on the upswing

I thought I should write a quick something since the last time I posted I was throwing up the white flag and my ship was sinking, 1 boob and all. Well I am happy to be writing that my ship did not sink. It was quite a storm and we are down 1 breast, but we survived! I am now on the upswing and things are getting better everyday. I thought I would miss my boob terribly (I know, like it was a family member or some thing) but, I really don’t even know its gone. I thought I would wake up and feel the void on my chest and be saddened by it . Unless I look in the mirror my chest feels no different. For me that is a win!

I do still have pain but I am most positive it’s a result from this stupid drain.  Any tube that starts on the inside of you, sticks out of your armpit is not a good time. I was told the drain would be out in 7-10 days after surgery but like how everything else has been going lately my drain has been in two weeks!! It is looking like it wont be able to come until Friday making it well over two weeks it has been with me. I will be happy to write about when its out and how great I feel after its gone. 

Next up is decoding the pathology report and what it means moving forward.  

  

Check out my socks

Post op day 5:

As much as I would like this to be one of my more positive entries unfortunately it’s nothing but the opposite.

Rewind to Friday–I was still in the hospital and I thought for sure that “I got this”. My pain (really my only complaint) was finally under control after switching to a new med. My appetite was O.K., as was to be expected.  Everyone was in agreement; it was time for Jodi to go home.  Off I went, with a smile, home to (what I figured would be) the couch.  It was a rude awakening for me.  The couch?!?! Yeah right. One might think, “how tiring can laying on a couch be”? After having major surgery–it can be majorly tiring. So Saturday ended early, in a pool of tears– with my nurses, Nate and Bekah, putting me to bed before the football game. I surrendered without dispute and quickly fell asleep.

Here it is Tuesday… And I feel no need to recap in full detail– the horror (over exaggerating of course, but, kind of not really) of my experience (but I’ll try). The past few days have been no picnic and I feel like I have ran the gauntlet. Its sort of felt like the old video game Super Punch Out– the little health meter (down in the corner of my screen) is inching down as I duke it out, trying to avoid the K.O. best I can.  Even though I’ve been wearing my “Motherfucking Girl Power” socks, it feels like I’ve been super punched out of them on several occasions. I feel like I’ve finally met my match and I am waving the white flag.  I’m fighting the big boss now–  first punch, nausea and pain (health score- down 25%), left hook, violent barfing with constipation (score down another 25%), throat jab, stupid bladder infection (down another 20%), and finally the upper cut, stripping my wound drain (down another 10%).   I have about 10% left that I am fighting with and hoping to gain more power but its slowly regenerating.

My breast, that once pointed North or South now points somewhere to the far east- the compass face has been removed.  My body is entirely wiped out and it is clearly telling me, it can take no more– not even a trip to the couch. I’ve accepted (4 days later) that being in bed (for now) is where I need to be.  I have no energy to leave the bed or even to fight myself over it anymore.

Through all this, of course, is my dear Coraline. One of, if not the hardest part has been not being able to just scoop up her. Whether its just to feed her, snuggle her or to pick her up when she gets fussy and fix it (the special way only a mommy can).  I’m left watching other people caring for her or saying goodbye while she goes and has a sleepover at Mimi’s.  It honestly feels like a form of suffering in silence watching other people care for her, since my mommy urges are so strong and I know how to do everything just right.  I really could care less about taking care of myself, I just want to make sure my baby is happy. As I acquiesce to my (hopefully) brief convalescence, I find some relief from time to time.   I get a bout of clarity from the Dilaudid cloud that has temporarily covered my brain and I get it…I really do. I understand that Mommy needs to get better and that Cora is just fine.  She is with people who love her so much and are more than capable of taking excellent care of her.  We are fortunate.  I know that the way I feel about the current situation with Cora certainly isn’t a failure.  I did all of this for her, but deep down, that mommy guilt still bites me right in the heart.   Sometimes I’m left feeling like I’m letting her down or I’m failing her.   While I’m sleeping the day away someone else is rocking my baby to sleep– when I can’t help but feel that I should be the one– that’s my job. I know it sounds like crazy talk, but you Moms out there know exactly where I am coming from.   This is, and will continue to be one of the biggest challenges on this road to recovery– watching other people do the activity that I most want to be able to– taking care of my sweet Cora.

