Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Things that make you go hmmm.

My friend Amy has a very awesomely funny and thought provoking blog. You should check it out.

The other day she wrote a post about being in your late 30's and baby-less. And asked the readers about sperm donation. There was some really great discussion in her post as well as in the comments.

Personally, I don't think I could go this route. Read my comment for the why's.

I thought it was interesting that she brought this up since I've been thinking about this. Actually, I've been thinking about it more than I let on to my friends and family.

When I saw the fertility doctor before my surgery, one of the options discussed was egg freezing. My window to do this is small. This process takes about 2 weeks and needs to happen before Chemo starts.

This is all I can think about
when I think about the babies...
I am sitting here thinking that my chances for baby making are rapidly coming to an end. I have chosen not to freeze my eggs. I guess, I could still call them up and start the process today and this would not postpone Chemo for too long. But really, I just don't want to go through it. I would have to shoot myself up with hormones and then have needles and ultrasounds in my nether regions. This just does not sound appealing to me. Plus, it could very well be that I would go through this and have no eggs to retrieve.

Is that selfish? Is it bad that I don't want to work that hard to try and spawn? Perhaps the way I am writing this should answer that question for me. It's not all lovey dovey gushy cooing baby talk. Babies are kind of annoying and demanding and you are responsible for them for the rest of your life. Holy Hannah I have a hard enough time with Tboz.

But then, they are kind of funny when they start talking. And can be pretty cute. But for the rest of your life! I'm still taking from my parents emotionally at 37. Nah. I don't think it's for me.

Chemo basically will put me into early menopause effectively ending my baby making time. Chemo will probably start next week or shortly thereafter. My ovaries could start working again, but if they do, they really want me to get them taken out because I am a mutant.

So, basically, I am feeling like my ability to make a baby is ending in the next two weeks. I think this is a really hard concept to wrap my head around, even if I don't want to spawn. Baby making is part of what makes me a woman.

Universe, you took away my boobs, and now you are taking away baby making abilities and to top that off, you are taking my hair. WTF??!!!

P.S. Went back to duke today because I have all this fluid built up since my drain was removed too soon. She had to stick a needle in my boob graveyard (I'm not gonna lie, this is clever and made me laugh, i crack myself up sometimes) and suck it out. It didn't hurt so much, but was really weird feeling. I will probably have to have this done again soon. I'm really tired of going to duke.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Drains are a Pain...and so is just being.

When I went home from the hospital after my mastectomies, I had 3 drains in to drain away any fluid that built up post surgery and any lymph fluid that didn't drain right since they removed lymph nodes. If you don't have the drains, fluid builds up and they have to drain the fluid with a needle.  Yikes!

Today, I have only one drain left!

Grenade and tubing coming out of my body.
I had 2 on one side
(where lymph nodes were removed)
and one the other.
This is so spectacular because they cause a lot of problems and mucho paino.  Well, I guess the main problem is that they hurt me. They are stitched to my body, so they pull and that hurts and then where they are inside my body hurts.  They are hard to sleep with - I worry I will roll over on them (which I do and its totally no big deal) or I worry I will yank them out (I have not yet, but tried on accident a few times - yowsa!)

The other problem I have is that I have a hard time disguising them in my clothing.  As you can see in the picture (I made these black and white to spare you some of the grossness), they are gross and disturbing.  So I don't really like to stroll around and display them for the world to see.  When I got the first one out they weren't so bulky to hide.  Mom got me these hoodies that have pockets on the inside and I just put the grenade pieces in the pockets.  This has worked really well except for the days that it is warm.

Looks like I got gatted.
I have to empty the things a few times a day and when they are outputting less than 30cc of body stuff then they can come out.  I got my first one out on Friday last week and the second one out today!  The second wasn't really ready to come out, but it quit working.  So when I go back to get the last one out, they will drain the area with a needle.  DAMN!  I'm going to have to get shot up again - or shot out?  Whatevs (this is my new hip slang that I get from the kids, its probably outdated already).  When they remove the drain, they don't stitch it up or anything.  There is just a bullet hole in your side.

Anywho - the happiness I feel with getting the drains out is offset with the fear of chemo.  Once all drains are out, I will have to start chemo.  I would guess that by Friday of next week, I will start chemo.  YIKES!

