Friday, June 29, 2012

In with the New

So I picked up a box from Julie at the Post Office yesterday. I was so excited!! Finishing a project makes me happy but it's more a deep sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Starting a new project is just a thrilling rush of excitement!!

So there is a Mountain Colors (sic) Yellowstone River scarf. I think that this is going to be a challenge. I'm going to get it set then sit down and knit it, no stopping, and see how long it takes.

Then there is also 30 balls of FDC Zara Melange in lovely shades of pink. Julie & Beth are deciding what it is to be ... I'm not even bothered, I love the colour so much!!

The body on Elise's top is blocking. I have less of the solid yarn left than we had anticipated so I used the scale and divided the solid in half. The sleeves will be as long as the yarn will allow. 

I am making Lucky Stars again! 

I couldn't for awhile because of my thumb and while the thumbnail on my right hand is still not long enough for the job I have practiced enough to be able to do them with my left hand. I'm so happy. I find a place of peaceful and restful mindfulness when I'm making them. 

I am utterly exhausted today. Maybe the week of stress, recovery and lack of sleep has caught up with me but writing this post is the most I've done all day. I've mostly slept, drank water and had a burger. I am likely going to sleep more before going to bed eventually. I am just complying with my body's needs - listening, not arguing and complying.

The wounds are healing well. I've been using Bio Oil, massaging it in gently a couple of times a day on the scars. 
The scars on my belly are strangely sensitive and numb. My stomach still feels tender and bloated inside and there are strange pulls and twinges when I turn or move somehow it doesn't like.
My breast is numbish all over. There is a strange sensitive area just on the swell of it just before it goes numbish and the muscles across the top of my right chest are still sore. Not even quite sore but tight. The patch is healing well, still bruised but hopefully the Bio Oil massages will help. I take 81mg of aspirin and garlic capsules as well. Nerves are healing - every once in awhile there are sharp, piercing pains that just come and go.

Thanks for all of the support - I do write this as a therapy, to keep track of what is going on, (I tend to live in the moment and I forget a lot of what happens week-to-week), to stay in touch with my friends and to try to help anyone that I can with anything that I know.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Corrective Measures

When I met with the surgeon a few months ago he drew this plan on my foot. Yes, I think that he may have been a football or hockey coach at one time. My family Dr. called it a bone spur; a rose by any other name hurts as much. Even running shoes cause pain and I'm just too young to wear only sensible shoes. Besides, it's affecting the structure of my toes so it's only a matter of time before it would be a more involved surgery.

So I am going to have a bunionectomy and 1st metatarsal osteotomy done next Thursday. I am healing well from the DIEP Flap reconstruction and I can run the two recoveries concurrently so that I should be able to return to work on schedule with maybe only some duty modifications. And with seriously curbed mobility perhaps I will be not as inclined to push my limited limits. It truly is revealing how much even the smallest movements require deep core muscles.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


So ... Day 12 post op. 

Not pretty but healing is a slow process; I'm not in a hurry. There is still significant bruising on the "patch" on the breast but it doesn't hurt - it never has. There is a tightness/tugging on the upper pecs and an overall numbishness. The swelling is going down and I still love that the shape is back!! And I love my new belly button!!

Either Bonita or Simone come twice a week - I change my own dressing in between. I totally missed my calling!!

I have made excellent progress on my Starbucks Socks. The difference between the more vertical patterning on the leg and the lovely swirling patterning on the foot is 1 stitch. I know ... I love the swirling so I will be making that adjustment on the 2nd sock. You know me - I'm about the fraternal twin socks.

 Day 15 post op. Improvement. I am truly trying very hard not to lift more than 10lbs. But needs must and even lifting too much of a lighter weight or reaching too much gives me cause to feel the deep stitches. It will be awhile before I can do Cobra Pose again. I am pretty much on my own but I don't have much to do but it doesn't take much for it to be too much.

 Both Simone & I are quite puzzled by the thin swirling red marks that begin at the base of my stomach and trail up to the inside of each breast. They itch & I have been putting calamine lotion on it which is effective.

They must be from the TAP catheters but neither one of us can fathom how the marks are appearing on the skin surface when the catheters were always internal. How Bizarre. I will be mentioning it to the surgeon when I see him next week for my follow-up.

I still love my new belly button!!! I know, I'm easily amused!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Knitting on the Knitting Blog

I know ... novel concept!! I still whiled away most of the day but I have knit over 2400 sts so far and I'm feeling a few more in my fingers. This is the lovely article for Elise - shhhhhh.

Silvermist is the Fairy of the Day. The collage seems a bit not right, but I'm sure that I'll perfect the technique eventually. ;)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Hugga Mugga

My fave nurse from St Elizabeth's is back - Simone!!! She cared for me a lot during my chemo and I'm happy to see her again.

I haven't done much yet today - I'm waiting for the cooler of the evening to go for a bit of a walk. I did play around with Pixlr-O-Matic editing a few pictures. 

