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Ready, set, go . . .

6 Aug

Thank you to everyone for your support, prayers, love, assistance, phone calls, cards, movie loans, grocery shopping, rides to doctor appointments and chemo and visits – I could not have come this far without you all. I am so grateful.

Well, it looks like I have been cleared for surgery. Apparently it is believed that my cold is an allergy. I don’t know how they tell these things. But, if they say I am okay to go forward with surgery then I guess I am. I feel alright now, it is in the mornings that I seem to have a sore throat and feel under the weather.  I am still waiting to hear how my blood work was, but I presume that is pretty decent since my blood work from two weeks ago was pretty good. It should only have improved since then.

Still, I look forward to hearing the results just for my own peace of mind.

I am not incredibly anxious about tomorrow. I mean, what can I do really? I have taken the best care of myself that I know how to do. I feel good about that. I have tried to be pro-active (if not a complete pain in the ass) and to simply be my own advocate. There have been some real struggles from which I have learned a great deal. But, now I just have to focus on getting well, recovering from surgery and moving on to the next step of my recovery.

I still need to pack a bag. And I still need to take care of some things here at my house. But, it will all come together I am sure.

I have movies here and more coming and books to read as well. So I think that is covered too.

I plan on having someone write on my blog to let everyone know how I am doing after surgery.

Well, I will try to write one more post before surgery tomorrow if I can.

Please keep me in your prayers.

Surgery tomorrow?

6 Aug

My surgery is scheduled for tomorrow. I was cleared for surgery on Tuesday (or at least it looked that way, based upon the early tests). But, I just got off the phone with one of my surgeons and she is not happy that I have a cold right now. I am on an antibiotic and have been for the past three days. But, I am coughing, have a sore throat, and congestion in my chest and sinuses. I presumed regardless I would go forward with surgery. But, my surgeon says it is the anesthesiologist’s call. Great, I have never met him or her. Anyway, I am still presuming that I will go forward with surgery tomorrow. But, I guess it is a little bit up in the air now.

I have to go to my reconstruction surgeon this afternoon (this was news to me, found out this morning about it) to be marked prior to surgery. I have to go to her Mission Viejo office which is about a 45 min to 1 hour drive from here. Not the way I wanted to spend my afternoon today.

Have to shower first with some kind of special pre-surgery soap … hibacleans it is called. This will be my last shower for a few months. Isn’t that nice 🙂

But, I am doing fine . . . completely holding it together . . . I just poured myself a glass of juice . . . only instead of getting a glass out of the cupboard, I pulled out a bowl and filled it with juice. Yep, I am completely with it today.

Well, I am off to take my last shower for a while 🙂

Pre-op hop . . .

5 Aug

Well it is getting pretty close to surgery and I still have a lot to do. My hands hurt too much to type right now (still a left over from the chemotherapy). So, I will keep it short.

I don’t know if I can get everything done that I wanted to get done prior to surgery, but I am doing my best. I can feel how exhausted it is making me and so I think I need to balance getting everything done with actually getting some rest – the rest has not been happening. So, I guess something has to give because skipping the getting rest part is really not an option. So perhaps I will have to give up on some of the things on my to do list.

Hopefully today goes smoothly and I get what I need done and also get some much needed rest. It is definitely a struggle. And, then there are the emotions about having this surgery. Letting go of a part of my body. Wow. I know it is not like it is a limb, but it is a big deal. I can’t even express how it feels, certainly not here anyway. And if I hear another person tell me that I am “getting breast implants” like it was some sort of prize, or that I will be the new and improved Lisa (that is my least favorite comment), well, I think I will scream. The idea that I will somehow be better than I was before the surgery because I will have perky breasts (breasts that I will not be able to feel, that cannot breast feed a child . . . breasts that are not mine) is really so odd and such a reflection of our culture being so focused on being barbie. I would never in a million years have opted to have plastic surgery or breast augmentation. Don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly grateful that I CAN have reconstruction and I am incredibly grateful to have the surgeons that I have. My breast reconstruction surgeon is amazing and does amazing work. But, this is no prize I can tell you.

I will report back soon.

Wish me luck.

Surgery in three days . . .

4 Aug

Yesterday I had pre-op testing at Hoag and will be going back today for more (I am having a treadmill stress test to see how my heart is doing). Yesterday’s EKG was normal so hopefully today’s test will be normal as well.

I will be going to a support group as well. It has been helpful in the past. Today, however, I am bringing my Mom with me (or rather she is meeting me there – as I have the treadmill test before the support group meeting). I may have to be a bit late, depending upon when I get out of my test.

I hope it will be helpful to my Mom to go to the group today. There are women of all ages there (some going through treatment and some who have recovered and have made their way through cancer and some who have had recurrences). Hopefully it will be a positive experience for my Mom and for me as well. This whole experience has certainly taken its toll on my parents. That is probably the worst thing about this diagnosis for me . . . to see them have to suffer because of me.

