Another post-op update

I’m about 4 weeks post-op, and all my wounds are finally completely healed! Both breasts and my belly are sealed and don’t look too bad.

I think I mentioned that the incision on my right breast, aka no nip, was kind of gnarly and open when the steri-strip came off about 2 weeks post-op, so I’ve been putting antibiotic ointment on it and covering it with a gauze pad ever since and it got smaller and smaller until it finally sealed. Yay! Hooray for ointment. What a funny word…ointment.

Anyway, I have an appointment Monday with Dr YB for my three month checkup. I have some questions for him regarding future checkups and scans and stuff. He’d said I don’t need to have scans and all that, but I feel like I will need to at some point? I don’t know. My brain was still a little fuzzy during my last chat with him, so I need a refresher on where all the medical stuff will come in while I’m out living my life. I’ll post an update afterwards.

And don’t forget…if you’re interested in being part of More Than Ribbons, go follow that page! You can follow the blog by email or the Facebook page by using the links below. You don’t have to spend money to be part of the team, it’s free to participate. Check out the page for more info!

http://www.morethanribbons.org

fb.me/morethanribbons

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!

Still one drain…story of my life.

I had two drains removed yesterday, the ones in my chest, which is great because they were sore and itchy and nobody liked them. Ha. Seriously, though. I was so aware of those two. I kind of figured the belly one would stay, so I’m not surprised. I’m not even that annoyed about it, except this whole shower thing, but I’m about to bust out some plastic wrap so I can shower. Not even kidding. Shh, don’t tell.

I’ve had a BM since I last posted. I know that makes you as happy as it makes me. I’ve slowed down on my water drinking and I know that’s part of my problem, so I’ll pick that back up. Also, the anti-nausea meds can cause constipation and since I’m not taking oxycodone anymore, I’m not taking the anti-nausea meds anymore. I’m also getting a little annoyed that constipation isn’t coming up on the predictive text on my iPhone and I have to spell it out every time. It’s a long word, Apple, get with the program.

I’m working my way into my new food plan, and healthy eating is making me feel good. Yay! Should regulate some stuff as well. This time I’m doing something a little different, which I’ll talk about later, just to give it a try. So far I love it, and we’ll see if I have results. I also can’t wait to get this drain pulled so I can exercise, but for now it’s walking!!

That’s all the update I’ve got for today, so I’ll share more when I’ve got more. 💜

Nausea, constipation, gas, and insomnia, oh my!

I almost sound like a Pepto Bismal commercial. I’m still feeling pretty good. Still some soreness at my port site and on my ribs at the entry points for the drain tubes. I don’t have pain at my belly or chest incisions.

I’m backed up from the medications, which is incredibly frustrating. And, ironically, I take more medicine for the gas and constipation. Today, nothing seems to be working in that department though. It’s different from the last time because I was in the hospital for the days following the surgery and I didn’t have any bowel movements there, so I guess I’m not doing so bad in the grand scheme of things considering I have had a few BMs since this surgery, they’re just not as frequent as I’d like them to be, so I’m uncomfortable.

Also, just a note, I’ve had very little appetite today. I had a late lunch, ate some fruit, a cupcake, and that was it. I have been eating pretty regularly, but today was a blah day for food, which perhaps is related to the constipation.

Sleep is random. I was having insomnia before, and the only thing that seemed to help the last couple days were the pain meds and the muscle relaxer. But I didn’t take any of those during the day because I really didn’t feel like I needed them…which is good. I did take a pain pill around midnight because of the rib pain. It’s very uncomfortable, and I will be glad when those are pulled. I can’t even feel the one at my waist.

So it’s 2:30 and I can’t sleep. I’m watching more Buffy the Vampire Slayer and listening to Brad snore and slowly going insane…

I’ll update after my post-op appointment with Dr H on Monday.

Final Surgery Recap

And now for a more comprehensive recap of my surgery.

I had it at the same hospital where I had my mastectomy, so I had high hopes. Nothing went wrong, but being an outpatient was a different experience. My pre-surgery nurse was nice, but had no personality and a perma-frown. I tried to get her to talk or smile, no luck. She did interact with me, but she just never smiled. She took my vitals, asked all the right questions, and hooked up my IV. Just very straight and to the point, unlike many of the other nurses and techs I’d come into contact with throughout this journey.

Next I met the anesthesiologist, surgical nurse, and Dr. H. Then the anesthesiology nurse came and gave me chill out drugs, and took me away…while I still had my glasses on and before I could say goodbye to Brad! I don’t remember much else after that. I do vaguely recall moving from one gurney to another in the OR, but that’s it.

I woke up in recovery with a very dry mouth. I was given an anti-nausea patch before the surgery and one of the side effects was dry mouth. It lasted quite some time and I drank my usual post-op cranberry juice and had some ice chips. I tried to eat some crackers so I could take the pain meds, but my mouth was too dry so I stuck with the ice chips.

The pain has been intermittent. I have a pretty high pain tolerance, so it’s hard for me to judge exactly what it all feels like.

First off, no more port! So weird. It’s the smallest incision, but it’s the one I feel the most. That’s probably because I still had a lot of numbness in my chest and abdomen from the previous surgery.

unnamed

My boobs are smaller (yay!). I’ve gained weight since the previous surgery, and since abdominal fat grows faster than other fats, my boobs gained weight. Plus, my boobs were a little too big for my liking anyway, so I’m glad they are a bit smaller. And, of course, this surgery shaped them up a bit since the flaps were removed. Remember the pic of the softball looking stitches? They are gone!

