Archives for posts with tag: Stage 1/Week 7

They’re heeeeeere!  And they’re purple-ish.  The photo doesn’t do the color mismatch justice.

05/02/12 – Prosthetic purple nipples

I don’t want to get too involved with these nipples.   I also don’t really want to establish strong feelings or opinions about these because they’re only serving as a mock-up for my most likely to be reconstructed nipples.  I got this idea from another woman’s blog.  She had a bilateral mastectomy and delayed reconstruction after radiation and chemotherapy.  She didn’t want to do nipple reconstruction because she was just tired (understandably so).  So she wore these for almost a year and ultimately decided to do the nipple reconstruction. That being said…

I ordered “dark” thinking that meant a pigment closer to my own.  But these have a very, very purple tint to them.  And the “nub” part of the nipple is like a pencil eraser.  I don’t think reconstructed nipples would stand this proud.  It’s like it’s constantly below freezing where ever they manufacture these bad boys girls.

Anyway, enough of my purple nipple bashing.  I’m going to wear them, look past their faults, and see if I like them.  I think I like the idea of the nipple reconstruction and areolar tattoo, but I want to be positive.  I had a chance to look at a few areolar tattoo photos when I first met with Dr. Louie at my consultation so long ago, but I’m not sure if those were photos of Dr. Louie’s patients or just general stock photos that a lot of reconstructive surgeons have as exemplars.  These are little things that can be addressed at my pre-op visit in June.  I’m sure, by then, I’ll have a lot of other only semi-relevant crazy things to rattle off at that time.  Here’s hoping I tone down the crazy before that time.

Today I had my follow up physical therapy appointment at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.  I gained 30 degrees of rotation on my left side and less than 30 degrees on my right side.  I would be able to remember details about both sides if I didn’t focus so much energy and fretting on my left side.  It’s kind of annoying; I’m aware of it.  But Rachel, my therapist, said that I am progressing well and that I may be able to return to gentle yoga classes after our next follow up visit.  I am going to continue to do all of the exercises, stretches and massage that she prescribed at my first appointment, and she also gave me three new stretches to add to my daily routine.  One is a yoga-like pose (sphinx pose) to help me stretch out my abdomen and hopefully release some of the scar tissue.  While the stretch itself is easy, the sensation of my abdominal scar stretching out is one that takes some getting used to.  It still is mostly numb but I have full sensation in patches.

Instead of my regular photos, I decided to try on my purple prosthetic nipples and share them.  Avert your eyes if you’re not keen on it.

05/02/12 – Prosthetic purple nipples zoom

05/02/12 – Prosthetic purple nipples in action

05/02/12 – T-shirt time

 

We were back in the pool today with the girls. This evening, again, I have a lot of tightness after swimming lessons. I’m not sure what motion(s) it is when I am in the lessons with the girls that produce the tension in my upper chest and near my shoulders, but it’s a definite indicator that I’m not ready to swim myself.

There are also these two points, one on each side at the top of the breast and just toward the inside (closer to my sternum), where it feels like I have knots under my skin. I think they might be suture points from my reconstruction, but I don’t know. I bring these points up only because whenever I do more activities that involve me moving my arms in circular motions, they seem to stand a little more proud and definitely feel more bothersome at the end of the day. If I run my fingers over them, the area is very tender.

I am just getting ready to do my physical therapy exercises and stretches at the end of the day and am hopeful that they help resolve some of this. I also have a follow up PT appointment tomorrow at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. I’m interested to see what my ROM measurements are after a couple of weeks of doing my PT homework. I definitely feel like I have some improvement, but my ROM still fluctuates with my activity level.

I haven’t gone on a long walk this week because I’ve been helping my husband at his office and have had to be up early and then am getting home late. Having had the pleasure, gift and luxury of mostly being a S@HM for the past 2 years, being back in an office setting for a full day and away from our girls is tough. It’s tough on the girls and it’s tough on me. I don’t know how working parents do it after having such a short period of time to spend with their brand new babes. I miss them and wonder how they’re doing, what they’re doing, and if they’re happy ALL DAY. Today it reminded me how much I hated being in the hospital because I couldn’t see them and missed out on whatever it was they were doing. It was nice to finally come home from the hospital on Day 5 even though I couldn’t hug and squeeze them like I can now. I know that when I have my nipple reconstruction, I’ll have to take it easy again for probably 2 weeks while they (the nipples) are healing and need to be protected. I don’t think my limitations will be anything like my BPM and DIEP flap reconstruction. But, as I’ve said before, I’m a hug junkie for my girls. Even a few hours without a squeeze is too long.

Here’s hoping PT is amazing in some way tomorrow.

Update photos below. RUN WHILE YOU CAN….

