The Latest and Greatest

We are all healed from strep.  Mostly.  Well, the kids are good.  I ended up going back for a second round of antibiotics because apparently the first dose of amoxicillan wasn’t strong enough.  Then three days after ending the antibiotics I got what I thought were just canker sores in my mouth.  (Yes, even though I take a probiotic.)  The canker sores progressed to some pretty intensely painful mouth sores and then my tongue became mysteriously raw, burning, dry, and then I noticed a grayish film on it.  After a few days I realized this was not going away and getting worse.  So it was back to the doctor only to find out I had thrush.  Wonderful.

If you are looking for a new weight-loss program, I highly recommend getting thrush.  You will be very selective of what and when you eat since it is painful to eat, drink, swallow, even talk.  Ok, you know I’m kidding about the weight-loss thing!  Anyway, I am on this nasty little mouth swish 4x/day for 10 days.  I am on day 5 and happy to say that since yesterday, I can eat without pain, although food doesn’t always taste right because of the raw tongue thing.  I am HOPING that this clears up and I can stay away from doctors for a little while.

Good news:  last week Thursday was my “temporary graduation” from physical therapy!  I have seen my PT on Thursdays at 2:00 every single week since December.  What am I to do with that time slot now?  It will be weird to NOT see her this week.  Although I am VERY happy about cutting out another cancer-related appointment.  I will see her again following the reconstruction surgery, which brings me to the latest news.

I met with Dr. Hijjawi (plastic surgeon) yesterday so he could check out how I am healing and to talk about next steps in reconstruction.  Since my very first meeting with him, I was given two options for surgery.  Over the past several months I have hemmed and hawed, weighed pros and cons, thought about it, talked about it, prayed about it, and have finally come to a decision.  Because I had to have my expander removed, I have the pleasure of choosing between bad option A or bad option B.  Neither one is as easy as “exchange expanders for implants in a day surgery.”  Here were my choices:

1.  DIEP Flap.  Dr. Hijjawi is one of the leading surgeons in our area who performs this surgery.  This procedure uses tissue from the abdomen to create breasts. The abdominal scar usually runs hip to hip and doctors and other survivors joke that the patient gets a tummy tuck out of the deal.  Not gonna lie…after four kids, that part is appealing!  It is a 10ish hour surgery, 5 nights in the hospital.  Day 1 = nurses checking 1x/hour to make sure blood vessels are connected and working properly.  (This is microvascular surgery.  Blood vessels from the abdominal tissue are reconnected in the breast area).  Day 2 = check every 2 hours.  Day 3 = every 3 hours, etc. until Day 5 = checked every 6-8 hours and at that point if all is working then head home.  During that week, should any problems arise with blood flow, then it’s back to surgery to try to make a correction.  Sidenote: no caffeine for 6 weeks post-surgery.  That includes chocolate (yikes!)  Also, 6-8 weeks no lifting and according to my PT, the recovery is pretty intense, especially since healing is for abdomen and chest at the same time.

2.  Tissue expanders/implants.  This surgery comes in two phases.  Part 1 – Day surgery (or possible 1 night inpatient) to get a brand new tissue expander in the left side.  3-4 weeks no lifting.  Back to PT for left side.  Three weeks post-surgery, I would begin weekly visits to Dr. H’s office to get filled up.  This would go on for 9 weeks.  With my previous surgery, he was working with skin that was used to being in the shape of a breast.  Since that is no longer the case, it takes a lot more stretching to fill up an expander from flat, so we go slowly.  After I’m all the way filled, we wait 4-6 months to heal, let the skin settle, and get used to holding the shape.  Part 2 –  Day surgery to exchange expanders for implants.  I’m not too sure yet on restrictions for this part, but no lifting for some duration of time and PT is possible.

Believe it or not, this is the cliff notes version.  There are SO many more details about each surgery, more pros and cons, more statistics and data.  There was so, so, so much to think about…it made my brain spin.

In the end, I chose option 2.  I’ve seen pictures of his DIEP flap work and “the girls” look awesome.  However…I’m just not down with being under sedation for 10ish hours and spending a week in the hospital.  I don’t love the idea of microvascular surgery and healing/recovering in two areas.  Option 2 seemed less intense to me, and I’m kind of ready for something to be “easy” if that is even possible.

I am not super thrilled with how long this process is going to take.  Had my expander not been taken out, we would be having an entirely different conversation.  In May I’ll be at the 6 month post-mastectomy surgery and could have just exchanged expanders for implants in a day surgery.  But because of the infections, my reality is that I have to wait until at least August for part 1 (expander) and then probably summer 2015 for part 2 (implants).  Oh, and we haven’t even touched on nipples yet.  Geez…after healing from implant surgery, there is the option to go back and get nipples.   There are several options for nipples as well.  C.R.A.Z.Y.

For now I’m in a holding pattern.  It’s kind of boring, but boring is good.  I go for my every-three-month echo this week Thursday to check my heart function.  If all is good then I can continue my Herceptin infusion every three weeks.  Wow – unless something comes up, that means I only go to Froedtert every three weeks until I complete my Herceptin infusions in August!  I have literally been at the Cancer Center anywhere between 1 and (on the rare occasion) 4 times every single week since last May.  It’s nice to have things starting to get spaced out more, but it’s also an I can’t believe I’m not there all the time anymore kind of feeling.

So I just keep praying – thanking God for NED and for all our many, many blessings.  I continue to pray that my heart remains strong through the remaining Herceptin infusions.  I also pray that my next surgeries and recovery periods be successful, boring, and uncomplicated.  I am happy and enjoying things I have missed out on in the last 11 months.  We’re having fun this week while the kids are on spring break and we are looking forward to celebrating Easter this weekend with my family on Saturday and Chris’ parents on Sunday.  Happy Holy Week!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

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11 Responses to The Latest and Greatest

  1. Bonnie says:

    Happy Easter, Jamie! I am glad you have come to a decision on your next steps. I hope you have a boring couple of months, health-wise, and enjoy the time away from Froedterrt. Much love to you & your family –

  2. Jen Pulvermacher says:

    Thinking of you all the time, Jamie. Sending loving prayers of healing and comfort. Let’s catch up soon!!! xo Jen P
    P.S. I’ve had thrush before and it S.U.C.K.S!!!!

  3. Nicole says:

    Sounds like boring is good! Although doesn’t sound boring to me. Have a wonderful Easter and rejoice in The Lord for He is good.

  4. Dana Barrow says:

    I’m glad you have made the decision that you feel is best for you. I will be praying for you as you start this next step. Have a wonderful Easter!

  5. Rick and Eileen Rakowski says:

    Jamie, May you and your beautiful family enjoy a Blessed Easter filled with lots of love and, of course , chocolate. You remain in our prayers always!

  6. Amanda D says:

    Continue to wish you and your family all the best, Jamie. Hope you have a very Happy Easter! Love, Amanda

  7. Julia Westphal says:

    Your strength and upbeat attitude continue to inspire me! Happy Easter my friend, I love you! OX

  8. Auntie Patti says:

    Jamie, prayers continue! We will miss seeing you on Easter! Love you!

  9. Marge Schweitzer says:

    Jamie you are one incredible woman, with strength that will sustain you on the journey. God bless you and your family. If you need help I am a phone call away.

  10. Auntie Karen says:

    I love the Scripture you chose. It is one of my favorites. Will miss seeing you at Easter. Praying God blesses you above your expectations. Love you lots!

  11. paula says:

    Sounds like overall great news. I remember dad getting thrush after his first round of cancer treatments too. Can’t wait to see you for Easter lots to be thankful for.

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