Tuesday, February 19, 2013

While I'm waiting...

My check up last Thursday went great! My mom drove me to Houston and we had a great time with the Stanfills. My appointment went well and everyone wanted to see how good I looked. Alisha and Dr. Villa were thrilled with how everything turned out. I got both of my drains out too:) I am still a little sore, but overall, it has been such an easy surgery. I still have a good bit of bruising, but Dr. Villa said that it will take a while for it to go away because of it being bruised on radiated skin (which is delayed healing anyway). I am feeling much better about how everything looks and I've slept on my side and stomach several times since last Thursday...it's the little things in life....

Alisha laughed at me because when she was taking off my tape from the drains, I was wincing so much. This time, it seemed like the drains were a little "stuck", and of course that was not fun as they were coming out. She laughed at me being so vocal..she said "We pull off tape and you react, but we cut off half of your back and you're fine." All I can say is the God is good to me and has made all of my pain very bearable. It is incredible what all my body has endured in the last 16 months...

My next appointment in Houston and with Dr. Villa is March 21st. I still have stitches in that I guess will stay in until then or come out on their own. It was really weird knowing I wouldn't see them for a month. To have doctors and staff care about you-how you look, feel, and just how you are doing in general- is something I will never take for granted. I initially thought that the doctor I would have the least interaction with would be my plastic surgeon, and he and his staff have been who I have dealt with the most. All of you who prayed that God would put me with the doctors he would have hand-picked--- I have no doubt that He did just that. He has made that CLEARLY evident. My oncologists- Dr. Litton and Dr. Morrow, my surgical oncologist- Dr. Babiera, My radiation oncologist- Dr. Strom, and my reconstructive surgeon- Dr. Villa. Most people go to work each day and do paperwork or make phone calls (not that that isn't important), but these doctors help save lives and aide in helping put people back together. I know cancer treatment is controversial, but I am sure of one thing. I have no doubt that God has blessed these doctors with incredible talent to help hurting people.

Thank you Lord for blessing these doctors with the talents you have given them-to aide in your healing and to bring hope to the weary. I pray they realize that their abilities and talents are from you and seek you in helping vulnerable, sick people. I pray blessings on their life as well as wisdom, spiritual insight, and understanding. May they do your work Father.

I have had more peace in the last 2 weeks than I have had in a really long time. I have had minimum symptoms (side still aches), and I seem to be getting better in every area. To finally feel some relief, emotionally and physically is nothing short of incredibly amazing. I am still struggling to find a balance
in fighting for my life like crazy and resting in God. Pray for me with this, as it is a daily battle!

Psalm 62:5-12 "Yes, my soul, find rest in God;my hope comes from him.Truly he is my rock and my salvationhe is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.Trust in him at all times, you people;pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge."

I also started working with a personal trainer today. When I was undergoing all of my treatments, my exercising was minimal, and it has been a fight to get back in shape. I have been running a lot with my father-in-law and started working with my trainer this morning. I am doing 10 sessions, and then hopefully will learn enough to do on my own. Because of my limitations in weight lifting and not pushing too hard, it can be difficult to find great workouts for me. So, I am so thankful to have someone help jumpstart me! I will be sooooo sore tomorrow, but it is much needed.

I also was able to start back with my physical therapy last week. In October, my insurance stopped paying for my physical therapy and that was really hard for me. My range of motion in my left arm declined, and my plastic surgeon and my other doctors have commented on my poor range of motion. Now that we have met my deductible again, I get physical therapy. I love my therapist, Summer, and am so thankful to be back working on my arm.

I was so blessed and honored to have the opportunity to speak at the Cancer Foundation League Gala this past Saturday. My mom and Mr. Joey joined us and we sat with our wonderful friends, Andy and Julie. Julie is a part of the CFL and she and her mom personally delivered an amazing Christmas basket during Christmas 2011 from CFL, when I was undergoing treatment. Andy and Julie supported us during my entire journey... so grateful for them both. The Cancer Foundation League helped me much during my treatment and it was an honor to share with so many people that give to his incredible organization. I have some other speaking opportunities coming up as well. Enjoy some pictures below from the CFL gala.

So, what's next? Now I must wait. Wait for the next appointments, wait for my comprehensive exams, wait for my semester to be over, wait for cat scans, x rays, ultrasounds, MRI's, wait for babies, wait for my healing to be made completely evident. Life is really a series of waiting and it's what we do in the waiting that really matters. I am determined to not let my hoping for the future sour my waiting period. The waiting always makes the promise or the reward that much sweeter. I choose to continue worshipping, trusting, and loving my God while I'm waiting. What are you waiting on God for? Join me in determining to be joyful in hope and worship while we wait.

Psalm 130:5-8 "I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, And in His word do I hope. My soul waits for the Lord More than the watchmen for the morning; Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning. O Israel, hope in the LORD; For with the LORD there is lovingkindness, And with Him is abundant redemption. And He will redeem Israel From all his iniquities."

Enjoy the pics below. The lighting was weird with the pictures..Also, I attached a link to a video that Josh took when I was getting my sedation medicine. I was trying so hard to combat it...it obviously didn't work:)


My mom and I at the Cancer Foundation League Gala. You can see part of my radiation on the left side of my chest.

