Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Update from surgery- a week later

Wow, I can't believe it has been a week since my surgery. Outside of my nausea, the worst part was when they were trying to get my IV in. I know Josh somewhat explained the process, but it was just terrible. No better way to put it. I'm thankful they finally got one was miserable. 8 tries, 3 doctors trying, in the same arm- the tears were being held back for sure! But of course didn't remember anything else from surgery. I do remember being put asleep with the gas because it took so long for the IV and I remember Dr. Villa and Alisha talking to me laying on the operating table, and that was crazy but neat to have remembered it.

It hasn't been a very fun week, but I am hopeful and trusting the worst is behind me. The pain wasn't too bad, but I was more nauseous than last time. My nurses were great once again and it is almost hard for me to remember what all went on those 3 nights in the hospital. It was wonderful to have Josh and my mom there with me...they are the best. It can get lonely in that hospital room, and I was thankful to have them there.

I also had a visitor this week, my good friend Irena, that I met when we were both going through chemo. It was great to talk with her, although she had to be my nurse when she was there. Josh and my mom had left to give me time to visit with Irena and after visiting with her for a while, I started to feel nauseous, and there she was catching my vomit in the bucket, and getting my nurse to put some zofran in my I.V. She was so gracious to help me and acted like it was no problem at all. Irena was violently ill during her chemo, so she said it was nothing to her; however, I know it is completely different taking care of someone else! But it was great to see her.

I also had some visitors during my last surgery, Courtney Berry and her daddy, and Jim and Pam Gray. It was wonderful to see some familiar faces. I am so grateful for those who have sent me cards, emails, texts, flowers, and gifts. And of course the Stanfills again for opening up their home time and time again. Even though we are often 6 hours away, we feel the prayers and love of all of our friends and loved ones.

Alisha and Dr. Villa checked on me each day and they felt like everything was looking well. Please continue to pray that I heal like I need to. They told me that on this side, it will look differently because it has been radiated, and it does look different. I am hoping and praying it is looking like what it is supposed to and that there are no problems or issues.

We are in Houston tonight (Wednesday) and will have my check up appointment tomorrow. By my calculations, I could possibly get all of my drains out tomorrow. That would be amazing!!! I will update you all on everything of course.

The enemy has been trying to attack my mind so much lately, and I ask all of you to continue to pray for me. I must continue to saturate myself in the Lord and His word, because, goodness, Satan will take every, literally every opportunity to whisper horrible things in my mind. I just rebuke him, tell him to take his hands off of me. I'll just say it out loud wherever I my car, in my house, in the shower. Satan, you have not destroyed me, you have not killed me, and you won't destroy me or kill me! God has given me abundant life, and that is what I will have. I know the Lord will fight for me, but I know I have to do my part in seeking and trusting Him. I am secure in Him and knowing He is protecting me.

John 10:10 " The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full."

Psalm 119:105 " Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely."

I will update more details later, but wanted to say "hi" because I feel like I have been dead to the world for the past week. Love you all and I am praying for everyone that might be affected by this storm. Oh, and we are so excited that we are going to have a sweet niece in January. Josh's brother, Lee, and his wife, Rachel are having a baby girl, Sullivan Reese!!! We love her with all of our hearts already and are so thankful to God for this precious life. Blessings in the midst of struggles...

Now here is one sad pic of me after my surgery. Nauseous with rags and gloves filled with ice water. So attractive...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Home is good.

Well we have been home a day now and it is much better than being at the hospital. We got in last night around 7pm. Aly had been nauseous all day Saturday but it had not materialized into anything but when we got home all the moving around apparently caught up with Aly.

Aly has not been sleeping too well and so she has been sleeping on the couch, by choice. We were able to get a dose of phenergan from our local drug dealer. 

After going to church this morning we came home and slept all day. We started watching a marathon of Law and Order but as you can see by the picture below, the WE went to an I. 

At some point you all will see pictures but I have so many pictures of Aly sleeping either in the car or in a chair that it is going to make one heck of a video. Needless to say she absolutely loves to look through my phone and see new pictures I take of her while she sleeps.

Inevitably what happens is Aly goes to sleep then Bella sits by the couch until Aly moves. Every time Aly budges Bella gets up, stretches, walks around the coffee table then gets back in her spot.

After I took this picture Bella started snoring while sitting and awake, yes quite a talented dog. All of a sudden I hear, "Bella" in a deep raspy voice (Aly under the blanket). Bella proceeds to lay down and stop snoring.

