Thursday, October 22, 2020

I am the surgery that is put off because of Covid

 At our school board meeting a few weeks back, the president of our local hospital joined to share the medical community's perspective on COVID's impact in our community. We live in a county that has the highest COVID positive testing rate is the state. We've been making national news for our significant spikes...1/3 test came back positive just yesterday. As the board was making decisions about what method of school to be in, this doctor shared that our local hospitals are full. Surgeries are being cancelled because they don’t have the beds. He said some people are going to get calls tonight saying, sorry but your surgery tomorrow is cancelled. It’s not heart surgeries or emergency appendectomies, but rather cancer patients and elective surgeries. 


There are a lot of opinions about school and the data he shared and COVID. And I think sometimes these facts and figures don’t seem real unless you have a person connection to help you understand this. So I am here to share that this is me. I have been one of those people. What was supposed to be my final BRCA related surgery process started in February and was supposed to be finished in by August. It’s October and I am still waiting. I’m slotted for December 3rd. I don’t currently have a surgery time on the books yet which makes me worried that I am going to be the first one bumped if Wisconsin doesn't get their shit together. 


I don't mean to sound whiney or really even to complain. I feel very thankful that I was even able to get my phase 1 surgery done in February as the first few cases hit Wisconsin.  I was able to have a support person with me in the hospital still leading up to surgery and actually didn’t have anyone stay with me during the stay, so the visitor restrictions that were out in place wouldn’t have changed much for me. But women who had the same surgery just a few weeks later had very different experiences. 


I was able to go attend a check up in person two weeks later to get my drains pulled but all other checks were cancelled or done through tele-med. I wasn’t able to get an in person appointment until July to even talk about what needed to be done during the phase 2 surgery. By the time that finally happened, their August surgery schedule was already filled with people who had to delay their surgeries during the months of March, April, May, or June.


I will absolutely survive if this phase two surgery gets bumped again. But it is still frustrational the ability for a women's body to be put back together as whole is deemed to be "elective" in the first place.  The plan during phase one left the incisions in a way that we know doesn't look good; the focus was just to get the tissue to survive. Phase two is when those incisions will be closed up and the shape of everything will be smoothed out. To the outside world, I look fine, normal, some might even say better than before. But I know what it looks like underneath it all. I'm also finally removing my ovaries. I am ready to be done. It will also cost me another deductible if it has to be moved to the next calendar year. Let's go Wisconsin! Wear the mask! Wash your hands! Stay home whenever you can! 







Also, for fun, here's a photo of what it looked like the first time I put on my work belt after surgery!





Monday, July 6, 2020

Peloton Anniversary

As of today, July 6th, I have been a Peloton member for 1 full year. What a year it’s been! 

There are a lot of opinions about Peloton, thanks to that commercial and the high price. I gave gotten some criticism or side glances for the choice to invest, but here’s my analysis of it.

In one year, I did 508 total work outs with Peloton. This includes a majority of them on the bike, but also treadmill, guided meditations, some strength, yoga, and stretching classes through their app.

If I had paid the regular price for a Peloton, $2245 and membership $39 per month. The grand total cost would be $468 + $2245 = $2713. That means $7.44 per day for the year. Continuing on though, I will only have the membership cost, so that cost per day will only go down from here as we own and use it longer. If I look at this cost in comparison to the number of workouts I did in a year (508) thats $5.34 per work out. Not awful...that’s the going rate some places where you do a punch card or what you'd pay for drop in for classes. 
my scoreboard
However, we didn’t pay that for our bike. I started as just an app user. I thought the concept was intriguing, but wanted to try it out before committing. I had a knee injury among all my other reconstruction in the past and wanted to make sure it would be something that wouldn’t cause pain. I started with just the app on my phone and would use the old schwinn bike in the school weight room. I was able to get 3 months of the subscription for free. I would also cast the app onto a tv and use the treadmill or strength workouts both in the weight room and at home. So my cost for the membership is cut to $39 x 9 = $351.

