Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Gettin Jiggy Wid It

There is a monastery in Bhutan; it is called "The Tiger's Nest."  Sometimes in your life it feels as if you've been scaling a mountain, bloody hands and feet, clinging to nothing, trying not to look down or look back.  This week was like that for me, in my body, and in this head, and tonight it feels as if I pulled myself up and over and now I can rest inside the temple.

I've been in a war for awhile now, and even when I think I'm out, I'm back in again.  This week was a real challenge for me, and even though I was prepared, I was not prepared.

I have been reminded, again, that you can do what you think you cannot do, if you do it in baby steps and surrender to it.  And pray real hard.  I pushed through some long days, sleepless nights, and discomfort that gave little rest.  Although this journey is at a new beginning, I'm only on the first step but at least that first awful step is done.

Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase.  Martin Luther King Jr.

Thank you Jesus, the breast drains came out today.  I had to take a deep breath when right after removing the first drain, the resident micro-surgeon says "Now that wasn't so bad, was it?"

I could have done the flying kitty bitchslap on him.  I could have, but I refrained.

Not sure how to describe to you what Flopsy and Mopsy look like right now, but it's rather freakish.  Not even remotely boob like.  More alien like.  Like two alien eggs have been implanted into my chest when they took me up into the spaceship that hovers above Stanford.  The alien eggs will grow and stretch my skin until they are ready to hatch.  They are high up on my chest, I suppose where perky boobs once used to be, but Flopsy and Mopsy haven't seen those heights in 30 years.

Every guy has his technique I suppose.  When breast surgeon, The Wizard, pulled out drains after the bilateral, he told me to cough and ripped them out of me with a yank, like pulling on a lawnmower cord.  It was startling but over before I finished the cough.

The guy today was nice, Dr. Careful, and his technique was "Let's pull on this as slowly as we can" and no coughing necessary.

I'm going to swear now.

Damn I hate those breast drains.  I hate em going in and I hates em coming out.  Like a damn snake slithering out of your body and biting you as it leaves.  I agree with the TMackQ, they are primitive instruments of torture that should have no place in modern medicine.  Thank you Sister.  They are just plain wicked, painful, a bother, annoying, and I'm going to swear again.

Damn I hate those breast drains.

Tonight if I could,

and had the shoes for it,

I'd be doing Riverdance, if not for this pain that happens when I jiggle.

I'd be doing it Baby.

One week after surgery, I've now finished up the Vicodin, the stool softeners and laxatives.  I've taken the last of the antibiotic that wreaked havoc on my flora and fauna.  And let there be music, the drains are out and I've had my first shower in a week.

When you've been through hell,
you are reminded that the simplest things in this life,
like the kaleidoscope of Fall leaves all over the front yard when we got home today,
are heaven on earth.

I am taking off shoes,
lighting a candle,
chanting prayers of gratitude
inside the temple
that sits on top of the mountain
inside my head.

So much of this life are these solitary journeys we take, even when those we love are all around us.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Drains Drains Go Away...

Sleeplessness, constipation and tenderness at the surgical site aren't a barrel full of monkeys, but they can be tamed and managed and drugged.  For me, it's the drains that are the most difficult to deal with.

You have to empty them and strip the line two or three times a day, measure the output and keep track on a little chart, but mostly it's the drains themselves - they hurt and are annoying as hell.

I have two small incisions at my rib cage on either side of my chest, and the drain tube is stitched in place where it comes out there.  It's as big as aquarium tubing, and you feel very vulnerable wearing these things, always trying to secure the slack so that you don't accidentally pull it or catch it on something.

My first go round when I had the bilateral, I had to wear the drains for two and a half weeks.  I'm hoping this time will only be a week.  They are driving me freaking cray cray; oh did I mention you can't get them wet so you pretty much sponge bath it while they're in.

Husband accidentally poked me in the chest this morning, and I went all Exorcist on him, I swear I did.

Even those of you who know me well would never recognize the guttural deep tone of voice I do have when conditions arise that necessitate it.  I startled the shit out of him; he forgot about that voice.

This stuff really wears on you day after day after day, I'm not the patient patient I once was, and I got a long way to go.

Will you pray for



Thursday, October 11, 2012

Remind me, why am I doing this?

There is not a whole lot to do when you are recovering from surgery.  It's all about what time is the next pain pill, and balancing the stool softeners and laxatives so you can poop, but not too many cause you don't want to poop like crazy.  

You have a little something to eat, you take a pain pill, you take a little nap, you watch a little TV, you read, you make some tea, you pet a dog, you empty drains and record how much fluid was in each, you take another pain pill, you check Facebook to see what every body else is doing, you take another little nap, you brush your teeth and wash your face, you take a shallow bath cause you can't get the surgery site or drains wet, you try to arrange your sports bra so that you have just enough compression on your chest but not too much cause it hurts so you stuff some soft socks in there to help, you have a little something to eat, you buzz through your email, you check Pinterest, you check Facebook again to see what every body else is doing, and

you just keep repeating all of it again and again like in the movie "Groundhog Day."