We will be in town until Wednesday and then head back out to Houston for a post op checkup. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Ouch- Change of plans

Well apparentlyafter Dr. Villa left our room he had some second thoughts about allowing Aly to leave today. He came back about an hour ago and said that he thought it was better to stay the night and let them watch her and if all is well we can leave in the morning.

Nothing that we know of triggered the change. As I tried to describe last time the part of this that they have to watch so carefully is the blood supply that they bring around with the skin, muscle.

Oh well, we will be home tomorrow. We are looking forward to it.

Aly now has taken a shower which the nurse didn't do this time. Quick Josh thought, I cannot imagine letting people do some of the stuff that you have to let nurses do, you hear commercials about sedated dentistry ( Dr Kevin Finley is our choice) well I would need sedated bathing, changing and many other things.

Which also makes me say, the job nurses do is unreal. The nurses on our floor deal with No one except post-op surgery patients which by default are pretty helpless. Take the most basic things about life and allow a total stranger to do them to you and for you.

If I had to be at a hospital for days at a time this would be my choice, hands down. Now I haven't been too many other places but this is as tollerable as it gets. We have nurses everywhere and we both have 'beds', I would have to say our tough is quite relative.

Surprise surprise--- Aly talked them into coming home today.

The Dr had come in yesterday and mentioned how good everything was going and how happy he was. Well that sparked the idea then maybe we can get out early and of course that is what is happening.

Last night was by far our worst night in the hospital. Not sure if it was pain for Aly or discomfort or just being in a hospital but sleep did not happen.

At about 8 am Dr Villa and Alisha came in and after talking with Aly said they would come back this afternoon but it looked like we would be able to go home today.

Needless to say that would be great.

Hope you have a great day and thanks again for all the prayers and texts.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Almost 24 hours after surgery.

Aly seems to be doing well to whatever degree you can do well after this. She got up and walked around so they took the 'foley' out, which is actually a catheter. She is sleeping right now from what I remember will continue to be out of it till some time tomorrow. Last month when she had this surgery by the afternoon of the third day use was ready to go home so my assumption is she will be the same this time.

She is on a liquid diet only today and tomorrow will go to food. She needs to one able to hold the food down as part of her ability to be released.

I know she looks forward to getting out of here and in her own bed.

Thank you guys for ll the texts and prayers, we love you and are so thankful for you.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Out of Surgery

The Dr said that Aly did great and that the surgery went well. He said there were no surprises and that we will see him tomorrow.

I will update later once I get to see her.

Surgery Update

Aly has been back for surgery since 12:30. They just came out and said that they are now starting on her front side which by my guess would mean they may not be half done at this point. On the front side they have to remove the affected skin, remove expander, put in new expander and secure new skin, muscle and blood supply.

When they were trying to get an iv in Aly this morning they tried 7 spots on one arm. They can only put the iv on her right side so at every one of those spots they would give her a numbing shot which in itself was crazy. They take that little needle and get it right under the skin then pull up and squeeze some out of the shot, when they remove the needle you can see where the pile of numbing medicine is. They then take a finger and rub it in to the are they want it. They did this 6 times. The 7th time and 3rd Dr they finally just put it in her wrist where they could find a good place. They were late at this point so they inserted the first sleep meds and wheeled her off.

I've never dropped a new child off at daycare but I can't wait for that opportunity because this form of dropping off is terrible.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Surgery tomorrow at 11 a.m.

So, after meeting with Dr. Villa this afternoon, we have scheduled surgery for tomorrow morning at 11. As they took off the bandage, it was clear that the expander had become exposed and that surgery needed to happen ASAP. There was also a new little spot that looked like it was going to exposed, so we are all in agreement for the surgery to happen tomorrow.

It will be the same surgery that was just done on my right side, except now it will be on my left. The surgery will take 6 hours, and I will be in the hospital for 3-5 nights. I will have 4 new drains placed in on the left side during surgery. I got my last drain out today, so I can enjoy 1 night with no drains, and then will have 4 tomorrow:)

Josh will keep everyone updated. We are confident this is part of God's plan for me. I am just ready for it to all be over. We were at the hospital all afternoon doing so many pre-surgery things. We really were spoiled last time when we got to go straight back!:)

Please pray for Dr. Villa and those working on me tomorrow. That the Lord will guide their hands and tools as they aide in bringing me back to health. Pray for mine, Josh, and my family's  hearts and minds to be guarded and strengthened. Thank the Lord that I am healed and whole and cancer-free.

