No news is good news!

Y’all. I’m so sorry it’s been over a month since my last post. Since this is a cancer blog, that’s a good thing, right? I really want to include some of the life after cancer stuff, so I’m sorry about that.

First things first (priorities!!), Barkley is doing great. He’s 12 weeks and had some more vaccines today. He’s still a maniac, and can be found at @sirbarkleyelkins on Instagram.

I’ve actually seen each of my three doctors in the last 2 weeks and everything is going great. Oncologist, breast surgeon, and plastic surgeon. I’ll be seeing them again in 3, 6, and 12 months, respectively. I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life not being dictated by doctors’ appointments anymore, with the exception of my Lupron shot every few weeks.

What else is new? Classes are finishing up and I’ll be off for the summer before starting my LAST official semester of grad school. I plan to work on my thesis this summer to wrap up my masters degree, and then take my last two classes in the fall to finish my additional graduate certificate. The end is near, and when it happens, I’ll have my Masters in Psychology with a certificate in Behavior Intervention in Autism. I feel like I’ve been going to school forever, but I love it, so it hasn’t been a hardship, it’ll just be nice to have one thing off my plate. The whole student loan payback thing is gonna suck though.

A couple things related to my recovery that I’ve been meaning to talk about…I still have no feeling in my breasts, though it is returning a little bit around the outside and working its way in. Dr H said the feeling may never fully return, but it’s interesting to see how it’s gradually coming back. Same with my belly area. On the surface, I have no feeling. It also feels really funny underneath because I can feel soreness in my abs when I workout, but that’s about it. Sometimes I can’t tell if I have a stomach ache, sore abs, or cramps because it’s so hard to determine where exactly the feeling is coming from.

Second thing is also ab related. Well, abdomen related I guess. The docs took the fat from my abdominal area on the outside of my abs. My “flab,” so to speak. So now my abs are right beneath my skin, and as I gain weight, I’ll gain it underneath them – visceral fat that hangs out around my organs. We all need some of that fat to an extent to protect our organs, but too much can be detrimental. I certainly hope to not harvest a whole bunch of that crap, and I’m working hard to lose it, but because I’m post menopausal due to my current maintenance treatment (Lupron and Letrozole combo), it’ll be more challenging for me to lose weight. That’s not going to stop me from trying though. In the last 2 weeks, I’ve dropped an inch around my waist and an inch around my hips. I’ve also lost around 5 lbs.

I had to change my nutrition plan to better suit my current needs and situation, and it’s working great for me. I’m still eating very healthy foods that I choose and I’m feeling satiated. It’s a good plan and SO easy to implement. I love it. Brad is even following it without difficulty.

Anyway, I do want to talk about the golf tournament, but I’m exhausted, so I’ll share that another day. Hope you’re all doing well!

3 more months

Another doc down! I went for my one month follow up at the plastic surgeon today. He said everything looks great. He felt around and said I don’t have any fluid build up and everything is healing nicely. Big change from the major surgery in May. BIG change. 

I go back in three months. The skin over my right nipple should be healed more by then and we’ll be able to talk about options for that, like a tattoo or possible reconstruction. 

Aside from my Lupron shots every four weeks, I don’t have another doctor’s appointment until March! Seems crazy since I have pretty much had an appointment every Monday for the past year.

Soooo, my plan is to return to Dr H in three months much thinner! I’m back to eating clean and healthy, and he said I could exercise, so I’m doing it. 100% balls to the wall exercise. I’m excited because this is the LAST TIME I’m going to experience that new exercise muscle soreness because I’m not going to stop this time. 

As Dr. YB said…I’m off to live my life!

Doc update

Nothing exciting.

He recommended half a Benadryl to help me sleep. Labs looked good. I don’t need scans unless my labs come back abnormal, so that answers that question.

And that’s it! I like those kinds of appointments. I’ll be there again in January for my shot, then my next appointment with labs is April 1. I have an appointment with Dr H for my surgery follow up in a week, and then I’ll be free from doctors for a little while!

Normal is on the horizon! 2019 is going to be a good year.

Drain free!

