Hair

My head looks like a fuzz ball. My hair has grown to about half an inch, and it’s gotten to the point where it’s slightly uncomfortable to wear a cap/scarf over it. It feels baby soft though, which is kind of cool. It seems to be my natural color, but I’ll be able to tell a little better when it grows some more.

I’ve actually had to shave my underarms and my legs! I haven’t had to do that since September. My eyebrows and eyelashes are growing back, too. They didn’t completely fall out, but they thinned A LOT. I’m going to wait until my eyebrows really fill in before I pluck them or have them waxed.

I’ve cried twice…

I’m not a big crier. If I cry it’s from laughter, a tear-jerker movie or book, or because someone died. I never really cry over myself or my emotions. I probably did when I was younger, but as I’ve gotten older I think I’ve directed more of that particular emotional energy towards writing or have gotten angry instead (not the best outlet, I know).

Since I’ve been diagnosed with cancer, I’ve cried twice, and neither were directly related to the cancer.

I got into a car accident in July of 2015, I was deemed to be the one at fault, and in October of last year, I was served with two law suits by the other two people in the accident. It has since been resolved by my insurance, and I only had a few days of panic before I spoke with my insurance company and they said they’d take care of it, but that moment that I opened the envelope and saw what it was, I was like, really? I had apparently reached a breaking point because I cried.

The second time was today. I had my follow up with the surgeons. Nothing huge to report, except for me apparently. If I gain any more weight, I won’t be able to have the surgery. Super. I tried really hard to lose weight since my last appointment. I exercised, ate better, tracked what I did and ate so I could really see the difference…then I got sick with bronchitis and couldn’t do much for about a week and a half, so despite the fact that I’d lost about eight pounds those first two weeks, I didn’t lose anything the weeks following, and in fact gained some back. I’d gotten into the routine of yoga, biking and walking, then had to quit because I couldn’t breathe, and haven’t picked it back up enough to make a difference.

So here I am. Feeling totally and completely sorry about myself (not for myself, since I’ve done this to myself). I feel like a failure, which I definitely don’t like. I expect more from myself and hold myself to high standards, and while I know my weight has always been an issue, it hasn’t exactly been a major, in-your-face problem, until today. That was a hard pill to swallow, and I had several moments of self-pity over it.

I’ve joined a healthy challenge group led by someone I respect and admire, so I’m hoping to learn some things so I can make significant changes in the next month. I can do it, I know that I can, I just need to really focus. I need to exercise and to not quit. I need accountability. Hopefully I’ll get all that from this group I’ve joined.

Oncologist Update

I had my regularly scheduled appointment with my oncologist earlier this week and forgot to post an update. I guess it’s a good thing I’m keeping busy enough to forget to post…or a bad thing that I can’t remember to do it? Ha, regardless…here it goes.

As far as the oncologist goes, I left off with Dr. YB wanting to check my hormone levels and possibly start me on a shot. So Monday was a follow up to that. My hormone levels indicated that I’m already post menopausal, so that’s cool. The shot, Lupron, is a hormone therapy. I’ll be getting it for two years. After the two years is up, I’ll start Tamoxifen, which is another hormone therapy. Apparently the Lupron has better results on people my age as it completely shuts down the ovaries, versus just blocking the estrogen receptors. In another week, I’ll start a Femara pill, which will complement the Lupron.

Side effects: hot flashes. I had the shot about a week ago and I haven’t had any major hot flashes. Hot flashes were a big thing for me during chemo, so maybe I’ve gotten used to them. I don’t know. I was doing a work thing today and the woman I was with said it was chilly in the room we were in and I was warm. I’ve always ran sort of cold, so maybe I’m just on a permanent temperature change now.

So the shot could have gone in my butt cheek, but fortunately it was a small enough dose that it went in my arm. But man, it was sore! The shot itself didn’t hurt. I barely felt it, but it achhhhhhhed afterwards. But only when I moved my arm in a certain way…so naturally I kept moving my arm in that certain way to make sure it still hurt or something?

The downside of this shot is that it’s on a four week cycle, so while I’m finishing up my cycles of Herceptin, I’ll be hitting the oncologist two weeks in a row occasionally. Like April 9th and April 16th. At least the shot days will be brief.

I’ll update some more if anything changes! On another note, because we all know how much I just love talking about bowels, I’m still not quite regular. It’s very frustrating and I’d really like to have some normal BMs one day! Ugh.

Trying to Get Fit

As mentioned in my previous post, my doctor wants me to lose some weight so I can have a better recovery after my mastectomy, and better cosmetic results. To be honest, I’ve wanted to exercise, but I was afraid to lose weight because they’re using my belly fat for the reconstruction. Apparently, I can still stand to lose a few pounds, so I’m working on it.

