Surgery

Footloose & Fancy Free

On a scale of a regular person, I am totally not footloose and fancy free, but I broke that scale 8 months ago. Fuck that scale.

I got my last drain out on Wednesday which was excellent. I get to resemble a normal person at my friends’ wedding next weekend and not look like a science experiment. I got it out early because I’m local and I can come in next week and get a giant needle stuck in my booty/hip to drain the excess fluid there. Glad you read that one right? What kind of fucked up world am I living in that I actively chose to make an appointment to get a giant needle stuck in my ass and am happy about it? This is what cancer does to you.

I am doing well though. My comparison is of course not a healthy/normal person, but my first surgery and chemo for 4 months. I’m doing awesome compared to both of those. I have had 5 surgeries since this all started, not counting the biopsies. I really am in crazy town.

I’ve also been only taking advil the last few days so I am back driving again. Miracle upon miracles. I am still wearing my slutty superhero costume, but it’s a lot easier to hide under regular clothes without tubes. I am going to have to start taking something to sleep again as a consequence of not being on pain meds anymore unfortunately. I’ve got these crazy leg things that are like a blood pressure cuff around each of them and squeezes my legs on and off throughout the night to prevent blood clots. I also need to sleep on my back propped up a bit. Totally not how I naturally sleep so it’s a bit tough getting there naturally. Side sleeping is still weeks away unfortunately.

I also stepped up my prematurely 70 years old life style with an elderly person’s shower chair. Pretty tight right? My parent’s shower is huge and has a seat in it so I was good there, but our bathtub doesn’t have that option and I’m not quite dependable to stand that long or be able to bend over and wash my feet easily so I’m rocking the shower chair. Also in the beginning, showering was super complicated right after surgery and I had to sit to do it.

My hair is actually thick now, which is just lovely. Waiting for it to get a little longer so I can actually get it shaped into a style instead of it’s current “Look I have hair!” status. I’ve also got full-blown eyebrows and eyelashes again. Looking like a person more and more.

Walking is still pretty rough, I can go 3-4 blocks currently, which isn’t enough to accomplish much unfortunately. However, we live a couple of blocks away from a lot of things so it’s enough to get what I need in the neighborhood (ice cream, sandwiches, chocolate cake, etc).

Anyways it’s Friday and I’m doing pretty good, so have a beer for me. I’m still on antibiotics, so I need y’all to step up.

(click the photos for captions)

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On The Road To Recovery

I’m out of my fancy hospital and back at home. I was welcomed back by an hourish-long songs of protest from the kitties around 5am in response to their banishment from the bedroom. Mostly Nero. We will now be sleeping with the broom by the door.

I received excellent care at the hospital. It was as good as it could be. It was also mostly a blur due to the pain meds and recovering from that much physical trauma at once. Thursday was Wednesday to me all day. It felt less like torture this time since I’ve done this before, when they were making me get up and walk the day after surgery and urging me to sit in the chair. I get it, blood clots are bad.

I did have some rough spots because that’s just the way it goes. Thursday and Friday I had migraines and nausea and ended up throwing up a bit which was lame and led to an IV of fluids to help bring my blood pressure up. I was initially concerned that throwing up would suck due to the abdominal surgery, well good news, that actually wasn’t so bad. What was bad was the feeling that my head was going to split open from the migraine. oof.

Fortunately the staff got me fixed up and Saturday I was doing ok and was able to go home. My surgeon came to see me every day I was there, even Saturday. I go back and see him on Wednesday to check in on how I’m healing and if any of my drains can come out. I’ve got four of those suckers this time, hoping to narrow it downs to two on Weds if at all possible. Funny how they leave drains out of Grey’s Anatomy or any TV/Movie dealing with surgery and recovery. You can google to see what these fun things are if you’re curious, I’m living with them and that’s enough detail for me.

