Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Pre-Op & Ready for Reconsctructive Surgery!

Happy early birthday Graland!!! Much love to you and thank you for being my best friend, my only love, and God's perfect match for me. I know everything will go just fine for your birthday and look forward to seeing you tomorrow afternoon after surgery.

Went in this morning for pre-op stuff. Saw Dr. Kronowitz first. Got to sign the consent forms and they went over what would be going on tomorrow. Got 'marked up' again with this surgery's game plan. Took pictures for study. Then downstairs to anesthesiology. He did say the reason for a five day hospital stay if the risk of clots. When they do the surgery, he'll use microscopic surgery to remove a vein from the abdomen and replace it up near the clavicle/collarbone...up there!! They monitor it heavily...coming in EVERY hour to listen to it to make sure it sounds good and healthy (for the whole 5 days!). If at any time it doesn't sound right they'll take me back to surgery immediately. BUT, I see no reason for my nice healthy arteries to give me any problems...they've always been so good to me. :)

Made all the plans for tomorrow...discussed medicines, don't eat after midnight, have a light meal for dinner, etc. But the GOOD NEWS is surgery is FIRST thing!!! 8:30am!! the time the kids get home from school at 330 I should be about out of surgery!! They figure about 7 hours. So if you stop to sneeze or have a moment of quiet...sneak in a prayer for me! They saw that the scopolomine patch worked so well for PONV that I'll get it again this time (post operative nausea & vomiting -- from anesthesia and post op meds)

I got an EKG done...Donna will understand when I say it was NOT like the last one I had (ahem, blushing). But strangely, it was sitting in a chair! But it came out fine. They sent me downstairs for bloodwork, so did that and we were off for lunch.

Stopped at Luby's at Deerbrook hoping to see Graland's brother Pat, who is a manager there, but he wasn't working today. But, we did have a wonderful meal that I wish I could have eaten more of. Was feeling a little lightheaded and sleepy, so didn't eat as much as I usually do.

Slept on the way home. Graland is out now getting my prescriptions and some snacks for the week at the hospital.

Big news: Kaci's GT project is finished!!! It couldn't have come at a better time. She had all the bibliography stuff finished, so it was just a matter of putting it on the display board. So I printed out pictures of earthquakes and tsunami's to add to the display. We put them on a black background and it worked up beautifully. She'll get to present this to judges this week and explain what all she learned for a Texas history project Mrs. Holder's class has been working on for quite some time. She has enjoyed every minute of research...she soaks it in like a sponge.

I can't begin to tell you how good my sleep has been!!! I actually SLEEP and it doesn't hurt to do it.

Looking forward to updating in about a weeks' time.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Just for today.

It is amazing to me that as I write about not looking at my problems and afflictions but to the goodness of God that His goodness does indeed just SHOUT!! :D It fits so hand in hand with a piece of scripture that was given by a dear friend just this week:


“I will rain down bread from heaven for you.” How amazing it is that day by day God sends nourishment from heaven to feed his people while we wander in the wilderness. There is always just enough for each day and we are tested by the fact that we must Trust Him for tomorrow.

This "bread from heaven" came in the form of the most beautiful recliner you've ever seen, laid eyes on, or had the most lovely night's sleep in. OK...not supposed to cry as I write! I was even able to get up to go potty by myself!! Graland did my drains and dressing this morning and even my levels were much lower and I MUST contribute it to a night's sleep as that is when healing comes.

I was told that this gift came from God, and Who else could it have been? Because who else loves His children as only He can? THANK YOU GOD!!!

previously on Just for today...

Got a call from a friend talking about a special dinner they had been to and it turned over to 'by the way-did you get a recliner yet?' NO! Of course not! lol Well, we and all the people who have been wanting to donate in some way have called Pedigo's. (special thanks to Erin) Made sure it had a right side control and that the color was right! OH MY GOSH!!! I lost it and had to give the phone to Graland. He's like Ummm Donna, I don't know, she just kinda isn't doing well at the moment. She's saying: What did I say??!! Can she call you back when she's able to talk again?

So I call back and get a "Don't ever do that to me again!!" lol She says It goes back to when you were asking the other day about getting up after a C-section. How do you get up? She said, I couldn't come up with an answer. This was her answer. ((hugs))

I heard once a while back that the sun is still shining even when it's just that the rain is in front of the sun and we can't see it shining. So it is...the Son always shines. It is so like Christ to show Himself in the midst of a spring shower.

Relay for Life

Relay for Life is this Friday (April 27th-28th) I had REALLY wanted to be there, but as I'll be in the hospital for 5 days, it appears that I will miss it. Donna had a wonderful idea of taking the kids for me and letting them walk my lap for me. What an honor!

Have you heard??!!! Donna called last night to read me an article about Relay for Life (Polk County). We have always been THRILLED for our county to be able to raise $30,000. for Relay, but this year, with a week still left to go, we've raise over $184,000.!!!!!

Can I say how proud I am of Polk County and the community of friends that live here? I got goosebumps all over when she read that to me. Cindy McClendon had come by while I was on the phone and when I related this to her and Graland, they did the same thing: running their hands over their arm saying, Oh gosh...that gave me goosebumps!

This has been an incredible year...with an incredible loss. Livingston's very dear friend Cherie Wheeland, whose loss for us was definitely Heaven's gain.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

on a side note...

And a puppy. (inside joke- ha ha) Love you Matt

the mail came! the mail came!!!!!

