Update 23

January 10 - Starting off with some Newsy news, not cancer related - how fun! Jennifer just wrote and told me that the movie "Big Fish" was filmed at her college - Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama! Seems the production company took up residence there from August 2002 to May of 2003. So, if you see the movie you will see where Jennifer went to college!

Countdown to new boobs! Five days! Not too nervous yet but I am sure that will come!

Hair is about ¼" long all over except the very top of my head! Have a darker band going across my forehead where my normal hairline is for about an inch then just patchy areas! Certainly hope that fills in! Mostly soft feeling except for the back of the crown which still feel like whiskers! Looks like I will have to start to shave my underarms again soon, definitely before surgery! Nothing significant anywhere else though. Be glad to see more eyelashes and eyebrows!

Feeling pretty darn good, all things considering - that should be a comfort to those of you with loved ones going through this or if you are dealing with this yourself. You do actually recover from the dreaded chemo! And, this is what, about six weeks after my last treatment? Now, if I had more treatments and radiation I would not be quite so chipper so soon, I am sure. But with the four chemo treatments I am feeling quite well now! I am really pleased about that because I need to be really well for the surgery on Friday. If I were still weak they would not do it yet. I want to get on with things! Bought Pirates of the Caribbean to watch while I am recovering. Still have Lord of the Rings II to see, also. Got to get a few more books to read and I will be set. I am sure I will have to take it easy for the first week especially. I will find out more on Monday when I go for my third to the last fill!

Still having a bit of trouble with my memory but that seems to be getting better so soon it will just be "old age" when I can't remember something!

January 11 - Speaking of memory or more specifically, leftover chemo brain, today I had to ask Jen what color did red and blue make? Cripes! I am an artist by profession and that is basic knowledge for the general population! I just couldn't bring it up! I'm sure I would have - eventually - but it was a bit disconcerting. I tested myself later, on lots of color combinations and was okay so the info is still there!!!!!!!!!

Say good-bye to another persona - Bald-headed Beatrice! She really can't stay any longer since I can see hair. I can actually see my hairline as a distinct darker area. Bald-headed Beatrice has been replaced by Bristly Brianna! The duck down was there for only about two days and was then replaced by real hairs! Fuller in the back and over my ears, still very patchy on top. Lisa was here tonight and told me that hers grew back in like that so not to worry. Good news! Be glad to have my hair back because my little head is cold!

How's this for energy - painted the bathroom ceiling, four doors in the hallway, designed and began painting a new doorguard for Harold's NASCAR room, cooked dinner and went to church! Not bad for someone who is just six weeks out of chemo! I did pace myself but I really think that if I weren't having surgery on Friday I would be zipping on towards feeling fine all the time! I need my new boobs, though. If you remember back to when I was first diagnosed and found I needed a mastectomy, my feelings were that if I had to go through all that crappy stuff my "reward" was perky boobs for life with no bra! I chose to have immediate reconstruction because I didn't want to wake up from surgery with nothing there plus I am a big chicken and knew I would dread having to heal from one surgery and then have to have another for the expanders, then for the implants, then for the nipple reconstruction. Saved myself a surgery and figured I was going to be sore anyway after a double mastectomy so what was a little more pain added on then. I understand that if I had not had the immediate reconstruction the pain would not have been as intense (felt like a big truck had run across my chest!) but I knew for positive sure that I wanted reconstruction and I was in pretty good health otherwise so could withstand the extra healing involved. I admit that it was a lot to deal with along with the chemo but I am very glad to have all that behind me instead of looming in the future. This is a very personal decision, though, and one size does not fit all in this case. Many women opt not to have reconstruction or to begin it after completely healing from their mastectomy surgery. None of those decisions is wrong unless it feels wrong to the woman and then there is a problem. So………..be sure that what is happening to you or someone you love is what YOU or THEY want and not what someone else thinks you or they should do, based on sound medical facts, of course. I am on a soapbox kick lately, aren't I! New persona - Soapbox Sara………….

Little tiny hairs in my eyebrows so maybe soon I won't have to fill them in with an eyebrow pencil, eyelashes are still wacky, sparse and stiff still, what few I have! Other than the hair issues and impending surgery I feel great!

