Update 43

September 18 – I took off the bandages on my tummy and it doesn’t look too bad. A good bit of dried blood so can’t really see the cuts. I shall attempt to describe this delicately! I have a bit of a tummy roll and Dr. J. took the skin for the skin graft from the bottom of the roll and the stitches are in the “crease” formed by my little (?) tummy roll. It looks like he stitched the areas together, as I don’t see any open areas where skin was taken. Sore but not really too bad. Will get in the Jacuzzi later on today and use the low jets to circulate the water and soothe the area. Have to be careful not to get the Twins wet, though, their “hats” might come off! I am tired but just tired from anesthesia and expect that to be gone by next week.

I did dye my hair again before I went to Dallas to visit Jaime and Co. and it is RED! I love it! After I see the oncologist on Tuesday, (I want him to see how much hair I have now and that it is losing the curl – he said no one has really ever informed him of hair progress so you know I decided I would have to be the one to do it!) I think I will call for a hair shaping appointment. I have been trimming it myself but need to have a professional neaten it up and give it pizzazz!

Dallas trip was great, got to experience my grandkids lives for a week. Jaime and I shopped so much I needed another suitcase to get it all home! Dallas is a great city but I told her never to complain to me ever again about Orlando’s traffic!

Diabetes – I found that I cannot do the forearm testing like I wanted. I tried it three times and twice got dreadful bruising – I looked a bit like a drug addict – just the look I want! Then went to my palm and that was not bad at all except I tested there and then decided to see how much different it was from a finger test and it was 40 points higher in my palm! I got a machine – AccuChek Compact – that came with both testing tips for the lancet device (looks like an ink pen) so am now using only my fingers on my right hand. I will ask the oncologist if I can use my left hand for testing since I am only having to use the lowest setting for the needle prick so it doesn’t go in very far at all to get a drop of blood and I am very careful about cleanliness as I am testing. I was having trouble at first getting enough blood to test even at a higher setting until the nurse last Sunday showed me how to poke my finger, hold it down for about 30 seconds and then grasp all around the tip of my finger with my other hand which forces the drop of blood out since it has nowhere else to go but out the little hole I just poked! Made it much easier. I only have to test in the morning before I eat and two hours after I eat dinner. It is amazing how much blood sugar can vary depending on what and how much you eat! I had a crying moment last Sunday when she told us that we had to go to the fire department and get a special container to hold the used test strips and lancets because they are considered biohazard materials and it is against the law here to throw them in ordinary garbage even if you have secured the container they are in. And, that if we did not do that and someone got poked from our thrown away supplies we could be sued and would probably lose everything we own! Well! I think Harold or Jen are going to go and get it for me as I really don’t want to do that. It looks like a big red lunch box with a white lid and when it gets full you seal it up and take it back to them and they give you a new one. Cripes! I have lots of little books to record my test results in and have to take it to the doctor with me so he can see how I am doing. Geez Louise!

I told Jaime while I was in Texas that I was becoming Tragic Teresa! I really don’t want Tragic Teresa to visit me for too long a period; she could easily get on my nerves!

Dr. R (back doctor) has told me to not do the back exercises and to walk instead. My spine curves to the left and he feels that the exercises are causing the bones to rub and are aggravating my problem. I did stop them and it has been better. Just passing along the info.

Harold broke a tooth at Wings! We have decided that we need to find somewhere else to eat on Friday’s or just not have wings there. Harold told the dentist what had happened and Harry (dentist) said he used to eat there but had to stop because they were just too hard! Probably for the best as that type of food is not good for me, Harold or Jen. Seems like an era is passing by to not go there on Fridays.

Just realized I have not told you that for this surgery the only pain medications I have needed were Tylenol PM the first night and then Tylenol for arthritis after that for Thursday and part of Friday and now nothing at all. So lovely not to have to take the stronger drugs which make me so lethargic. The weather is gorgeous here today and I would love to be out in my garden. I feel like I could do it, too, if I wasn’t supposed to be taking it easy after surgery. So far, this has been the easiest thing I have had to do concerning the whole breast cancer ordeal!

