Post-Op: Part II

Still a little drowsy from the meds, but I just had dinner so I’m feeling a little surge of energy and alertness, so I thought I’d try to squeeze in another post.

I had a catheter. They inserted it while I was unconscious, so that’s cool, because apparently that’s what’s uncomfortable about it – having it out in while you’re awake. So yay. It was kind of neat to just be able to pee without thinking about it. There were periods of discomfort, mostly due to the positioning of the drainage tube. It was uncomfortable when they pulled it out, too, but it’s not like they yanked it. They did it gently.

I’ve gotten up to pee three times since the catheter has been removed. Standing up is uncomfortable because I want to use my arms to push up and stabilize myself, but I can’t. I also feel like my abs are going to jump out of my body. I think it’ll be much easier to do once I get over those things. The first time I tried to sit to pee was a struggle, but the second time I remembered my squats and it was a piece of cake. Laying down hurts when I engage my abs. The nurses hold my back and lower me, but it’s nearly impossible to just release my abs and let them do the hard work. So that’s another thing I need to get over.

The last thing I remember before the surgery was the anesthesiologist saying he was going to sedate me a little bit to do the nerve block, which I remembered from the lumpectomy. He inserted the medicine into my IV and it was game over. I vaguely recall telling Dr H about my successes with losing inches around my mid-section, and saying something about wanting big boobs. That’s about it! Then I woke up in recovery. So while the world was passing hours upon hours, I was in an amazing time warp!

And I do have big boobs apparently. Double the size. Yowza!

Anyway, getting groggy again so I’ll talk to you later!!

I also apologize if there are typos in any of these post-op posts. I’m not proofreading, and I’ve only got one eye open half the time. Ha!

TTFN

Ten Years?!

Last week, on May 3rd, Brad and I celebrated our ten (10!!!) year wedding anniversary. I honestly don’t feel old enough to be married for 10 years, but I definitely am. I’m old enough to be married longer, but it just seems weird. We’ve been together for 15 years! Almost half my life. Crazy.

Each year, for our anniversary, we head to Concord, NC for Carolina Rebellion with Brad’s brother, Jeff. It’s a three day rock music festival held up at the campgrounds at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Sort of like what I imagine Woodstock would have been, complete with the dirt and the stink. We don’t camp, though. We stay in a hotel, conveniently located directly across the street from the event. Because beds and showers, duh. I can’t imagine being sore and hot from being on my feet in the heat all day long, then having to sleep on the ground. Heck no.

Anyway, this year was as much fun as years passed. We get VIP tickets so we can leave the venue and gain re-entry later on, which we took advantage of when there were bands playing that we were less interested in seeing. We love to experience as much of the festival as we can, but sometimes we need a break.

I’ve been staying on my food and exercise plan as much as I can. It’s not easy eating clean at a music festival, but I’m doing the best I can and opting for the least processed foods. Surprisingly, it’s not impossible since there are a lot of food trucks at the event and you can get things that aren’t greasy or fried. I’ve also been exercising at the hotel (thank you Beachbody® On Demand!). I did cardio and yoga, and it felt good. Just the right balance of energy and stretching. My feet and legs didn’t get nearly as sore as they usually did at the event, and I think that goes back to my increased endurance from staying active over the last few weeks.

Anyway, if you like rock music and haven’t been to one of these festivals, I highly recommend going. Carolina Rebellion is awesome, but there are others that are part of the same series, like Rock on the Range (Ohio), Welcome to Rockville (Florida), Rocklahoma (Oklahoma), and more. So much fun.

And a lot of people say, “Aren’t you too old for that?” The answer is “No.” There are all ages at these shows, and I mean that. Babies to seniors, no joke. There was a woman in her 80s crowd surfing one year…someone in a wheelchair, even. You don’t have to be in the center of a mosh pit to be at a concert, there are plenty of safer, calmer places to be and still have a good time.

Plus, I’m a firm believer that you’re only as old as you feel. Some days I feel like I’m 100 years old, other days I don’t. Bottom line: I’m going to enjoy myself.

Port Shift?

When I got the port place, it felt awkward. It was like, “Holy crap, there’s something popping out of my chest.” Not actually popping our of my chest, but it’s there and it’s foreign and it’s weird. I still sort of feel that way, but I’m used to it.

