Pixie Dust

Lately I’ve gotten this question a lot, so I just want to get this out there.

No, I am not planning to keep the pixie cut.

Thank you for those of you who think it really suits me, and brings out my eyes and all of that but when I look at the pixie in the mirror I see one thing.

Cancer.

I tried to explain it to a friend this weekend, but to me it’s almost like I have a scar on my face. Would anyone expect me to keep that if I had the choice to let it fade away? No? I didn’t think so.

Is there a chance that I’ll go back to short hair at some point in the future? Sure. But I’m not holding my breath.

For one thing, I may have always wanted curly hair growing up, but in my hair’s current state, it’s like having perma-bed-head.  Since I had fairly straight hair pre-chemo, I just don’t quite know how to deal with it, other than getting it wet to see if it will at least curl all in one direction.  And let’s face it, I’m too lazy to get my hair cut every few weeks to keep it just so.

Thing two is about control.  Yes, I know that I CHOSE the route that meant my hair fell out. But I didn’t pick needing chemo in the first place.  So I will grow my hair to where I want it, and this make decisions from there.

But the biggest reason is sheer vanity, mixed with more than a little stubborn pride.

As I said a couple of months ago, I am currently wearing more lipstick and eyeliner than I have ever before in my life.  So maybe that’s why the pixie makes my eyes pop. Because I’m practically tattooing on my eyeliner every morning, and now that my lashes are less stubby, I’m pretty liberal with the mascara too.  Eyeshadow? Sure. And I hardly leave my bedroom, let alone the house, without blush.

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I currently HATE my breasts.  They were annoying, frustrating, all-sorts-of-ings when they were ginormous. But they were mine.  I came from a long line of busty women, on both sides of my family.  Even when I was at my thinnest, I was an FF cup. It was just a part of who I was from when I hit puberty. And although I’d always wanted to get reduced down to a D or so one day, that’s a lot different than waking up from surgery with scars all of the way across my chest and something that had been so much a part of me just gone.

When I graduated High School, and subsequently when I met my husband that fall, if I leaned my head back, I could sit on my hair.

It’s been a LONG time since it had been that long, but it’s been even longer since I couldn’t at least make little pigtails.

And although when I saw my doc this week she reassured me that the oblong lumps I’m currently sporting will settle forward and round themselves out as the swelling goes down, it’s also going to be at least 3 months before I’m allowed to wear pretty underwire bras, that will hold the girls into a shape that I’m used to. She also said she may do some more rounding when I have my next surgery in 3 months. But I’m really hoping that I don’t need anything more than tiny adjustments and adding the nipples.  I hate that I’m planning when we can take my son to Boston for the first time around surgical plans.

Don’t get me wrong. I still think I did the right thing. I would rather have the pancake-y oblong things than cancer. Or than one K and the other gone.

But it doesn’t mean that any of this is easy, or that I feel like anything about me is cute right now.

And no matter how often someone else SAYS the pixie is cute, it doesn’t mean that I believe it. I do believe that YOU believe it, if that helps at all.  But I’ve had 39 years of practice saying some pretty shitty things about myself in my head. Even if I hadn’t undergone such a big physical change, I wouldn’t be able to exorcize those demons overnight.  And as I said last month, I know for a fact that I have to own my own happy thoughts to be able to fly. It’s not something anyone else, no matter how much they love me or may want to, can do for me.

So I paint my toes and my fingers, and my eyes and lips, wear dangly earrings, carry a hot pink KSNY bag, wear all of the pink and floral girly things that I already owned, and continue to fight the emotional battle that I likely ignored while I was fighting the physical one.

02-15 hair

From Feb 15 Fuzzy Friday

To April 26 Fluffy Friday

To April 26 Fluffy Friday

Ain’t Nothing Gonna Break My Stride

Nobody’s gonna slow me down, oh no, I’ve got to keep on movin’!

OK, so maybe I do need to slow down some days.  In general, I’m still doing well. The drains have been out a full week now, and on Thursday I get the stitches out and the tape off of my incisions.

I’ve had an odd stitch today, which when I breathe the wrong way, or make the wrong movement, feels like I’m getting stabbed in a rib.  Ironically, the doctor I talked to said that it may LITERALY be a stich in my side. I’ll know more when I see my doc on Thursday and she can actually look at the spot.

I have to be very careful not to lift or carry too much.  I was warned about this by a friend who has been through the same thing.  She told me I’d feel fine pretty quickly, but I need to take it easy.  It’s hard, but I’m trying.

