Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mornings with McBoobie

I saw McBoobie today for my post-op follow up. The best news is that all four of my remaining tentacles/testicles/drains have been removed! I feel like Pinocchio when he became a real boy except that my nose is smaller. And I have some semblance of boobs. And I'm not a boy. But aside from all THAT...

He thinks things are progressing well and I'll see him again in about a month to discuss some final tweaks, which will involve fat grafting (aka - lipo) and lifting the flap skin on my "good" boob to make it more even. Since the flap skin is so new, he didn't want to compromise it by doing too much to it and end up literally killing the skin. Fair enough. In 3-6 months, we'll have the nipple discussion. I'm not convinced that I want more than a 3D tattoo but he has told me that I'll feel otherwise. We'll see.

I told him that is love to see a reconstructed nipple up close and in person and not just a photo. He laughed and said that it's kinda tricky to ask his patients to do something like that. Can you imagine? "Hey, I know you! You're that lady from Starbucks!" Oy.

Today, I bought some binding/compression garments (you know - like Spanx) to keep my tummy all tucked in and some more sports bras. It wasn't really a fun shopping trip. Beige, black and white. This shit could not be more boring.

My reconstructed boobs are not pretty or normal or symmetrical. I know it will take time for them to get there. I have to keep reminding myself that the rack that I knew and loved is officially gone. Such is life. My life.

Time for a druggie snooze. Ciao.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Everybody Poops... Except Me

The one thing that it seems is discussed very little about this whole surgery thing is how much all the meds and anesthesia tend to plug you up. Add to that the fact that I had abdominal surgery, too, and a good solid poop is all but a distant memory. It's a part of the process and good lord does it suck.

For those keeping score, I was admitted into the hospital last Monday. While I'm a pretty regular kinda gal, I hadn't made a daily deposit before things got going, so I hadn't pooped since last Sunday. I've taken my little prescription poop pills and have eaten fruit and fiber and all that good stuff. I was rather gassy on Thursday and Friday, which gave me some mild hope but no... Still not time for the Big Show.

It's a delicate balance since the last thing I want is to go from constipation to diarrhea - especially since I can't exactly hop up and run to the bathroom right now. Matt's a wonderful man but dealing with a barrage of squirty trails to the bathroom just might be the final breaking point.

Finally, after 7 long days, my body decided that today was the day. Matt helped me walk to the bathroom, then gave me privacy to carry out my mission. I assumed the position and prayed to the poop gods. Please, please, PLEASE give me something - even if it's a mere rabbit pellet!

I felt that familiar churn but dared not to get too excited since I've been disappointed before. Low and behold... I finally dropped the kids off at the pool. I took the Browns to the Super Bowl. I snapped off a monkey tail. I pinched a loaf. I told my sister that I found Jimmy Hoffa.


Hope your day is as blissfully satisfying.

Peace, love and poop.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

It's finally time.

Tomorrow, I'll embark on the final major phase of this cancer "joyride". I have my reconstruction surgery. I'm having a left prophylactic skin-sparing surgery along with a DIEP flap. The tissue from my tummy (the DIEP flap) will be transferred to my chest for a brand new rack.

My love/hate relationship with Frank will end tomorrow as he's finally laid to rest. In his place will be Fancy Franks, as Hannah calls them. I'm really tempted to ask McBoobie if I can have Frank for a proper burial but I'm not sure how creepy that really sounds...

I'm excited and nervous. The recovery period isn't fun but I know this time that I'm already cancer-free. This, while significant, is basically cosmetic so that I can feel and look whole.

If one more person tells me that they're jealous of my "boob job and tummy tuck", I will karate chop them in the trachea. The way I got here sucks big donkey dongs and lets face it... I'm not going to look like a Barbie doll. Far from it. I'm hoping for a shred of normalcy. Jealous of that? Keep it to yourself, thanks.

Please pray that my doctors have steady hands tomorrow and that my surgery and recovery go as smoothly as they did last time.

Peace, love and boobies.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Strength = Weakness?

I saw a quote the other day that really struck a chord with me:

"Sometimes the person who gives you strength is also your weakness."