So back to the beginning. I remember being afraid that if I sneezed a really good sneeze, like one of those muscle-popping sneezes, that the port would just pop out of my chest. I can’t explain why I felt that way, or how I thought that could happen, but I totally did. I presented this concern to the doctor, even though I was fairly sure it was an irrational concern. She said not to worry, that port wasn’t going anywhere.

Challenge accepted.

Enter jump castle. Correction. Enter jump castle obstacle course.

I thought it would be wise to show how great my endurance was and how quickly I could move through the jump castle obstacle course since I’ve been getting so much exercise, building muscle, etc. So after going through it once solo, I decided to race my sister-in-law.

You can imagine how this went. Long story short, we collided somewhere in the middle. She sprained her wrist, I overstretched my left arm, and I’m pretty sure I popped a stitch on my port because there’s a little wobbliness that wasn’t there before.

Shrugs.

I’ll see my surgeon this week and she can check it out, but everyone at the oncologist said it looked okay. It is attached to my jugular, so if there was an issue, I’d know about it by now. It’s been over a week and I’ve had an infusion through it, and nada.

So yeah…if you have a port…maybe jump castles aren’t the best place to be…or at least a jump castle race might not be the best decision.

Oh! I did win the race against my sister-in-law, but I then challenged my brother-in-law and lost miserably.

Second moral of the story – when you’ve got something crazy going on with your toenail, jump castles might not be the place to be.

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, and one is almost always cruciferous because that’s what I like. 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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Physical Therapy

I had a consult with the physical therapist last week. We did sort of a meet and greet, and she took some baseline readings.

Some different things to report, nothing incredibly exciting, but all new information!

  1. I learned about lymphedema, which is swelling associated with removed lymph nodes. Since lymph nodes drain fluid, having them removed may result in trouble draining. So I need to be careful if I get a sunburn, an actual burn, or any other kind of wound on my right side because the fluid build up (i.e. the stuff inside a blister) may not drain properly.
  2. I don’t have full range of motion in my arm/shoulder. Who knew? Apparently you can have 180 degrees, but I have about 140. Dr. P was able to locate some scar tissue in my under arm and played around with it quite a bit. It extends down my arm, not quite to the elbow. It hurts when it’s played with, but I’ll live. Anyway, the scar tissue could be a result of the lumpectomy, which is why they recommend seeing a PT after the mastectomy, since there will be a lot more scar tissue involved. Also…who knew scar tissue could spread? (Kerry, you can’t answer this one, it’s not fair!)
  3. I can’t fully extend my elbow. Again, who knew?
  4. I can’t bend my wrist to a 90 degree angle.

So those last two, wrist and elbow, were good for me to hear. Why? Well, I have been struggling with planks in my workouts. I feel too much pressure on my wrists, and a general awkwardness in the position. I feel strong enough to do planks, but I just don’t feel right. Anyway, Dr. P gave me some modifications for plank, some of which I already do, but others were new to me, so I’m looking forward to trying them out. But besides that, I was happy to hear about my elbow and wrist because it validated my issues with plank. I didn’t want the reason I couldn’t do them to be because I was a whiny baby wimp. So I’m glad there’s a bigger reason for it, if that makes sense? And a reason I can work with the PT to fix!

I mean seriously, check this out…

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Is it any wonder planks are uncomfortable on my wrists? Crazy…

So I’m going to be cramming appointments with the PT into my already bananas schedule between now and the surgery (May 10th, if I didn’t mention it already). Then I’ll continue after the surgery.

I’m hoping to be up and moving fairly quickly, but we shall see!

Endurance

Brad and I went with his brother, Jeff, to an all day concert last Sunday. Typically after being on my feet all day, I am sooooore. So sore I’m whining about it. This year, I wasn’t. Which is great, because we’ve got a three day concert coming up next weekend and I’ll be on my feet for three days straight.

Tomorrow I’m doing the Walk for Autism at Hampton Park in Charleston. The company I do ABA therapy with is going to have a booth, but me and my nephew are going to do the walk, then help out with clean up at the company’s booth. (He doesn’t know that yet, ha.)