Thus far I think I’m in less pain than I was from the original surgery. Basing this on the pain pills I have. Early to tell of course, but hopefully I can get through this with less pain this time. The biggest challenge in this so far is stress. Having four drains that need to be cared for a couple of times today (painting iodine on them, changing bandages, etc), getting up to walk, showering every other day, and feeling so damn fragile is very stressful. I get overwhelmed easily right now and shake sometimes. It’s tough.

Having seen myself the first go around, I was prepared when they moved the bandages back and I saw the not so pretty side of this, but it’s still stressful. There’s that voice in the back of your head “does that look normal?”. Luckily I’ve got a pretty strong stomach when it’s my own injury I’m looking at so that’s not the issue, but it’s still stunning to see yourself so banged up and know you have so far to go before you can be in the clear of healing properly.

Some of the new things this go around are a sports like bra that clasps in the front and basically spanx. Fortunately they’re both in black so I just pretend that they’re part of my super hero costume, taking name suggestions. I’m a slutty superhero though because they’re crotchless spanx because I’m supposed to leave them on at all times other than showering. They’re actually pretty comfy and I applaud whomever chose black over tan, black is always sexier. It also helps that my scary parts are covered all the time except for the drains themselves and when we clean/change bandages. Unfortunately due to the tubing, I’ve got a bit more in common with Bane than Poison Ivy.

My Mom is on her way here and will be staying here until I’m good to be on my own while A. is at work. A lot of that will be taking care of Wally. Since I have drains hanging off of me, he’s a bit of a liability so someone has to make sure he’s getting out and in when he needs to and taking him for walks. A. brings him over to me in the bed so I can get a kiss every now and then from my adorable puppy. It’s a mild form of torture not getting to interact with him.

I got some lovely flowers while I was in the hospital that are decorating the room. Since the cats are banished for the time being, they can be up without any fear of getting knocked over. A lot of my pirate gear and get well stuff is in VT because my Dad is going to drive it down in the spring, but I do have my pirate flag up and my get well card from BSSP hanging by my bed.

Today I start getting better.

IMG_2953

Back Down The Rabbit Hole

My surgery is March 4th. Less than a week away.

I originally thought they wouldn’t be able to schedule me for weeks and weeks, like end of March or early April. This is actually good news, but still felt like I had been standing on a trapdoor that opened when they told me. This will give me the best shot at going to friends’ weddings and hopefully getting a job and moving forward. I recite these things to myself over and over mentally, trying for some sort of positive emotion without success.

The closest thing to a positive emotion I have about this upcoming surgery is relief at where I’m able to have it and the doctor performing it. I put relief on the blue/green side of my emotional scale. So relief is what I’ve got going for me.

In the neutral camp, I have the positive things list I keep reciting. I’m also hoping I’ll feel less scared when the time comes and there will be less tears because this isn’t an absolute unknown this time. I have an idea of what’s coming and what I’ll wake up to (high as a kite on all sorts of pain meds).

On the red/black side of the scale I feel some despair at finally reaching a point physically where I’m not in pain daily and am starting to get physically stronger and I’m going to give it all up to be an invalid again. And hoping that I heal well. I can wear jeans and I don’t have to tuck in a soft shirt to keep my scar from hurting. I can walk a couple of miles and stand for long periods of time and I’m fine. It’s been months since my original surgery and this is new for me. Yeah I guess chemo probably fucked up the recovery period, but still… I thought I’d have more time to appreciate things before I had to give it all up again. It’s eerily similar to when this all started and I just wanted a few days to appreciate my body not being in pain or disfigured, but just had appointment after appointment of different pain causing things.

So I’ve got a 7am surgery that should last around 6 hours. I’ll be in the hospital from Weds-Saturday. I’ve got a private room and a bed for A. this time, thank goodness. Wally is going to spend a few days with his favorite uncle. He just had his last round of shots and is now free to roam the world starting the day of my surgery ironically.

Also ironic? This show is playing the night of my surgery.

Also ironic? This show is playing the night of my surgery.

(On a lighter note, as I wrote this I heard scraping and splashing coming from the kitchen. Wallace had spilled his water bowl all over the floor and was splashing it around. I told him “Nope, I’m not getting involved” and closed the bedroom door and retreated. I just washed the floor out there, so assuming the water will dry and it will all work out.)

