Saturday, August 24, 2013

God Gave us Clear Answers! A new emergency surgery!

Warning:  this is a long, detailed post.  By Thursday night, we had lots of questions to which we needed answers.  But, let me update you first on some of the issues from our last post.

Falling down patio cover:
The guy who originally built our patio cover checked out the issue on Wednesday. He admitted to not properly anchoring it and said he would fix it for us.  He brought someone to help him out this morning and began the repair.  That deserves a "Praise the Lord" as we were honestly concerned he would not show up.  The quote from someone new to fix it was very costly.  With all of these exorbitant cancer treatment costs and with me not currently working, these unexpected add-on expenses are an extra burden.

Drew's Car:
Drew's car is still running well and we haven't seen a "check engine" notice light since the last repair.  Praise the Lord!

My wound that doesn't want to heal:
And now, for the areas where we had questions.  On Wednesday, I noticed my left breast began looking red and felt a little warm to the touch.  Although it still appeared to be stitched, I thought it would be a good idea to check out a new wound care clinic prior to my appointment at the other new wound care center, which was scheduled for the following Wednesday.   The wound care center was able to get me in at 8am the following morning (Thursday) to see their physician.   The physician actually used to work with my plastic surgeon.  So, he was a trained plastic and reconstructive surgeon.  But, he also had training at burn centers and in hyperbaric treatment.   I saw him Thursday morning and he seemed very knowledgable.   After examining my wound, he asked me if I wanted him to be honest with me.  I replied, "yes, of course, I want you to give me your honest opinion!"  He said, we need to be VERY AGGRESSIVE with your treatment.  Apparently it was a pretty serious issue.  It was such a different response from the previous wound care specialist's opinion I had sought.  This physician ended up removing a couple of stitches and stuck the wooden end of a sterile cotton swab into the hole.  This released a TON of fluid that had built up.  He also injected a ton of silva gel.  Silva gel is an antimicrobial wound hydrogel that releases ionic silver to kill off a wide range of bacteria and fungi.  By the time he was finished, the wound was wide open and looked worse.  He recommended I receive hyperbaric treatment, because he said I had a lot of things working against me in getting the wound to heal on its own.  For one, the wound was on radiated skin.  Radiation shrinks the blood vessels.  With the blood vessels shrunk, red blood cells (which carry oxygen) have difficult getting through to the wound to repair the skin.  Instead, the wound only gets mainly plasma.  Hyperbaric treatment would get concentrated oxygen into my blood stream, so at least some oxygen could get through the vessels to help repair the wound.   However, he wasn't even too optimistic that this would work, because I had some other things working against me.  I had the implant under the skin pushing out.  So, it is very difficult for the radiated skin to heal when something was trying to stretch it out.  Also, it seemed an infection might be brewing.   He said that implants do not foster a sterile environment.  The physician said he optimistically would give it a 50/50 chance for this wound to heal after treating the wound aggressively with his regimen of hyperbaric treatments and topical treatments.   Not only that, but the hyperbaric treatment would be very time consuming and extremely expensive (thank goodness we met our out-of-pocket maximum for the year).  It would take about 3.5 hours a day for me to have the treatment (30 minutes to drive to the clinic, 2 hours in the hyperbaric chamber, plus 30 minutes for preparing to get in and getting out and my clothes back on, etc. and 30 minutes to drive home from the clinic).  And, there would be 30-40 treatments, M-F.  So, this would be anywhere from 6-8 weeks of the 3.5 hour weekday routine.  I headed home after my appointment and discussed this with Drew.

About an hour after my appointment, I was in excruciating pain in the area where the physician poked and prodded around.  I called their office later that afternoon and he agreed to see me right away.  He said it didn't look bad and that I would be fine.  He told me that likely it was the pressure from the gel he injected that was causing the pain.  To me, my skin which was once slightly warm and slightly pink was now dark red/purple and extremely warm to the touch.  It certainly didn't look fine to me.  I also now had a huge open wound.  I asked him what he would recommend for me to do if I were his wife, daughter or sister.  He said, "I would get the implant out."  He said he would put in its place an expander in expanded to about half the size of the current implant (I didn't even know they could get that small!).  Then, he would also do 30 treatments of hyperbaric treatment (he recommended 20 treatments prior to surgery and 10 after).  So, this would mean another surgery.

