I am super excited to be coming to you from my desktop computer, and not the laptop - which means I have peeled myself off from the couch! woohooo!!! It's the little victories, people. ;)
Friday was a bit of a doozy for me but thankfully, all in all, surgery went well and was a success. I had to be at the hospital at 6:30 am for all my pre-op stuff, went into surgery a little after 8am, and was out of surgery a couple hours later. Dr. M came out to talk to the fam and let them know everything went well. The surgery itself was fairly uneventful except for one complication on my left side. There was an area where my pec muscle had sort of collapsed and wasn't covering the tissue expander properly. It's so interesting to find this out because I knew there was something wrong with this particular spot ever since my mastectomy. I could not only see, but feel that something was different there but no one knew what it was. Just one more example of how we should always trust our intuitions about these things - we know our bodies better than anyone! Anyways, Dr. M had to implant some sort of synthetic mesh tissue to build that area back up and apparently over time my body will begin to recognize this as normal tissue and start to heal itself. Modern medicine is amazing, huh?!
Although surgery went well, my experience in post-op while coming out of anesthesia was just about the polar opposite. I truly felt like I was hit by a Mack truck! Every inch of my body ached and hurt, and it honestly felt like I didn't have an ounce of pain medication in my body. On top of that, I was extremely nauseous and thought I was going to vomit. This was nothing like my experience with the double mastectomy. I was a little nauseous after that but my pain was so well controlled - this was a level of pain like I had never felt before! To make matters worse, my post-op nurse was let's just say, less than friendly or compassionate.
I was extremely groggy but I remember telling this nurse that I was in a great deal of pain. Well, she proceeded to say that because I was also nauseous she would not give me any Vicodin until I ate. Next thing I know, she shoves a bowl of saltines in my hand and tells me to eat. Now let's think about this...I have not been allowed to eat or drink anything for 14 hours at this point which means my throat is as dry as the Sahara, I was just intubated with a tube down my throat for 2 hours which means I am very sore on top of the dryness, and to top it off, I am nauseous and don't have the desire to eat one morsel of anything! I remember trying to chew and swallow one of the crackers, and the nurse comes back and says, "Well, did you eat?" I then nod my head yes and she looks in the bowl and with disgust she says, "Ugh, you only ate one - I am not giving you the meds until you eat more." This lovely lady then decides to sort of lecture me and make me somehow feel bad that I can't take the medicine she wants to give me for anti-nausea because I have a major sensitivity to it and it bottoms out my blood pressure...."Well, you would feel better if you could take the Zofran.....Well, I can't give you the Zofran so that's why you are nauseous...." It was as if she thought I was just choosing not to take it to be a pain in the butt or something. So what does she decide to give me? Benadryl! So now she expects me to finish eating those crackers while I struggling with every fiber of my being to keep my eyes open. Ugh - it was not fun.
Thankfully, what seemed like an eternity later, they let Mike, Mom and Doug come back and see me. They had been in the waiting room worried since Dr. M told them they would probably be able to see me 45 minutes after surgery, but in actuality it ended up being 2 hours because of all this nausea/pain craziness. I knew as soon as Momma/Nurse Jan was back there with me, I would get the meds I needed and hopefully start to feel better. Well, the next thing I remember is literally feeling like they were pushing me out of the door. The nurse told Mike to go get the car, my mom helped me get dressed and I just remember begging her to let me get back in the bed. The thought of being transported in a wheelchair and riding in the car sounded awful! I actually don't really remember riding in the car or how I got in the house. I woke up a few hours later in my bed and was so grateful to be feeling a little better and not so, "I was just run down by a stampede of wild buffalo" feeling.
My "Hope" bracelet is so special to me. I have worn it each and every day since last April when my sweet friend Katie gave it to me. She also gave a similar one to each of our Beauts, and one to Momma Jan. I am always bummed out whenever I have to take it off for surgery or an MRI.
Saturday I felt pretty darn good. Of course, I felt a little sore but I wouldn't really even call it pain. Mike had a baseball tournament which I didn't want him to miss, so Momma Jan stayed with me and I also had a few sweet visitors come by to keep me company and bring me treats--thanks friends! And there was one sweet puppy who wanted to be lazy and spend lots of time next to his Momma, on his new doggy bed....