My chest is a little sore, but what’s weird is the the tube from the drains is so close to the surface. It looks totally crazy.

unnamed (1)

The incisions on my breast are just straight lines from my nipple down to my chest on each side. Pretty simple and tame looking. Right now there are steri-strips over those incisions, so once those come off, I’ll share pics. Dr. H fixed about a 10 inch stretch of my abdominal incision where the scar tissue was a little gnarly from him having to reopen it so it would heal from the inside out. That looks neat and clean, but it is also covered steri-strips.

I have three drains, one on each side of my chest and one at my waist. The ones in my chest are not producing much, but the one in my waist is. Last night was 60 ccs, this morning was 30. Each side was less than 10 this morning. I am hoping all will be pulled at my appointment on Monday, but I’ll accept whatever I can get. I certainly don’t want fountain belly again. I did not get a surgical bra or one of those tank tops that hold the drains this time, so I’ve got a sash made out of gauze that the drains are hanging from. It’s quite awkward. Last time, the drains had clips I could clip to my shirt or pants, not this time.

My appetite is fine and I have a good level of energy. I am a bit constipated from all the drugs, so I’ve been taking some kind of fiber pill to help me use the bathroom. I can’t take a shower until the drains are removed, so that’s fun. It’s a good thing I have a shower sprayer with a hose so I can clean from the waist down and wash my hair. I’ll have to use a wash cloth everywhere else. (Insert eye roll here.) I guess there has been an increase in infection related to showering with drains, so Dr. H changed his aftercare instructions. I just want to be healthy, so I’ll do whatever they say!

Not much else to report at the moment, at least nothing I can think of. I’m off work until after Thanksgiving, at which point I hope to be feeling at or close to 100%. It’s hard working with kiddos when you’re not well or don’t have full range of motion. Tomorrow, I’m going to try to go out with Brad for a little bit and do some food shopping. I’m ready to dive back into our healthy eating plan, and I figured I’d use my week off next week to get readjusted to that, even though it is the week of Thanksgiving and it seems dumb to talk about healthy eating and Thanksgiving in the same sentence. But that’s the thing about the plan he and I are following. It’s OK to take a day off or to make mistakes. It’s not going to throw us into a downward spiral of shame. It’s just one day.

So yeah, I think I’ve included everything and if you want to know more, just ask! It’s quite possible that I’ve omitted something or glazed over something else in my medicated stupor over here. You all know I’m not shy, so ask away!

Save the date…

My next and (hopefully!!!!) final surgery will be on Tuesday, November 13th! 🎉

It will be at East Cooper Medical Center, same as the last. Hopefully we’ll wake up on time this time since it’s 45 minutes away and we have to be there at 5:30. When I talked with the admissions nurse today, she said she usually hears that people get stuck in traffic, not that they oversleep. Glad I could be the first. Ha.

So this is the second stage of the breast reconstruction, revision of the abdominal incision (where there’s some serious scar tissue from when I had to get cut open), and port removal! So three parts, two surgeons, about three hours. I will probably have drains, too. Two up top and one at my belly. Yay. Not.

I’m bummed because my bestie will be in town and this is interfering with our time together, but it is what it is. We’ll just have to catch up again after. We’re going to get to spend a super fun weekend together in Columbia at a book signing, and we’re staying at a lake house which will be even more fun. So this is a crappy ending to our fun trip, but whatever. At least we get our fun trip!

In other news…

Today was Halloween and I had a good day. I saw one of my kiddos, did some pre-op stuff, and went to a Halloween party. I saw my niece, Gabby, and randomly saw some good friends of ours who were trick-or-treating with their kids. It was a nice day.

I am going with a couple coworkers to the South Carolina ABA conference next week. The conference is Monday and Tuesday in Greenville. It’s my first ABA conference, and I’m looking forward to it.

So…oncologist and more pre-op Monday the 12th. Surgery on Tuesday the 13th. Post-op on Monday the 19th. Probably another post-op sometime after that. Then I’m done!! I’ll still have the Lupron shots every four weeks, and daily meds, but that’s it.

In the meantime, I’ll be living my life.

✌🏻 ❤️

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!

Gray hairs and stripped skin

I remembered what I wanted to complain about on Friday!

My hair is growing in. It’s thick and fluffy and will be back to aggravating me in no time. Well, it’s already aggravating me because my stupid gray hairs are growing back in. Give me a freaking break!? Ugh. Anyway, that’s one of the things I wanted to mention but forgot about.

The second thing is that I am literally pulling my skin off with this stupid tape every day. I stuff my wound with gauze, then tape a gauze pad (or seven, since I’m draining there, too) on top. I try to put the tape in a different place each time so I’m not ripping it off the same skin ever time I change it. I’m running out of skin! Sometimes it even bleeds. This crap hurts. And it’s weird because I don’t have feeling on my skin above the incision line, so I can’t feel it. I can only see that my skin is super red and sometimes bleeding. Below the incision line, I feel, and I don’t like it at all!

Ohhh! And since I hate shaving my legs, I’ll add that it’s quite annoying to have my leg hair growing again.

In other news, it looks like gaping hole is getting smaller. It’s getting harder to stuff the gauze in there. It’s still totally there, though.

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. 😊