Thursday, March 26, 2009

Beautiful Photos of Bilateral Mastectomy

Just in case you were wondering...

I was looking for something to show Geoff and these photos were perfect. I said to him, "Wanna see some photos of a topless woman?"

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Saw the Surgeon Today

I figured if I was having as much anxiety as I was having, I needed to see my surgeon again before the next chemo. He always settles my mind and I feel better after talking to him.

He was raised in Ghana and knew since he was in elementary school that he wanted to be a surgeon. (Geoff always asks the interesting questions.) He was educated at Harvard and Yale. He still loves surgery after 30 years because he feels he gets to cure people. If he were a family practice doc, he wouldn't like it because people come in with problems and he would try this drug or that drug and sometimes they won't feel better.

My first question to him was a statement that brought me to tears and luckily, he had a box of tissues on his desk. "I read that this surgery is anywhere from 2 - 5 hours long"...sob... He told me that I was having the least complicated surgery because I wasn't getting reconstruction. He thinks that the left side would take 1 3/4 hours and the right side only 3/4 hours. No, I do not need a mammogram first or any other test since I am getting a "bi-lateral" mastectomy. All I need is a blood test (which I get already every Tuesday). I will get a chest x-ray when admitted to the hospital just to make sure my lungs were clear. (I need to ask more about that because it seems like overkill and I've had so much radiation already!). I would only be in the hospital overnight - 2 days. After surgery, I would have one of those patient controlled pain management devices - so I can give myself more pain medication as I need it. My drains would come out by the 2nd or 3rd day after surgery. And yes, he would order a home care nurse to visit me - he thought it was a good idea - especially if our insurance covers it. And while I'm in the hospital, a physical therapist starts me on exercises.

Then he did an exam and yes, I have no tumor at all anymore! The only way he said he could tell I had cancer was that my nipple is still inverted from the scar tissue. So I see him a week or two after my last chemo and then I get surgery either April 16th or the following week depending on how my counts are and what my oncologist says. And this time, we can schedule it early and get the first surgeries of the day - unlike the last minute deal I had to do with my old oncologist for the port insertion.

All my counts today are in the normal levels except for the red blood cells which are slightly low. I'm still feeling like I'm fighting off this cold or maybe this is just the type of cold I get when on these Chinese herbs. I wake up with a slightly stuffy nose and am tired. So I am working on turning my thoughts toward appreciation and gratitude and as many positive things as I can muster, along with relaxation - hoping that will help me get better.

And I can finally now actually do some good relaxation since my mind has been settled (as much as it can be for the moment) by my surgeon.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fighting Off a Cold

Wish me luck for fighting off a cold. I've had sneezing and tickling in my nose and low energy and some depression. I slept it off yesterday morning and missed my weekly get together with Bailly. I increased my Marrow Plus and found the symptoms going away. Today I go to Acupuncture to hopefully put this virus behind me. My nose has stopped tickling and my mental state is a bit better though I lost some sleep last night worrying about getting sick and not enjoying my 3rd week of usually feeling better and contemplating the looming surgery.

It was really hard for me to completely stay away from Aimee this time. She had a bad one with fever. It's in my nature to be the healer for this family and especially for my kids and it just kills me to hold myself back so I don't get sick. (I was cocky too since my white count's been normal.) Geoff's great about being the hard-nose to get her to drink fluids. He's good at the hard-edge style of parenting. But I'm the nurturer.

Which reminds me of seeing my clients this weekend. They did like my wig. (But of course, would they tell me if they didn't?) Still, the new client I saw didn't know it was a wig - so that tells you something. Aimee helped me decide which wig was the best for me out of the 4 free ones I've been hoarding. And truthfully, I did think she picked the best one. I felt like Bailly in it. (And that says a lot because she has a really good sheytle - not a free one.)

Anyway, back to the colds. I got a cold prior to my first chemo and so I'm thinking that could be one of the reasons I'm fighting one off now...the surgery looms. Stress from anticipation anxiety gets me many times. I have one more chemo and that only means I'm looking at surgery. And as much as I tell myself that I will lose 6-8 pounds once these are gone, and I will never have to wear bras again, and never have to have rashes during the summertime and am looking forward to getting to eat the hospital food that I couldn't touch last time, it's still my body and it's still surgery.

When in a depressive mood, I do go to thoughts like, the surgery is irreversible and what if they come up with a cure in the near future? Am I making the right decision? Am I going to one day regret not getting reconstruction? Will Geoff be repulsed by me? Will I be repulsed by myself? Are people going to be repulsed if I happen to go without falsies and look completely flat there? Will I handle the pain and the phantom limb feelings? Am I going to be able to handle the drains? Will I be able to do what it takes to get my arm motion and strength back? Will I get lympedema? (Sorry to be so honest about all of this because I know it's not so pleasant to read about this stuff.) And I don't need any advice on it unless you've gone through this yourself and can share your experience with it...after the next chemo (April 1st) I will be meeting with the surgeon to get my questions answered and I know I will eventually find my way through all of this stuff as I have everything else.

G-d sent me a Law and Order that was about breast cancer. I watched it last night. McCoy wanted to nail a healer who was giving women hope that they wouldn't have to have mastectomies. Instead they just died. I realized that was my answer to a prayer about helping me get the right perspective for the surgery.

So I'm looking forward to getting my new guided visualization cd from my acupuncturist today and taking a nap on her acupuncture table and talking to her about our kids Jason and Jake. Belleruth Naparstek also has a cd for surgery (among her many other fabulous cancer support guided visualization cds). They are really wonderful with such positive affirmations on them.

The birds are still singing and I can hear a wood-pecker and it's another beautiful day in Santa Cruz. My mom's coming to visit on Friday all by herself and I'm looking forward to some one on one. It should be good, warm weather for her and I should be feeling healthy and strong and up for all those restaurant meals. I'm also scheduling lots of free massage and did I tell you that they also offer free massage to family members? So I've got to get one for Geoff too.