Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Day 2

We stayed one more night in the hospital last night so that they could figure out the best pain medicine options for me and  monitor my vitals a bit more.  I warned them that my pulse is always really low, but they still wanted to monitor it because 42 seemed shockingly low.  By 8:00am  Dr. Colette stopped up to give us our discharge instructions  She removed all of the dressings for good.  The nurses helped us practice emptying and stripping the JP drains.  They set me up with a surgical support bra and a camisole with pockets that can hold the drains easier.  We had so many great nurses over my stay.  I wish I could remember their names, but it's still a bit foggy.  At 10:30 we were on our way home. I got a bit emotional as we were packing up to leave.  I suddenly couldn't believe that I actually did this. All that planning and it was done so fast.  Did I really know what to do for myself at home? I think the emotions all came out because I was tired and didn't take any morning naps.

I immediately went to bed for a rest while Mitch ran to pick up prescriptions.  I was obviously really sleepy because I even turned down the Pizza Hut breadsticks that he brought home to continue napping.  Mitch went to pick up the girls, so I was finally able to see them, hug them, kiss them.  Aila was such a great helper.  She pulled the ottoman next to the chair I was sitting in and just kissed me, rubbed my arm, and read some books to me.  Adrienne was a bit more difficult.  She was whining at the my feet asking to come up and cuddle.  I felt so bad that I couldn't pick her right up, but made sure I gave  her lots of kisses instead.

Mom came over and washed my hair in the sink for me.  Then we worked on figuring out the compression bras to try to figure out what would work best.  Prior to surgery, I had ordered about 5 different sizes and then was given another at the hospital today.  When I tried the hospital one on earlier in the day before we left, I freaked out because it was so painfully tight and felt like it was pinching the place with my drain tubes went in.  So I decided to try some of the others that I had picked up.  They all seemed so gigantic before but  wouldn't come close to closing now because of how swollen I am.  We finally made one of them work and I am now in my comfy fleece pjs ready for bed.  I just took my pain meds though and am feeling a little bit nauseated.  I hope this goes away fast.


We have made it I home and Renee is resting.  I have no doubts that she will be back to her old self in no time.  She is so strong and brave it makes me realize how lucky I am to be her husband!


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Day 1

I'm in more pain today than I was in immediately yesterday after surgery.  It's probably because I wasn't really awake enough to feel the pain.  Some say it feels like you were hit by a bus, but I don't know if that's how I feel.  It's more like a constant cramp in my pec muscles.  It also radiates down my sides along my ribs.  I'm trying some good pain meds and it's gotten better throughout the day.

I was able to walk to the bathroom this morning, brush my teeth, and clean up a little bit.  I took several walks down the hallway with some help. I have to use incentive spirometer breathing toy to help make sure my lungs are clear and won't develop pneumonia.  Both surgeons were in this morning to check on me.  They took the binder and dressings off to examine me.  They both said every thing looks good.  I have some bruising and discoloration but they said that's normal.  I ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner without any trouble.  I made it into real pants now, but still can't get a normal shirt on because of the IV and giant ice packs.

Dr. Colette explained that lumps that were found on my MRI at the end of December were something called fibroadenomes.  Which are small fiberous lumps that can move around the breast.  They were all benign.  We'll have the full pathology report by the end of the week.

The strangest thing is that my eye sight is really blurry.  It might be from the anesthesia or from the scop patch.  Even with my contacts in it's hard to see.  I had to turn the zoom up huge to be able to see as I'm typing this.  Hopefully this goes away soon.

First night

My mom stayed with me last night.  She switched places with Mitch, so that he could deal with the girls who have had some really bad nights sleeping lately.  Mom helped me eat more ice chips because I had extreme dry mouth from the scop patch to prevent nausea.  Every hour the nurse came in to check my vitals.  I had a morphine pump that really helped with the pain.  At about 4:00 am, I tried sitting up at the side of the bed and even walked to the bathroom to brush my teeth. Other than not getting much sleep, the first night wasn't all that bad.