In the past, I’ve done a few different things and had successes. Before my wedding, I used Weight Watchers and lost about 20 lbs. I’ve also done simple calorie counting, and that’s worked for me, too. I don’t like fad diets. I don’t like anything that requires you to fast or not eat a certain type of food, nutrient, ingredient, or whatever. And I’m not here to argue why those things work, or join a bandwagon for why they don’t work…I’m just here to say I don’t dig them. Personally, if I deprive myself of something, I just want it more and will binge once I get my hands on it. I’d rather have a good relationship with food and take whatever I want in moderation. Believe it or not, calorie counting helps me to do that and it’s so easy for me to do.

I tried Weight Watchers again for about 2 days. I don’t like the new point system. I don’t like how it calculates exercise points separately from food points. I don’t like how there are so many zero point foods. I don’t care who you are, if you eat 30 chicken breasts, it’s not good, even if they are zero points each. Something has to give there. So I quit Weight Watchers. I can’t do what I don’t understand.

So calorie counting it is. And My Fitness Pal makes it super easy to do. There are tons of other apps that accomplish this, but I am comfortable with MFP because I’ve used it before and I like its features. It also syncs with other apps I use (FitBit, MapMyRide, etc), which is awesome. It takes into account my activity level, gives me an amount of calories/nutrients per day, and takes into account exercise calories. I love it. It’s simple math. It makes sense to me.

For exercise, I’ve been riding my bike and doing yoga. They are things I enjoy doing, so convincing myself to do it is not hard at all.

I lost 2.4 lbs last week. Score!

I also love the emails MFP sends out. Lots of easy workouts if you need some variation in your routine or something quick to do with little time. They also include recipes that look so delicious, I’m eager to try.

Anyway, the bottom line is that I’m trying to make smart food choices and stay active. It doesn’t mean I’m not going to eat cookies, and it doesn’t mean I’m going to work out every single day. It means I’m changing the way I do me.

Lumpectomy

My bad…I just realized this post was still a draft and never went live. Whoops! Insert this around January 24, mmmkay? Thanks!

Howdy! Everything went great yesterday, but it was a long day and I was pretty loopy last night.

Here’s the rundown:

Arrived at hospital around 9:00am. Let’s face it, it was downtown at the tail end of rush hour, I wasn’t getting there at 9:00 on the dot. I had to hit snooze for the appropriate amount of time, shower, pick up my prescriptions…you know the drill.

After admitting, I went to the waiting room and went to my pre-op room pretty quickly. Did the whole vitals and IV thing.

Then I went to nuclear medicine for the contrast dye injection, which highlighted the lymph nodes the cancer could spread to, the ones associated with the ducts. That was easy and painless. This time while in nuclear medicine, I was singing “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons in my head.

From there I went down to the Breast Center for the wire locator. The wire locator was literally a wire (two actually since I had an area of calcification that Dr B wanted to go ahead and take care of as well) inserted into my boob via needles. They were sticking out the side after insertion, it was quite weird. They were super thin and bendy though, sort of like a stiff fishing line, if that makes sense. This process stung a little bit, but it still didn’t hurt exactly. And for both this and the dye injection, I had a local anesthetic – Lidocaine. Oh, and this was mammogram guided, so I had another mammogram! Yay…

After that, I returned to my pre-op room. I took a while downstairs, spent a few minutes here and there waiting, so once I got upstairs I had people waiting on me for the next stuff.

Dr H (plastic surgeon) was there, and he marked me up for the reconstructive stuff. In addition to the nipple preservation (which is the reason I am having a lumpectomy and then a mastectomy in two separate procedures, for anyone who was wondering and hasn’t asked or who I didn’t have an answer for at the time), he shifted things around on the right side (reconstruction) and did a reduction on the left to match the right.

Then came the anesthesiologist. My favorite people. I just think the whole concept of general anesthesia is so cool. They’re like magicians…now you see me, now you don’t! Anyway, I got a nerve block for this procedure. He said it’s something they do with major breast surgeries that works a little bit better than general anesthesia alone. So he gave me a little bit of a sedative, Brad said his goodbyes, and they inserted the lines for the nerve block, one on each side of my back/spine. I had to sit up and sort of lean forward with my head on the table how you would for a seated massage. Also painless.

Then Dr JB came in and talked to me for a few minutes about the lumpectomy. Then I was rolled down to the OR, I moved from the stretcher to the operating table, I remember saying something about not having been awake in the operating room before, then it was lights out.

So I woke up groggy and my mouth and throat were super dry. I felt a little nausea, but that could have been due to the dryness from having the breathing tube. They did give me a good dosage of nausea meds through my IV (and morphine) before they removed it, just in case. I felt the meds coming in the IV, it was weird but didn’t hurt. I drank some cranberry juice and felt pretty good after a few minutes. I still have the nerve block, though not as high a dosage. I’ve got these two pouches that each have a bocci ball side rubber belly thing with meds. They give a slow drip of meds to the nerve block to keep things numb and keep me comfy. I increased the right side last night before bed since that side stings a bit. I got my discharge instruction, then I got dressed, and we were discharged. This was around 5:45 I think.

