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I'm still here

It's been nearly a week since my surgery for bi-lateral breast reconstruction. My right side, where they placed a tissue expander, and in which the breast tissue had been removed previously, is healing quite nicely. I've already re-gained most of my strength and range of motion on that side. My left side, however, is a whole other story. The incision site still looks pretty gnarly, and overall that side still hurts like hell! Obviously given the surgery, I expected a longer healing time, and more pain. They removed my left breast tissue prior to placing the tissue expander, but since it's been almost a week since surgery, I thought I might at least be up and about by now. My guess is that since my draining tubes are still intact, my mobility has been limited as well as my pain increased. These damn tubes make it impossible to be comfortable, so I am still bed-ridden. According to the follow-up I had with my doctor on Friday, I couldn't have the tubes removed as they are draining more fluid than he would like. I have to wait till it goes down significantly before he will agree to remove them. In the meantime, I have to watch them closely, as infection can travel back up the tubing and my course of anti-biotics is over. I'm hoping that I will lose the drains by mid-week, or weeks end at the latest! My concern over the healing incision has teetered back and forth. The one time I looked at it, I freaked. I'm scared of the possibility of another failed reconstruction, although this would be a first if it happened to the left side. Either way I don't want anymore surgeries than I have to have! Ruben heads back to work tomorrow, and his Mom left today, so we're a little worried by the fact that I am still bed-ridden. Of course Danny is still here to help, but he can't take me to the doctor's or to run errands. Natalie has to be enrolled in school, as the school year starts on 8/15. So much to do, and no time to do it in! I can't wait to be feeling better, and be back on my feet. I have so many projects on my desk that I would rather be working on, instead of just lying here watching TV and sleeping half the day. But I can't risk scrapping even one page and pulling a stitch. I'm being extra careful this time so I don't botch this surgery. I wonder how many more weeks of this I have before I am in the clear?


Home from the Hospital

Well here I am post-operation. They discharged me late yesterday afternoon, despite the horrible painful feeling I still had in my back/shoulder blades/armpits. With the way I had felt, I didn't even think I would be able to get off the bed to go to the bathroom, as I was unable to even reposition myself in another position. So for the first two nights I was miserable being unable to move, stuck in the same spot for like 8 hours straight.
When I woke up today after spending my first night at home, I was feeling better. Still a lot of sore areas that hurt (I imagine that those spots will hurt for a while) but I managed to get myself out of bed to go to the bathroom without Ruben's help. I think that the majority of the pain I feel in my armpit area is from these damn tubes I have. I really hate drain tubes, but I hope that this will help to ensure a successful surgery. The tubes and the few staples I have in my right breast will probably be removed. I'm hoping that this is when he will start the saline injections. The right side will need lots of time and enough saline to fully stretch to size, the left side will need less than the right side. The reason why the left side isn't already the correct size, is because the mastectomy I had done was a skin sparring, so a good layer of breast tissue had been left behind, leaving behind a small area for the expander. But at least this way I get to choose the size that I want. I just hope that when I have them swapped out for Implants in a couple months, that it won't hurt as bad, or feel as bad as then!

Now I must go pass out, I've been fighting it for the last hour. Hopefully this post makes sense!


Day 365.

It's been a whole year, yet it still feels like yesterday. It makes me wonder if the pain will ever really "go away".

I remember stopping by the night before. Natalie and I had just gotten Panda Express to eat. It was your first night in the hospice. Natalie and Grandpa walked around, while I sat there hoping you would wake up before I left so I could talk to you. They had you pretty drugged up, so you never awoke before we left.

The next day as I was just preparing to get ready to go see you, Vince called. I knew before he even told me. Guess I just knew from the sound in his voice that something was wrong. As much as we all knew this day was coming, nothing could prepare me for the pain and shock of it. At the time, Ruben was at home in Elko preparing for a move, but came down as soon as I called him. I didn't know how to tell Natalie that Grandma was gone. She was so angry because she never got to say good-bye to her. I told her that even though Grandma had been sleeping, she still heard us last night when we told her that we loved her. I know that really didn't make things any easier or better, because I myself had the same anger she did.

