Margot Update 91
July 18 – Well, I thought I would not be writing for awhile but…..life seems to get in the way! This morning I was making a cup of coffee and had just emptied out the old coffee when I felt all wet down my right side and at first I thought I had spilled the coffee all over myself. Actually wish that would have been what happened! Dolly was leaking fluid like a sieve! Right through the stitches! I was still in my nightgown so I used it to soak up the fluid while I went to find gauze pads and tape. I knew that fluid had been building again and I see Dr. J tomorrow so was going to check on that but now…………..I KNOW there was fluid there! Have an appointment with the oncologist today so will see if he thinks that Dolly’s problems and the anemia are at all related. Maybe he will have good news for me! Even not having to have blood drawn every two weeks would be good news at this point!
I leave on Friday to begin a long round of travel and teaching and won’t be back for a week so I hope that Dolly will be okay as long as I take along a big supply of gauze pads. I would have croaked if that had happened in public. Even had to change my panties there was so much fluid running down my side before I realized what was happening! GROSS! Dolly is really misbehaving now! She does seem calm at the moment but now I don’t trust her!
July 29 – Just returned from a week long stay in Houston, teaching at a painting convention. Taught a local seminar here two days before I left! All that went just fine. Classes were great, had really fun students everywhere and my piece for the Decorative Arts Collection Auction went for 450.00 so that was really fun! I was a bit nervous so I had told my roommates that if the bidding was low on my piece I was going to kick them in the ankle and they were to keep bidding until I quit kicking them! Luckily I didn’t have to kick them at all or buy my own piece back! One of my students actually bought the piece.
And, in “The Grand Scheme of Things” I am fine.
However…………………….The Ongoing Saga of a Boob Named Dolly continues……
Saw the oncologist last week and all was well there, do not have to return for three months unless I get really tired since I am up to 11.2 on my blood count! Yea! 11.7 – 14.5 is the normal range so I am getting close to the low normal but I will take any normal at this point! He saw the seeping area as did the nurse and they both gave me a hug as they were telling me that sometimes you never find out where the fluid comes from! Just Jolly Great! I told them I was seeing Dr. J. the next day and they wished me well. I was happy about not having to come back for three months. The nurse had asked him if he still wanted me to get blood drawn every two weeks until then and he looked like he was considering it and I popped up and asked if it was at all possible to spread them out since it was getting a bit harder for them to draw blood every two weeks and that is when he said I could go for the three months if I promised to call right away if I felt tired or had any other symptoms of severe anemia. You know I promised to do that in a heartbeat!
On to Dr. J. He was not happy to see Dolly leaking. The skin across the front of Dolly is so very thin, it is like stitching up a thin balloon. He wanted me to cancel my trip to Houston and go in for surgery and I said I couldn’t do that and he said, “What if you were having a heart attack?” and I said “Well, I am not and this was different, I’m just leaking and I would take a ton of gauze pads and bandages with me.” I was adamant about it. I am not going to cancel my life over all this junk. His worry was that the whole stitched area where he removed the old scar tissue would just let go and then I would really be in trouble but I knew I had to chance it anyway. Unless something is a dire emergency or is already scheduled I simply will not stop my life anymore. I did have to agree to go right in for surgery as soon as I got back sooooooooooooooooooooo on Wednesday, (this is Sunday afternoon as I am writing) I will go in and he will put in a smaller implant and “make more room” in there to be able to use thicker skin for the sutures. I actually suggested the smaller implant as Polly (the other half of the Perky Twins) has been a bit smaller than Dolly anyway since the lumpectomy surgery in 2005 so downsizing Dolly was okay with me. Hopefully, this will be the end of it! I will have about the same size opening that I have now and of course, Drucilla Drain will be coming to live with me for awhile. I am sure this time I will have to be outputting practically nothing before he will remove it! However – I am going to wear my sports bra in and he will mark the placement of it before surgery and he will have the drain be clear of it so I can wear it to hold the bandages in place because of course…..I am allergic to the *&*^%$$^ tape! Makes big water blisters on my skin! That is a relief although the “girls” are beginning to complain about being “restricted” in this sports bra. They have been patient for weeks now and are not happy about having to continue to be constrained!
