Friday, February 18, 2011

More surgery, more options

I've got this weekend to relax, and monday I see my surgeon. Then the fun begins.

We need to go over the pathology report (which at this point is redundant) and she'll check my scars and see how I'm healing. One thing she'll be looking for is to see if I have any accumulation of fluid in my chest or armpit, now that the drains have been taken out.

I've spoken to 2 girls who have had mastectomies and they both ended up back in the surgeon's office a week later with fluid build up. Then she takes a syringe (and it is a massive one, like what they would use for horses) and sticks it in my side where the drains were, and slowly starts removing any liquid build up. The syringe has to be bigger, in order to accommodate the amount of liquid that may come out.

Sounds like fun?

The good news is that even though it sounds scary, I won't actually be able to feel any of it, according to the girls who had it done. I am still numb on my chest area. It's a weird feeling to touch your skin and not feel like you.

So, here's hoping I don't have to get anything drained on monday. It's just not a fun way to start the week. One thing I will have to do though is to talk about the
next surgery ... when they insert my port-a-cath.

Because I have to go for chemotherapy soon, and because chemotherapy is poison that damages your veins, they almost never recommend having chemo via I.V. needle. They recommend that the patient gets a port a cath put in surgically, just under the collarbone. It is a metal round device, about the size of a quarter that gets inserted under the skin. I understand it gets placed right in your main vein by the heart. The idea behind it is that when you get chemo, they will just prick the skin by your collarbone, above the port and the syringe with the chemotherapy will enter your main vein right away, every time, "making chemotherapy a snap."

Hmmm.... a snap for WHOM exactly? It doesn't sound like a snap to me. It sounds like really gross yucky metal things will be inserted into my body and I will be able to feel them not only on the inside pumping into my main artery, but also I will see it from the outside, it will be a big bump under my skin. (They will remove it when I'm done chemo and I will be left with yet another scar on my body)

This is what it looks like, this will be just under my skin -
it gives me the heebee jeebees.

There are so many things I dislike about this next step, but the biggest one is that I am supposed to be awake during this procedure. AWAKE. Oh, lightly sedated of course, but still awake. I plan on telling the surgeon that there is no way that I want to be awake for that. I don't want to hear them talk about what they're doing and I don't want to feel 'pressure' on my chest and I don't want to be on an operating table awake!!

I feel like throwing myself on the floor and stomping my legs and wailing my arms. A full blown tamper tantrum is brewing, I can just feel it.


Any of it.

The other day somebody mentioned yet again how 'strong' I am and how 'brave'.
I don't think those words accurately describe me. I am not strong or brave.

I am scared.

Shitless, if you really want to know.

So, that brings us to Tuesday. At 8:45 am I am meeting the oncologist for the first time.
To celebrate the occasion I ordered myself a special white hoodie from the cancer awareness website.
It says 'my oncologist can beat up your oncologist'.

I plan on wearing that to the meeting. - I hope he has a sense of humor.

We will go over the report with a fine tooth comb and then start talking treatment options. I understand that it will be a 2 hour appointment and that I will be presented with options. I am not sure I feel about this. I guess I am grateful to be so involved in the treatment decision, but I am getting kind of tired of all my options. Options sounds too nice of a word for all the choices I've had to make. Was it really an option to have surgery? An option to get my bilateral mastectomy? An option to choose chemo? Hardly. They are not options. They are terrible decisions that I had to make in a matter of days. Most days I think I did the right thing. In fact, I think only once or twice did I ever have a twinge of doubt about the options I chose.

On tuesday, I have to chose which chemo drugs I would want to put inside my chemotherapy infusion. That's right, he will present me with 3 or 4 drugs that all work, but all have different pros and cons. Then I need to take a day or so and think about it. At the following meeting, I will tell him which chemo cocktail I chose and we make a plan to start it.
Sounds very empowering doesn't it?

It is.

But it is also very scary.

Tonight is movie night at casa Knock Knock. We are planning to eat pizza and watch Toy Story 3. Tonight I have no decisions to make. Dinner was chosen by my friend from work who is kindly picking that up for us, and the movie was chosen by my kids.

Tonight I get to sit on the couch and snuggle with the people I love and indulge.

I think I'll go back to weighing my options after the weekend is over.


Sayre said...

That makes it sound like you're choosing a sunroof and leather seats. You do have options - obviously they are trying to tailor your treatment to your needs. Can you spend days in bed barfing - or do you need a less intense version because you've got things you have to do? Try to look at it as them trying to care for you in the best way for you. That might make it all a little easier.

Your port will make it easier too. Think of it as your friend. And it won't be there forever. Unlike my dad's pacemaker, which will be a lump on his chest for the rest of his life. Without it, he would die. I love his lump. I hope you learn to tolerate yours.

Snuggle as much as you can. And know that we're here, sending good vibes to the universe, prayers to the man upstairs, focused beams of healing thoughts your way.

VV said...

Temper tantrums are allowed. Feel free to remind these doctors, who do this every day for a living, that this is not an every day event for you. It's scary as hell. It hurts. It's uncomfortable. It's gross, and sometimes, it will all get overwhelming and you might snap. You might cry. You might yell or throw things. So dear doctor, please don't take it personally, just think of it as a reminder, that you're dealing with an emotional human being, and sometimes, that can get messy.

Sayre said...

Amen, Vancouver Voyeur!

Knock knock - it's cancer! said...

Sayre - I am very thankful to all of you out there that are sending good vibes my way :) I also appreciate all the options, but it gets overwhelming some days.

VV - Truer words were never spoken. thank you

Anonymous said...