I am holding tight to my confession that God has healed me and will bring me to full restoration! Praise Him!

"Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for He who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10:23

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A great first check-up!!!

My first 3-month check up went really well on Friday! It was great to see my nurse, Angela and Dr. Litton. She examined my entire body and basically went through a list of persistent symptoms that I could be having, and nothing worried her. She completely agreed with Dr. Villa that the spot under my left breast was the expander and that was definitely a relief. It is so weird when you know longer have your own breasts anymore and really have no clue what anything is supposed to feel like. I have this foreign plastic thing in my body and am supposed to let the doctors know if I feel anything weird…um that would be everything!!!! Haha. But I was so, so thankful that it did not concern her at all. My body completely relaxed.

I told her about the clicking in my chest that I told you all about, and she confirmed what my physical therapist thought it was- something with my ribs. Dr. Litton said that it is very common with mastectomies and reconstruction, and especially radiation, for ribs to be pushed out of place and even broken. So, I’m not sure if some of my ribs are broken or just pushed out of place, but they should heal themselves regardless and I felt MUCH better after hearing that was common. It already feels much better and is not clicking nearly as much as it was. The things that one might typically push aside as "nothing" are on super high sensitivity for me. 

After she got done examining me and going through the typical “symptom” questions, we asked her many questions about how our future appointments with her will look. I will continue to see Dr. Litton every 3 months for 2 more years, and then it will move to every 6 months. I have still yet to have a body scan, and I've learned that is a good thing! It still seems weird to me to not have a body scan, but once you are deemed cancer free at MD Anderson, routine scans are not performed. Scans are only performed if you are having a persistent worrisome symptom. We asked Dr. Litton why this is the case because I have had several breast cancer friends have clear PET scans and Cat Scans and I want my turn to say mine is clearJ!!! She explained to us why this is the case, and it is somewhat scary to think about. She said that if a routine scan caught something really early that spread to an organ, the chances of survival are no different than when doing a scan when a symptom comes up. More harm can be done through the radiation that scans give, rather than only doing scans with a symptom, which I will never have to do in Jesus’ name. 

Dr. Litton was very positive and kept reiterating how she hoped and expected to never have to do a scan caused by a symptom. She reminded us that the only time she does any type of scan not caused by a symptom is before getting pregnant. So, we agreed that we would have my first scan next year around this time before we started trying for a babyJ. We left feeling very positive and thankful to God that he gave us such a great first visit. We greatly miss Dr. Morrow, but we are thankful to have Dr. Litton who remains positive with us and joins with us in the hope for a family.

Psalm 128 "How joyful are those who fear the Lord- all who follow his ways! You will enjoy the fruit of your labor.  How joyful and prosperous you will be! Your wife will be like a grapevine, flourishing within your home. Your children will be like vigorous young olive tress as they sit around your table. That is the Lord's blessing for those who fear Him. May the Lord continually bless you from Zion. May you see Jerusalem prosper as long as you live. May you live to enjoy your grandchildren. May Israel have peace!"

We are striving to fear the Lord and follow ALL of his ways. Not only for his benefits, but we are believing we will be joyful, prosperous, have children who sit around our table, and grandchildren. And peace! I am so thankful for God's word.

We were supposed to go to the beach with my family the week of my unexpected lattisimus dorsi surgery, and of course missed that trip, so we made a last minute decision to go to the beach this past week. We had such a wonderful time and were able to relax and rest. We both spent some good, much needed time with the Lord, and resting in Him. The Stanfills were actually at the beach at the same time we were, and we hung out with them some while we were there. We joked that they just can’t get away from us, even when we aren’t crashing their house in Houston. My mom came and met us on the last day too and we had a great day on the beach together. I love my man, my mom, and my Houston family!

On the first night of the beach trip, I noticed a small spot on my left breast (the radiated side) where my expander was somewhat poking out. It looked much like what my right expander looked like in the beginning stages of the expander becoming exposed. I showed Josh and he agreed with me. We both spent the majority of the week praying and seeking the Lord, asking Him to heal this spot. To supernaturally touch it and for it to be healed. We have trusted him completely and know he will heal me whether it be through surgery or that it will just heal up on its own. It continued to get slightly worse each day of the trip, and we have just continued to pray and trust. I emailed my P.A., Alisha, and she told me that she would see me today, Thursday, and we would evaluate it then. Dr. Villa is out of town and will be back on Monday.