OHHHHH...I have been waiting for this envelope to get here and am so proud that I actually let Zach open it!!! Wanted to rip it open myself, but called him upstairs and told him he got a letter from SFA's School of Honor's and that this might be the letter we've been waiting for.

So...he is proud too that he is getting to open his own letter!! lol It says Congratulations, we are welcoming you to SFA's School of Honors!!!!! I AM SOOOOOO PROUD OF ZACH!!!!!

and now a word from our sponsor....

I heard the most amazing interpretation of scripture from the LIFT retreat...from Numbers of all places!! Numbers 13

Short version: The children of Israel have been PROMISED the Promised Land. The Lord tells them to send out a member of each tribe to go out and spy the new land. God's promise BEFOREHAND was 'you'll go and look and the land will be yours'. However, they went and looked and came back crying, grumbling, and questioning God's intent. They wanted to head back to Egypt.

Lesson learned: They only looked at the problems and obstacles, instead of they had fear.

I guess I haven't felt praiseworthy lately and I SHOULD!!! I sit and look in the mirror when Graland changes my dressings. I have the option of seeing the stitches and scars (my problems and obstacles) OR seeing them as I told it to Kaci today when she asked if they "cut it all off"! It was a resounding YES!!! They cut out all the cancer and on Papa's birthday they'll make it nice and pretty again! :)

Since they "filled me up" at my last visit, I have ached and had a hard time sleeping...can feel the drain tubes on the inside and since I am off the Vicoden my nerve endings are doing their job and I can just plain feel more! But THAT is putting my mind on problems and obstacles and I gotta stop that business!!!

Onto what is so huge... the prayers, food from school, church, and now neighbors, Admin being so kind, and angels who flutter about seeing to lift those in need. I am being blessed beyond limits. I stand on the claim of the Promised Land : healing! It was promised and I am grabbing hold.


Days are fine...but I really have to prepare myself for bedtime. It hurts to sleep. :( Can't lay all the way down flat because it hurts to lay on my back all night and I can't just roll over and take up a new position. I know I have a drain running down part of my back and I can feel it as I lay there. OR, I can try my newest trick...laying on my side! But that gets uncomfortable too. And I eventually kind of roll to my back and get stuck there. Last night I propped my pillows up so I could sleep sitting up and that isn't the best position for a good night's rest either. Anyway around it, I'll be taking a lot of naps today! Not sure if I can get a wedge or something to hep me lie down easier or maybe a small recliner? I don't know...i need to ask around and see what works best for most people.

On better news I had a lovely bath last night! IN the tub!! I've been doing a lot of creative bathing and keeping clean...don't get me wrong!! lol But this was heavenly!

I had a very pleasant visit with Trina yesterday. Anyone who knows Trina will know the kind of visit we enjoyed. :) Actually Donna asked her to come visit me for her birthday. :D She must have know I've been wanting to chat with her for a while! She always makes you feel like a new person!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

On to surgery!!!

We met with Deborah first, the PA at Dr. Ross' office. She said everything was looking good and that if everything was going as planned we wouldn't see her for another 6 months, when I came back in for a mammogram. The HUGE thing she passed along was that Dr. Ross took 32 lymph nodes and only TWO of them were affected! It also mattered how much of the lymph node itself was affected and apparently it 'fit in' the node and didn't destroy it. Looked at my drains and said NO WAY was Kronowitz going to let those go today!!

Then saw Dr. Kronowitz, the plastic surgeon. He told us not to use the ointment we were using on the incisions anymore...routine. They gave us a slightly different medication to use in it's place. No more bandaging, but to keep it open so it will dry and heal faster. Told them the only "complaint" as such was the pulling sensation in my arm. I asked if they took any muscle when they took the lymph nodes, and he said no. It is just the cutting of so many nerve endings. But I will eventually have full range of motion again.

Deborah added some saline or whatever it is they use to the expander. Another 50ml. Told him I was happy with the size I was at the moment and didn't want to look like Barbie!! He laughed and said it wasn't the size I was going to be, but just to make sure the skin was pliable, usable, and healthy to go into surgery, if I had it next week. They were waiting for the Radiation Oncologist meeting. Deborah said the expander has a magnetic port inside. They use this magnetic 'finder' to locate the port and then insert a needle to fill the expander pocket. Kronowitz said it wouldn't hurt and I took him at his word and told Deborah that HE said it wasn't going to hurt! lol So she put in the needle and started to fill the pocket slowly. She kept asking how I felt and I kept reminding her that Kronowitz SAID it wasn't going to hurt, so it didn't. Then she said, it is mostly just putting in the needle that may hurt, so I relaxed and said Good, then we have that part out of the way! :D

True to what I had heard, Kronowitz said the drains weren't empty enough to remove, so we'll keep them on until surgery, when we'll get new ones.

On to radiology and Dr. Woodward. Talked with the fellow first and she said we were still in the gray area. WHAT?! They told us originally that if 3 or 4 or more were affected, then we'd have radiation. Dr. Woodward said it would be my call since either way would be good. She talked about pros and cons and studies and whatnot, but supported our decision to opt out of radiation. She asked what made me lean toward NOT having it. I picked up the book Graland had in his hands and said You might pooh pooh this, but THIS is what is helping with this decision. I know God and using my own mind positively will have a huge effect on improvement and the immune system. The book was Bernie Siegel, MD Love, Medicine, and Miracles. This book, in agreement with a small book Barbara Hester (from school) have called God's Creative Power for Healing made it a decision I could stand on. Her book was completely scripture based, healing passages, but also how our positive attitude and thinking on those things positive and how they affect our bodies and healing.

