a surgery.

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Welp.  Here I am. I cannot believe I am actually writing my first post following my exchange surgery.  My expanders are officially a distant memory and I am spending my spring break recovering and getting used to my new, expander-free life.  I had looked forward to this surgery for so long… and now its over…it seems bizarre that I don’t have to worry about it anymore.

Although everything turned out ok, the road leading up to my exchange surgery wasn’t quite as smooth as I had anticipated.  I spent all week last week preparing because I was originally scheduled to have surgery last Friday, March 28th.  However, the stomach flu had different plans for me.  I became extremely sick last Thursday and, when I called his office, Dr. Noel recommended that we postpone surgery until I felt better.  Obviously, that was the right thing to do, but at the time I was super disappointed.  I cried. Silly, I know…. but I was SOOOO ready to get rid of those expanders!!!.  So, I spent 4 days in bed and drank more water and Gatorade than any one person should in a lifetime. THANKFULLY I was better just in time to have surgery Monday morning.

So, with even more anticipation that normal, I woke up early Monday and got all ready for my operation.  Just like before my first surgery, I showered and washed with this special anti-bacterial soap that tingled like crazy.  Then, I curled my hair and put on mascara and lip gloss, even though they said not to wear makeup. =)   What can I say… I like to bend the rules a little bit.  Finally, it was 10:30am and my friend Sarah and Super Husband drove me over to the hospital.

Even though I was excited to have this surgery, I was a little more nervous going into this surgery than my last.  I know the first surgery was a much bigger deal and had a much longer recovery… but this surgery was different for me.  It marked the first major medical event in my life that I would go through without any family.  As most of you know, I am an only child and my mom passed away a couple of years ago.  Until about a year ago, my dad was my only family within about 500 miles.  Now,  my dad… well… he isn’t around anymore.  So, going into surgery alone made things feel pretty different for me this time around.

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I know I am 30 years old.  I know I have an amazingly sweet and capable husband.  I know God has blessed me with the most amazing friends on the planet.  However, there just isn’t anything that can take the place of knowing that a parent… someone who loves you more than anything… is waiting on YOU to come out of surgery.  For reasons I am still trying to figure out, this just wasn’t in the cards for me this time and knowing that made me much more anxious than I normally would have been as I headed over to the hospital.

Fortunately, I didn’t have a whole lot of time to think about things once I got to the hospital. As soon as I checked into the surgery waiting area, the nurses called me back to get ready.  I tell ya, that hospital always runs on time!  It’s so nice.  Once I changed into a hospital gown and verified my name and date of birth about a gazillion times, they finally let me have some company.

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Here I am with Super Husband.  He is so good.

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And, here I am with my friend Sarah…. Laura and her sweet mom were also there with me.    They were such good company and did a great job distracting me while I waited.  I am super bummed I didn’t get a picture with all of them.

Finally, Dr. Noel came to check in with me and do all his final markings.

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After we’d had a chance to talk (and Dr. Noel ASSURED me that I will someday be able to do push ups again), they gave me all kinds of medication, put me in a hair net, and I said goodbye to my people.

Before I knew it, I was back in what seemed like the same stark, white operating room thinking about the same beach that brought me peace during my last surgery.  The next thing I remember is waking up in recovery.

As I prepared for this surgery, I was told by lots of other women that this surgery was “a BREEZE” and “so much easier on your body” compared to the first surgery.  Well, let me tell you… if you are getting ready to have your exchange surgery and this is what you’ve heard… YOU HAVE HEARD CORRECTLY!!!  There is just no comparison to how you feel post mastectomy and post exchange.  When I woke up in recovery, I was in very little pain and was even able to walk and get myself dressed.  Even though it sounds weird, my chest actually felt better after surgery than it had before.  My poor chest muscles had been so sore and strained over those crazy expanders and I felt like I woke up to instant relief.  I stayed in recovery an hour or so and before I knew it, they were sending me home.  My surgery had started at 12:30pm and I was home by 5pm.  CRAZY.

The last few days since surgery have been a blur of company, percocet, naps, and Sex and the City reruns.   I don’t think I’ve ever been so busy doing absolutely nothing. Ha. Thank goodness my sweet friends have come over to see me so I don’t Pinterest myself to death.