Traffic was a mess going home. Rush hour from downtown, up 61 through West Ashley is never fun. But we eventually made it to my parents’ house where we spent the night so I’d have adult supervision today to ease Brad’s nerves.

I hadn’t eaten since dinner time the night before, so I had half a Publix sub when I got to the ‘rents. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to eat (ha-ha), but I needed to get something inside so I could take the pain medicine. I took baby bites and was able to eat the sandwich over about an hour. I did take some Zofran, just in case, but no nausea.

I slept in the recliner last night because I figured it was the easiest way to stay on my back. Even if I fall asleep on my back, sometimes I end up on my side. Aside from Daisy waking me up to pee at 4:15, I slept well.

Woke up feeling some sting on the right side still, and took another pain pill with breakfast. Hopefully that’ll knock that out.

Overall I feel great. I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as pain goes, and I’m sure the nerve block has something to do with it, but I feel good and that makes me happy. I’m having no trouble with movement, aside from a little soreness in my right underarm area, but I feel like I’ll be back to being (semi-) independence soon! I can’t lift anything for 4 weeks (ugh), but everything else should be good to go in no time.

I’m just finishing breakfast and the pain pill, Nucynta, should be kicking in soon, so I’m going to hit the recliner again!

Adios!

Another Update

My apologies! I usually write my posts from my phone while I’m waiting somewhere for something, like in a waiting room or in the car when I arrive somewhere early. I’ve been on the go so much lately that I haven’t had any downtime like that to share an update from my Monday appointments, so here it goes:

I had my appointment with Dr JB and Dr H last Monday morning. Everything looks good as far as healing goes. We did not schedule the surgery yet, but agreed it would be early May, after mine and Brad’s 10 year anniversary (!!!!!).

I went to the appointment with a short list of ailments, ones I wasn’t sure were a result of the surgery, chemo, or life. Let’s face it, it’s been a while since I’ve felt normal! The list included neuropathy in toes, tenderness and irritation where stitches were still poking out (more on this later), swelling in legs, muscle soreness, and joint aches.

Most of this was related to chemo, or rather the end of chemo, but Dr JB recommended using ointment on the incisions, and she was concerned about the swelling. She referred me out for an ultrasound/Doppler of my legs to check for blood clots. She also said the soreness and aches were probably a result of going from being inactive to active, and that I should just push through it, which is basically what I’ve been doing.

The other thing we talked about was my weight (yay!). She’d like me to lose about 10-20 lbs before the mastectomy because it’ll be better for my healing and I’ll have better cosmetic results, too. So I’ve been working on that and I’ll share more about what I’ve been doing in another post.

I’ll see both of them again April 26th.

I took a break for lunch and talked to the scheduler at Dr JB’s office and scheduled the ultrasound for 3:00.

Then I went to see Dr YB. My bone scan turned out fine. He still wants to do the shot he talked about last time that he feels will have a better long term prognosis than the pill, Tamoxifen. In order to do what it does to battle the cancer, it shuts down ovary production. I thought my ovary production was already shut down since I haven’t had a cycle since September, but apparently not. Dr YB said that’s actually a result of the chemo. I never asked, I just assumed it was the Herceptin causing that since the Herceptin is the hormone treatment, and I associate hormones with periods, but whatever. So they’re checking some hormone levels and we’ll probably start the shot at my next appointment, the 19th.

So I had my treatment, then I was off to the ultrasound. I ended up late because I didn’t leave the oncologist until 3:00, so I got there at 3:30. For the ultrasound, they do the three main veins in the leg (the names of which I cannot remember, but you can Google it if it interests you, or someone can leave it in a comment if they know). Having that goop on my legs was absolutely nasty feeling. I did apologize to the tech for the fuzz on my legs. Still haven’t shaved since September, still nervous to shave now because of the potential for ingrown hairs from the ones that never quite fell out. It’s a wait and see game right now. Fortunately, it’s still jeans weather and the fuzz isn’t obviously long, so I can afford to wait and see. Anyway, no blood clots. Yay!

I ended up leaving the hospital around 5:00, so I missed my Monday class, which sucked considering nothing ended up being wrong with me. I’m lucky my teachers are understanding.

In other news, one of the classes I did an incomplete in, Objective Assessments, I’ll be able to do in the fall, essentially from scratch, which is awesome! Such a relief to not have to worry about that right now. And I’m glad I can retake the class because I don’t remember much about how to administer the tests and stuff.

So I’ll chat more about weight loss and the perfectly timed delivery of Girl Scout cookies later!

🍪 🍪🍪