I Have No Idea What To Do

So this topic hasn’t been written about for a while. I got some news while friends were in town and then we were moving to New Orleans and it’s been a continued whirlwind. I have no idea what I’m going to do about my reconstruction fix surgery. No idea. This is also one of the more personal things that I’m going to write about, so do me a favor and don’t bring it up in person unless I do. I’m cool if you want to email about it or write comments about it online, but in person it’s a little tougher for me to talk about. It’s weird talking about my boobs with people face to face. I’m writing about it for three reasons: I don’t know what to do and am tapping the larger network for experience, I’m trying to log all of the experience with this because I think it’s educational and may be helpful to someone else, and it helps me to get it out and not keep it all bottled up.

The alternative title of this post was going to be “the surprise needle” but that was back when I had my appointment with my plastic surgeon in October and more has happened since then. So to recap: I had a tram-flap reconstruction (use google) and I was told by my physical therapist there was a lot more stiffness than there should be in my recovery and she thought there was necrosis and a cyst. Necrosis is exactly what it sounds like, some of the new tissue dying which sucks. Physically the area feels really hard and it actually keeps me from having full motion of me left arm, I have about 85% I’d say. Back in October I had my appointment with my plastic surgeon which I was very keen to do so I could find out what the situation is what my next options were. I was freaking out a bit because the only info I really had to go on was from google which is a scary place. The appointment happened to be on the same day that our good friends from SF were coming to visit so we picked them up and then headed to the hospital. We figured it would be a quick appointment and I was really looking forward to a doctor’s appointment where no one did anything bad to me for a change, like say, stick a needle in me (I’m sure you see where this is going).

So a sarcastically amusing thing about plastic surgery is that it is a money maker for the hospital so their equipment and digs are much nicer than the cancer or PT areas. The table they have you sit on is super fancy and my doctor looks like she just stepped out of a fashion magazine. I think it’s obnoxious that the physical therapy area is in a windowless basement with old equipment and this is how the other half lives. Patient care shouldn’t differ based on whether or not you perform elective surgeries. Chalk it up to another fucked up thing about healthcare in America.

Anyways, my doctor agrees that there is necrosis that will need to be removed and that there is a cyst. Then she tells us that she wants to drain it right then. Like that moment. Apparently though that was code for A. and I sit in the room for a half an hour until she came back with her nurse which sucks when you’re sitting around waiting for someone to stick a needle in you that you were expecting. Surprise needles are the worst.

So she comes back and the procedure is to use a little needle to numb the area and then a big needle to suck the fluid out. Totally gross right? She tells me not to watch because it can be disturbing, not a problem. A. watched and regretted it. It was quite a bit of liquid (I looked after she was done and was not grossed out) and kind of fascinating physically because it was visually very noticeable in a good way when it was done. Then I got a “pressure bandage” which basically means a big wad of gauze tapped down forcefully over the site. Super comfortable. Keep in mind all of this was totally unexpected and our friends are sitting outside waiting for us having no idea it would take this long or that I would end up having a minor procedure done. Welcome to my life.

Then she told me her plan for fixing it all which basically is moving things around to be in the right area and injecting fat into the area on top that is kind of a dent right now to fill it out. And no, you unfortunately can’t volunteer to give me your fat, I wish you could, trust me, I’m tired of getting poked.

Then we headed home and I got to not shower for two days to let the surprise attack heal and had to deal with dressing around the pressure bandage during that time. It was a great look. Definitely made me feel even more normal than usual.

Then unfortunately the cyst filled again and I had to make another appointment with my doctor before we left for down south. I think I saw her three days before we left it was such tight timing. Apparently what can happen (and did) is that the area can create a vacuum so that once it’s drained it pulls more fluid into the area and will just keep doing this until surgically corrected. I think I have breast cancer BINGO at this point with all the weird shit that’s happened. She said she could drain it again, but I politely declined to get stuck again with another giant needle since it would just happen again. The time in between these appointments was a little over a week.