Everything else is going OK.  I am in a significant amount of pain, which sucks.  My chest, the underside of my arms and part of my back are extremely sensitive to the touch.  It feels like stubble rubbing on a really really bad sunburn and then getting goosebumps on the sunburn.  It's pretty terrible.  Even my clothes touching me hurts.  So wearing the hoodies, although excellent at hiding the drains, is painful.  Apparently, when they were chopping off the boobs, they had to cut through a major nerve.  This is what is causing my pain.  I also have weird phantom pains.  Like my nipples are on fire, but wait, remember you don't have nipples?  Yeah, it's weird to me too.

So sometimes I just have to lay on the couch with a soft tank top on, arms propped up and doped up on the pain pills.  This makes me feel pretty bad about myself.  Like I should be so much further along and out and about and doing stuff.  Sigh.  Its only been 2 weeks - people keep reminding me of this.  I'm just so impatient.

And to top all of this off my mom left me here to fend for myself.  Not really.  I mean she did leave, but only to encourage me to move forward in my healing process.  Mom was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO helpful to me, emotionally and otherwise, while she was here.  I miss her.  Now I have to ask for help.  And I hate it.  And this makes me feel bad about myself.

Maybe things aren't great.  But I'll say they are OK.

Here are some pictures of me doing fun stuff despite all of the bad stuff:
Bulls Game one week post surgery -
big head (me),
teeny head (Anna), small head (Lindsey)
Movie Night with 5 gallon Coke
and Popcorn - 2 week post surgery -
Me and the Misch

Monday, May 9, 2011

Fashion Fail

My new body does not fit into my clothes. Well, technically, my clothes don't fit because my body got bigger, but what I'm getting at is my upper half has a new shape. From the front, I don't look that different in clothes, but from the side, it is really weird. I'm flat on the top and it looks like my tummy is distended. Whereas before, my large gazoongas balanced a larger tummy and it looked proportional.

Today mom and I went to the mall for a few minutes to look for some short sleeved shirts for me. I realized I now have to have a whole new style as I typically select form fitting items in solid colors and these things just don't look very good on me now.

I have no idea what this new style is. Plus I'm about to be hairless so I feel like it needs to be more feminine. Hairless and chestless. What can i wear to deal with these fashion dilemmas and still be me?

I feel like I am going from middle school to high school. I can be anyone I want.

Ooooooo. Maybe this is a good thing. I could start wearing giant jewelry and flowers and prints. And dresses and skirts! I bet I could throw down the cancer card and get away with something really funky.

Now I am overwhelmed. Sigh. Stupid cancer. Who wants to help me reinvent Melinda?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Support Cradle

Tonight I went out to see the Durham bulls With my friends from Crossfit Durham. Pretty much all of my favorite people were there.

No one cared that i was flat chested carrying around my drains in a kangaroon papoose pocket. Most everyone I saw was just genuinely happy to see me. I'm not sure I have ever in all my years allowed myself to believe this.

But I did tonight and It felt like a big ole cradle of support.

P.S. I got several hugs tonight (understandably they hugged gingerly). It was weird to feel someone against my new chest. I don't know how to explain it. It was weird, but better I think. I felt closer to them, maybe. They were touching my heart, literally. I think hugs are my new favorite.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Chemo Schmemo

I went to see the oncologist. She called wanting to see me and of course I freaked out and thought the worst. Turns out she already had my pathology reports AND had already received my oncotype score( test to see what chance of recurrence I have ( I have 20%) and if I would likely benefit from Chemo (I would).

First, my lymph nodes were cancer free and the surgeon was able to get clean margins. This basically means I am considered cured. However, I still need to be treated for possible recurrence and for any leftover cancer cells that might be hiding in my body somewhere.

So she wants me to do Chemo. Sigh. I will start treatment once the drains from my surgery have been removed (which will be cause for massive celebration - these drains suck big ole you know what).

I will get 4 treatments; one every 21 days. I will get the infusion over two hours and will definitely lose my hair (around day 10-14).

I received a gazillion prescriptions and lots of info. I left very overwhelmed.

Honestly, I can't think about the Chemo because I'm still trying to recover from surgery, which has been challenging. Its been one week now. The drains hurt me so badly so I am still in a significant amount of pain. I am taking pain meds which make me loopy and goofy and sleepy, so haven't gotten up and around as I should. Also, I have to sleep sitting up and I am a stomach sleeper, so I have not slept well. Sometimes, I just get sad and I cry. Just because of the whole situation I guess. I know it will get better with time, but it is kind of really sucking.

On a happier note, I got my hair washed and dried today. I can't really raise my arms and can't get the stitches soaked so haven't been able to wash my hair. Mom suggested to go to a super cuts type place which I did and it was five bucks. Awesome. I was also able to go to lunch with mom and try on foobs (post surgical kind=small stuffed pillows) and wigs (I cannot be a blonde). I enjoyed hanging out with mom and I didn't get too tired, but took a nap as soon as I got home.