September 22 – I feel great! Surgery was just a week ago and I cannot believe how good I feel! I’m beginning to feel happy again and it has been a while since I could say that. I don’t actually know why at this point, I just know happiness is back. I’m sure it is a combination of therapy, surgeries being over, good reports from all doctors on the cancer and no travel stress for a while.

I saw Dr. M. my oncologist yesterday and he said I am doing just great! All the tests are not back but he didn’t expect any problems there. When I told him I now had diabetes he said “Unfortunately, that can happen,” so I was correct in my thinking. So………Soapbox Sue is here to tell you that if you are predisposed to diabetes – family history, overweight, sedentary lifestyle, high fat high carb eating habits - know that if cancer should rear its ugly head, diabetes could be an unexpected complication afterwards. He checked my blood levels before and during chemo and they were slightly elevated but that is what it had been for years. Like I said, they blood glucose levels did not begin to rise rapidly until after I stopped chemo and my body began the rebuilding process. Down off the soapbox for now!

I gave him the hair report and he waved his arm and said “People would pay big bucks for hair like that – you look like you are going off to Hollywood!” That may have been a slight exaggeration on his part but it sounded nice to me. I also thanked him again for all his great care and for gently “forcing” me to start seeing someone to talk out my problems.

I am over the anger and fear that I had when I was diagnosed with diabetes and really feel I will probably end up healthier than I have been in a very long time! The eating plan is very normal; let me give you a typical day’s menu so you can see for yourself.

Breakfast – 2 Starches, 1 Milk, 1 Fruit, 1 Meat/Protein – that equates to a bowl of cereal, usually about ½ cup or one cup depending on the carb count of the cereal, fruit cut up in the cereal, 1/8 cup of pecans or walnuts added to my cereal, 1 cup of milk. Or it could be less cereal, no nuts but all the rest and a piece of toast with peanut butter.

Snack around 10 o’clock – 1 Starch and ½ Protein – equates to 6 Kashi 7 grain crackers and ½ ounce of sliced sharp cheddar cheese on them. I use the Cracker Barrel cuts since they have them divided up nicely so I know that is one and ½ pieces of cheese, broken in half will cover each cracker.

Lunch – 2 Starch, 1 Fruit, 1 Vegetable 2 Meat/Protein, 1 fat – equates to a sandwich with 2 ounces of meat, veggies and some type of condiment that contains fat and a piece of fruit

Snack around 3 p.m. – 1 Fruit and ½ Protein equates to – Fruit and a handful of nuts

Dinner – 2 Starch, 3 Vegetables, 3 Meat/Protein, 1 Fat – small potato and small roll, lots of veggies, 3 ounces of meat, and butter for my potato and roll (T tablespoon between the two!)

This is just a sampling but you can see it is just ordinary food.

If I want dessert after dinner, I take away the potatoes or the roll. Very doable so far. This works out to 1500 calories a day with around half coming from carbs. Should be about a pound a week weight loss. I should end up weighing about 145, which may sound high to some of you but will be just about perfect for me at my age and body build. The dietician told me I should look like a million bucks at that weight! This meal plan would sustain that weight and you can see I am certainly not starving! There is nothing I cannot have, I just have to be aware of how much of it I can have and it has to fit in with the amount of starches, fats, meat/proteins I am allowed daily. No skipping meals and I need to eat something every 4-5 hours. I aim for 9 cups of fluids a day- the milk on the cereal counts as does coffee, Diet Coke, etc.

I am well on my way to having this be a book chapter instead of an update so more on the meal plan next time.

Went on Monday for my first pre-op visit and really didn’t get to see much of anything. Dr. J builds up a wad of gauze and cotton to form a ring around the nipple and to press against the skin grafted areolas and then stitches the whole business to my surrounding skin with dark blue thread! Harold went along with me and he got to see down into the gauze and he said it did indeed, look like a nipple but of course, I am not a contortionist so I didn’t get to see and then Dr. J. pasted more dressings over them so I still didn’t get to see! He assures me they are doing just fine. Are you ready for t his! He said on Monday that he only wanted to “smell” me today and that he would start taken the stitches out on Wednesday. I said, “Excuse me?????????” He said, Yes, really, I need to smell the area and I can tell if all is well,” and he did do it! Tummy looked good to him but to me it looked awful – looks like someone repeatedly beat me there! Those stitches will stay for longer because of where they are located. I have been walking for ½ hour for the past few days and have been fine. I can shower from the waist down only so hair washing and upper body washing and bottom half showering becomes quite an ordeal! Cannot get the twins and their hats wet! He said I could do any activity except one that would drag my arms across my boobs and not to sweat so gardening is still out for now.

