Friday, September 17, 2010

Post-op Update - Feeling great! PTL!

Surgery went very well yesterday. The team at UCLA is always so professional and compassionate. I always manage to have a little fun with them too.  

I mentioned in a post recently that I'm working on a project called the Pink Wig Dance. We are three survivors producing a viral video of survivors and loved ones wearing pink wigs, dancing, and posting for photos that will be spliced together in a short video set to a great tune and posted to the internet to raise awareness that breast cancer affects women (and men) of all ages and walks of life. It's our way to unite and celebrate life in the process of raising awareness. We have a blog with our mission statement and instructions for how to participate: www.pinkwigdance.blogspot.com and you can email the team at pinkwigdance@gmail.com.  

Anyway, I brought a couple of pink wigs along to the hospital and explained what we are doing and managed to get my surgeon and a couple of residents to put the wig on and pose for pictures :).  Like I said, UCLA is awesome! :) I'm so grateful to them for the incredible care they have given me and for helping me through this journey by participating in other ways such as humoring me and supporting me emotionally as well as physically. I've posted the pics below :)

More about the surgery -- the anesthesiologist agreed to use my port one last time to push the first dose of medication to get me drowsy and then switch to an IV in my arm once I was asleep so I wouldn't have that icky IV placement feeling which I so hate.  I had put the numbing cream on the skin over the port when I got dressed in the morning so it was fully effective by the time they put the line in.  
With one push of a syringe, they began the process of making me sleepy - I was getting general anesthesia once sleepy since they were doing both nipple construction and port removal and incision revision.  I was awake as they wheeled me into the OR and was moved onto the operating table and then I was out like a light.  I love that. Even better is that my body handles anesthesia really really well. It works well and I handle it well. I've never become nauseated or felt sick from it any other way.  I woke up two hours later, opened my eyes and looked around as if I had woken from a nap. I could feel a little soreness on the port removal site but felt no discomfort at all on my breasts - probably because my breast skin is mostly still numb from the original bilateral mastectomy.  
Bob handed me my blackberry (he knows me well!) and then he headed down to the pharmacy to pick up my medication (antibiotics and pain medication). I read my email, responded to some work emails (I know, I'm nuts), texted some friends to let them know things went well and I'd be home soon, updated my Facebook status, etc.  I know, I know, I'm addicted haha.  When Bob returned we got my post-op instructions and a wheelchair escort who was kind enough to take me to the Simms/Mann Center for Integrative Oncology one floor down so that I could drop off a bag of standard stylish wigs donated by a wonderful and generous church member for the women in the breast cancer support group conducted there. That's the same support group I attended weekly throughout my treatment.  The facilitator was thrilled to receive the donation and promised to bring them to the group next week to offer them first dibs and any that don't get taken by the support group members will be given to Helen's Room where patients can get free donated wigs while in cancer treatment.  

Once that was done, I was wheeled down to the parking garage entrance where Bob had the car standing by and ready for me to get in and head home. We were home by 2pm. 

I've been taking it easy, taking my antibiotics as instructed, limited my activity (no lifting over 5 lbs, no reaching overhead, etc.) and have only taken two pain pills in 24 hours. I OK without it now which is great, especially since the side effects (digestive in nature) are not pleasant and I could do without THAT which I would find worse than the soreness from the surgery haha. Besides, I need to be able to drive tomorrow so no more pain pills for that fact alone.

I'm glad I took today and Monday off from work to recover so I can really rest and get some good sleep and make sure I'm not doing anything stressful.  Unfortunately, Bob has to go to work tomorrow morning so I have to be diligent and remember not to pick Cooper up which will be a challenge, especially when I need to go anywhere. So, I have a 2-step fold up stool that I'll need to have Cooper use to climb up into the car into his seat and take that along with us when we go anywhere. Tomorrow I have my friend watching Cooper when I head out for a couple hours while I get out of the house for a couple of hours so I won't have to worry about it then and she'll watch him again Sunday when I'm at church so at least it'll be a couple days before I really need to get him into the car so that's good. I know I can call several other neighbors to help though if I need help getting him lifted into the car in the event the stool option doesn't work out. I'm so blessed and grateful to have such wonderful neighbor friends.

Once I've fully healed from this step of the process, the next step will be to get the nipples tattooed. If you google nipple reconstruction you will be amazed by how natural these fake nipples turn out. I'm excited to finally look and feel "normal" again - before the end of the year, even. Yay!  Of course, those that know me well know that I would have been ok without reconstructed breasts too. I'm all about living - being alive - to me, that's all that matters and the rest is icing on the cake.

Now for the pre-op pink wig fun....

Me with Dr.Crisera
UCLA Resident physicians Mandeep Sehmbey and Victoria Vo with me
Bob Olsen - my husband :)

So there it is - I'm so blessed to have had another very successful surgery at UCLA. I can't say enough wonderful things about them. Thank you, UCLA!!!!  Praise the Lord for such a wonderful team of health care professionals, for my excellent health care coverage, and the support of family and friends. I will never take these things for granted or underestimate their immense value. xoxo

Love,
Julie

3 comments:

  1. Love the wigs!! So glad all went well! xoxo

    Lani

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  2. WOW!!!!!! You did it, you are done and onto the tatoo artist!!!!! tee hee!
    OK lady-you are so wonderful and such an inspiration! I love ya bunches and bunches!!!! I will get back to facebook ASAP, just so I can be updated on you daily. That alone is worth it.
    LOVE YOU LOVE YOU LOVE YOU
    Kat

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