When you are recovering there is not much to do but recover.  You can't skip this part.  You have to go through this to get to where you want to be.  It's kinda boring.  It's real boring.  It's kinda lonely too but you don't really feel like talking to anybody, cause you're tired and you might have to poop, unexpectedly.

You miss doing the regular things, the little things that are part of your routine that you take for granted but now you miss,

like driving your car, or going to the grocery store, or going for a swim or a walk or lunch or work.  You miss the little things like getting dressed without it hurting, and not having attachments to your body that need to be monitored and emptied and fussed over.

It occurs to me right about now a little crazy that I am going through all this just so I can have boobs again, boobs that won't ever really look or act like my old boobs.  It does seem a little crazy.

Maybe it's just cause I have too much time on my hands,

and all that poop I'm not pooping is making me delusional.

Your life is lookin pretty good right about now, ain't it?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


I unwrapped myself today.
Unwound Ace bandages,
pulled on long ribbons of gauze,
emptied bloody drains
and took my first look.

Here's the latest incarnation of Flopsy and Mopsy.  The expanders aren't inflated much yet; just enough to see a bit of fullness on my upper chest and a wee wee bit of cleavage.  Haha.


Oh the joys of the first 48 hours after surgery, not sleeping, not pooping, bad sore throat still groggy just plain stupid stage.

They say you gotta go through it to get to it.

I like what Winston Churchill said.

"If you are going through hell, keep going."

Thank you Winston.

That ain't fruit punch Baby.

How was your day?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

3 am

Ah, the life of a breast cancer princess, after surgery.  She goes to bed with pillows fluffed and ready to sleep on her back, she tucks heart pillows under each wing, and bloody breast drains into the pockets of her white camisole.  Her nightcap is a Vicodin, followed by a stool softener chaser.  And then she dreams, of perky breasts and new lingerie.

"Sleeping Beauty, oh Sleeping Beauty..."

The pain wakes.

"Wake up Bitch, we need our meds."

She stumbles and shuffles to get the pill and the sip, removing the cap of the prescription bottle.  That's ironic, the cap is pink with a pink ribbon on it for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  She cannot escape the pink ribbon.  She sips and waits for the good news to kick in, so she can return to a slumber filled with sugar plums and perky boobies of all shapes and sizes topped with whipped cream and a cherry, thank you Katy Perry.

3 am.

Yes, I remember this.  You and I shared many nights together like this.  Hello Dear Reader.

So the day that took forever to get here finally happened, and Flopsy and Mopsy have made their first real step out of the Kingdom of Lost Breasts, and into the futureworld of life after breast cancer.

Flopsy and Mopsy the Sequel is finally in production.

It was a hell of day and fairly rough start, sick as a dog from anesthesia, with nausea, dizziness and vomiting that rivaled the good ol chemo days.  The Queen of the Glitch rode again when only the antibiotic was received at the pharmacy and not THE PAIN MED prescription.  Never fear, Husband got on his white horse and remedied this for fear of his life.  By night fall things were better, thanks to pretzels, Vicodin, Ativan, a Muffin puppy sharing my bed, a boy who cuddled me after I threw up, and a patient Husband bowing to my every command.

I am still all bandaged and packaged up, won't remove those for a couple of days to get a real look, but have already emptied bloody drains and taken a sneak peek.  It's been almost two years sjnce I took that first hesitant peek of the emptied out Flopsy and Mopsy, and this time I spy a slight fullness.  Where once a very concave top of my chest used to be, I now have a slight glimmer of cleavage where the expanders are.  There was a very large fold at the top of Flopsy, where radiated tissue had tightened and pulled and created a canyon.  Now I see the beginnings of what expanders will do.  That fold is filled.

Yes my Sister Debra, you were right, it feels as if I'm wearing a life vest, under my skin.  Yes Sister, you were right. My own built-in floaties. And many thanks Sister Teresa of the TMackQ, for your lengthy emails giving me the goods on what I might expect in the land of tissue expanders.  And of course the President of my Fan Club, Faith and Hope, thank you Sister for being such a loyal follower.

My Sisters, you are still the starlight in my pocket.

Despite the pain and bloody drains and anticipation of constipation and 3am wake up call,

I see a glimmer of Flopsy and Mopsy leaving behind their pancake status, and returning to stitched fullness.

A glimmer.

That feels good.

What feels even better?

Having that day behind me.

Today will be better.

Ah, the meds are kicking in.

See you on the flip side.

Thank you for praying me and loving me through it.

You schedule your mammogram yet?  It is Breast Cancer Awareness Month you know...

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Surgery Eve

Thank you very kindly to my friend Kim, nope not American Cancer Society Kimberly, and nope not Relay Kim.  Affectionately known as Uncle Kim, an old friend from back in the day, who graciously used his travel rewards to get Husband and I a room in Palo Alto the night before my surgery.  Thank you Courtyard Marriott for the free wi-fi, so I could talk to you tonight.

The Husband and boys in the house will tell you I was cranky today.  Uh huh.  Yes I confess.  I had all kinds of nervous energy whose only salve was a vacuum and bossing boys around.  Oh and thank you Javi for the hug and an offer of a french fry "It's fresh Mama."

