Post-Vacation Blues

I had a great time on vacation. Getting to spend some time with Brad without work and doctors and having to adult was wonderful.

I ate three burgers (one of the restaurants at the resort has the best burgers I’ve ever had in my life, no lie) over the course of the week. That’s about two more burgers than I’ve had so far this year. They’re so good. If you find yourself at Orange Lake Resort in Kissimmee, hit up Legacy Grill for a Smokehouse Burger. Ah-mazing.

I also ate way too much chips and salsa at Chuy’s, and let’s not forget the margaritas. Yum. I had bought Malibu rum because that’s sort of my go-to alcoholic beverage – I like it in Diet Coke or fruit juice. But I had a margarita at Chuy’s, then cheap margaritas at the resort during happy hour, and I fell in love. I think tequila does that to you. Well, I guess it’s a love/hate thing since tequila kicks some people’s butts.

I read, was totally lazy, and drove the cart while Brad golfed one day. It was a nice time.

So I’m home and this week is back to reality! I’m happy to be home with my pup, she missed us and we missed her. I think our best vacation ever was when we went to the Outer Banks and were able to take her with us. Pets deserve vacations, too.

I had an oncologist appointment this morning, got my Herceptin and Lupron. Nothing new to report there. Everything is “normal” there.

I’m returning to work today for real. I’ve got a few line therapy sessions this week, and I’m looking forward to that.

So I’m feeling good and healthy. I’ll be thankful when the rest of the soreness is gone. I’ll also be thankful when I can start exercising again and lose this ache I’ve got in my joints again. I hate that I went steps forward and then steps backward in regards to activity, but I know that extra strength I built up before surgery has helped me a lot over the last several weeks.

Being at the oncologist now is weird. I remember going and dreading what I knew was to follow. I don’t have that anymore, which is great – not complaining over here! It’s just weird because I’m in and out of there, and I used to see some of the same faces, but now there’s often new faces in various stages of treatment, and it’s weird. I want to say something, something motivating, because I was where they were, but I don’t know their story. I don’t know if they’ll be where I am now one day, or if their situation is more dire. So I don’t want to pull something straight off one of those top-ten-not-to-do lists for cancer patients. So I just keep to myself and smile.

But I want to do more. One day I was there and someone had put together little comfort packages and handed them out to all the chemo patients. I think I’m going to do something like that. Put together a list of things that truly gave me some comfort during my chemo and make little care packages to hand out. There are other, grander things I’d like to do, but for now this might just do. Little things mean a lot, at least they did to me. So maybe these care packages will brighten someone’s day.

Free at last!

I finally got my last drain out today! Phew!

When I went to the doctor on Monday, I was still draining too much. I had to go below 30 and I was around 35/40. So I willed all the good energy and whatnot around me to make the numbers go and stay down, and they did. I was able to squeeze in an appointment to have them removed before we left for our vacation today.

I kind of don’t know what to do with myself without it. I’m still accommodating for it…pulling my shirt down on that side, making sure I have some extra space over there.

I was afraid it would hurt coming out since it’s been in there for a month, but it didn’t. It hurt a little when Dr H snipped the stitches because it had scabbed, but other than that I didn’t feel the tube come out of my belly or anything.

I worked a little this week doing some paperwork stuff for the kiddos whose teams I’m managing this summer. It was nice to get out of the house and feel like a contributing member of society again. And seeing the kids is always great! I’ve missed them.

So we’re on vacation this week! Driving down to sunny Florida as we speak. Well, we’re in rainy Georgia at the moment, but we’re ending in sunny Florida!

Three down, one to go…

So this is a little late, but I had my follow up appointments with Dr H and Dr JB on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Dr H – Drain removed from left hip. Hopefully right hip drain will slow it’s roll, and the numbers will be low enough for it to be removed at my appointment on Monday. Seems like I’ll be losing my right nipple, it’s back to its black color regardless of the ointment/Vaseline. I’m ok with that. Dr H said we can reconstruct that later on, if I want to. My tummy wound is opening a little bit, but not a lot. (Seriously don’t Google it!)

Dr JB – Pretty much said the same stuff as Dr H. I did ask about these tiny little blister bumps I have around my chest. It seems that the surgical bra, that I have to wear like all the time, is irritating my skin. Yay! So I’m trying to give myself breaks from it, and I’ll wear a tight tank top to keep things contained instead. They also recommended lotion for the rash.

It’s just been a blah week for me. Lots of emotional ups and downs. I’m ready to go back to normal, you know? This has been dictating my life for several months, and I want to dictate my life again. I want to be able to go run errands and not be exhausted. I want to work! (Which I’m doing a little of next week whether anyone likes it or not!)

The week after next we go on vacation. I’ll be chilling poolSIDE for a week, unable to actually get in the pool due to my wounds not being fully closed. When we get back from the trip, I plan to return to work. I’ll have an appointment with Dr YB for my infusion and Lipton shot Monday the 18th, and I’ll probably have a follow up with the surgeons that same day.