So then we moved to New Orleans (more about that in future post). Once down here I asked my oncologist to make a plastic surgeon recommendation so I could see what my options are down here. He made two recommendations and one of them never got back to me (thanks lady) and the other is a group of plastic surgeons that specialize in reconstruction surgery, Center for Restorative Breast Surgery. This was a whole new ball game since the only plastic surgeon I’d ever met was mine through Dartmouth and connected to a hospital. This was like Nip/Tuck come to life. The first weirdness was in the very nice lobby. There is a display of rhinestone shirts that say “Restored by ….” with the surgeon’s name, all in rhinestones, and a pink rhinestone ribbon. Yes, your plastic surgeon will rhinestone sign your boobs for you. We haven’t found out if these are free with reconstruction or if you have to buy a rhinestone shirt calling out that your boob(s) are fake and the person who made them for you. Something everyone woman aspires to share.

The next clue that this was a different ball game was the fact that we first went into a very tastefully decorated small meeting room rather than an exam room to meet with my potential surgeon. He was great actually, he went to great length to explain everything to me and even sketched things out which was really helpful. My complaint with the Dartmouth plastic surgeon is that she did not explain much to me at all and I feel like I was grossly uniformed about what my surgery would entail in short term and long term. She’s good at what she does and I trust her to do it well, but being informative is not something she did well. I had no idea that my bellybutton would be gone and I’d get a new one (weird). Way more importantly, I had no idea that most of my stomach would be numb after the surgery and most likely permanently. This is something that would have caused me to think about my choices more, I probably would have made the same one, but I can’t really know that and I’m a bit resentful of it.

In his explaining things shit got nip/tuck weird. He told me that while they were doing the fat grafting they could easily do liposuction on any other areas that I wanted cleaned up. I told him I’m doing just fine. Then he asked me three different ways if I wanted bigger boobs. I told him I really like my remaining boob and would have happily kept the pair as is. Seriously, I had nice boobs. They weren’t large boobs, but they were quality. I’ve had several different lesbian friends tell me I have nice boobs which I think is the ultimate compliment, I mean who knows boobs better than lesbians? It would be like if you were a guy and your gay friend told you you had a nice looking dick. They should know right? Sorry Mom.

Anyways from there I went to the exam room and things continued to get weird. I got a nice robe to put on, disposable undies, and fuzzy socks (that I totally kept). Then I went to get photographed. This is normal for plastic surgery because they want a before photo and also there’s usually some time between surgery and the consult so they reference those to make sure they know exactly what they’re going to do. Normally you take these against the exam wall and they photograph whatever the area is without your face. Well Nip/Tuck has a photo studio. We went to the photo studio down the hall where there was a little stage for me to stand on and a background that reminded me of school pictures. They also had a professional camera with stand and a mini fireplace style heater. A. was with me the whole time which was hilarious because I’m posing in this bizarre situation with him sitting in a chair and the nurse lady taking photos. It got peak weird when I had to turn around and be totally naked because my booty is an area they may need to potentially graft fat from. Awkward. I am sort of proud that neither of us started laughing, it was a struggle.

Then I met with the doctor in the exam room and he agreed with me that I don’t need liposuction. Thanks bro. He then proceeded to tell me that the scar on my torso is slightly crooked and that he could fix that for me. Not just could, but wanted to fix that for me and showed me the photo of it and I found myself saying “sure” from politeness and weirded-outness. I am not going to do this because who the fuck cares. I don’t think anyone but a plastic surgeon is going to look at my scar and be like, um, hey, so you know that’s a little crooked right? Seriously, let someone open me up again so they can fix my crooked scar!?!? Anyways then we moved on to the good stuff. He told me that my left boob is “perfect”. That’s right. A guy who looks at and fixes boobs for a living told me my remaining boob is perfect. BAM! (That’s for everyone who thought I was being conceited earlier or overselling them). Validation. And yet another reason why getting breast cancer at 30 was fucking lame.