Leaving that appointment, Drew and I had a lot of new questions on how to proceed.  The whole reason I had the expanders put in and went through that process prior to radiation is because every physician I discussed it with said that they had not seen a successful implant reconstruction post radiation without beginning the reconstruction (expander placement) prior to radiation.  I was also told that that was likely the only option for me for reconstruction due to my size.  The flap surgeries, which are the more popular option for women who undergo radiation treatment, utilize your own body fat and tissue to create breasts.   This surgery has a pretty long recovery time though (approx. 6-8 weeks) and there are also risks with it. So, after much contemplation and discussion with others, we decided to go for the expander reconstruction.    Now, if I removed the implant, it seemed my only option would be to use my own tissue down the road in a new reconstruction surgery.  Since my skin likely would not expand well.

So, what would we do?  Here are the options we discussed.

1.  Remove the implant and just let it heal?
2.  Try the treatment regimen recommended by the wound care center (hyperbaric and topical treatments) and see if we can help it heal without removing the implant.  This would prevent us from having more surgeries.
3.  Have some hyperbaric treatments prior to having the implant exchanged with an expander, expanded to about half the size of the implant.  Then, follow up with more hyperbaric treatments to get it to heal.
4.  Get another plastic surgeon's opinion who specialized in the flap surgeries--could I try the flap surgery on just that one side?  Would I have enough tissue to remove to create a breast just on that one side?

We prayed a lot about it on Thursday night.  We called both sets of parents and asked for their prayer as well.  We began getting answers fairly quickly.

At 5am on Friday, I noticed I had fluid leaking pretty rapidly from my bandaged left breast wound.  I went into the bathroom to change out the bandage.  When I removed the bandage, the wound looked like an open fire hydrant, with silva gel and TONS of fluid pouring out of it.  It wasn't stopping but was continuously flowing.  I noticed I also felt terrible.  I was extremely nauseous.  I grabbed the thermometer to take my temperature and found out I had a fever (101.8, which is pretty high for my normal body temperature of 97).  I wasn't sure what to do.  My plastic surgeon's office didn't open their phone line until 8:30am and I knew he was in surgery all day on Fridays anyway.  I thought the wound looked AWFUL and knew he would think so also.  I contacted the wound care center that I had visited the previous day since they opened earlier than my surgeon's office.  After discussing it with them, they recommended just taking tylenol to see if my fever would go down and they recommended I try to eat and drink something.  My concern was not the fever, but what was causing it.  I know because of the experiences with other women who have undergone reconstruction surgeries that infections can quickly get into your bloodstream and cause sepsis and potentially death.  I have heard from women who had similar experiences as what was experiencing and soon found themselves in the hospital in near death-experiences.  In fact, did you know that 70% of all surgery-related complication deaths are due to infection?     I knew I had to act on this fast, because once it gets into your blood system, it truly can be fatal.  It is especially bad on someone with a compromised immune system (like mine--my white blood counts were still low when I got my last lab results).  I finally was able to get in touch with the nurse at my plastic surgeon's office a little before 9am.  I also emailed her a photo of the wound, which was open the size of a dime or larger.  She was very concerned and said that she would need to email the physician, since he was in surgery.  She asked me not to eat or drink anything in case the doctor wanted to do surgery on me immediately. I had already had a couple of bites of granola and a little green tea around 8am, so I didn't consume anything else.