Surgery Day

Mitch posted a little yesterday about how the day went.  It started off well like I had posted in the entry called waiting.  But then we were stuck waiting and waiting some more.  I was supposed to have my nuclear injections done at 9:00, but then it turned to 9:30 without anyone moving us down to radiology.  At 9:40 I started getting really nervous and asked the nurse to check on everything.  At 10:00 we were told that some how my orders for the Sentinel Node Biopsy had been cancelled.  They had to contact my doctor and  then they'd get me in as soon as possible.  After another 30 minutes of waiting without an update from the nurses, Mitch started to get pretty mad and asked to talk to the supervisor.  We needed a better explanation as to why it was only 30 minutes before I was schedule to be in surgery and wasn't close to being ready.   The supervisor explained that they didn't have the correct dye agent needed for my injection and they were rushing to get some from Appleton.  While we waited, we looked at lots of houses online and checked out ideas of things to do in Phillips for our vacation this summer.  Finally at 11:30 I had the injections.  It was quite painful, numbing spray really did nothing. This injection was supposed to percolate for 2 hours, but because of the big delay, Dr. Colette chose to start surgery first and then use probes to check during the surgery.  Luckily all of the doctors involved were still available a bit later.  I was finally on the way to surgery at 12:45.  I don't remember a lot from this point on.  I do know that while the anesthesiologist was working Dr. Colette stood by my side held my hand.  Surgery started at 1:00 and ended at 6:25.  I woke up in the recovery area. At 7:15 I was rolled into a regular room and got to see Mitch. Mitch stayed with me until 8:30.  He helped feed me ice-chips and gave me all the updates from the doctors, which I didn't remember and had to ask him over and over about.  I'm sleepy  again now, so I will write more later.

Monday, February 27, 2012

All is well

Just talked with doctor Salm-Schmidt and everything went well.  No problems, and the plastic surgeon is finishing up now.  Renee will be happy with the good new when she wakes up in a few hours.
Just got word from the nurse, they are switching sides, and the plastic surgeon is starting on the completed side.  Should be complete in about 2 to 2.5 hours.
Surgery has finally begun.  The doctor was also very unhappy with the delays as she received a different story from us as to why it took so long to get started.  Waiting on updates.


We're here and ready...just waiting.  I'm sitting here in my heated hospital gown reading US Weekly.  My gown seriously is heated.  I had no idea things like this existed.  It's like a radiant heat tile floor that I'm wearing.  There is a hose that attaches to it and provides constant warm air.  Every so often it blows up a bit too big like a balloon, but just smoosh it back down and I'm back to liking it.  I already have the dreaded compression things working on my legs. I hated these things when I was in the hospital after having the girls.  However, these are made of a soft fabric instead of plastic that got so sweaty and uncomfortable.  My IV was started already and went in pretty painlessly.  Thanks to my word with friends friends for helping distract me during this wait!  It won't be long before we're heading over to Radiology for the nuclear injection. Mitch will be posting more later.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mastectomy Eve

Tomorrow I will leave my risk of breast cancer behind.  I will enter the hospital with an 87% chance of developing breast cancer.  I will leave with less than 10%.  I am so grateful for Dr. Colette and Dr. Jantich who will perform my surgery.  It will be life altering and life saving.  I am so grateful that I do not have cancer and I get to tackle this as a healthy 29 year old woman.  I am so grateful for each and every person who will be at home feeding, hugging, nurturing, driving, dressing, bathing, teaching, snuggling, and taking care of my sweet hearts.  I am so grateful for the prayers and postive energy that is being sent my way.  I am so grateful to be surrounded by such supportive family and friends.  The kind words, notes, and emails this week have been amazing.  I so grateful to have a husband who is completely supportive of the radical preventative measures I am taking for my health.  I am so grateful that breasts I know and have loved were able to have nourished my children.  They were your food source and our best cuddle times. They've done their job and it's now time to say good bye.  I am looking forward to meeting my new breasts...the ones that will carry me safely into my old age.  

