Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tissue expander - implant exchange surgery: Update

Surgery went great today. We arrived at 7:30 am at UCLA to get checked in. On our way down the hall to the surgical center we ran into Dr.C and chatted with him briefly. I asked him about his recent trip (conference at a resort I spent a couple weeks at for work a couple years ago) and he gave me the quick low-down and we had a good laugh about a warning I gave him before he went (bed bugs at the resort). Although it's not the kind of thing he nor I probably needed to cause him to think about me while he was on his trip, I was able to give him valuable advice on how not to bring those buggers home to his family and it gave us something to laugh about the last couple times I've seen him. And, I'm thinking it's always a good thing if you make your doctors smile and laugh when you see them - especially if you'll be under the knife with said doctors so I'm always looking for ways to keep him and my other doctors smiling and laughing. LOL
I got called back for surgery prep so off we went (right on schedule, too). Got into that fashionable gown, paper hat and booties, etc. Saw Dr.C again and he marked me up with that lovely purple surgical marker and I got him laughing again - so much that he had to stop marking me for a second to avoid making squiggly lines heehee. Then the anaesthesiologist arrived and I got him to use my port for the first series of iv meds which was GREAT because that meant I was asleep when they put the next iv in my arm (right arm, of course). He gave me a tube of numbing cream and some cool cream holding bandages to take home with me (bonus! esp since I've been using press n seal wrap to hold my cream in place all this time haha) since I'll have my port another year for ongoing blood draws and a iv-delivered drug I'll be getting monthly for a year (more about that later).
We reminded every team member about my left arm - NO BP, NO NEEDLES - and we put a big long piece of surgical tape on my left arm with big lettering of that message to ensure nobody tried to mess with it - mission accomplished. Just after the doc put the first series of drugs into the port iv, I closed my eyes briefly and said a simple prayer: "Dear God, I give it to you. You have my complete trust and faith. Thank you for blessing me in countless ways on this day and every day." I opened my eyes and resumed talking to Bob and quickly things started appearing fuzzy. I woke up, looked at the clock in front of me, which said 11:30am (PT) and turned to Bob and said something like "gosh, when are we getting this party started?" and he laughed and informed me it was all done. =) Sweet! No nausea from the aneasthesia - yay! (my chart showed that has never been an issue for me at any of my previous surgeries and prior to this surgery the the doc mentioned it and was impressed - I told him I'm totally an overachiever and that got him laughing haha) The surgery went well and they wrapped me up in a lovely gauze halter contraption - the same style I had after the bilateral mastectomy. I get to sport this lovely fashion statement until Sunday afternoon and that is when I'm allowed to take it off, look at my new tatas, and take a shower. As I sat there in recovery I thought about how my breast cancer sister warrior powwow (aka support group) is on Thursdays from 11-12:30 at UCLA just one floor beneath the surgical center. I was thinking I should ask them to just wheel me down there to say hello but I know that Bob would think I was cookoo so I didn't say anything. Besides, by the time they finally got us out of the surgical center it would have been too late - but I was hoping I'd run into the gals on the elevator as they wheeled me down to the parking garage. Unfortunately, I didn't see any of them.
I can ALREADY tell the difference with the pesky expanders gone. I just felt under my armpits and can't feel them (could before), and felt the top of my chest area just below where my port is and can't feel them bulging out (could before) - this is SO AWESOME! Those things (expanders) took up so much chest real estate before and were so uncomfortable, I'm so happy they're out! Woot!
I was home by 2pm PT and felt pretty good - tired and hungry, but not in any pain (due to drugs, I'm sure). I had some soup and crackers and green tea and went up to bed. Bob woke me at 4pm to give me my next pain pill and I went back to sleep and woke up around 7pm to find Bob downstairs hooking up my new wii system! Bob and mom got it for me for my birthday and it arrived today while we were at UCLA. How exciting!
I still feel good, pain meds on schedule to ensure that continues. Cooper seems to be doing OK with me not able to pick him up. I sit down and someone else picks him up and puts him in my lap (with a pillow against my chest to prevent him from pressing on or knocking my incision areas). At bed time we did that in his room on the rocking chair and then when it was time Bob picked him up and placed him in the crib and I tucked him in and he was OK with that, thankfully.
Day 2 following surgery is usually the toughest, in my experience, so tonight I'm getting all the things I'll need arranged next to my bed so I can stay in bed and rest. Hopefully it won't be too bad since they gave me a full pill bottle of pain meds. Dr.H recommended a supplement (Bromelaine) for me to start taking tomorrow to help reduce swelling so that will go down quickly and allow me to keep my radiation simulation appointment in 2 weeks.
Thank you, God, for holding me and keeping me safe and comfortable - for instilling brilliance, talent and compassion in every member of my surgical team - for blessing me with a wonderful mom and husband to help me through this here at home - for precious Cooper - and for all the many friends and family members who continue to support me through this journey. For this, and many many countless other blessings, I thank and praise Thee.
To my friends, family members, colleagues, and blog followers - thank you all for your prayers and positive thoughts. I KNOW it helped because I had an excellent surgery experience today. Thank you to the UCLA team that took such awesome care of me today, as usual. I love Dr.C and the surgical center nurses - they're truly the best in their field as far as I'm concerned and I'm so blessed to have them as my care team.
Love,
Julie
PS - Here I am, ready for surgery - no make up, no brow pencil (though they're coming back quickly haha) - I'm au naturale! :)