Around 10:40am, the nurse called and said that surgery (to remove the implant, repair the wound and remove any present infection) was scheduled for 2pm, and I needed to be there by 12pm.  This meant we needed to leave the house by 11:30!  I had to do surgery prep and we had to figure out how the kids would be taken care of.  Drew was very busy with conference calls and work so it was a pretty hectic morning.  But, our friends took all of the potential stressors away!  They. Are. Amazing!  Our church community group rushed together and took care of us.  5 different girls took shifts in watching after the kids, beginning around 11:10.  All of these wonderful girls have children of their own and other responsibilities as well, so this was definitely an appreciated sacrifice!  We had so much peace knowing that our kids were being well-taken care of in this urgent time of need.   Drew and I literally had tears in our eyes witnessing the love that was being shown to us that day.  As we arrived to the hospital, Drew got a text from a friend from church, and elder.  He had picked up an awesome, big lunch for Drew at Rudy's bbq.  How did he even know our need?  Amazing!  We had actually tried to find something fast that was on the way to the hospital where Drew could pick up food since he hadn't yet ate lunch (and wouldn't be able to leave for a long time), but were not successful and didn't want to be late.     He brought up the lunch and the then he and another elder from church prayed with us before the admission employee brought us back to my surgery prep room.

The surgery went very well.  The surgeon removed the implant and could see that an infection was definitely brewing.  When the wound care center doctor stuck the sterile wooden stick in he likely opened up a pocket of infected fluid.   It had likely gotten into my blood stream a bit, which is why I had the fever, etc.  But, they administered intravenous antibiotics, and he poured a liquid antibiotic in the area during surgery.  I am also still currently taking an oral antibiotic.   So, whatever infection was brewing should be on its way out!  We were able to leave the hospital with one less implant and one new drain tube around 5:45p.

We arrived home to really happy kiddos who were being watched by two of our awesome friends (they had the late afternoon shift).  I think our kids really enjoyed having all of the fun visitors to our house yesterday.  This makes me so happy!

So, what now?   I have only one breast-looking thing now.  But, you know what?  I don't care at this point.  I just want to be alive, so I will take however God wants me to look for now.  I am sure He will make clear our next steps, just as He has made clear all of our other previous steps He has wanted us to take in this journey.   I am feeling pretty good since the surgery.  Today, I am running just a slight fever, but I am guessing it may take a couple of days for the infection to be completely out of my system.  My only pain is where the drain tube is protruding.  I know as soon as I can get that out, I will feel awesome.  I have only taken normal over-the-counter doses of pain relievers since my surgery (one dose of normal tylenol last night and two doses of ibuprofen today).  So, it really isn't too bad.   My restrictions will likely only be in place for as long as I have the drain, so that is also great news!  I have a sore throat and congestion, but that is likely from the breathing tube and the tube they placed in my trachea.  They had to place a special tube in my trachea because I had eaten that morning (I didn't know I was going to be having surgery later that day).  Apparently, that is why my surgery was scheduled for 2pm (6 hours after I ate).  But, as a precaution, they place the trachea tube in case the food came up (to prevent at least most of it from entering my lungs).    I guess I am experiencing the after of the tubes today.  But, this is all temporary.   I am SO HAPPY to be on my way to being completely healed.  I was growing very tired of the open wound saga!  I don't want to endure 6-7 weeks of hyperbaric treatment, so we are hoping that this "option 1" that God decided for us doesn't involve the hyperbaric treatment. The wound truly should heal better since there is nothing putting pressure on it from the inside.  I am just busy praising God today--praising Him for our awesome friends and family, for making the decision for us so clear, and for healing me!

There you have it!  The long saga from the last few days.  Sometimes, it is difficult to understand the paths God chooses for us.  I certainly wouldn't have chosen this difficult one for myself.  But, there is a good reason for this path He has chosen for me.  I may not completely understand it now, but I know I will likely understand it some day.  I know I have continually grown in areas where I needed to grow and develop throughout this journey.  As He allows more trials in my life, I grow stronger.  I also have learned that loving others is so important.  We have been loved and served so much through this journey and so I know first-hand what it feels like to be on the "served" end of things.  I want to show that love and service to others!  Thank you for your continuous prayers!