So we are back and thrilled that I am set for reconstruction next Wed., April 25...yes, Graland's birthday! I'll go in the day before for pre-op stuff, and then will be in the hospital for 5 days. It will be a bit more to the 2nd surgery...with the tummy being involved. If you care to look it up, I am having a DIEP reconstructive surgery.

Feeling a bit tired now...but was thrilled to go to the LIFT tonight for about 10 minutes to give encouragement and prayer to a LIFT sister as she has done for me so openly. ((hugs))

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Looking forward to tomorrow!

Guess I'll find out a lot tomorrow! I'm OK with whatever they have for me..they know their job and I have every confidence in them. My big hurdle will be getting these drains removed! I need everyone picturing a small puddle drying up. lol I am VERY close to them both being below the amount for removal. One is ready to go, but I'd like them both to be gone! Go ahead...say it! DRY UP MRS. DELAFOSSE!!! DRY UP!! lol

I'll let you know tomorrow how it went!

Graland is getting a big kick out of Tomika's email...she has me pegged to the T! ::

She cracks me up with her little innocent look and her quick sense of humor and that sneaky quick little grin when she knows you just didn't expect her to say something! haha

GUESS WHAT??!!! I'm going to WalMart!!! It is a GOOD GOOD day!! :)

Back from WallyWorld! Was a very nice visit. First thing when we walked in I saw Ciara's Grandma and Mama. It made my was worth the outing and the only thing I did while I was there! When I was through visiting 30 minutes later, Graland was ready to check out! Grandma is always an encouragement to me and I know God placed her there just for me. :)

When we came home we went for a short walk up the street and back.

It has been such a treat to see people from PRE! And getting emails and cards. I check the LISD website dozens of times a day to check for updates and my email accounts to see what is going on at school. I enjoy reading Dr. Sewell's updates and Gregg Faith's Daily Leo's.

Diana...guess what else I did today? You'll be so proud...didn't quite take the

Zach got a call today from one of the sponsors for Green & White Scholarships and has an interview tomorrow to speak with them. Keep him in your prayers! I am so proud of him! The Honors Night for LISD is May 15...and I AM looking forward to being there! :) Been looking forward to this since 3rd grade. waaaaaahhhhhh

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

flowers, food, and upcoming appointments

I got the most beautiful bouquet of flowers yesterday that really boosted my spirits!!! They were from Pine Ridge! I kept them upstairs yesterday so I could look at them, but Graland said they'd keep a lot longer downstairs in the kitchen window...which they will!! And the kitchen windows are made for arrangements...I love our kitchen! :D

Kaci was honored last night at the school board meeting (as were the other participants) for her Best of Show drawing she did for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. She still hasn't gotten her drawing back, and it sounds like Admin would like their drawings for their building. It will be up to her. Also, Graland got to see Mrs. Norma be inducted into the Apple Corps!!! I am VERY proud of her---she is a wonderful woman! :)

I got a call from the Radiology Oncologist today for a follow-up appointment on Thursday. I don't know if that means my doc has my pathology report and hasn't passed it along yet, or if they schedule you anyway...I've already had appointments like that. I am waiting on the pathology of the lymph nodes from surgery that will tell if I will be having radiation treatment or not. I will find out Thursday.

Continued thanks for all the dinners!!! School and church are making things so much more bearable. Just the expense of what they are covering here melts our hearts and shows so much James 1:22 which says But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only! We've just never seen such a completely giving community before!!! Church was awesome too taking our kiddos to church. That was a huge blessing to us.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Daily routine

Not sure if I mentioned it earlier, but the surgery was on Monday and I was able to come home on Tuesday afternoon. I was really glad to come home and I think it is an encouragement to be out of the hospital. I think we equate hospitals to being sick, and home to being better. I truly feel that is why they send you home so quickly...for you to know you are much better. I wasn't having any issues from surgery other than pain management, which could be taken care of at home just as easily as the hospital.

I must say the 2 vicadens on the way home from the hospital didn't seem to have any effect, but how could any medicine have any effect on a bumpy road!! lol I tried it again at home and was soooo loopy!!! So back down to just one every six hours or so. They make me blurry eyed and kinda drowsy...can't really see straight! And then I have an antibiotic that I take twice a day.

I can say my chest area doesn't give me pain, but it is mostly my underarm and arm that give me difficulty. I can't raise my left arm more than a few inches. I can raise it from the elbow up and down, but not from the shoulder. Apparently when they took the lymph nodes, probably some muscle went with it. So that will take some time to heal. At the elbow it feels like someone taking know when they tie on the rubber strap and kink it down real tight?! ouch!

I can put my left palm on the base of the keyboard though, and my fingers can reach all the keys! Val told me some exercises I can do to help get a little strength in there and I'll be doing those. They are to walk my left fingers up a wall--which is SOOOOO hard to do, OH MY GOSH!!! But I can go up a little ways before calling it quits! :) The other is a cintrifegal (sp) force type exercise. I hold on to a table with the right hand and move my body back and makes my left arm move gently back and forth, and then do the same thing from side to side, making my arm move side to side. Just to keep everything in there working.