Tomorrow I will try to go to a Durham Bulls baseball game with my friends from Crossfit. Not sure how this will go. I feel pretty self conscious about the whole flat chest and drain thing. But I will try and it will be good to see my friends.

Hoping I slowly start to come around to my old self. I miss that me. But maybe the cancer ass kicking me is a better me? I'd like to think so.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Demounding

I am now an alien mutant.

Me and Mom.
See, trying to be in a good place.
Surgery was completed 29 Apr and went as well as it could have. Took about 3 1/2 hours. My mom and my friend Jess were with me the whole day. It was so good to have friendly faces with me when I was rolled out and again when I was rolled back in.
Me and Jess.

For the most part I was at peace with my decision so I wasn't that scared or upset. I did cry a few times before the surgery started. I'm not sure why, I guess just gravity of the situation and mourning the loss of my boobs.

I had gone the day before for the sentinel node mapping. They shot me up with radioactive dye and then took some pictures. The shooting up was not near as bad as I thought it was going to be. It did hurt like a bitch, but only for a minute or so. I came back later and had more pictures taken. They used a Geiger counter (metal detector like thing) to see if any of the lymph nodes took in any of the dye. One did, which was good because the surgeon could just check this one for cancer and not just take out all the nodes with reckless abandon. During surgery, Dr. Olson injected blue dye into the tumor area to make sure they would be able to find them again. Apparently, during surgery 2 nodes took up the dye and were removed. Dr. Olson did some quick pathology on these AND THERE WAS NO CANCER! However, the final pathology will have the final say on whether cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or not. My gut says the fucker was just hanging out locally and was too lazy to go anywhere else. But we shall see.

As far as the surgery goes, I had no problems. It took longer than they expected, but I didn't care as I was totally drugged up. The anesthesiologist gave me a nerve blocker in my spine so that less general anesthesia would be used. I was in lala land before I got that thank goodness. They also gave me a motion sickness patch to avoid nausea and vomiting which is apparently worse with gynecological surgeries. I was still crying when she put me in lala land. I tried hard to be in a good place because I wanted to do well in surgery, but it was hard.

Cancer does suck.
I got some awesome socks from a friend that are pink with "cancer sucks" printed on them. Of course I loved them and wanted to wear them into the OR but the staff said they would get messed up and maybe lost. I apparently made a big deal about wearing the socks in recovery so Jess put them on me as soon as I was in my room. Functional and meaningful.

In recovery, I didn't have a lot of pain and barely noticed that I had no boobs. I was having some shortness of breath and still do, but hopefully it is just due to swelling. I was wearing a compression binder and had 3 drains. The drains are to drain any fluid build up at the surgical site. They are one of the most disgusting things I have come across in my 37 years so I am not going to post a picture or explain the details.

One of my nurses had gone through a mastectomy so it was helpful to have her there not only for nursing support but for emotional support as well.

I was able to come home the next morning, which was awesome. Right before I was to leave the nurse was reviewing how to care for the drains and took off my binder thing and there I was in all my mutant alien glory. I am sunken in and the incisions are about a mile long. It's terrible and much worse than I thought it would be. Even Mom thought it was pretty bad.  I hope with all of my being that it gets better with time.

I am at home now and doing OK. I am in a considerable amount of pain; mostly at the sites of the drains. They are stitched to my body and have damaged some nerve when being placed. I will have to suck it up until they are removed which should be in a week or two. I do feel like I should be doing stuff. Have been going going going and stressing and now I'm just laying here because it hurts to do anything else. I guess it's OK that I am just resting.  There have a been a few random teary times.  I am still not sure when or how I will leave the house.  Between the drains and the giant valleys where boobs once were, the odds are against me leaving - or even being seen.  I feel certain this will get better with time, but it really really really sucks right now.

Mom is still here and bored out of her mind I'm sure. She has been here now for almost 2 weeks. She sure is good at being a mom though and I'm trying to let her help me. She is helping me lots even though she has a bad chest cold. I love you mom. Side note: dad wanted to be here with me very badly, but boobs are more of a mom only deal so he stayed at home. He got a new phone so he and mom are texting it up for updates. I love you dad.

Thanks everyone for the kind thoughts, prayers, well wishes and support.  I am a lucky girl to have so many that genuinely care about me.

I would really like to run away though.  The urge to do this is quite strong again.