January 12 - Three days till the twins arrive! Have I told you that they still won't be exactly in their proper place then? Right now my "boobs' are up very high. Place your elbows straight down at your sides, place your finger tips in the middle of your chest and let your hands fall back - that is where my boobs are now, the most rounded part is very close to the middle of my chest with all the extra stuff out to the sides (and under my arms of course!). The expanders are round and the implants will be teardrop shaped, a much more natural shape. It will take them some time to shift around in there after being inserted, to where they will eventually stay which is why I have to wait about three months for the nipple reconstruction. Wouldn't do to have them in the wrong place!

Flavia quote for today, "Through the eyes of compassion we are all one in spirit and connected by this gift we call life." Seems fitting for my journals and all of you.

Hair report - Had to shave the three hairs under my arms before going to the doctor today!

Off to Dr. J's today for my third to the last fill and for the photo request for his artwork for the magazine. That will be fun! The magazine part, not the getting stuck with a needle part! I have a whole list of questions for him, too, about down time, restrictions, etc. Hopefully, he concurs with my "week" of down time as I have "things to do!" I also have on my list to ask him if anyone else has ever shown up with red-sequined, tasseled, pasties! At least anyone my age!

Back from the doctor. Okay, the answer to the tassel question is "No!" Closest anyone else has come is smiley face stickers! Not even close to my tassels! He says I will be very sore, mostly under my arms due to the liposuction, and uncomfortable from the implants because he will have to loosen the expanders from the build up of scar tissue that has formed around them before he can insert the implants. The "scoring" and extra skin removal will be uncomfortable, too, but they are in areas that I don't have much feeling (on the outside anyway!). The incisions for the implant surgery will be in the existing mastectomy scars so should not be too bad since there is not much feeling there either. He will cut into the same scar from the chemo port surgery, remove the port and cut away the scar from the chemo port surgery, and pull the skin back together to form a smaller, less noticeable scar. That will probably be very sore, too, as I do have a lot of feeling there! I will have a tight bandage across the top of my chest to force the implants down. He will leave the scar tissue that has built up around the expanders at the top of my "new breast mounds" so I have something besides skin next to muscle for a more natural look. The implants are tear drop shaped (as opposed to the very round expanders) so he will have to cut into the scar tissue along the bottom of the breast mounds to nip, tuck and reshape. I was not happy to hear that I may have to have those dreadful drains (remember Jennifer called them my grenades"!) back in for a while! He will have to see how much fluid there is to deal with so I won't know until I wake up if they are there! Crap! Crap! Crap! I hated those things! Oh please, oh please, oh please, let them not be there when I wake up! I also found out that the nipple reconstruction requires another Outpatient surgery! Where did I get the idea it was an in office procedure?????? Probably Outpatient because there will be skin grafts involved. Guess that part should have tipped me off! Haven't really thought about that part for a long while. Oh well, that is three months down the road, I will worry about that later!

On a more pleasant note, he was very pleased about the magazine wanting to see photos of his work! He will do an article if they decide they like his work! How fun! That would be a hoot to see my doctor have an article in the same magazine that I write for! I left the emails with him where I discussed his artwork with the editor of Glass Patterns Quarterly so he could read them later and know it was for real! Always nice to savor good news when you can relax over a cup of coffee and let it all sink in. It is not a done deal, but it is always nice to know someone is interested in your artwork! I'll keep bugging him so he doesn't let the opportunity pass by!

Harold is installing a new light fixture along with a medallion with raised roses that I tinted and then antiqued, in our guest bathroom. We are trying to get it finished finally, now that things have settled down a bit. He will then have to install the shower tile before I can hang the wallpaper so I should be feeling okay by that time. I have had that wallpaper for seven months! Nice to be doing "house stuff" again. I love to do home decorating!

A bit worn out today and bummed about the drains possibility so off to bed!

January 13 - Very tired today, just dragged around. I think I am getting a wee bit depressed at knowing I have to have surgery - again! - and have to recover from it - again! I know I am moving forward but wish it didn't have to hurt!

Flavia words for today - "Seize every day as an adventure and your spirit will discover the wonderful surprises life has to offer." I really like that one and even though my spirits are down a bit right now, I do heartily believe those words!