You have some very wise friends on this blog.
I, for one, think it's great that you are admitting that you're brave. Life isn't always fun and games and you don't always need to be brave. It's okay to cry and it's okay to be mad about the stuff you need to go through. It sucks. And it's okay to say it. Letting things out and admitting them goes a long way in your recovery - you won't have all of it stored inside of you.
You have family and friends who love you and who will be there for you - good and bad - that's what friends do.
I think I've shared this with you before, but it's worth sharing again - my definition of 'friend' is someone you can call at 3am and the first thing they ask you is what they can do to help you. Sometimes it's just to listen. I know you have friends like that. Use us. I, for one, won't hang up on you.

Anonymous said...

PS - Anonymous is Eileen (again)

Cynn said...

You are stronger than you think Michelle....get mad get REALLLLY mad, and take all that anger and use it for this fight because when you're pissed off....YOU WONT GIVE UP. Have a good cry, throw something....then wipe your tears away and say, "Fuck you Cancer, you're beneath me! I will not allow you to consume my body, thoughts and spirit!"


tweetey30 said...

OH my goodness my friend.. I am so sorry you are making options again.. I hope they go smoother on Tuesday.. I hope you enjoy your movie night or enjoyed it. I am a day behind again..LOL. I didnt even notice the date when reading.. But hope it was a good snuggle night..

One Million Tries said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Beth L. Gainer said...

What a great posting! Kudos to you for blogging about your cancer experience. Some years ago, I was in a similar pickle. I found myself with cancer treatment options. Woo-hoo!

The truth is that we patients have no really good options when it comes to cancer -- only choosing the one(s) we think will help save our lives.

One thing that really is sobering is the loss of control we cancer people have. We must have so many procedures and see so many doctors. And it is OK to be scared shitless. You are very courageous to admit that.

Good luck and keep blogging! I'm sending great thoughts your way. Your blog is so great, I'm adding it to my blogroll.

Beth L. Gainer said...

The example you cited on my blog is another pet peeve of mine. BTW, I was also told by more than one person that "at least breast cancer is the best type of cancer to have."


Thank you again for visiting my blog!

Anonymous said...

Don't freak about the port. It's not that bad. Really. And I hated the idea and was totally creeped out by it, like you describe. Having a device under my skin that's sewn into a vein sicked me out but I can honestly say the procedure wasn't bad at all (I had "twilight" anesthesia so wasn't way, way under but don't remember a thing, not even being wheeled into the OR). I was tired all day and a little sore but it wasn't as bad as I expected. As creepy as it is, it totally compensates with its convenience. I promise.

Robyn said...

Hi, I like what your new hoodie sweatshirt says, too funny.

When I got my port in I was awake but sedated too, My actual memory of the procedure is only a total of about ten minutes though, I fell asleep for most of it and I remember them waking me a lot to ask how I was, I also remember asking them why they popped all of the party balloons (not sure where that came from but I hear that I'm hilarious on narcotic painkillers too). Then I remember at the end them showing me the x-ray of my port inside me. That's all I remember of it, I don't know how you do with sedation but it wasn't so bad.

Kathy said...

Wow Michelle. After reading your posts I usually need to take some time to digest it all. I can only imagine what it is to be living through this. Your words make me laugh and they make me cry. You give all of us a window into the incredibly overwhelming journey that you are on and I continue to admire your candidness. I do think you are incredibly brave. I also appreciate your feeling really scared.

Again, I can only imagine and don't want to, other than if in doing so I can in anyway help you to "walk the mile and bear the load." Holding you close in my thought and prayers today, tomorrow and always as you approach these "decisions." I LOVE the sweatshirt you bought and really do hope that your Dr. has a good sense of humor! Hang in there! You can do this! Until your next update know that I sending lots of good vibes your way...

Take care,

Mandi said...

Yay! I am caught up now.

I think "scared shitless" is a great description of how I feel. We are forced to make so many life changing decisions in a short period of time, and they are decisions that we never thought we would be forced to make.

I totally love your sweatshirt, I may have to get a similar one! :) *big hugs*

Knock knock - it's cancer! said...

Cynn - I freakin' LOVE your comment. It totally rocks.

Tweets - it was a really nice snuggle night :)

Beth - I know! I read your blog after I saw your comment. As you know, I agree with you about the things people say 'well meaning' of course.

Pink - I just talked to the surgeon today and I can be asleep for it she said :) Woo hoo!!

Robyn - you cracked me up with the balloon comment. Really too funny. Well, I can relate. Not sure if you read my post of the day after surgery but apparantly I kept asking everyone where the 'big black dog' is. Lol.

Kathy - I know. Decisions decisions. It's all the same all the time. I know you can relate to a lot of this, in a different way, so I always like to get your point of view.

Mandi - I love your blog too. We really seem to be close in our diagnosis. You MAY just have to get the same hoodie sweatshirt :) We are 'sisters' after all :)

Karen said...

I am a 5 year breast cancer survivor (Feb. 20th marked that anniversary) and I know how you feel on so many levels. The best decision I made was getting the "port." Keep up the good work, and day by day, you'll see how far you've come. It does get better... and easier. Best of luck to you!

tweetey30 said...

Oh that is great you can be asleep while the surgery.. just take it easy and relax or try to..

Barbara Doduk said...

Michelle, fear makes you brave.

Facing fears head-on, is what makes you strong.

I know it might seem like the "options" aren't wonderful, but given the advancements in treatments, the fact you have options is something wonderful, even if it seems overwhelming.

Thinking of you.

Kathy said...

Was just stopping by/checking in to see if you had any updates. Thinking of and praying for you Michelle. Hoping that your appointments went as well as possible and that your rocked your bad ass sweatshirt! :)

Tammy said...

Hey Michelle,
Really sorry to hear about your lung set back. 'Thinking of you and sending you strength. Sounds corny... but true.
Your kids are learning a very important lesson from you right now. They will be fighters too.