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At this point, I am three days post exchange and the only medication I am taking is an antibiotic to prevent infection.  I am not hurting AT ALL from the surgery and haven’t needed to take any pain meds since yesterday morning.  I can’t drive and I’ve only taken a couple small trips outside the house, but for now that’s ok with me… especially since I have these back…

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THE DREADED, HORRIBLE DRAINS.

I am hoping that these beauties will be removed tomorrow during my follow-up appointment with Dr. Noel.  I know they are important for a healthy recovery… but I need them out for many reasons.  First, they are driving me crazy.  Second, the dang things hurt…. those tubes are sewn into your skin!!!! Last… and MOST important… I need to get rid of these things so I can cheer on my UK Wildcats when they play in the Final Four on Saturday!!!!!!  It’s hard to cheer when you have all these crazy bulbs hanging around and holding you down.  Say a little prayer for me…  TAKE. THEM. OUT.

I’ll keep you posted.

GO BIG BLUE!!!!!!!

Jayne

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a silver lining.

images9Woah.  It really has been a while. Life sorta took off after my birthday and I’ve been staying super busy.  If you’d like to know what I’ve been up to the last few weeks, I can sum it up in just a few pictures….

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snow.

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ice.

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snow and ice.

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cold.

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more snow and ice.

Like so many people this winter, Louisville has been overwhelmed with crazy amounts of snow compared to what we normally see in the winter.  So far, we have racked up 10 snow days and have had countless school delays.  Public schools are going to be in session until June 12 at this point. MAJOR. BOO.

Even though I’ve had time off because of the snow, it has actually made teaching more challenging and time-consuming.  I’ve spent a ridiculous number of snow days going to school anyway in hopes of trying to figure out how to combine and embed concepts within other lessons so I can make up for lost time.  At this point, state testing has not been moved, so I’m doing my best to not let my kids get behind even though we’ve lost so much instructional time.

Other than working on school stuff… and maybe watching a few episodes of Melrose Place on Netflix…. I’ve had a lot to celebrate the last few weeks!  First of all, I found out that one of my most favorite people… who shall remain anonymous… is PREGNANT!!!  I cannot wait to spoil that little baby with all kinds of cute things.

Second, I’ve had a couple of precious friends get married!!

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Ignore my crazy red eyes… not sure how to edit those silly things. Both weddings were beautiful and SO FUN.  Congrats to my gorgeous friends! Love you to pieces.

So, here I am, almost 5 months post mastectomy and life is fairly normal.   There are a couple small things related to my recovery that I’d like to mention in the event you are considering or recovering from surgery.

First of all, I have realized a HUGE perk (pun totally intended) of having a mastectomy with reconstruction.

NO BRA… EVER.

Have you ever stopped to think about the clothing options you would have if you didn’t have to worry about under garments on your top half?  I was never one to mind the feeling of a bra, but I definitely ruled out certain types of shirts and dresses when they were cut too low or slightly see through because I didn’t want to have to buy a new, special bra.  Well… NEVER AGAIN!  Not sure if you can tell, but the dress I wore to my sweet friend Jess’ wedding was black, see through lace and I didn’t have to worry about whether not my bra straps would be seen.  SUCH FREEDOM!

I couldn’t help but notice that Angelina Jolie… who is also BRCA+… is reaping the same benefit.  She wore a smoking hot dress to the Oscars… and I would bet a million dollars she isn’t wearing any type of bra underneath.

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I mean… that dress is see through.  No bra or crazy contraption holding everything up and in place.  She looks amazing.

You might be thinking that I care way too much about this. However.. it’s in the silver linings that you can find peace with difficult choices. Don’t judge.

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The second recovery update I wanted to share involves exercise.

Prior to surgery, I was pretty active.  I went to the gym 4-5 times a week to do cardio and lift weights.  Obviously, after surgery I had to slow down quite a bit.  For several weeks all I did was walk my neighborhood.  I could have gone back to the gym to walk on the treadmill or do other light cardio, but I just felt too weird and out of shape and was afraid I would hurt myself.  Then, once the snow craziness started, my outside walking plan went out the window and I was left feeling pretty much like an overstuffed sloth.

So, just after my birthday, I went to Target and made my first workout video purchase ever!