Well, we saw Alisha today and she feels like the exposure of the expander is imminent. She told us today that she thought it was imminent ever since seeing it after radiation. She made a tentative plan, pending Dr. Villa’s approval (since he is out of town and will have to agree with her on this). She has planned for me to have the lattisimus dorsi surgery on my left side on this upcoming Wednesday, August, 22. I will see Dr. Villa on Tuesday to confirm or deny that, although she feels like he will agree. They typically do not like doing any form of reconstructive surgery this soon after radiation, but with  a “complication” like mine, they really don’t have much of a choice.

We asked her many questions about why it is more risky to do this type of surgery soon after radiation and she said it is simply because the skin hasn’t had time to heal yet. I love Alisha. She is so blunt and to the point, but in a super sweet way.  She said, “Your skin was burnt alive every day for 6 weeks. Your immune system is probably still affected from chemotherapy. Your body has been through the ringer and to have another surgery is a lot.” She spent an hour with us today answering our questions, laughing with us. I really feel like outside of the doctor’s office we would be friends. She is awesome.

Alisha explained that most of the risks come in with wound healing. So, if I have the surgery on Wednesday, we need to pray that it is successful, as painless as possible, and that there are no complications whatsoever! Before I left, Alisha put some special cream on my spot and covered it and we won’t look at it again until I see Dr. Villa on Tuesday.

If the surgery has to happen, I have complete peace about it. Josh and I have prayed this week for our faith to increase and we have come to Him in faith for me to be healed and whole- from cancer, from expanders failing, from sickness, from wound healing, from everything. Once you have cancer---or maybe not everyone is like this. Let me rephrase- once I have had cancer, everything else pails in comparison.  Especially over these last few weeks, anything other than cancer doesn’t feel like that big of a deal. Don’t get me wrong, I know this possible surgery is a huge deal, but it isn’t life pending and I will be absolutely fine. Perspective is an amazing thing.

So, Josh and I are on our way back to West Monroe and will head back to Houston on Monday afternoon. After over 10 months of driving back and forth to Houston pretty much weekly, we are tired of driving!!! I think we are about to invest in some books on tape and some other entertainment to help the time pass by. Up until now, it really hasn’t been too bad, but the last couple of drives have seemed long. I am still so thankful we have the option of driving. Even when I wish I could snap my finger and be there, I run into people from other countries or someone from New York that has to fly in, and I am put in my place once again. There is that perspective again!

School and work were supposed to start up for me on Monday, but obviously God had other plans. I plan to stop by work and school on Monday to get a few things in line before we leave to head to Houston on Monday afternoon. I will meet with Dr. Villa on Tuesday. If I end up having surgery on Wednesday, I will probably be out of commission for another 2 weeks. Of course this setback has had us scared and frustrated, but we are trusting the One who sees the whole picture and he holds His world in our hands. He cries with us and He rejoices with us. We are blessed because we mourn. He loves us more than we could ever know or imagine. 

Zeph. 3:17 "For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs."

Matthew 5:4 "God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted."

Oh, and I almost forgot, I got a drain out today and just have one left. Hallelujah! Hopefully it will be ready to come out on Tuesday. If I have surgery on Wednesday, I will have 4 more drains on the left side. I know more about drains than I ever cared to know. I am thankful for them though, because without them, I would be having some major problems. It is amazing how God has equipped doctors and medical field with wisdom in surgeries of how things can be done. The human body is amazing! I know I have said that I can’t understand how someone could go through cancer without depending on God… I feel the same way about seeing what all the human body is capable of and how people can believe there is no God. I pray others won’t have to go through what I’ve been through, but it seems impossible to me to see what your body can do and not see the very divine nature of our Father.

"You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb." Psalm 139:13

Ok, wow, I’ve written a lot and you are probably tired of reading. I can ramble on and on...if you didn't already know:) Last part- I got expanded today on my right side and that went great. It is looking really well. I got deflated on the left side to see if deflating would help slow down or stop the exposure process. We are both tired of my body being manipulated, but we know the Lord is being glorified through my suffering and healing process. He is sovereign and worthy of praise.

Here are some pictures from the beach this week. We had such a wonderful time. Please, please pray for me and I will update you all on Tuesday after my visit with Dr. Villa. We have been shaken with all of these "complications", but we will not be moved. We stand and depend on the one who never changes. We love you all!

After dinner one night with the bay behind us.

Glad to eat dinner with my mom!