Like I said in the beginning, I wish I had something good to say, but I don’t. This sucks. I am in pain,nauseous,my chest looks like a battle field, and on top of all that  I can’t even hold my baby. Scratch that 😉 On a positive note, there has been lots of yummy food delivered to my house. Thank you everyone! Nate is being fed like a king, and as much as I too may feel like gastronomic royalty, some of the spoils of this cancer war are ending up in the toilet, partially digested.  Side note, Bekah helped me write much of this as I am literally too tired to blog (have it be known, big words credit goes to her).

 

Deep Breaths

In the distance, I hear,

“Take a deep breath Jodi, keep breathing”.

My eyes flutter open, then instantly close due to the heaviness of my lids… It all goes dark until I hear again…

“open your eyes, Jodi,  deep breaths”.

UGH! Who is yelling at me? I am trying to sleep here nurse lady!….. Blackness.

“Breath Jodi, deep breathing”.

What the heck is going on here? I sense lots of buzzing around me but I’m too snowed to figure this out.  I think I heard the nurse saying she over medicated me but I was so sleepy it’s hard to say.

“Deep breaths Jodi, deep Breaths”

“Your really starting to piss me off Nurse Lady, I’m trying to enjoy this medicated induced sleep…. Heavy lids and asleep again.

“Where’s her husband? Call her husband in to watch her”

” Hi Baby” I instantly recognize Nate’s voice and his lips as they kiss me on my forehead.

“Ahhhh, Nate is here” I think to myself, ice chips usually follow once Nate shows up in the PACU.

“Open your eyes and you can get some ice chips” says a voice I instantly recognize and its waaay less irritating sounding than that Lady.   As the ice chip is enveloped by the sand- that is my mouth and throat, I choke and gag it down, welcoming it’s moisture to the desert of my gizzard.

As I slowly come out of anesthesia I’m becoming a little  more and more aware of my surroundings and that the surgery is over.

“I did it” I thought, ” I made it through. Wait, how do I feel?” I fall back asleep before I can answer myself.

“More ice chips please Nate”

“Ok, But you have to keep your eyes open so you don’t choke. The nurse said you got a bit too much pain medicine. You need to work on staying awake, taking deep breaths and sipping on some ice chips”

“I can do that”, I thought as I instantly fell back alseep.

After an eternity in the PACU, at some point, I am rolled up to my room around 8pm.

I am in a fair amount of pain. I swallowed two pills, sat back– propped up on a cloud of 1,000 pillows and closed my eyes. I felt for my breast. It was gone.

 

Roller coaster face

* this post was written with a large amount of pain meds on board. 

My grandmother Honey had a tradition where she would take anybody in the family out to Ohio every year. The main purpose of the trip was to visit where she had laid both her parents to rest. All of us cousins were happy to visit the grave and pay our respects, but the highlight of our trip was going to Cedar Point. Cedar Point is  one of the biggest amusement parks with the most record breaking roller coasters in the entire world.  I love roller coasters and this place is da bomb! Literally has some of the scariest roller coasters I’ve ever been on. My cousin Sara would always make fun of me while we were waiting in line  because I had what she would call “roller coaster face”. Apparently this is the face make when I am nervous.  I denied it and played it totally cool and pretended like I wasn’t the least bit afraid  to go on the coaster. But inside I was shaking and totally apprehensive . We would make it through the line as tension was building up inside of me. Now we  are strapped into seat, my palms are sweaty & my heart is pounding by this point. Up that first incline to reach the topitty top, I am almost ready to pass out with anxiety and fear at this point … Next thing I know we are flying down the huge drop. My hands go up over my head all that nervousness, fear and anxiety (roller coaster face) goes away! Weeee, this is so much fun! 
My cousin Sara asked me yesterday before the surgery if I had roller coaster face. As much as I would of liked to pretend I didn’t, I really did. I really did. 

