January 24 - Could not get comfortable last night, the Twins were sore and kept me awake like newborns tend to do. I also seem to have developed a reaction to tape! I actually had some blisters this morning! It itched something fierce around the port removal incision and when I peeled back the ends of the tape, there they were! The paper tape also raised welts as did band aids but only on the top of my chest and boobs???????
Was out and about this morning and early afternoon then needed to come home and take it easy. I really do feel great aside from the soreness, but must remind myself I am still recovering from the chemo, too.
Hair report - actually wig report. I have been using a gel band and soft knit cap under my wigs to protect my scalp and help keep the wig in place. Well, for the last few days, the gel band has been sliding around and today it dawned on me why. I have "too much" hair and the gel band has no bare skin areas to adhere to!!!!!!!!!! The cap is useless, too, as it also slides around. Tried the wig by itself but it itched too much. I then remembered something I learned from the gal at the "Look Good Feel Better" program put on by the American Cancer Society. When you have hair and want to wear a wig, instead of buying a special cap that holds your hair back use a cut-off sleeve from a T-shirt! So I whacked off a sleeve from a dark green shirt (was wearing the red wig so had complementary colors going on there!) pulled it down over my head and face, down to my neck, large opening first, then pushed it back up on top of my head back from my hairline. On went Sassy Simone and off we went. We went out to lunch to day and yet another stranger asked me if I did my own hair and told me how great it looked. I did confess it was a wig and told her I was a breast cancer survivor and of course, she had a cancer story, too ..her father. I say "of course" because this disease touches so many people and it never fails that when someone finds out about mine they know of someone who had it, too. On a lighter note it just reinforced that I must continue to be a redhead when my hair grows in and to get a Sassy Simone haircut for my own "real" hair! I actually have enough hair that it is beginning to lay over! Still looks like my head is dirty, though, not very attractive! Another observation - if you or someone you love is in this situation and you want to buy a wig, get a good one, synthetic not real hair. They are much easier to care for - after every 6 to 8 wearings, swish it around in shampoo to clean it, swish it around in conditioner, press the excess water out in a towel, shake and dry! You can get a really good one for around 130.00 and get a messy style because they look much more natural than the straighter styles. Stay away from "parts" too, because they are "too high up" on your head. It is too obvious that it couldn't be natural unless you had ridges in your scalp! Learned this from the stylist at the Look Good, Feel Better" program and it has certainly been reinforced with my own experiences. I saw plenty of people in wigs at my own chemo treatments and the straighter ones always looked like wigs. If you want to go straight then you need a really good, real hair wig (lots of $$$$$ here!) and then it is more effort to care for it. One more thing to have to worry about. Insurance will usually pay for one wig, as it is a "cranial prosthesis." Remember when I first found that out! That was a good laugh!
Do you realize that some of my personas have left me! Weepy Wanda hasn't been here for a while, nor has Ranting Rita! I am happy to be replacing them with Greta Gardener, Holly Homemaker and Artist Anne (Anne is actually my middle name). I like these personas much better anyway! They are a lot more pleasant to keep company with!
I did get my new bedside tables and "negotiated" the price with the salesman so I am back in top form!!!!!!!! My wits seem to be getting sharper. Good! That side effect was a bit worrisome even though I knew it would happen - chemo brain is a real thing -and also knew that it was only supposed to be temporary.
A couple of reminders - if you want to send someone to the BC Journals website so they can read the updates, the address is http://margotclark.com/BC/ and remember that if you or someone you know have any questions I will be happy to answer them. Please remember, too, that early detection is the key to survival and the best quality of life as a survivor so get those mammograms or other cancer screenings on time! Prod your loved ones and friends to do them, too! Hmmmmm seems like Soapbox Sara is still here, doesn't it!
January 25 - I gardened today! Yes! Out there for about an hour and a half. Dr. J did say "light gardening" so I came and rested for about an hour or so before continuing on with my glorious day of doing normal things!
Most of the bruising is gone from the sides of my new boobs but the areas are still very sore to the touch and that dratted port incision is sore, too. Didn't stop me from gardening though, did it!
January 26 - Up at three a.m.! No reason, just awake. Hmmmmmmm ..you would have thought after gardening I would be tired.
Flavia quote: "Time may be fleeting, but the warmth of human experience endures."