I’m anticipating being in much better shape by that point. I think the key is going to be doing a little each day and gradually building myself up. I think I’m being too sporadic, and that’s the problem. Like going 75% one day, 50% the next, then 100%, 0%, and then back to 50% isn’t helping. It’s inconsistent and I think it’s confusing my body. So I’m going to try to start small and keep going up. I don’t feel like I’m pushing myself too far, I just feel like I haven’t been building myself up, I’ve just been randomly diving in, depending on my mood.

Anyway, something else to note is that I haven’t had much of an appetite post-surgery. I’ve had hunger, but I’m not 3-square-meals hungry. Like it’s after 1, I haven’t eaten, and I’m not even a little hungry. So, needless to say, I haven’t been sticking to my eating plan. I’ve been trying to focus on protein when I do eat, since I know I’m not getting a good sampling of nutrients and that’s the key nutrient for healing. I’m certainly not starving, I do get random cravings throughout the day and snack. I get late night cravings, too, and I have healthy snacks like fruit. I always eat dinner, it’s just breakfast and lunch are sometimes a wash. I am also having my Shakeology every day, which helps with protein and other nutrients. So hopefully my appetite will sort itself out soon and I can get back on track with Portion Fix.

Plastics Post-Op

I went to see Dr. H on Monday for my post-op. He said everything is looking very good.

He removed the upper drains (yay!), and left the lower. I have another appointment next week and those will probably come out then. They’re still putting out enough gunk to keep them around a bit longer, which is fine by me because they weren’t hurting me the way the chest drains were.

My right nipple needs to get it’s act together. It was super dark in the hospital, like almost blue-black, and it has since lightened, significantly actually, due to me applying lotion to it on the regular. Apparently that’s not uncommon. The left nipple is a little blistered, but again not unusual. That one gets some ointment. So I’d like for them to go back to normal, any day now. That’d be great. 👍🏻

The tummy incision is doing fine. There’s a spot in the center that is likely to experience necrosis. Again, not unusual. Apparently when the skin and tissue is pulled super tight like that, it’s possible that there will be an interruption to blood flow, causing some tissue to die. So basically if it dies, they’ll take care of the wound (removing nasty tissue), pack it, and just keep taking care of it until it heals. He said that whole process may be a month. But we’ll watch and see what happens because the only thing I know with certainty is that anything can happen.

I felt a slight pinch when the drain was pulled out on my right side, otherwise I honestly barely felt it. I was also still on the cycle of pain meds, so there’s that. I felt nothing on my left side. Didn’t even feel weird. Wounds were covered with a bandaid. No big deal.

Kind of bummed about the possible necrosis going on around my gut because my already slim chance of being able to hit the pool when I go to Florida just got slimmer. So boo on that, but I’m alive and cancer free, so that’s pretty cool, too.

I think that’s about it as far as updates go. I can’t think of anything that’s occurred over the last couple days that’s worthy of mentioning.

Oh, there is just one small thing.

That small little chart is of my bowel movements since being released from the hospital last Sunday. Holy medications, people! Needless to say, I’m working on softening that stool on a regular basis.

I will say one thing though. Before cancer, I prided myself on my regularity. I’d eat, poop, eat, poop, etc. Then chemo happened, and I never thought I’d see a solid crap again. Then after chemo things started to get tougher (consistency, not physical strain), but still not exactly solid. But now…things are solid. This is noteworthy stuff right here. It might not be occurring as often as we’d like, but it’s occurring!

Officially Cancer Free! Like for real, this time.

I may have jumped the gun in announcing that I was cancer free back in January.

It was the initial thought after the lumpectomy, that whatever cancer was left after the chemo, was removed during the lumpectomy. But when the pathology cane back for that, the margins weren’t great, so it was assumed some was left behind. Not a big deal since the mastectomy was in the works anyway.

Fast forward to today, when I saw Dr JB and got the results of the mastectomy pathology, and now we know it’s really gone! There was even more left behind from the lumpectomy than they’d initially assumed, but that was completely removed and the margins were great.

So hooray! I can officially say I’m cancer free! ❤️

Feels good.

Physical Therapy

I’ve had a few physical therapy sessions now. We do various exercises to stretch my right shoulder, and then started doing the same with my left since I fell in the jump castle at my niece, Gabby’s, birthday party, and super stretched that side. They did say I probably increased the range of motion on that side, though…so there’s that. Everyone got a good laugh. Yay, I’m funny.

Anyway, the stretches feel nice, and they’re easy and practical enough that I can do them at home as well. They’ve also told me that they don’t usually get people who come in who are already exercising, so that’s pretty cool. I guess most of the time people are injured, so they can’t exercise.

I’ve been taught some simply lymphatic massage techniques, too. Ways to sort of wake up the lymph system, particularly on my right side where some of the lymph nodes were removed.

The exercises are not strenuous at all, but I can see how they may become so after I’ve had the surgery and am sore in the shoulder area.

So, surgery is just a few days away now and I’m doing my best to stay active and energized! And positive, of course.

High-Five!

