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.


Back Porch Writer said...

Thanks for posting. I was getting lost in exactly what was going wrong but that cleared it up. I was unaware about the lymph.. problem. I just knew that it was extensive. Awesome the outlook that you have! ;-) I know that when you are nauseated, life "aint' much fun". I am hoping that passes soon and that all these meds do what they are supposed to do. Amazing you can work with all this.

Anita said...

I think your blog is a perfect place to talk about all that you've been through. And, it's good for those of us who read it to know about real and tough issues. If you aren't already, you'll eventually be a great help and source of comfort and info to someone else who might have to experience the same things. I believe your "bad trip" is going to end, and I hope it will be soon so that you can resume the life and schedule that you once had.

Dres said...

I just wanted to say that I love you, girl. Sending warm hugs to you.