Ok so I’ve skipped over details from both plastic surgeons so I could do the wrap up below and not be too repetitive. Below is why I have no idea what to do and it’s really hard because there isn’t a right decision. There’s possibly a more wrong decision, but I’m not sure it’s entirely possible to figure out which one that is. I want to make a decision early next year because it can be hard to book plastic surgeons and my goal is to get surgery in late February so I can move on with my life from all this. Waiting isn’t going to make it easier, every day I face the complications from my first surgery multiple times a day and part of moving on for me needs to be getting that fixed so it’s less of an in my face thing. It’d also be sweet to get back 100% range of motion with my left arm. You know, no biggie. Here are the issues/scenarios:

1. Getting my surgery at Dartmouth with my original surgeon

Pros: She’s got a clear plan, she did the original surgery so she knows exactly what she has to work with, she is covered by insurance, I’ve been treated there and feel good about the hospital and her, she wasn’t concerned about the amount of necrosis needing another flap surgery to rectify.

Cons: She’s in NH so I wouldn’t have her for followup, she said there’s a good chance I’ll have a lot of issues with pain again and I wouldn’t have her there to manage it, I’d have to fly home still recovering, A. wouldn’t be able to stay up there with me (probably about 2 weeks), VT in February is a nightmare (cold and dark), If there were any complications with necrosis or anything else I’d be in LA and she’d be in NH, she wants to cut across my boob and I am very anti this because I don’t want a scar there (I’m going to ask her if she could do it cutting underneath like my original surgery and that will be a make or break for me)

2. Getting my surgery done in LA

Pros: The doctor was really thorough in explaining everything, my doctor would be local for pain management or followup care, I could recover at home and it’s much warmer here and light out longer, A would be around the whole time, my doctor specializes in repairing reconstruction issues, he was fine with cutting under the boob and not across (avoiding new scars)

Cons: Out of network, doctor is concerned there is too much necrosis and I’d need another flap surgery to have enough tissue (I’m not sure I want to go through with that due to the numbness but I also don’t want an implant after everything I’ve gone through to avoid that and I’m concerned that he’s up-selling based on all of the up-sells he offered in the consult)

So yeah… This continues to not get easier. If you know someone who has gone through something like this with their reconstruction I’d welcome any advice/knowledge (specifically people who had issues with reconstruction, not the general implant vs natural debate).

Stronger

I’ve had the Kelly Clarkson song “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” in my head for a few days now. Partially because much to the confusion of my Dad, A. and I have been watching RuPaul’s Drag Race season 6, but also because the chorus of this song just really resonates with me right now.

There have been some challenges of late (challenges is what we say in advertising instead of saying that there’s a problem or that shit’s fucked up) and I’ve had to find a way to wrap my head around it in a way that doesn’t make me feel defeated or too depressed. I have breast cancer and I’m 30 so I get to be a little depressed, but I can’t be all the time depressed, that just sucks. So one of the things I’ve made clear to those that I love and live with right now is that I don’t want to hear that “it’s going to be ok.” I’m not sure how things are going to be and I’m not sure that they’ll meet my standards of “ok” so it bugs me and makes me feel condescended to (even though that’s not the intention). What I’ve adopted instead is that “we’ll get through this” I know that is true in a way that I don’t know things will be ok.

So getting to listen to this song and singing really loudly “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” fits right in there for me. I do feel stronger from this. I’ve felt weak a lot as well, but each hard thing that I make it through makes me feel a little more self assured that I can handle what’s next. I’m fully prepared for things to get hard and feel defeated in the not so distant future (I haven’t forgotten this day) but I’m reaching a place where I do see myself as being a stronger person from going through this. I mainly see it in how I handle normal stress things, the faith I have in A., and when I think about the real life things I’ll be doing in a few months like getting a job, finding a house, etc. They don’t seem overwhelming or like something I have to try to get my head around, they seem so easy.