After proved to myself that I consistent i consistently used and loved it for 3 months, I decided we should to invest in the actual bike. I dedicated a portion of my tutoring money to the Peloton fund and kept watching the site to see if they ever ran sales. I scoured Craigslist and Facebook market place for used ones. It took awhile to find one locally that was for sale by someone who appeared to be not scamming us. Finally, in October I found the perfect used one that made us pull the trigger. A local person was selling one with all the accessories. As we started communicating about it, he indicated that it was used once. He bought it but never could get himself clipped in/out using the shoes, so decided to get rid of it. He turned out to be a man in his 70s and even said "I don't mind going for a drive on a Sunday, so for $50 more we can deliver it to you." We paid him $1850 for essentially a brand new bike with two of every accessory and delivery.

So my cost was actually at $1850 + $351 = $2201 for the bike and year of membership. This works out to $6.03 per day which divided by my workouts = $4.33 per workout. 

Mitch's scoreboard
However, I am not the only one who uses it. Once Mitch saw how awesome of a workout it was, he started riding too. It's now a battle to see who can get on the bike first after we come home from work. That would make a better commercial Peloton! Because the membership is per bike, you can have as many family member accounts as you want, so the kids have one too. So when you add in the 234 workouts that he's done and the 10 rides that our kids have done, our account has done a total of 752 workouts in a year.
$2201 divided by 752 work outs means $2.92 per workout

PLUS Mitch works for a company that offers rewards for being active and staying heathy. You earn "Vitality Points" for getting 10,000 steps in a day, working out, buying healthy food, getting regular doctor check ups, etc. These points can be redeemed like credit card points for flights, hotels, Amazon gift cards, etc. In the past ten years we've used them to buy...my DLSR camera, Dyson vacuum, a huge snowblower, and a gas grill. All this for just wearing a fit bit and being willing to scan a card when we shop at Walmart and letting them see how often we buy bananas and spinach. 

While it would be awesome if the Vitality company would partner with Peloton to offer some discounts on the machines or something, they do not. COME ON, Vitality and Peloton! However, Vitality does offer each member a gym rebate for up to $400 in gym fees per year. So we get a rebate for our monthly membership paid out by Vitality, making our grand total paid for membership per year $68 rather than $468. Also with the Peloton we are now maxing out on the activity points you can earn each year, which is in turn earning us more Amazon gift cards that I'm already itching to spend.

So our final calculation for our cost of our Peloton for 1 year is:
$1850 + $68 (membership) = $1918 / 752 work outs = $2.55 per workout--a rate that is totally worth it to me.

Between the Peloton work outs and my recent surgery to explant and revise my reconstruction, I have never felt better. I am stronger both mentally and physically. I feel good in my skin again. I turned 38 years old and feel better than I since I began my BRCA journey over 8 years ago. Hell, I wore a bikini at beach the other day for the first time since our honeymoon 14 years ago! And what's been amazing to me is that it hasn't been about the amount of weight loss. I honestly have no idea where that's at and I really don't feel a need to check because I'm feeling good and that's all that matters.


somewhere on a beach


The instructors and community of riders have been awesome to get to know and are incredibly supportive. I've been able to get to know a group of Peloton riders that are also breast cancer survivors, teachers, and fans of a type of ride called "Power Zone Training." There is a camaraderie and sense of teamwork that I had no idea would be part of this. While it's not the same as those friends that I met while working out at Energy Fitness, this is a good fit for me and where I'm at in life right now. 



Nerf gun is always within arms reach

We don't have a beautiful work out room and haven't put our bike in front of a window with some amazing view. Come on Peloton, get some more realistic commercials! But it has been a great addition to our home and well worth the investment. If you're considering getting a Peloton, please use my referral code 79YDQD as both you and I get bonus swag! See you on the leaderboard! 
Wearing my Century Club shirt that arrived while I was recovering and had drains still on the hips.
#peloton #powerzonepack

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Not any higher risk

Several people have reached out by text or Facebook/instagram message (not in person right now thanks to the social distancing that we are doing) asking if I am considered at higher risk for COVID-19. I appreciate you thinking of me, but no, I am not.

I am not at any greater risk than the general public when it comes to the coronavirus. If we were talking MRSA or Staph, then hell yes! My incision is still healing in one small part and any exposure to those bacteria would be a major issue. If we had any reports of that in our building, which does sometimes get passed around in high school sports, I would be looking at a few more weeks off. 

