Waiting For the Surgeon and Wondering What’s in the Box

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Thursday, 11 November

Surgery, and all the preparation surrounding it and recovery from it, has become old hat at this point. The novelty has definitely worn off and I'm happy to see the last of my procedures come and go. Thankfully, each was easier (and shorter) than the last. This procedure completed the reconstruction and after a weekend of rest, I'll be good to go on Monday.

Once again, my surgeon was a rock star and the nursing staff at St. Francis gave me terrific care. Everyone there was friendly and comforting. The surgery itself was a mere two hours and I was quickly out of recovery and sitting up in a chair, ready to eat and be on my way. I was back home six hours after leaving for the hospital. We feasted on sandwiches from Al's Deli, a healing roast beef with bearnaise sauce being just what the doctor ordered.

(BTW, I later learned the box contained medication that was used during the surgery.)

Back on the Mat

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Sunday, 31 October

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On Sunday, I went back to the yoga studio for the first time in I can't remember when. For reasons having to do with lack of practice as much as my new physical being, I was unsure as to how much of the two hour class I'd be able and comfortable doing. I was pleasantly surprised to find I could do much more than anticipated. The shoulder stand (plow) was the only pose I was unable to sustain because it just felt a little too odd.

I really needed to stretch out and afterward I felt great. I've never been one to get that endorphin high that comes after exercising but my body was definitely thanking me Sunday afternoon.

Sometimes It Really Strikes Me as Odd That I Have an Oncologist

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Friday, 8 October

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I had my first post-op appointment with the oncologist on Friday. Every time I walk into the Kellogg Cancer center or register that I have an oncologist, it strikes me as odd. I don't feel like someone who had cancer. I think this comes from having so much of my treatment be pro-active and thankfully dodging the radiation and chemotherapy that so often accompanies a cancer diagnosis.

It's all relative. I felt very fortunate to walk out of this appointment with a simple perscription for Tamoxifen.

Feet First: Still Marching On

So, did you think I'd given up on my new footsie project already? Indeed, no, I've actually remembered to take a photo of my feet every day, which was harder than I thought it would be.) I just haven't had a chance to post them yet.

Time for a little catchup–feet fotos that document my recuperation period.

Monday, 20 September

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Coming up on high noon. T-minus 45-minutes until surgery time. I'm ready to go, sporting my fancy footwear and surgical support hose.

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After a lot of back and forth, (Yes, I will–No, I won't) I came out of surgery fairly quickly and strong enough to avoid an overnight in the hospital. Both procedures were successful, I felt great and was very happy to be able to sleep the night in my own bed. On the way home, Team Kathryn stopped at a favorite Italian restaurant and ordered a round of pasta to go. The meal, as you can imagine, tasted delicious.

Tuesday, 21 September

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Resting comfortably at home. Once again, the iPad came in very handy. I spent a lot of time this week surfing the web and reading my first e-book, The Help. Loved it, both the reading experience and the book.

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Wednesday, 22 September

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Spent a little bit of time out in the backyard.

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Thursday, 23 September

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Follow-up visit with the plastic surgeon. Karen and Jenny wait with me in the doctor's office.

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It was hot that day (very windy and 90-degrees) and I felt like walking the five blocks home from the hospital. It felt good to be out and moving around.

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Friday, 24 September

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Today was "Farm Box Friday" when we get our CSA box of local, organic produce. Karen did all the cooking while I sat around, keeping her company in the kitchen.

Heading into the Home Stretch: Some Pre-Surgery Thoughts

Here’s the post I’d created last week and was proofing just before my laptop died last Friday. It includes my thoughts going into Monday’s surgery, so I wanted to include it here. The photo is me, in the hospital Monday, Twittering away while I waited for the show to begin.

It’s down to a matter of days before my next surgery. Technically, it’s two surgeries in one, which still amazes me. And after such a long down time of relatively little contact with anyone in the medical profession, it seems a little weird that I’ll be jumping back into it in such a big way come Monday.

Yesterday I told someone I’m looking forward to this about as much as one could possibly look forward to major surgery and it’s true. After living with the inserts for nearly five months, I’m more than ready to be rid of them and move on to the actual breast implants. After my bilateral mastectomy on April 30th, my second stage surgery (swapping the temporary inserts for the implants) was to have been in August, but scheduling two surgeries at once (more on that in a minute) necessitated moving the date back another month.

The inserts, while not painful, aren’t exactly comfortable. Of course, they’re not really meant to be. Inserts are temporary, serving to stretch my muscle out to be ready to accept the implant. They don’t move naturally with my body and since they’re filled with saline, they kind of shudder and reverberate when I perform certain actions, as if they were filled with, well water. I don’t think I’d ever get used to that. Long story short, I’m ready to swap out.