I love mugs. I have a collection of knitterly mugs and I try to keep a rein on my day-to-day use mugs. I have my Queen of Hearts mug and Judith gave me a new mug when she visited (without even knowing about my weakness!!). I have my Fairies mug. Iridessa is one of my favourite fairies, so she is featured today. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

One Drain Out

So the nurse came today to change the abdominal dressing - while the nurses sent me home without any on Dr. Hofer's orders were clear. While conventional wisdom is to allow the wound to air out if it's not open, many surgeons prefer their work to heal over a longer time under a moist barrier Jelonet, perhaps to reduce scarring. I'm certainly not going to question the good Dr.'s directives.

 She also removed the left abdominal drain. I didn't realize it was like the Tardis - bigger on the inside than the outside. Anyway, it wasn't so horrible once it was done. Anyone can handle about 3-5 seconds of most any amount of pain. It was cool once it was out - the length from the suture threads was inside me. The wide part is perforated to improve drainage. Cool. This would also explain the uncomfortably strange pain I get when I "milk" the drainage line. More information than you needed/wanted but all knowledge is worth having. 

  Tapewormesque drainage tube. 
 Sorry - pic won't orient correctly.

I went for a 1/2 hour walk this morning. I am the tortoise but as a friend pointed out, slow & steady wins the race. I have spent the rest of the day resting. I knit a few rows and might do more after another walk - the rain is holding off. But I am most likely going to just knit and watch a movie or two; I remain deeply exhausted and my entire abdomen aches.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

In The Matrix

I am so very glad to be Home. Yes, with a capital "H". I finally hung pictures on the wall last week - decided where I wanted them and got the 3M stuff to do it so I feel much less like a squatter. I come in the door and I see my books, afghans, pictures. My plants and mugs, everything where I left it. It smells and feels like the haven that it is. I breathe a small sigh when I walk through my front door - there is a lightness of being that I feel within these walls.

I am really not experiencing pain as such. Dr. Hofer certainly took me at my word to "make this worth my while" and the skin & muscles in my stomach are tight. My back aches by the end of the day from walking upright, making sure that I don't hunch over to make it easy on the stomach muscles. There are shooting pains inside, not near the incisions that the nurse said were indications that the nerves were healing. There are also internal stitches which I'm sure I am putting to the test when I cough. I use a pillow or my forearms as a supporting splint but it still hurts like a mofo. 

 Caution - graphic photos to follow.

The drainage tube from my breast was removed before I left the hospital; I still have the abdominal ones. A nurse will come every day to double check the wound sites, drain & record the fluids and make sure I've generally not fallen & can't get up. The abdominal drains can be removed once there is 10mL or less fluid draining (from each one) for 2 consecutive days. Until then I feel like I'm still connected to the Matrix. I am still puffy and swollen - drinking water, walking and trying to be patient (HA!).

Here are the pics - not for the squeamish but ya'll know about my fascination with procedures and progress.

 Matrix connections & a new belly button!!!

underneath the left side of the breast 
#1 - the insertion site for the breast drain.
#2 - blisters from the tape holding the drain in place

A lovely, not caved-in breast!!! Excellent patch job once the swelling & bruising subside.

 I am very happy that even after 6 days my tongue ring went back in with no problem!!! Ron will be disappointed (he's a tad conservative) but I don't care - I love it!! 
I am just walking - believe me, I am the tortoise!! - and resting. Sleeping/napping/dozing when I can. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Day 3 Post Op

Even though I was awake most of Wednesday, I didn't feel alert or completely aware. I spent most of the day (in between walking) with my head back and my eyes closed listening to LoTR with my eyes closed like it was an old radio show.

Thursday I felt much more myself!! I used very little of the available PCA opioids, and took the proffered Tylenol for the constant headache more than any post-op pain.
Good thing - all sorts of action!! Not only do I have delicate veins, they are not inclined to hold long. Shortly after the day nurse hung & started my Clyndamycin drip I felt a definite pain in the top of my wrist. I looked down and tried to remember if it had always been swollen at the IV insertion point and just hadn't hurt or if both presentations were new. New. As soon as I pointed it out to my nurse (immediately) she turned off the drip and we set to removing the IV. It took about an hour for the pain & swelling to subside.
Joan came by with swatches that I helped to graft.

Joan hates grafting specifically, finishing on general. I'm glad I put her off from Tuesday to Thursday - I'd've been of no help at all!!
Ron texted that he was parking & I asked him to pick me up a coffee. I had been without my sweet brown elixir of life since Sunday afternoon and knowing my love for it, who better to bring me my first cup?
The nurse from the pain management team came by to check in and was surprised to find out that the IV had been removed but the TAP catheters were still in place. Not protocol ... oops. She took charge and set to removing them herself. Yes, this crazy mess of tiny tubes were inserted deep into the transversus muscles, bilaterally. I didn't feel the left one coming out at all but the right one had the oddest sensation. Not really a feeling but just a weird sensation.

