Friday, March 22, 2013

That Was Easy

That implant exchange surgery was a breeze! Though I've been taking it easy this afternoon, I'm amazed by how unaffected I am right now. I can walk around, lift my arms, turn my body side to side, and even gently touch my chest on top of the bandages. I haven't taken a pain pill since over 4 hours ago, and even then, I took only one when the dosage said I could take two.

Here's my play-by-play of  today: I had a friend pick me up at 6am for my 6:30 arrival time. I went in by myself and took the stairs up to the fifth floor because I could. Almost immediately, I was taken to get myself changed into my gown-that-opens-in-the-back and souvenir non-slip hospital socks. Here's my waiting-for-the-anesthesiologist picture:
After meeting a number of nurses who verified over and over who I was and what I was there for (no accidental nose jobs or vasectomies), Dr. Baum came in and drew all over my chest, presumably to make sure I'll be symmetrical and pretty. I reminded him, "When in doubt, go smaller." By 7:30, I was wheeled into the operating room, transferred onto the table, and fell asleep within seconds of something being injected into my arm.

Unlike after the mastectomy, there was no puking when I woke up around 10:30. Pain was about a 5 on the happy face to agony scale, but I got my Vicodin pill right away. Paul had arrived, and for some reason, I felt compelled to tell him that Maggie's classmate Connor didn't want a party so he got to go to Wonderworks for his 5th birthday. (I think the train of thought came from Paul telling me that school drop-off had gone fine and I knew that there'd be a birthday treat today.) Then the nurse told me to go back to sleep.

I was much more lucid and only about a pain scale 3 when I awoke again a little after noon. The nurse helped me stand up slowly, and since I wasn't dizzy on the way to the bathroom, I deemed myself ready to go home. Unfortunately, Dr. Baum had forgotten that if I wear adhesive against my skin for too long, I get a rash, so the nurses had to call him to re-bandage me with an Ace wrap instead of tape. He took a while because he was in another surgery, but as soon as he was done, I was outta there.

We stopped for a Shamrock Shake at the drive-thru on the way home because I hadn't been allowed to eat anything before surgery and I needed a sugar boost. Then I went up for another nap while Paul went to get Maggie and Reese from their sitters. Woke up and took another pain pill, but I've been fine since. I was downstairs for a normal dinner (not even the soup I'd planned on having), and the evening has felt just like a day that never included a surgery.

If you're waiting for the picture of my boobs, here's all I've got:
There's a faint marker line right down the middle from Dr. Baum's artwork this morning. Also, you can still see the radiation burn on my right side, which may never go away completely. (Mirror picture, so you don't have to reverse sides).

On Tuesday, I go in for my follow-up and Dr. Baum will remove the bandages. Unfortunately, he had to do a C cup (I was hoping for B's) based on the size of the skin and tissue that was there, but that's totally not a complaint. Boobs are boobs, and as long as this doesn't get infected or something, I'm a happy camper.

Thanks for all of the support and positive thoughts today. I'll update again soon, but compared to all of the other stuff from the past year, this was a big piece of cake!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Shari's Hair - A History

The last time you saw my hair, it was just peeking out from my bald skull in those family photos we had done in October. It was blonde and seemed straight. Five months later, my brown curls have returned. Here is a picture of me right now, and please don't ask Paul how many pictures of myself I just took with his cell phone to get an appropriate angle.

It's curly, it's easy, I think it looks good, and it's not much of a change from before chemo, right? Although I could just keep it this way, I think I'm going to try growing my hair back to the length it was in 2011. I want to have made my own choices about my hair. After it's long again, if I want to cut it back off, it'll be because I liked the short hair, not because it was poisoned and fell out.

Yet I have fears - well-grounded fears - about what will happen to my hair next. Again, I'm going to let my pictures do the majority of the talking here, but in general, my curls will continue to grow OUT, rather than down, and my Jew-fro days are just around the corner.

Here we go with a history of my hair. Feel free to laugh at me. I did while scanning these photos, and if you don't almost spit out your milk (ahem, beer) at some of these pictures, you are taking this blog much too seriously. (Short description after each picture.)

 This is my original baby-fine hair. Short, straight and blonde, just as you saw a few months ago.

By six months old, my first little mullet-curls were growing.

 By two, I had a full head of curls, but still blonde.

 At almost-four, the color was darkening.

A little sun-bleached at age six. (I actually included this picture because of my socks and sneakers.)

My Jew-fro was beginning by age seven. But nobody noticed because they were too enamored with my bike.

