Sunday, September 16, 2012

My Backscratchers

I’m not even sure where to start; it seems like so long since I last wrote. Thanks to Brian, you’re caught up on my surgery, and on the mighty team of angels at Faulkner Hospital. And you’re caught up on the news that the pathologist in the OR found my sentinel node to be negative. Brian already discussed the indescribable victory that this news was for us. I can only say that I still feel like the luckiest woman in the world to have received it. On Wednesday, we meet with Dr. Bunnell (my oncologist) to discuss the final pathology results and my continuing treatment plan. We were told there is a very small chance that additional testing could still reveal cancer in that node, but we are betting on the odds on this one, and celebrating that the surgery itself really couldn’t have gone any better.

Since then each day has blurred into the next and I often have to ask what day it is. Today, I am told that it is Sunday, and even though I was able to type the first paragraph on my own, I have since laid back on my recliner and let my sister Rachel take over, as my nausea has become somewhat debilitating. The nausea is what has kept me from writing earlier today and what caused several calls to the on-call doctor to switch up some medications that might be causing it. Luckily, the nausea only set in last night. Before then, I had other issues that kept me from writing (aside from not knowing what day it was). The biggest problem proved to be my blurry vision, and I mean blurry even with my glasses on. Thank goodness that has improved, but for the last few days I could see long distances or read something two inches from my eyes, but very little in between. Therefore, typing on my computer was not an option. The chest pain has remained relatively under control, except for when I got a little too ambitious about backing off the pain meds. But surprise, two other things caused the most pain of all. First, there were the pains in my stomach that I remember from my previous surgeries – gas pains. When Annabel was a baby, every time she sneezed she would fart. Let’s just say I was wishing for a sneeze attack that never came. Damn, that would have felt good. Eventually, the sharp-as-a-knife gas pains subsided, and my stomach felt huge relief. Then there was throat pain, which I am guessing was caused by a combination of heartburn and irritation from the breathing tube used during surgery. That hurt too; kind of a lot.

But last night was definitely the worst. The nausea came in a relentless wave. Luckily for Brian, I was able to wait for him to arrive this afternoon before I threw up in a bucket he was holding. Then I fell asleep while he watched the Patriots on mute. Apparently they lost.

My Mom continues to be my rock through the nights, keeping a notebook of all my medications, and getting up with me every few hours like I was a newborn baby. I have basically resorted to newborn baby status, as the primary concern of those around me is how much I eat, sleep, and go to the bathroom (although in my current state, I don't have the cute factor that newborn babies have that make their otherwise exhausting and disgusting behaviors tolerable).

The hardest part of all is that I haven’t seen Annabel since I dropped her off at school Wednesday morning, and only saw Teddy for an exhausting five minutes when he stopped by on Friday. They are both doing so well with all the care from Brian and our relatives that I don’t want to rock the boat for my own selfish reasons. Brian and I decided that tomorrow if I am feeling up to it I will go home for an hour before their bedtime and sit with Annabel while she has her bottle and read Teddy a bedtime story. Then I will return to my recliner at my parents’ house and assume the pathetic looking state in which I currently lie.

As for some other details you might be wondering about, Dr. Chun (my plastic surgeon) was very proud of her accomplishments in the surgery, and was able to add volume to the tissue expanders right away. So oddly enough, it still looks like I have boobs, albeit very small ones. There are no nipples (those get tattooed on later), just two big horizontal incisions all stitched and bandaged up. Who knew? Not me, and even now when I look at them I fluctuate between amazement and incredulity.

I have four drains stitched into my sides and Brian has become quite the nurse at “stripping them” and emptying them. This means that he pulls out all the blood, tissue, and fluid from the long tubes before he empties the bulbs and measures the contents. (Yes, pretty much the least sexy context for the word "stripping" you could ever imagine.) As soon as the output is small enough, the drains can come out and I can take a shower. Until then, shampoos in the kitchen sink will do. Aside from the loving support that surrounds me, the one constant in the last few days has been my trusty backscratcher. I am not sure the precise cause, probably the anesthesia, but I have never been so itchy in my life, and my backscratcher is with me at all moments (I sleep with it in hand). Of course, when the backscratcher is not enough, there is always someone nearby to relieve my itch. Lucky them.

Brian joked in his blog that I thought the night we had in the hospital together was romantic. Yes, we do need to get out more. But nonetheless, I still claim that the time that I have gotten to spend with my family and friends as I lie in this recliner healing is very precious time for which I am forever grateful. Poor them, they probably just wish I could take a shower.


  1. SO good to hear from you Tara! And I have to tell you...I itched like a mad woman! My boyfriend would laugh hysterically when I would call him into the room as if the apartment was burning down, and I just needed him to itch my nose. And the elephants on your chest..pretty much sums that up perfectly! There were nights I didn't think I would make it to the morning. I had nausea that permitted me from leaving the hospital from day surgery! The nurses were so great at letting me stay for hours past the time I should have, when I secretly know they needed my bed desperately! So it sounds like everything you're feeling is pretty normal, and yet your handling it all like the champ you are! And way more creatively than me...A backscratcher...genius! I would love to come visit you when I am home in a few weeks. I am sure you will look and feel like a rock star by then anyway! For now I will continue to keep you in my prayers and wish you a speedy recovery with more good news to come your way. If anyone deserves it, it's you. YOU ARE AMAZING! xo

  2. Welcome to the road to recvery. Your spirit is amazing. I am thankful that your sense of humor is intact and that you are managing. Hang in there. We will continue to pray for you as we read your blog.

  3. We are more inspired than sad when we read these entries -- which is a tribute the incredibly infectious spirit that you and Brian share. These entries are literally inspiring. We are so glad to hear that the latest turn of events is for the good. You deserve some good news. Keep fighting -- we're all behind you!

    - Bracewell Family