Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I'm still alive!

As you know, my surgery was 12/8/09. Prior to surgery I managed to stay distracted with the help of my Mom and sister Nicole. It wasn't until we said goodbye and I was being wheeled down the hall that my eyes filled with tears. The surgery went quicker than expected (5 hours), but I was in recovery for longer than expected. When I woke up I was in so much pain I wanted to die. If I had to rate my pain on a scale of 1-10, my answer would've been atleast 100. My blood pressure was twice as high as it normally is due to the pain. They gave me atleast 4 different pain meds in recovery before I could even breathe. It was horrible. Once they got my pain lowered I was actually able to talk with my nurse. It turns out she had breast cancer 3 years ago. She was so kind to me and I am thankful to have her.

When I reached my room I was still hurting pretty bad and couldn't sit up even the slightest bit. I left my bed flat all night. If I were to elevate at all I felt sick. I was also burning up, so my mom and sister put cool cloths on me. Here is a pic and short video of me shortly after getting into my room.

12/9 Day 2 was a HORRIBLE day! They had me taking Dilaudid for pain and Phenegren for my nausea. I still couldn't sit up or I would be sick. I was really out of it all day. I ended up puking and getting hives all over me. All I did was itch every second. Benadryl was not helping at all. My nurse's aide made me get up into a chair even though I couldn't focus my eyes, I was dry heaving, and I am told I then started to have involuntary movements of my jaw and tongue, this is called tardive dyskinesia. The symptoms of this disorder are characterized by coordinated, constant movements of the mouth, tongue, jaw, and cheeks.

Jaw movements may sometimes be from side-to-side, or they may look like chewing motions. The tongue movements may be squirming or twisting. If trunk movements are present, they are typically in the form of rapid forward motions of the lower abdomen and hips (pelvic thrusting) or twisting or flicking movements of the arms and legs. The involuntary abnormal repeated movements of TD may also include lip smacking, cheek puffing, tongue thrusting, finger flicking, and trunk twisting.

Tardive Dyskinesia symptoms can range from mild to severe, based on the frequency and intensity of the movements.

When severe, abnormal movements of the tongue may occur up to 66 times per minute. The numbers of these movements are often reduced when the patient moves affected body parts. Movement may be increased when the patient moves unaffected body parts. The abnormal movements usually decrease with emotional arousal, increase with relaxation, and disappear during sleep.

This is sometimes a permanent thing, so I am very thankful I had a wonderful nurse that day. She said she was right in my face watching me and I had no clue. My tongue kept clicking and I was sticking it out and she could tell I couldn't focus on anything. She even called in another nurse to look at me and they were both in my face. I had no clue. She then called the doctor. They switched me to an oral pain med to stop the itchiness and they gave me a patch that goes behind my ear to take care of the nausea.

Here is a pic of my RN Ciara and I. She called me her BFF and even took the time to visit me when I was not her patient.

This is my favorite aide, Jordan and I.

Here is a picture that shows where they cut me to take the latissimus dorsi muscle and skin from my back. You can also see my four drains. There are 2 that are up high that drained the breast area and the lower 2 were there to drain my back. The right back drain was putting out too much bloody fluid and the doctors were concerned. They said if it didn't start to get less bloody I would need to be taken back into the OR to see what was bleeding.

12/12 was my discharge day. My Plastic Surgeon put a pressure dressing and wrapped me in an ace bandage to try to stop the fluid/blood that was building in my back. Not the most comfortable thing, but if it keeps me out of the OR I'll do it. She told me to watch the problem drain closely and come to her office first thing Monday morning. That would be the day that determined whether or not I needed more surgery.

One cool thing was my friend Jenn delivered her baby that day three floors down, so on my way out I was able to stop and see them. Here is a pic of Jenn, Jerome, and their third baby, Maddox John Myers. He was 8 lbs. 11 oz. Congratulations to them!!

I also got to see my niece, Scarlet for the first time that day. She is beautiful.

I woke up around 7 a.m. and started throwing up. Camille took very good care of me before while it was just us. Around 10 a.m. a visiting nurse came to see me and I puked again, so she called to get me a prescription for the anti nausea patch that I had in the hospital. It worked well and I was finally able to get something in my stomach around 3 pm so I could take my pills. Two of my sisters, Nicole and Erika hung out at my house taking care of me and the kids. I am so thankful for that.

Here is a picture of my 4 drains.

This is the notorious drain #4. As you can see it is still really bloody.

While caring for me Camille even made me do my incentive spirometer. She was so sweet and would make a wonderful nurse. Too bad she wants to be an artist.

12/14 I went to see my plastic surgeon first thing in the morning. She said that the pressure dressing had worked and I no longer had a pocket of fluid/blood collecting on my right back. Drain #4 was still bloody, but it had gotten thinner, so I didn't need to go into the OR!

My front drains weren't putting out very much fluid, so she pulled them out. It is wonderful to see them go. She said maybe when I go next week she will be able to removed the other two. That would be wonderful.

Here are some pics of my drains and incisions.

Here are the incisions on my back. They are healing nicely.

I also have a picture of my frankenstein boobs, but I'm not going to post them on here. The flaps look like footballs on each side and I have a little bit of a breast at this point. After my drains come out I will have weekly plastic surgeon appointments where she will add more saline to my tissue expanders. I am told it will take about 3 months to fully expand them and then I will have a surgery to take out the expanders and replace them with implants.

This surgery has been the hardest part of my journey beyond breast cancer. I can't wait for it to be over, but each day seems to get a little easier.

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