The hard part is put on Graland unfortunately. It is his job to dress the wounds and make sure the drains are taken care of. I have two drains, one for the breast area and the other for the underarm incision. Once they are draining less than 30 ml for two days, I can get them taken out!!! I am very close on the front drain!! YIPPEEEE The underarm is going to take a few more days though! But the amount is dropping properly each day, so that is very encouraging! Graland has been such a wonderful husband and I am so very very thankful that he is able to take care of me. I know how difficult it's not pretty to look at and I know he hurts terribly for me. But we are learning to be very optimistic and only say positive words. It is looking better each day and healing is coming along as it should. He does dressings twice a day, takes temp, measures drain amount, washes my hair every other day, and just sees to every need. I wanna cry...he is so awesome!!! I LOVE YOU GRALAND!!! :) God is so good to hear our pleas.

In fact the first night home, I was on the couch and so groggy, couldn't read anything and needed a psalm. I asked him to read Ps 34, which Sherry had given me earlier. In it it says that God hears us when we call on Him. I told Graland, Help me call on him.. my mind is toast I can't do anything! :( And he did and we prayed together.

It is now Saturday and I can put on my nightshirt all by myself!! It is a men's pajama top..just can't find anything in the ladies department!! Buttons up the front...sadly no pink or purple in the men's department...actually...I guess that is NOT sadly though!! lol

Carla...everything is "moving along" as scheduled now! :) woohoo

School and church have been incredible with meals!!! I am getting nice and plump...thankfully my appetite is one thing that has not been affected!

Well, wanted to keep you updated. Mrs. Bookman brought over movies for the girls and I'm having a lovely time watching Lassie with Roddy McDowell and Elizabeth Taylor.

My next appointment is scheduled for Thurs April 19 with my oncologist and the plastic surgeon to find out about the lymph nodes. Hopefully I'll go in before that and get these drains removed...that will be a huge hurdle!!

Positive thoughts and positive words. I'll have to find it in the Bible, but Angela reminded me that scripture says what you believe in heart, so shall it be. I believe I'm healed and there is no reason to think it will ever come back! SO SHALL IT BE. :)

Completely loving Bernie Seigals books that Bill Collier suggested. Thanks Bill!!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Back home. 2nd update

Will update later..just letting you know it went well and we are home! Feel free to post a comment or two. :) Please keep in mind that I kinda have double vision at the moment and it is hard to write!!!

It is early Monday morning. I set my alarm clock to 5:00, but forgot to turn it on! We got up anyway! I woke several times in the night, but was not anxious or was VERY strange!! It was more of a thankfulness and relief that the day was finally here!

We got ready quickly and took off. We had figured out earlier how to get to our particular spot at MD, so got there without getting lost. For those who were there, you KNOW what a feat THAT was! So we wait at the surgery check in room and fill out paper work and get my vitals taken. We are there about an hour or so early, but wanted to not get stuck in traffic. After a while Daddy and Sue showed up, then Diana, Val, and Cynthia. They could only stay a little while as you were supposed to go to the main waiting area. When it came time to go to the holding room, Graland was allowed to go back with me. I'm not sure how long I was back there, but we were able to talk, get into a surgery gown, the white no-blood-clot hose, hair cover and feet cover.

I THOUGHT I was all there, but apparently I wasn't!!! I DO remember wondering if Donna and Sherry had made it in OK as I hadn't seen them and verbalizing this to Graland. The part I DO NOT remember is asking Graland to take pre-op pictures..I obviously asked for two!! lol Then I asked for the cell phone so I could check on Donna. Graland said I had a difficult time going from screen to screen and touching the buttons. (I left out the fact that they HAVE by now given me something to relax!!) So I talk with Donna who is in the waiting room with my family. She tells me that they had passed a waiting room with a lady in there whose husband was in surgery, but she-the lady-was on the Price is Right and she wanted them to watch it with her. (Hope I'm getting this right!!) I remember this conversation, but had no idea it was on the phone..I thought I had dreamed it. Donna, you'll have to leave a comment and tell your are much better at it than I!! It is not until I'm in recovery that I find out about this conversation and of course I think they're just messing with me! Shown is the pre-op picture that I do NOT remember asking to take!! Bless your heart to everyone who saw me afterwards!!! You said I looked great- but there's iodine all over my face!!!

I remember them saying the OR is ready for me, got a kiss from Graland and then rolled over to surgery. They are not ready!!! so we wait a little bit. I see Dr. Ross in the hallway. Finally I am taken in and they give me something and that's it until I am in recovery!

I hear my name being called again and again and strain to hear where it is coming from. My eyes are so heavy they won't cooperate. I know my surgery was supposed to start at 10 and I am figuring a 4 hour surgery. I ask what time it is and they tell me 6:30!!! OH MY!!! So of course I immediately think of Graland and that he must be worried sick. I ask if he can come back and they run get him for me.

I woke up in recovery at about 630pm and we got a room about 1145pm or so. During my stay in recovery I was able "visit" with whoever was still in the waiting room. It didn't occur to me that all these people were waiting to see me and still needed to get back home!! **smile** But it was good to see everyone, whether I remember fully visiting or not! It was during this time that I found out about talking with Donna on the cell phone! Then visited with Sherry who called me a "bright and morning star" and said a prayer with me. Everyone was just so wonderful and loving and just the biggest group of fibbers you'd ever meet! lol But thankfully I believed them all at the time and I know that really helped me feel good about how I looked (darn vanity). Then saw Val, Diana, and Cynthia (one by one)... in and out of pain meds, but remember how good it was to still be connected.

We stay in recovery getting pain management taken care of and finally get a room. I have incredible nurses who check on me every 20 minutes!!!

more to come... feeling pooped!

