Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Surgery & the days since

I headed to the hospital for my bilateral mastectomy on Dec. 5th. My mom was in town from Kentucky so my kids were all taken care of & my husband was able to be with me every minute of my time in the hospital. I honestly don't remember much of the day of surgery or the day after. I remember being taken back to surgery & I remember waking up & wanting Rich. I remember getting up the next day, taking off my wrap to take a shower, looking at myself in the mirror, & having a good cry. I remember getting in the car to go home. That's about it. I know people came by to see me & I'm sure I talked to them but I don't remember who they are or what I said! It was a pretty miserable two days & I'm glad I don't remember it very well. Everything that involved moving my upper body hurt.

I spent most of my first week home in my recliner. My sweet husband slept on the couch so he could be close. I would tell him to go to our bed and he would just say "you might need me" and lay down. I couldn't do anything for myself for that first week. I had four drains & I couldn't even get myself in the shower or wash easily. I'm so grateful for him and my mom. He took care of me & she handled the kids but when he had to go to work, she took right over. I have no idea how people do this without the help that I had. I'm glad I don't have much hair - I couldn't even get my arms high enough to wash it! I couldn't get myself out of the recliner! I hope I'm getting you a good idea of how helpless & useless I felt! I hurt & was like a giant baby. I compared to myself to a baby more than once when Rich was helping me tie my shoes! The drains were actually the worst part. They pulled & were so uncomfortable! Once my drains came out - I lost two at the one week mark & the other two at the two week mark - I started to improve quickly.

The month passed quickly. I still have to be propped up when I sleep & I still don't have a very good range of motion in my left arm. They removed five lymph nodes & two had cancer in them. This means radiation is a must have. The doctors also seem to be un-convinced by the bone biopsy. There seems to be nothing that the spot on my pubic bone can be aside from cancer so I will be having radiation on my pubic bone as well as my left breast & underarm. The spot on my bone is confusing to me too. It is cancer, it isn't, it is, it isn't. I've finally resigned myself to the fact that all my doctor's think it is & they are going to treat it as such.  Accepting that means I accept that I have metastic breast cancer & I may never have complete remission. But that's a post for another day after radiation and more discussion with people who know more about this than I do. Either way - I'm doing fine today and I'll be fine tomorrow.

I go every Monday to see my plastic surgeon & get 60cc of fluid in my tissue expanders. I'm at around 400-450cc right now & will probably keep going until I reach 750-800cc. After I'm done with the fills I start radiation. I have to do 33 rounds of that & then I'll get to have my second breast surgery 4-6 months after that. My incisions are looking great & I think they are going to scar nicely. I'm eager to see the end result. I go back to work next week & I'm ready to move into my new normal.

Going Viral

On the Wed. before surgery we decided to go eat after church. Rich had to work Thursday & then I was working Friday & Saturday. We knew it was going to be one of our last chances to go out before surgery so we headed to my favorite Chinese buffet. We had gotten done with our meal & were getting ready to ask our waitress for our check when she brought us this note instead.

I don't want to be misunderstood - this is not the first, or the last, that someone has shown my family a kindness. Many of those times it has been someone we don't know. But I took a picture & posted it on my Facebook page. It went nuts! The picture was shared hundreds of times but then it got picked by another Facebook page called Love What Matters. When that happened it went viral. Thousands of people read the story & saw the picture. I had reporters contacting me from all over the United States & several other countries. It was on ABC, CBS, even Ellen Nation! Our local Fox affiliate came to the house & did an interview. I think after all the bad that you see on the news people like to see a little bit of good & some kindness.

The man that wrote me the note & paid for our meal saw the new story & we have been in touch. His wife was around my age & died of a type of bone cancer. They had three children that are close in age to my own. I was expecting it to be an older man but was surprised when he was only a few years older than me & we had a very nice phone conversation. We were actually contacted by NBC Nightly News and they wanted us to meet on camera before Christmas but due to various conflicts it just didn't happen. That's ok though. I'm happy that the story touched people and made them happy & if this is my 15 minutes, that's just fine by me.