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Target didn’t have the best selection, so I ended up buying two Jillian Michaels videos.  I wasn’t real sure what the quality would be like, but for $10 I felt like it was work the risk.  As it would turn out, these videos have been PERFECT for me.  Both videos have leveled segments, which was a great help as I slowly worked toward building  up my strength and endurance.  I also really like that there are only a few chest exercises built into the workouts and they can be easily modified. This is absolutely necessary since my chest muscles are still super weak from being on top of my expanders.  Last… these videos are awesome because I CAN DO THEM AT HOME.  I hate going out in the cold, so I love that I don’t have to get all bundled up to drive to the gym.  Furthermore, I can wear whatever I want without worrying if I look “gym appropriate”.  Even though I don’t wear a bra on a regular basis, I have been wearing a loose sports bra as I work out… it just helps me feel a little more secure.  Sometimes I also wear a tank top that has a built-in bra inside.

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Neither the sports bra or the tank are very tight… and I wouldn’t wear anything too tight without consulting your plastic surgeon.  I wouldn’t want anyone to constrict the area and cause themselves pain or complications.  Always, always, always, ASK YOUR DOCTOR FIRST!

I feel so much better now that I’ve been able to exercise again.  It’s just another way that my life has gotten closer to what I was used to prior to surgery.  I feel so much stronger… and I know I’m stronger because I can do some CRAZY things with my chest muscles that I was never able to do before.  I won’t get into the details… but it is definitely interesting… HA!

SPEAKING OF SURGERY…. My exchange surgery is in 23 days!!!  I cannot wait.

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For those of you wondering, this surgery will take place so the surgeon can remove my tissue expanders and replace them with impants.  This surgery will be much less complicated than my last… thank goodness.

Someone actually asked me last week… “Why are you having so many surgeries?  Isn’t this like a boob job?  Those aren’t normally this complicated, are they?”  Look, people… a double mastectomy with reconstruction is about as similar to a boob job as Michael Jackson is to Princess Diana.  I mean, the two have NOTHING in common.  Do you really think I would dedicate all this time, energy, and writing to a boob job!?!?  Geeze.  No.

So, since this surgery means closing the door on an extremely emotional and complicated situation, I am really looking forward to it!!!

Let’s hope there is no more snow between now and then… I want to recover in the midst of spring!!!!

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I’ll try to write more often.

Happy Tuesday.

Jayne

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a celebration.

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That’s right… I am done!  No more fills for me!!! I could not be more excited!

Before I give you the lovely details of my doctor’s appointment, I wanted to share a couple of things with you.  Ever since I started this blog, the anchor has become a really important symbol for me.  It reminds me of my journey and how proud I am of the choices I’ve made along the way.  Anyway,  the last couple of months I have found some super cute anchor products I wanted to show you.

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This is the sweetest little gold bracelet and I have totally fallen in love with it.  I found it on ebay for an excellent price and I bought several.  I kept one for myself and gave others to some of the amazing women who’ve supported me throughout this whole ordeal.  This happens to be the bracelet that belongs to my sister-in-law (Krissy… by the way… your wrist looks great on camera… hehe). Cute, huh????

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I also received this sweet navy blue sweater for Christmas from Super Husband’s mama.  She knows how to pick out a great gift!!  I know my eyes look crazy tired in this picture… this was taken just after a long day with third graders and a doctor’s appointment, so don’t judge!  Ha! I just love things with stories and meanings behind them.  Love.  This. Sweater.

So… enough about anchors and on to the good stuff!! I am a little late in writing this post…. had a lot going on this weekend.  I had wanted to write sooner, but my friend Jess is getting married soon and my best friend and I threw her a bridal shower this morning.  Since the shower was at my house, I spent most of the weekend cleaning and getting all my decorations ready.  I couldn’t quite find the time to type.  However, the shower is over now, it went well, and here I am!

Here’s the update on what you can expect 3 months (OMG, 3 months!!!) post surgery.

I had a routine expansion appointment with my plastic surgeon last Friday.  I was anxious to see my plastic surgeon because it had been over a month since my last appointment. To my surprise, it ended up being a very productive appointment!

First, I was able to get some information about some soreness that I’d been experiencing.  I mean, let’s be honest, these expanders aren’t fabulous and a little soreness is normal.  However, the last couple of weeks I’d noticed a little extra soreness and, actually, the shape of my right side had changed a little bit.  As it would turn out, my expanders have actually rotated under my skin!  It’s not a huge rotation, but the ports used for my expansions are now located on the sides of my body as opposed to the top.  I guess that would explain a little extra soreness and the change in shape.  My plastic surgeon didn’t seem alarmed and he explained that it wouldn’t have an effect on my final results, so I’m not worried…. but it is interesting to know that something like can happen.