January 14 - Ole' Leaky Louise needed more juice today! Be glad when that part is done - only one more time tomorrow and never again! Told Dr. J that I was nervous, excited and depressed all at the same time about Friday's surgery and he said, "Good, it makes me very nervous when someone is not concerned about having surgery." So, at least I am normal, although I was not especially comforted by those words! We talked glass stuff again for a bit, that actually is comforting since it is a very normal conversation for me to have with someone who is interested in glass art. Running around now like a crazy person trying to be sure everything is ready for me being down again for a week.

Hair report - even from a distance my head looks dark! I can almost pinch some hairs between my fingers at the very back of my head. I told Dr. J today not to let anyone take my blue surgery cap off unless I have my wig back while I am "out of it" with the anesthesia. Am I vain or what! Don't care - I don't want to be laying around with my bald head showing. Like anyone there would care! But………I care.

Got results of my latest blood work back and I am not anemic anymore and everything was within normal ranges except those *%#@(^* triglycerides! I must work on that! Cannot beat breast cancer to have that get me! Was pleased to hear that all was well, though. I don't see the oncologist again until February and am expecting to hear that I am doing fine. Must begin to diet now in earnest, cannot have the Perky Twins outshadowed by my fat roll!

January 15 - Flavia quote - "The sharing of feelings connects us and makes us realize how much we all need each other in this world." Oh, my! Doesn't this just perfectly describe all of us who are sharing info about breast cancer with each other in hopes of saving lives? You bet it does! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

A friend wrote and asked the following questions and I thought they might be of interest to some of you, too. She asked, "Will you be able to choose from several sizes (implants) or is it a one size fits all? Also, when you are 80 years old, will they sag down like mine?" My answers: He measured me while I still had my "old ones" with calipers and other fancy equipment so he could order the right size "range." I had told him I wanted to be smaller and much perkier that I was at that point! He said perkier would not be a problem! I am actually the same size as I was (38C) they just point out instead of down! They are the perfect size for my body (remember I am "pleasingly plump!) so I look the same, only clothes will fit better because my boobs will be up higher than before and I won't have a bra!!!!!!! He kept adding saline solution on each fill until I was the size I wanted to be. I couldn't go any higher that 600cc in each with the expanders I have in now. If I had wanted Dolly Parton boobs I would have had to tell him that when he ordered the expanders before surgery. And yes, when I am 100 they will still point out!!!!!!!! It is just chest muscle, no breast tissue is left to sag!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yea!

Great day today! Went to Dr. J and ole' Leaky Louise held up well enough that I didn't need a fill - I am done with that part forever! On to the hospital for pre-op stuff. Ended up I didn't need to get another blood work test, the hospital called my primary care doctor, they faxed over the blood test results and the results were fine with the hospital since they were all "normal!" Nobody poked me with needles at all!!!!!!!!! That is a huge plus in my book since they are going to town on me tomorrow! It is about 11 p.m. now, by this time tomorrow I will be home in my recliner, hopefully in a drug induced stupor feeling no pain and will be all done with this surgery!

I fell like I am about to float away. They wanted me to "hydrate, hydrate, hydrate" today so I have had 48 ounces of water and two cups of coffee! Nothing after midnight tonight and I don't have to be at the hospital until noon tomorrow. That's a long time to go without water! They want my cells nice and full and my veins nice and plump so I had to constantly drink today! Anything to make me feel better after surgery! Am supposed to have peanut butter toast or applesauce right before midnight to give my body some nourishment for the rough day tomorrow.

Am in a great mood, at least tonight! Onward, finally! Not tired at all, way too hyper to be tired! Jen and Harold will be with me tomorrow. They are both so great, neither ever complains about being inconvenienced or having to take time off of work and there certainly has been plenty of that over the last six months.

Hair report - had to pluck my eyebrows!!!!!!!!!!!! Well, three hairs to be exact but still they were in the wrong place and one was kind of long, don't know how I missed that one until now. Seem to be more eyelashes but still thin and wispy. However, more is more! Peach fuzz on my face and arms again, head hair feels a bit fuller (still gray and brown though - where are my red curls?)