I was scheduled to return to work (which is in a school setting) on March 24th which is exactly 6 weeks post surgery. With schools cancelled right now, I'm not exactly sure what my return will look like, but I am thankful that I get a few more weeks in which I do not have to think about what I am going to wear to work. 

We are doing social distancing, sticking to ourselves as much as possible. Which is basically what I had been doing for the last 4 weeks anyway. I am out of the house for physical therapy and to go to the grocery store and maybe library, but that's it. Now the rest of the family joins me! Cribbage and Rummy games, movies and books.

I did have to say good bye to my rental chair as we only rented it for 1 month. I liked that thing! It was an old person lift chair. I'm happy to say that I never needed it for that purpose, but did need the power feature to recline backward. I did not have the arm strength or ab strength to pull the lever on a normal recliner to get it reclined. 



Have fun staying in everyone! 

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

4 Weeks


It's been a full month since my explant and DIEP reconstruction. I am healing well. In fact at my two week appointment, everyone oh'ed and ah'ed and made a big deal about how great I was healing and walking. My incisions look good. I have a few spots where they opened up a bit. It's just a little half inch or less that splits and then starts to reheal. We believe this is happening because my body doesn't like the internal plastic stitches. My incision will open up, then spit out the stitch, and then reclose. THE HUMAN BODY IS AMAZING! 

I've been walking well. This is a big deal because they pull your belly skin so tight that you have to walk hunched over for a long time. I've been 90% upright since my two week appointment. I think that I'm already 100% upright, but occasionally after being in one position too long, I am very stiff getting up and still hunch for a little bit. I have been walking on our treadmill just going slow and steady. I have been able to take the dog for short walks in the neighborhood and even met a friend to mall walk. This week, I have been able to get back on the Peloton. (If you are at all interested in a Peloton, use my referral code! 79YDQD as it means both you and me get $$$) I'm staying safe and just doing only short warmups, cool downs, scenic, or low impact rides, but it definitely helps with my sanity to do something active. I am active most of the morning, setting a few goals for myself each day, but then by the afternoon I am tired and rest for a bit. It's a good little pattern that I've got to my days. 

My doctor gave me the choice about wearing compression. Some doctors say, you must wear compression 24/7 for 6 weeks, others don't. I've chosen to wear compression because it feels better that way. My swelling is going down. I still have bruising and I think the compression helps that feel better too.  

I start physical therapy next week to regain the movement in my arms and to work on the scar tissue across my abdomen. I will go back to work in two more weeks.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Surprises

There were many things that I thought I knew going into this having already had a mastectomy and reconstruction once and having read like everything out there on DIEP. But here are something that surprised me.

1. The bruising. My breasts are bruised all over. My arms and legs am have bruises from the shots from the blood thinners. My abdominal scar has bruising at the ends of it. They are all at varying points of healing so I am a beautiful mash up of purple, pink, and yellow.

2. Diet restrictions. I was given a strict no caffeine and no chocolate diet in the hospital. I’m not a coffee or caffeine drinker so it wasn’t a big deal, but chocolate! My heavenly hunks had to wait until I got home.


3. Rib pain. A small portion of a rib connected to the sternum was removed to have a blood vessel to connect the flap to. This area was more sore than expected.

4. Drains. I was completely mentally prepared to have 6 drains. I came home with only 2. It was quite a bonus. However, my predictions of what I would wear to manage these was so off. Last time, I loved my drain camisole. This time I struggle with it because I don’t like to have anything on my breasts initially and that zip, even though it’s not tight, still feels like too much. Also the spot where the drains are held is too high and feels like it actually hits where the drains are stuck in me. I also did not have drains in my abdomen, which was a total bonus for me!

5. Penrose drains. I was surprised to have penrose drains while in the hospital. I hadn’t heard of this before. The best way to describe them is a silicone straw stuck halfway in your body and half out. I also pictured these (because I couldn't actually turn my body or lift my arms enough to see them) similar to the spigot that Katniss was gifted in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire to get water from a tree, except drilled into my body. THEY HURT! These drains resulted in a lot of goo just coming right out and soiling the hospital gown, sheets, pillows, that I had anywhere near my sides. Thus, the clothes that I thought I might wear in the hospital were useless.