I’ve also started to recognize patterns with the chemo which helps. Roughly Days 4-6 I’m going to feel like crap emotionally and it helps to know that. It’s like as a girl when you figure out that you’re PMSing and you’re like, ‘oh I don’t hate everyone! My body is just betraying me!’ So helpful. So days 4-6 I’m going to cry more and feel more depressed, but logically I can tell myself that it’s part of the cycle and I will feel better which helps a lot. I’ve also watched While You Were Sleeping and Something To Talk About which also helps. Nothing like some 90s chick flicks to get you through the doldrums.

So in an effort not to be cryptic and make people worry more, here’s the list of things that are going on:

1. We’re buying a new car because my beloved Shadowcat has just had too much of these Vermont country roads and to repair her just doesn’t make fiscal sense. I’ve never owned a new car so this is exciting, but I do love her and we’ve done so much in our brief two years that it’s also sad. Plus Mom has been bagging on her for at least a year so it’s annoying to have this go down like this.

2. We’re aiming to leave for New Orleans November 12th which means packing, sorting out doctors, saying goodbyes, and leaving my cocoon.

3. I’m having what I think are some complications with my reconstruction. I’m meeting with my plastic surgeon on Thursday so I should get answers then.

4. Billz Billz Billz. Insurance and hospital billing is as clear as mud. I have a lovely color coded spread sheet I’m putting together to go meet with the hospital tomorrow. The hospital told us that we owed them X amount after petitioning for financial aid, but they didn’t tell us what/if anything that they’re “forgiving” us for and also failed to send us a breakdown of costs. Then I got the breakdown of costs, but it’s missing most of the costs our insurance breakdown indicates that we owe the hospital, sooooo. Really looking forward to that meeting. We’re also waiting to see if we got financial aid from another source for the in-vitro stuff too, so a lot up in the air here annoyingly. Would be nice if it could be at least clear.

Number 3 is a big stressor for me for a few reasons. The first being that if there is something additional going on with my new boob, they can’t actually operate or do anything until I finish chemo, which won’t be until next year. This means that it gices it more time for complications to get worse. They also need at least a month after chemo for my body to recover before I could have any operation so I’m in limbo. My fear is that something will be wrong and then the reconstruction I chose (Tram Flap) will have been for nothing which means that I chose this much harder to recover from surgery that gave me a large abdominal scar for nothing. Then the other piece on top of this is that I need to talk to my surgeon about whether she still thinks is makes sense for her to do the second surgery since I will need to do my followups in New Orleans after the surgery. But I am trying not to be too much of a head case about this because I can’t do anything about it now and I will get answers on Thursday. It’s not easy, but I’m trying.

And singing very loudly “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger”

I Prefer My Ports In A Glass

Today has been a special sucky day. I think there’s starting to be a pattern with my Mondays. Maybe it will help all of you working people to read something that lets you feel like your Monday wasn’t so bad after all. If you had a worse one, let me know so I can feel better about mine.

So I actually enjoy port because secretly I am a refined 65 year old european man. I’ve been hiding this for years. I think port is a fantastic way to end the day or follow a meal. Port aka portacath not so much.

Not sure if I’ve written about what a port is (I blame the drugs) so I apologize if I’m being repetitive. You probably have something better to do. When you’re getting chemo you have to get an IV placed each time (every other week for me) and also blood drawn before the chemo to check your blood levels. I can only have blood taken on my right side now that I’ve had some lymph nodes removed on my left. Lymph nodes help clear out your blood and assist with preventing infections and if you get a needle (or even a cat scratch) on that side it can lead to infection and swelling which can lead to lymphdema which is a life long condition that sucks. So for the rest of my life no needles, tattoos, cat scratches or blood pressure cuffs on my left arm or upper quadrant (around my breast/arm pit area).

This is important because when you keep frequently getting blood drawn from the same vein areas you can end up with scaring which can cause problems too. I also have small veins which means they’re hard to stick IVs in and chemo fucks with your blood/veins so they will get even tougher. Another fun fact is that every time they try a spot it collapses that area and they have to try a new spot. You can see why being limited with my right arm could cause some issues. So today I got put in a port. A port is a device that goes under your skin near your collar bone and connects to one of the major arteries going to your heart. There will be a test later about this.