Second, as I already mentioned, I had my final expansion during the appointment.  Yippeeeee!  My expanders  are done being filled and they finished with 400ccs of saline.  I have been pretty fortunate… I haven’t had a lot of discomfort during my expansions.  Usually, just sore for a day or two afterward. However, each of those little expansions has sure added up to quite a lot!  I feel like I am walking around with giant boulders on my chest.  My expanders are much bigger now than I would like my implants to be….  I have been reassured though… my final result will seem smaller because the saline implants will be slightly smaller, have a smaller diameter, and sit slightly lower on my chest.  I sure am hoping!!  I’m feeling rather large and in charge these days!  Ha!

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And last, during my appointment I was able to schedule my exchange surgery!!  March 28th.  I am counting down the days!  I cannot wait to have this surgery and move on from all of this!  My plastic surgeon said the upcoming surgery will take about an hour and will have a much easier recovery than the first surgery.  He also told me that I would come up with 2 drains afterward. BOO.  Major BOO.  However, he said it would only be for 5 days, so I guess I shouldn’t complain too much. Not sure if I will stay over night in the hospital or come home?  I probably need to look into that.

Now that it’s over, I am really surprised at how well everything went.  The expansion process wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d imagined (I read some horrific stuff and had pretty terrible expectations).  I know I didn’t make it through alone… I owe a lot of my strength to an amazing network of friends and family members who have checked on me and helped me through and through.  I just don’t know how I would have done it without them.

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I also know that I have been extremely blessed to have had excellent care, fabulous doctors, and a recovery without any complications.  Everything really came together.  Such an answer to prayer.

So, the countdown is on… 74 days until my exchange!!  I cannot wait!!!

Until then… keep me in your thoughts.  I turn 30 this Saturday.  YIKES.

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I’m definitely not a cheese… so I’ll go with this for now.

Have a good week.

Jayne

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a snow day.

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Well… I made it through a big week!

As for my main accomplishment… I survived my first week back to school!   The week actually went very well.  My coworkers were extremely nice Monday morning and I was glad to see them. My kids seemed happy to see me and we fell back into our classroom routine easily.  Contrary to what I had anticipated, I didn’t get crazy exhausted as I took on my old work schedule.  As a matter of fact, I actually felt like I had more energy than before my surgery.  Maybe it’s because I had time to rest while I was at home.  Maybe it’s because I had a break from the pressure surrounding the Common Core-Testing craze.  However, I’d like to think that some of my energy came from the weight that lifted off my shoulders the day I had my mastectomy.  I’ve mentioned before that I used to have horrible anxiety about developing breast cancer.  I feel a gazillion times lighter knowing breast cancer is not my destiny.  I have to believe that I felt so good last week because I was not wasting precious energy on senseless, powerless worry anymore.  Now my brain can fully focus on what needs to be done to help my sweet kiddos.

As I brag about how easy it was for me to make it through the week, I have to be honest…  We only had four days of school.  I woke up Friday morning to find out that there was no school. School was cancelled because of “snow”.  I was slightly shocked because when I looked out my window Friday morning,  this is what I saw:

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I didn’t quite understand why school had been cancelled.  However, as a teacher, I don’t question snow days.  I appreciate the break! So, I climbed back in bed and fell back into my post-surgery morning routine: coffee and Pinterest to the sound of the Today Show in the background.   Little did I know, my snow day was going to be very busy!

It all started when I was pinteresting and ran across some fabulous news about BRCA awareness.

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Decoding Annie Parker is a movie that tells the story of how Mary Claire King, a geneticist, and Annie Parker, a breast cancer patient, work together to discover and unravel the BRCA gene mutation and its effect on families.  I heard about this movie throughout the last year.  There were showings around the country over the summer and this fall, but I was never able to make it to one. Well, as I scoured Pinterest pins about the movie Friday morning, I read that Entertainment One purchased the rights to the movie last week.  As I understand it, the movie will be coming to theaters everywhere this summer!

I was super excited to read the announcement about Decoding Annie Parker.   I really want to see the movie and now I will have the chance.  The movie will also provide the general public a great opportunity to learn more about BRCA mutations.