If you were there at the hospital, please leave a comment and tell me your side..I'd love to hear the parts I missed. Or if you weren't there but were praying...I'd love to know--you were just as close to the waiting room as those who were bodily. Make sure you sign your name to your post.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Do I feel sick?

At the reunion one of my cousins asked me how I was feeling. If I felt sick. My answer: If I did not know I was sick...I wouldn't know!

I have not felt pain, aches, or anything.

Ask again tomorrow though...I'm sure my answer will change!! lol

See you after surgery!

Want to thank everyone ahead of time for their well wishes and prayers! I've been looking through my pre-op information and apparently I am allowed ONE person in the holding room before surgery, which of course would be Graland!! :) So please don't feel like you have to be there two hours early! Surgery is at 10 or thereabouts and I'm not really needing to see anyone beforehand as the prescription they gave me will make me sedated.... thanks for respecting my wishes on this one. You'll get better driving conditions anyway if you don't hit the 8:00 rush hour! The waiting room is on Floor 3 by the surgery check in area.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

MRI results


Graland got the call from the nurse at MD. She said the MRI results came back and they showed that there was NO cancer in the femur!!! PRAISE GOD!!!!!! I can only assume it was a childhood injury. That is one door God has closed!!! The other one I know he will close as well is on the lymph nodes! That was one call we were THRILLED to pass along! In fact, kinda neat in a way, but I was in the shower and apparently both phones were upstairs and everyone else was downstairs. So by the time Graland ran up to get the phone, the answering machine came the whole conversation is on the machine for safe-keeping and happy memories! :)

Thanks for all your prayers!!

tickled pink!

Well Val (my sister) told me she had a surprise for me at the family reunion in Lufkin and boy did she!! I walked into the hotel lobby and she and my cousins all had on pink t-shirts with "In the pink for Tink!" written on it. They were so great and of course another pick me up!! :) Aunt Glenda's nickname for me was TinkerBell, so you can imagine the TinkerBell things I have collected along the way! Val came up with the saying and as it was discussed how to arrange it on the shirt, Diana (my other sister) said How about dropping the ribbon over a little to make it be the P in pink! It is an original / awesome design!!! They had one made for all of the Cox family which is Diana's family (4), Val's family (2), MY family(6), Liz, Glenn, Richard, Molly, Kate, Jenny, Cynthia, and Dan.

We wore our shirts to the reunion and we didn't realize that not everyone knew of Aunt Glenda's nicknames and one person asked Who's Tink! I said: I AM!! Kaye has been sending out emails frequently for this reunion... I wrote her that I was going to be having surgery and she has made sure that everyone got my email, so everyone knew and it was so nice that they all assured me that they had been praying for me! I have an awesome family!! And it was wonderful to see everyone again!!! We used to see everyone every summer at Boliver and it has just been too long since Boliver!! I especially missed Diana not being there, but of the cousins I hung out with.. I dearly missed seeing John. (((hugs to John))) I think the last time was at his wedding... and at that time my oldest were toddlers.

It is now the day before Easter and everyone is freezing!! It is sleeting off and on and in the 30s!!!

I'll go ahead and let you know the rest of the nicknames:
Jo-Tinkerbell, Diana-HoneyBunny, Val-Tootsie Wootsie, Kathy-Sweetie Niece, Zach-Silver Spoon, Zoe-Sassy, Kaci-Sweet Spirit, Abbie-Snuggles, Chris-Rooter Tooter, Kate-Sugar Dumpling, Jenny-Angel Bright, Richard-Sonny Boy, Doug-Doodle Bug, Megan-Mermaid, Nick-Neptune...

Ahhh...I knew someone would fill me in!! So I'm adding the ones I didn't know to the list above!

a skin sparing mastectomy

Told you earlier I would explain what this was. I guess I am feeling good about Good Monday because of the type of surgery I am getting. I love my doctor and my plastic surgeon and their that is going a long way. But after reading up about the surgery so I'd have questions to ask the PS, I became more "excited" so to speak, about it.

What this is not: they are not taking my breast, only the cancer inside and the comfy room that it was living in. Not taking my sense of humor or my spirit!! With that said, let me tell you what they ARE taking.

Skin sparing is just what it sounds like! They are keeping the "pillow case" and taking out the stuffing. They will open the pillow case at the "colored part" and remove all the inside. (sorry...I don't get too graphic!!) That is ONE cut and it is NOT across the breast, but at the colored part. Once the cancer is out, the PS steps in and puts in a tissue expander. This is like a balloon and is filled with saline. I think they put it in behind the muscle there to fill back in the skin that was NOT TAKEN!!! :) Hear the smile in my voice when I say that!!! :) There is a chance that there will be a second cut to take out the lymph nodes, but the PS said that it is possible to do that through the original cut maybe...we'll see! Otherwise, it will be another cut off to the side to remove those. With the expander, I will leave just a flat chested as I went in!! ha ha Sorry, my nearly B is just that...nearly B! But I won't be any flatter, so that's the good news and such a huge encouragement! That a woman can leave the hospital a woman...not feeling just fine and dandy, but better about herself than if there was just emptiness. For me, take all that cancer and it's friends, I don't need them.

I can have chemo with the expander and do whatever it is I need to do with it. BUT, I can't do radiation with it. It will be deflated for the duration of radiation..if I need that. If I do, it will be 6 weeks-all week long, minus the weekends. So, I'm not really liking that part, but by then, I will have adjusted to my new look. If I DON'T have to have radiation, then the expanders come out on April 25 and the new ALL THE WAY B will be put in!!!