Last time I wrote I was on Oxy.  I hate taking it, but it lets me sleep.  I haven’t taken it EVERY night, but it’s close.  I’ll need to take another one in a few min.

I wasn’t in the mood then, and I’ve already shared on FB, but for anyone who isn’t friends with me there, I have a little funny story that happened that day.  It was Monday morning, and I was getting coffee in the kitchen (my 1st day in the office after surgery), and a male colleague came over to say hi:
Him: “Gee, you’re really filling in up there!”
Me: <pause> “Actually, they’re a little smaller since the surgery last week”
Him: “What? <blush> No, I was talking about your hair!”

Someone commented that I could sue for sexual harassment, but HIS comment was totally innocent.  I’m the one with the boobies on the brain.

I’ll know more about what the permanent state of my chest will be, but I have to admit, I have never hated my breasts as much as I hate them right now.  They are not round an perky as I’d imagined, but flat and kind of rectangular.  Now it COULD be the kinds of bras that I have to wear post-surgery.  That thought, the thought of wearing pretty bras that make the girls look the way I want them to is the only thing that is keeping me from crying right now.

Which is why I’m running and I won’t touch ground. I’ve got to keep on moving forward or I’ll drag myself under.

And I have neither the time nor the patience for that.

Let Us Steadfastly Love One Another

My dog’s name is Fenway.  This is not because my family loves baseball, but because we truly love Boston.

Two of the four years that I lived there we set the record for snowfall, so when the boy I met the first weekend I was at Boston University proposed, I told him that I’d marry him, but I was moving home to Seattle. As I told a friend this weekend, when the weather got so crappy, it was hard to understand why my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents, William and Mary Dyer, stayed in Boston in 1635.

That’s right, Boston is in my blood.

The coolest class I took at BU was on the History of Boston. Of course, that I got to write a term paper on an ancestor didn’t hurt, but we learned the history of our country through the streets around us.  A quirky but wonderful thing about Boston is the extra, random holidays, the main ones being Evacuation Day and of course, Patriots’ Day, also known Marathon Day to those in the Hub of the Universe.

The thing I remember most about Marathon Day was the positive atmosphere.  For someone who was just a spectator, it was like a 26.2 mile long party.  It was the coolest thing to see people with their name written on their shirt perk up when you started yelling for them that they could do it. The spot we staked out was in on Beacon, just before going into Kenmore Square.  Less than two miles before the finish line.

So despite the fact it’s been more than a decade since I’ve been there, today’s news hit hard.  Being a news junkie, I spent way too much time watching live video feeds and the boston.com live blog.  And the coolest thing I saw in the video were all of those people in yellow jackets. The volunteers.  I did not see a single one running away.  They were all running to help.  I’m not sure if you have to do something special to be a volunteer at the Boston Marathon, but it’s something that I did for the Trek Women’s Triathlon in its last year in Seattle, since I broke my toe and didn’t think I could complete it myself, and I’m guessing that many, many of those people were just ordinary folks.  Who in that moment were heroes.

What I told my son today

What I told my son today

I’ve said it way too many times, but it never hurts to say again.  Life is short.  Tell the people that you love that you love them.  Never stop.

The helpers, the heroes, anyone who did something as small as lend someone a phone, those are the people to remember today.

All of this makes my little boobie woes seem so insignificant, but my update is all happy.  I went back to work today. And got the other drain out.  Tired & sore more quickly than I’d like, but again, my stuff is small potatoes.

So a reminder for you people. I really do love you all.

Fine

My husband hates it when that’s my answer to anything… especially via text. He can’t tell, is that the, “yes, but do so at your own peril” version, or the “meh, whatevs” version.

I don’t see a little bit of mystery in a 20+ year relationship as a bad thing…

But this week, I don’t have a better word to describe how I’m feeling.

I’m tired, but not sleepy. I’m bored, but don’t want to do anything. I’m sore, but I don’t really HURT.

I’m fine.

My left drain was back up to 45 today, so it didn’t come out, but they DID take out the right side.  Baby steps are still progress forward.

And I’ve decided to think of it as a good thing that I’ve got the little suction tube sticking out of my left side.  If they didn’t put it in, then where would that fluid be going?  Let’s say it all together now: EEEWWWWW!

So spirits = fine. Body = fine. According to both my eye doctor & dentist, eyes & teeth = both fine.