 

 

 

 

 

05/01/12 - Frontal

05/01/12 - Flaps

05/01/12 - Abdomen

05/01/12 - Left

05/01/12 - Right

 

 

 

 

 

 

This isn’t going to be the post I originally wanted to post. I started that post this morning and saved it as a draft, but something is going on with WordPress and I can’t do anything with my blog from my computer – but I can do a quick post from my iPhone. Apologies.

No ground breaking news today, other than I might have to invest in all new sports bras because all of the ones I currently own are painful to wear. The Noobs themselves are ok in the sports bras. They’re all a little tight and pull to one side (because my left noob is bigger than the right), but getting them on is a sweaty and uncomfortable 20 minute project. And then when I get one on, I start to get pins and needles in my left arm and feel like my circulation is being cut off. I want to go for a run, but I have to get myself into a good, fitting, supportive, new sports bra first.

My prosthetic nipples aren’t here yet. I wish they’d hurry up and get here because my pre-op visit for my nipple reconstruction surgery is creeping up on me. I want to put them on and see if I’m 100% sold on having nipples again. It’s been so long since I even remember looking at my own nipples.  I wonder if I’ll be put off by the prosthesis, or if it will look like the nipples are truly the missing piece to making these noobs look like designer imposters.

Thanks for following along during my journey. Sorry again for the short post. Hope to resolve my blog troubles soon. There’ve been way too many as of late.

Today we fully embraced the lazy Sunday as a family.  Maybe it’s more true to state that the girls and I fully embraced it and Mike didn’t put up much of a fight.  We all slept in a little bit and had a slow start to the day.  I had a tough time getting myself out of bed this morning because some time during the night I rolled completely on top of my right arm and apparently didn’t get off of it until about 7 a.m.  Everything from my shoulder to my fingertips had pins and needles for what felt like an hour but was probably less than 5 minutes.

It reminded me of those first, tough 10 days after my bilateral mastectomy and DIEP flap reconstruction.  It hurt so much then to get out of bed on my own, and whenever I would try to put either of my arms down to help push my weight up and out of bed, I would have pain shooting through me.  There were a lot of hard and tough lessons learned.  Honestly, if i had to go back I don’t know how else I would tell me (with the benefit of hindsight) to try and get up out of bed.  With the DIEP flap reconstruction, my core and skin were so sore and tight that it was hard to move anything.  Anyway, just trying to use my right arm while it was afire with pins and needles reminded me of those early days.  Compared to my abilities now, it seems like so much longer than 7 weeks ago.

We took the girls to play at the park this morning.  When it was time to start walking home for lunch, neither one of them was ready to leave.  Before my surgery, I could wrangle both girls in full tantrum mode pretty easily because I was so strong.  These days, it’s still challenging and I HAVE to ask them to take it easy on me despite their being in the midst of a meltdown.  Thankfully, one is always a little easier than the other – but it’s never consistent who that will be.  On the way home, I got to test out my range of motion and weight bearing because Yaya wanted to ride on my shoulders part of the way home.  Getting her up there is half the battle these days because I can’t lift either of my arms up all the way very easily.  But, with a little assist from her sort of climbing up me, we did it.  It didn’t feel bad to have her up there for the distance we walked, but as we went along she felt heavier and heavier.  I tighten (or try t0) my core when I’m carrying something heavy, like a child.  Now, with my abdominal scar, it feels funny to do this.  I haven’t had 100% of the sensation return to my abdominal area, and tightening my core really causes a tugging sensation at my incision.  It’s pain free, but an awkward feeling.

I didn’t do my PT exercises or stretches today.  Instead, Mike and I took a rare nap together when the girls took theirs.  It was kind of amazing.  I will get back on my PT program tomorrow, but it was nice to have a day off.  In my photos today I included a picture of my closed suture abscess.  It’s sealed up again like nothing ever happened.  The body is so interesting…

 

DAILY DOSE!

 

04/29/12 - Frontal

04/29/12 - Flaps

04/29/12 - Abdomen

04/29/12 - Suture abscess closed

04/29/12 - Left

04/29/12 - Right

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today we had a girls’ day.  Mike and his best friend took the morning to go skiing, and the girls and I went to the zoo.  We had a FANTASTIC time.  I decided that we would use the zoo trip as a little bit of a test of endurance (and a bit of exercise) for me.  This is the first “big” solo outing I’ve had with the girls since my surgery.  I didn’t take our double stroller because I wanted to rent a wagon for them to test drive (and see if we should get them one at home).  Well with today being the only forecasted nice day for about a 10 day run, the zoo and its parking lots were packed.  This meant that I had to carry both of the girls to the zoo entrance.  From our unlucky parking spot, this was probably over 50 yards.  As other parents already know, trying to get your children into and out of a crowded parking lot is nothing short of strategic warfare and Greco-Roman wrestling combined. Although, putting toddlers in headlocks is generally frowned upon.

