Thursday, June 27, 2013

Of Peanut Butter Inequality

I seldom want peanut butter.  I don't hate it, but I don't crave it either.  About once a year, I decide that peanut butter sounds good.  My antibiotics have been making me nauseous, so I haven't been able to eat a lot of things, and today as I was packing crackers for my lunch, it occurred to me that peanut butter on the crackers sounded mighty tasty. 

I like creamy peanut butter.  Crunchy is OK, but not preferred.  We always have both on hand because we're a house divided.  I reached into the cabinet, pulled out the jar of creamy peanut butter, took off the lid, and saw this:

WHY is it gone the ONE time I want peanut butter, and WHY was it put back in the cabinet empty?  Such a travesty!  I got over my amazement at this and decided to settle for crunchy.  I pulled that jar out of the cabinet, filled my little container for lunch, and was getting ready to leave for work.

That's when I noticed something else:

Does this seem fair to you?  The crunchy peanut butter eaters get Jif.  The creamy peanut butter eaters get Aldi's "Peanut Delight" brand.  What the heck, man???  I would lodge a formal complaint with my husband, but I expect that he would tell me to start doing the grocery shopping myself.  SO not worth it for one craving a year.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Vacation Bible School

I'm sick of whining about me, so I'll do an upbeat post. 

I found out that our local church was set to have vacation bible school this week.  When I was a kid, I'd go to every church's vacation bible school if I could.  I LOVED it.  When my kids were little, I let them go to every VBS possible.  They always loved it.  When I saw that it was that time of year again, I asked Kami's mom if she could stay with us for a week and attend.  My girls are on summer break, so they could transport her and watch her. 

I'm working the late shift this week, so I took her to the church on Monday morning.  Monica rode along to help get her situated.  She broke down into tears instantly.  She didn't want to stay, she didn't want to play, she didn't want anything to do with the other kids.  She was sobbing and crying real tears.

I KNEW she'd have a ball if she gave it a chance, so Monica offered to stay with her and I went on my way.  She only cried a tiny bit longer, and by the end of the morning, she was having a ball.  Monica also enjoyed herself and volunteered to help out for the rest of the week.  Win-win.  I can't wait to see what the rest of the week brings.

Here is Kami doing arts and crafts:

And having a snack:

Sunday, June 23, 2013

In Search of Sleep

I like my sleep.  I strive for 8 hours each night.  I'll settle for 7, and can get by on 6 in an emergency, but I sure am more pleasant to be around when I've had 8.  My mom frequently struggles to get enough sleep.  I've always felt blessed that I don't have that problem.

Even when taking chemo, I only struggled for sleep for a couple of days after each treatment, due to the steroids that they shot me full of.  While many of my sisters in treatment struggled, I climbed into bed and passed out almost every day within moments.

Since this last procedure, I'm completely exhausted but having trouble sleeping.  I don't know if it's because I'm feeling a bit down, or the combination of the bottles of pills beside me, or the necessity for sleeping in the recliner, or the bandages wrapped tight around my chest.  Heck, it's likely a combination.

So tonight, I am going to take an Ambien.  In fact, I just did.  I have to get back to work tomorrow whether I'm ready or not.  I'll have to allow time to shower (my left arm is useless, it has become so weak,) and bandage myself, get Kami registered for VBS and then get off to work.  For all of that to flow seamlessly, I need sleep.  I popped that thing 20 minutes ago, and I'm already getting kind of fuzzy-headed. 

I'm hoping a good night's sleep improves my foul mood.  My family deserves  it.  Here's to tomorrow!    And here's to better living through chemistry.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Moving On

So the healing starts again.  Only this time, it's different.  This time I know that the odds aren't great.  I know that I may have some difficult decisions in front of me.  I hope it isn't so, but I know that I need to be prepared for that possibility.  It's kind of depressing.

I'm the upbeat, positive one.  I talk Kevin out of any funk that he may get into.  He's been talking me out of MY funk for 2 days now.  He left this morning for Carthage to pick up Monica and bring her home.  They'll be back tomorrow.  Natalie will be home from her basketball excursion in a few hours.  That's good, since I need some company.

I'm wearing my sling.  I'm wrapped in an ace bandage.  I've got Neosporin and Silvadene in the places that they are supposed to be.  I'm taking my precautionary antibiotics.  I'm doing everything I'm told.  If I do everything perfectly, I have a 60% chance of being done with reconstruction procedures.  *sigh*

Cancer is evil.  I kicked it's ass, yet it's still finding ways to get a punch in from time to time.  Oh, it won't win, but all of this fighting sure does make me tired.