What I should have done this week (and this is where the sidekick, mom, hell, EVERYONE, will say they told me so) I should have shut down my work e-mail. I th0ught I was being all smart by creating a folder of stuff to look at on Monday and then deleting the rest, but I kept getting annoyed that people weren’t reading my mind as I sat here at home, and wanting to give my $.02.  Which is worth less than usual when incapacitated. Which is why I’ve kept my virtual mouth shut.

It’s funny, but I think I’m not the only one who has this happen, I really WANTED to clean and do stuff around the house this week when I KNEW it was a bad idea. If I were at 100%, the amount that I would want to clean when home alone for a week.  Pretty darn close to 0%.

Luckily my husband loves me anyway.

And that is better than fine.

Damn It

Another little update- this week has been going OK other than the drain thing.  I thought that the rule was less than 30 cc for 48 hours, so I was ALL excited to get Righty out today, since I’ve been putting out less than 20 cc per day.

And did I mention that because the nerves in my breasts were cut last summer, the only thing that actually HURTS is the drains?

Anyway, called 1st thing this AM, hoping to get in today.  I did get to take a shower yesterday, but it’s not quite the same with puss bulbs hanging around your neck & plastic taped to your side to protect where the puss bulbs attach to the body, you know?

I was just starting to think I needed to call them back, it was 12:30p and I called at 8a, so I was giving them until 1pm, when the phone rang.  The conversation went a little something like this:

  • Hi- you called about your drains?
  • Yes, I’ve been below 30 cc for 48 hours now, and I’d like to get them out.
  • Your surgery was Monday, right?
  • Yes.
  • The doctor likes to have the drains in for at least 1-2 weeks after surgery minimum.  When you become a little more active you’ll like see increased output.
  • I took my son to the dentist, his doctor, and saw my own dentist yesterday. And I could barely get enough to come out to cover the bottom of the cup this AM after 12 hours that included a shower.
  • Are you milking the tubes, are there any clots at the site?
  • Yep, milking several times a day, but nothing is coming out.  There are no clots.
  • OK, well if it stays low, give us a call next week.

OK- more detail than you needed, but I just kept thinking, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”  I think if I’d been told there would be a one week min, then I would have mentally prepared. But as it was, I was convinced that the damn things would be coming out today, or if they wanted me to wait to do both at once, tomorrow, since Lefty needs one more low output to be at the threshold.

Other than THAT, as I said, I’m doing fine.

Bored, so I’ve been obsessively picking out brooches on Etsy with which to make a statement necklace, which I will likely never actually do, even though the original idea to do with a couple that were my grandmothers’ (1-2 from each) is an awesome idea.  (I’ve now mentally “made” four and counting.)

I’m trying to read “Lean In” because it seems like the thing to do, but I keep dozing off, but then wake up right away, so I’m not really getting any good sleep, but that is nothing new.  I will continue to spend at least another month sleeping on my back, so MAYBE in May I’ll get a good nights sleep, but I’m not counting on it.

As I read back over this, I feel like I’m being awfully complain-y for someone who is having a pretty good week of surgery.  I don’t mean to, but look at it this way, if boredom, the effing drains and the same lousy sleep are all of the complaints I can come up with after having my chest sliced open and getting to Boobies 3.0, then this week really isn’t THAT bad.

Looks like so far, my luck is continuing to hold!

UPDATE: Got a call at the end of the afternoon, and looks like they WILL be coming out tomorrow after all.  Won’t count on both until it happens, but I’m a pretty happy camper!

Insult To Injury

Not the best title, but it’s really all I could think of when I woke up yesterday with DRAINS.

I’m trying to stay positive, and know that they took out more skin & tissue so that I wouldn’t have jowls on my implants like I did before, and that if they didn’t give me drains, then I’d have to go in to Seattle for them to stick a needle in me to drain the gunk that is now oozing out of me into the lovely little puss bulbs, but still, it sucks.

The crappy part at the moment is that since my chest is still numb from getting the nerves cut last summer, the drain site is the only place that hurts.

Really, I’m feeling pretty good. Sore, but good, and despite the drains, my spirits are pretty high.

I’m still a little out of it with the anesthetic getting out of my system, and the oxy on board, but I’m planning to stay on it for a couple of days, but I want to stay light on the meds.  I’m thinking that when you don’t feel TOO bad, pain can be an indicator that you’re over doing it.  And knowing me, I might have a tendency to over-do.