I’m at the oncologist at the moment, and I wish I’d brought some of the things I have to do from my to-do list! All this idle time! I’ve been updating my lists of things to do in between blood draws, meeting with the doc, and now sitting here for my infusion. I feel so organized.

Anyway, things are still looking good for me. I’m going to have to get another echocardiogram soon, so it’ll probably be planned for next week so I can get it done before surgery.

Dr YB told me to eat at least a fist-sized portion of cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, cauliflower, brussel sprouts) every day. I was like, I’m already doing that. I eat 5 portions of veggies, 1 cup each, and one is always cruciferous because that’s what I like. (Thank you Portion Fix!) He also said he wants me exercising, heart rate up to 150, 30 minutes every day. Well, I’m doing that already, too! He said he wants me to build to 150, I told him I’ve been doing this for weeks. He hive-fived me. So yeah, I’m ahead of the game, which is exactly where I hoped to be.

I’ve had 2 appointments with the PT where I’ve done different exercises. I’ll share about that in a separate post.

Some fun stuff…over the weekend I did the autism walk in Hampton Park in downtown Charleston with my nephew. I also attended my niece’s 6th birthday party! Then we had a funeral for a Brad’s Aunt on Sunday. It was a nice weekend spent with lots of friends and family.

At the birthday party was our friend, James, who was diagnosed with colon cancer several months before I was diagnosed. He’s had chemo and surgery, and is starting chemo again because it’s starting to come back. He’s in good spirits, like me, and it was actually really cool talking to (commiserating with) someone I know well, and who is going through something similar. We have a similar sense of humor, which only people going to through cancer or who are close to someone going through cancer understand. It tends to freak people out when we joke or laugh about stuff, but when you deal with the variety of BS cancer brings to the table, you have to joke and laugh. Some people get that and some people don’t. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Anyway, I’m trying to wrap up a bunch of things before surgery…tie up lots of loose ends! Wednesday is our 10 year wedding anniversary, and we’re going out of town for the weekend to a concert in Charlotte. I’m looking forward to the break before the surgery!!

And here’s a cute baby goose butt before I go. My view at the oncologist.

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Super cute siblings!

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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!

🍪 🍪🍪

Post-Op

I had my first post-op appointment with Dr JB and Dr H today. It went pretty well. They’re happy I have been comfortable and taking minimal pains medication, and everything looks good as far as the incision sites.

Unfortunately the margins weren’t perfect and there’s still a little bit of cancer left, like two or three cells. It’s nothing terrible and nothing should have to change as far as treatment goes. It means I will definitely have to have a mastectomy on the right side, but since I was planning on doing a bilateral mastectomy anyway, that doesn’t affect anything. Dr JB said that since I still have several cycles of Herceptin left, I should be fine as far as the oncology side goes, meaning I shouldn’t need to have more chemo. But I have an appointment with Dr YB this afternoon so I’ll talk to him more about that.

My lymph nodes came back clear, yay, so no radiation! That makes me super happy.

So I’ll update more later if Dr YB says something different regarding treatment, but for now everything still looks good and we’re on target for the mastectomy and reconstruction surgery in about three months.

😁👍🏻

Duh… (& hot flashes)

I spent a few minutes today looking for my phone that was in my hand. I was at chemo, and wanted to post something snarky, but by the time I found my phone (smh), I forgot what I wanted to say. So I figured I’d just say: “Hey! Today is my second to last chemo treatment! Woohoo!” Then I forgot to post it…

The chemo brain is strong with this one!

Aside from that, I’m doing well but super tired!

I may have mentioned that my liver numbers were a little high at my last chemo appointment. Well, they’re still a little high. So Dr YB reduced my taxotere dosage, as that can sometimes be a side effect. So we’ll see if that changes how I feel this cycle since taxotere is the nasty one. It would be nice since Christmas falls right smack in my bad week, so it would be cool to feel not as bad.

It was a long day, but I chatted with my recliner neighbor and listened to a book on tape, then did some word games and puzzle books. Tomorrow I’ll go for my Neulasta shot, and I don’t have to go for one week labs next week since my white and red cell counts have remained well throughout treatment. Score! One less thing to do the week of Christmas!!

After the Neulasta shot, the next thing I have to do is chemo on January 8th!

Oh! And I did talk to them about the evil hot flashes. Since my liver numbers are rising, the doc didn’t want to add any news meds to the ever growing cocktail I already have, as that can make those numbers worse. As it is, post-chemo I’m taking meds for: heartburn, nausea, and diarrhea, plus a steroid and Claritin for the Neulasta bone pain. And then I have other meds to take for more random symptoms that may pop up. It’s bananas, but I get it. So I’ll deal with the hot flashes. They’re a result of the hormones, since I’m basically in an induced menopause. Once I come off the chemo on January 8th, I’ll be continuing some hormone maintenance stuff until September. So once the chemo stops and the side effects slow down and those liver numbers go back up, we can look at treating the hot flashes.

I can’t really complain, I mean I’ve finally found fixes for most of what I’m experiencing, except the fatigue, lightheadedness, and hot flashes. It could be worse!

Ok, I’m going to crash! Have a great evening!!