Sunday brought some tummy issues that I always seem to have after surgery. The anesthesia and pain meds just mess up my stomach and make me feel nauseous sometimes so that was the problem on Sunday. I stopped taking the Vicodin on Saturday to try to avoid it's effects on my stomach but I think it takes awhile to have your system bounce back from all of that. I pretty much didn't move from the couch and just spent the day watching trashy tv. :) Yesterday, I started feeling better but was still dealing with a little bit of an upset stomach, but today I am feeling much better! I haven't even sat on the couch once yet today and it's already noon - victory! :)
I am honestly bored to tears and am not used to laying around like this. It's a catch 22 because I am bored but don't feel 100% well enough to go do much. Sadly, Dr. M told me absolutely no exercise for 2 weeks. I seriously just wanted to walk on the treadmill or slowly ride a stationary bike but he said, "NO!" Then when I said, "well, I will be able to just walk around the block, right?" He said, "what don't you understand about this - no!" It was kind of hilarious with the two of us going at it right before surgery. So, I will feel much better when I can get back to the gym and start moving again. I see Dr. M on Monday and hopefully he will cut me a little slack then. :)
In other news, I got my port out! Woohoo! That was a bit of an unexpected surprise. Dr. F told me last September when chemo was over that I could get it out but I was honestly worried that I would need it again for more chemo or something. After my good scans in February, I felt a little better about not needing it but I was still apprehensive. So, after my appointment with Dr. F a few weeks ago, I decided to just go for it and get it out. I figured that it would be nice for summer time to not have this big thing popping out of my chest, and Dr. F reminded me that it's a source of infection so it's smart to have it out. I scheduled outpatient surgery at the end of May to have it removed. Well, during pre-op while I was talking to Dr. M, he said, "Well, we aren't using it today so why don't I just take it out. I do it all the time!" Bonus! One less surgery to worry about. So, although my port never really bothered me and I didn't even mind it too much, I got rid of it and it's nice to have one extra foreign thing removed from my body. Now my little scar just needs to heal up and I'll be good to go.
Thank you for all your kind thoughts and prayers while I went into surgery and have since been recovering. It always boosts my spirits to hear from people and I appreciate it so much!
In other exciting news...this downtime has allowed me to concentrate more on my new little baby, "Meg Malley Photography". A few weeks ago, I officially registered my business with the county and I have decided to take the plunge into being a small business owner. I started a Meg Malley Photography Facebook page over the weekend to post my latest work...feel free to check it out here -http://www.facebook.com/MegMalleyPhotography
And of course, you can see my full website at www.megmalleyphotography.com. I am looking forward to devoting more time and attention to this part of my life because I truly enjoy it so much!
Hope everyone has a great week!
Sometimes I feel at a loss for words...and for those of you that know me well, you know this is a rare occurrence. ;) Today is one of those days where I am not really quite sure how I feel, what I want to say, how I want to say it. I feel like I am on a teeter totter and I am one slight move away from either falling into that dark space or lifting up into a place of sunshine and gratitude. I am having trouble sorting out the thoughts in my head and in my heart and I am desperately trying to stay in the positive, live in the moment, smile, laugh, and be thankful. Although this journey is going to be the most trying of my life, I know that there is still so much to be grateful for. I am grateful for the constant support and love from my INCREDIBLE husband, my mom & Doug, and all of our friends and relatives. You all have no idea how much of an impact you have on us right now - how your words and gestures truly can turn around a really tough day, and make it brighter again. So please keep the love coming!
This morning Mike, my mom, and I headed downtown to Karmanos in order to have minor surgery to get my port placed for chemo. A chemotherapy port is a small device inserted under the skin (below my collarbone) with a catheter that is connected to the subclavian vein, which then connects to the superior vena cava. The advantage of this pump is that the veins in my arm won't be so beat up with the constant injections from chemo, and blood can also be drawn through the port. You can read more about it here and enlarge the picture at the bottom of the link for more details.