Ms. Tammy, Audrey, Erin, Aly, Josh and my mom

This was me at the beach modeling my drains. Early practice at looking somewhat pregnant:)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

1st 3 month check up on Friday

Hey guys,

My post- op check up went well on Thursday and everything seems to be looking really well from surgery. I got 2 of my four drains out and that felt much better to get out. My other 2 are draining well, but still not ready, so hopefully they will be out soon. It really is feeling great on my right side. Not anything close to what I expected it to feel like, so I am so, so thankful.

More of the issues come in right now with my left side in regards to reconstruction. The skin is very tight and somewhat immobile from radiation and they are scared that what happened on the right will happen on the left. Their thinking is ,"if problems happened on the non-radiated side, problems will most likely occur on the radiated side." Because of these concerns, they are just somewhat watching and waiting.

I thought I would get expanded on the left side last week, but they are just being super conservative and cautious, so I did not get expanded. It looks like the lat-flap surgery will happen eventually on that side as well...we just don't know when it will happen. It may happen sooner than 6 months if there are problems. It may happen with an expander if we can't expand before the surgery. If we are able to expand before surgery...we may do the lat flap surgery with an implant...It may happen soon or it may be a while...there are just so many options that just simply depend on how my skin and tissue responds on the left side. I really don't even know what I want. The one thing I do know is that God is worthy to be praised and worthy to be trusted. I thought I knew the best thing for me, and to me, that was not having the lat flap surgery. Thus far, it hasn't been too bad and I have super healthy tissue, skin, and will eventually have a more natural looking breast. God knew what was best for me, when I really had no clue. So, I can kind of waste my time thinking of all the things I want. I am praying above all that I am cancer free FOREVER, and I am trusting that is his will for me. Of course I want to look great and somewhat like my old self, and he knows the desires of my heart. I am trusting him to give me those desires in whatever way he sees fit. He has proved himself faithful over and over and over again!

Psalm 37:4 "Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart's desires."

I am having some pain/discomfort on a part of my left breast that I was concerned about at last week's appointment. It felt sort of lumpish, but I was trusting that it was part of my expander, and that is just what it was. My plastic surgeon and the P.A. felt it and said that that was where expander was sutured and it is OH SO SORE! To barely push it can feel excruciating. I'm not sure why it is so sore, but it is. I think it may be putting pressure of some of my ribs, because I have had some "clicking" when I take really deep breaths and it is right where the expander is so sore. Please pray that this goes away!

I have started physical therapy here in West Monroe and it is going really well. I am getting much movement on my right side after this surgery and my left arm range of motion is getting better too. Before this last surgery, I was favoring my right side so much because I had much more limited movement on the left. Well, now that I had surgery on my right side, it has made me use my left side more, which has been a blessing for sure. I had been scared to move my right arm and back after surgery and going through this physical therapy has made me feel much more comfortable in moving it and stretching it. I will continue going to physical therapy 3 times a week until I have reached my goals.

I will see my plastic surgeon on the 16th of August to re-evaluate what we think we will do on the left side. I am trusting that God's perfect plan will play out as I obey him and stay close to his word.

The huge, big, major milestone coming up happens tomorrow! I have my first ever, 3 month oncology check up. I have been giving my anxiety over to the Lord in my mind, but my body is not quite caught up with my mind just yet. My stomach has been in knots this week as I come to this appointment. Instead of looking at 4 more years, or 1 more year, I have chosen to go from milestone to milestone. And for me, that is every 3 months for the next year. So, I am going from 3 months to 3 months, and that's tomorrow. The last time I saw my oncologist was on May 1st when I got the wonderful news that my pathology was clear! I was so overwhelmed at the good news that we barely even asked any questions. So, we have a lot of questions we want to ask at this visit. Overall, we just want a good, cancer-free visit. Please, please, please pray for me and that tomorrow will be another joyful day where God's healing is yet again so very evident. I think I literally feel every bit of blood pump through my body because I am so aware of what my body is doing and I can have "symptoms" come up. I cast them down and make them line up with God's word, but those come to mind when an appointment like this comes up. Please do not just read this blog, but stop right now and pray for me! I will be looking forward to posting a great report after my appointment on Friday! Please join me in devoting yourselves to prayer, with a thankful heart.

"Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart." Colossians 4:2. So take rest that when you pray for me, you are obeying scripture. I will do the same for all of you.

I love you all. I pray for you all too...blessings for your care and concern and prayers for me!