I texted Ron & set Joan to watch for him. He is not squeamish exactly but the site of tubes & fresh stitches & drains would've likely just resulted in an unnecessary complication to everyone's day ;) Fortunately all was sorted just in time for his arrival with my Coffee.
Karen and Judith came by shortly after Ron & Joan took their leaves and brought carrot loaf and another coffee! I feel compelled to say how disappointed I was with the food. I know the general feelings about "hospital food" but a lot of hospitals do quite well. Apparently, TGH outsources their meals and I think that they went with the lowest bid. Straight up. Two lunches out of three had no protein whatsoever. But between Karen's carrot loaf and the Triscuits that Randy brought down Wednesday I have not perished.

I am going home today!! I feel really very well, especially all things considered. Not as bad as I had expected; I can only pray that the rest of my recovery is on such a smooth track. I truly believe that the strength and prayers of my family and friends have made all the difference - now as then. I am trying very hard to keep occupied and not let experiences from the past taint my present. It's a challenge but I hope that by being aware of those feelings of rejection and sense of abandonment, taking time to give them due consideration for the day (and then letting it go) and talking about them with a couple of people who can give me perspective they will not be overwhelming.

Thank you my friends.

I edited yesterday's post to include a link to the actual study that I was a part of; I'll include it here as well. It's interesting.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Walking Day

The surgery took longer than than expected - 7.5 hours as instead of 5.5-6. But I'm glad that Dr. Hofer wasn't a clock watcher but took his time to get all done as it should be. To this point everything seems to be healing well.

Yesterday (Day 1 post-op) was sitting in a chair day. Yeah, it doesn't sound like much until you have a new and keen awareness for every muscle in your stomach and upper right chest, in addition to to surface pain when the actual incisions are. But I did that and survived. Today was walking day, no arguments. Apparently blood clots, pneumonia and bed sores are quite a serious concern and I am nothing if not mostly compliant so I walked.
I had signed up to participate in a TAP pain management study. Here's a link to the actual study - trés cool! It's a double blind so no one knows if I'm getting excellent drugs or just a placebo but I seriously think that I'm getting the real deal. The nurse this morning was impressed to no end with my getting out of bed on my own and going around the whole ward on my own. And while I'd like to believe I could've done it with just the Morphine I think it should hurt more than it does. I'm thrilled with the intervention for helping me be able to get on with healing.
I was migrainey & nauseous this morning but Zomig & Gravol sorted that - I'm much better this afternoon. Sitting up, knitting, flipping through some knitting magazines that Helen brought by, watching LoTR and just dozing off. There is still some sensations of lightheadedness and lack of concentration but that I chalk up to the drugs and my body's overwhelming desire to heal. I pay heed ... and am drinking lots of water.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Under the Knife

I made a decision back after my original lumpectomy that I wanted corrective cosmetic measures eventually. My surgeon still apologizes every time I see him but it was an aggressive tumour ; I don't fault him in the least.
I am a woman and I have my share of vanities. And though a caved-in breast isn't something that most anyone would see, I feel self-conscious when I wear anything low-cut or a bathing suit. I'm doing this for me - selfish but a harmless & healthy selfish. I still won't have a matching set - the initial surgery & radiation saw to that - but I will have a more "cosmetically pleasing result" as Dr. Stefanison calls it. The actual scars/battle marks won't bother me.
Not that this is going to be an easy row to hoe. After radiation I can't have a simple implant. I am going to have a DIEP flap reconstruction.
I will be going in on Monday, with an anticipated stay at Toronto General of 4-5 days followed by a couple of months off to recover. If you're in the Toronto area I'm totally counting in a smooth recovery and I would love knitterly company!!! I am not deluding myself about the pain and physio that will be involved but for me it's one small thing I can do to reclaim what Cancer thought it could take from me.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, June 3, 2012


Today is my 2nd unversary. I wasn't sure how I would feel about it, I tried not to give it a lot of forethought or premeditation. 

Anyone who knows me knows how much I loved celebrating my wedding anniversary. It was truly & deeply special to me. I'm not going to get all maudlin - I don't even feel all maudlin - but suffice it to say, it was the most important day of the year.

So I wasn't sure what I would feel this year. I am surprisingly ambivalent. No, that's not quite right. Surprisingly implies that there is an expectation to not feel ambivalent or that there is a predictable or typical emotion. And I'm not really ambivalent - more like I'm able to remember with a detachment that this was a day that held a special place in my heart but I don't have any compelling emotions (positive or negative) about this day. I can't unremember the date but it's not significant in my life right now.

I like who I am right now and that's worth celebrating every day! In just over a month I will be 2 years a Survivor - now that's an Anniversary!!!


Saturday, June 2, 2012

No Regrets

Regretting what has been done is an an exhausting and futile. If you do the things that make you happy, that you want to do, then even if they don't work out the way you initially wanted or envisioned you will have no regrets. And don't 2nd guess the choice because of the results!!
I read a great article that bullet-points how to start now to go forward to Live Life With No Regrets.