Our family grew by four feet!

First, thanks to the friends who reached out on Friday. I was feeling pretty blue, and you all made me feel better. We all have those days when we feel terrible about everything, and that was me on Friday. Everything sucked. I napped, exercised, and had dinner at Cici’s Pizza. It was perfect.

But now, drumroll please…

This is Sir Barkley “the Trash Panda” Elkins. What’s with the name? Lemme break it down for you.

Sir Barkley is for Charles Barkley because this little guy is our rebound dog and Charles Barkley was a rebound dude. And Trash Panda is a Guardians of the Galaxy thing…Drax calls Rocket (raccoon) a trash panda. Our Barkley has a mask over his eyes, like a raccoon or a panda.

Barkley is a chihuahua blue heeler mix. He’s 5 weeks old. His mom stopped nursing, which is why he was released earlier than puppies usually are. He is a little ball of energy who goes bananas for 30 minutes to an hour, then crashes for 30 minutes to two hours.

We are feeding him powdered puppy milk and he was getting some watered down dry puppy food. He prefers the puppy milk, though. We’re going to keep trying the puppy food every now and then.

He’s playful and handsome and stealing the hearts of everyone he meets. He fits in the palm our hand. He’s also very smart. He loves his toys and hates his crate.

He’s a momma’s boy. When he hears my voice or sees me, he takes off after me. It’s the absolute sweetest thing, if I do say so myself. Daisy was a daddy’s girl, so it fits that this little man is a momma’s girl.

I’ve been calling him a Puppy McNugget since he’s so small. His mom was typical chihuahua size and his dad was about knee-high, so he’ll be somewhere between, which was about Daisy’s size, too, which is perfect.

We’re happy to have him, and we see things in him that make us think Daisy would approve. We fully intend on spoiling him rotten and capturing every moment. Brad joked that we should start an Instagram for him. I guess we’ll see. I have one I barely remember to use, so maybe we’ll just use that. He goes for his vaccinations in a week. Wish him luck!

As for me…I’m getting some teeth yanked on Friday, so wish me luck! We’re supposed to go to see Old Dominion, but I’ll have had IV anesthesia so we’ll see if I can join. Talk about crappy timing…

It’s the little things

I think I’ve used this title on a post before, but it still apples! It always applies. Sometimes the littlest things mean so much.

The polish on my toes had faded pretty badly, it was also Christmas themed, so ta-da! I went with something bright and sparkly, something happy that would remind me that spring is coming.

It also reminded me that I am badly in need of a pedicure. Chemo dried out my skin so horribly and I swear my feet suffered the brunt of that. They’ve also become super sensitive and ticklish, so having someone touch them is going to be interesting. In the meantime, I’m gonna get my foot bath out of storage and soak in some Epsom salts.

Parting is such sweet sorrow…

It may be cliché to say that, but I honestly can’t think of a better way to describe how I felt letting Daisy go yesterday. People said she’d let us know when she was ready, and she sure did. She was a dog with so much spirit, and it was just gone.

This is how we will forever remember our girl…

I can’t say enough good things about Charleston Veterinary Referral Center. From when we took Daisy for a late night ER visit, to the oncology department who helped evaluate her and keep her comfortable and deal with my incessant canine cancer questions, and finally to the evening ER visit last night…they were absolutely wonderful. I honestly don’t think Brad and I would have made it through last night if it wasn’t for them. It was different from any other veterinary experience I’ve ever had with her or any other pet. Hell, they were better than a lot of human doctors I’ve met. They are compassion, plain and simple.

Brad and I got to hold her and rock her, and she fell asleep in our arms. We were the last thing she saw before she closed her eyes. She was snoring peacefully and looked like the little snoozing baby dog we remembered. The doctor took her to the back to put her fully at rest; we weren’t sure we could handle that. I mean we’re pretty strong people, but we’re not that strong.

As difficult as it was to make that decision, we knew it’s what she needed and, among the emptiness in our hearts, we feel an odd sense of peace, too, because we know she’s at rest. She’s probably playing with her friends and fur-siblings on the other side. She was always a happy dog, and she always bounced back, and I have no doubt she’s causing some trouble as we speak.

She was the best girl and she’ll forever be in our hearts, and the hearts of those who knew her and loved her. Thanks for all the kind words. ❤

Happy New Year!

2019. It’s gonna be a great year. Lots of good things.

However, it’s off to a rough start.

First of all, Merry Christmas! I hope you had a wonderful holiday, I did. Brad and I spent the holiday with his family, and we went to the Festival of Lights, too. Here’s one of my faves this year.

After Christmas, I ended up with a stomach bug that lasted straight through Friday. It was glorious.

We went to the South Carolina Gamecocks bowl game in Charlotte over the weekend. Our seats were in the sky and the team lost miserably, but it was an experience I can cross off our 101 list, so that was pretty cool.

See that concrete wall a few rows behind us, behind that girl? That’s the back of the stadium. That’s how high up we were. I had about 15 minutes of vertigo/anxiety when we first arrived because I felt like I was going to fall the heck down.