(Oh yeah, by the way, I had to cancel my PET scan.  I will reschedule it once I know my wound is healing.   I will post the new date on here once I know it.)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Our Own Roller Coaster Ride

Seriously.  I feel like we are on a bit of a ride right now.  These past few weeks have been crazy times at our house.  I had a hole in my breast that required surgery.  I had surgery, which brought on lifting restrictions.  A week later, the incision on the same, left radiated breast opened up again.  This time, I could actually see my muscle.  It was a BIG hole.  So, I saw my doctor the next day (Friday of last week) and he stitched me back up, using stronger stitching.  However, I am also on a strong antibiotic to try to keep infections at bay, since my wound was open for a while. We are hoping and praying that the incision won't open back up, but since it has opened up several times since radiation ended, we are thinking that the skin is having difficulty healing.  So, I have also been referred to a wound care clinic and was instructed by my physician to not use my left arm.  As a mother caring for two small children, how do you not use one arm that is always there?  I mean, it doesn't hurt and it isn't in a cast, so I forget often and go ahead and use it.  So, I have had to employ some creative solutions so that I do not use my left arm.  Like this one....

This was my first attempt at stopping myself from using my left arm. 
I didn't like the stick-the-arm-inside-the-shirt solution.  It got really warm in that shirt and wasn't comfortable.  It was the most effective solution though.  Except when my hand began creeping out the bottom of the shirt and tried to help my right arm out with tasks.  Nonetheless, I moved on from that rather quickly and searched for Luke's old sling from when he broke his arm.  I have been using that, but it still gives me hand access, so I find myself still using my left arm.  Also, it probably isn't good that it is a bit too small and bumps up against my left breast--the one I am trying to heal.  So, the past couple of days I haven't used anything to keep myself from using my left arm.  I probably just need to wrap it up against my side with an ace bandage.

As all of this is going on, we have other things adding to our ride.  I tried to drive myself to an appointment last week and Drew's car wouldn't start.  So, we have had that in and out of the shop a couple of times.  The great news is that it now works.  Hooray--praise the Lord!

I had my first visit to a wound care clinic yesterday.  Unfortunately, the clinic didn't have the hyperbaric treatment ability that my physician requested I get.  So, I have an appointment at a new wound care center next Wednesday.  Hopefully, that isn't too far out.  The good news is that I learned a lot about caring for my wound until then by the specialist that I saw yesterday afternoon.  Also, she said that it didn't look infected.  Overall, I feel much better and more informed since my visit with her yesterday. Another Praise!

But, when I returned home from my appointment, Drew informed me that our large patio cover was falling down.  So, there's that to deal with as well.  But thankfully, the contractor that built it in 2010 gave us a 5 year warranty that we had him put in writing back then.  We are also thankful that he responded to our email to him, requesting him to come take a look.  He says he is coming over tomorrow afternoon to take a look, so we are praying that he keeps his word.

You can see here how the patio cover is actually siding down the house.  It is a HUGE cover, so we are hoping it doesn't crash down before it can be repaired.

There are many other things adding to our ride as well, but this post is getting long and I want to get on with the point.  Do I feel stressed at all?  Actually, I don't.  I think dealing with cancer has taught me that a lot of stuff is out of our control, but God is sovereign and has a perfect plan.  He is my strength when I am weak.  This gives me so much peace.   But, I can only speak for myself as far as the stress level.  Drew is also dealing with work stress.  He loves his job, it's just that there is too much to do and not enough time.  He works all day and night, with the exception of the hours from 6-8pm.   So, there really isn't much time to think about these added things.  (At the same time, we are SO thankful for his job though!)  But also, we're a team and we're not doing this alone.   We had friends from our community group bring us meals following my surgery.  Also, one of our friends watched the kids while I went to my first post-op appointment (and even put a meal into our crockpot so it would be ready for dinner--how thoughtful and awesome is that?).  This allowed Drew to continue working while I attended my appointment.  Not only that, but both sets of our parents have sacrificed and loved and served us.  My parents were with us during and following my surgery.  This was a sacrifice of love for them, as they had to close down their business for a few days to be here with us.

