{a weekend with the v’s}

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What a wonderful weekend!  It started out in the gym.  You are starting to realize, if you haven’t already, that I talk about the gym A LOT.  The gym is a very important place to me.  My family goes there together, Tony and I get to workout together from time-to-time, I get stronger, sometimes I get to step in and help people get stronger, I learn more each day and I am learning how to teach in the gym.  We have great coaches that keep us motivated everyday.  Throughout the year we have potlucks at the gym to enjoy our community outside of workouts.  This time we had a Pink Party.  Eat pink, find something pink to bring to the potluck.  Wear pink, find something pink to show your support for breast cancer awareness.  It was so fun seeing everybody in their pink and what they found to prepare for the potluck.  We found there was a lot of salmon. :)  Yum!!  Everybody looked great in their pink, but I think the Hearn family may have won the prize.  The guys all sported huge pink ribbons around their neck like a huge scarf and the ladies revamped their “Tuff Enough” t-shirts to make them a little more girly and added a little bling that made my laugh and a little teary all at once.

I was blessed with many hugs, words of support, a new stainless steel water bottle (because plastic is evil) and a gorgeous bouquet of flowers.  After much grazing of good food and visiting with great friends, Coach B got everybody’s attention and said a few words.  When he was finished he broke out some new CrossFit stocking caps available for sale that Miss P ordered.  Check these out!  How awesome are these?  We bought four total for our family, I bought one for my girlfriend in Denver and my siblings ordered six all together!  Fantastic!

After Coach B finished saying a few words it was my turn.  I didn’t have anything planned out to say and I was starting to cry before I even had one sentence out.  I hope I said enough to convey my gratitude and love for our gym community.  Afterwards I kept thinking of things I wish I would have said.   One thing, I wish I would have specifically acknowledged our coach and his wife.  They have done so much for us in terms of support and organizing great things to show that support from them and the gym as a whole.  Thank you, Buf and Penny!  I love you guys.  It was a great evening of friends.  You can’t beat that. 

Later that night when Tony and I were talking about the evening I told him that one thing I haven’t done enough is thank him for his love and support.  I started crying immediately when I started to tell him this.  I could not have made it through all of this without my dear husband.  This was hard on him.  I think as a spouse you would feel helpless.  You can’t take the pain away or make things better.  He had a hard time telling people that his wife had cancer.  When he called his dad to tell him he told his dad while choking up that he had bad news and then couldn’t speak.  He was overwhelmed with worry leading up to my surgery worrying that something would happen to me.  He was stressed at the thought of taking care of everything and getting the work done that he needed to for work.  After surgery he took care of me.  He brought me food, he got me my meds during the day and in the middle of the night.  He changed the dressings on my incisions, he emptied my drains,  he dressed me, he washed my hair and soaped me up in the shower.  He took care of the kids, he loved up on them, he drove me around, he went to every appointment with me, he held onto me when I cried and stroked my hair when I sobbed.  He held my hand and handed me kleenex when I cried.  He looked at my body after surgery like nothing had changed. . . like nothing had changed when everything had.  I could go on and on, but that last thing is the one thing I needed most.

So our wonderful weekend continues.  Friday night at the gym wore me out and left me pretty sore.  Just being up and about, even if I’m not doing a whole lot does this to me.  So Saturday morning Tony let Tyler and me sleep in (Tyler was recovering from a stomach bug) and he packed Kenna up for her first wrestling tournament.  A Blue/Red Takedown Tournament.  I had no idea what this was so had to ask.  It’s a nice short tournament.  A great way to break newbies into a wrestling tournament.  You win a match by scoring two takedowns.  My girl kicked some butt! :-)  She lost her first one and won the next two. 

She didn’t want to go at all and was very nervous her first match.  She had no idea what to expect, but quickly figured it out.  In a text I asked Tony if she was enjoying it after she had a chance to wrestle.  He said she had just told him with a huge smile on her face, “I’m so proud of me!”  Oh, honey, you should be!  When she got home she told me, “I was so scared.”  I said, “That’s okay.  If you don’t do things that scare you, you won’t know what you can do.”

Later that night we had friends over for drinks and munchies.  We chatted, ate, had drinks, ate, laughed, laughed some more, ate, visited and laughed some more.  Great times.  I broke out a great “game” that Tony and discovered a few years ago when we spent our 15th anniversary at some cottages on Lake Superior.  It is called “Table Topics”. 

It is a box of cards with “questions to start great conversations”.  Just like the box says, it did just that!  Good times! 

You can get a family one, Girl’s Night Out, etc.  I picked up, “Not Your Mom’s Dinner Party”.  Pick up a box for your family or a fun night with friends.  I plan to get a family one next.  The kids will love it!

Sunday!  Today was a good, good day.  Our coach and his wife invited us to their awesome log home for brunch.  They live about 30 minutes from us and it was a beautiful sunny day for a drive.  The sun was shining on our winter wonderland.