Can you believe I was more excited to share the info about the Relay for Life than I was to share the news that I’m drain free?! Hopefully for the last time ever!

So Dr. H pulled the last drain on Monday. He also said everything looked great, and my follow up is scheduled for one month.

It’s kind of weird to not have to see a doctor next week. Whatever will I do??

Anyway, I’ve been working hard, brainstorming some fundraising ideas. I can’t wait to get started and make some things happen. I’m also in my last full week of school. Final exams are next week. My upcoming holiday break is exciting!!

Hope you’re all doing well!

Coming at you live from my LAST treatment!

I can’t believe it’s been a year already and I’m done!

All is well on the doctor front. I saw all three of my docs today and everything is great. One more month to see the plastic surgeon before we schedule surgery. Also, it looks like I’ll have drains for the flap removal. Boo! And he’ll be straightening things up around the mid-section, so I’ll probably have a drain there, too. So it’ll be a slightly bigger recovery than originally planned, but it’s all good because it’s almost over!!

I’ll have more surgical info after that appointment, and I’ll share it then. Dr JB will also be there for that appointment so she’ll translate whatever Dr H says. Haha.

So good stuff here!! I’m healing and I don’t have to see my oncologist for three months. I asked him what I’m supposed to do now, and he said “live your life.” Haha, what does that even mean anymore?!?

I guess we’ll find out!!

One month

Quick update because life is crazy.

Saw Dr H on Monday. GH is getting smaller, he said everything is looking good and wants to see me again in a month. So I’m slowly graduating to longer and longer gaps between visits, which is nice. It’s likely that at my next appointment, we’ll schedule the surgery. He didn’t say that, but I’m guessing that. He did say again that he wants to wait for the right nipple area to heal, and the skin is still working itself out over there. So hopefully in a month, that’ll be done and we can get moving.

I also saw Dr YB on Monday. All is good there as well. I got my infusion and my shot. Only one more infusion to go! Woohoo! So things are lining up nicely for me to have the port taken out when I have the flaps removed.

I’ve got a backlogged post that I need to put up. It’s something I wrote this past weekend on my whirlwind trip to NY. I didn’t pay for the WiFi on the plane, so I couldn’t post it then. I’ll get it up in the next couple days.

Overall, I feel good! Still having problems with my feet, but that’s the only place I’m sore. Incision and breast don’t hurt, still pretty numb in those places because of the nerves. I feel pretty “normal” though! So nothing to complain about here.

I’ve got a fighter friend who is having her flap DIEP mastectomy tomorrow! Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers over the next few weeks! Best of luck to you, L!

Moving right along…

Yay! So I’m doing well enough that I’m finally graduating to seeing Dr. H every two weeks. It only took three months!

I had my follow up appointment yesterday, I did not need to be drained as I’m still slowly draining out the GH. I really want to share a photo, but it’s so gross looking, so I’m really holding back here. I’ll probably post one eventually.

Anyway, Dr. H said everything still looked good and sent me on my way. Brad came with me to the appointment, as he does whenever he’s off on Mondays, which is how my appointment filled Mondays came to be.

What else is new?? Not much.

I looked at a diagram of the layers of skin, fat, and stuff in the abdomen. I’m kind of wondering if what I see as the back wall of my GH is my stomach muscle, aka my abs, or flabs, as I affectionately call them. It’s kind of fascinating, to be honest. I can actually see layers, I’m just not entirely certain what they all are and I feel like an idiot asking Dr. H.

I’m also excited that I’ve been writing again. Over the weekend, I reviewed something I was working on last year and boom! It was like the floodgates opened and all the words came out. It was quite exciting–it is quite exciting. It’s touches on a tough topic, one that me and many other people I know (and don’t know) struggled with, infertility. I’m eager to get it finished and put it out there!