6. Occupational Therapist visit while in the hospital. Maybe this was because of my length of hospital stay, but it was awesome. She came in each day and helped me learn exercises to do for PT but also how to get out of bed, tips for how to shower safely, how to get clothes that aren't button up on safely while having T-Rex arms. This was another great surprise.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Surgery Recap

I'm almost 1 week out from explant and DIEP reconstruction and I'm finally feeling ready to think back about the week.

It started on Sunday with a drive down to Madison. We dropped the kids and dog off at my parents and made the 140 mile drive in a snowstorm. It usually takes us about 2 and half hours, but because of the snow it took closer to 4 hours. There were several areas where we were either completely stopped or down to 5 mph on the highway. At one point it felt reassuring that there were two UW Health Ambulances following us for a portion. Mitch, who never takes a break while driving this route, suggested we stop at a gas station for a little stretch break, so you know it was rough. Eventually we made it and checked into the hotel that is right across from the hospital. We ate a good meal out at a restaurant fittingly called "BRAsseire V." We enjoyed dinner and spent the night watching The Office on the hotel TV. The first episode on was the one in which Jan gets implants. Fitting on two regards...implants obviously but second because there is a student at school who insists that I look just like Jan from the office. I don't see it. I think it's just because I'm the only female she sees that wears a blazer like Jan. Oh well. I did the Hibiclens shower and tried to sleep. Sleep didn't work very well. I had a drink with dinner, I listened to peloton sleep meditation, I prayed the rosary in my head, I did 4-7-8 breathing, all thing that usually help. But sleep really didn't happen the night before surgery. I forced myself to lay there until 4 am.
  






At that point, I got up and did my second Hibiclens shower following the directions from the pre-op appointment. I boxer braided my hair and double checked my bags to make sure that I left Mitch with all the things I thought he could take home and I had packed all the things I thought I'd need in the hospital. We took the brief drive to the hospital.

We were told to arrive at 5:30. We pulled in at 5:13. Valet parking wasn't open yet. Mitch dropped me off because it was still quite a snow storm and I wanted to leave my jacket in the car and found a spot to park. We quickly found our way to "First Day Surgery" which was also not open yet at the time that we arrived.


Surgery Day 1-Monday

The First Day Surgery department handled everything for my check in. I got dressed in Bear Paws gown, vitals taken, and pryed my wedding ring off my finger to leave with Mitch. At 7:00 all the action started. They started my IV putting it in the vein in my wrist because the front of my hand wasn't cooperating. Dr. Afifi came in and drew all over me. The Anesthetists came in and explained all their part as well. Throughout all this the nurses kept apologizing that I had to wait so long and that it was so rushed. They explained that they prioritize the order of people based on who they think is going to take the most time and I was someone they thought would be very simple, which is true...other than these BRCA related surgeries, I'm really a very healthy person. The wait also didn't bother me because it was nothing compared to what I experienced during my mastectomy.





My surgery was scheduled for 7:30, I said goodbye to Mitch and was rolled into the operating room. The last thing that I remember is the surgery team doing the check in thing where it felt like they were all standing around me and one leader was naming off the different responsibilities and each person would respond.

The next thing I know, I woke up in the recovery room. I spent some time in and out of it in there. I remember taking breath and feeling so surprised at how it felt. Now, I'm sure I was on significant pain meds, but I remember thinking it was so much easier to breathe. I took like three breaths and couldn't believe it. The nurse thought something was wrong and came over to ask me about it and I tried to explain but clearly didn't do it well. Then was rolled into the room I stayed in for my time in the hospital in the F6/6 section. Sometimes after DIEP surgery, hospitals require a stay in the ICU. UW Healthy University Hospital has this section designated for higher risk surgeries like this so I didn't have to move from ICU to normal room at any point. Mitch met us in the hallway, squeezed my hand and gave me a kiss. The first thing I said to him was "It feels so good to breathe." Apparently, I was trying to explain what breathing felt like. He didn't quite get it either. I think that I was so used to breathing with my implants which felt like rocks attached to my chest that I didn't realize how their weight felt or how restricting it felt until they were gone.

