Tuesday, October 22, 2013

More Boring Health Crap

When the cancer journey is over, I have NO idea what I'll blog about.  I don't even want to blog about endless treatment crap, but I have nothing much else going on.  Busy season at work and endless health crap.  That's my life.

I have contacted out primary care doctor to prescribe the custom fit LE sleeve.  He will send it directly to the lady who will fit me for it.  The therapist also wants me to get a compression pump, because my arm, although slightly better, is still firm and not reacting as well as she'd hoped.

So I have to contact another company to find out of my insurance will pay for this piece of equipment that will work on my arm for an hour a day.  I just sit and let it do it's thing, compressing my arm to get the fluid out.  I may get to stop going to therapy within a week or so, too.  That was nice to hear.  

I was originally told that I'd likely be released to go back to work (after my December 9th surgery) on January 6th.  I saw the paperwork filled out by my doctor today, and it has me out until January 19.  That's not carved in stone, but that means they think there's a chance of my recovery taking 6 weeks instead of 4.  I can't afford to be off that long, so we're going to make sure I go back by the 6th at the latest.  Because I said so.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Night With Friends

I've been teetering on the edge of bitterness lately.  I'm tired of lymphedema and I'm tired of infections and I'm tired of not being "whole" and having to wear garments to even things out and I'm tired of cancer continuing to pop up with family, workmates, and friends.  I struggle with wondering what I did to "deserve" cancer.

That is NOT a place that I want to be.  I don't want to be bitter.  I want to celebrate life and be thankful for the medical team that has been taking care of me.  I want to rejoice that my cancer is gone.  I want to happily look forward to my surgery in December without being impatient.  I want to be happy about the 5 year survival rate studies and stop researching 10, 15, and 20 year studies.

With Kevin and the girls heading out of town this weekend, I decided to organize a girl's night in.  I invited some coworkers over to drink wine and gossip.  The plans continued to develop as the time drew nearer and my friends offered suggestions.  It turned into something way more than I expected.

Five gals came, and we had a ball.  We turned off every light in the house and played hide-and-seek.  The "seeker" had an amazing automatic Nerf gun, and all of the "hiders" had smaller Nerf weapons.  If you found someone, you fired.  If you hit them, they were "it" for the next round.  If a hider shot the seeker first, they had 10 seconds to run toward "base" before the seeker could return fire.

We laughed SO hard.  It was an amazing time.  For an entire evening, I didn't feel sorry for myself or even THINK about health issues.  Not even once.  Thank you, girls.  It's just what I needed.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I Love My Husband

Kevin and I got into a chat conversation yesterday that ended in typical Fierro fashion.  I just had to share:

Sunday, October 6, 2013

2013 So Far - A Recap

Last year found me dealing with finding a lump, getting a painful biopsy, getting "the call" that I had breast cancer, and starting a long and scary journey.  After meeting nearly a dozen doctors and specialists, my treatment began.

I had 16 weeks of chemo, lost my hair, battled fatigue like I'd never imagined, and learned that "chemo brain" is real.  That was followed closely by 33 radiation treatments to the affected side, a huge area of burn from these treatments, and yet more fatigue.

After all of this, I was ready to move on.  Put it behind me.  Have my reconstructive surgery to make me "whole" again (in my eyes) and keep moving forward with my life.  2013 HAD to be better than 2012.  Anything would beat cancer, right?

This year started off with healing time. Letting my body recover from eight months of abuse.  Eight months of pure hell.  It seemed to be healing just fine.  The day finally came for surgery to remove the tissue expander and place the permanent implant.  That lasted about four weeks before my incision opened up and we had to start over.

The second implant didn't even last as long as the first.  My plastic surgeon gave up on that type of reconstruction, closed me up with no implant, and decided we'd go another route with my reconstruction.  I gathered information about the TRAM flap procedure and got ready.  And then I developed lymphedema.

Lymphedema is chronic, so it's important to start treating it right away to get it under control.  I was referred to an LE specialist in the occupational therapy department and we started massage therapy and compression bandaging.  A couple of weeks in, I developed cellulitis.

After a few days in the hospital on IV antibiotics, I was released and told to take a mega-dose of oral antibiotics for seven days.  Everything seemed fine until day three after finishing that prescription.  The infection reared it's head again.  I was admitted into the hospital for another three days and referred to the infectious disease department.

They decided to change medication courses, and I was sent home with two very powerful and targeted oral antibiotics.  These, on top of my existing daily meds, makes me quite nauseous.  I had to add another pill to combat that.  This infection delay was enough to throw my prospected surgery date out another 5-6 weeks.

I try to avoid posting when I can't be positive.  I'm not always successful, but I try.  I know that it's my blog and I can post whatever I want.  I know that my friends don't mind if I need to vent.  I know that it's OK to everyone else if I whine.  It's not, however, good for me.  I find myself getting bitter as I type the words.

So I try to stick to facts so people know where I am in my treatment.  Yes, I try to stay positive and am pretty darn successful at it most of the time.  I laugh, enjoy my family and my friends, and keep on working.  I don't sink into a deep depression and I haven't given up.

I do cry.  I do get frustrated.  I do wonder "Why me?" and feel like I'm banging my head against a brick wall.  I am human.  I'm not this rock of strength who handles everything perfectly.  I just don't show the sadness very often because sadness breeds sadness in me.  It's like quicksand.  The deeper I let myself go, the deeper in I am pulled.

So I stand at the edge.  Teetering.  Sometimes it's tempting to just dive in and let the people around me fight to pull me free.  They would pull, too.  But if I stay out of the pit of fear quicksand, they won't have to.  I'm fine.  Honestly.  I am handling this the only way that works for me.  I'm not hiding it or masking it.  I'm learning as I go.  Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail.  As long as I come out on the other side, though, I will be victorious.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Just The Facts

In order to not make my pity party public (alliteration amuses me) I shall list only facts.  No opinions or thoughts.  Just facts.

1. I'm out of the hospital and back home.
2. The infection seems to be improving (again.)
3. My antibiotics make me nauseous (puking on I-70 at 6:30 am was a new experience.)
4. My reconstruction is now likely in December, instead of October.
5. I am never to play with my smallest dog unless my arm is wrapped.
6. I'm supposed to be scared of hangnails, never scratch bug bites, and avoid injury to the left arm.
7. I am the ultimate klutz.
8. My therapy for the LE has nearly started over.
9. My therapist will go on maternity leave within 2 weeks, and I'll be going to the plaza and meeting someone new.
10. Kevin doesn't think that Pringles alone can be dinner.

Those are the facts.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

And The Party Never Ends

I took my last dose of oral antibiotics on Saturday.  By Tuesday morning, the infection was back.  By Tuesday afternoon, I was back in the hospital.  This is quite frustrating, but at least they reacted more quickly this time.  Here is the rundown:

I am on IV antibiotics again.  I'm receiving my second dose as I type this.

I'll see someone from infectious disease today.  After that, I'll know more what our plan is.  I always feel better when there is a plan.

I'll likely go home with a PICC line to allow a prolonged course of antibiotics.  Probably a month's worth, but we'll know for sure after "the plan" is in place.

Because of the prolonged course of antibiotics, my reconstructive surgery has to be postponed.  They will NOT do surgery until all traces of infection are gone.  I know this is the only safe way to proceed, but I feel like the carrot that has been dangling in front of me has just been stolen by a feral jackalope.

That is all I know for now.  Kevin left yesterday to tend to me and get me signed in and settled, so he woke at 2 to get to work by 4:00 in order to make up some hours.  I hate that he has to do that, but I sure do appreciate his willingness to do so.  He's a trooper.