Here’s the link to the preview if you’re interested:

I was so excited after I read about the movie on Friday morning that I texted my sweet friend Katie Pass, who is also BRCA2+, to tell her the news.  After we texted about the movie, she realized that I had the day off.  She asked me to join her and another BRCA+ woman for lunch at a local restaurant, The Feed Bag.  Of course, I jumped at the chance to meet another woman with experiences similar to mine.  So, I put Hoda and Kathy Lee on hold and got dressed so I could brave the “snow” and meet the girls for lunch.

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When I arrived at Lunch, Katie and her friends were already there.  Mindy, the sweet woman in the brown vest, and her son’s girlfriend, Vanessa, quickly welcomed me to the table.  I sat down and we all immediately started talking about our BRCA experiences. There is such a crazy bond between women who have the BRCA mutation in common. Something about bond makes you feel like it’s totally acceptable to spill your guts to someone who is basically a complete stranger. Ha!

I told Mindy and Vanessa all about losing my mom and how hard its been to go through my mastectomy without family around.  Katie shared about her amazing progress.  Mindy shared her  BRCA story.  She is BRCA1+ and has been through several surgeries related to her genetic diagnosis.  I don’t want to broadcast her business, but let me tell you…  Mindy is AMAZING.  She has lived through some pretty horrific experiences because of this stupid gene mutation.  She is a true fighter… and real BRCA hero.  I greatly appreciated her willingness to share her story.  I know a lot more about how to proceed and what to expect from my next surgeries.  I continue to be in awe of all the Louisville women who have come forward and offered support to me.

After we finished our lunch and bonding session, I got ready to go to Dr. Noel’s office for my 6th expansion.  I REALLY didn’t want to go.  “They” already feel so big and after each expansion I have become even more sore.  However, I knew I had to go.  The sweet appointment lady at Dr. Noel’s office called me Friday morning and explained that I needed to come in that afternoon.  Dr. Noel had told her that I should be expanded before my wisdom teeth are removed next week.  So, I left St. Matthews and made the familiar trek to 4001 Kresge Way.

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As expected, I was expanded 30 more ccs during my appointment.  Apparently, even though I am close to the size I want to be, my expanders need to be filled with additional saline so the final results following my exchange surgery look more natural.  It’s very hard to trust someone else with all this.  I know Dr. Noel is doing the right thing (obviously… he’s been practicing for a trillion years and I’ve talked to tons of  more-than-satisfied patients), but when I look at the expanders… oh man… they are just really working my nerves.  I’m ready for them to be gone.  I have one more expansion in January.  Then, I wait for my exchange surgery.  It can’t be soon enough.

When I was done with my appointment, I headed down the elevator and quickly discovered why school had been cancelled for the day.

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That would be ice covering the trees.  While I was in Dr. Noel’s office, Mother Nature had decided to show me why we’d had a snow day.  The ice was pretty worrisome… I mean… I’m a bad driver in the sunshine with dry pavement.  Trying to drive home in all the ice wasn’t exactly ideal for me.

By the time I made it home from the doctor’s office, it looked like this:

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And within just a few minutes… it looked like this:

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Now, I  lived in Illinois for many years… I know that doesn’t look like much snow compared to what others see regularly.  But, remember… there is ice under there! It was not good.  I almost had to call Super Husband to come get me on the drive home.  Good thing I didn’t.  It took him two hours two drive home from the south side of town because the roads were so hairy.

After I got home, I was pretty sore from the expansion.  I decided the best idea was to drown my soreness in some Tylenol, hot chocolate, and carmel corn.  Even though I took some medicine, I was still pretty sore.  The pain is definitely manageable though.  It certainly wasn’t enough to keep me from wanting cheeseburger pizza from BJ’s at Oxmoor Mall for supper!  We headed out a few hours later, into the snowy madness, to have dinner with my fellow pea-in-a-pod, Laura, and her husband.   We were pretty much the only people outside in all of Louisville. Ha!  The things you will do for a cheeseburger pizza…

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We made it to the mall and had a super tasty supper.  Then, we headed back into the cold and went home. I pretty much crashed as soon as I walked in the door.

I woke up this morning to cleared roads and quite a lot of soreness across my chest.  I’m hoping the soreness will dissipate before my next expansion.  I hadn’t really felt long-lasting soreness with these expanders until yesterday.  Let the countdown to my exchange surgery begin.