I was behind Drew, who was taking the picture, making the kids laugh.   You can tell they are looking at me since I am shorter than Drew--oops.  :-) 
Drew's parents helped us out for several days last week.  Drew's mom (Mimi) recently had surgery to repair three broken bones in her ankle which she injured on vacation.  So, she had a boot on her foot and used a walker.  I could only use one arm with my restrictions and can't lift more than 10 lbs.  One day when Drew's dad (Papa) took Luke somewhere special, we decided that between the two of us, we had three good arms and three good legs and could watch Abbey just fine.  :-)  We did just fine, but it was pretty comical and a video of us caring for Abbey would have been pretty funny.  Drew's parents sacrificed their time even though they were going through a lot right now with Mimi's broken foot.  They even gave us a date night out, which we REALLY enjoyed!  We truly feel the love from our friends and family!

Luke and Papa looking for buried treasure.
Did you notice that in each of the trials I mentioned above that God has allowed, there were praises.  God truly doesn't give us more than we can handle.  He always provides and is always good!  But lastly, it is really difficult to feel any stress when I get to be around these beautiful children that are SO full of joy every day!  They smother me with their love, kisses and hugs all day long.  They make me laugh.  They make me smile.  So, I will end this post with probably way too many photos of them.

During lunchtime today,  as a rare lunchtime treat (the morning time is usually when we have our tv time) I turned the tv on so that I could clean up the kitchen and fold the laundry (and so the kids would stay at the table and finish their meals).   Abbey even decided to watch a little bit since it was her favorite show, Little Einsteins.
Eating like a big girl at the table where Luke likes to eat.  
For fun, I shot through the supports of our blue Ikea kids' chair.  It created a pretty cool, natural blue vignette.  
Busy girl likes to get into all of our cabinets, including the entertainment center.
I have a confession.  Abbey's bangs were annoying me, because she had a lot of hair strands that were down to her eyebrows, yet most were much shorter.  I have been wanting to even it up for a while, but was concerned her bangs would be too short if I did so.  I finally decided that really short bangs would still look better than the jagged bangs that she was sporting.  So, I had her sit in a chair while I trimmed her hair.  It was going well.....until she moved.   Let's just say that you will probably see her in bows in most of the photos that I capture of her for a while.  At least they sort of cover up my flawed cut.  Oh.....and Drew has revoked my haircutting priveleges.  But, I am fine with that.

But, she is still my cutie pie.  Even with her new short bangs.
As I have learned, it's only hair and it will grow out.  :-)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Please don't sound the siren!

When you have a volunteer firefighter in your church small group, you get to have your own special visit to the neighborhood fire station.  Our small group kiddos were super excited about the visit to the fire station that our friend, Corby, planned for us on Sunday afternoon.

Inside one of the fire trucks.  Luke's friend, Dylan (in the striped shirt), was very concerned that the fire engine was going to sound its siren. He was prepared with his fingers in his ears just in case.  
just in case...
Checking out the couch on the back patio of the station.  Plugging his ears...just in case.  :-)
Abbey located a tractor she needed to try out.
Luke's friend, Ford, was excited to try on real firefighter gear.  (This picture isn't that sharp, but I like the lighting so I included it).
Krystal tried the gear on also.  (Notice Dylan in the background--plugging his ears just in case.  This makes me smile!)
Little Miss Spit-fire wasn't too excited about trying on the gear.
The firemen even let the kids try out real fire equipment.  This was actually on and Ford got to operate it.
Luke's friend, Luke, exiting one of the fire engines.  I like this picture.
The kids had such a good time.  We were there for over an hour, and these boys spent almost the entire time inside a fire engine.  
Luke's favorite thing to do was open and close the huge doors of the fire truck's rear cabin.  You could hear the hydraulics pull the steps up or push them down each time the door was closed or opened.  Of course, there were many things Luke enjoyed about our visit.  And, you better believe the picture below shows one of his favorite things about the visit:

Cupcakes! Hey, when you don't keep sweets at your house, the times that you do eat them are extra special.  That is why we call them "special treats" at our house.  I'd say he enjoyed it.  Wouldn't you?
Yum Yum!
It was REALLY hot on Sunday.  Abbey decided she wanted to go inside (in the air conditioning) and look at the fire engines from there.  Here, she was asking to be let indoors.  I seriously don't know how the firefighters fight fires with the gear on in temperatures like that.  It made me appreciate them even more than I already do.
Watching the kids play on the truck.
Playing with her the air conditioning.
And by the end of our visit, Dylan decided he no longer needed to plug his ears.
Later that evening, when we returned home, we got a special welcomed surprise: rain.  It wasn't much, but we were so excited to see it and smell it that we let it rain on us outside for a bit.  
Enjoying the lovely rain.
Thank you, Lord, for wonderful friends with whom we can share these experiences.  Thank you for the rain.  Thank you for the time you give us to share together as a family.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Post Surgical Update (Reconstruction, Phase 2)