  We spent about three hours with them visiting and enjoying a wonderful meal.  We were treated to mimosas, stuffed french toast with huckleberry sauce and fresh whipped cream (I’m pretty sure this didn’t make the Paleo list, but it was amazing!) and cheesy scrambled eggs topped with a mixture of sausage and a bunch of yummy veggies.  It was wonderful.  After breakfast the kids went outside and enjoyed a fantastic sledding hill and roaming the mountainside.  We finished up our visit with the kids warming up and enjoying a cup of hot chocolate.  What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

Next we headed out for a little drive that would end up being the kids favorite part of the day. :)  Earlier in the day, for some reason unbeknownst to me, Tony started searching for dogs in the ads online.  In his search he came across an ad for a female and male purebred Welsh Corgis for sale for $100 each.  Soooo, Tony called on them and we headed out for a little drive to check out the dogs.  We found out that the female was no longer available because the owner thought she might be pregnant.  Oops!  We were interested in the male anyways so that worked okay.  So when we got there we walked back out to the car with Dewey (I would have named him Jesse) and asked the kids what they thought. “What?!” “Is it ours?” “Are you serious?” :)  So we are now the proud owners of a 3-year-old Welsh Corgi.  So far he seems like a great, mellow dog.  He loves the kids, hasn’t barked once and is about as active as a cat in a sunbeam.  He made himself right at home and found a great spot to sleep on the floor right beside the dog bed we bought him. Go figure!  I can’t wait to get him in for a good grooming.  He actually looks really great, but I want him cleaned to my liking.  Tony and the kids brushed him which worked for me because brushing dogs gives me the heebie-jeebies.  Weird, I know, but it gets me out of brushing the dog. lol

Introducing, Dewey!  Tony said he is a little dog and a big dog all rolled up in one! lol  He loves being outside and rolling around in the snow.  So far the honeymoon is still in effect because the kids love taking him outside, even in the cold.  We have also found that he likes to sleep on the couch when everybody has gone to bed.  We will be working on that.  That gives me the heebie-jeebies, too.  He got scolded three times last night for being on the couch.  The first couple times gently, the third time was a bit more stern.  Tony and I cracked up because the third time he walked just past us and sat down with his back to us and totally ignored us.  Too funny!  The kids love him and Tony loves having a dog in the house again.  I’m still not sure what to think.  But, I do feel that we gave him a better home than what he had and that makes me feel good.  He made himself at home and you would think he has lived here his entire life. 

We had a full, fun weekend and I love weekends like that.  I hope yours was just as wonderful!  Even better is okay, too!

{a whole lot of happy going on}

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Tuesday………

So yesterday I had some topless pictures taken.  Never in my wildest dreams would I have guessed I would have the opportunity to say that or be okay sharing that on a public forum. :)  I had my second follow-up appointment with my plastic surgeon yesterday to check out how the ladies are coming along.   Even though I haven’t been liking my new body at all and I don’t like how they look I was very happy to hear that I am healing perfectly and even a little faster than normal.  Great news!  That was about it for my appointment as far as what my doctor needed to check out, but this time I had a list of questions.  I don’t always remember to do this or if I do have a list I kind of rush through my list and miss something I would like more information on.  So I was very pleased with myself for leaving with all of my questions asked and answered.

  • How long do I have to wear this bra? Can I go a size up on the band? Four more weeks and “Yes.  Let me get you a new one.”
  • Did you use Alloderm for the “hammock” in my breast? Alloderm is a skin matrix created from donated human skin.  It allows surgeons to restore many types of damaged tissue using the regenerative ability of the patient’s own body.  It really is amazing how it is made and used.  In my case, Alloderm was used to create a “hammock” underneath the breast to create a breast crease and the appearance of a natural “sag”.  Lucky for me when I am 70 I will have the natural “sag” of a 38 year old. :) I want to mention that just now while looking up information again on Alloderm I came across a great website on breast reconstruction that would have been great info before surgery, not sure how I missed it,  www.breastreconstruction.org.
  • Why do my breasts sit so high right now?  How do they settle into place?  Will they soften up?  They look “high” because of inflammation of the pec muscle and still a lot of fluid.  At about week four the swelling will go down and they will soften and start to look better.
  • Can I hold my arms up enough to hold a barbell on my traps to do squat? Pretty much an “Um, no.” :)  I still can’t move my arms above 90 degrees or do anything like stretch my arms way back behind me to stretch them or do any pressing movements.  Also, still no lifting over 5 lbs.  The reason for all this is that right now everything is weaker than it was even at surgery.  The sutures inside are starting to dissolve as collagen starts to build.  Since this process is just beginning, weakness sets in.  If the chest muscles are taxed the collagen connections can be pulled apart and we don’t want anything like that.
  • What is causing my chest to randomly contract and tighten up and feel hard?  Contraction of the pec muscles because they are “over-mad”.  Love that medical term!

So I went into this appointment still really, and I mean REALLY, not liking my new body.  But, for some reason I left being a little bit okay with it.  I think it was finding out that in two weeks they would start to look and feel better.  Just knowing there is an end in site and that they aren’t going to feel like this forever.  I was really starting to wonder if I was ever going to feel “normal” again.  Now, I know in two weeks “normal” may be on it’s way.

Wednesday……..