Diagram of a port

Each time I get blood drawn, a shot, or an IV they can do it in the port and they won’t have to worry about finding a vein and it will presumably be a lot less painful for me. Please note I said presumably which is a reflection on how I feel currently. It’s a same day surgery and you’re sort of awake, I don’t remember the majority of the procedure but wasn’t technically knocked out. It’s called a “twilight sleep” which is actually an option they used to offer women giving birth. Black out babies…

I didn’t think it was going to be a big deal since my other same day surgeries haven’t been super painful. A. and I found ourselves again with me on a hospital bed and him holding my hand while they stuck in an IV. We have to stop spending our dates like this. I was sitting there silently crying about how it sucks to have cancer while trying to stop crying so I didn’t dehydrate myself and make it harder for them to find a vein. This is my life. I met a physicians assistant who was great and going to be supervising the resident (it’s a simple procedure so they let the baby doctors do it). Then I become coherent towards the end of the surgery and she wasn’t there and there was a guy overseeing the resident and telling him things like “don’t clip the knot, you clipped the knot, don’t tie it so tightly” and basically making me feel extremely uncomfortable. It came to a head when the overseeing guy said “well I mean I am a perfectionist” (in a tone of voice like he was being too tough). And I pipped up and said “me too!”. The talking stopped after that and they quickly finished up. I also couldn’t see them during any of this because they had a sheet up. I had the nurse ask the physician’s assistant to come by when I was out and I let her know that it upset me that she’d left the surgery when she said she’d be there keeping an eye on things. From her perspective everything had been ok and it was just closing up and the other guy was there to supervise. She was very nice though and apologetic. Nothing to do about it but I don’t think it should have happened.

I went home after that and slept from around 11am to 3pm, until the anesthesia wore off. Turns out this really hurts once that wears off. Worse than the biopsies did, my other same day surgeries. It’s a weird hurt too, a more stressful one because it’s like I can feel the vein which makes me feel really fragile. It also sucks that my right side now feels more out of commission than my left side since that was my good side. So it’s been a bad day. I don’t have a lot of bad days, mostly I have days with some bad sprinkled in, but today as a whole has been a bad day.

Tomorrow is chemo. So if you feel like sending me a long email about life outside of cancer world please do. I’ll have about 5 hours of sitting around at the hospital tomorrow. Fun times. Also because this has come up with a few people, we can talk about hard/stressful/bad things going on with you. It’s allowed. Me having cancer does not set the richter scale of tough life things. You are allowed to have tough life things and we can totally talk about them. I am not a one up person unless it’s being sarcastic or joking. I promise that I will not respond “well at least you don’t have cancer at 30”. Unless you really deserve it.

The one shining moment was when A. and I were driving to the hospital we had on the Lithium station on my Mom’s XM and Limp Bizkit’s “Nookie” came on. For real. It was hilarious. A. was impressed/horrified that I knew every word. But then again, both of their first two CDs are still in my high school CD case in the living room downstairs.

So you can take that cookie and shove it up your….

Life In Recovery

It is pretty great not having to go to the hospital every other day, like really great. My days are kind of a blur of video games (Fable), TV shows (Archer, Once Upon A Time, and the League), the occasional movie (Ghostbusters), and books (the Goldfinch). However between the pain and tiredness I’m not bored for the most part.

I had a pretty stressful couple of days after the drains were removed because the top bandage kept bleeding through, but the hospital wasn’t concerned and it’s stopped now, so I seem to be out of the woods for healing. At least I assume I am since it’s been two weeks since surgery and I feel like if something bad were going to happen, it would have happened. Showering has gone from somewhat painful and nerve wracking to normalish showering. Lots of sitting down still, but whatever I guess that will be the norm for a while. I have a binder that I wear to stand and walk that is a wrap that goes around my stomach and Velcros to tighten for support. My doctor told me I should get spanx for the support which is just weird. I mean I get that it’s a medical thing, but it is just a weird world to be living in where my doctor recommends that I get spanx. The issue is that my abdomen is weak because of the tissue and muscle moved for reconstruction so it will take a while to get back to normal there and while I’m healing I have to make sure I have some extra support. Like spanx.

