June 17, 2022

I’m so grateful to have my surgery done. Yay! We made it to the hospital by 5:30 am as directed, and they brought me to the surgery room around 8:00. In between I saw 3 or 4 nurses, the attending anesthesiologist, the anesthesiologist who would be in the room with me, and my plastic surgeon.

When my surgeon came in, he marked me again with Sharpies of different colors. Since I couldn’t see it, Patrick joked that he was just playing tic-tac-toe. Haha!

For the record, I’m pretty sore. I’m wearing a compression wrap around my stomach. My throat hurts, but the nurse said that could be a side effect of the ant-nausea patch behind my ear. Overall, it’s the incisions that really hurt, especially when I try to sit up or twist.

Aside from the compression wrap, nothing else is covered, so I can see the results He made them look fairly even. And they’re no longer hard. Another yay!

Once again, I’m also grateful for my friends and family for thinking of me today .And for Patrick for taking care of me. Their prayers and well-wishes helped my mood. I even got some surprises and my mother-in-law funded dinner!

These Bundt cakes, mmmm.
Notice what is written on the balloon! These came with some other, related stuff that made me laugh.

August 29, 2021

I slept terribly last night, meaning I barely slept. My legs bothered me. I couldn’t get into a comfortable position. My chest felt heavy. And why is it that trying to get to sleep makes it harder? Ugh.

I was hoping I could get back to work this coming week, but I think I need a little more time. My surgeons both said that 2 weeks was a minimum timeframe which is why my follow-up appointments were set for about 2 weeks post surgery. While I am definitely moving around better, I still find myself getting sore and uncomfortable by dinner time without doing much. I looked up normal recovery time for my surgery on cancer websites and most say 4-6 weeks. By Tuesday it will be 3 weeks. I’m getting close.

I’m thankful I have some flexibility with work (at least I hope I do!). I’m thankful I got to catch up with some friends today. And I’m thankful it’s almost bedtime.

August 25, 2021

Yay!! My plastic surgeon took out my drains today!

I will say that getting them removed was really something. I had two on each side, so two nurses worked together to take them out at once. After they clipped the sutures, they grabbed both and pulled in one long motion. All four at once. Patrick was watching and said each one was at least 12-18” long, and I could feel every twist as they came out. It burned but wasn’t really painful, thank goodness. Just weirdly uncomfortable.

While they took off the binding on one side, the P. Surgeon wanted to leave the other side intact for another week. Even so, he gave me the ok to shower again. BEST. DAY. EVER. Well, ok, best in a couple weeks. And I showered as soon as possible once we got back home. Because I could.

I saw my plastic surgeon in the afternoon, but I had an appointment with my general surgeon in the morning. He explained how his portion of the surgery went, giving us an anatomy lesson in the process. Did you know breast tissue typically extends up to the second rib and has to be peeled off of the chest muscle during a mastectomy? And that there is a visible difference between tissue and muscle? The upside to knowing this is that the area that showed positive margins for cancer was where the tissue and muscle met. That means my tumor was right to the edge of my breast tissue, and according to my surgeon, it wasn’t like the tissue extended into the muscle.

Now, since so much of this cancer stuff gets overwhelming and confusing and scary, I like to ask a lot of questions during my visits, sometimes repetitively, and without fear of sounding stupid. Yesterday I asked my oncologist if the only way cancer could spread is through the lymph nodes. He said yes. And then through the blood. He assured me that my breast cancer could not just move directly from my breast tissue into my muscles.

My takeaway is that there is a good chance my surgeon really did get all of the cancer, and any microscopic cells left behind should be eradicated by the upcoming radiation. I’m thankful for that. I’m also thankful that both my surgeons had the same reaction to how my healing is progressing —an almost surprised happiness. I think it’s because there was worry about adequate blood flow to one side. It was deep purple after surgery but today it’s almost bruise-free. Their reactions and explanations helped ease my mind about how things are going.

Today it’s going pretty good.

August 18, 2021

It’s been 7 days since my surgery, and I’m moving around much better each day. However, any extra stretch in the wrong direction can send shooting pain through my chest. And after a while, it feels like I have something pressed against my ribcage, especially at night. It’s odd and uncomfortable and makes me wish my recovery would speed up. Then I remind myself that it’s only been a week.

I’m thankful my mom has stayed this week to help out. Even though I’m getting around better on my own, I’ve been instructed not to do any push/pull motions or any repetitive arm motions. Or lift anything too heavy. So I still need help opening doors and carrying stuff and washing my hair. And while I feel rather useless around the house, I’m grateful my mom has been making up for it. Today she started re-organizing our garage. (Apparently, we have gotten lazy about putting stuff away neatly.) It does feel good to see the closets and garage tidy. I may never let her go home.

August 10, 2021

I made it through surgery! It took a bit longer than anticipated but so far so good. I’ll spend the night in the hospital so I can get awakened every few hours for blood tests and medicine. I say that because the nurse just left so I have it in good authority.

I’m so thankful that I didn’t have my choking sensation and my that I’m doing well so far.