Saturday, February 25, 2012

I'm ready

I finished the last few things on my to-do list.  I left my classroom on Friday all prepped and ready for a great long term sub.  We had an amazing dinner Friday night at the chef's table of Chives.  My bag is packed.  I made protein bars.  The girls have a line up of matched outfits ready and waiting in their closets.  My house has never been cleaner (my pregnant nesting was mild in comparison to this).  Mitch now understands that it's calming to me to do strange things like re-organize the bathroom cupboards or wash every rug in the house and he has stopped questioning it or asking me to stop.  My underarms are smooth from a fresh wax this afternoon.  Which lead me to think of a fantastic business opportunity for someone out there.  I think that doctors and aestheticians should create a partnership and perform complimentary hair removal with every surgery.  Whether it's waxing or permanent laser stuff, it could be performed during the actual surgery.  I mean, my under arms have never been this smooth before, but it really hurt and there's no way I would be willing to do that on a regular basis.  Wouldn't it be so great to wake up after your surgery and they just took care of that for you at a time when you couldn't feel it.  It'd be like a little pain-free bonus for going through the bigger pain in the end.  Just wishful thinking...

My plans for tomorrow include hanging out in PJ's most of the morning with the girls, Church, mailing in the donations to FORCE and Bright Pink, make one more Target trip, and pizza with friends.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Playdate Crashers

A friend of mine asked me to guest post on her blog.  I am thankful to have the opportunity to get the word out to more people about heritary breast and ovarian cancer risks and the BRCA mutation. Here's a link if you'd like to check it out at the Playdate Crashers.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Week of lasts

This week I've been thinking about all of the lasts that I'm experiencing.  I had my last doctor appointment where we went over the last pre-op instructions and tests.  I had my last crazy work out tonight (that I'll be feeling still for the rest of the week).  These next few days are my last opportunities to fix things in my classroom (misunderstandings, behaviors, etc.) and my last time attending committee meetings for a long time.  It's my last chance to accomplish everything on my crazy to-do list.  Thankfully, I only have a few things left that will all come together this weekend, so I'm taking advantage of my last few days to cuddle super close with the girls. I'm letting them climb all over, hugging, kissing, and carrying them anywhere they want.  It kind of makes me think of my dog.  When she had to where a cone on her head, she suddenly started sitting incredibly close to us--like on top of your feet or directly in your lap.  Like she needed to feel as close to us as possible to feel secure with that silly thing on.  That's me with the girls right now--spoiling them like crazy!


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Birds and Sunrise

Whenever I get super nervous, my way of calming myself down is to read some poetry or music lyrics.  I have this pink piece of paper that I typed up a bunch of favorites on.  It's folder, torn, and tatered from being stuffed in a pocket of my purse for so long. I'd like to thank Mrs. Krcmar for introducing me to some of the classics back in highschool English, though I'd never thought I'd be using it like this.  I like classics by Emily Dickinson or lines from TS Elliot.  Then I'll go to lyrics from favorite songs.  My favorites seem to all center around birds or sunrises.  I chose this background in particular because of the beautiful hummingbird image.  Here are some of my favorites:

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
By Emily Dickinson

"I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith, but the faith and the love are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.” by TS Elliot

I’ll tell you how the Sun rose; A ribbon at a time... by Emily Dickinson

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” by TS Elliot
"One, two, three like a bird I sing 'cause you've give me the most beautiful set of wings." from Last Dollar by Tim McGraw
Now I'm here, blinking in the sunlight,
Now I'm here, suddenly I see.
Standing here, It's all so clear,
I'm where I'm meant to be.

And at last I've seen the light,
And it's like the fog has lifted.
And at last I see the light,
And it's like the sky is new.