Enjoy the snow.

Jayne

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a meeting.

Alright.

I’ll be the first to admit, I love winter.  I love sweaters, snow, and hot chocolate.  However, the cold that arrived in Kentucky a few days ago has come a little early for my taste.  I’ve been really good about getting out and taking walks to improve my stamina… but when it’s this cold? Not happening.  Instead, I’ve spent way too much time on my computer watching mindless Netflix shows and combing pinterest for interesting photos.  In the midst of my Pinterest extravaganzas, I have found several great mastectomy related pins.  Here are my current favs:

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1. Jay-Z meets BRCA prophylactic mastectomy.  Love this… mostly because I can hear him rapping this in my head as I read it.

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2. Super vulgar reconstruction t-shirt (Sorry, Nana!).  I guess you could wear this even if you didn’t have a mastectomy.  However, I find this highly appropriate for someone going through the early stages of the reconstruction process. Obviously, I would never actually wear this shirt in front of other people if I owned it.  I would love looking at it, though, as it hung in my closet. =)

And last, but certainly not least….

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3.  Boob scarves.  Yes, people.  These things are for real.  Aren’t they hilarious? When I came across them on Pinterest, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  Of course, I headed over to Etsy to get more information about these lovely products and could hardly believe my eyeballs when I saw the search results.  There were TONS of listings for boob scarves.  Apparently, these things must be pretty popular.  Who knew!?!

So, clearly I have entirely too much time on my hands right now.  I am looking forward to having a little more purpose in my life after Thanksgiving when I return to 3rd grade.

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In other news, I had my 5th expansion today! Wahoo!  I get excited about every expansion because it means I am one step closer to putting this all behind me.

My appointment was at 10am this morning.  I got dressed early so I could run out and get some Thanksgiving treats for all the sweet people who work in my plastic surgeon’s office.  I know I have said this a fazillion times, but my plastic surgeon’s office is THE NICEST PLACE to have appointments.  The nurses, the techs, even the appointment ladies are super sweet. Anyway, I drove to Panera and bought a box full of bakery items to give to the staff.  I got home just in time for my ride.

The world’s greatest taxi driver, Paige, picked me up, took my picture with the Panera treats, and we took off!

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At this point, I don’t need a driver to help me get to my appointments.  However, I asked Paige to take me because I was nervous about my expansion today and wanted to take a pain pill.  I have started to get some feeling back in my chest and I was afraid it would hurt more than normal.  It’s also nice to have someone come along for moral support.  Thank goodness my taxi driver has super reasonable rates!  Ha.

So, like usual, we drove the quick 5 minute drive to the doctor’s office.  Then, we headed up the elevator and walked into the office and I gave my Panera treats to the sweet administrative assistant who works the front window.  Once I handed over the goods, Paige and I looked around the waiting room for a place to sit.  It was hard to find a place because it was SUPER full of patients this morning. Maybe because of the upcoming holiday?

We finally decided to go sit in the corner behind this half-wall that partitions the waiting room.  We headed over and then, to my surprise, I looked up and there was Katie!  My sweet friend, Katie Pass, also had a mastectomy recently and she was sitting behind the half-wall waiting for her appointment!

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I had completely forgotten that we both had appointments this morning!  Once I sat down, I got to meet her super nice husband and Katie got to meet Paige.  We started talking and really just had way too much fun catching up in the waiting room.  We talked about how hard it is to shave when you can’t raise your arms super high… and how we wondered if we’d be allowed to have some wine over the Thanksgiving holiday.  You know, all the important stuff. =) I’m sure all the other people in the waiting room thought we were crazy… Oh well!

Unfortunately, our waiting room party was short-lived.  We both got called back shortly after we sat down.  I was taken to my normal room and watched the sweet nurse, Cheryl, get everything ready for my expansion.

008009For those of you who are wondering, that’s a bag of saline.  Several people have told me that they thought my expanders were filled with air.  Nope. It’s saline fluid.

Not too long after Cheryl dropped off the expansion materials, my plastic surgeon came in.  He checked out my incisions and said that everything looked great.  I’ve been putting on Eucerin and wearing those Scar Away sheets like nobody’s business, so I was glad to hear that it’s paying off!  After the quick inspection, it was expansion time.  Even though I have more feeling in my right side now, the expansion needle didn’t hurt too bad.  And like always, it was over speedy quick.