I arrived at Faulknet Hospital at 11am. It was a quiet and tearful ride to the hospital. But my biggest complaint was how hungry I was. I remember sitting in the waiting area smelling everybody’s coffee and thinking how I wanted one so bad. I asked myself if this was some kind of torture? As if having a Mesectomy wasn’t bad  enough I now am being assaulted by food smells. There should be a sign that says eat in front of surgical patients at own risk- I knew I was so close for real about to jump somebody for their food.  Lucky for them I was called just in time to go my pod where I would get prepped for surgery. I was told to undress and put on a Johnny. As I am undressing with sweaty palms and a racing heart.  I look down and see my girls out. They are pretty I thought. And it quickly became real that it’s happening and it’s happening now. I started cry and climbed in bed. As I am sniffling away I hear a knock and a mans voice saying “it’s Matt, may I come in?”. I was like, “who the heck is Matt”. I figured it was somebody taking care of me so said yes. The curtains open and the tears stop, my heart melts. It was him!!! My plastic surgeon, Who now I guess, we are on a first name basis😍. As the good doctor he is we chatted, asked me to pull my gown down and he drew on my boob. I was all smiles now. He promised to me (as wiped the tears from my eyes- , and kissed me gently on my four head ya right, in my dreams  JK, I had to add that in) but he did promise that he and his team would take very good care of me, We held, I mean shook hands, (That I will never wash again) and said I will see you in a little bit and left the room. I got settled in some more with IV’s,pre-op meds. Next came the blue party hat which means two things 1. Versed! Party cocktail!!!! My all time favorite drug . Pretty sad I’ve had so many surgeries that I know with the drug is and how much I like it😬😬😬 makes you so warm  you melt right into the gernie. 2. it’s time to  leave for the OR.

 I kissed my husband and they started wheeling me in.  The nurse asked me if I was relaxed and rather than smiling at her, tears slid down the corners of my eyes.  My breast, which had gotten me attention, had gotten me boyfriends and a husband, which had fed my sweet baby Cora and her favorite place to snuggled and which I’d hoped to rest my grandchildren’s little heads against – one of them was going to be gone. I’ll never be the same.   As I go up that first inciline of my own Cancer Coaster, I wiped my eyes and then….darkness. 

Clearly this picture was raked after the versed. 

  

   

 

Hooters

Hooters 

E-day is what I am calling it and its tomorrow. Execution day – not for my right breast but for the cancer that is inside of it. Of course I’ve been feeling myself up every chance I get! And I now think I realize why men and babies like these things so much. They definitely are soft, warm, squishy little fun pillows.

I was suppose to call Faulkner Hospital between the hours of 1-3pm today to get my surgery time for tomorrow. Whoops! I have been so busy making sure my family will be all set in my absence that I forgot to call. Or maybe I really don’t care what time surgery is and I continued on with my day as if nothing is going to change. Unfortunately, Faulkner hospital remembered me and called to let me know my surgery will be at 11:30 tomorrow morning.

 I’ve been thinking about this particular blog entry and what I was going to say. When I sat down early this morning to start writing I had very little thoughts and feelings towards what was about to happen tomorrow. Honestly I really haven’t thought too much about it. And I don’t/didn’t want to. It’s just too sad. 
Monday, I went in for pre-op testing and ran into my OR nurse I had back in November and October. She asked what the hell I was doing back and I told her the unfortunate news. During our conversation she asked me two questions, 1. if I was ready and 2. Am I ok with this. I first thought what dumb questions for a nurse to ask another nurse. Surely she knew if I wasn’t ok with it than I wouldn’t of been there and 2, do I really have a choice in this matter? Hello, nurses code! she should know all this. But now, I get it- she was treating me as a patient , and rightfully so. I gave her my cookie cutter response that I’ve been giving everybody “of course I’m ready, it’s time for the cancer to go! It’s just one step closer to the end. I just keep my eyes on the finish line and I’ll be there soon, Plus I’ll get a nice set of boobs out of this.” . We talked a little more she wished me the best. …. Since then, those two “dumb” questions have been haunting me. I have been thinking about those same two questions all along but don’t want to answer them. And while there is truth to the answer that I gave her, it is only half an answer to both her questions. It’s the positive answer. The nice answer. The one that everyone wants to hear. The easy part to think about. What about the other half to that answer? Ya know, the really hard stuff that I don’t want to talk about that goes along with having this disease and undergoing a mastectomy? And when I think about that “stuff”, no, I’m not ready. Who would be? This is some tough stuff to swallow. Who wants to think about what it wil be like to wake up and feel the void of where such an intimate piece of me used to be. What if I hate my new breast? How will I feel with no nipple or the inability to not feel the tenderness of Nate’s touch or the sweetness when Cora rests her head there. Those joys have been stolen from me by this ruthless disease. So, no I am not ready and I am not ok with it.