So that said, I’m going to stop typing, since this is making me a little sore and my mom will yell at me for that as soon as she reads it. 🙂

PS- Hit submit & realized that I forgot to tell you how the sitting up thing worked.  Evidently they had my arms already strapped to arm boards to move them out of the way to get to the boobs, so then they sat me up.  They MIGHT have used a strap on the head if I was slumping, but I didn’t have any weird marks on my forehead, so hopefully no.

The other strange thing about yesterday was that the doc came in before hand and marked me up with a Sharpie to make sure she had lines of symmetry to get the boobies even.  My thought was… they make you do all of this scrubbing beforehand, two showers with icky soap… so do they use a new Sharpie on each person?  Seems wasteful, but seems counter productive to scrub and then have the pen transfer germs from another person. OK, REALLY logging off now!

New Boobs On Monday

And a fire dance through the night!

In 12 hours, I’ll be reporting to the hospital for my reconstruction.  How much I’m guessing I’ll sleep in those hours. Close to none.

I’m feeling so many emotions, but are the forefront, are scared, anxious, excited.

I check in at 9a tomorrow.  Surgery itself is scheduled to start at 11a, and last for 3 hours.  I’m supposed to spend a couple of hours in recovery, and if everything goes as planned, I’ll be homeward bound between 3-4p. Less than a work day, and I’ll have the rocks in my chest removed, and some smaller, softer gummy bears in place that will be held in place by a special surgical bra for several weeks.

I’m hoping I’ll be able to lift my arms above 45 degrees this time, it’s doable, but pretty annoying.  I’ve been promised no drains, which if you’ve forgotten from last summer, are the lovely suction bulbs that I got to wear for a full month after the boob removal part.  But now since I’m just doing a swap it should all be much easier.

The thing is, I still can’t help but think how lucky I have been.

The treatment, well, it has sucked, but it could have been SO much worse.

I caught it early, so I didn’t need radiation.  This is not only easier, but has helped to move the timeline along.

And the amount of support I’ve seen from friends and family has just been amazing.

I’ve got a hell of a whole lot more to do with my life, so I do have one more favor to ask.

If you could hook me up with some more of those happy, healing thoughts for my surgery that would be great.

I promise to let you know how it goes once I’m feeling up to typing.  I am taking next week off of work, as I think I’ll likely need some good drugs and I don’t think that Oxy & work mix, but I promise I’ll let you know now it went, and how the sitting up in surgery thing works.

In case I’ve forgotten to say it lately. Thanks for me and for this guy, who likes having a mom around.

Next time he gets his hair cut, it will be shorter than mom!

Next time he gets his hair cut, it will be shorter than mom’s!

 

Don’t Stop Believin’

Yet again I find myself wide awake when I’d really rather be sleeping, and hoping that by banging my whirling thoughts on my keyboard, I’ll be able to get a few hours sleep.

I feel like a broken record, but I know a lot of the insomnia comes from discomfort. I wake up in the middle of the night because I’m sore.  My mom worries about chronic pain if this doesn’t get better after next week but I don’t think pain is really the right word.

It’s more like I’m suffering from chronic owie.

I really don’t HURT most of the time.  As long as I stay on top of the muscle relaxants, it’s more of an ache or a soreness.

But that’s just the part that wakes me in the middle of the night.

The part that is keeps me awake, is keeping me awake now, is a four letter “F” word. Fear.

Other than the whole having cancer thing, when I look back over the last nine months it feels like things have almost gone too smoothly.  I haven’t had any infections or setbacks.  Hell, it sucked, but even my chemo wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

So maybe this time is when something will go wrong.

Completely irrational? Yep.

Doesn’t make the fear not as real as can be.

So I read my Ninja board on Pinterest again, sometimes to feel inspired and sometimes to giggle.

And I continue to prepare for the worst on Monday, but expect the best.

There are many variations on the quote, but it is said that courage is not the absence of fear, but moving forward despite the fear. I’m not sure that I deserve to be called brave since I really don’t think a constant state of sore is a long term option, but tonight I’ll work on brave. Journey can be happier with me again tomorrow.

journey

 

So Tired, Tired Of Waiting

Tired of waiting for BOOBS!

The exciting thing, is that the wait is almost over.  By this time next week, I’ll be home after my OUTPATIENT surgery to get rid of the rocks in my chest, and put in some nice, soft gummy bears. (Yes, I know I’ve spelled like 4 different ways.  I haven’t seen anything consistent, so I thought I’d try them all.)