My hubby and I at the gala

We had fun in the photo booth..you can see my radiation in these pics too:)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Still recovering from surgery

Hey everyone! Thank you all so, so much for praying for me and my final surgery. It has been surreal that this surgery is bringing an end to so much and I have to be the most thankful girl on earth. Thank you to my amazing hubby, Josh for keeping you all updated. He has of course been my right hand throughout this last surgery...the way he takes care of me is overwhelming. He takes joy in emptying drains, cleaning incisions, bathing me, and waking up to give me my medicine....that is some supernatural care taking!

My pre-op appointment went well on Thursday and they marked me up with a sharpie for surgery. At this time, we still did not know the size of my implants and if they were going to do fat grafting or not. They were leaning toward doing the fat grafting to make my breasts look more natural. Because I am somewhat thin, my collar bone and chest area is bony, which can make an implant look like it was just glued on to my body, but fat grafting can make things look more natural. So we signed a consent for fat grafting, but we knew they would make that decision during surgery. They also talked much about breaking up some scar tissue during surgery and said that I had capsules around each expander that they would have to break up. Dr. Villa told me that I would have 2 drains, which wasn't the best news, but 2 drains were still less drains than I had with any surgery. I felt great after my pre-op appointment and was excited about surgery. Alisha said that Dr. Villa would obsess over me looking as good as I could, and of course that made me feel good.

On Thursday we ate at our favorite Houston restaurant, Ruggles Green, and met my mom for lunch. So thankful she was able to come over for my surgery. It is an all organic restaurant that has amazing food, so we eat there every chance we get. While we were there, we spotted Houston Rockets player, James Harden. Josh was in the bathroom when I saw him and I was freaking out! I called him and he came out of the bathroom and Josh asked if we could take a picture with him. That was definitely exciting and made for a great day!

We spent the rest of Thursday going to a few shops and ended up back at Lance and Tammy's. We had a great night with the Stanfill's and their family at one of our fave restaurants by their house, Blue Water and finished it off with some Menchies:) It never feels like we get enough time with the Stanfills. We tried to go to bed somewhat early because we had to be up by 4 am the next morning. I had to be at the hospital at 5:45 on Friday morning. I got little to no sleep. I wasn't nervous at all, but apparently my body was. I kept feeling like I was going to throw up all night.

We got to the hospital on time and everything went pretty quickly. I prayed so hard that my IV would go in ok and it was the first time anyone got it in on the first try! I was so relieved and happy. The nurse said she was so nervous as she was doing it. My mom and in-laws both came for my surgery and that meant so much to me. I got to visit with them before they took me back to surgery, and I really felt so much at ease. Dr. Villa and Alisha both came back to see me before surgery and they always make me feel better. The last thing I remember was trying to fight off my sedation and Josh was videoing me, so I apparently didn't last long:)

My surgery lasted about 4 hours and everything went well. As soon as I woke up, I remember my left ribs being really, really sore, but most of all, I remember not being hot or nauseous at all. I remember looking at the nurse and being so excited. I just kept saying, "I don't feel sick! I'm so happy." They wanted me to try to go to the bathroom because I had a catheter in during surgery, so I did that, but on my way back to bed, I felt dizzy. My mouth was so dry and my throat was so sore because me being intubated/ I remember seeing Josh and Mr. Joey. Mr. Joey came to Houston to see my after my surgery and that was so sweet of him. I'm sure the others came back after my surgery, but I don't remember! I just know I was so tired and it was hard to keep my eyes open.

They released me and we went to the hotel to sleep. I really wanted to go out to eat that night to spend time with my family who came to my surgery, but as I was getting dressed, I kept feeling nauseous, so I decided to stay in. My sweet mom stayed with me while the others ate, then they came back and we visited some in the room. I really enjoyed that. I got little to no sleep that night, but it let me pray and thank God for all He had done in my life. As Josh told you, I also got some funny video of him snoring. He never does, so it was funny to get proof:)

We woke up Saturday morning and went shopping a little bit, ate some good food and headed home. I felt good enough to go to church Sunday morning and had a great time at my in-laws watching the superbowl. God continues to amaze me with how he protects me. It is just simply amazing. There is no other way to explain it! I think I overdid it too much, so today I have spent a lot of time on the couch. I am just still very, very sore. Josh says I have a good bit of bruising under my left breast and on the side of my ribs, which is where I am hurting the most.

Dr. Villa said that I had a bunch of scar tissue from radiation and my other surgeries, so he broke a lot of that up during my surgery ( not sure what that entails, but sounds painful). That pain wasn't something I was expecting. It isn't unbearable, but it is not fun at all. They ended up not doing the fat grafting, which I was surprised and happy about. Once they put the implants in, they looked natural enough that they didn't need to do the grafting. That was definitely a game time decision, because we thought it would be happening based on my pre-op appointment and what they were leaning toward. As far as the feel of my breasts- it is incredible how soft they feel. They feel like normal breast tissue and they don't look or feel like implants at all. I haven't looked at them without my bandages on, but Josh says they look "perfect." I was definitely surprised at how small they looked to me. They are smaller than my original breasts, so that will take a while for me to get used to. I knew that would most likely be the case, but it is different when it is done. I am trying to look at it in a positive way that I will be able to wear some things that I used to not be able to because of my fuller chest. My husband saying I look "perfect" and answering my questions every 5 seconds of how they look definitely help my self-confidence. My body is only temporary and I have healthy breasts- so all my comments about size are relative! Just trying to give you details.