I only managed not to leak for a day and a half all during my trip so this really does need to be taken care of so I can get on with things.
On a more pleasant note, we (Dr. J and I) have our work hanging in a gallery in downtown Orlando! I got a notice last week that a new gallery was opening and they were looking for artists to bring in their work. It was a juried show so when we took our stuff down there we didn’t know if it would be chosen. It was and we went down for the opening and it was so cool to see our work hanging there. For me it has just been a long time since I did that but for him it was the very first time and it was great fun to see another artist blossoming. Jen couldn’t go and Harold would “prefer not to” if he didn’t have to (no problem there, he goes to races and I “prefer not to” go there so we are always both glad that the other person finds someone to go with them so we get out of that!) The very best part was when we came up the stairs with another artist we know to show her our work and some people were looking at his and just as we got there the man said to the woman “This makes such a profound statement.” He was shocked, I was tickled pink and the other woman is the wife of a glass blower with a shop in the arts district and she looked at him with new respect. Hopefully this will be the beginning of having our work hanging somewhere at all times. He doesn’t care about selling his work but I wouldn’t mind more sales so it is great to have another avenue for my work. I must say that it is more fun to have “another job” showing in a gallery when it is not dependent on whether you have to pay bills with the sales! When I was younger and more “starving” it was much more important to make sales! So, sales would be nice but I am really enjoying having my work up in gallery. Artist Annie is a very happy camper! All is going well on that front.
A bit of showing off here. The October issue of PaintWorks arrived in the mail and I have TWO articles in there. One is Miss Pumpkin’s Portrait and the other is my HOPE box (for breast cancer awareness month in October). You can view the magazine cover and read a bit about the contents by going to www.paintworksmag.com Shortly I will have the photos up on my website (not now though) and you can actually see the articles.
One more fun thing – my hair was the talk of the convention (and you know how much I love my hair)! It was the first time a lot of those people had seen me when I was not wearing a wig! I think it makes people feel that you are truly well when you get your hair back! They kept asking an amazed voice “Is that yours?” I would proudly tell them that “Yes, indeed, this was Ravishing Redheaded Real Hair Rita!”
That’s all for now, I will resume writing after surgery.
August 3 – Well…..Surgery is over, again. Went in yesterday morning at 6:00 a.m., home at 12:30. No problems at all. Of course, I am a bit sore as the nasty drain is just by the side of my right armpit and they must have tried to bend my head backwards and hold my jaw way open, my throat is a bit sore and my whole chest is sore – I am sure someone must have sat on me in surgery! Other than that I am fine! Took some heavy duty pain meds yesterday afternoon and last night but just Extra Strength Tylenol for Arthritis today. I can finally take my real arthritis medicine beginning tomorrow so shortly will feel normal again and not like an old crone! Too bad it is not Halloween as I would fit the image very nicely right now! Sorry, I digress………………I do have a cool souvenir though. Before surgery the nurse asked me what I wanted to do with the implant they were removing. What!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have a choice here! There was nothing wrong with the implant, it was my body that was the problem, so the implant didn’t need to go for any testing sooooooooooooooooooooo ……………….. I took it home with me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! For real! I am going to a meeting in the morning and we always have “Show and Tell” and guess what mine will be along with my artwork? You got it! Its name is Dolly Two. Dolly One is long gone and now Dolly Three is in my chest so Dolly Two can live here with me. I am sure you are asking yourself, “What in the world is she going to do with an old implant?” Well, for starters, (after the Show and Tell, of course!) I am going to photograph it for the Photo of the Week this time. I will also drag it along when I go for dinner or lunch with someone who needs to talk about their upcoming surgery. Talk about a visual explanation! They can see the implant in my body and out of my body!
