Wednesday, August 25, 2010

50. the end of the world - but not really.

my expansion for today got canceled. i knew it, as soon as i heard my phone ring. i have distinctive ring tones. i got the call on monday.

i was really looking forward to this expansion because it meant i was one expansion away from being done.

it felt like the end of the world, and i cried. i am so sick of this foreign feeling in my body.

it. sucks. 24. hours. a. day.

i am in pain all the time. not extreme pain. but constant dull pain all the time. for the most part i can deal with it, but sometimes it really gets me down. the pain makes me flake out mentally. i feel vacant and numb when trying to interact with people and also stuck in my head.

however, it is not the end of the world. i know this. it is only overwhelming for a while, but life resumes soon after, and i learn to deal. i only have to wait another 2 weeks until september 7th for my next scheduled appointment.

i requested that surgery be tentatively scheduled. however, with this delay i won't be going to college in january anymore. i will have to wait till september 2011. i think i am ok with this. i don't want to rush my recovery and i don't want to be all goofy trying to focus on school while on pain killers.

i am a little worried about cold and flu season. fall is fast approaching, and the leaves have started to change. i don't know what it means if i get sick. i am worried that any type of infection could go to my expanders, causing my body to reject them. i don't want to have to do this expansion process again. i think that is my greatest fear right now. it is also not an irrational fear.

my focus for the next couple of months will be to eat as healthily as possible. i am really cutting out the meat lately...i've had some here and there due to family bbq's and such, but each time, the meat consumption has taken its toll.

as for the no shampooing, it has been 3 weeks!!! i almost caved and hit the bottle again because i hit a bit of a gross patch a few days ago. my hair started smelling like vinegar from the vinegar rinses so i stop using that and tried to go with just rinsing my hair for a week - no baking soda/no vinegar. near the end of the week my hair was getting yucky so i tried remedying it by using dr. bronner's pure castile soap with lavender and hemp (i use this for my body). it did nothing to eliminate the vinegar smell and i began to have a gross sebum build up on my hair which you could see. i nearly threw my hands up and almost purchased new shampoo and conditioner, but consulted my best friend elaine for advice first, since she is a week ahead of me and her hair is looking pretty fantastic in pictures.

elaine gave me advice that so far is working. she said i needed to "scrub" my hair more with the baking soda and get it through all of my hair. she then said, instead of rinsing with vinegar, use lemon juice instead. this seems to be the perfect combination now. rinsing with the lemon juice made my hair feel so silky soft and it left a nice scent behind and eliminated the vinegar smell. scrubbing with the baking soda has also eliminated the gross build up and my hair is clean now to the nose, sight and touch.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

49. hurt

i've rewritten this post twice already and deleted it.

i'll just say that i have been hurting (emotionally) pretty badly the past few days. i am very grateful to my friend Kristen for listening to me tonight while i shared my inner most thoughts and pain. she is a ray of sunshine and has always been able to pick me up with her words, wise observations and encouragement.

also, teri, i know you are going to read this at some point. i am thinking about you so much and am praying for you. i don't want you to have to be fearful or burdened. please take care of yourself, and take an internet break if you have too so you can recover.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

48. minor depression, thoughts, and my can do, can't do list

i've been doing really great mood wise, but out of the blue i was hit with some depression. i was bummed out all weekend. having experienced depression most of my life i am quite familiar when i am in a funk. it really sucks. i worry if i will get out of it. thankfully, most of it has lifted but i find myself still sensitive and a little overly emotional about things. but perhaps, that is normal based on some of the circumstances i am experiencing.

i find myself looking ahead to exchange surgery. i am also fearful. not of the surgery, but of not liking the final outcome. i have known at least 3 women who have had their exchange and been very unsatisfied.

i want to make sure that i communicate to the p.s. that i am really happy with the look and projection of my expanders now. i don't mind that they look a bit fake. well...a bit...i do want to get a bit more naturalness to them, but i think that will happen with the over-expansion.