While I was in surgery, Mitch found the waiting area at the hospital. He was given a buzzer that provided him general updates every 2 hours. According to him, the waiting area was a really big open area. He left once to eat a breakfast burrito from the cafeteria. He read a book, dozed off, watched American Pickers because that was what was on TV and he didn't want to change it. He was intrigued to learn that the former ESPN anchor George Smith was now an anchor on a Madison station. At 4:45, Dr. Afifi came out to meet with Mitch. He let him know that they were able to get all of the capsule that surrounded my implant out and that everything went well.

I remember the staff coming in checking my vitals and using the doppler to listen to the flaps. At first it was every half an hour, then moved up to every hour. The room had to be 74 degrees to help the flaps adjust. They monitored the color and temperature of them as well. I dozed off a couple more times and by 8:30 Mitch decided he would go back to the hotel.

Post op day 2-Tuesday
I was in and out all night. It felt like day 2 started when Mitch came back to the hospital at 5am. They told him that the med students do rounds at about 5:30, so he wanted to be there to hear what they had to say. They had nothing new or earth shattering to share, but it was my first experience in a hospital with med students and it was a chance each day to see scenes from Grey's Anatomy or Scrubs in real life.










Feeling good

Later that morning they determined it was time for me to get up and moving around. They pulled my catheter and had me start to sit up. I had to be able to roll onto my side, put my feet down and get my body up without using my abs or arms to push against anything. That was horrible and painful and the only thing that was worse was when they said I need to stand up. Holy hell. That was awful. I had to do that three times while they monitored my blood pressure to make sure that it was steady before they would let me walk. I didn't want to walk. I cried it hurt so bad and I sat back down and quit.

I drank a ton of water because of the sore throat and dry mouth. They provided a little cup with a straw and a mini pitcher full of extra. I remember thinking how on earth am I supposed to be able to refill this water cup--I don't have the strength to pick up that pitcher, but eventually I was able to do that and it was good exercise for me. Because of all this water though, it was only 20 minutes before I really needed to go. I pushed through the awful pain. Did the blood pressure checks again and waddles to the bathroom. I figured out that if I relied upon my leg strength getting up was much better. I couldn't stand up right because of how tight by stomach skin has been pulled, so picture an old lady hunched over a walker, minus the walker, and that's what I look like walking anywhere.

The Good Pizza vs. The Original Cheeseless


I learned how to order my hospital meals. I took the meds, which was a variety of the big pain meds, tylenol, aspirin, stool softeners, miralax, potassium, shots for blood thinning... it felt like every 2 hours they had something for me. I watched some tv and dozed off. I moved from the bed to the chair several times. I managed the drains with the help of the nurses.That afternoon Dr. Afifi came by to check on me and I was allowed to shower. Mitch eventually headed back home because we agreed that it was a waste of time for him to be off work and it'd be better for the kids if they had the normalcy of him home.


Post op day 3-Wednesday

I continued with the routine of meds, drains, and flap checks, sleeping and small amounts of walking. Flap checks moved from every hour to every 2 hours then to every 4 hours overnight. The nurses began asking about passing gas or bowel movements. This was the last task that needed to occur before I could be considered ready to be released from the hospital. UW Health has these awesome posters to help you describe poop so that when it happens you can accurately let them know. I understand that I'd been given twice daily stool softeners and miralax because of concerns about the anesthesia and narcotic pain meds having an impact on everything down there. They may have overdone it though because imagine this situation, someone who doesn't move very well or very fast, experiencing the sudden urgency of these meds. It wasn't pretty. Nurses and Nursing assistants are saints. Due to how hard it was to move around, I decided to ask Mitch to order the recliner rental and he got right on that. It was a little bit lonely at the hospital that day. Between my digestive issues and being by there by myself and pain, there were some tears. That afternoon the Occupational Therapist visited and gave me plenty of exercises to do to regain range of motion in my arms and shoulders. That afternoon, they started talking about when I could go home. We had planned with Dr. Afifi to do Friday because of the distance to the hospital in case something came up. I let the resident know this plan for Friday despite how lonely and homesick I was feeling because I thought it would be better incase something happened with the flaps and because I needed to feel reasonably sure I could make it throughout the drive without needing to use the bathroom.