Tip top of the colored part will be added later and they tattoo the colored part in a while after that. The whole process start date to end date takes about a year.

The radiation is the part that will either speed things along or draw them to a stand still. So PLEASE no more than one or two lymph nodes affected!!!

A slight glimpse of God

This is sooo cool!!!

It is the morning of the MRI and not real excited about it, but not going to worry about it as we have a full agenda when we get there. We take a drain class, send in paperwork to the social worker for extended leave of absence from school, and some other things. Then head over to the MRI.

The MRI machine wasn't as scary looking as I had expected, but I am completely inside the tube. Graland said he wondered if I could see outside the tube as I was so close to the end, but I couldn't at all.

The test lasted about 40 minutes and yes it is VERY loud. They gave me earplugs, but I could still here the guy talking and the conversation he and Graland were having.

They make you real comfy on the table, towels under your knees and they also strap down your feet so they don't move. I cross my arms across my chest so they are out of the way and they have the magnetic thing (sorry can't come up with a word for it!!) across my pelvis where they are doing the testing. I DO stay very still for the entire test. the neat stuff! I am laying/lying (??) in the tube and they have an air conditioner in there to keep you cool. It feels so good, just a light breeze on your face and not at all cold or unpleasant. As I am there I close my eyes and just pray the entire time. It came on me that the breeze I felt was the Holy Spirit coming upon me like a mighty rushing wind as described in the Bible. I talked with God at length about this. How I could feel his presence and Him holding me and comforting me like He said the Comforter would do. I thanked Him again and again for sending me the Comforter and for taking such good care of me. It was one of His promises and another of His promises that was kept!

After I got home I talked with Donna. Before I ever shared what I just wrote to her she said that they prayed for me this morning. "They" being Donna, Angela, and Janie. Angela is our LIFT Bible Study teacher (and the pastors wife -at 1st Baptist) and Janie another LIFT sister and 3rd grade teacher at Pine Ridge. OK, back to the prayer.... Donna said they prayed for me this morning after they ran. Angela said to pray for the Lord to comfort me and hold me. Donna said, No, more than that...I want Him to actually physically hold her. I want to her to actually FEEL Him holding her. And they prayed.

So after she tells me this, I say: You are NOT going to believe what I prayed and what I felt while I was at the MRI!!! And relayed to her the experience. That was sooo awesome. Our God is so big and He hears our prayers!!!

And then, if that were not enough!!! Janie sent around a sign up for Prayer at school, for a 24 hour prayer for Monday. I tell Donna when I am supposed to be there for surgery and she says Well guess who got the 815 slot??!! She did!!! And Sherry (my other prayer partner), LIFT sister, 2nd grade at PRE- got the slot just before that. And I KNOWWWWWWW Sherry!!! I'll be doing just fine getting ready for the 8:15!!

Friday, April 6, 2007

got a surgery time

If all goes well with the MRI (will find out on Saturday) and the spot on the femur is nothing cancerous, then we will go ahead with the surgery on Monday. I go in at 8:15 in the morning and will have surgery after that sometime. The new thing is that I can only have 6 people in the waiting room, so I have more than they allow. She did say that extras can go to another waiting room. I know Graland and my prayer partners had BETTER be there!! lol They have prayed with and prayed over me daily at school and I'd be lost without them!! I'm glad I'll be in the back so I won't be in the middle of anything!! lol Just kidding!! I know my family well! :)

I am sooo off to bed now. What a day. The MRI went really well! Didn't have the anxiety that so many talk about...and it wasn't bad at all. If I had to do it again tomorrow, it wouldn't be any big deal! :)

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Meeting the plastic surgeon, and EVERY other doctor there!!

Had a good night's sleep thanks to my many prayer partners!!!

Leisurely wake up, Graland got the the girls off to school, and my poor Abbie's Easter basket is still on the kitchen table. :( So we take it to school on our way out of town.

I am SOOOO glad I had to go by the school...God is so good to have arranged it! One of my student's lets me in the back door and another signs "Mrs. D! Mrs. D!!" I take the basket to Abbie and Sherry P. just makes my day with how much she missed me and missed having me at school yesterday. I tell her about reading online last night about the kind of surgery I will be having and how good I am feeling about it! :) I describe the skin-sparing mastectomy to her and I think she is as happy about it as I am!! Also told her I sent a link to this blog for everyone. Didn't realize I left out the link though!! lol much for being computer savvy!!! As with most sites you try to look at from school, this one was blocked too (personal site)! lol Wrote to James and he opened it up for us. ((hugs)) He is such a good friend!

My sisters send me off with well wishes and I'm totally pumped up, ready to go, and now...out the door! BTW, Tuesday was a pink shirt day at school...they are so awesome and I couldn't have dreamed of being in a better place. God is so good.

10:00 First appointment is with the Radiation Oncologist..Dr. Woodward. The Fellow talks with us first and does an exam. We watch a short movie on the computer about radiation and how happy all the women are who are getting radiation!! lol The fellow explains what will happen, pros & cons, etc. She is very good, a little hard to understand (dialect), but thankfully I've researched enough to know the words she's saying or I'da been lost! Dr. Woodward comes in and explains the same things. Our concern is that radiation is routine and for everyone. She assures us that is not the case and if the lymph nodes don't show more than 2 or 3 positive nodes, then we do NOT do radiation. Otherwise, if there are quite a few that are positive we will go ahead with it.