Before my doctor left the room, we talked about my activity level.  He said my range of motion was almost back to normal.  He also said I could start doing aerobic exercise that didn’t require tons of arm movements.  He also said I could start doing some weight lifting (no more than 5 pounds) if I avoided using my chest muscles.  I think I’ll wait a little longer for all that.

I also had the chance to talk to him about the future.  Looks like I only have a couple more expansions left.  I go back in two weeks.  Hopefully, by the time we are done with the expansions I’ll have a better idea of when my exchange surgery will be.  Dr. Noel said it will be sometime between February and April.  Looking forward to it!

Well.  For being such an uneventful day, that sure was a long post.  Working on a Thanksgiving related post for tomorrow.

Stay warm.

Jayne

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a feature.

Sheesh!  What a day! I woke up this morning at 3:45am and never did go back to sleep… A LOT WAS ON MY MIND!

First of all, these expanders are really something.  I must say, I am AMAZED at the reconstruction results I’ve had so far (must be my fab plastic surgeon)….  but, these tissue expanders are for the birds!  My pain level was much better last night after having some soreness from an expansion on Monday.  However… let me be honest.  These tissue expanders make my chest super hard and its hard to sleep unless you lay on your back.  I USED to be a stomach sleeper…  not so much anymore!  Oh well.  A super small price to pay in exchange for a reduced breast cancer risk. Did I mention that my general surgeon told me that my breast cancer risk dropped from 87% down to 2%?  I mean… GEEZE.  I’ll take tissue expanders any day for that!!!!!!

The second reason I had trouble sleeping was because I knew this was happening today…

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That’s a WAVE3 vehicle in my driveway.  For those of you not from Louisville, WAVE3 is one of our local news channels.

One of the news anchors from WAVE3, Janelle Macdonald, came to my house to cover the story of my family history of BRCA and my decision to have surgery.

I was SUPER nervous about the interview… that would be the main reason I woke up at 3:45am and watched a fazillion episodes of One Tree Hill on Netflix until I finally decided to get up.   Every time I thought about being on TV, my stomach just turned into knots.  I really don’t like being in front of people… but I knew it was important to share my story publicly if I wanted to continue my mission of trying to turn this stupid gene mutation into something positive.

Before WAVE3 arrived, I super cleaned my house, got dressed, and did my makeup.  My friend Paige came over yesterday and tried to help me figure out what to wear.  She also gave me strict instructions to take a selfie before the interview so I could make sure that I had put on enough blush.  HA!  Just like something my mom would have told me to do.

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Hope my blush met your expectations, Paige!  Love you to pieces!

Anyway, just after the selfie, WAVE3 arrived.  They set up these light umbrella things in my living room which was a little nerve-racking to watch.

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Obviously, from this crazy dark picture, you can see why they needed to set up lights.  My living room has tons of lamps and windows, but its the darkest room ever.

After they set everything up, Janelle and I sat down and talked about my mom and what led me to genetic testing and prophylactic mastectomy.  Janelle’s mom passed away from breast cancer and she also had genetic testing a couple of years ago.  Her results were negative.  However, she remembered how nervous she was as she awaited her results and she seemed to totally understand everything I explained.  She was so nice and empathetic… it made me feel so much more comfortable than I had anticipated.

After we talked, they asked me to show them some pictures of my mom and our family.  They shot video of us talking about the pictures and then took some video of just the pictures alone.  The entire experience lasted about an hour.  Before they left, I asked them when and if the story would air and they said it would come on tonight!!!   I was shocked.  I had expected it to take at least of couple of days for them to put the segment together.

My husband, Mitch, was on duty at the fire station tonight.  So, my dad and I grabbed dinner at Whole Foods and headed to the station to watch the news and see the finished product of my story.  In the event that you want to see it, here is the link:

VIDEO: Woman makes decision to remove breasts, plans further surgery to cut cancer risk.

I was super worried that I would sound dumb on TV or that it wouldn’t have focused on what I felt were the most important parts of my story.  But, after watching, I was really pleased with how the video was put together.  WAVE3 did such a nice job showcasing my purpose for coming forward and honoring my mom and grandmother.  My mom and grandmother would probably kill me if they could see all of their pictures featured on the news tonight.  My grandmother especially hated having her picture taken.  Other than that though, I like to think that they would be proud of me for sharing their story as well as my own.  I know that they would have wanted me to do everything I could to prevent getting a cancer diagnosis.  I also know they would want me to do my best to use my experience to help other people.  I sure hope that will happen.