Feeling Awful and Homesick


Post op Day 4-Thursday
Same old, same old with the flap check and vitals. I started to slow down the pain meds and they promised they wouldn't make me take any more stool softeners or Miralax. They were able to turn the temperature down in my room. During rounds, they declared me allowable to be discharged whenever I was ready. I stuck with the idea of waiting until Friday, but by lunch time I was again feeling homesick and my stomach had settled, so I asked Mitch what he thought about this. He made some re-arrangements to cover the kids and was on his way. By 5:00, I was discharged from the hospital and on my way home. I used a pillow placed between my and the seat belt to help feel comfortable on the ride. By 7:30, we were home! It felt so good to be home and to hug the girls and sleep in my own bed! I used a wedge pillow to keep myself at about 45 degrees in bed with more pillows under my knees and by my arms. It was such a comfortable nest!

Post op Day 5 Friday AT HOME
I was able to sleep through the night with just one wake up for more pain meds. Mitch helped with the drains and dressings before heading to work. I got to spend the day with the girls because they had the day off of school. They took good care of me, making me breakfast, refilling my water, picking up whatever I dropped and couldn't pick back up. We watched a movie together, they played while I napped. Mitch came home for lunch with us and then again at dinner time. Pain wasn't horrible and I was walking a bit more upright.

Post op Days 6 and 7 Saturday & Sunday AT HOME
Each day felt a little bit better. I continued to wean off the pain meds switching to only tylenol. I am progressively standing more upright. Days are spent in the recliner with several slow walks around the house. I've had some great afternoon naps and then crawl into my nest at bedtime. My drains are putting out less each day. My penrose drains have scabbed over so they don't need dressing anymore. I even attempted putting on the abdominal binder for a few hours today. My incisions look good and I've almost got the adhesive goo off most places. Hopefully this continues with feeling better everyday!

Saturday, February 8, 2020

I like lists

I like lists.

Here’s a list of things I did to get prepared for this surgery (no semblance of order here.)

-Deep cleaned the house...like ridiculously. Every room, every closet. I even moved the oven and fridge and vacuumed behind them.
-Bought a few more button front, zip up, or super soft shirts to be extra cozy.
-Moved all of my leggings, sweats, and shirts to a spot in my closet where I won't have to reach or open a drawer for them.
-Made soup...lots of soup. Every week I made a big pot of soup, we ate it for our meal and then I froze the rest in small containers that I should be able to each for lunches at home.
-Prepared a stack of books to potentially read. Some are work related; some are pleasure reading. Last time, I remember thinking I'd read a ton but not actually doing it because I'd fall asleep too easily. We will see how it goes this time.
-Asked friends for recommendations of what to watch on Netflix, Prime, Hulu, etc. So far my plan is to finish Parks and Rec (already started season 7) and the 8 episodes of This is Us from this season that we haven't watched yet. I need to do season 2 of Big Little Lies and season 3 of Handmaids Tale. After that maybe Ms. Maisel, Schitt's Creek, One Child Nation, Imagineering, or You.
- Overthought the need for a recliner and whether to purchase or rent. I still didn't buy one. Worst case scenario, I rent one from home medical supply company and they deliver it.
- Increased my protein intake and added collagen as well. You should see my nails!
- Hydrated--water, water, water!
- Prepared for a substitute taking on my role at work. I thought planning for a long term sub for my classroom during maternity leave was hard..prepping for someone to stand in as Assistant Principal was even more of a challenge!
- Moved all of the kitchen supplies that I will need to use into a basket on the counter so that I don't have to reach up or open doors.
- Worked out focusing on leg and core strength. I was NOT supposed to lose any weight before this surgery, so for the first time, pretty much ever, working out took on a new meaning. I worked solely on heart and lung health instead of trying to burn calories.
- Purchased a ton of food to stock the pantry and freezer so that I don't have to grocery shop for awhile.
- Prepped everything I could possibly take care of that I will or could miss out on while recovery. Taxes done. Swim meet info ready for Mitch to write on the kids arms. Carpool organized.
- Made a list of the simple things that I can do during medical leave that meet my movement restrictions...wash my makeup brushes, use that little wood colored marker to color in the scratches in the woodwork, catch up on podcasts. I have big goals!