12:45 We've eaten (lasgna!!) and now at the Plastic Surgery Center. We meet first with the Fellow...again very knowledgeable. Another exam. He explains skin-sparing mastectomy (which will be in it's post), options of reconstruction, and how radiation fits into all of this. We talk at length. Then Dr. Kronowitz, who will do the plastic surgery comes in and goes over the same things. He is down to earth and very likeable. I am very comfortable with him. (As I have been with all my docs/fellows so far.) He marks the breast outline with a permanent Markie in preparation for surgery and gives Graland the pen to mark me if it starts getting too light from showering. (We just want to make sure they do the correct side!! ha ha Also not much there... had to made sure they knew WHERE the breast was...) he takes a bunch of pictures of pre-surgery. This appointment lasts a LONG time and we are now into the time that we're supposed to be at the anesthesiologist (WAS at 2:00- Graland went down and told them we are way behind, but will be there...)

3:30 Anesthesiology Consultation. FINALLY!!! Someone who didn't want to see me with my shirt off!!! Talked about what medications I was on...none. I take a Flinstone and that's about it. I'm off of anything else in preparation for my surgery. The only thing I am concerned about is taking a Rolaids to get me there. He doesn't want that either. I just look at him and say Then what can I have? How is it that women can just come in here and have this kind of surgery without taking something? How is that possible? So he goes for a while and when he returns he lets us know that he just jumped through hoops to get this prescription!! Actually, it will be more beneficial than he had originally thought. It is a patch that people use for seasickness. It gives a sedative effect, but also controls nausea. The good thing about that is that many women feel the nausea after surgery, I think from the anesthesia. And then they have to give narcotics to control I won't have to be given a lot of the things that I would have gotten otherwise, which will be better for me! :) My God is always one step ahead preparing the way!

We're on our own now until 5:15, when we meet Dr. Ross, my surgeon. So we decide to walk over to the main MD building to get pre-admitted. There is a sky-walkway that connects all the buildings and we go at our leisure. It is hard to find your way around, but we do stop and get some very confusing directions. Now, take in mind I am NOT an auditory learner...can only do two directions at a time and one of them was get ON the elevator and the other was get OFF the yes, we had to ask several times for directions!! lol Truth be told, we were coming from the back of the hospital, so it really was confusing!! Finally, we get to the front and ask for admissions, which is tucked away where you can't find it! We sit and wait our turn (one person ahead of us). As we wait, I ask Graland to go to the Info desk and ask which Entrance we'll come into for Monday. (Entrance 2) While he's there, they give him a print out of our schedule for today. I look at it, and OH MY!!! There are THREE new appointments on there!! One is blood work at 4:15, prep for MRI @ 4:30 and MRI @ 5. It is NOW 4:40!! So we jump from Pre-Admit and are frantic that they haven't told us about these new appointments!!! We hasten BACK to the back of the hospital again and finally find the skywalk. Make the trek back to the Mays Clinic, find the floor of information and ask where Elevator A is. They look at us and say: That's in the Main Building. I look at Graland and just say "Oh my gosh!! I'm gonna cry!" I look at the volunteers and say, We just came from there...I can't do this again. Then we look more carefully and the MRI is for Friday (and today is Thursday)!!! So, hurray, we don't have to go back to the Main Building today, but we ARE half an hour late for the Blood Work...which is not biggie.

We get through and make it in time for the 5:15 appointment with Dr. Ross. By now, I'm frazzled and go to the bathroom after checking in. I lose it in there and have a good cry. Just didn't need the extra excitement!

About 6 we get in talk with Dr. Ross. I get the gown AGAIN. He comes in very jovial and notices that I've been marked by the PS. He asks to see the marks and I just look at him and say "I don't want to show you...I'm in crash and burn mode at the moment." :( He quickly says that that is quite alright...he doesn't have to check it. We talk for while. He is very reassuring and kind and I have renewed confidence in him.

He says that I have a dark spot on my femur...could be early mastesis to the bone OR could be an old injury or arthritis. IF it is cancer, we will cancel Monday's surgery and start chemo immediately. Otherwise, if it is not, surgery will go as planned AND if the lymph nodes don't show more than a couple of positive nodes and we do NOT need radiation, then we can do reconstruction/slight lift ( a real B-cup) and tummy tuck on April 25 (Graland's birthday). The tummy tuck is because they take tissue from the abdomen to fill the new breast. They said I have enough there for ONE breast but not both. BUT, if the nodes show several places, then we put off reconstruction for 6 months so we can get 6 weeks of radiation (every day/not including weekends) and healing. So much depends on today's MRI of the femur/pelvis and what is going on with the lymph nodes. I'm praying God will just close the door on both of those things so I don't have to face them.