Umm…ok so non-sterile gauze pads are super hard to find. I need the woven kind, not the sponges. There are random medical supply places that sell them online, but trying to find somewhere local has not been easy. There’s a place in Mt. Pleasant, but that’s sooooo far away. Not really, but traffic sure makes it feel that way. I finally ordered from Amazon, but it’s not Prime shipping eligible, so I’ll see it never. Kidding, maybe Friday, but definitely not tomorrow. Gah, I’m so spoiled by Prime shipping! Brad was able to grab some from me from some criminals operating a medical supply store. I say criminals because they charge like $8 for 50 2×2 gauze pads. I will go through those in less than 3 days. I got 200 at the place in Mt. Pleasant a couple weeks ago for about $4. It’s a shame, really. The cost of medical supplies. I don’t know how people with chronic illnesses do it. Thank goodness for Amazon.

We won first place at trivia Friday night…I missed music trivia the week before, whoops!

Nothing else new to report. Had a cancellation at work today, so I’m hanging out at home, reading and writing, planning world domination. I really want a beach vacation. I had an awesome time at the Outer Banks a few years ago. I’d love to go back. Lots of AirBnB options there.

I’m going to sign off now, I’ll update more when I’ve got more to share. 😊

So that’s what we’re doing now…

I got up yesterday morning and felt pretty good about my appointment. I wasn’t feeling very sloshy in the mid-section, so I thought maybe I wouldn’t need to be drained, that maybe things were working in my favor.

The Dakins solution I’ve been using (the bleach stuff) has been soaking through the bandages and my clothes a little bit. Nothing I haven’t been used to over the last week of me having to pack this wound. So when I got out of the car at the doctor’s office and the waist of my pants was a little wetter than normal, I just shrugged it off, knowing he was going to end up re-dressing it anyway.

So I’m sitting on the bed/chair/bench thing in the office and he comes in, asks how it’s going. I say great. He goes to look at the wound and the gauze is tinged pink, I lamely say that maybe it’s the dye from my dark maroon underwear since the Dakins has been bleaching my clothes. He says he thinks I’m draining.

Nothing really surprises me anymore, so whatever.

I lay back and he peels the stuff off, unpacks the wound and there it is. Like an overflowing manhole during a Charleston flood…the gaping hole on my belly has sprung a leak and is spewing out lymph and whatever the heck else all over the place. I feel a gush of warmth over my belly and legs, lift my head up, see my belly fountain, and just lay my head back down.

There’s nothing in the universe to better describe that moment. Convenient that I found this meme the same day Mount Jennifer erupted.

Needless to say, I didn’t need to be drained. Both sides of my body were draining out of my gaping hole (GH). Fantastic, if you ask me.

Aside from that, things looked good. Dr. H was very apologetic about the fact that I was completely drenched, like it was his fault, which it wasn’t. I mean who the heck knew that was going to happen? I told him it hadn’t been draining like that, because I most certainly would have called, that this was brand new.

So now I’m draining a little bit here and there, which is totally fine by me because that crap needs an exit point! If it drains out my GH, then I won’t need to be needled.

Oncologist was uneventful. I only have two more infusions before I’m done with that. I can’t wait to lose this port. I swear it’s getting closer to the surface, like it’s working itself out. My nurse even commented on it looking close to the surface. Oh well, it won’t be too much longer and then I’ll be having it removed. Ta-ta port who remained unnamed. I can’t believe I never named it…I guess I always thought of it as Pete the Port because that’s what Judie’s port’s name is…

So I’m walking around, packing a washcloth in my pants to sop up any extra drainage so I can continue living my life. I do get a little sore in the mid-section here and there, but it’s tolerable. The washcloth doesn’t get completely saturated, so that’s nice, but at least my clothes are protected. But…awkward…

In other news, Brad and I watched Avengers Infinity War tonight, and now I’m officially caught up on the MCU. Now I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to do with my life. No idea. I mean, I’ve been living off my Marvel to-do list, now what? WHAT?!

I’m kidding. It’s not like I don’t have work, school, more work, Daisy, A gaping hole in my abdomen, Brad, food…I’ll be ok.

The ugly…

Seems like there’s been quite a bit of that lately. I had my weekly appointment with Dr. H today. He drained ten from my left and seventy from my right. It also hurt! I think I’m getting back some feeling on the sides now. And it was low on the left because…the fluid has been draining out my incision hole! Hooray for that. I mean, I can’t make this stuff up if I tried. But at least I know why there was more than usual discharge this weekend.