Got an email from a friend and she had sent along one of those jokes that go around about mammograms squashing your poor boobs and how awful it all feels. She said she put off getting her first mammogram because of talk like that because it did cause her to fear the mammogram. She also said it was not funny at all since she knew I was going through all this and she also knows that I feel the mammogram that I had saved my life! I am here to tell you that a mammogram is nothing compared to a mastectomy! I, for one, will not ever laugh at any jokes like that in the future and if I hear someone telling one I will just have to speak up! Breast cancer is not funny at all and early detection in the form of a mammogram is essential for survival. So please, don't pass on those jokes in case someone dies from not getting a mammogram out of fear. I know, I know, Soapbox Sara is in rare form today!
Since I am on a roll here, I want to talk about courage. I have gotten numerous correspondences about my courage in this journey I am on. Thanks, but all I have done is take the next step on the journey's road. It seems you can't get off the road once you begin the journey so you just plod along until you get far enough down the road for things to begin to look better. I know of a woman who has a lot more courage than me. I am going to call her M. She is a friend of a reader of the BC Journals. She is only 41, had to have the lymph nodes under her arm removed (no mastectomy), has to go two days in a row to chemo, alone, drives herself, and when chemo is done she faces radiation treatments. I cried for her when I read it and am crying again typing it. That is courage. I cannot imagine having to do all I have done alone. Needless to say, M is at the very tip-top of my prayer list. Please add her to yours; your God will know whom you are talking about! I correspond with a great many people now who are on their own journeys and pray for them, too, but M is the only one I know having to do it all alone.
January 27 - Uneventful day, went for a walk, worked for a while and needed a nap. Stamina is still not up to par yet. Not surprised really.
Flavia quote and this is a very poignant one for me - "Life is a miracle wrapped in beauty and sweet surprise." Well, some of the surprises aren't so sweet but then others are so unexpectedly wonderful they help make up for the not so nice ones! I do feel life is a miracle and beautiful!
Most of the bruising is gone from the liposuction areas, still sore but able to sleep on my sides after letting everything "settle in" for a minute or two. Most of the steri-strips are still in place (I think he glued them on!) but I can see through them and the scars are minimal. Long but thin. The port scar looks great! Very thin line. I do have three very red areas where that tape made those blisters, though. How odd it didn't do it anywhere else! I will have to ask about that.
I have decided my "hair" right now looks a lot more like an animal pelt than it does human hair! I can compare it to my cat's face where the "hairs" change direction so many times. My "hair" is very soft as is the cats (she is part Maine Coon, part Tabby and part Ossi so has both stripes and spots, is very soft and doesn't shed!!!!!!) and my hair feels a lot like her face and head! Doesn't feel at all like my hair so maybe this is all the "fuzz" Dr. M said I would have by February. He also said I wouldn't like it and he is right! Would look fine on a man! A new problem has arisen now. Where my sideburns are/will be, is very dark and my red Sassy Simone wig has the shortest hair and you can just see a dark shadow where the two meet! I may have to shave that area off until my hair grows long enough to do without the wigs. That certainly doesn't look natural!
January 28 - Had to pluck my eyebrows again! My, oh my! Just a few under the arch but hey, I have something to pluck! Eyelashes seem to be getting fuller, too.
Removed all the steri-strips today and the Twins look pretty good! I just realized my skin is not sensitive like it was after the mastectomies. Hurray! Dr. J said it was a possibility so I am very glad it didn't happen. I was prepared this time with my Body Glide, though! Am still using the Body Glide under my arms where the liposuction was because that area is still very tender. Under my boobs, too, since I don't wear a bra anymore! Good stuff! Have full range of movement with my arms, no problem stretching at all. Will drive again tomorrow for the first time since the surgery and all will be fine. It is a straight shot to the GYN doctor's office and then to run a couple of errands.
Have to brag on my hubby. You know we bought new nightstands for our bedroom that match our furniture and brought them home today. I had checked the dimensions with the salesperson at the store when we bought them to be sure they would fit and he gave me dimensions that were just fine. I knew what I wanted when I went in to the store and they didn't have a floor sample for me to measure in case you are wondering. Brought them home and we need another inch of wall!!!!!!!!!!!! Rearranging the furniture is not an option, all of it is large and looks great just where it is soooooooooo now what! I want to keep both of them so we have a matching set so here is our solution. Mind you, Harold can do anything! We are going to renovate our bathroom that is in our bedroom when we finish the guest bath and he is just going to add 2" to the wall where the nightstands are when he does the renovation. No problem! What a guy!