How was your Wednesday? Mine was fantastic!  First of all, I slept through the night.  I say this with the excitement of a parent when their baby finally sleeps through the night.  I have been waking up in the middle of the night  and laying wide awake for hours.   I’m too awake to sleep, but too tired to get up and do anything productive.  It’s amazing how much better you feel when you get a full night’s sleep.  When you sleep is when your body repairs itself so I really want those ZZZZZZZs.  I’m still tired, but not exhausted today.  Next, I woke up in time to shower so I had time to shave my underarms before going to the gym. :)  Well, actually, I still have to have Tony shave them for me because I can’t lift them high enough, crane my neck and weild a blade safely enough to do it myself.  Finally, I started back at the gym today!!!  My first WOD back cancer free!  Oh, it felt so good.  I can’t even explain how wonderful it felt.  Just to be at a class with Coach B, around my fellow athletes, moving, working, smiling, laughing, catching up, etc.  The energy and atmosphere is intoxicating.  It is a sad if your gym doesn’t intoxicate you.  It was glorious.  A little slice of heaven in my day.  My workout wasn’t much of a workout compared to everybody else’s, but it is amazing how you can sweat when you are doing what feels like so little.  We start our workouts with hip and shoulder mobility to get our joints loosened up, warmed up and stretched out.  I can’t move my arms above 90 degrees yet so I could only do the hip mobility, some tiny hanging shoulder circles and a couple stretches approved by my doctor.  Coach had me do a big lunging stretch to open up my hip flexors after doing a lot of sitting the past couple weeks.  Now onto the workout.  I am going to try to post my daily workouts to show my progression back to prescribed weight and movement.   My goal is getting my 95# clean and jerk back by October for Barbells for Boobs “Amazing Grace”. Maybe even a PR?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011 WOD
First day back to the gym after surgery.  The focus was on waking up my core and hip flexors.

Warm-up: 
Mobility work and “Kettlebell” shrugs

  • 5 one-legged squats, each leg-3 sets
  • 15 squats-2 sets
  • 15 squats-2 sets  Starting with arms straight out in front, hold for a 3-count in the bottom while moving arms out to sides into a “T” and stand up.
  • 3 squats on a Bosu ball without the base.  Coach calls it the pillow.  Three was plenty!

There was a bonus today. My new boobs are fantastic in a workout tank! :D Well, I thought so! lol Now I just need to get rid of the grandma sports bra I have to wear for several more weeks. I always told Tony I wanted to look in my workout clothes like I do in my padded, push-up, cheater bra. Not like a 13-year-old boy in my workout clothes. It took cancer to do it, but now I finally have shape in a tight-fitting tank top. Like I said, it was a fantastic Wednesday. : ) Silver lining, folks, silver lining!

Coach B posted this today on our gym group page on Facebook:

“Our Trina came today for her first WOD / moving / smiling time !!!
I am so happy! and for Trina too ;]
Trina moved like a rock star – strong and solid as I knew she would – some happy going on here!”

I couldn’t agree more! There is some happy going on here! In fact, there is a whole lot of happy going on! “Grace” here I come!

Quote of the day from my girlfriend’s son, my son’s little buddy, B, when he saw me right before preschool.  Instantly brought a smile to my face and tears to my eyes. :-)

“I prayed for you that you would feel better.”

Thank you, B.  You made my day!

 

{super happy fun ball}

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Do any of you remember the Saturday Night Live commercial spoof for the Super Happy Fun Ball?  If not, please, let me refresh your memory.

SNL Super Happy Fun Ball

The Super Happy Fun Ball is amazing!  One great benefit of fun times, but watch out for the warning list a mile long. 

 There is a drug in the tail end of my treatment that was suggested I take, Tamoxifen.  I read about this drug right after I was diagnosed when I was researching my cancer.  After I was done reading about it the first thing I thought of was the Super Happy Fun Ball.  Holy crap!  One site I found (I’m trying to find it again) said that tamoxifen had 25 risks, its benefit is that it cuts your risk of reoccurrence by 50%.  Tamoxifen is taken daily for five years.  Anymore than five years gives no additional benefit and can actually be harmful. 

Let me take a little break here and get you up-to-speed on why it is suggested that I take tamoxifen.

Yesterday we met with the oncologist because of the 1.2 invasive tumor that was found in the tissue that was removed during surgery.  My oncology surgeon presented my tumor to an advisory board of ten doctors here so it was like getting 10 second opinions on the next step in my treatment.  They all agreed that on a tumor 1.2 mm in size it would be ridiculous to do chemo.  WooHoo!  Trina-2 Cancer-0!!!!  The oncologist said that all I would have to do is take  Tamoxifen daily for five years.  Boo!  Trina-2 Cancer-1 :(  He said it is the smallest invasive tumor he has ever seen in his 30 years of practice.  He said I have really pretty much wiped out all my chances of getting breast cancer by doing the bilateral mastectomy and my chances of dying from breast cancer are pretty much zero.  Trina-3 Cancer-1!!!!  After talking to us about the tamoxifen and all the different odds of reoccurrence  he said, “You could even make a good case to not take the tamoxifen your risk is so low.”  Because the tumor is so small my chance of reoccurrence is about 2%.  So I would take Tamoxifen for five years with its laundry list of risks and side effects to lower my risk from 2% down to 1%.  Hmmmm.  I’m not sold.  (After I fill you in on these risks and side effects you will see why.)  After he printed us some information on tamoxifen he said, “As I think about it more I really think not taking it is a good decision, too.  If the tumor was bigger and you didn’t want to take it I would definitely try to talk you into it.”  Trina-4 Cancer-1!!!!!  I told him I had been reading some information on natural therapies and asked him if he knew of anybody that had gone that route.  He said they have a naturopath that comes into their office once/week that I could talk to.  He said his thought on natural therapy is that it can’t hurt, but he finds it more as a complementary treatment.  I immediately thought that if he felt I would be okay not taking the Tamoxifen period then a complementary treatment alone might be perfect.  This is the route I had already decided to take, but I did want to hear what he had to say.  So, I am not going to take it.  I have an appointment next Thursday with a naturopath that came very highly recommended to discuss my options with.   I have been reading some interesting stuff online regarding breast cancer and estrogen dominance.  It makes sense to me and many of the physical problems that can come from this I have experienced or still do.  If I find it doesn’t work or I decide I would feel more comfortable taking the tamoxifen I can still do that at a later date.  I will write more on estrogen dominance and it’s role in breast cancer in my next post.