Our day went over pretty well.  Trying to keep both girls close by, happy, or constrained was a little challenging.  Carrying one or both is dramatically different for me right now because of my limited ROM and the sort of tugging discomfort I have at my abdominal scar when I carry one of them on my hip. As you can probably guess, I am fairly sore this evening.  My shoulders, back and abdomen are sore, but I think I would be feeling better had yesterday not been Day 1 of my gym revival.

I’m hoping that how I am feeling now is short lived because I would really like to be able to take the girls for on a run with me tomorrow.  I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do one of my usual, hill incorporated routes but am feeling crazy enough to give it a shot (weather permitting).  Since I’m in the clear to wear a sports bra again, I want to give it a shot and see if we can work this back into our weekly routine.  So, since I hope to run tomorrow I am going to cut this post short.  Hopefully, I won’t be feeling absolutely horrid tomorrow and the weather let’s us get back on the road again.

Gorilla Exhibit

What a day!  Today I went back to the torture chamber with Paul.  It was hard work, harder than it was when I started working out with him.  I spoke with my physical therapist the other day after leaving her a message asking if I was clear to go back to the gym.  She had to make a few additional phone calls herself, but then got back to me.  We discussed things that I could do, what I might be able to do, and things that I should avoid.  Yesterday I was super excited to get back into the gym.  When I was walking into the doors, I was excited.  When I was done working out, I was totally exhausted.

My range of motion is so much more limited than I anticipated.  I think it’s from, in part, how much I have been guarded about fully using my arms.  Even though I’ve been keeping up with  my physical therapy stretches and exercises, I didn’t think I’d struggle so much with the simple things.  Despite having a few dashes of cardio in my workout, the things that got me sweating the most involved me trying to raise my arms.  It doesn’t hurt to raise them, I just have a lot of tightness in certain areas that prohibit me moving them freely and without worry.  It’s a slow and steady work in progress, but you may have guessed I am not a creature of patience.

It was also surprising to find that doing certain motions with my legs (like raising my knees up high and attempting pistol squats) really caused a tugging, strange sensation along my abdominal scar.  We did a few things that included trunk rotations in which I expected to feel a tugging or pulling sensation along that scar, but I didn’t anticipate so much of it while doing leg exercises.  Everything was a challenge, but it’s good to be back at the gym.  I worked so hard to be in tip-top shape prior to my surgery in hopes that it would decrease my recovery time.  I don’t know if it did or had no impact at all, but I’m glad I did it.  Since I feel like the time before my next stage of surgery is quickly approaching, I’m hoping to be in better shape before I have to ease off again (albeit for a much shorter recovery).

Another surprise today:  a little unexpected oozing.  My dreams, like yours probably, are sometimes only loosely tied to my actual, awake life events.  Sometimes, they’re spot on.  This morning, before I got out of bed for the day, I kept dreaming that my abdominal scar was ripping open at different points during my workout with Paul.  In my dream my skin would split open neatly along my incision, but only little drops of blood would come out.  No doubt this had more to do with my fear about getting back into a regular workout and my limitations, but when I finally crawled out of bed I noticed a little bit of blood over my right hip.  I pulled up my pajama top and I have a very small spot (I think where my last drain was pulled) that has opened up a little bit.  There is a small bit of puss coming out of it and it is slightly tender, but it is not like a raging infection.  I was able to send a message to Dr. Liu on Twitter asking him about it.  I wasn’t overly concerned due to its small size, but I also didn’t want to risk leaving a potential hazard for the whole weekend.  Amazingly, on a Friday night after anyone’s normal office hours, he immediately responded.  It sounds like this is just an irritation from a dissolving stitch and should be watched to see if redness developes around it.  If so, then I can call for some antibiotics.  But basically “NBD”, as the young people Tweet it.

Again, totally amazing that I can communicate with one of my physicians about concerns after hours using social media.  AMAZING!  I also bumped into my breast surgeon, Dr. Sara Javid, who performed my prophylactic bilateral (skin sparing, but not nipple sparing) mastectomy.  Dr. Javid is so kind, sweet, and skilled.  We stood in a bakery and talked for a little over 5 minutes about my recovery and how I was feeling and doing really, really well.  She was and is so great to work with; it was really nice to see her again so I could tell her how thankful I am to have been her patient.  I know that this probably sets the bar pretty high for other women who may have upcoming surgery, and I apologize for that.  But all through this experience, I have found that all of my physicians and their staff really want nothing more than to be great at their professions and treat their patients well.  In reading about the experiences of other women who had bilateral mastectomy and DIEP flap breast reconstruction, it seemed like they were rarely able to get helpful communication OR information from their physicians or the physicians’ staff.  And thinking about those women now in contrast against my experience, my heart really goes out to them.  This process is very intimidating, emotional and complicated.  I can’t imagine going through all of this and feeling like my surgical team didn’t or couldn’t support my after care needs.  So, I am grateful to all of my physicians – but as of late Dr. Liu has been Man of Steel quality medical super hero.  So THANK YOU DR. LIU!