Thursday, June 20, 2013


We had a major problem this morning.  I didn't say anything to my parents or kids because when it's bad stuff, I like to share it with them in past tense.  Later, I'll post a link to an image, but PLEASE be warned:  It's graphic.  Very graphic.

I slept in the recliner as instructed, to avoid problems.  I woke up early this morning and realized that my shirt was damp on my left side.  "Wow, I must have sweated a LOT."  Half asleep, I reached my hand under my shirt and realized it was thick and sticky.  Realization set in when I looked at my hand and saw blood.

I calmly walked into the bathroom and raised up my shirt.  What I saw sent me into full on panic mode.  My entire incision had opened up (about five inches across) and my implant was lying there, exposed.  I walked into the bedroom to try to figure out what to do.

I woke Kevin by saying, "Umm, my incision opened up."  He said "OK" and started trying to wake up.  He sounded pretty nonchalant, so I must not have sounded as scared as I was.  I was bandaging over it with a gauze pad and he offered to wrap me in an ace.  When he came over, I asked him to take a picture with my phone first.  He stepped around me, got one glimpse, and said, "Holy SHIT!"  Umm,  yeah.  That's what I was thinking.

He called the on-call doctor and she instructed him to leave me wrapped as he had done it, and come in as planned.  We were both so scared that we left early.  The staff at Shawnee Mission Surgery Center are amazing, and when Kevin told me what had happened, they took me back and got me changed and into a bed, all as I alternated between crying and shaking.

After the Wonderful Dr. Dillow came to see me, they gave me some medicine to relax me and some pain medication.  That seemed to help.  Around 1:00, they finally wheeled me back to the operating room and knocked me out.  I was out in an hour and Kevin was with me 45 minutes later.  Now I'm home.

He put in a new implant, since that one had been exposed.  According to him, I have about a 40% chance of this being a failure.  If it opens again, tomorrow or nine months from now, he cannot put another one in.  At that point, we give up on the implant and explore other reconstruction options.  All of the others are pretty major and involve a long recovery, so we're really hoping against that.

I'm trying not to be depressed.  It hasn't failed.  The problem is that my brain thought I had an 18% chance of failure, and I now know it's 40%.  That is a scary figure.  I'm just going to concentrate on the fact that I have a 60% chance of this working just fine.  I'm back in the sling.  Dr Wonderful said that it had NOTHING to do with anything I did.  He said that radiation beat my tissue down more than most people.  Dang.

Now, if you have a strong stomach and want to see what I saw in the mirror, click here.  You've been warned.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Well, Dang.

I had an appointment with my plastic surgeon today.  I was hoping to ditch the sling, once and for all.  That isn't what happened, though.  He said there is a 1.5" area of the incision on the radiated side that didn't heal around the deep sutures. It looks fine on the outside, but he can tell by feeling that it's not holding together in there.  Apparently, I'm only held together by skin in that spot.  So I'm still in a sling, and I have to go back to the surgery center tomorrow.

They'll sedate me into a "twilight" state and open it up, irrigate it, and redo the deep sutures. I should be able to go back to work on Friday, but I'll be in the sling for a while longer for sure.

I'm not scared and it's not a major procedure, but I was VERY angry at first.  Angry to the point of crying all the way back to work.  I am SO tired of the whole ordeal. I don't want surgeries, procedures, or even Dr. visits!  I want to be DONE.

I am in a better place now than I was when he first told me, though. I am thankful that he is so thorough and there are far worse things in life than wearing a sling.  I have one of the best plastic surgeons around and he will take good care of me.  I trust him completely. 

I'll leave home around 9 tomorrow morning, get there by 10:30, and my surgery is scheduled for noon.  I'm an add-in, though, so I'm going to try to be as patient as possible.  Breathe in, breathe out.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Who's in Charge Here?

I work hard every day.  Kevin works hard, too.  We buy dog food, fill water dishes, protect our pets from extreme weather, and shower them with love and affection.  We are doting pet owners.  We do everything we can to ensure they have a happy and healthy life.  What do they bring to the table?  Entertainment and loyalty and....well, and nothing else.

They wake us at ungodly hours and bark when we wish they'd shut up and shed all over my house and smell bad and I could go on and on.  Why do I have dogs?  I have NO idea why I'm so in love with these hair-balls.  Still, as one-sided as this relationship is, Susie feels that she runs the show.

I've never had a dog that expresses her wants and needs this well.  You are never in doubt what she wants.  She spins in front of her desired door.  Front door spinning?  She wants to go potty.  Back door spinning?  She wants out to play with Radar, or wants the boys to come in. Side door spinning?  She wants to be fed.  It's easy.