So back to tamoxifen.  This is how it works.  Tamoxifen interferes with estrogen activity.  Some breast cancer cells, like mine, are estrogen-receptor positive.  This means that estrogen binds to these cancer cells and causes the cells to grow.  Tamoxifen acts as an antiestrogen and blocks estrogen from binding to these cancer cells.  Cool right?  However, the drawback is that even though tamoxifen works against estrogen in the breast it acts like estrogen in other tissues.  No bueno.  I was unable to find the article that I read that stated tamoxifen had 25 risks and side effects so I am going to just stick with info I found on one site, www.cancer.gov.  We all know that it isn’t a good idea to go crazy researching online.  Pick and choose your sites well.  Though I have found that you have to dig a little deeper and check out articles and other studies that give additional information that aren’t always shared.   It isn’t always butterflies and rainbows.  So here is an excerpt from cancer.gov:

“The known, serious side effects of tamoxifen are blood clots, strokes, uterine cancer, and cataracts. Other side effects of tamoxifen are similar to the symptoms of menopause. The most common side effects are hot flashes and vaginal discharge. Some women experience irregular menstrual periods , headaches, fatigue, nausea and/or vomiting, vaginal dryness or itching, irritation of the skin around the vagina, and skin rash. As with menopause, not all women who take tamoxifen have these symptoms.”

Woo-hoo!  Sign me up, right?!  My goodness!  Who wouldn’t think twice about taking this drug? 

Here are a couple of things I found interesting in a couple of articles I came across.  Of course, I’m obviously not a medical professional so I don’t know the validity of the studies, but when you are the one deciding on treatment they make you stop and go “hmmmm”.  One study with 632 high-risk women participating showed that after a program spit out their risk of reoccurrence based on each of their medical cases and how tamoxifen would benefit them, only 6% said they would take the drug.  Three months later when a follow-up was done on the women only 1% ended up taking the drug.  They found that even though the women were high risk they were turned off by the risks and side effects.  In a second article a study found that though tamoxifen reduced the risk of cancer with estrogen-receptor positive cells it increased the risk of getting a very aggressive and hard to cure cancer with estrogen-receptor negative cells by 440%. 

So in my book tamoxifen is a very close relative to the Super Happy Fun Ball.  First cousin, maybe even an aunt, but definitely the crazy aunt in the attic that many people might be a little leery of.  I am very fortunate in my case that my risk of reoccurrence is so low that my doctor felt I could decide not to take it and it would be a good decision.  Like he said, “everybody should be so lucky.”  So, it may be easy for me to say, “I decline this treatment plan.”  I guess it is just a lesson to everybody to be sure you inform yourself, ask questions and find out if there are alternative treatments that may not be so scary behind the scenes.  The Super Happy Fun ball sure looks fun but always beware the warnings! :)

  • Warning: Pregnant women, the elderly, and children under 10 should avoid prolonged exposure to Happy Fun Ball.
  • Caution: Happy Fun Ball may suddenly accelerate to dangerous speeds.
  • Happy Fun Ball contains a liquid core, which, if exposed due to rupture, should not be touched, inhaled, or looked at.
  • Do not use Happy Fun Ball on concrete.
  • Discontinue use of Happy Fun Ball if any of the following occurs:
    • itching
    • vertigo
    • dizziness
    • tingling in extremities
    • loss of balance or coordination
    • slurred speech
    • temporary blindness
    • profuse sweating
    • heart palpitations
  • If Happy Fun Ball begins to smoke, get away immediately. Seek shelter and cover head.
  • Happy Fun Ball may stick to certain types of skin.
  • When not in use, Happy Fun Ball should be returned to its special container and kept under refrigeration. Failure to do so relieves the makers of Happy Fun Ball, Wacky Products Incorporated, and its parent company, Global Chemical Unlimited, of any and all liability.
  • Ingredients of Happy Fun Ball include an unknown glowing substance which fell to Earth, presumably from outer space.
  • Happy Fun Ball has been shipped to our troops in Saudi Arabia and is also being dropped by our warplanes on Iraq.
  • Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.
  • Happy Fun Ball comes with a lifetime guarantee

{a week’s worth of stuff}

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I’m way behind.  I wanted to play catch up and write about several different things on their own.  Instead I’m going to throw it all in here for a post full of randomness.