I left her with her Uncle Danny, while Ruben's other brother drove me to the hospice so I could see her one last time. Once inside her room, I just stood there looking at her lifeless body, not wanting to believe what I was seeing. I waited for my brother's wife's kids to leave the room - there were too many people in the room and I wanted a little privacy with her before I left. So once they exited the room, I walked over to my mom. At first I was really freaked out because her eyes were open, and I just couldn't bare to look at her like that - and I wasn't about to try to shut her eyes. So anyway, I ended up putting my sunglasses on her since it was the only thing around. I remember the bed being pretty low to the ground, because I got on my knees, leaned over, and just laid on her chest and cried. We had a deal. She promised me that she would fight for her life and not give up as long as I did the same.

Part of me just wanted to die that day. Part of me did die that day, and in it's place grew anger. Anger for the insurance companies for not approving a transplant sooner. Anger for these stupid TV shows like House that make it all look so easy - oh, you need a new organ, let's get on that stat! and voila within 24 hours they've been saved. Anger that she had to go so quickly, diagnosed in February, died in July. I know life's not fair, but even cancer patients get better odds, and most end up beating those odds too! But most of all, I am angry that I will never again hear the phone ring, and it be her. For years I took her calls for granted, and at one point when they were daily, they drove me insanely angry. And now those calls are the one thing that I miss most in life.

"They" say that the first year is the hardest. I'll agree that it definitely hasn't been easy. I know that I probably should start working on letting go of some of this anger, but deep down I'm afraid that if I let go of the anger that I will also be letting go of her. I know that sounds kind of dumb, but I'm just not ready yet. I'm afraid of forgetting, and there is so much I want to remember, and so much I've already lost. I miss you Mom.

I gave this photo of her that we had used during her Memorial Service, a "Vintage Hand Tint" look using Adobe Photoshop CS2. So far it's the only thing I have taught myself how to do.


The count down is on.....

Ruben survived another birthday on Sunday, although we did the actual celebrating on Saturday. I took him shopping, got him some new clothes as that is the one thing he doesn't regularly buy . He didn't really need anything else, and we had been out looking for some furniture anyway. Afterwards I took him to dinner at Hooter's as we were both wanting some wings. I've never been inside a Hooter's and I have to say I was very un-impressed with this location here. Those girls were not busty at all, nor were they showing cleavage. Yeah their shorts were short, but a few girls had more than a couple inches to pinch - like I'm one to talk about their pudge, with my big ol' ass! I guess I was just expecting a different experience. So anyway, that was Saturday, then on Sunday we basically just cozied up in bed all day while it poured rain outside, and watched some old shows on the DVR, and had cake. Yeah, 34 is like so not exciting. I'm not really looking forward to it in 6 months.

So now it's mid-July. In another 4 days it will be the 1st anniversary of my Mom's death. I'm really not looking forward to it. Her birthday alone was hard enough for me this year. Although with Ruben's mom and brother flying in on Sunday morning, and with going in for my surgery on Monday, I won't have much time to think about it. This 1st year certainly has not been easy. The one good thing to have come from her death is the re-newed closeness I now have with my sister and brother. I just really miss her phone calls sometimes, and never in my life would I think that I would say something like that and mean it so much. Life is so strange and unfair at times.


Finally, I think things are set to go....