Friday, February 7, 2020

I'm ready

I am ready!

My bags are packed. The house is clean. My inbox is cleaned out and my away message is set. I have a list of books to read and things to watch while on leave. I don't want to jinx myself, but I think that I made it to surgery day without getting a cold, flu, or fever at the last minute that would keep me from being able to

On Sunday, Mitch and I will drop the girls and dog off at my parents and make our way to Madison. There's a predicted snow storm, so it may be a slow drive. We have plans for dinner out Sunday night--a good meal and a glass of wine to hopefully help me sleep. Then I hit the shower to wash my body with half a bottle of Hibiclens. I get to do that shower scrub again early Monday morning before our 5:30 am arrival at the hospital. 7:30 Surgery time.

I am nervous. But I am also ready for this. I'm confident in my doctors. I'm happy that this could mean that I don't have to have maintenance that I would have and with implant reconstruction. I'm 100% sure this is the right decision. I'm curious what everything will look like in the end. It's hard for me to predict what the pain will be like and what things will be like during the recovery. I'm very much a planner, so this unknown is hard for me.

I was struggling more with this before Christmas, just feeling overwhelmed by the unknown. I started writing though again, journaling for myself. I really loaded on the workouts to keep my sanity. I have a 11 week streak on Peloton that I plan on keeping up through recovery by using the Peloton meditations.

On surgery day, Mitch will be in charge of my phone. It's a long surgery and I've been doing my best to convince him NOT to stay at the hospital the entire time, but we'll see what he chooses. He'll be handling the texts to update. I've also heard that I should let him keep it for a bit after as you never know what will happen on those pain meds and I don't want to come home to a million Amazon boxes.

Monday, November 25, 2019

We have a date!

February 10th!

We have a surgery date!!

77 days away.

It feels so good to have a date and be able to make plans. I’m stuck in this awkward place of not being happy with the way I look or feel and not really being able to do anything about it. Being able to see the end in sight makes me feel a lot more settled.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

I don't like CT scans any better than MRIs

I had to do a couple more medical things to prepare for this surgery. I had my regular breast MRI along with a CT Angiogram to map out the blood vessels in the abdomen and make sure they are in good shape to handle microsurgery. I found out quickly though that I have an reaction to contrast dye. I’ve always had a negative reaction to the MRI dye where it makes me puke and just feel yucky, but for the CT Angiogram they use a different contrast dye that is stronger and push it through the IV at a faster rate. Of course, I immediately felt the warm sensation all over from the back of my throat to my toes which included the feeling like I peed (but I didn’t!). Then the dry heaving came. I was able to hold still and hold my breathe for enough time to get the scan but as soon as that breathe was let go, the puking feeling came right on. I knew that this was likely so the technicians hooked a puke bag on my finger before pushing me in. Thankfully, the scan with the dye is the last scan, so the technician came back in right away and helped me out. As my dry heaving calmed down, I noticed her looking at me funny. She asked, “Did you have a blemish on your forehead when you came in!” I explained that No, I didn’t. She said ok, let’s just take a look at your arms and while she disconnected the IV she said “Ope, there’s another one...yep that one on your head is getting bigger.” I had broken out in hives! She told me to stay lying down and that she was calling the doctor to check me out and get me some Benadryl. The room filled quickly with 6 staff members checking my vitals and asking a million questions about how I was feeling. I was just fine...it was just a little itchy. They made me take Benadryl and stay for observation for another hour. It delayed and changed our family plans that weekend just a bit as being on three times the usual amount of Benadryl makes me a little bit sleepy. Only 1% of patients have a reaction like this and of course, I'm that 1%. However, on top of that, I also developed what my doctor thinks may have been a delayed reaction to the iodinated contrast. Later that week, I developed small red bumps (my hives were very large in comparison) all over the trunk of my body and underarm area. Apparently this happens in even less patients, but I got 2 for 1. It itched like crazy while there (insert more Benadryl), but went away at 2 weeks out. 
I'm really hoping that these are my only complications when it comes to this surgery. Everything last time went so smoothly, but it's like since I've had these implants for reconstruction my body reacts differently than ever before and I cannot predict what it's going to do.