The last week and a half has been a lot of ups and downs, a post-surgery, post-breast cancer roller coaster.  The first 48 hours I felt wonderful.  It was crazy how great I felt.  I think part of how great I felt was just being on this side of surgery.  Every morning and night we tended to my small incisions from the surgery and Tony emptied my drains.  Before surgery I didn’t want to see my breasts at all.  I planned to not look in the mirror at all.  However, that first night home I mustered up my courage and looked at them.  They were NOT pretty, but oddly enough I felt that I would be okay with them.  That was a huge relief, as I was so worried that I wouldn’t be.  By Saturday that great feeling started to go a little South.  Saturday was the first day of about a week of feeling nauseous almost all the time.  No fun when you are recovering from surgery.  I had no appetite and was barely able to eat anything.  I spent my time in my chair with ottoman that Tony went out and picked up for me to sit in our room.  I watched hours of  HGTV (hours and hours because it made me sick to my stomach to surf channels) making metal notes of all the wonderful things we could do to decorate our house, how to most efficiently organize my sewing area and redo our family room and about the housing market in Atlanta, Turkey, Cairo, New York and Hawaii.  I messed around on the computer only a little bit because looking at the screen and reading made me sick to my stomach.  I slept curled up in a fuzzy blanket in my chair because it was too uncomfortable to move to the bed.  I set my timer for meds (antibiotics, painkillers, burn cream, anti-nausea meds, which didn’t seem to work) and kept a chart of when I took everything so I would NOT miss painkiller time.  I didn’t read a single book or magazine that friends gave to me because it made my stomach turn, plus made me dizzy,  to look at a book and read.  It was a full on carnival in my little world.  The first weekend I was home my sister and dad were here to lend a helping hand.  My dad made some meals, but he did the most pitching in during the following week.  Taking kids to school and activities, picking them up from school and watching them during appointments.  He was a life saver.  While my sister was here she mostly kept me company and single-handedly got us caught up on laundry.  Wow, that is sisterly love!

Saturday morning Tony loaded me up in the car and we headed to the gym to surprise our coach and say hello.  I had planned to just stay until the workout started, but then I couldn’t stand it and I sat down on a box complete with a pillow for comfort and watched the workout.  About 15 minutes before the end of class I had reached my limit.  I was exhausted and really starting to feel sick.  I made it to the end of class to say goodbye and we headed home.  That little outing broke me. I made it to my chair and slept for two hours.

Sunday was horrible.  I was so nauseous all day, I felt like I would never not hurt again, I was so uncomfortable and I hated what I had just gone through.  I sat quietly most of the day and when the end of the day came for us to tend to my sore, swollen Dolly Parton breasts my love affair with my new breasts came to a screeching halt.  We unzipped my bra and as I put my burn cream on the incision points I started to cry.  As Tony helped me get back into my bra (a painful, not fun task) I continued to cry.  Tony gathered me up into his arms and I fell onto his chest as best as I could without causing myself more pain and cried and then sobbed.  He said, “this is the first time you have cried since surgery.”  It was and it hasn’t been the last.

The beginning of a new week.  I have no idea if anything exciting happened Monday.  All of my days run together into a blur of taking meds, tv, resting and a fuzzy blanket.   Oh, wait.  First thing Monday morning Tony called my doctor and asked if there was a different painkiller I could take as mine was making me so nauseous.  So I started something new that was just as effective, but the nausea wasn’t nearly as bad.  We also had a 12 hour stomach bug travel through our house so I think Sunday when I felt so bad may have been a combo of bug and painkillers.  Because feeling crappy from a huge surgery wasn’t enough.

 Tuesday brought our first follow-up appointment with my plastic surgeon, Dr. Nargi in Whitefish.  I really like her.  She is a breath of fresh air in the middle of all of this “ick”.  When choosing my plastic surgeon I talked to and asked many people their opinions and many people just offered their opinions and experiences without being asked.  I appreciated that and kept a mental tally of pros and cons and bad and good experience stories for both.  I had met Dr.  Buchele before so just had to meet Dr. Nargi.  She made me laugh and made me relax and gave me a break from all the seriousness of what was going on.  She was highly recommended by somebody whose opinion means a lot to me and probably carried the most weight in my choice.  I know I would have gotten great care from both, but I enjoyed Dr. Nargi and her surroundings just a tiny bit more.  She is what I needed for this process.  So my follow-up went well.  She was very happy with how everything looked, both in my healing progress and symmetry of my girls.  She said they looked great.  She also said, I know you don’t think so, but they do.  She assured me the implants won’t sit so high like they do now (I’m sporting some impressive cleavage right now).  I was told still no overhead with my arms.  I can only raise them to 90 degrees.  Because of this my dad bought me a step stool so I can get to the top shelves in my cupboards and my pantry. :)