In fact, when she's ready for bed, she goes to the bedroom.  However, she's only happy going to bed in both Kevin and I go to bed.  He goes to bed ridiculously early, and wakes ridiculously early.  I go to bed much later and wake much later.  This ticks her off.  A lot.

I get home, Kevin is asleep, and I start watching TV and maybe having a beer.  Susie starts spinning in front of the bedroom door.  I ignore her.  She hops on my lap and then runs back to the bedroom door.  Yeah, I get it, Susie.  You want to go to bed.  Not yet.  She sighs.

Finally, she's lying on the couch, pouting, and sighs heavily every 10 minutes or so.  It's funny, but annoying.  When I finally go to bed, she runs in there with me and assumes that I FINALLY got the idea.  Stupid humans, right?  It makes me realize that SHE is often in charge.  She doesn't work, she doesn't take care of the house, she doesn't clean, and she doesn't contribute in any way (other than companionship) to this household.  But she is running this show.

She wins.  Goodnight.

Monday, June 17, 2013

What Happened to Your Arm?

I am asked this question several times a day.  If you see someone with their arm in a sling, you assume they have injured their arm.  If it's someone who knows that I spent the past year fighting breast cancer, I answer, "Nothing.  My plastic surgeon wants me to avoid using that side for a while." 

Sometimes, though, it's someone I barely know, or only know via the phone at work.  If I meet a customer face-to-face for the first time and they ask, "What did you do to your arm?" I try to answer halfway and let it go.  If you tell someone "I had breast cancer and just had step 2 of the reconstruction process and radiated tissue can be tricky when it comes to healing so I need to limit the use of the pectoral muscles on the left side for a few weeks to give my body an advantage and...." you see where this goes into the realm of Do They Really Need All That Information? pretty quickly. 

It makes people feel like they should say, "Oh no!  How are you doing?  What stage?  Are you OK now?" or even worse, it makes them completely uncomfortable and they look down and regret asking why my arm is in a sling.  I hate making people feel uncomfortable, and cancer has an amazing ability to do that.

Today a coworker answered the question for me by saying, "Her arm is fine, but she got a new boob."  The guy who asked looked puzzled and asked, "Is the sling holding it on?"  I nearly died laughing.  I enjoy working around people who have the same sense of humor that I have.  This is someone who we know quite well and she knew she could get away with it.  Hopefully, I'll get rid of the sling on Wednesday and people can stop asking.

On a side note, the question is sometimes, "Wow!  You really changed your hair!"  heh heh.  No.  No I did not.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Catching Up

It's been three weeks since my surgery.  He decided to have me wear a sling so I wouldn't use my left arm much.  The radiation makes it difficult for the tissue to heal, so he's taking every precaution.  Dr. Google let me know what the chances are for a failure of some sort, so I'm wearing the sling and doing what I'm told.  My coworkers and I have been having fun blinging it up.  We call it "Sling Bling.

I started a new shift at work.  Usually, we all take turns working the "late shift."  Someone stays and answers phone calls from 5-7:30 Monday through Thursday, so when it's your turn, you work 11:30 - 7:30 for those four days, and then normal hours on Friday.  Because medical stuff took all my vacation, I asked to work 8:30-7:30 for four days and have Fridays off.  It makes for some LONG days, but it's worth it on Friday. 

I will go see my plastic surgeon on Wednesday of next week.  I don't know if he'll let me out of the sling or not, but I'm hoping so.  I can already tell that I've lost everything that I had gained with therapy, but I'll just start the exercises again and get it back.  I'm so glad to be moving on.  I'm not healing as well on the right side as I think I should.  I hope that it's either better by next week, or he does something to help it along.  I'm still having to bandage the incisions every day.

We had to get our air conditioner charged with coolant today.  We hadn't used it yet, so we turned it on Monday for the first time and it blew warm air.  He left a bill for us.  $300.  Ouch.  Poor Kevin was wanting to get some ammo this weekend, too.  He traded guns with a guy and he hasn't even got to shoot it yet! 

Tomorrow is my parent's anniversary, Sunday is my dad's birthday and Father's Day, and Monday is my wedding anniversary.  Lots of celebration, even though we don't celebrate big.  We pretty much just tell each other how much we appreciate one another, and leave it at that.  Greeting card companies don't make much off of us.

That's about all the catching up that I have.  I really want to do better at updating more often.  With this new shift, I think I can make it work.  I hope.  Maybe.