My check-in time was 8am but the procedure didn't actually take place until after noon. The hours in between were spent getting poked for an IV and blood draw, chatting about upcoming appointments, making each other laugh, and talking about how amazing lunch at The Fly Trap would be. I was not allowed to eat or drink after midnight last night and I was starving! Because I was so hungry, I opted out of the sedation...that's some serious hunger! :) They said that I would have to wait 2 hours in recovery if I chose to be sedated, so I said "scrap it" and just had local anesthesia. The procedure took less than an hour and we were on our way. It's definitely bizarre to have this artificial device in my chest and have yet one more scar to tell the tale of this disease.
Off to lunch we went and we were all feeling good and enjoying the beautiful sunshine. We were soon reminded that we were still riding this crazy roller coaster when I got the call from Dr. F's nurse. As we feared, the MRI results of my spine are again inconclusive. They are definitely worried about the spot at T12 as well as a few other spots that the MRI showed. I also discovered that I have a herniated disc at T5, which as a PT, this surprised me because a thoracic level herniation is rare. So, now we wait...again! I will now have to get a biopsy of my T12 vertebra, which will definitely be the final answer as to whether this cancer has infiltrated my spine. If it has, this means we are looking at Stage 4 level of disease and I can't begin to tell you how terrifying this is. Needless to say, this put a little damper on our lunch, and the three of us had a very real, emotional, and difficult conversation. No matter what stage this disease is, I will battle it with everything I have - but the worry I have for those that love me the most, just about brings me to my knees. Seeing the fear and worry in their eyes is worse than any physical pain I will ever endure.
Thankfully, there is some good news mixed in there... #1 - the spots in my spine could still end up being nothing and this would be the most amazing news ever! My wonderful brother, Jeff gives me the best pep talks lately and reminded me that there is just as good of a chance that this is not cancer and that we need to stay hopeful! #2 - Surprisingly enough, I found out yesterday that most of my genetic test results are in and I am negative for the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genetic mutations! This was shocking news to the genetic counselors, and my family. We thought for sure this was genetic and so now it makes me wonder, why the heck do I have this?! The answer to this question doesn't even matter, but can't help but wonder. There is still one genetic test that we don't have the results yet for- so there is a chance it could be that genetic mutation. This negative result is actually very good news for a variety of reasons because it reduces my chance of other cancers and further complications.
Due to today's recent developments regarding the need for another biopsy, my chemo treatments have been delayed. The results of the T12 biopsy could change the course of my treatment, so we now have to wait (ugh - I hate that word!!!) to see what this test shows. We should be getting a call tomorrow to schedule the biopsy for early next week. I think we will all feel better once these tests and preliminary measures are over and treatment can finally begin! To wake up each morning and fall asleep each night knowing this cancer is inside me trying to rob me of my healthy future, is enough to drive me crazy. I cannot wait to begin treatment so I can officially start the real fight! Bring it on!
I have an absolutely incredible weekend ahead of me and I am so thankful for that. After my MUGA scan tomorrow morning for my heart, I am heading to opening day with Jeff. This is how I know he is very worried about his little sister--I teased him by saying, "look what I have to go through to get an invite to a Tiger's game!" Saturday is going to be a complete blast spent with some of my best friends as we paint and redecorate my bedroom. My extremely creative and talented friend Julie has designed an entire new bedroom for Mike and I so that we can have our own little sanctuary to help us heal. I am beyond excited to see it all come together and have this incredible space to relax and recover in! As if all of this isn't incredible enough, Sunday is what our family friend Gina calls a "love fest"! Many of our family and friends are coming over Sunday afternoon to spend some time with us and share their love before my treatment begins. I am so grateful that Gina had this wonderful idea and I know it will be a fabulous day. If you aren't busy from 2-4pm, come by and say hello :)
I hope that everyone has a wonderful weekend with the ones you love. I can't help but thank you again for your love & support. It is the best gift of all!
It was a bit of a challenge to get decent pics of the port since I was taking them myself. The port gets a little cut off in this first image but you can see the incision in the bottom of the image and that's where the port is. There is also another small incision just next to my collarbone.
Side view let's you see that I now look like I could be a member of Star Trek with this lovely, freakish protrusion sticking out from my chest.
And because pretty flowers always make me smile....some macro images of my tulips...
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