Skipping to Thursday, my first follow-up appointment with my Oncology Surgeon, Dr. Hulvat , at the Bass Breast Center .  She was so amazing and everybody that I talked to about my surgery that had any experience with her said the exact same thing.  I felt so confident that I was getting great care in every aspect of my experience here.  It is a good feeling to know you are being well taken care of and in good hands. She was NEVER to busy to answer a question when we called or asked to see her when we had appointments with her nurse, returned calls quickly and was very straight forward and comforting at the same time when she gave us information.  During our follow-up she checked to make sure everything was healing well and then went over my pathology report with me.  All the tissue removed was tested.  The right side was still clear which was so good to hear.  Lymph nodes got a clean bill of health and the left side was just as troublesome as we knew it was before surgery.  Three tumors were found.  Two tumors showed DCIS, the cancer I was originally diagnosed with.  There was a lot of other DCIS found besides these two tumors and that made up the abnormality of the top half of my breast.  These two measured 1.2 cm and 1.7.  In the ultrasound at the beginning of all of this they measured .7 cm and 1.2 cm.  The third tumor was only 1.5 mm, but it was Stage 1 and invasive cancer.  This is why my doctor always removes lymph nodes during surgery and has them tested while she is in there.  If she hadn’t and then we learned of this invasive cancer she would have had to do surgery again to check the lymph nodes to make sure the cancer hadn’t traveled.  Luckily, it hadn’t.  She told us that no doctor in their right mind would do chemo on a tumor that small, but a drug Tamoxifen is a consideration.  There will be a blog post later dedicated strictly to this drug.  We meet with an oncologist tomorrow to discuss the next step in my treatment.  I am pretty certain that they are going to want me to do this drug.  After researching it a lot, I have pretty much made up my mind that I will not.  Tony fully supports this.  In my opinion, the risks outweigh the benefits.  Like I said, a blog post coming soon on that topic.   However, we need to listen to what information the oncologist has for us before I make my final decision.

Mid-week brought an amazing surprise from my coach and his wife at our gym.  I got a message from our coach that said, “We have surprises for you. ;)”  Later that day I got a text with a picture from Tony when he went to the gym to workout.  This is what I saw when I opened his text.  I immediately had tears streaming down my face.

The next day I got an email with this picture from my coach that said, “This barbell is waiting for you, it has your name on it I think. ;]”

Just amazing.  For those of you that don’t know this, the heart design on the banner is the tattoo I got on my forearm at the beginning of my cancer journey.  I had been wanting to get a tat on my forearm, but the forearm is pretty out there so I hadn’t committed to getting it done.  When I had my biopsies done and we were waiting for results I told Tony that if we got bad news I was calling the tattoo shop and making an appointment.  That’s exactly what I did.  I love it and have never regretted getting it.  The color has softened now and it is nice and soft and delicate.  Just how I wanted it.

Friday brought a pretty down day.  I was very tired and just having a hard day.  I cried a lot.  I’m entitled.  I don’t like my breasts.  I don’t like what was taken from me and I don’t like what is left behind.  It is funny how when some people ask if I am liking them think that I am not thankful for being cancer free when I say I don’t.  I usually get, “but now you don’t have cancer”.  Yes, I know this and don’t think a minute goes by that I am not thankful and most grateful for that.  But, that is now separate from my new boobs.  Just because I am happy beyond all belief to not have cancer doesn’t translate into being giddy over my boobs.  I truly hope that changes.  I want to be okay with them.  I can’t wait for them to not be icky looking.  Friends have told me when they see me, “your boobs look great!”  Well, that means my plastic surgeon did her job. She told me right out from the beginning.  “They aren’t going to be pretty for quite a while, but they will at least give you the appearance of breasts in clothing.”  So, I guess they are doing what they are supposed to do right now. 

I haven’t been sleeping well.  My legs ached horribly for two days straight and they kept me from being able to sleep.  I was miserable.  I know it was from being so inactive and having to sit and take it easy.  One night I walked around the house at 1:00 a.m. trying to get some blood flowing.  As of this morning, it finally calmed down.  I tried to stay on my feet a lot yesterday to get some good blood flow going.  It worked.   Friday also brought day three of horrible pain in my left arm.  The muscle tightness in my chest was causing a domino reaction of tight muscles and referred pain down to my forearm.  The pain in my arm was more than I had felt in days in my chest.  Friday I finally made an appointment to go see my PT.  She did an hour of very gentle massage and from my shoulder all the way down my arm and gave me some very mild stretches that I could do without going over my head.  It worked and my arm is pain-free.

So, that is my last week all thrown into one big pot.  It is just the beginning.  I am feeling pretty normal now as far as being able to be up and about and doing normal stuff around the house.  I do still tire out and I have to listen to my body and know when it is time to sit down.  We have a week of several appointments, I will be heading back to the gym on Wednesday and Tony will be going back to work at the office while the girls are in school.  Slowly, but surely we are starting to fall back into the routine of our pre-surgery days with out the anxiety of breast cancer.  It’s a good feeling.  I never thought I would look forward to the chaos of our everyday life.  Normal is good.

{destination home}

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Part 2 of my little stay in the hospital.  There wasn’t much of anything exciting, but it is part of my journey so I am sharing.