Okay back to the surgery. Dr. J only put a small bandage on so that when I got dressed to go home I put on the sports bra and took off the bit of tape so my skin doesn’t blister. The drain is outside the bra area so there is no pressure there and the drain is easy to access and I can pin it to the bottom of the bra. So I now have my Griselda Grenade again. Harold empties it out unless he is not here and then I do it but I hate it! It is gross to empty your own body fluids and to have to measure them first! The fluid is still quite red from blood right now so that makes it even worse. I have the new implant and Dr. J “moved around a lot of tissue” is what he told Harold. Hopefully this will be the end of “The Saga of a Boob Named Dolly!” I do have a funny story for you though involving both my husband and doctor. We were all trying to get the sports bra on me before surgery so Dr. J could make where the drain should be and I already had the IV started and of course it was on my right arm where he needed the bra to be……………..Well, Harold has the thing up in the air and they are both trying to figure out how it goes on – too funny to see them both trying to figure it out – so I tell them that it hooks in the front and how to get it on me. I put my arms through the armholes while trying to hang on the IV bags and tubes and hold up the dreadful hospital gown all at the same time! I did get to keep my panties on, I had to promise the nurse I would go to the bathroom directly before I left for surgery and of course I had my eye makeup on – I told her that panties and makeup gave me some bit of dignity! Now, Harold is very quiet, but sometimes…..and this was one of them, he says (while looking down trying to hook the bra) “This is easier in the dark.” I couldn’t believe he said that and before I could recover, Dr. J says (while marking my skin with a marker pen) “I don’t think its supposed to go ON” I thought I would die of laughter, we were all laughing, I can imagine what the nurses outside were thinking! It sounded like we were having a party in there instead of getting me ready for surgery. I also took my recipe in with me for the anesthesiologist! It said at the top of the paper “Margot’s No Nausea Anesthesia Recipe.” The doctor looked a bit surprised but agreed with me that it was better to use what is known and to not be nauseous after surgery. I have written it before but I will do so here again in case you missed it. My daughter Jaime uses it too as she tends to be nauseous after any type of surgery, also. Decadron (for high risk nausea patients, I got that drug with my chemo, too) Zofran and Reglan for the surgery and Dilaudid for the recovery. The doctor did ask me if it was okay to start me with Morphine after surgery instead of the Dilaudid as the Morphine is not as strong and if need be they could go to the Dilaudid. I agreed and I was fine. I am not recommending this for anyone but me but what I am recommending is to record what works for you and be sure the doctors know it ahead of time. I can take the surgery but not that dreadful nausea that I used to get.
I really have to be done with all this. Harold asked where I wanted to sit when we arrived at the hospital yesterday and I said, “The usual.” Now, you should not have a “usual seat” in the waiting room of a hospital! Nor should the nurses remember you, nor should you not need an EKG because you had been there so recently! One nurse stopped into say “Hi” that I had met there when I had my mastectomy!
Felt pretty decent today, just moved slowly and napped a couple of times. Did a bit of work, too. Nothing hard as I still feel I don’t have all my wits about me!
August 8 – Finally felt a bit more normal yesterday. Surgery was last Thursday and it took five days this time for me to start feeling well. I had dreadful problems with my poor tummy. Diarrhea Darlene kept me company for a couple of days and she brought along Tummy Cramping Tania and Generallyfeelinglousy Louise for company! They finally departed and I feel so much better! Only needed a half hour rest yesterday. My chest is still a bit sore but Drucilla Drain doesn’t hurt unless I try to reach with my right arm so…………………I don’t! Harold fashions a cushion around it and then tapes it to the sports bras so no tape touches my skin. I see Dr. J tomorrow and will know then how long I have to keep the drain. He did say that it can’t get too low either but with all my problems with excess fluid build-up it seems like a Catch 22 on when to take it out. Well, I guess he will know that now won’t he!