Yes I am relieved to get this show on the road, but it brings up a lot for me.  When you're a cancer survivor, no matter how hard you try, there is always a tendency to look over your shoulder and worry about the what if's.  This is the first time since my bilateral they'll be opening me up.  I surely hope and pray the good guys have been winning and the bad guys are nowhere in sight.  This I pray. Hear my prayer Lord. 

I am not a morning person, never have been, so a 6am check-in tomorrow morning sure makes me anxious, but at least we didn't have to travel from home to Stanford the morning of!  My last morning appointment with the plastic surgeon took just over two hours to travel there, because of commute traffic.

I have the usual pre-surgical instructions, nothing to eat or drink after midnight, and stop use of any NSAIDS and fish oil one week prior to surgery.  I've been instructed to shower with a special disinfecting soap bar they gave me; it's wrapped in foil and looks like a brick of butter.  Will be buttering up later.

Yesterday being Zac's birthday was a great distraction for me, today not so much.  I got a little weepy earlier today, I suppose anticipation, excitement and dread all stuck in my throat.

I made the mistake of watching a plastic surgery video of tissue expander surgery a couple nights ago, yikes Baby!  Poor ol Flopsy and Mopsy, getting filleted like salmon again.

It's an outpatient procedure, which means I'll be in recovery longer than I'll be out!  I plan on blogging regularly again throughout this process, so stay tuned for all the fun.

Writergirldreams rides again.

Please send me all your good thoughts, prayers, moco chocolatte ya ya and whatever else you got that might be helpful.

Got courage?

I seem to have depleted my supply.

Send back up.

Ok everybody,




Set me free Doc, carve until you set me free of this body that still looks like Cancer Camp.

Set me free.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Happy Birthday Psycho Baby

His cousins nicknamed him "psycho Baby" when he'd get an evil look in his eye, and chase them around our house and growl.

He turns fifteen today.

His brother loves him.

His Daddy loves him too.

He makes me laugh.

I could not have survived Cancer Camp without him.  I never thought at 12 years old, he'd become a caregiver for his Mama.

He is everything to me.

He is everything to all of us, we waited for him, especially his big Bro.

I am blessed as a two year breast cancer survivor,
I'm still here today,
to bake his cake for him.

Zac, I love you so much Son.

I pray wherever your path takes you in your life,
you always know
how very much you are loved.

Happy Birthday Son,

love Mommy

Friday, October 5, 2012

Under Reconstruction

So Monday is the big day for me, after almost two years flat.

I'm anxious.
I'm excited.
Not sure what to expect regarding pain or recovery,
or how I'll look.

This is only the first phase and plastic surgeon has cautioned me, don't expect much.  This is just a prepping stage.  It's going to look strange.

I feel a little like "Sally" in "Nightmare Before Christmas."

Have you made your mammogram appointment yet?

If my blog inspired you to do so, will you let me know?

Sometimes when I'm going through this stuff,
it helps to know that because this happened to me,
and because I wrote about it,

it inspired you
to leap.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Old Me - October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Self Portrait, just before starting chemo
Sometimes I miss her, that me, up there.

I miss my old body, even my not so perky Flopsy and Mopsy.  I miss stuffing them into a bra, I miss making sure nipples were both pointed in the right direction LOL, I miss what was once my body.

Sometimes I don't know this me.  This body is foreign, and feels foreign, and sometimes, I just don't feel like me.

Hearing the words you have cancer is hard, but moving forward as a survivor has its own challenges.

I have found that the more I look back, to the life that is gone, the more I suffer.

Lord help me everyday accept where I am today, accept my new body under construction, and remind me, when I need it, that all of this,

is better than the alternative.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Take good care of you.
Do what you need to do.

A mammogram may seem scary, but lemme tell you Honey,

it ain't nothin compared to Cancer Camp.

Just do it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Can't wait to get rid of these things and get my new "foobs" aka fake boobs.

Prevention is the goal, but if we knew for sure how to do that, nobody'd get breast cancer.

Early detection is huge and can save your life, not to mention a pass on cancer camp.  Hearing the words you have cancer is never easy, no matter what stage you are, but I sure as hell would rather have been diagnosed while I was still a Stage 0, 1 or 2.

Looking for a mammogram alternative?

Check out thermography.  It's not meant to diagnose, but might be a useful tool without radiation to monitor changes in your breasts.

Whichever route you choose, just do something.

Know your breasts.
Be proactive about your health.
Stop procrastinating with your wellness.

And for gosh sakes,
if there is a history of breast cancer in your family,
be diligent, vigilant and informed!


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

This is one of my last photos of the original Flopsy and Mopsy.  I sure do miss those fat bunnies.

1 in 8.

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.

I've said it before, and I'll keep sayin it,

I hope I am the one in your eight.

Monday, October 1, 2012

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I'm gonna drive you crazy with this shit all month long.

I never ever in a million years want you to walk the path I had to walk.

Unbelievably, there are some of you, and you know who you are, very close to me, who are way way behind on the mammogram train.

For God's sake, just freakin do it.

This shit sucks.

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