May love and laughter light your days, and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours, wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world with joy that long endures.
May all life's passing seasons bring the best to you and yours!
~ Robert Frost
Welcome to my blog. This is my story of how I faced my risk of breast cancer, the decisions I made, the support I received and my week by week recovery from surgery. I chose to have a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy with immediate DIEP reconstruction at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston (March 2010). For more information on my 'Medical Team' please see tab above. I also have a wonderful circle of friends who have supported me throughout. They have provided us with lots of delicious meals and desserts. Many of those recipes are included above under "Feed the Flap" recipes. "Feed the Flap" is a term I coined when trying to increase my abdominal (fat) flap to ensure that I was a good candidate for the DIEP procedure. This was not something recommended by any medical professional, it was just something that made sense to me. I think it worked!! Feel free to join me on this journey and feel free to post comments.
Select the tabs on the left side marked Week 1, Week 2, Week 3..... to go immediately to the surgical/recovery part of this blog.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Week 2 - Day 4 (updated)
Last Week: Okay, so I am pre-posting this before I leave for Boston so that I can stick to my schedule of comparing each day last week with each day this week. Last Thursday was April 1st. Patty had called on Wednesday night to see if she could visit on Thursday since she had already planned to take the day off and come to Boston. I still wasn't up for visitors so Mike asked that she call back in the morning. On Thursday morning she called back, made the 3-hour one way trip and wasn't disappointed. Just after Mike left to take a walk to his hotel room for a shower, Patty arrived as did my entire 'plastics' medical team. She met Dr. Tobias, Maria and Dr. Curtis. I think Petrya was my nurse that day, so she also got to interact with her and help me take a walk around the nurses station. Thursday was a good day, a very good day. I wasn't ready to leave, but it was good. Petrya had helped me with my shower that morning and I felt a million times better. Remember I grew my hair long for the hospital stay, thinking I would pull it back or put it under a ballcap. Well, I can't lift my arms up to pull my hair back, but Mike did buy me a pretty BIDMC ballcap that he could help with. I am so proud of my 'team' at BIDMC that I wear my hat with pride!!! I must say that I am very proud of myself for being able to make the toughest decision of my life and have no regrets. Thursday was the day I got unhooked from the VIOPTIX oxygenation machine (hopefully I got that right). So I was no longer hooked up to anything that moved. I still had the drains and still had vitals taked every couple of hours, but was unattached. What a wonderful feeling.
I have posted pictures of me in my bed, where I spent much of my time, when not walking around the nurses' station. Here's another picture of where Mike spent most of his days. He did keep himself occupied with work, Suduko, Nintendo and some reading. I spent my time blowing into my spirometer 10x/hour. It did keep me somewhat occupied. Patty left some magazines which helped, but my eyes felt funky and reading was tough. The calendar says that it is March 31st on the wall behind me, but it was really April 1st. I love my bouquet of flowers, too. They were nice and bright and cheered me up along with my visit from Patty.
This Week: This morning we are waking up in Boston at the Best Western, once again. Today I will see Dr. Tobias and Maria at 9am at Beth Israel. Since I am pre-posting I am assuming that I will be nervous and excited. Nervous because I have never heard anything short of dreadful when it comes to drain removal and excited because at least one or two of my drains will be removed. They don't really bother me, but this procedure puts me one step closer to full recovery. I will post pictures of today after we take them.
UPDATE: So we made it to Boston on Wednesday evening just in time to get a quick meal at the cafeteria and then a walk down toward Fenway. I got a bit tired so we stopped to sit on a bench and watched everyone going to the game. I know how much Mike would have loved going the game!! Instead we watched people in 95 degree temps.
So, on Thursday morning we did a bit of a walk down memory lane. I will post pictures of the hotel, the hospital, the plastic surgery team!! Here is the Best Western at Longwood. For the night before surgery, this is the place to stay (make sure you get a clean room with internet!). The next photo is of Mike with his cup of coffee. A week ago, he whe was trapped in my hospital room and didn't get out much. And, while he waited for me in surgery/recovery it was pouring so hard that he could't spend much time outside. Although I do undertand that he did take a long walk in the rain on one of those long days. The other photos are a bit jumbled and I can't seem to be able to move them to the right spots, so you will have match them up with the descriptions. One of the photos is of me (with four drains in my pockets) in front of the West Clinical Center at Beth Israel. That's where my surgery took place. That's were you go the morning of your surgery, sign in and wait with all the others having surgery that morning. You wait on a circular bench - reminded me of traveling with a tour group. There is also a picture of the hospital from outside my room. I had a great room (#620). From the inside I had great views and great sunshine pouring in. Next are up-to-date photos of my "Plastics" Team: The first is with Dr. Tobias. It is actually taken in his office, oh, I am sitting in his chair!!! I am pretty sure most patients don't do this, but then again most patients probably don't travel with a camera with the purpose of blogging either. Anyway, he was very gracious. I told him that the first picture with him the morning of surgery my eyes were closed so we needed an update photo. Next is a picture of my newest angel - Malika!!! Oh my!! She has always gotten me settled during each and every appointment to Dr. Tobias' office, but this was the first time she did something to/for me. I knew I would get my drains pulled today AND I knew it was supposed to hurt - like 20 seconds of torture. WELL, I DIDN'T FEEL A THING. Malika has magical fingers. On the first drain, after she clipped the stitch, I felt a little something, but nothing that would even it a pain scale. She had me take deep breaths, then told me it was out!!! On the next two, I didn't even feel anything. I took my deep breaths and it was over. Mike said that it looked like about 8 inches of tubing came out of me. How cool is that? Then there is a picture of me with Maria, Dr. Tobias' nurse. Again, I can't say this enough - she is a lifesaver!! She is able to diffuse anxiety and clarify, clarify, clarify when I ask endless questions and provide the kind of support only someone who has seen lots of other women go through the same thing can do.
. And last, but certainly not least is Jean. Jean is Dr. Tobias' office manager. She was the first point of contact for me with his office and remains the voice on the other end of the phone whenever I call. She remembers me each time. I will post these 'staff' shots under "MY TEAM" as well. I can't say enough wonderful things about my team. It took alot of work to find them and I will forever be grateful for all that they have done and continue to do for me.