Thank you so much for your prayers for me yesterday.  Surgery went very well and I feel great.  The surgeon was able to begin my surgery earlier than expected, and it only took him a little over an hour to complete.  He said my left expander was not exposed at all, which was initially a concern.  Exposed implants like that can lead to terrible infections.  I don't show any signs of infection and he made sure to put a lot of antibiotic on the inside of me after removing the expanders and before placing the implants.  I am also completing an oral antibiotic just in case.

He repaired incisions on both breasts, and created new incisions below both breasts to do the implant exchange.  The reason they do the incisions below the breasts (even though I have old incision areas around where the nipple was once located), is because that skin is typically more healthy following radiation.  I had a lot of radiation to the previous nipple area, including extra boosts to that area.  So, that skin has more difficulty healing.  He inserted one drain on the left side to help keep off any excess fluid (and thus excess pressure) off of the wound (the hole) he repaired.  This is going ti sound weird to most of you probably, but my favorite part of the whole surgery was the removal of my port-a-cath!  Strangely, I feel so FREE now!  

How I feel:

Yesterday, I felt pretty nauseous all afternoon and evening, simply due to the anesthesia.  Apparently, they called me a "light weight" when it comes to anesthesia.  I had some difficulty coming out of anesthesia at my previous surgery, so when they asked me if I had any concerns going into this surgery, that was the one I mentioned.   But, let me tell you--this anesthesia was good.  When I awoke from it, I felt really good--and comfortable.  I felt so good that I wanted to go back to sleep.  :-)  But, I continued to wake up and headed home.  

The implants feel SO much better than the expanders.  The expanders put a lot of pressure on the previous incision site the way they projected out.  These are so much softer, and relieve the pressure on the previous incision areas.  Now I definitely understand why he wanted to go ahead an perform the exchange surgery as soon as possible instead of just repair the hole in the left incision site and wait for many months for that to heal.

The pain has not been too bad at all.  I think most of the pain is coming from where my drain is inserted.  I remember at my last surgery so much pain was relieved when I had my 4 drains removed.  So far, I have only taken 1 pain pill last night and one this morning, and they were both Ibuprofen.  I am trying to avoid the strong stuff unless necessary.  I just want to give my body a little break since I was on so much medication for the hives.  The hives that I was so badly stricken with for weeks, thankfully, went away, and then they came back pretty badly the day prior to surgery.  But, lots of prayers went up, and I awoke yesterday morning with no hives.  Praise the Lord! I also have no hives today, so I am hoping and praying they are gone--never to return!

How I look:

I really can't tell too much how the "new girls" look yet.  When I peek down there, they look a little strange.  To me, they seem like they are too far apart and, thus, too close to the sides.  There is just an awful lot of space between them.  But, I am trying not to be too concerned about that right now.  I read in some of the post-operative instructions that they may look asymmetrical and just different than they will look following healing.  They also look smaller than my own breasts.  But, I am just happy to have something there right now.  The whole purpose for me was to have something that looked natural so that eventually I will not have any reminders of cancer.  So, I am sure they will serve that wonderful purpose.   I will ask my surgeon about the way they look tomorrow, when he removes my drain.  Hooray for drain removal!

Thanks again for your continuous prayers.  They mean SO much to us and we know their power!  I feel great and full of joy!  Plus, my parents are in town, so we get to visit with them!  SO much to Praise the Lord about today!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A day in the life of a 63 year-old dress!

The last time that Drew's parents visited us, they brought with them an adorable little dress for Abbey.  But, this wasn't one of the cute outfits that they would normally pick up at Ross or TJ Maxx (my favorite stores).  This one was different.  This one is vintage.....63 years old vintage.  And it is a special dress too--Drew's mom wore this dress when she was Abbey's age.  So, Drew's mom brought it along, thinking it may be cute for Abbey to wear for a photo.