Harold and I spoke today about how all of this could very well have turned out to be dreadful for us. I had cancer, he had no job and we were both scared. This was probably the worst crisis we have ever faced as a married couple. He said his hardest time in all this was when they wheeled me in to have the mastectomy surgeries. Even though I had all those tests and they didn't see cancer anywhere else - what if they found something else when they got in there, or it was worse than they thought or what if I died from the surgery? As it ends up, I have a great appreciation for life, family and friends, a very positive prognosis on my future health (and perky boobs!) and he has a great job. I don't know if I have mentioned this before but we have carried AFLAC Supplemental Cancer Insurance for years and even when he was out of work we paid the premiums on the policy. Was that a stroke of luck or what! I have no affiliation with them other than being a very satisfied policyholder, but that was a saving grace since I had to cancel all my work for seven months and Harold was out of work! Needless to say, we will keep that policy in force forever!!!!!!!!!
January 29 - Going to the GYN doctor today for my yearly check-up. Not my favorite thing to do under normal circumstances but today will be especially odd since I have no nipples on my boobs and they still have long blue threads hanging out of the scars (I go tomorrow to have the stitches removed) and the "nether regions" have just barely begun to "fill in." That's quite the mental picture isn't it! I do look a bit odd, even to me; so will warn her before she begins the exam.
Back from the doctor's and it went quite well! Both her and the nurse were quite interested in seeing the twins, even with all the blue threads hanging off! They were impressed and asked who was my plastic surgeon. They were both very interested, too, in the BC Journals and said they knew women who would benefit. Only downer was that I have a cold/virus with an infection so am back on antibiotics for a few more days! Told her I didn't think that was fair, that for at least six months I should be guaranteed not to be sick with anything! She just laughed.
Flavia quote: "Take a deep breath. Laugh out loud. Reach out and hold the hand of life." I plan on doing that very thing!
My friend, Nancy, came by today and brought presents for the twins! She brought me two azalea bushes for my garden, one for each of the "girls."
January 30 - Stitches are out and I have no restrictions except for using common sense when lifting! I am still very sore under my arms and he said I probably would be for a while yet. Have to "pull up on the skin, push down on the implants" for yet another week, just to be sure they stay where they are supposed to. You can be sure I will follow his advice because I do not want them "drifting off" anywhere!
Still feel really good, will be glad though, when I finally wake up one morning and feel energized! Am content right now with just being alive to wake up in the morning!
Flavia quote: "The heart of humanity is found in the little known kindness' of others." I equate this with your sharing of the journals to others so they can pass them along, too.
Preparing to leave in three weeks for Vegas for my first painting convention since last June! I feel I will be just fine but realize I will still have to take it easy and rest as much as I can. I will be there for five days before Harold and Jen come and will be by myself in the room so I should be able to rest. I don't gamble; I go there to make money not lose it so won't be out late unless I am teaching! I will see the general surgeon, my oncologist and Dr. J, each once more, before I go, so will be thoroughly checked out! Am going to wear a compression sleeve on my left arm when I fly just to be sure I don't aggravate anything and give myself a case of lymphedema! No thanks, that is some nasty stuff!
I will probably now begin to slack off some on the journals, not write every day, only the days when there is actually something to write about or the "Hair Report." I must say, I am really looking forward to having my hair back! Then I will feel all well again. The "animal pelt" hair still is a great big reminder every time I look in the mirror. Harold was "stroking" my head last night and I asked him if he thought it felt like animal fur and he did say no, but he was "petting " my head like he would the cat as he said it!
Family photo this week is of D.O.G with Jennifer in the background. D.O.G is thirteen years old now and is getting a little deaf and a bit arthritic but other than that, she is going strong. She is a mix of long-haired Welsh Corgi, Chow and either German Shepherd or Beagle to account for the "saddle" markings. She and the cat, C.A.T. (what else would we name her!) get along fine, mostly because the dog ignores the cat. The cat does love to swat at that plumed tail of D.O.G.'s though! They have been such a comfort to me during all this. Animals seem to know instinctively when you are ill and they would just be in the room with me, lying quietly and keeping a watch over me.
See you next week!
Margot, otherwise known as Perky Polly, keeper of the Perky Twins, Polly
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