I met with my surgical oncologist (the doc who sliced out the cancer) for the last time today.  She did a little exam, said that everything looks great, and then we said good bye, because there’s no reason I’ll ever see her again. Her job is done.

She did tell me a little more about my surgery next week- evidently they will actually prop me up in a seated position for at least part of the surgery so they can make sure to get the positioning right. This is a relief, since right now Righty is .5″ to 1″ higher than Lefty.  This is not something that I think people notice in general, but it’s really noticeable to me, so would be a problem for me if it were long term.

But then I start to wonder, how on earth do they prop me up if I’m out cold?  Am I strapped to the table that then swivels? Or are there like clampy things that go under my arms, like big hooks and I’m like hanging on a wall?

You know I’ll have to ask, so I’ll have to let you know once I’m back up to typing next week.

I’m a little worried that I’ve built this up too much in my head.  For so many reasons, I feel like my life has just been on hold, waiting to get through next Monday.

Once I get the new boobs, I’ll be able to sleep through the night (I can count the number of times I’ve done that since last July on one hand)

Once I get the new boobs, I won’t hurt every day.

Once I get the new boobs, I can plan our trip to take the little man to Boston for the first time this summer.

Once I get the new boobs, I will be able to lift things, and plan any events (Iron Girl Tri?) I’m going to do this summer.

Once I get the new boobs, I will concentrate on my health beyond cancer, and start working on that six pack to go with the new perky boobs.

It’s a lot of expectations I’m putting on 1600 cc of high density silicone, huh?

The last couple of weeks have been okay, work has been less busy, which is actually harder for me.  I’m happier staying on top of things when they are on fire than keeping myself busy when it’s slow.

Weekends, however, have been busy with good stuff.  Did a 5k walk for colon cancer with Mom last weekend.  (Yes, the same Mom who had chunks of her liver removed 34 days beforehand.)  And this weekend, got all of my nails did, and spent much of yesterday with some really wonderful friends.  They’re from Texas, and introduced us to the tradition of Cascarones, which are eggshells that have been cleaned out, painted and  filled with confetti. The egg is then crushed over someone’s head, and the confetti is meant to symbolize blessings, which then rain down on their head.

It was a ton of fun, and a good reminder.  Even with all of the things I’m waiting for, I’m still here, and my treatments, surgery, all of that went with out complications.

And for that, I am truly blessed.

Part Time Lover

I think the most frustrating thing for me at work in the last couple of months is that at least once a week someone asks me:

“So are you back full time now?”

I may not be in the office every day, and I blew through all of my vacation time with doctors appointments and a little fun chemo time, but other than the 8 days for surgery & 3-5 days per chemo session, I’ve been working the whole time.  I’ve even been in the office a fair amount, not EVERY day because sometimes it’s just easier to keep plugging away at home and skip the commute.

To be fair, I have not made any announcements about my “return” like I did about my diagnosis.  But I’m not sure exactly what it is that I should say.  “Working my ass off, like I did before the whole cancer thing… and as much as I was physically able during.” I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again- what else was I supposed to have been doing? Sitting around feeling sorry for myself for the last 6 months?

Don’t be ridiculous! (Extra points if you can get the late 80’s pop culture reference without me providing a link…)

So anyway, the answer to your question, yes I’m working full time.  And I feel fine.

I still can’t say I feel great yet, since I’m still pretty sore.  I kept thinking that the tightness would go away, but so far, no dice. I saw my plastic surgeon yesterday, and she assures me that the permanent implants will be more comfortable. Only a couple more weeks until I find out.

This time the surgery will be out patient. They will go in through the scars I already have, and remove the tissue expander and put in the permanent implants, I go to recovery, and then I come home. No drains this time (woo hoo!) and I’ll evidently have a surgical bra I have to wear for a month.  Since I still feel naked with out a bra, I don’t see that as a problem.

After that there will be 1-2 more surgeries, each more minor, to get things balanced out and then to add in my nipples.  Yes, that seems as weird to type as it probably does to read.

On the hair front, it’s still coming in and getting thicker.  I was worried for a little while that it was going to be coarser, but now that it’s growing out, it feels like it will be pretty much like it was before, just more grey. 🙂

Today- see, not much difference

Today- see, not much difference

 

 

However- a month ago, definitely thinner

However- a month ago, definitely thinner