The dress was hanging up in the closet for a while.  We have just been so busy and it slipped my mind that I had not put her in the dress yet.  So yesterday, I put the dress on her and had fun taking some photos of her.  Once I put the dress on her, I fell in love with it.  It made me want to try to find other cute vintage dresses for Abbey!

Without further adieu, here it is.....a day in the life of a 63 year old dress.

Yes, this is a sundress.  And yes, those are candy canes.  And, of course, Abbey is digging for her belly button in this photo.
She is bending down to pick up the monster truck in such a girly fashion.

Daddy's girl

testing out the dress's wind resistance

Monday, August 5, 2013

But Joy Comes With The Morning!

Psalm 30:4-5 (ESV)

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger is but for a moment,
and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.

Thursdaywas such a crazy, whirlwind of a day! It threw us for a loop when the nurse at my plastic surgeon's office called me to tell me I needed to get into surgery to have my expanders removed ASAP.  I recalled the decision-making process prior to deciding to get these expanders, and remembered some of the horror stories I was told by fellow young breast cancer survivors.  I remembered some of them getting life-threatening infections....needing emergency surgeries...being hospitalized.  However, I really haven't had too many issues since my surgery.  But, when I could hear the concern in the voice of the nurse after she and the doctor saw the photo I sent them of the hole near my left side incision, it made me wonder if I should be concerned.  Somehow (well, I know how--thank you, Lord), I had an amazing peace during that whole ordeal on Thursday night.  I just had a lot of questions though.  Did they think I had an infection? What if I did--what is the protocol?  What is the alternative to this impromptu surgery?  I just had some questions that I wanted answers to prior to having surgery.

So, as you can imagine, I was elated when my plastic surgeon called me late Thursday night from his cell phone.  He wanted me to know that he personally reviewed the photo I had emailed to them showing the hole near the incision site and had provided the instructions to the nurse to call me.  He explained the alternative to not having surgery next week, reassured me that he was not concerned about the results or my healing.  In fact, he said that a lot of the previous studies that recommended waiting at least 6 months after radiation prior to doing the the 2nd stage of reconstruction were outdated.  He felt completely comfortable doing the surgery on me just a couple of months out from my radiation.  Also, he prescribed an antibiotic just as a prophylactic to keep any potential infection that may be brewing near the "hole" at bay.  He also talked me through which medications I need to stop, etc., so that I can have my surgery.  So, after that phone call, I felt even more peace and had most of my questions answered.  All of my other questions were answered the following morning in their office.  I didn't see the doctor, but I saw a nurse who taped up my wound.  My surgery is scheduled for 11:30am on Wednesday (8/7).  My parents are able to head down after work tomorrow to help out with the kids.  Everything is working out.

The great news is that I will be DONE with another big stage in this reconstruction and will only have two more minor ones remaining.  Hooray!  I can't tell you how excited I am to be getting these expanders out of my body.  Oh--and there's a bonus!  My doctor is going to remove my port-a-cath also!  That's pretty exciting!  After I am done with surgery on Wednesday, I will look a lot less "cancer-y".

Some other great news--I didn't have any hives today.  So, I am just going to go ahead and say that they are gone!  Praise the Lord!

The morning time is such a joyful time in our house.   Our kids wake up happy every morning.  This morning, we decided to keep our jammies on all morning long.  We played....and played....and played.  And, I took pictures....lots of them!

just chillaxin'
Today was a special day.  It was puppy's birthday.  Puppy is Luke's "lovee."   She is super-special to him.  He sleeps with her and his little blue blanket every night.  I am pretty sure "puppy" is in her mid 30's.  That is how many birthdays of hers I think we have celebrated.  :-)

puppy had some mint chocolate chip ice cream at her party.
Abbey enjoying some ice cream at puppy's birthday party.  You can see Luke sat a little blanket out and some chairs for all of the party guests.
oops...all out of dinosaur party punch