I’m not where I expected to be with pain based on what the doctors said, but everyone is different so it’s just the short end of the stick and not anything to be alarmed about. I am still getting more mobile and taking more walks and doing my slightly condescending PT exercises (in how low effort they are). I mean I know my arm/shoulder is all fucked up due to surgery, but rolling my shoulders does not make me feel particularly athletic or like I’m doing a work out.

I took A. to the drive-in a couple of towns over, or rather he took me because I’m not allowed to drive on my medication, but I told him where to go. He’d never been and I thought it would be a fun way to get out of the house. It was a high schooler’s paradise. Seriously, so many high schoolers. My Mom’s car battery died about an hour after getting there, but that apparently happens a lot and the employees were able to jump it and we just left it running for the rest of the time. Also a brilliant move, going to see The Fault In Our Stars when you have cancer and haven’t emotionally come to grips with that. Good movie (also good book which I read earlier this year pre-diagnosis), but good lord was it a terrible idea to go watch it at this point and time. I can sum up my feelings with “this is unfair”. A. had a lovely ride home with me, I was in great shape.

On a happier note, my first outing outside the house besides going to the hospital was my friend Maria’s wedding. I was pretty nervous about going because it was an hour and a half drive each way and a lot of sitting up which I hadn’t been doing that much of at that point (Friday). I pushed through though and it was really wonderful. She and her husband are both great people and it was as feel good of an event as anyone could hope for. I’ve known Maria since day care and it was really wonderful getting to go to her wedding. I was pretty sore once I got home, but absolutely worth it.

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Did I mention that they got married on top of a mountain?

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Love this girl. Took off my not so hip support binder for the photo, but still sporting old lady posture.

I also found out a couple of friends from college just got engaged. As a result I’ve had this Robert Frost (my favorite famous Vermonter) quote in my head: “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.” Having cancer and being in Vermont makes it feel all consuming. A. and I aren’t working and don’t have many friends in the area so it really is the center of our lives. The good thing about this means that we can concentrate on getting me better and not having to juggle a lot of things, the bad thing is that it seems like our life centers around me having cancer. The engagements, weddings, and life news I get from my friends have been helping remind me that life goes on. This will end and there will be so much more to my story. It goes on.

On the cancer side though I have a couple of developments. I’ve decided to cancel my port on the 10th. I feel like I don’t know enough about it and my chemo plan hasn’t been determined so I’m going to wait before having it done. I was really gung-ho after getting stuck 7 times for my second surgery IV and I feel like that wasn’t the best time to make a decision and this needs to be something that I have the chance to discuss with my oncologist and that hasn’t happened yet. Another new development is that I’m going to Dana Farber on the 15th to meet with an oncologist for a second opinion who specializes in young women with breast cancer. I’m hoping she’ll have the same recommendation as Dartmouth because that will make my life easier, but if I needed to start treatment in Boston I could. Throughout this situation my main concerns have been living with the after effects of treatment and I feel relieved that I’ll have the chance to meet with someone who really understands what younger women are concerned about getting treated for this. I’m also having a little bit of a meltdown about how excited I am that this is happening. I just feel like life is so fucked up that I’m super excited about meeting an oncologist to talk about chemo treatment. Just one of those fucked up perspective moments in this bizarro world that I’m living in.

I also found out post surgery that I’m stage IIa for those that care about that sort of thing. It’s a good diagnosis, in that it’s early and as already knew, hasn’t spread outside lefty. I am very optimistic that I can avoid radiation and hoping that the chemo can be a lighter dose now that we know things haven’t spread.

Next weekend I’m going to the Tunbridge Fair with my cousin and the fam. Going to go check out live stock, giant vegetables, and junk food. Should be excellent 🙂