And it's warm and real and bright,
And the world has somehow shifted.
All at once, everything looks different,
Now that I see you.
from Tangled Soundtrack

I can see the wait there in your eyes
I can feel the thought in your sigh
Your knuckles are bruised from a losing fight
One way down a dead end street
Broken glass underneath your feet
You think the day won't break the sunless night

The sun will rise
The sun will rise
When you've lost your lights
The sun will rise
It'll be alright
I've been in stuck in a storm before
Felt the wind raging at my door
Couldn't move, couldn't breathe, Couldn't find a way out
Somehow my clouds disappeared, Somehow I made it here
Maybe just so you could hear me say

The sun will rise
The sun will rise
When you've lost your lights
The sun will rise
It'll be alright

Although you can't see it
So hard to believe it
Sometimes you just need a little faith
There's an answer to your prayer
And I swear that there'll come a day

When the sun will rise
The sun will rise
When you've lost your lights
The sun will rise
It'll be alright
from "The Sun Will Rise" by Kelly Clarkson

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Bubbling Up

My emotions are starting to bubble up.  You never know when they are going to explode.  The majority of the time I am perfectly fine and normal.  But then something sparks a thought and I'm on the verge of tears. I've been trying to keep myself very busy so that I just don't have to think about it.  That's just leading to me feeling exhausted, missing my husband and kids, and letting my fears get the best of me.  

I have a lot of fears still.  I love and trust my doctors.  I feel like I have made the best choices available to me right now.  I am afraid though of the unknown.  What if they find something in there?  What if things don't go as planned?  What will not having feeling for the rest of my life be like?  Will the reconstruction feel natural like a part of my body or will it feel like a foreign object I want out of me?  Will it feel like a heavy bra that just want to take off but it's stuck in me?  What will recovery really be like?  Will the girls be alright without me?  Is all of my prep going to be worth it?  Is there something I'm forgetting? 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

What a night!

Last night was great! Thank you to everyone for making my Boob Voyage Party and Fundraiser a fun successful night! 

We raised $485. That far exceed my expectations--I was hoping for just $250 total.  Instead, I'll be able to send almost $250 checks to both organizations, Bright Pink and FORCE.  These organizations provided me with so much information to help understand my options and make decision.  I am so excited that I can now give back to them. 

I must say a HUGE thank you to Sarah Schaller owner of Energy Fitness and to all of the instructors Rachel, Dawn, Lou, Jessica, and Chrystal.  You put together a fantastic work out with so many high energy fun songs.  It was a blast!

Another big thanks to Molly who put together the fliers and all my friends who helped but together the bra decorations.  I won't give names, so that no one tries figuring out which ones belong to who (or is it whom?), just THANKS!

It was amazing to see that many people all there dancing in support.  Without the support of my amazing family and friends, I wouldn't be able to do this upcoming surgery.  THANK YOU!!

I'll post pictures soon :)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Getting excited for this weekend!

This good bye party and fundraiser is really coming together.  Every day more people tell me that they're coming.  We've put together some interesting decorations.  I hope we have enough cupcakes! 

Energy Fitness has been so great to work with!  Sarah is graciously giving us the use of the dance studio and is putting together an awesome group of instructors.  It's going to be a great day; join us if you can!

Monday, February 6, 2012

How can I help?

A lot of people have asked lately if there is anything they can do to help out during my recovery.  This is a really hard question for me.  I like to be the one helping.  I rarely like to admit that I need help, something that I'm working on.  One of my favorite blogs to read, marathonb4mastectomy, posted some advice about how to help. I am going to use some of her ideas and modify them for our needs. 

In the weeks before surgery (3 now!), I've been planning everything I can possibly plan. I already have a check list, a time line/itinerary to pass out to anyone involved in the care of our children. I've stocked the freezer, bought pull-ups/wipes/laundry soap, cleaned (pregnant nesting has nothing on pre-surgery nesting!), taken care of all of my responsibilities at work.  I feel like I've got this.  And what I don't have, Mitch will.

There, of course, are things I will not be able to do. I'm completely confident in Mitch to handle it all, but I know how I feel when he's traveling and I've only been on my own for five days at most.  So, I have to say this again — this is super weird for me to write all this. But, at the request of so many people who are all trying to be that helpful person that I try to be, I've put together this list of things that might help us out.