Mom knew how to tame the friz and the height on fourth grade school picture day. Unfortunately, as you'll soon see, she didn't teach me the trick. Maybe I just stopped letting her spit in my hair. Also, note the dark brown color.

My almost-eleven year old hair is starting to get puffy. I think I was trying to grow it longer at this point. I guess Mom was too busy with the new baby to do my hair anymore.

Ah, twelve years old, braces, and some unmanageable curls.

A fourteen-year-old shot thrown in for its humor value. I truly believe that the popped collar is causing the mullet. I don't think I actually had one.

 Age fifteen. I entered high school with a full Jew-fro.

 Another one at fifteen, just to prove that this was a daily occurrence.

I even rocked my 'fro for an appearance in the local paper. (For those of you with good eyes, I still remember how disappointed I was that they cut out half of what I'd said and made me look ignorant.)

 By sixteen, I'd learned that a barrette on top can work wonders.

 The barrette was even used on more formal occasions.

I think around age seventeen, I discovered mousse. I used it to keep the hair down and could occasionally remove the barrette.

 Off to the college freshman dorm with my mousse and spiral curls.

The ponytail and bangs look was more common for me during freshman and sophomore year.

 This one shows how long I could let it grow, now that I'd discovered the barrette and the mousse tricks.

Oh, but then there were some fun nights with a hairbrush in the college dorm. After seeing my fifteen-year-old pictures, you'll believe me when I said that this did not involve a single spritz of hairspray. It's all me, baby!

Junior year, I cut it all off and went with the mushroom-head style. I then started this whole process over, growing it out through my late 20's and taming my curls with mousse through my 30's. Somehow, the curls kind of calmed down a bit after a decade of length and mousse, but now they're back.

One more college picture for good measure, though:
It's my original bald look, no adriamycin involved!

I can't figure out a closing paragraph for this post. I'll publish this now, sleep on it, and probably edit with a closing tomorrow. Nighty-night!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Silicon Boobs

I've been putting off scheduling my "new boobs" surgery because, frankly, I don't want to have another surgery. I currently have expanders, these hard, lumpy, not-at-all round bags sewn into my chest. They even have the potential to set off a metal detector, as there is a magnetic area on them. My plastic surgeon thinks the left one has leaked its saline, as it's much smaller than the right. Yeah, I noticed that, but given the description I just made, unmatched boobs just don't register on my radar.

I'll take a step back for those of you who may have started reading my blog late. Or for those of you who have not been obsessing over my life and may not remember stuff you read about me a year ago. Last March 16, when I had my double mastectomy, the surgeon cut out all of my natural (ahem, cancer-invaded) breast tissue from both sides. Instead of sewing up a flat chest, the government requires insurance companies to pay for me to get fake replacement boobs. So a plastic surgeon stepped in and put in these slightly saline-filled things called expanders, then sewed me up. In theory, I was to go back to the plastic surgeon every few weeks, he'd take a needle and put some more saline into the expanders, and like a balloon, my boobs would grow to the size they used to be despite not having any original tissue/fat inside. However, I opted not to have any expansions, and was fine with the 360cc's of saline that were in the expanders the day they were put in.

Once the typical woman's chest is the size she wants, she schedules a surgery called an exchange or swap. The plastic surgeon cuts along the same line as before, takes out the expander, and puts in nice round, soft, silicon implants. However, I was busy with chemo within a few weeks after my mastectomy. After that, I wanted to kill more cancer with some radiation for the next few months. Then I just procrastinated calling the plastic surgeon, waiting for the desire to get my new boobs.

It never happened. Yeah, I dislike the expanders, but not as much as I hated recovering from surgery.

But being the good, direction-following person that I am, I gave Dr. Baum a call and met with him a couple weeks ago. The surgery is scheduled for Friday, March 22. It's an out-patient surgery, which means that I'll show up that morning, get put to sleep, cut open, sewn up, and sent home around lunchtime. They say I'll be up and about by the next day, although weak. And that I shouldn't exercise for, GASP!, six weeks afterwards. (All my hard work?!?!)

On the bright side, here's an incomplete list of what this surgery will not be as bad as:
- Mastectomy drains
- A/C Chemo
- Neulasta bone pain
- Taxol neuropathy 
- Radiation burns
Since I'm done with all of that and I now have March 22 on my calendar, I'm now counting down the days to getting it over with.

Oh, "How can I help?" you're asking? Liz and Liz have added a few dates to the Meal Train. Also, I'm not sure when I'll get the green light to drive after my surgery, so I may need some carpool help for Bright Beginnings.

After that, I'll just be looking for someone to go shopping with me to help me pick out some shirts that accentuate my new silicon friends.