August 9, 2021

Well, here we are. The day before my bi-lateral mastectomy. I’ve been looking forward to and yet dreading surgery and my stomach has been doing flip flops since late yesterday. I keep remembering that stupid choking feeling I had when I awoke last time and pray that it’s nonexistent tomorrow.

It’s weird when you talk surgery with people. Everyone wants to share their experiences and/or thoughts about it. While mostly it’s to be helpful, sometimes it still backfires. These are some things I’ve heard recently: I wasn’t completely under anesthesia and could hear everything. I wonder if surgery makes cancer spread. Anesthesia makes me feel like I’m dying.

Um, thanks?

I’ve also had folks point out that mastectomies are a common procedure, which is true. There is some comfort in knowing that hundreds of others have lived through it. But I haven’t yet.

It’s a big deal. And not just because all major surgery is. It’s a big deal for me because this will change me. I’m having parts of me removed. Parts that are visible and somewhat defining and so natural that I don’t usually notice them. But the replacements will be something to get used to and will be unnatural for a while. I’ll have scars. I’ll lose sensation. I’ll have to think about them.

This morning I met with my plastic surgeon so he could do his markings on my chest. In four different colors of Sharpie. I look like an art project. But once again, he told me that everything would go well. His confidence was reassuring.

I know I’ll be fine. My desire to lose the cancer is stronger than my sadness at losing my breasts. I trust that my surgeons are talented and care about doing a good job. I’ll heal. I will get used to my new look. I know this and I’m thankful for it, even though I’m still a bit nervous today.

July 30, 2021

It was such a long, busy work week. Really, just a long week overall that once again, I’m super excited to be going into the weekend. We have nothing planned, and I’m not sad about it. Well, nothing planned outside of the house or with anyone else. We do need to get our guest room put back together for when my mom and sister come to help out after my surgery. Like a lot of folks (I’m guessing) we had the delusion that we would get in shape during the pandemic quarantine and swapped out the guest bed for exercise equipment. Well, that only lasted a short bit, especially after chemo messed with my muscles. At least that’s my excuse. I’m assuming Patrick quit using the equipment so I wouldn’t feel alone in being out of shape, which is really quite thoughtful of him. I’d really hate to be a chubby mess if he was svelte. And since we clearly need exercise, the equipment will go to the basement. As I mentioned yesterday, my muscles and joints are getting better, so I’m optimistic that I’ll use the equipment again soon.

At any rate, outside of moving items around the house, we are looking at an open weekend with sunny skies and cooler temperatures than we’ve had lately. I’m already feeling more relaxed. And I’m thankful for that.

July 15, 2021

Today I got confirmation that my surgery is officially scheduled for August 10 at 7:30 am. I’m pretty thankful for that, although I’m already feeling a bit nervous about it. I know it will be fine, but still, it’s a big deal. They said it will potentially be 7-8 hours long. I don’t even want to think about it. My mom and sister have already said they want to come and help out, which is comforting. It’s going to be fine.

July 12, 2021

Last week, I left two messages for my surgeon’s office to see how scheduling was going. I got a call back on Friday saying they were waiting for the plastic surgeon’s office to call. Today I called the plastic surgeon’s office and was told they were waiting on pre-authorization from my insurance company. So…I called my insurance company and was told the paperwork submitted was pending because it was missing codes. Thankfully, the woman at the insurance company was helpful, and after I explained what the surgery was for, she figured out codes and said she’d push it along so I’d get an answer from them by Friday.

Then I got a call back from my surgeon’s office this afternoon saying that the plastic surgeon’s office told them that they’d be doing the reconstruction part separately instead of coordinating, which was not what was explained to me. So I called their office again, saying I was confused since delayed reconstruction was never part of the conversation. She promised to talk to my plastic surgeon and call me back, which she did. He agreed to coordinate, and if schedules didn’t line up well, then they would have to delay. Finally, I called the surgeon’s office back.

Schedules lined up on August 10. They still need to get it on the books, but I should get a confirmation within a couple of days. It’s not ideal to wait another month, but my nurse coordinator agrees that waiting for one surgery is preferable to two separate ones.

While it was a lot of back and forth, I’m thankful to finally have a date to work towards!

June 21, 2021

I saw my surgeon today. He’s hoping to get my surgery scheduled in the next few weeks, but I have to meet with my plastic surgeon again first. Apparently, I need to meet with both of them within 30 days of surgery. We discussed how the surgery will work between him and the plastic surgeon, recovery time, and what to expect with the scars. He said he won’t have to take anymore lymph nodes, which is good. He also said I could call with any more questions, and he’s get back to me even if it was outside his normal office hours, which I really appreciated.

I met with my ENT today as well. The nose spray he prescribed me has started working but not 100%. He says I should also take my Flonase. Hopefully that will take care of it.

I’m thankful that things are starting to progress again. At least I know that my surgery should happen in July as long as there are no difficulties getting schedules coordinated. While I’m not necessarily looking forward to surgery, I am looking forward to the light at the end of this tunnel.