Dolly Two made quite an impression at my art meeting when I offered her up for Show and Tell! Right there amongst all the artwork. We all leave our work on display during the meeting and I watched and no one wanted to actually touch her! I went up and placed her in one woman’s hand and she was surprised at how heavy Dolly was. She had wanted to touch it but didn’t want to appear odd. No problem, I will take responsibility for “odd!”
Remember the story of the quilt that a woman named Cathy helped create that included quilt squares for me and for her daughter-in-law? Well, I got this package in the mail the other day and inside was a lap quilt with my quilt square on it. Cathy told me she purchased the quilt from EBay and then cut it in half and gave me half with my square and the other half went to Tina with her square. I felt really crummy that day so after I cried a bit at her thoughtfulness, I curled up with it and went to sleep! Very comforting and something I will treasure forever. Mind you, I have never met this woman in person, only through emails. That is certainly one of the pluses of cancer – it brings you in touch with people you otherwise would never have known who enrich your life. It would be easier of course, to do that without the cancer part, but most of us, including me, would never do it.
Gotta go, having an Art Play Day here today with some friends. We are going to explore “possibilities”…………………………….
August 10 – Well…………….Griselda Grenade is still with me! Drats! Saw Dr. J yesterday and I have to keep her around until there is less than 10ml twice a day for 3 days. I was prepared for that possibility, I took along a vest to wear to help hide her. Not that a large lump around your waist is unattractive or anything! All else looks great though which is a very good thing! He told me that in addition to moving tissue he actually repositioned my chest muscle a bit to help support the new implant from underneath! No wonder my whole chest area is sore! He ended up having to make a larger incision than he had anticipated so was able to remove Dolly Two intact. Remember I thought she was going to be deflated. When you see her in the Photo of the Week you will be surprised at just how big she is. The reason is that there is nothing of my breast left at all, just some muscle and a lot of space. She is 550 cc’s, a big girl! Dolly Three is only 500cc’s to give more room in there and so my skin is not stretched. If someone is getting a breast implant for looks and not reconstruction the implant would usually be no more than 300 cc’s. She looks natural in my body (even though she looks very round in the photo) because when held up the saline goes to the bottom half so the fullness is where it belongs and Dolly Three then has a more natural looking slope. Not too keen on looking like I have two melons under my shirt! Dolly is a bit flatter on the outer side where he gathered up more skin, however, the plus side to that is that I have less skin under my arm area which I do like! That’s about it for The Ongoing Saga of a Boob Named Dolly until next week when I get the stitches out and the drain removed. However, I do have a funny story to tell.
I really must lose more weight. I had on my pink paper jacket and my black sports bra with a big ole plastic drain hanging out from under my arm with a flattened grenade partially filled with orange yucky stuff in it all hanging off my bra by a large safety pin so I was just the epitome of fashion! We spoke of all the surgery stuff and then Dr. J says, “Let’s take a look.” I am perched on the edge of the exam table and as I reach to open the pink paper jacket I realize that Griselda Grenade has become lodged in between the fat rolls at my waist!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Pretty much at eye level for the doctor. Horrors!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Good thing I am only vain about my hair and my face! I kept on talking, lifted the top fat roll and just gently pulled her out. I even managed not to burst out laughing but kept right on talking.
It occurs to me have I explained how the drain works? The bulb (Griselda) is flattened and all the air pushed out of it before it is closed at the top. That creates a vacuum so it helps to pull out the excess fluid from your body. I don’t want you to think my fat rolls are so large that a big, oval shaped grenade could get caught in there! The drains can’t stay in too long or they get too dry and then infection can set in so there is a fine line there on when to take it out. Too soon and there is too much fluid for your body to absorb, too late and you are risking infection. My appointment is for next Wednesday unless I have the 2-3 days of being under 10ml’s and then I call and go in earlier. So still no lifting, he said to baby my arm for a bit longer. Not really a problem as August in Florida is for inside! Our heat index is 105 degrees so I have no desire to be out in the heat any longer than necessary. I never garden much in August so do not feel deprived. Have a ton of work – all of it great fun – so am happily occupied indoors.