I discussed on one of my recent posts the possibility of ordering some prosthetic nipples to see if they would get me a little more solid on nipple reconstruction.  They should be here in 3 – 5 business days, so stay tuned for some false, detachable nipple excitement! My daily dose of medical wonders is below, as always.  Today I included a picture of the sometimes visible dip just below my abdominal scar.  I’m not sure what makes it more noticeable some days versus others, but I tried to get an aerial view so that you could see where the little dip is.  I am doing scar tissue release massages at home which were prescribed by my physical therapist.  Hopefully these will loosen this area up a bit.  Because it’s not as visible every single day, I will only post pictures of it when it seems like someone else would be able to see it.

DAILY DOSE:

 

04/27/12 - Frontal

04/27/12 - Flaps

04/27/12 - Abdomen (see the scar dip?)

04/27/12 - Scar dip just to your lower L of my belly button

04/27/12 - Suture abscess?

04/27/12 - Right

04/27/12 - Left

I wrote that title in the voice of Mills Lane, not Marvin Gaye.  I decided to make that the title of my post tonight with one of our daughters in mind; “Yaya”.  Today she decided to really put my noobs to the surgical quality test today.

Pre-surgery, Yaya had a habit of shoving her hand down my shirt if she was upset, scared, mad, bored, or awake.  She would pinch my boobs or give them a whack with the side of her hand when she was at a loss for something else to do.  After my surgery, our girls couldn’t even give me a normal hug.  I resorted to asking them to wrap their sweet little arms around my legs instead of the traditional embrace.  It was difficult for all of us.  We’re big, juicy huggers.  It was sweet relief when we were back to bear hugging it out.  It seemed that today Yaya realized that my noobs were no longer being given the eggshell treatment.  It started this morning when we were getting dressed for tumbling.  She didn’t want to get off of the changing table, so I picked her up, and she in turn went to pinch me and grabbed two-tiny-pinchers worth of noob.  When I didn’t immediately cry out in pain (like I did during early recovery when a drain was pulled, a noob bumped, or I was just awake), the realization struck her:  Mommy is no longer made of glass.

I scolded her and firmly said, “No pinching!”  But she’d already decided to move on to grabbing.  I picked her up again to head out of the nursery a few minutes later, and she put her hand down my shirt and squeezed my left noob.  No pain; just a weird moment because it didn’t hurt.  It didn’t feel like anything.  In the tissue closer to my chest wall, I can feel pressure.  But at the fattier parts of my noob, nothing.  I don’t have any sensation.  So for the rest of the day, it was like she was the quality control tester at the Reconstructed Breast Factory.  She poked, prodded, pushed, squeezed, smacked and, for the grand finale, head butted my noobs.  And you know what?  They’re still here, in tact and show no sign of falling off.

To get a little Marvin Gaye on everyone for a moment, they haven’t been put to the husband test yet.  I’m still a little timid about touching them myself.  Dr. Louie told me at my last appointment I could start gentle massages to break up the scar tissue in them.  But the amount of pressure I apply is maybe a third of the pressure Dr. Louie used when he was showing me how to do this. I also wonder if there’s much of a point to having them touched since I don’t have any sensation.  I know it makes perfect sense for Mike, the poor guy, but I mean for me.  I do feel the need to give him the green light, though, since my nipple reconstruction is not very far away.  When that time comes, it’s back to no man’s land during recovery.  What can I say?  I feel like a peach, but in all reality am probably closer to an apple.

In late breaking news, tomorrow has the potential for being either a monumental or disastrous day.  I’m going to try to workout with Paul again!  I have to do it.  I had so much rich, delicious food prepared and delivered to our house when I was recovering.  And then when I got the green light to get back on chocolate I did my best to make up for that 6 week gap without it.  Now with a good portion of the fat being nipped off of my belly (and made into noobs), everything I eat is sitting high on my hips.  And I WANT to work out.  I’ve missed it.  I made such big strides in my physical fitness leading up to my surgery, and it’s going to be a long road back.  So, now is the time.  Well, tomorrow is the time for that.  Right now is the time for music, and then sleep.

I’ll post pictures tomorrow!