Anyway, I’m enjoying being more physically active and having the endurance to do all this stuff. After having no endurance whatsoever during chemo, it’s a welcomed change. I mean, I remember struggling to find the strength to walk across the house, and then getting winded. The other day at my nephew’s baseball game, I ran around the playground with my niece and didn’t get tired. It was awesome.

Clean Eating & Exercise Results

I can’t even begin to tell you all the benefits I’ve been experiencing since deciding to eat clean.

What is clean eating exactly? Simply put, it’s not eating processed foods. It’s about knowing the ingredients in the foods you’re eating. It’s about eating healthy fats, oils, proteins, carbs, fruits, and vegetables.

What isn’t it? Deprivation. When I started this, I was afraid I’d be depriving myself, and I’m really not. I’m eating so much more on my new food plan. I don’t get hungry and I don’t get cravings. Well, that’s not entirely true. Sometimes I want cookies or ice cream or fro-yo. And guess what? Sometimes I eat cookies and ice cream and fro-yo.

The plan as a whole is about not punishing yourself for a little indulgence here and there. It’s OK to have a cheat day or a cheat meal, just pick back up the next day.

Honestly, I pretty much had a cheat day on Sunday. I did my best to stick to the plan, but we spent the day out at a concert and really didn’t have a lot of options in the healthy food department. We opted for smoked turkey legs because it was the closest thing on any of the food vendors’ menus to plain food. Everything else had sauces, grease, etc. When we left there we stopped at…ahemtacobellahem…and I ate a little more. Then we came home and I had a cookie, ice cream, and a caffeine free Diet Coke. When I head for a downward spiral, I seriously spiral…I am extremely compulsive, especially when it comes to food.

Fast forward a few hours and I was wide awake at 1:00 in the morning feeling like absolute garbage because I might as well have just poisoned my body with the food I ate. Could I have gotten away with a Coke? Absolutely, I occasionally have a Malibu and Diet Coke when we go out on Friday nights for trivia with absolutely no repercussions. Could I have had ice cream? Sure. I believe it was the combination of all of that, that made me feel like crap.

With that being said, I learned my lesson. Stepping outside of the box once in a while to eat a cookie or fro-yo, to have dinner out, isn’t a bad thing. It’s not a reward either, it’s just an indulgence. It’s not going to kill me. But it made me realize that in the last three weeks, I’ve spoiled my body with this awesome and nutritious food, and it (my body, keep up) has rewarded me with feeling amazing.

Exhibit A – My lactose intolerance is practically a non-issue. In fact, if I’d quit my ice cream and fro-yo cheats, I don’t think I’d need to take a pill at all. In my food plan, some cheeses are considered healthy fats. These cheeses are ones like mozzarella or goat cheese, cheeses that if I buy the most raw stuff I can find, I won’t need to take a pill anyway. I don’t know why, but I can eat fancy mozzarella without taking a pill. Maybe it doesn’t have lactose. I don’t know. The bottom line is that I was spending like $20+ a month on my pills, and I haven’t had to buy them in weeks. That’s a secondary win for me.

Exhibit B – I’m eating enough filling, nutritious foods that I feel good all the time. I have energy (except when I’m mentally exhausted from end of semester assignments!). I want to do things. It’s made me happy, which I’m sure isn’t just the clean eating, but the exercise as well.

Clean eating is also cheaper than dining out. I think I mentioned the cost of food once before, and I believe I’ve spent less on my clean foods than I have on processed. It’s also nice to be able to go grocery shopping quickly, basically only walking around the outside aisles of the store, since that’s where the fresh stuff is. Ever notice that? Produce, meats, and stuff are all in a ring around the outside of the store. All the processed stuff is in the middle. Keeps it simple, I just avoid those center aisles and voila! Done! Well, I do veer off to frozen foods for veggies, but you get the idea…

So my final results for the this exercise plan was 8.2 lbs lost, 3.5 inches lost around hips and waist, and about 4 inches gained in my arms, legs, and chest. I don’t have a problem with the gains, I think they’re probably muscle. My body was pretty much mush after chemo. I had very little strength at all and my muscles were soft. I have zero issue with gaining inches if it means building that muscle back up and making my body stronger. My waist is my problem area, particularly because of the upcoming surgery, and I lost there, so I’m good!