Wednesday, February 3.  In come the nurses for one of the many visits in the middle of the night.  I woke from what felt like hours of sleep thinking “How nice this night is coming to an end.”  When I asked the nurse what time it was I was very disappointed to find out it was only 12:30 a.m.  Ugh!  I felt like I had been run over by a truck, my tailbone and sacrum hurt from sitting upright and I still felt sick to my stomach though not near as bad as before.  I was given more drugs for the pain and all my vitals were taken.  I am assuming “vitals” include blood pressure, temperature, oxygen levels (I think that was what the thing on my finger measured) and my pulse.  Once all that was done I was left to sink back into my sleepy, drugged stupor.  But, when you spend the night in the hospital that sleep doesn’t last long because it seems that just as you fall back to sleep here comes the nurse again.  I don’t want to complain too much because it seems like they came with more pain meds quite often, but I was so tired.  When they rolled in at 3:00 a.m.  they had me eat my little cup of warm green jello and some crackers so I could take some painkillers.  I had no idea if that would all stay down, but it did and it felt good to have a little something in my stomach.  I guess I had enough sleep because I couldn’t fall back asleep and laid there fairly wide awake until about 4:30 when I finally drifted off.  Ahhh, sweet sleep UNTIL 6:00 when the nurse came in to get me up to walk!  Are you serious?  It is still dark out!  So I sat up and sat on the edge of my bed for what seemed like forever because I was so dizzy and light headed.  I was finally able to stand up and we took a nice slow walk down the hall and back with a brief stop at the nurse’s station to order breakfast.  Very light as I was afraid of how my stomach would feel with food in it.  Scrambled eggs and fruit.  Happy to say it didn’t make me sick, but I still didn’t feel ready for a huge, complicated meal.  Simple is safe.

Shortly after I returned to my room and was left “comfortable” in a chair for a change of scenery my doctor arrived to check on me.    They unsnapped my gown and proceeded to unzip my tight sportsbra type bra to check out her handy work.  She was pleased with how they looked and my incision sites looked great.  Not a single dressing required.  It was crazy.  I was surprised at how few incisions I had for my major surgery.  I had two drains (which totally grossed me out) each with one itty, bitty incision, a 1 1/2 inch incision where they removed four lymph nodes and then my incisions on the front of each breast that were now two small cinched up spots where I once had nipples.  I know, sorry for the “too much info”, but really there is no modesty left after this whole process.  It’s breast cancer, breast stuff is going to come up.  In fact, I have decided at some point I am going to describe in kind of tasteful detail how breast reconstruction isn’t like getting a boob job.  So, you have been warned.  It’s coming.  I have been very open and very frank about this whole process.  I don’t expect I will stop now. 

Sorry, I digress…when my doctor was done checking me out they had to pull my tight sports bra back on and zip it up the front.  Oh, my goodness!  That hurt so damn bad.  I just about came out of my skin.  Imagine traumatized, terribly inflamed, swollen, pain like you have never imagined Dolly Parton boobs shoved into a bra three sizes too small.  I repeat, pain like you have never imagined.  When they left I decided I needed to get back in bed.  Not an easy feat.  Every movement jarred my chest and I couldn’t use my arms to pull myself back into bed.  I had to sit back as far as I could to the elevated end of the bed and do a crazy, little, slow butt shimmy that seemed to take forever and hurt with every shimmy.  But, I made it into bed and was so happy to be able to lay back in bed after my painful experience of getting my boobs tucked back away and trying to get back in bed.  I was totally exhausted and just laid back to rest.  It was as close to peaceful and comfortable as one could get after a major surgery.

The one thing that I couldn’t believe hearing all morning was “When you go home today….”  What?!  I feel horrible, how can I possibly go home today?  I just had a bunch of tissue cut out, my pec muscles separated from the chest wall and 350 cc implants shoved under them.  I felt like I had been hit by a truck and then backed over and hit again.  How on God’s green earth was I going to go home today?  I tried not to think about it and prayed they would see that I was a mess and couldn’t possibly go home.  When my aunt came into see me she told me that I would be surprised at how much better I felt by late afternoon.  Okay, I’m open to just sitting and waiting.  If I didn’t feel comfortable going home I was going to push to stay.  I had a few more visitors during the day the best being my kiddos.  I was in a much more pleasant state for company and they were excited to see me.  I looked at all the great cards their classes made for me and was able to lean forward just enough to give them kisses.  One of A’s classmates wrote, “I’m sorry this happened to you.  You are probably a good person.”  Hahahahaha!  It was awesome.  Kids say the greatest things.

So late afternoon rolls around and here comes the nurse with my discharge papers ready to kick me to the curb.  When it is time to go, it is time to go!  And you know what?  I felt ready to go home.  I honestly didn’t think I would.  A friend encouraged me to get out of the hospital ASAP to get away from the disease and infection that is in a hospital and that made sense.  The bed was so uncomfortable, I missed being with my family all the time and I didn’t want to spend another night being woke up every couple of hours.  So around 4:00 in the afternoon I left the hospital and I was happy to.   Less than 24 hours in my hospital room.  Just crazy.  The girls were waiting at home for us and were so excited to see me.  T spent the day with one of our friends and would be home later.  I got the best greeting from him when he got home. 

It was a good day.  It was good to be home.

{the grass IS greener}

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Oh, my goodness.  Cancer-free is an AMAZING place to be.  The grass doesn’t always end up being greener on the other side, but in this case it is a lush, fresh, gorgeous, beautiful shade of green!  It’s my new favorite color!  This post is going to be the first of several starting at surgery and getting caught up to the present.   I think it will take me a little while to get these posts done because I tire pretty quickly and looking at the computer for too long makes me a little nauseous and dizzy.  But, I just want to start this by saying that I am so pleasantly surprised at how good I feel.  I never guessed that I would feel this good 48 hours after having MAJOR surgery.  (I started putting this post together on the 4th.) I think just being on this side of surgery and having this huge weight lifted plays a major role in how I feel.  I just feel so good and that makes me so happy.