I feel like each day is filled up with so much stuff and then the day passes and I have one less day to take care of things that I need to take care of before surgery. My dog needs a bath, my house needs to be cleaned, I still have to arrange care takers, I need to speak with my surgeons again (in particular about my release date from the hospital), I need to shop for food, I need to pay bills in advance so that I do not have to take care of that again until after I have recovered, I need to rest, I need to write thank you cards, I need to speak with someone at Hoag about my diet while I am in the hospital (I am on a pretty restricted diet – mostly self imposed – but encouraged by my primary care physician who is an MD who practices integrative medicine and to whom I give great credit for my pretty much normal blood counts – in spite of going through chemotherapy these past two and a half months), I need to pick up prescriptions, finish up paper work for hospital admission, get ready for not working for several weeks, if not a month or more (this means finishing up online course materials for my classes so that my assistant can enroll students in my absence and get them started on self study until I am back to work) and who knows what all else I need to do – this chemo brain is less and less reliable these days.

Oh, I know another thing I need to/want to do and that is to find something to work on, read or listen too that might help my brain function. Chemo brain is a real thing and can last for  some time. Studies have shown that exercises and learning new things (like studying a foreign language) can help rework those synapsis that are messed up with by the chemo.

I have trouble finding the correct words when I am speaking or writing. And, I have trouble spelling . . . something I really never had trouble with. It is very, very frustrating.

Every time I have trouble with speaking, coming up with the right word, it never fails that someone tells me that they know what I mean, that it happens to them all of the time. Well, I don’t think so. It is not the kind of thing where you just can’t remember the name of an actor or a movie or when you know something and it is “on the tip of your tongue”. Or, walking into a room and not remembering what you went into that room for.  We have all experienced those things. Chemo brain is different. It actually hurts my head when I am struggling to find a word or remember something that I was about to say. Words get jumbled, I can’t process more than one thing at a time. It is like an extreme overload on the brain. Examples, I say calendar instead of calculator (but, they are such similar words, right? Aaargh).

Fortunately my friends and family seem to speak chemo. Or, at least they are not letting on how much I don’t make sense some of the time. But, I know it is happening and I know that it will get better the further out I am from my last chemo. And, I know that as the stress of this disease lessens and I continue to improve and heal that my brain function will improve as well. Still, it is a very frustrating experience.

So, I think I need to get a hold of some foreign language CDs or MP3s. That might help. Maybe Italian would be good. I would love to go back to Italy. Of course Spanish would be far more practical.

Well, I am off soon for my stress test and then to meet my Mom at the support group and then home by the late afternoon to hopefully make some progress on my pre-surgery list.

Thank you to everyone who is saying prayers for me. A friend emailed me today to tell me that she was praying for me and that her sister had put me on a prayer chain at her church where over 800 people would be praying for my recovery. I so appreciate all of these prayers.

Say a prayer for my chemo brain too 🙂

Carmella, I am sorry I missed your call yesterday. I will try reaching you in the late afternoon today. Love to you and to everyone!

Surgery this Friday . . .

2 Aug

Today we are celebrating my Dad’s 80th birthday. We are keeping it a pretty small gathering because I need to limit the number of people I am around this close to surgery (because my immune system is suppressed by the recent chemo). So it is just family who are coming. I will get to see my niece and my two nephews and the rest of my family as well. I will put up some pictures here later. It is wierd not to be able to really do anything for this – I am not shopping for it, cooking for it or doing anything really. That is just strange. But, i don’t have the energy for it at all and I do need to conserve my energy. This just goes so against my grain.

Yesterday I cleaned a little bit and sorted laundry and well, that was all I could do. By 1:00 pm I was done and went to bed for the rest of the day and evening. Thankfully a very good friend came over and did my laundry for me. How about that? Pretty sweet of him I must say. There is no way I could have done it myself. It amazing how exhausted I get from just simply putting things away or loading a dishwasher. It is such an odd experience.

I did walk 1/2 a mile yesterday, so that is something. But, it wasn’t easy to do. And, it is so wierd to tire so easily now. I presume that some exercise is best. But, it is hard to tell at this point. I figure since I can walk 1/2 mile that I should. But, I don’t know at this point what is best. I get so tired now with everything I do.

I am not good at laying around and watching movies, or just laying around in general. Oh well. It is temporary.

I got a call today from one of my band members, letting me know they are thinking of me and praying for me and miss me. I look forward to playing with them again as soon as I have recovered from this surgery.

Hopefully my Dad and I will play some today – I think I should get my bass out one more time before surgery. We’ll see how I feel.

Here is our blues band – (pictured also in an earlier post: “The picture on the left is of all of us bald (thank you Paul for joining me in baldness :)) and the picture on the right is before chemo when I still had hair 🙂

Huge Blues BaldHUGE BLUES