After a few very stressful days, and multiple doctors appointments, I have finally found a new General Surgeon to perform my Mastectomy. ...and this doctor is just no GS, he's a Surgical Oncologist, so he's definately qualified. I feel very good with the decision of putting my breast in his hands. He discussed things with me no other GS had. I have a feeling if I had went with one of the others they would have performed a hack job simular to the one the GS did up in Elko when I had my left breast removed. He told me what my risks would be if we did a nipple sparing operation, and a skin sparing operation. After hearing my odds, I decided I don't need to keep my nipple. I mean why? They have to reconstruct one, why not two? But we are doing a skin sparing even though it still leaves me with some risks, otherwise I'd have no skin and would have to have a tissue expander placed on the R side to stretch out that skin as well. Uh, no thanks. The pain of one side being forced to stretch by way of weekly saline injections is enough for me. It just means I will have to continue self check-ups on a regular basis, oh well. At least it eliminates the very lumpy breast tissue I currently have, and the panic I feel each time I feel the smallest lump that is nothing. Besides, if I am to have my own set of floatation devices, I'd rather have two than one. As long as my boobs aren't under my chin, or a uni-boob, I have no problem what-so-ever with looking like I have two halves of a melon on my chest. Hey it might even mean I will get to go braless since they basically support themselves. I mean hell, I don't think that implants are capable of sagging - at least not the first few years. So for those reasons alone, I am pumping them to the max! I miss my cleavage. I miss the breasts I once had prior to losing so much weight (which I am slowly gaining back due to some of my damn medications!)

I think for once rather than fearing this surgery, and being all stressed and anxious over it and the outcome, I am actually looking forward to the end result. Of course that will be many months from now, but damn it, I am going to have new boobs by Christmas (I hope) and I'm excited about that! Just less than 10 more days to go...keep your fingers crossed for me!

I think that I am finally and slowly starting to lift out of this funk, which would be great. I am ready for a manic period. Ruben's birthday is Sunday and I don't want to be a total bitch. I think that even though it is so deadly hot outside, that I need to get more sunshine. I think it really helps my moods a lot. Before this funk set in, I used to go outside at least weekly and cut the grass, or trim the hedges. I'd do whatever I could to help with the yardwork, well at least as much as my physical limitations would allow me. With all my back and leg pain it's hard to do any of that stuff. But since it has gotten so much more hot and humid, I haven't helped with any of that. Of course I am still realing from the side effects of my new meds that I've been on for about 6 weeks. They are kicking my ass and it is difficult at best to get up before noon. I am in desperate need of regulating my can't do yardwork in the middle of the day here, not unless you want a stroke! But I can't let Ruben work so hard this weekend doing yardwork when his birthday is Sunday. So now I guess I know what I will be doing tomorrow instead of being inside and scrapping, damn! Of course I still need to go get him a cake and whatever I need to make him a nice dinner. Man, there's just not enough hours in the day!


I'm so happy I could shop!

Really, I mean I can shop. I was just notified that I won a $20 gift certificate to I know you're thinking "$20? That's not much " But to me it's a lot, it's a huge deal to have won something period! I mean even if it is only $20, it will buy a pack of paper, but that's not the point. The point is that I won something based off of a layout that I had submitted. Granted, it was sort of the luck of the draw, but still they had to have liked something about my layout. They do a search for all layouts posted on a certain day, review them, and choose one based on the criteria that you linked to one tool, one product, and one adhesive (at minimum) in their online store - but you would think that even still there would be hundreds that would fit into that criteria, right?!? This isn't some big contest (like Lucky 7), it's just some contest they started in April. They are giving away one prize a day day till further notice. I won for something I uploaded in June. I'm excited because it's the first time I have won anything for my work, and to me, it is a sign of things to come. The beginning of my scrapbooking dreams/goals being realized and coming true. So while right now it may not be a magazine publishing or becoming a Design Team Member, but in the future it may be if I keep up the hard work and play my cards right. Maybe if I am real lucky, next month I will be notified that I won a prize in the Lucky 7 - hopefully a grand prize.

Keep your fingers crossed and wish me luck!!!!!

Oh, btw - did you check out the new pictures I uploaded to Flickr? I know it wasn't a whole lot, and they aren't tagged or described all that well, or rather at all - but at least they are there for your viewing pleasure. I have some videos to edit and post on YouTube just as soon as I can get to them. Today is my pre-op appt. with my plastic surgeon, the last night of swim lesson (thank god!), and hopefully the day I will find out if I found a new general surgeon - otherwise I have appointments both tomorrow and Thursday, ugh!


I'm Back...