Submitting for another juried show downtown Orlando next week so keep your fingers crossed for me! The July show was to have come down today but there is an event scheduled in The Loft Gallery area and the group asked that the show remain hung until tomorrow! The next show is called “200” All the work will be priced under $200.00. Aimed at collectors and beginners that will be able to purchase art at a reasonable cost. There is also a very fun event going on tonight that I can’t do this time, but they are having an Artist Avenue outside the gallery on the sidewalks. The gallery stays open until midnight, the street is lit and lots of artists gather outside and set up to actually paint or do whatever they do as people are walking around for Orlando’s night life. I asked Harold if he wanted to go with me in the future (knowing that Jennifer will actually be the one interested) and he said he would come down for a bit since he knew there was a Starbuck’s nearby (unsaid was “where he would be able to go and escape!).
August 15 – Griselda Grenade is finally gone! Lordy, lordy, lordy - did that ever hurt getting yanked out of my chest and armpit! Dr. J said to take a deep breath, let it out, take a deep breath and then out it came. I couldn’t breathe away for few minutes! He said are you okay? And I just nodded my head as I couldn’t sepak! He said it was buried deep this time, it went in under my arm and snaked around inside my chest and was stitched in place under my arm. So all of that gets yanked out like pulling the string out of a pair of sweatpants!!!!!!!!!! Get the stitches out next week and hopefully I am done with The Ongoing Saga of a Boob Named Dolly! I must say I have been having a ball showing Dolly Two to people and seeing their reaction! I still find it hard to believe she used to live inside my chest!
No working in the garden for one more week! Greta Gardener is getting restless.
All three pieces of my artwork were accepted again so will be going downtown on Thursday night to see how they are hung. Artist Annie is really on a roll right now!
August 21 – Cried myself to sleep last night. Not to worry, I am fine but it seems so many of my friends are having such problems lately. Three have had relatives die, none of them just drifting off in their sleep, all were traumatic. Three of my friends have had relapses of their cancer, some are doing fine and some are not. All of it saddens me greatly but I am really scared deep inside when I hear of someone’s relapse. So I cried for all of them and I cried for me. I am afraid and there is nothing that can take the fear away. It can get hidden away for awhile but it sneaks back out when you are not looking. I have to work very hard on those days not to let the fear get the best of me.
This is a perfect day for the following statement that I heard/read somewhere:
Cancer – It starts as a dark invader and the evil of it is that it progresses to become one with the invaded. All attempts to kill it involve the risk of killing not only invader but also the invaded.
It occurs to me that the reason for my sadness lately is probably because I am nearing October which will be two years from my last diagnosis of cancer and I only made it two years the time before that so am getting edgy. Actually saying I have the Heebie Jeebies would be more accurate! No wonder Fearful Francine is hanging out here!
August 22 – Stitches are out and all looks fine! I do not have to go back unless fluid starts to build up again so keep your fingers crossed! No doctor visits at all next week! What shall I do with my free time!
This weekend I am attending a forum put on by CURE magazine www.curetoday.com and I will report on anything I learn that is new in the next update.
Photo of the Week – Okay here she is…………Dolly Two in all her glory! I put a pen in the photo so you could judge size better. In the first photo you can see that she is sloped when laying flat which gives her a more natural look inside my body. So now you know what a real breast construction implant looks like!
Until next time,
Margot a.k.a Perky Polly Keeper of the Perky Twins, Drucilla Drain, Artist Annie, Ravishing Red Headed Real Hair Rita, Griselda Grenade, Diarrhea Darlene, Tummy Cramping Tania, Generallyfeelinglousy Louise, Greta Gardener and Fearful Francine.
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