I’m also ready to move on and get one step closer to the finish line. As far as the breast reconstruction goes, this surgery is the second out of three; the last one will happen at the end of the year and is more of a cosmetic procedure.

The second, simultaneous surgery on Monday will be an ooferectomy and this is the one that was giving me more concern this time around. I don’t know how much about this I’ve mentioned here previously, but I’ll say briefly that once I learned that I’d tested positive for the BRCA-2 gene, the decision to have my ovaries removed was an easy one. Doing so will decrease my risk of another instance of cancer by a huge margin and since there is currently no good way to screen for ovarian cancer, it made no sense in my mind to keep those ticking time bombs hanging around in my body. My cousin, who had double breast cancer died from ovarian cancer 15 year ago. The threat in my family history is real.

So, on Monday I’ll be treating myself to a surgical twofer. While the big scary CANCER fear doesn’t hover over this surgery date like it did back in April, I’ll be honest when I say that I was getting fairly anxious about the thought of dealing with surgically induced menopause. I’d heard some unpleasant stuff from some friends and acquaintances who’ve had a tough time with the adjustment and I was beginning to get anxious. (That’s what a month’s delay will get you, more time to worry and anticipate.) Without going into the details–we know what they are and every woman goes through it–after a few conversations with friends who’ve experienced surgical menopause in a more positive light, my perspective was renewed and my fear of the unknown allayed.

I am absolutely ready to take on this new experience.

It’s a little strange to think that the surgery date is almost here. It’s been in the future for so long now. Quite the opposite of the weeks leading up to my first surgery. Back in March, everything was happening quickly. There was a flurry of doctors visits and pre-op tests, something nearly every day. This time around, nothing. Just a simple doctor’s order about what to eat and drink the day before.

***And wouldn’t you know, just as I was typing this last line of text, who calls but the surgeon’s office to say they haven’t received the results of my pre-surgical doctor’s visit–the one that certifies I’m healthy enough for surgery! That would be because NOBODY TOLD ME I HAD TO DO THIS!!!!!***

At this point, last Thursday, there was a flurry of activity as I rushed to secure a doctor’s visit and get the appropriate tests run on Friday in time for my Monday afternoon surgery. And we all know how that turned out. 🙂

Post-Surgical Update

Here’s an email that I just sent out to friends and family. I thought I’d include it here as an update:

Just a quick update, from the other side of surgery, to let you all know I’m doing great and resting comfortably at home, happy to have the last major hurdle behind me.

Both of the two procedures went very well, clocking in at a little over three hours. I came out of recovery fairly quickly and felt well enough to go home last night, happy to sleep in my own bed. (The photo is me about an hour before being sprung from the hospital.)

My appetite and energy level are good and the pain is very minimal. I won’t be running any marathons but I’m fairly mobile, if not a bit hunched over. The hardest part so far has been to remind myself not to raise my arms over my head–I feel so good I sometimes forget that restriction.

Once again, Team Kathryn (Jenny, Anne and Karen) was on hand yesterday and I couldn’t have done it without them.

Thanks to all of you for your ongoing support and good wishes. My positive outlook has definitely been bolstered by the positive energy and good vibes flowing my way.

Sunday Prep Day

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Tomorrow's the big day and I say,




I am so ready to get this party started.

I'm halfway through the surgery prep ('nuff said) and I feel like I'm just killing time until tomorrow morning when I can check myself into the hospital and get on with what I've been waiting to do for months now.

I had a blog post all prepared about my thoughts leading up to this surgery but it's in limbo right now, trapped on my ailing laptop that's currently at the Apple repair depot. Fingers crossed the computer will come back to me in working order with everything on it in tact. Back-ups have been made (save for that blog post, of course) but I'd still like to get back a working computer. After Friday's last minute squeeze to get a doctor's certification that I'm fit for surgery, coming home to a dead laptop was less than ideal timing. You won't be surprised when I tell you the extended warranty expired last month. I'll post the entry if I get it back because I just don't have the energy to recreate it right now.

Thankfully, I invested in a keyboard for the iPad, which allows me to type this now. My Feet First photo of the day is rather dull, since I didn't leave the house today other than to deliver some carrot cake to a neighbor, who herself went through a similar surgery just last week. Next week we plan to recuperate together over Netflix and a cup of tea.

The rest of the carrot cake is currently taunting me from the kitchen.

No thanks, I couldn't eat another thing. Chicken broth and peach jello are just so filling.