So sorry I've been MIA lately. It's been a whole combination of things. First off there's Natalie's swim lessons, which has ended up being more time consuming than I previously thought they would be. Then of course there was the whole Lucky 7 scrapbook contest - which I am happy to say I successfully completed 7 layouts for just in time for today's deadline! Add in some money drama issues with my brother. Oh, I am also frantically searching for a new General Surgeon to perform my mastectomy on the 23rd, at almost the last minute I found out that the hospital I was scheduled to have surgery at had dropped from my PPO's plan, and my GS doesn't have privileges at the new facility - so I am seeing new doctors almost daily, which is REALLY difficult given that I cannot take Natalie with me to these appointments. I've also had to shop for and buy furniture for both the guest room and our dining room. Add all this stress and anxiety together, on top of being bi-polar, and watch out for some severe displays of manic-depressive. There was so much going on that even I didn't see it at first. About 3 days into it all, it dawned on me that I was having these mood swings and for the first time I think I really understood what was going on, and that I am bi-polar. I do have extreme periods of highs and lows. Of course this means that if I am experiencing such periods of mania or depression, then it means that my medication is not working all that well anymore. So when you hit a low, you don't really feel much like doing anything - no blogging, no getting out of bed, and definitely no scrapping. So forcing myself to do all these things wasn't the easiest, but the time is tick ticking away. There's only a tad more than 2 weeks left before my surgery, after which I won't be able to do much of anything for at least a month. Trying to do something too soon is how I botched my last reconstruction surgery. I really don't need or want another failed surgery - especially since this one is bi-lateral. I can't even imagine how much pain I will be in. I don't understand how women get breast implants. Needless to say, yes I am scared, and that is what you hear talking. Don't worry, just 2 more weeks to go of all this anxiety, then my anxiety level will triple when I get there and they go to start an IV. You'd think by now I'd be a pro at all this surgery stuff, but since my veins are so bad, I am hard stick. The more they try and don't succeed, the more I freak out. I also don't handle pain well, which tends to fuel my anxiety at times. So this is my world, welcome to it. Getting those layouts done for Scrapbook.Com was not an easy task. Half way through I lost my motivation, my drive. Actually I think maybe it was more my focus, and being in a low, depressive state with all my anxiety and stress. Sometimes it just gets so difficult to deal with things, cause it's like having a monkey on your back. So my layouts, to be honest, weren't all that satisfying to me. I just think that I could have done better if I had been in a manic state. But hopefully 1 will catch someones eye. At least I tried and applied myself. I really have to force myself to scrap more often. You know the saying, practice makes perfect. Ruben successfully sold my Craft Robo Pro on Ebay, and I took my money and purchased a Cricut instead. It's much more user-friendly. Just pop in a cartridge and your good to go. I can't wait to play more with it, and the other cartridges I got. Hopefully before my surgery, but we'll have to see how my schedule goes - and if I can get myself out of this funk I'm in. 4th of July was no big to do here. It rained all day, so the BBQ was cancelled, as was swimming in our wading pool. I say wading pool because it's about 2 1/2 feet deep of water. It stopped raining just in time for dusk, so we rounded up all the kids in the hood and Ruben shot off the fireworks he bought out of town. We got about half way through when a cop came by and told us that all fireworks are illegal in St. Charles Parish. He was really cool about it though, he didn't even give us a ticket or anything. The kids got a big kick out of the fact that they were illegal. So that was the end of that, which was kind of a good thing being that the mosquitoes had eaten us up. They are viscous little blood-sucking killers! So in about a week, on the 15th, it will be Ruben's birthday. He's going to be 34, and for about 6 months I will get the joy once again of being the younger one! I'm just not sure yet what to do for the big day. He's already got everything he could want or need. I mean hell, we are grown ups, we buy what we want when we want - it's not like we need a special day for that, so I'm really not sure what to get or do; I mean like other than sexual favors, lol. Tomorrow I will try to update Flickr with some of the newer pictures of Natalie swimming and from the 4th, it's already too late tonight and it's about time to hit the sack and call it a night!