Until tomorrow.

Jayne

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a step.

Good afternoon!  I hope everyone in Louisville is enjoying this sunshine because I just saw on Facebook that it might snow tonight.  What the heck? Who knows. Only in Kentucky.

I saw this ecard on Pinterest today…

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Mine aren’t plotting against me anymore! Love it.

Anyway, I want to spend today’s post explaining another major thing I have been dealing with the last three weeks during recovery… tissue expansion.

During my initial operation three weeks ago, the surgery was done in two parts.  During the first part, my general surgeon opened me up and removed all of my breast tissue.  Once she finished, my plastic surgeon started the reconstruction process by inserting tissue expanders where my breast tissue used to be.  A tissue expander looks like this:

expanders

To be honest, I’m not sure if this is the exact type of expander that I have right now.  I just found this picture on google and it looks similar enough that you can get the point.  The expander is basically an empty sac that has a metal port on top… that’s the dark spot.  During the surgery, the expander was put in the place of my breast and filled with a few CCs of saline fluid (100 I think) before I was stitched back up.

Seven days after my surgery, I started going back to the plastic surgeon so he could check my progress and start the expansion process.  During each appointment, my doctor added more saline to the expander so it would gradually get bigger and expand my skin  and prepare it for implants.

Today, after 3 weeks, I went in for my fourth expansion. Now that Mitch is back at work, my friend Paige has been my taxi driver to and from the doctor’s office.  Here I am getting ready to go to my fourth expansion today.

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I always like to wear comfortable clothes because getting expanded makes you pretty sore.  Today I needed a little attitude pick-me-up, so under my jacket I wore the super funny t-shirt that my friend Laura bought me.

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It’s mostly funny to me because everything underneath that shirt is far from perfect… but considering that I’m only three weeks post surgery, I feel like they look amazing! Good work, Dr. Noel! =)

I am really lucky that my doctor’s office is just down the road, so we never have a long drive.  I am also super lucky because my doctor’s office ALWAYS runs on time.  I don’t think I’ve ever waited more than 5 minutes.  Today as we waited, Paige and I asked an innocent man in the waiting room to take our picture.

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Hope he didn’t think we were too crazy!!  Now we’ll never get to forget those fun times when Paige drove me around town after my surgery and yelled at me for using my arms too much! Ha!

As usual, I was called back quickly and I changed into my favorite pink vest.  Don’t be too jealous.

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And then I waited.  The wait is never long, but I always get a little nervous before the expansion.  Today my doctor came in and started checking everything out.  To my surprise, the first thing he did was help me remove all the crazy adhesive that was still stuck to my skin.  I mentioned last night that I was contemplating using Goo Gone… not sure if that would have been a good idea or not.  I guess I’ll never know because he had an “adhesive remover” that worked like a charm.  He mentioned that I could have also used nail polish remover if I’d wanted. Good to know.

Once I was all cleaned up, the doctor used a port finder to find where the expander ports were located beneath my skin.  The port finder uses a magnet to locate the metal port.

This is the port finder that was used today.

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Once the port was located, my doctor stuck a syringe needle in the port and filled the expander up with more saline.  Today I had 35 CCs put in.  I’ve had up to 50 CCs during other expansions.

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The fill itself didn’t really hurt.  I always scrunch up my face when he sticks me which is always so ridiculous since I HAVE NO FEELING LEFT in my chest. I think I make the face because of the thought of a needle going in my skin… and it freaks me out to know that it’s happening so close to my face.  I didn’t feel anything as the saline was going in the expander and before I knew it, the fill was over!  Then, my amazing taxi driver took me home.

I’m not totally sure, but I think I only have a few more of these expansions left.  Everyone always wants to know… “Are you going to try make them bigger???” Well, the answer is no.  I just want to look like I’ve always looked.  I didn’t start out with a whole lot, so surely I am getting close!  I go back in two weeks for my next expansion.

So, there you have it… expansion in a nut shell.

I’m headed to a FORCE meeting at Gilda’s Club tonight where I’ll get to meet other BRCA+ people in Louisville.  It’s the first time I’ll be going to anything like this… I’ll share how it goes tomorrow!

Thanks for reading!

Jayne

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