If you’re local, if you have 10-15 minutes, you're visiting and you notice something, or you’re already out… these following tasks would help my awesome Mitch, who can handle everything, but this would just help to ease the work!
  • I’m obsessed with vacuuming my home. With a dog and kids, I vacuum all the time, especially under our kitchen table. If you are visiting, and have 10 minutes, and if you don’t think it’s weird, I would not say no to you vacuuming. 
  • Same goes for any dishes that make their way to my sink. Mitch will likely be running around taking care of the kids, so this would be a big help for him (and me).  Our dishwasher is really loud so even if we finally get to loading it after the kids go to sleep, we can't run it until the morning.
  • I usually handle the hairstyles in our house.  If you notice the girls with crazy bed head hair, feel free to give it a little comb or tie it back for them so it stays out of their food.
  • If you're here visiting and ask, I might have laundry down stairs that I cannot carry upstairs.  I'll be totally able to handle putting it in the machines and folding it.  I just won't be able to carry the basket full for awhile. 
  • If you are at the grocery store, we tend to run out of milk and bread quickly (when a little girls favorite food is peanut butter and jelly it happens). If you're going there anyway and will be in the neighborhood, maybe grab a gallon while you’re out for our house?
  • Is it Tuesday night? Are our garbage cans out yet? If you drive by and notice that we forgot, feel free to roll them down to the end of the driveway or send one of us a text to remind us.  On Wednesday afternoons, feel free to roll them back up, too.
  • I’m hoping it doesn’t all. Although if we get a snow day, I get one more day of paid leave. :) If it does, Mitch is obsessed with shoveling.  He really takes pride in having a clear clean driveway.  But with pickup/drop off of the kids and all the other things he's going to be handling, I'm not sure if he'll get to it.  We'd love any help with shoveling. 
  • Do you have10 minutes and want to take a walk? Our dog is likely going to be seriously neglected during those weeks. This would be a huge treat for everyone!
  • Speaking of our dog, if you come to visit, be warned that our dog goes kind of crazy for the first few minutes of a new guest.  Please follow Cesar Milan's advice for entering a house with a dog.  Enter calmly and ignore.  Do not talk to her, pet her, give her any attention until she calms down (which won't be long, she'll calmly curl up at your feet before you know it).  This helps show Stella that you are the leader, not her.   
  • Cards, emails, and notes are welcome!! The girls love holding and looking at cards.  They treat them like special treasures. This is going to be a tough time for them, and everyone loves mail.
  • Any meals would be very appreciated, but I know that it's hard enough to just get supper on the table after work for your own families. We already have a ton in the freezer, so we don't feel like we need an organized meal delivery plan. If you really want to do something, just keep it simple--anything easy. 
  • Entertainment would be great for me or for my kids.  My doctor said that she recommends everyone get a subscription to netflix during recovery.  I'm not going that route, but if you have any movies or tv series you'd like to share, pass them my way.  I haven't watched movies in forever, (I think the last movie I saw in the theater was Charlie Wilson's War to give you a little perspective) so you are pretty much guaranteed I haven't seen whatever you are offering.  I am especially partial to romantic comedies.  The girls like anything Disney.  We'll be sure to get them back to you afterward.
Please, please, please don’t feel you need to do any of this!
Seriously, a prayer a day will do the most work for us!
I hope this lists helps with some ideas, friends!

A 3 year old's perspective

I sat down to tell my daughters yesterday about my upcoming surgery.  I wasn't expecting much--at 3 and 2 years old I know they don't have the attention span or understanding to truly get it.  I said all those things I had planned out using the calendar (she pointed out that Valentine's Day is coming first) and referring to Grover in the hospital to get his tonsils out.  I was fully prepared to get the endless "why" questions that she's been into lately.  But her only question was:
 "Are you going to have a cast?"
"No, it'll be a big bandage." 
"Ok, can I go play the bubble game now?"

Lesson learned.  A 3 year old's perspective of this makes it all seem so simple.

Update:  This morning when our babysitter came in, Aila announced to her that Mom would be in the hospital and have owies.  While I don't want her announcing that to everyone she sees now as her opening line, it does make me a little happy because she actually listened to what I was telling her.