Also, there was a little excitement in the nosebleeds. I didn’t see all of it, but from what I heard, some UVA fans were celebrating an interception and spilled some beer on some people in front of them, including some kids, and the father said something, and the UVA fan lady dumped her drink over his head. That I did see. Needless to say, security came and threw the UVA fans out.

On the way back from Charlotte, I ended up with a sore throat and fever. Body aches were insane. Being stuck in the car three hours was pure torture.

The sore throat stuck with me through New Year’s Eve, which was really fun since I had some great drinking games planned. I sat sober on the couch while everyone else partied, which is fine but it still sucked. For me anyway.

And guess what? I still have a fever. And guess what else? I’m pretty sure it might possibly be strep due to the white spots on my tonsils. Hooray!

Oh, and I can’t forget the other New Year doozy. We had to take Daisy to the emergency vet because she has had diarrhea and a distended stomach and was also very lethargic. Turns out it’s nothing serious, thank God, and she’ll be on some antibiotics and a special diet for a few days.

So tomorrow I’ll be heading to the doc. I should have figured it was more than a cold when days passed and I still had a fever a horrible sore throat. I mean, I can barely swallow solid food and it’s not getting any better. Boo!

So that was the end of my 2018 and the beginning of my 2019. It can only get better!

Right?!?!

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.

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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.

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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!

Storm Log: Day 4

Found the portable charger, right where I told Brad it was. 🙄 My dad went golfing. My mother made brownies. Brad and I are stir crazy. Will went out for a little bit for a change in scenery.

We have debris in the roadway.

And cloud cover.

Somewhere, people mowed their lawns. One of the neighborhood pools was also open.

May have made contact with a potential looter scoping out the neighborhood. Held up a sign that said “if you loot, we shoot.” (Not really, we don’t have a sign, but we will shoot.)

Watched Life of the Party with Melissa McCarthy. So funny. Snacked on chips and salsa and cheese and crackers.

Today’s Soundtrack:

Bad Moon Rising – CCR

We Didn’t Start the Fire – BJ

Bohemian Rhapsody – Q

https://bstjennifer.files.wordpress.com/2018/09/img_5196.mov

The sky at 7:30pm. There was a misty sprinkle of rain while I was recording.

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!!

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!

Do I have a new belly button?

Never thought I’d ever ask that question.

There’s a nice, upside down view of my new belly button. Pardon the wrinkles on my tum from my clothes and blankets.

I knew it was a possibility with the flap that I’d have to get a new one, since the skin gets pulled so snugly together over the tummy. So my previous belly button, or B.B. 1.0, was lost in the process.

I noticed B.B. 2.0 when I was checking myself out, but wasn’t sure if it was new, or if the stitching was just part of the procedure. So I asked.

It’ll be interesting to see how real it looks once it’s healed.

Drains

I feel like the drains are a significant enough piece of post-op that they deserve their own post, even though I may have already shared some of this info.

The tubes go in at each side of my belly incision, they’re sort of fastened into place. There are also two more that go into the underside of each breast.

At the hospital, the nurses and techs were emptying them periodically, but at home I do it twice a day: am and pm. The output has to be less than 20 ccs total per day, I think, to have the drains removed. I need to check the papers to be sure. It may be 10 ccs. Regardless, I’m not at either number yet. Some do put out less than others, but the lower belly ones put out more, which apparently is normal.

I have a camisole I got from the hospital that has pockets on the inside that the drains fit into. It has a Velcro closure up the front. It’s not too bad to wear, and I like how things are properly stowed away.

That’s the inside left side of the camisole. Two bulbs fit on each side.

The liquid gunk that goes into the drains does not smell. Thank God. Because I’d die if it did. I’d be the biggest barfing baby in all the land. Brad, too.

We went to Kohl’s today so I could check out some comfy shirt dresses, and we stopped for lunch. Well, at some point one of the tubes popped off the bulb and a little oozed on my shirt. Brad was pale. I kept my cool, however, because that happened a few times while I was in the hospital. That one is just a little looser than the others. Short of them actually falling out, which seems impossible, I can’t really do anything wrong with them.

But seriously, the drains aren’t as gross or as bad as I’d imagined they would be. There is some soreness where the tubes go in, but I’m learning how to not aggravate those sites when I move.

This is an upside down view of the drain that’s on the left side (my left) of my abdomen. To the right of the white circle is the incision that stretches straight across my tummy. At the other end is another tube. This tube in the picture is the most active one out of the four. The red color of the tube is the actual color of the drainage coming out. You’re welcome.

It’s getting better every hour. No lie. I’m getting up and sitting down with little resistance from my body. I’m trying to take it easy, while continuing to get/keep my blood flowing.

I’m telling you, working my legs and abs so hard before the surgery was probably the smartest thing I could have done. I have no ab or leg soreness and I’m using the heck out of them! I’d probably be in bed a lot more if I hadn’t worked those muscles so well.