Setback

by on July 25, 2012

minor-setbackWow, I have not posted here since April! Last year I thought it was a good idea to start a blog and talk about my cancer diagnosis but what I didn’t realize is that, after treatment is over, you don’t really want to talk about cancer. Or treatment. Or surgery. Or appointments. At least I don’t anyway. I want to think about anything BUT cancer. I’d rather be anywhere in the world than in a doctor’s office. Normal, routine medical things now fill me with major anxiety. I can’t be looked at and prodded anymore. I’ve become quite a baby about it, actually.

On June 5th, I had my final surgery, the last step of my reconstruction. And that was supposed to be it; that was the last step. I recovered and healed up just fine and was on my merry way. So when I woke up on the 4th of July feeling really crappy, I thought I had the flu. I felt achy all over, had a fever, and my chest kind of hurt. But I didn’t think anything of it until next day when I didn’t feel better and my chest really started to hurt. The right side was pink and swollen and warm to the touch. These are not good signs. It finally hit me: I had an infection. My plastic surgeon’s office called in antibiotics for me to start taking on Thursday night and I went into the office Friday morning to be checked out.

Of course, I consulted Dr. Google about what might be coming my way. Many people said that if you have an infection, the implant has to come out. Um, well that was no good. Others said they had to take a course of antibiotics. I hoped on the ride over to the office that they would look at me and tell me to take antibiotics for awhile and send me home. But what ended up happening was another surgery. That day.

This was not part of my plan.

To say I was bummed would be an understatement. I was supposed to be done with all this crap. How could I have an infection? Well, what I didn’t completely understand is that radiated skin/tissue and foreign objects don’t mix. Blood flow and circulation in radiated areas aren’t as good. We all have bacteria on our skin (like normal staph, which is what my infection was) but the body is good at keeping it in check. Except when you’re dealing with radiation and implants.

Prior to the surgery, the surgeon told me he was going to go in and see how bad the infection was. If it was super bad, the implant was coming out. If it wasn’t too bad, he was going to gamble and put a new one in and hope for the best. When I woke up, he had put in a new one. My chances for keeping this one are about 20%; time will tell if the infection comes back after I finish my course of antibiotics. In the event I get another infection, the implant is straight up coming out and then I have to explore the options of a different kind of surgery. This one would take tissue and muscle from another part of my body rather than using an implant (the body deals much better with its own stuff rather than an implant in this situation). A surgery like this would be a month out of work and probably about three months until I could get back to a regular workout routine. Not to mention another scar. And to all of that I say “No thank you.” So my plan for now is that this implant is going to stick and I’m going to be fine. In my mind, that’s the only option.

{ 4 comments }

The Other Side

by on April 19, 2012

oceanWell hello there! Long time, no blog. It’s been over two months since my last post! The explanation for my absence is a good one: I’ve been busy living my life! Each day that goes by cancer gets farther and farther from my mind. When I went in for a checkup with my oncologist at the beginning of this month she said I only have to go every 6 months for the next 5 years, so my next scheduled appointment with her isn’t until October! That was music to my ears. I’m so over that place, so over talking to doctors, so over being poked and prodded. I went from seeing a doctor only once a year to getting cancer and seeing a doctor at least once a week, which was way too much for me to handle. And let’s not forget the daily radiation. What a pain in the ass that was!

I love being on the other side of this. When I first got diagnosed and was going through treatment, I knew all the dates of when things were supposed to be over but it seemed so long and far away, it was like it didn’t exist. Like I would never be done. But holy crap, I am in the home stretch now! I’m back baby, 99%! The only thing I need to make it 100% is my long hair back :-)

Any Mad Men fans out there? When I was watching the “Tea Leaves” episode a few weeks ago, Betty ran into an old friend (Joyce) who has cancer. Betty asked her what it was like and I wish I had the quote of Joyce’s response. Her description was on point; I need to find a transcript of what she said. Basically it went like this:

“It’s like being way out in the ocean, alone and trying to stay afloat and you see people on the shore, but they get farther and farther away. And you struggle to stay afloat, because it’s natural, but soon you get tired and give in and hope you go straight down.”

Granted, this is kind of morbid and Betty’s question of “What’s it like?” could also be referring to what it’s like knowing that you’re going to die soon. But it’s the next thing Joyce said that really struck a chord, something like, “and then your mind goes to ‘What am I going to fix for lunch?’” That perfectly describes, for me, the two disparate states of mind you have as a cancer patient. You have to go through these horrible treatments, feel like crap, lose your hair, and deal with all the scary thoughts that plague you. It’s so lonely. No one else around you (it seems) is going through what you’re going through. You’re out in the water and everyone you know is on the shore. But at the same time, your mind still goes to the mundane things in life. I still put out the trash and recycling every Monday night. I did laundry. I ran errands. All these things were so meaningless in the face of what I was going through yet I still thought about them. It’s a very weird feeling.

I don’t ever want to feel that way again. On the other side is such a better place to be.

{ 10 comments }

Glad It’s Not Me

February 13, 2012

My husband has been sick for the past few days: sore throat, runny nose, low grade fever, congestion. This is as sick as I think I have ever seen him. He doesn’t usually get sick. Thankfully (insert knocking on wood), I am feeling just fine. Which I think is just another testament to my awesome [...]

Read the full article →

Some Thoughts on Cancer

January 30, 2012

I think everyone “knows” what cancer is. It’s bad. It’s scary. It can be life threatening. The treatment for it sucks. But when you break it down to just the basics, normal cells go through a programmed life cycle of birth, life, and then death. Some cells become damaged and they no longer follow this protocol. [...]

Read the full article →

Starting to Move On

January 11, 2012

I haven’t been as good doing regular posts on my blog like I wanted to when I first started. Work, the holidays, spending time with friends and family have all taken priority (rightfully so). Still, it seems a little strange that I haven’t found 10 minutes here or there to sit down and make an [...]

Read the full article →

Riddle Me This

December 28, 2011

How is it that I have not had a cold in two years but I got breast cancer?  That is all.

Read the full article →

Who’s That Girl?

December 21, 2011

I have spent a lot of time looking at old pictures of myself and wondering if I will be that person again. I feel as though I don’t look anything like the girl in those photos and it makes me feel a twinge of sadness. Most of my time is spent dwelling on the superficial. [...]

Read the full article →

Straight Lines

December 13, 2011

Breathing from a hole in my lung I had no one But faces in front of me Racing through the void in my head To find traces of a good luck academy Sparks ignite and trade them for thought About no one And nothing in particular Washed the sickened socket and drove Resent nothing There’s [...]

Read the full article →

Ah, Normalcy!

November 28, 2011

Wow! It has been a couple weeks since I have posted; time really does go by so fast! I have my radiation dry run next Monday and then I start the actual zaps (is that what you call them?) the next day for a total of 28 rounds. So barring any major snow days and [...]

Read the full article →

Officially PFC!

November 15, 2011

That’s right, I am officially Post-Effing-Chemo. It feels so good. It will feel even better once I get this last round of chemo out of me and my energy is back and the aches are gone. I can’t believe this is the last time that I will have to feel so crappy. I hope that [...]

Read the full article →