We'll be leaving early today to get in a drain class, pre-admit, and meet with a social worker for my Family Leave Plan for school -extended leave. The MRI is at 5, with the pre-whatever at 4:30. Will update later!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Bone scan & CT scan

4:15 is just too early for ANYONE to wake up!!! lol But, my first appointment today is at 7:30 for a bone scan. It started with getting an IV post thingy on my arm and she shot in some radioactive saline. Was very cold as it went up my arm. The post will stay in until my next appointment this afternoon as they will "shoot me up" too! So, now I wait for 9:30 when they do the actual scan. My neighbor, who has gone through several bouts of cancer assured me of the equipment used. The first machine was a table with a large rectangle on top that moved over your body. She said it would come down very close to your face, so not to be alarmed. So I'm looking at it and it is about 6-8 inches away and I'm thinking...that's not so close! I close my eyes for the duration and when I open them about 30 seconds later, the machine is like half an inch from my eyes! I did startle and closed my eyes again!! lol Then peeked out carefully. :) So I just close my eyes as I am SOOO tired. I open them a few minutes later and realize the machine is already down by my chest and moving ever so slowly down my body. The room is very loud..not a deafening loud, but motor sound. The machine ON you though, is so quiet you don't know it is moving. Every time I drift off to sleep it alarms me cause I feel as though I am going into a DEEP sleep and I know I'll start twitching!!! lol So I tell myself to stay awake. The test takes about 20 minutes. And then it's off to the waiting room to join Graland. I do ask the guy as I'm getting off the table if he saw anything good usual the reply was Yes, I did...lots of good pictures that your doctor will go over with you tomorrow!! never hurts to try, eh?

Now, keep in mind that I can't eat after 8am, so we run down to the cafeteria and grab a bite. Then look through the gift shop and Appearances "a wig/scarf/garment" shop in the Mays clinic.

Now we leave the building and go to the Radiation Building down the street at Holcombe and Braiswood. Little building with a ton of construction going on all around it. They call me to the back and chat a little. Then she tells me I have to drink barium. Dang, I haven't done this before and didn't realize I was going to be doing it! Which, of course, was a good I didn't have to think about it beforehand. :)

She gives me my choice of flavors and choose the "berry". I use that word loosely!!! Says I have 40 minutes to drink it in...THREE large cups!!! I tell her I am a VERY VERY slow drinker. I AM!!! I can't drink 3 WATERS in 40 minutes, much less barium! I take a sip and tell her it's not so bad....then take another sip as she walks me to the waiting room to drink...and tell her Truth be told, this is really nasty!! lol

So I'm in the waiting room and taking a sip, holding it in my mouth for a while, then swallowing it. It is THAT THAT THAT BAD!!!!! I'm just looking at Graland with the "there is NO way" look on my face. Try reading magazines to pass the time...ugh, it is torture. I get through the first cup....oh, and there is the second one!!! I suffer through most of it. In time, Graland leans over and prays with me that I'll be able to finish the cup.

My time is up, she calls me to the back for my THIRD cup of gasoline, er, barium. She looks at me and says Please tell me that's your second cup and not your first!! I tell her proudly that YES it IS my second cup, but show her it's not all the way empty. She tosses the cup and says we still have a third to go. I look at her pathetically (I'm ok with that!!) and tell her I'll puke it back if I have any more!! She looks at me sympathetically and asks if I am nauseous and takes me to a chair. She checks my blood from the IV and says it looks good, does some on her computer and turns around to tell me that two will be good enough. OH PRAISE GOD!!!!

She also says that the machine is just about ready to go. So I make a bathroom run and come back.

The machine looks like a bagel. Just a giant bagel with a bed for you to lie down on. They did a run to start with. The machine talks to you and has these little happy face guys on them. The one green guy has a smiley face. When the green guy is on the machine says "Breathe in...breathe out..." Then suddenly the red guy with a hold your breath expression on his face comes on and it says "Don't breathe!" A timer is on that you can see that lets you know how much longer you have. Then the green guy is back on and says "BREATHE!" They do several runs with that machine. THEN, they use the port in my arm and inject iodine. Obviously I am not allergic..though I did not know previously...never had it! She says it will make me feel flush, hot from head to toe, and perhaps like I'm going potty. So, she does the injection and asks if I feel anything....well, no....oh! YES I sure do!! lol Whoa...from my head to my toes and YES, it DOES feel like I just wet!!! Actually I have to resist the urge to put my hand down there to check myself!! Then I go into "hold it" mode!! lol The feeling passes and I eventually realize that NO, thankfully, I have NOT wet myself. whew!! They do several more passes with green guy and red guy, then it is time to FINALLY head home!

I am soooo hungry!! About Cleveland, we stop for McD. and I eat. Julie D. from school and a fellow LIFT sister came over and got the kids to take them to McDonalds as well!! We got home before she came and the kids were so excited to go out for dinner! When is she getting here? When is she coming?!

So Julie gets here and I show her our wonderful new home...I just love my new home!! :) The girls clean room is of course now, NOT clean. Oh well. We stand at the front door and talk about what I missed at school and suddenly I'm like...Uh, Julie...Zach get in here!!! Zoe get down here!! Come on girls!!! ... Uh... I think my barium is about to mind leaving now??!! lol How embarrassing!! Julie is sooo good....COME ON KIDS...WE'RE LEAVING!!! I make a run for it and... after reading that it may constipate you...this was just a shock!! But I made it! clean up on aisle 3! lol

The kids had sooo much fun and came home with Madame Alexander Wizard of Oz witches...and lots of stories from their fun night out!

A Zach is graduating plug....

Zach, our oldest, is graduating!!!! Friday, May 25th in Lufkin at the UPC Auditorium, 4109 S. First Street, beginning at 7pm. We ordered only a few invitations, so I hate that THIS is an invitation to many, but here goes!!!

He will be attending SFA in Nacogdoches in the Fall. He has taken 18 hours of college classes so far through Angelina College at Livingston HS (concurrent classes) and during the summer. He plans on being a Computer Science major..we are hoping for the Honors program, but that is still to see. He'd like to go into Cyber Law after his BS is completed.

Here is a recent picture of Zach!