So it was an eventful appointment, and I’ll get to the real fun part in a minute. First, he prescribed me an antibiotic. I don’t have an infection that he saw, but he did take cultures to check. I guess it’s a proactive/preventative measure.

Because…

I am now the proud owner of a gaping hole on my belly. Yay!

Yeah, so he cut me open. Thankfully, I still don’t have any feeling in that area so I didn’t feel a thing, except a slight tenderness on the far left side.

The gaping hole, or GH, is about the size of a Kennedy half dollar. Yes, it is basically round. It’s also deep; at least an inch, maybe more. I can’t even describe what it looks like, except that it looks like guts inside. He made me look since I’ll have to pack it twice a day.

So I have this solution stuff that I need to use to wet gauze, wring out the gauze, and stuff it in the GH, one or two pieces. Then I cover it with another piece (and like 12 more on top of that if I don’t want it to leak onto my clothes) and tape it down.

I want to roll my eyes because I am so over this. And there’s nothing I can do at this point, except heal, and it’s taking forever. I wish for magic! Lots and lots of magic. Healing magic.

<<sigh>>

So the GH should heal from the inside out. I guess my incision was healing on the outside, but not on the inside, which is why he cut it open.

Seriously gross stuff. It was almost like being at the dentist, under Novocain, and being able to feel the movement and pressure, and hear stuff, but not feel it. When I saw the scissors come out, I checked out. True story. Not sure I’ll be able to unhear the snipping of my skin, but at least I didn’t feel it.

Anyway, in other news, the scab formerly known as my right nipple has fallen off, so at least my upper half is doing what it’s supposed to do. There’s a little bit of raw skin that’s still healing, but it’s doing pretty well. Nothing to complain about there.

I feel like such a whiner in recent days, but I can’t help it. I feel like this should be the good part of all this, but it’s not. I feel like I should be at least getting to the good part, but I’m not. I’d almost rather be back in the chemo phase because at least then I knew I’d have crap days. And what’s really mind-blowing is that I have a GH in my belly and I feel no pain. It’s just weird. This has all been so weird.

More fluid…

This week, Dr. H took out about 80 CCs combined from both sides. Good news, it’s less than last time! Bad news, there’s still fluid. Not much we can do but wait. Wait and wait and wait some more. There’s nothing I’m doing or not doing, it’s literally a waiting game at this point.

He said everything else looks good, so that’s good. I’m still hopeful that we’ll be on target for my final surgery in September. My outer breast tissue/skin just needs to finish healing. It’s getting there.

I’ve been on a movie kick lately. I watched Thor: Dark World and The Longest Ride and The Best of Me, all through Amazon Prime. I’ve also read a couple Karina Halle books. I’ve been busy with appointments and work, so I’m just enjoying these quiet and brainless moments.

Ohh, but I’m not sure if I mentioned my wonderful day on Friday and I just have to! For those of you who don’t know, I work with kids who are on the Autism spectrum. I am a Registered Behavior Technician, and I do ABA therapy (applied behavior analysis). So I work with kids and have several therapy sessions each week. On Fridays over the summer, the company has arranged group social events for the kids who have full-day availability on Fridays, and whose parents sign them up. One of the stops for our Friday social was The Little Gym, and it was amazing! The kids had such a fantastic time, it made my heart smile. Seeing them in their element like that, it was just the absolute best. I just had to share.

Little oncologist update: I had my Lupron shot Monday. My arm is still a little sore. Waa. I didn’t see Dr. YB, I only see him on infusion day, so I didn’t get to give him an update on the symptoms I was whining about last week, but I’ll share here. I have only had one hot flash episode, and it wasn’t really a hot flash, it was like it wanted to be a hot flash but couldn’t quite get there. And it lasted a while…it kept me awake. Annoying. But other than that, the drugs seem to be working. Yay!

I get asked occasionally if I mind if people share my blog with their friends or family, and I don’t mind at all. Please feel free to share this with anyone who may want to read it. I know there’s not much going on here lately (thank God!), but some of the past posts may be of value to someone.