Tuesday, February 1.  The night before surgery.  We spent the evening getting ready for our day.  Confirming kids care for the next day and packing a small bag.  I was only going to be there overnight so I didn’t have to gather much.  The best part about Tuesday night was my sister, Jarali, arriving.  She stayed the night with us and planned to go to the hospital with us and keep Tony company during my surgery.

Tuesday, February 2. We got up and got ready for our day like almost every other day.  Except today wasn’t like any other day, not even close.  We got the kids off to school, Tony got a few things done before we had to head to the hospital and I typed out a short blog post.  As time was drawing very close for us to head to the hospital he came and sat on the edge of our bed.  I knelt in front of him, wrapped my arms around his waist and laid my head in his lap. He rubbed my back while we just sat there.  Pretty soon he said, “Should we go?” and I broke down crying.  We gathered up my stuff and we headed off to the hospital with Jarali right behind us.  Tony dropped me off while he looked for a parking spot.  Parking is ridiculous at our hospital so if you ever have to be up there for something plan accordingly to drive around forever looking for a spot and then plan on a nice little walk.  So I got registered and was led back to prep me for surgery.  I got my beautiful hospital gown and robe and then had an IV hooked up.  Shortly after this our family friend, Sandy, showed up to sit with us.  It was so nice to see her and visiting was a nice distraction.  Pretty soon my aunt, who is the managing OR nurse at the hospital, came in to see me and make sure I was being well taken care of.  She was amazing during this whole process. She gave great recommendations, gathered information and personally put together my OR team and assigned my anesthesiologist.  I was confident I was in good hands.  About 45 minutes before surgery was about to start my massage arrived.  Our hospital offers a shoulder or foot massage before surgery to help you relax.  I almost turned this down when I was filling out paperwork because I was thinking I might just want to be left alone.  But, then I remembered that my cousin does the massages at the hospital. Sign me up!  I opted for a foot massage and it really was relaxing.  I got my massage (I think maybe a little longer than normal!), visited with family and just waited until it was time.  I was very happy that I ended up not taking a Valium to help me relax.  I had planned to, but then I decided I really didn’t want to because I didn’t want to feel loopy for any of my time with Tony before I was taken into the OR.  All too soon, it was time.  Everybody gave me a hug and I held onto Tony extra long and got some extra kisses and then my bed was wheeled into the OR.  At this point I only had about four minutes of memory before slipping away into a deep sleep.  I was moved onto the operating table, a pillow was placed under my knees, a nurse introduced herself (a long time friend of my aunt’s) and then the anesthesiologist said he was going to give me something to relax.  That was all she wrote.  The next thing I know I am in my hospital room.

Wednesday night was a sickly, icky blur.  I was terribly sick from the anesthesia and I could hardly keep my eyes open.  When my eyes were open I wanted to throw up.  The nurses went through the entire pharmacy of anti-nausea drugs trying to calm it down.  I don’t know if any of them worked or not.  I really can’t remember.  A couple of the first things I remember are my right palm hurting something fierce (weird I know) and asking my aunt to rub it and oxygen tubes being put in my nose.  I vaguely remember friends coming and going.  I asked Tony if I was totally out of it when they came and he said, “No, you were very gracious and thanked all of them for stopping.”  I hope he isn’t lying because I hate that I wasn’t coherent enough to enjoy these visits and I /we greatly appreciate all of the love and support and thank you SO much for stopping by to see me. :-)   One of our friends from the gym stopped by my room at the end of her shift as a nurse.  Tony was very happy to show up back in my room and find somebody sitting with me.  

Tony wanted to spend every minute with me, but our kids were at home waiting.  Waiting to know that mom was all right.  After I was set up in my room Tony headed home to prepare to bring the kids up to the hospital to see me.  He considered not bringing them up because I was in really bad shape.    Like I said, I don’t remember much the entire night after surgery.  I just remember being miserable and my poor babies seeing me like that.  Tony weighed all of this, but he knew the kids were going to be traumatized if he went home and said they couldn’t go see me.  They had to see that mom was “okay”.  I remember them showing up and they were so excited to show me the cards their classes had made me.  I remember holding each of their hands and seeing each of them, but then I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore.  Tony said he left the hospital with three weepy, sad babies.  They came home and they all cuddled up on our bed.  Our neighbor girl came over a little later to sit with the kids for a couple of hours so Tony could come back up and sit with me.  When she walked in the door all three kids broke down crying and wrapped her up in a big group hug.  That night all three of them slept in our room with Tony. :-(  My poor babies.  But, to let you all know, just like this surgery was a huge relief to Tony and me it is as much of a relief to my kids.  They aren’t worried anymore and they all seem themselves.  It is a wonderful thing.

Tony came back up to sit with me for a couple of hours, though I hardly remember any of it.  I finally got sick around 10:00 pm and slowly started to feel a little better.  Tony said as soon as I threw up the color returned to my face and I rested easier.  He left around 10:30 to relieve our sitter and try to get some sleep before getting the kids ready to come back up in the morning. 

So, there you have it.  Day one of the rest of my life.  Day one cancer free!!!!