16 comments:

  1. You're beautiful - eye brows or not! So thrilled to have kept up with you through this journey. You are one incredible soul. Congrats on the new girls! ;)

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  2. you are beautiful Julie, inside and out! Reading your posts is so inspiring! You are truly remarkable! I will continue to pray for you always and I know you will succeed at this challenge and any others in life! May God bless you and keep you safe!

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  3. Becareful playing with your new Wii till your able to lift agian.. stick to Super Mario Bros ;) otherwise it will only add to your pain. Lots of Love to you, the boys and your mom! Jr sends big slobbery, open mouthed toddler kisses!!! Keep up the great work Super Woman!!! :)

    Love Nikky (it won't let me log into my google account for some reason :/)

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  4. Wait on playing that Wii....or have your pain pills handy!
    Love you and am so glad to hear the news. Praying for a speedy recovery and so glad your mom is there.
    XO

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  5. Praise the Lord that everything went so smooth! We wish you a quick recovery. And enjoy the new twins! Take care. Love you!

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  6. So glad the surgery went well and I cannot wait until it's my turn! Let us know how the unveiling goes!

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  7. Hey there sister warrior. Hope your surgery went well. I'll be going in for the expander exchange in a week and came across your blog looking on the web for some reassurance. I must say that it is always great to read courage and strength, to feel hope and inspiration! I am grateful that I came across your blog it couldn't have come at a better time.
    Blessings to you!

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  8. You look great Julie, I'm so glad it went well. Take care, these next few days will be tough, but you are tougher!!

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  9. Very happy ... everything went well.

    All the best to you.

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  10. My Blessings to you and your family. I can read in your blog that you are a very strong and positive woman. Stay strong and keep that wonderful attitude throughout the rest of your journey. I will be going in for my "exchange" on March 21st. I hope and pray for the same successful surgery. Truly, Another Sister Warrior

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  11. so, today is my big day! I had my bilateral mastectomy on May 27, 2011 and have been living with the "pesky" tissue expanders all summer! In 4 hours they will finally be coming out!
    I woke up with a dull headache, probably due to the anticipation of another surgery. I keep feeling my rock hard, uncomfortable tissue expanders, pleased to know they'll soon be replaced with a more natural look and feel!
    I'm very anxious right now! I wish i could have a nice hot cup of coffee!!
    I will get back to everyone tomorrow!
    Thank you Julie and all my warrior sisters!!! I love you all!!

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  12. Good luck today, Kim!!! I'm praying for you for a safe and successful surgery and great results! :)

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  13. I am having my exchange surgery tomorrow and was hoping to find information on recovery and such. Not keen on the Christian mom-bit, though. Religion used to be private but these days, especially now that it's politicized, religion is in-your-face and consequently, repelling. I will go to another site that leaves religion out of the picture.

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    1. I hope and pray your surgery was a success and that your recovery is swift and without complications. I'm sorry you find my personal blog difficult to relate to and I hope you find other sources of information and support that suit your needs. I love Jesus and I won't hide my love for Him. He saved me and is forever entwined in my journey and thus my story which this blog is about.

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  14. Julie, I can't tell you how much good this post did me today. I'm facing my expander/implant exchange surgery tomorrow and am a bit nervous about it. My cancer was HER2+ (estrogen & progesterone neg), and I've been through chemo, bilateral mast., and 28 treatments of radiation. This is the final step, and I'm so glad to be done. Hoping I'll have the same experience as you -- closing my eyes, opening them, and saying, "Let's get this party started!" -- only to find it's over with. Lol! I'd love to stay in touch on Facebook -- I love your positive outlook! Thanks for sharing your journey and faith in Christ. You're inspiring many of us out here! (https://www.facebook.com/sallydinius)

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    1. Sally! My apologies for the delayed response. I'm so happy that my blog has helped you. I pray that your surgery went well and that you've recovered nicely and are feeling strong. I'm going to look for you on Facebook :). Hugs to you, my new friend!

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