I was diagnosed last March This cancer has been my dementor and has haunted me for the past 10 months. Tomorrow I will wake up from surgery missing a piece of me but gaining my life back at the same time. And while those other things are heartbreaking for me to think about I can’t imagine a more freeing moment of being rid of the source that is causing all this pain. 
I have asked Nate to write tomorrow and keep everyone updated. For now he is taking me out to dinner to anywhere I choose! Not only is it one of my favorites I figured it was most appropriate. I want my right boob to be surrounded with as many as its friends as possible before she gets laid to rest. So off to HOOTERS we go for a little date night and farewell to my right hooter.

   
   

I am ready now

I am ready now…

Do you ever wonder why it is so hard to ask for help especially when you need it most? And I am not just talking in cancer land. Does it mean that we are admitting to a state of weakness, vulnerability or letting go of our independence. What about admitting the fact that we just can’t do it. When I first got “sick”, I put it quotes because I don’t feel sick. I don’t feel at all like my life is at stake here in any way shape or form. In fact I could easily pretend that none of this is happening. Due to the obvious, that is not an option. Anyways, when I first got sick I was appalled at anyone suggesting me asking for help. WHO ME? I don’t need help, I got this! I remember very clearly before my very first surgery in April, I was pissed off that people thought I needed help. What do these people think, I am dying or something?  I was too proud 😦 I also didn’t want to admit that I was sick and something was wrong. I know, I know, it was foolish thinking, but I am blaming it on the pregnancy hormones. (love that I can use the hormones as pretty much any excuse of irrational behavior and totally get away with it).  I know people just wanted to help but I wasn’t ready for it. So instead, I probably burnt out my husband, parents and in laws. Sorry guys to put it all on you. THEN, Cora was born, Nate went back to work and Bekah returned home. I quickly learned that I did need help and lots of it. I welcomed all the help I could get at that point. It was then I realized that asking for help isn’t such a bad thing. It is a good thing. I spent time with friends, lots of people got to meet Cora and again I got to experience  feeling more love than I ever have.

I was told by numerous friends who are cancer survivors “when you’re facing cancer treatment, it’s pretty much imperative that you ask for help. Treating cancer is a full-time job (from hell no less), so if you’re pregnant, running a household, caring for a newborn, recovering from cancer surgery (in my case 4 surgeries) or all of the above, it is literally like adding another job into the equation. You will probably not have the energy to do them all effectively. The sooner you come to terms with this- the better”.  I learned that the hard way.

So here we are facing another surgery, and to me, my biggest challenge so far. The pregnancy, the chemo, the c-section, I feel is nothing compared to this. Wednesday I will be heading to Faulkner Hospital for a total mastectomy. BOOOOOO!!!! I hate to even think about this and have been putting it out of my brain for weeks. But, shit be gettin real now and its time to face this and whats to come afterwards. I have talked with friends who have had mastectomies. They ALL have told me hands down to follow the doctors orders and don’t over do it. We shall see how that goes with Cora, but I promise I will do my best and leave the laundry, cooking and cleaning to others. The two grandmas have had their bags packed for weeks now and are ready. I am quite certain they can’t wait to push me aside and get their hands on that cute baby of mine. They are only two people though and I will need help with other stuff as well as Cora for about 4-6 weeks. I have been ordered not to lift her. I am sure just holding her will be a challenge for the first few weeks. Cooking will also be a challenge. I have frozen some slow cooker meals but the freezer is only so big.

So here it is…my humble request for help. Whether its Encouraging words here in the comments, your company, help with Cora, laundry, chores or if you can fix a meal, it would be so much appreciated. So many have asked before if you could help and I am sorry I pushed you away. Here is your chance,  I am ready now. Ok, not really, but really.

(Gosh I hate this)…. I have created a website to sign up for meals at Take Them A Meal, just find me under my LAST name and use “Cora” as the password. If you want to visit, do chores, whatever, just text me and I will pencil you in. And of course, I welcome all prayers. Prayer is so powerful and we will take all we can get. Thanks everyone!

Humbly yours.

help