have the them out soon - probably Friday when I go for my follow up appointment. 

I am grateful to my parents, some good friends and of course my husband who came to the hospital, brought me food and just helped the time go by faster. Did you know that flowers aren't allowed in ICU? At least at Huntsman, so sadly, I didn't get to have them during my stay :(.

I’m trying to find good shows to watch to make the time go by faster since I am super bored. Not sure who knows this about me, but I love being productive, so my schedule is usually packed and I love feeling so accomplished by the end of the day. This is truly the exact opposite of that!! I hope to be able to attend activities in a week or so after my drains are out :).

I am very blessed to have a lot of helpers to get through everything we need right now. I also got the best news ever last night. My doctor sent this message to me (which I didn’t expect to get for another week or two: "Your pathology results from surgery look good. We found DCIS, about 1.8 cm with clear margins. The nodes were negative.
With this finding, no more treatment is needed.

I am over the moon, knowing that they got all the cancer!! Im also going to do a blood test that screens for about 50 different kinds of cancer as soon as I can. Its an expensive test that typically isnt covered by insurance. But for me, I feel like the cost is totally worth it.

I’m feeling kind of blah, nothing really exciting or inspiring coming to me. I am really grateful for so many who have helped. My sister Sheri came by with some healthy food and flowers, my cute step-daughter brought me some yummy treats and balloons and my other sister, Mitzi and her family took the kids for the day to play. The house was totally quiet so I took a 3 hour nap and slept through the amazing dinner that another friend brought.

Another good friend is coming tomorrow to spend the day with me and she is bringing some unique groceries that I wanted from different stores for my special diet. It’s nice to have that to look forward to break up the healing process a bit.

My mom just sent me this video HERE that she took of me when I woke up in my room after 10 hours of surgery - ha ha. It’s funny to watch because I actually don’t remember her taking it or talking to my kids. I also don’t remember even being wheeled into surgery. Maybe it was the all nighter I pulled before surgery - totally worth it because I got so much done. I recommend it :).

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Great News!

I am officially busting out of this place today! So happy for everyone involved to not have to drive so far to see me and bring me things :). So excited to be able to get a good night’s sleep without all the poking, prodding and meds. 

First thing I’m going to do when I’m home is hug my kids (very gently) and then have my husband wash all of my blankets and pillows - since I brought 3 of each. One of them is a cooling comforter that everyone here is dying over how awesome it is. It’s call the cooling Rest Duvet and it is truly so amazing if you want something for photoflashes, etc: I also have a heated blanket that is really great since I go from one extreme to the other. Click HERE if you want to check it out.

Since this is not my first rodeo, I decided to make everything better by bringing the comforts of home. So I brought my own food, surgical clothing, earplugs, eye patch for sleep and even my own toilet paper. Having these has truly made a huge different! And thanks to my wonderful husband for being willing to cart all of my stuff here for me!

It is amazing to me how different this experience was compared to doing the same SGAP surgery at IMC over 11 years ago. The doctor has given vague restrictions but overall, I just need to listen to my body and not move my right arm too much, as well as avoid lifting. I can sit (on one bun) but it’s not super comfy, so it’s only for a few minutes at a time.

I am up and able to move about pretty easily. Last night they moved me from the ICU to the regular unit - about 10:30 :(. The nurses were helpful and surprised that I could walk instead of ride. I am up walking as much as possible to try and heal my body and maintain mobility. The nurses were also calling dibs on who gets me, since they said I am a nice, easy patient - wow, so great to hear that! Again, compared to 11 years ago, the nurses treated me like I was difficult and that added to the trauma of the experience. 

The pain comes and goes but it’s not unbearable, especially when I’m laying in bed. Getting in and out of bed is the hardest but I’ve got a handle on it :). I don’t love taking pain meds if I can avoid it and have been off them since Tuesday. So hopefully all the bodily functions can start working soon :).

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Hello from Huntsman ICU

I get to stay here in ICU one more night and then most likely will be transferred to the regular unit sometime tomorrow. Things are 1000% better than the first time I had this surgery at IMC over 11 years ago. 

Huntsman is just so organized and has such well trained staff. I’ve seen doctors 3, maybe 4 times already today. My nurses have been excellent. And my mom and Derek have been here, along with my friend Kelly.

The nurse is astounded at my ability to move as much as I am. And also trying to train me not to move my right side - a very tall order for someone who is right handed :). Currently I am sitting in a hospital bed that transforms into a chair. I was thrilled to get out of bed and walk around a bit a few times today. 

The surgery was about 8-9 hours and so I am pretty loopy with the anesthesia still in my system, along with pain killers. They are monitoring my heart rate and blood pressure vigorously and they listen to the surgical site every hour to make sure it’s healing correctly. It’s so exciting to know that I’ve almost made it through one day already!!

Monday, August 1, 2022

I'm Coming for you Cancer!

Twas the night before surgery and all through the house, not a creature was stirring except for me and the mouse;

My bags are all packed and the food made with care -  in hopes my new body soon will be here;

The children are nestled all snug in their beds;

While insomniac vibes dance through my head;

I decided to pull an all-nighter since I have to be at Huntsman at 6 a.m. and so I’m looking forward to taking a very long nap since surgery will be 8-9 hours ;). I get to be the first and only surgery in the room for tomorrow. My first surgeon will work tediously to take out every last bit of breast tissue and test a few lymph nodes to ensure there is no cancer spreading. Which, thankfully is extremely doubtful, since technically I am stage 0. 

Then the plastic surgeon and another doctor will flip me over to cut a nice slice of my right butt cheek out to make a new breast. Nice side benefit - I get a bit of a butt lift like I did on the left side 11 years ago. It will be nice to match :). 

They will then flip me over again and connect blood vessels from my butt to my breast area so that the tissue will have a blood supply and live. This surgery is rare but it has a very high success rate (there is a 3-5% fail rate), which means the tissue doesn’t survive. For this reason, I will be in ICU for 24 hours so that they can watch me closely and keep the room super warm - yikes, not a fun thing since I also cannot eat or drink until Tuesday, just in case they need to do another surgery. 

My sweet husband is going to be staying overnight with me this time - I was thrilled to find out that he is allowed to do this at Huntsman, even in the ICU. I know it will be a sleepless night for both of us, but it is so comforting to know that he will be there. I feel like I have an army of people praying and supporting me through this and I am so touched and thankful. 

I have talked briefly with my kids before today about my surgery but tonight at dinner, we prepped them for the week since I’ll be at the hospital until Thursday or Friday. We had some special moments and I was able to receive a priesthood blessing from my dad and husband. What an incredible thing to have the powers of Heaven brought down to bring me comfort and guide the hands that are helping me. 

Thanks for reading, I love knowing that people care enough to read!