i experienced quite a bit of discomfort and pain from the last expansion. it lasted about a week and a half and i coped with the pain by just dealing with it during the day. at night i needed to take a perc/oxy to help me sleep comfortably. i am mostly pain free now and haven't needed anything for pain since last wednesday.

i just realized yesterday, i am almost 4 months post-op. i was remarking to my surgery buddy - megan, that it feels like it was forever ago, and at other times it feels like it was just yesterday. it is all very surreal. i still don't think my mind has fully comprehended what it has gone through both physically and emotionally. i do find however, that i am better able to articulate my experience and what i was going through pre-surgery better, now that i do not feel that my life is threatened anymore.

i can also relate with another blogger's feelings about how we blame ourselves for the ordeals of going through surgery, complications, and pain. there is a guilt i feel when i had the collapsed lung and c-diff, that it was my fault, because "i chose" the surgery. but then i have to gently remind myself, that i didn't have any other option because at any moment cancer could chose me and i would have to do the surgery anyways with most likely not optimal results.

and that leads me to another bizarre thought pattern. i feel guilty that my reconstruction is fantastic. i am deeply grateful and my biggest fear going into this was my body would react in a negative way and reject the expanders or implants. (this is still a possibility). i feel it is not fair to the women that do not get a say in their choice of reconstruction because they have been diagnosed with cancer and end up not having the luxury of having the type of reconstruction i have had - that being the nipple sparing mastectomy with minimal scarring.

i would be interested in hearing feedback from other women who have had reconstruction about your thoughts on this. do you feel guilty over having a choice on your reconstruction? or, do you feel anger or jealously over someone else's reconstruction because you either had a poor outcome or no say in they type of reconstruction you were offered? or, do you have mixed feelings because you have been diagnosed with cancer, and didn't get to choose?

i haven't left a list of can and can't do since my last fill so here goes:

can do:

  • swim, although not as strongly as last "can do" list - i've lost a bit of my strength
  • pick up children - although it was difficult after the last fill for the first week and a half
  • i can still sleep on my sides...albeit it is starting to get a little bit uncomfortable with the increase in size
can't do:

  • sleep on my stomach. i tried this morning but it was completely uncomfortable and unnatural
  • hug very hard. my chest is getting really tight and it is uncomfortable to have that much pressure on my chest
  • *tear - i can't get completely cozy with the little kids i babysit when cuddling with them. i have to be very careful that they don't jump on me when they are excited. they are so cute! even though they are so young, they know how to be respectful and understand that they need to be careful with me.
  • wear tight clothing. it feels so restricting and causes my skin to ache and feel an itchy kind of pain. this means i don't wear bras anymore, and it also means i have grown out of most of my tops; thus i need to go shopping.
  • ***edit: added sunday august 15*** - handle stress or life's curve balls with out becoming a complete sobbing or shaking mess. being in a constant state of underlying pain takes it's toll on the emotions and anything has been able to trigger me...even minor incidents like watching the news.
on another interesting note, i have decided to stop shampooing and conditioning my hair. i am very cautious about what goes in and on my body and since 89% of ingredients in our everyday personal care items haven't been adequately assessed, i don't want to subject myself to possible toxins and carcinogens. just in case you are thinking that i am nuts, shampoo is a modern day invention that has only been around since the 1930's. people in the past all managed to do with out, so why can't i? the hair and scalp is self-cleansing and moisturizing once you let it adjust to no stripping of natural oils from shampoos/detergent.

so far, i have gone 1 week with out 'pooing my hair. instead, i have been washing with 1 Tbsp of baking soda to 1 cup of water, and "conditioning" it with 1 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar to 1 cup of water. so far, so good. if you are interested in this, there is a wealth of information about no 'pooing on the internet and many people have made the change. check it out!

i will take pics of my hair at some point to show you that it can still look fabulous!