Well, it looks like I am starting to return to the land of the living...(very) slowly but surely. I finally started to feel better this past Tuesday, and I couldn't be more grateful. It truly felt like it was never going to happen. Each day since then, I have started to feel a little bit better than the day before but it is amazing to me how drained and exhausted I feel even though I do nothing but lay around all day. It's the craziest thing and I have to try very hard not to let it frustrate me too much. I have never in my life spent this much time doing nothing, staying indoors, and actually staying in bed or on the couch all day. I can tell I am feeling better because I have started to feel very antsy and bored.
Last Monday I wasn't able to go to see Dr. M as I had hoped because my drains were still collecting way too much fluid to have them removed. I was super bummed but hopeful they would be out in the next day or so. On Tuesday, I headed to Beaumont to see Dr. R, the physical medicine and rehabilitation doc. He checked out my range of motion, measured me to make sure I wasn't showing signs of lymphedema, and we discussed the possible reasons why I had been feeling so awful. Overall, he said things looked good but unfortunately, I couldn't really start doing much movement with my arms until the drains came out. This is yet another reason that I have been frustrated by these suckers because the longer they stay in = the longer I have to wait to start moving my arms = the tighter my pecs and shoulders become = the more difficult my recovery will be to regain full range of motion and strength. But, I have tried to be patient and respect my body's healing process. This has been a tough one for me as I have often joked with Mike that there is no way I could ever be a teacher like he is because patience has never been my strong suit. ;)
Luckily, by Wednesday morning my left drain had really slowed down and I was able to get it removed. YAY! This means I can now lay on my left side without too much discomfort. I figured that the right one would at least be out by Friday, but unfortunately this bugger is still in and draining a lot! I can't believe I am going on 3 1/2 weeks since surgery and it's still in. I did receive my first fill of my tissue expanders on Wednesday in the hopes that it would slow down some of my drainage. Imagine having a balloon (but one that feels like an aluminum can) underneath your pec muscles and then having someone inject saline into it while you feel it expand within your chest. It's the oddest feeling - and not the most comfortable to be completely honest. I will continue to go in weekly for my fills for about 6 weeks until the tissue expanders are completely filled, at which point I will begin radiation. So, I am planning on heading back to the doctor tomorrow in the hopes of receiving another fill to slow down this drainage. The theory is that the fluid will continue to collect and drain as long as there is space to do so - if we fill that space by filling the expander, then the drainage will hopefully slow down.
I also had to head over to Karmanos' Weisberg Center on Wednesday to get my monthly shot of Zoladex (the med that shuts my ovaries down and puts me into premature menopause). While I was there, I helped represent breast cancer patients as the Detroit Red Wings presented Karmanos with a check for the money they raised during their Breast Cancer Awareness Game. Former Detroit Red Wing, Chris Chelios was there representing the Wings, in addition to Nick Karmanos, Vice President of Karmanos Cancer Institute. Myself and two other young breast cancer survivors posed with Chris and Nick while holding a banner signed by the entire Red Wings team and hundreds of fans. We were photographed and interviewed by our local ABC and FOX affiliates. Unfortunately, I missed the clip of us on the news that night but some of my friends caught it. It was a fun thing to be a part of and neat to meet Chris Chelios.
I have continued to battle fatigue since the surgery, so the rest of the week was spent laying pretty low. A few visits from friends was really nice and helped distract me from these walls that I feel are closing in on me. On Saturday night, I finally busted out of the house for the first time in 3 weeks for something other than a doctors appointment or support group meeting. Mike and I headed to the movies and it was so nice to just have a change of scenery for a few hours, and go on a date with my cute husband.
I am hoping to head back to Dr. M's office tomorrow morning to get another fill for my tissue expanders which will then hopefully slow down the drainage...keep your fingers crossed! I want to give a special thank you to Aunt Bridget for driving me to my appointments this week and for sitting outside with me after I realized I locked myself out of the house. :) Also, to my wonderful next door neighbor, Teri for cleaning up all of my flower beds in the backyard. She spent this afternoon pulling weeds, cutting back perennials, digging up my annuals, and sprucing everything up - it looks wonderful and I am so grateful since I can't get out there and do it myself this fall.
I truly appreciate all of the well wishes, words of encouragement, and prayers I have received over the past couple of weeks. This has been one of the most difficult times I have had along this journey since my diagnosis. I am grateful to be feeling better but it's an extremely slow process and it's a huge reminder that as strong as I think I am, that can change in the blink of an eye.
I hope to update you all soon with nothing but good news of healing and the removal of this last pesky drain!
My blog to keep you all