I started a new workout plan today, and I already love it!

Sprained Ankle

Because again…why not?

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I think I twisted it getting out of the car and sort of falling into a hole…long story…and no, I wasn’t drunk.

Anyway, I’ve been exercising on it and I finally did a little Google search to see why it felt like something was bouncing around the outside of my ankle bone, sort of like a rubber band. Believe it or not, I’ve never had a sprained ankle before, so I had NO idea.

Dr. Google diagnosed me, and I was at the chiropractor later that day or the next day and I mentioned it. They confirmed it sounded like a sprain and suggested an exercise, so I’ve been doing that. They also suggested I get a stabilizer, which I did and it helps. I don’t wear it all the time because it doesn’t hurt all the time, but I do put it on when I exercise, or if I plan to be on my feet for a while.

I skipped one day of exercising, but it was my “rest” day anyway, which was yoga. I probably could have done the yoga without a problem, but I figured I’d just chill out instead and keep off the foot.

I’ve been super busy finishing up the semester (last day is Thursday, yeah!!), but I’ve got lots more to share, so stay tuned for more posts in the next few days!

Surgery Update

Surgery is scheduled for May 10!

Nervous? Not really. This will be my third surgery in less than a year, so it’s not something new. I am a little anxious about the recovery. I really don’t want to be uncomfortable or stuck in one place for too long.

I talked to the nurse at the plastic surgeon’s office and asked a bunch of recovery questions. Since I’ve gotten started exercising again, I am concerned about having to wait a long time before I can be active again. I got the general “6 week recovery” info, but I didn’t know if that’s 6 months on my back or if I can slowly work myself back up.

So the nurse said I’ll probably be able to move around relatively soon after the surgery. She said I’ll probably be a little hunched, because the skin over my stomach will be drawn tight. She said I should plan to not do much the week following the surgery (I’m so disappointed I won’t be able to do that marathon I didn’t sign up for…) but that when I feel up to it I can start with short walks and build myself up to longer walks. She basically said to listen to my body to see what I can do as far as exercise. She also said they’ll probably recommend that I increase my protein intake, so I’ll need to see if my current level of proteins (5 servings a day) is enough, or if I’ll need more.

Here’s some general info I found at The Cleveland Clinic’s website on nutrition tips to improve would healing:

“Power” Foods and Food Groups to Help With Wound Healing

Protein: Meats, beans, eggs, milk and yogurt particularly Greek yogurt), tofu, soy nuts, soy protein products

Vitamin C: Citrus fruits and juices, strawberries, tomatoes, tomato juice, peppers, baked potatoes, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage

Vitamin A: Dark green, leafy vegetables, orange or yellow vegetables, cantaloupe, fortified dairy products, liver, fortified cereals

Zinc: Fortified cereals, red meats, seafood

(link to source)

This info is pretty good because I eat a lot of this stuff as part of my current nutrition plan. I haven’t been eating too much citrus because I haven’t seen many good oranges in the stores, but in a month that should change. I am eating spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, so that’s a bonus. In addition to spinach, I eat lots of carrots, so Vitamin A is in the bag, too. As I mentioned, I get plenty of protein from meat and eggs and my shakes, so that’s good. I feel pretty good about my body being prepped for recovery.

Not quite sure when I’ll be able to get back to exercising, but I’m going to work my butt off until then, at the very least. I’ll be able to exercise for about 6 weeks (I’ll be about 4 days short since surgery is a Thursday).

Anyway, I’ll have a pre-op appointment with the plastic surgeon a couple days before the surgery, and a pre-op appointment at the hospital. This surgery will be at East Cooper Medical Center in Mount Pleasant, which is a hike from home, but I guess it just depends on the day of the week as far as what hospital I’m at since my doctors have privileges at a few different ones. I just hope they have decent food, otherwise Brad’s going to have to bring me my shake, a mini-fridge, and the Nutri Bullet so I can make my shakes.

Speaking of shakes…I tried the chocolate today and it was amazing!!!!! Tastes like a delicious chocolate milkshake and there is no milk or ice cream in it.

So that’s all for today. I may have mentioned that I have an appointment scheduled next week with the physical therapist. I’ll report on that then.

TTFN