About my garden, it took such a hit with the hurricanes and Harold has decided to go ahead and build me a studio and him a workshop out there instead of redoing the garden. A great plan as far as I am concerned! I have not been able to get out there since the beginning of July due to company, my back, travel and surgery so in addition to storm damage it is just neglected. I will have brick paved courtyards instead of so much land mass and I can now concentrate my efforts on the front lawn area, which is much smaller. I want to more with my art and I must be aware of my back and I will love a really, truly studio of my own! He hired an architect and everything! I am impressed! What a guy!

September 23 – I saw the girls’ hats! Prepare yourself for a very graphic mental picture! The nipple looks like a tiny round gathered pillow (edges are very round instead of being straight) and they are purple and hairy! Very attractive! The areola looks a bit yellowish and the outer edges curve up just a bit. I saw them in a lying position yesterday when I went back to Dr, J. to begin having the stitches out. He just took out the stitches that were holding the dressing in place, I go next week and get the other skin graft stitches out. Are you just dying to find out whey the nipples were purple and hairy???????????? Did I tell you we had a “discussion” as to where to place the nipples the morning of surgery? We compromised, so there were a lot of marks and he made notes – “Not Here” – “Yes” – so there was a lot of ink used! So, he tells me with a snide look on his face that the purple is all the extra ink and that the areolas are still drawn up tightly to be sure the skin graft takes and will smooth out eventually. I have very definite “frog eyes” now but they will flatten some over time also. I finally get to shower today, have to take off the bandages, they stay for another week, and replace them before I get dressed. Shortly I will see them from a standing position! Oh, I almost forgot the “hairy” part – it is from the cotton balls and will start coming off as I shower. I told him, “Just wait until I write about this!” and he laughed and said that no one would ever want to have it done after my description! Joking aside, I am thrilled to have them even if they are purple and hairy! Tummy is still a bit sore but it certainly doesn’t feel like I still have stitches there. I must be truthful here – it is a hard area to keep completely dry as it is in my “tummy fold” and he was trying to be discreet and he said the irritation was due to where the stitches were located and I laughed and said “Because my skin actually touches itself there?” and he said, “Well………” and then he had to laugh, too. You cannot call that area my bikini line because the whole bikini would disappear in there!!!!!!!!! I did tell him that when I get all my weight lost I may need to have a bit of revision there as it doesn’t look so hot now, I can imagine how it will look after losing 50 lbs! Remember I told you I was vain! After we finished the doctor/patient stuff, we talked more about the gallery. He has gone to look at buildings so this may become a reality in the next year! It would be a co-op type gallery and he said when I am through with all this stuff we will get together to discuss how to go about it. I used to belong to a co-op gallery years ago so have some idea of what is needed. He wants to get a building that he can rent out part of it so that would pay the rent on the whole building and we wouldn’t have to be so worried about meeting monthly expenses. Between his artist friends and mine, I am hoping we can pull together a really great gallery. I am very excited about the prospects of having somewhere to show my art and so is he. He has come a long way since last year when he didn’t even show his office staff photos of his work!

Wow – a new studio for me and the possibility of a gallery presence! Heady stuff!

Photo of the Week – Here is the long awaited photo of me and Chloe at the airport on July 3. All those curls are about gone and my hair is twice as long as that now. Isn’t she a sweetie????????? We had such fun! I will take another photo before I go to get a haircut and then after with my first haircut in over a year!

Whew, you don’t get updates for months then I send them all at once! I am back on track now!

Take care,

Margot a.k.a. Perky Polly, keeper of the now completed Perky Twins, Tragic Teresa (I think she has left the building!) and Soapbox Sue.

After reading through the updates,
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