Did I tell you that I have been having to massage the area under the scar on the left breast mound? The scar tissue is harder there and Dr. J wants to see if we can soften it up a bit and of course, I cannot remember exactly why! Something to do with the stretching/shaping that the implant will do. No real feeling there, I am aware I am touching the area but can only feel the pressure and that feels the same if I press hard or even go back and forth over the area with my fingernail. Odd sensation, but not too weird.

Been corresponding today, making arrangements for teaching commitments I have for March (Tennessee) and April (Nevada, again), ordering supplies for Vegas, making dinner dates with friends for Vegas, future planning - nice normal work stuff! Feels sooooooooooo good!

Must go eat my peanut butter toast before the deadline of midnight!

January 16 - D-day is here! Only a few hours left for ole' Lop-sided, Leaky Louise and Hard Rock Hannah to be in existence! Can't say I will miss them but I might miss ole' Leaky Louise a bit just because I talked about her so much! Wonder how well the Perky Twins will behave? Maybe they will just be boring! Not scared or even very nervous, just anxious to get going.

No photo this week, too much to do! I plan on dictating to Jen in the morning and then sending out the update so you will know how the surgery went and if the Twins are doing fine. This is like having babies only the location is different! Of course, I never "exchanged" either of my children like I am exchanging the expanders for the Twins! I am giddy with excitement - it feels so darn good to be moving ahead in a very positive way.

News Flash! I'm home and Jen is typing this for me. Feeling OK - ole' Leaky Lopsided Louise and Hard Rock Hannah are gone and the Perky Twins have arrived! Yeah, yippee, hooray - no drains!!!! Although, the nurse tried twice to get the IV started, it just wasn't happening so the anesthesiologist finally had to start it. They let me keep my wig on during surgery, just had to cover it with the dreadful blue hat. Dr. J came in and drew all over me with a big marker. He said too bad he couldn't rub my head for good luck, so I whipped off Sassy Simone and he rubbed my head and so did the nurse…she actually felt my hair and said, "It is so soft." Then they gave me happy juice and wheeled me out. Harold and Jen ditched me and went to Cracker Barrel for lunch! They actually had plenty of time so it was good for them to get out of the hospital. Woke up with the Twins! The only area that hurts right now is where he removed the chemo port. I'm going to let Jen tell you what happened next…

Hello Everyone! Dr. J. came out and told us that everything went very well and that she was in the initial post-op recovery area and that she would be there for about an hour. He explained that the portion of the surgery that was going to give her the most trouble/ discomfort was the liposuction. That area might swell up and turn black and blue - not to worry. I am very glad he told us that, for I would not be too comfortable seeing that without any warning! He said she had a large bandage going around the top of her chest to keep the implants in place. (Just a side note - she said she was going to let me tell you…however, she is still trying to dictate!) I asked him if she had drains and he said that she didn't need them for there was not much fluid. When he told me that I felt a sense of relief for her - I know how much she hated them. (Medication is working quickly, she is much quieter now, has stopped dictating to me…had to check to make sure she was still awake!) We go back to see him next Friday - she can't drive at all for the next week and he will determine when he sees her then if the restriction continues…could be as much as two weeks. He stated that he had to open the chest pocket a little more than originally planned while he was motioning along the line where the mastectomy scars would be - the implants just needed a little more room to ensure a good fit. Everything else went according to plan. Once she was awake they would move her from the first post-op recovery (in the back) to the second post-op (where we were waiting) and from that point it would be whenever she felt well enough to go home…probably another 45 min to an hour. We thanked him for taking such good care of her. Okay, she is begging for control so I will turn it back over to her.

This is me typing!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am feeling pretty chipper actually and getting ready to have an egg sandwich! Just wanted you all to know for at least tonight, there is no comparison between the mastectomy surgery and this one, thank heavens. I will have to see how I am tonight and tomorrow but for now I am justa' fine!

As always, love to you all and many thanks for your caring thoughts and continued prayers.

Margot - finally am Perky Polly!!!!!!!!!!!!! The infamous Perky Twins, Polly and Dolly are in residence! Brenda Braveheart didn't have to come back from vacation after all!

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