"For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life.cGod himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit. So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him. For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body." 2 Corinthians 5: 1-10

There is always a chance that I can get back to my previous breast size after we have children (in Jesus' name). If I have any skin on my stomach after I have children, they could possibly move that to my breasts and put in larger implants. We don't know if we will do that (and hopefully I won't have excess skin on my stomach after kids), but that is an option down the road. Right now, I am trying to focus on the fact that I am feeling better. I think most people's perception of breast implants is that you will end up with these awesome, perfect breasts, and in dealing with augmentation after breast cancer, that normally is not the case. I am overall very pleased and thankful to have breasts of any size. If my thankfulness is not translating, then it is because I am just giving you too many details, not that I'm not thrilled to have this surgery completed!

So, we will head to Houston for my post-op appointment on this Thursday. My mom will be taking me and am looking forward to hearing how pleased they are with everything. They said that I should not have to see them for a month, then 3 months, then 6 months, and then a year. Praise the Lord. I am praying that these 2 drains can come out on Thursday as well. They have drained very little so I am holding out hope they can come out. These 2 drains make 15 drains that I have had total. I think they will take out my stitches on Thursday as well.

We missed my precious niece so much while we were gone. Josh's cousin, Darren and his wife, Candace found out they are having a boy in June. They are our family, but also great friends and we are excited for their addition, Elliot Darren:) Just a few more weeks for my sister's baby boy...anxiously waiting...please be praying for her as she gets closer to delivery. That God will supernaturally protect her and her baby boy, as he did Rachel and Sullivan. Thank you in advance. I will update soon after my post op appointment on Thursday.

Thank you for continuing to be so interested and invested in our lives. When we are 6 hours away at surgeries and appointments, it can be easy to feel down, but I rarely have felt that way. That is because of your prayers and encouragement to Josh and I. We are forever grateful. Please praise God with us for this final surgery. I can't wait until the day everything on earth acknowledges and praises our God.

"Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” " Rev. 5:13

Us with Rockets player, James Harden

Got my IV in on the first try!

 Right after I woke up and went to the bathroom. Soooo out of it.

Sleeping in the car on the way back to West Monroe

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Home and Resting

After Aly's surgery yesterday we were discharged and Aly went to our room and slept. All of us ended up sleeping all afternoon and we had planned to go out to eat. Aly woke up and began getting ready to go eat but then once she was up and ready did not feel so good and decided to stay in the room while we went and ate Papasitos. 

We brought Aly back some food which she was able to eat and then we went to sleep. 

I woke up quite a bit during the night and each time I did Aly was awake and by her count she only got around 2 hours of sleep. We don't know if that was due to medicine or the fact that she slept all day. When I woke up this morning she was laughing and said listen to this... Aly had recorder me sleeping apparently and no wonder she couldn't sleep. I was snoring like a crazy person. I don't think I do this all the time but that recording is crazy embarrassing.

We ended up going by Marshall's home goods and then we ate lunch at Papas in Humble on our way home. After not a bunch of sleep we were happy to get to our house. 

Church tomorrow in the AM. Night.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Discharged and in Hotel room

We are now in our hotel room and Aly is sleeping.

Sure you all know this at this point but the things Aly had to accomplish to be discharged is to be able to stomach water and food, have her pain be tolerable and then also use the bathroom.

Fairly quickly Aly was able to drink water and sprite and then also was able to eat some saltine crackers and not have them come back up. She initially was not feeling good but then it clicked with her that if she told them she was dizzy that they may not let her go early. This was about 11:45am so I told her I was going to go eat and then when I got back we would see how she felt. Well needless to say when we got back from eating she was feeling good enough to go home.

She was able to finish the checks that the nurse had set for her and so we were on our way. We are staying in the Rotary House which is connected to the hospital so after about a half mile wheelchair ride we were in the hotel room.

Aly has been sleeping on and off since then.

I will update again tomorrow morning unless something interesting happens.

Out of surgery

Dr Villa just came out and said that everyone went well. He said Aly is awake but groggy and we should get to see her in about half an hour.

We should get discharged today but we will see.

Hope you have a great day and I will update once I see her.

Tissue Expander replacement surgery

We arrived at the hospital at 5:45 and have been waiting for someone todo the pre op process.

It is 6:31 and the lady just got here and is taking Aly's vitals.

They say the surgery is going to take between 3-4 hours so we will see. At the current rate that means she should be done sometime 10-11am.

They just took her back at 7:19am so I will update when I know more. The last surgery Aly had they could not get her iv in until they got back to surgery room so this time she said she was going to try and fight it so she could see dr Villa and Alisha in the OR. The anesthesia nurse heard this and laughed.

I will update later.