Whoa. Deep, right? When something life-changing happens, you tend to rely on your closest friends and/or family to help you make sense of it all. Frequently, you don't need or really want any advice or input; just an ear (well, or eyes in this technology-obsessed world).

Many times you find the one or two people in your life that just seem to "get it" - whether they shared your experience personally or knew of someone that did. They can say, "I understand what you're going through" and truly mean it. You can let your walls down and show your tears and your anxieties and fears when you'd put on your sassy brave pants for anyone else. You can speak candidly and frankly and know that they'd tell you the truth even if it was to say "I don't know whether to laugh or cry at your Mohawk!"

Is there a point, though, where you cross that line and realize that you rely on them TOO heavily? It's hard to feel like you're a burden to someone, but once you let them inside of the deepest parts of your heart, all bets are off. You've poured your heart out and for whatever reason, their niceties and genuine concern have made them a superhero in your eyes.

I have some amazing friends that have seen me through my darkest days. Some have shocked the socks right off of me. Some drifted away slowly. Did I push them away because I was too needy? Were they going through their own tribulations and just couldn't be "that" person anymore but didn't have the heart to tell me that they needed someone, too? I know that cancer made it all about ME and I apologize from the bottom of my heart for that.

I have tried my best to be a good friend, sister, wife and mother. I like to think of myself as a caring and loving person. I also know that my brain has been clouded by this cancer bullshit and I've latched onto whatever I've needed to to make me feel safe and protected. Maybe to a fault.

I guess the lesson learned is to be patient with people - whether you're the needy one or the "superhero". Let people breathe. Give yourself a chance to breathe, too. If they genuinely care, they're still going to be there. If not - it's okay.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Caregiver's Story...

Hi! Remember me?

Following is a guest post by Cameron, whose wife has battled mesothelioma. This is his account of what it took for him to be a caregiver.

Caregivers play such an invaluable role. I couldn't have done it without my rockstar, Matt, and my awesome daughters. They need support as well.

Enjoy Cameron's story.

How I Learned to Be My Wife's Cancer Caregiver

Malignant pleural mesothelioma were the three words that we heard on November 21, 2005 when my wife, Heather, was diagnosed with cancer. I immediately assumed the role of caregiver in her life, but I had no idea what I was doing. This news came three months after my daughter Lily was born. Instead of sharing our first holiday celebrating with our new daughter, we were spending it with family figuring out how we would get through a battle with cancer.

After the diagnosis, our lives were chaotic. Heather and I worked full time prior to her diagnosis, but now she was not able to work. I could only work part time while caring for her and Lily, and I had numerous other responsibilities that I didn’t think I could handle. Between my wife’s doctor’s appointments, trips to Boston to meet with a mesothelioma specialist, taking care of my daughter, and making travel arrangements, I was overwhelmed, and my thoughts began to race.

I tried to remain positive through this whole struggle, but often my fears and anxieties would get the best of me. Sometimes I could help but picture the worst, Heather passing away and me being left a broke widower raising a daughter who would never really know her mother. I was in utter despair, and some days I would lie on my kitchen floor and bawl uncontrollably. However I never allowed Heather to see my fears, despite having these moments of weakness. I always did my best to remain strong in her presence.

I don’t think I could have done it without the help of friends, family, and even strangers. They offered everything from comforting words to financial assistance. We advise all cancer patients to accept any help they can get no matter how big or small. I learned the hard way that there is no room for pride in a fight with cancer.

Being a caregiver is stressful and full of uncertain days. It was the most challenging experience that I have ever had. Some days will be difficult, but no matter how hard it gets, you can never walk away from it. During the difficult times, just use all of your resources to help you remain sane. Above all else, never, ever give up hope, and always keep fighting for the one you love.

After Heather’s surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, it took many years for life to return to normal. It was the most difficult struggle of our lives, but today Heather is cancer-free, and has been for seven years. Mesothelioma is no longer a part of our lives. We hope that by sharing our story of success over cancer, we can help inspire others in there own battles to never give up hope, and to always keep fighting.

Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance