It’s my New Year’s Day…….

This is going to be a long one today….fair warning. But first I need another cup of coffee…

TODAY!! Happy New year to me today. I know it is January 15th. Let me explain….

Keep in mind today is my husband Keith’s birthday.

ONE YEAR AGO TODAY:  At this time one year ago today I was checked into the hospital for  my double mastectomy/reconstruction surgery. They also had to pull out a cluster of my lymph nodes since the cancer had spread there too. Eight and half hours later I was in the recovery room. Completely oblivious to my surroundings and forever physically and mentally scarred.

November 3rd 2015. That is when I got the phone call at work. My primary care doctor calling to tell me about the biopsy results. It was defiantly cancer. At first it was a stage 0, pretty much around the nipple area, a lumpectomy would easily take care of it. Many tests later and an MRI revealed that it was actually stage 2B and that I had the BRCA2 gene. I have now upgraded to a double mastectomy with reconstruction. The surgeon that I wanted and I spoke to for my initial consultation was now sick and could no longer follow through on my care. I was switched to a new surgeon I have never met, during Christmas holiday. This was challenging and scary. When I met her she told me that I had to have a sentinel lymph node surgery done at least a week before the mastectomy. Basically I was in the hospital for this surgery by the end of the week!! Yikes!  Caught us completely off guard.

The plastic surgeon I met way back in November but at that time I was only going to get a lumpectomy so I really didn’t pay much attention to what she told me about reconstruction. Suddenly I am having surgeries one week apart. I am having a double mastectomy and reconstruction and I find out the day before that I have to take shots for a week in my belly! Nope. I did not sign up for that. Neither did my husband. He had to give them to me because there was no way I was going to do it for myself. NEEDLES…a big fat NOPE.

Those first couple of weeks were a drugged blur. I remember Keith sleeping on a cot at the end of our bed, listening to my every move, making sure that I would not be in any pain and ready to help me up if I had to go to the bathroom. I remember how proud of me he was when I got home from the hospital and walked up the stairs normally. One foot , one step at a time. I remember him changing out my whiteboard with the dates so that when I was awake I would know what day it was and how much time had passed. I remember him making my coffee for me and bringing me oatmeal. He hated stripping my drains almost as much if not more than giving me the shots. He drove me to every appointment and even to have my hair washed at the beauty school. I don’t know how he did it but he did everything, all the time, just for me.

Six weeks passed and I had been released to go back to work. At this time people thought I was out on vacation and sick leave. I had only shared with a few family and friends. My inner circle, my support team and of course this blog. My breasts by now were the same size as they were before the surgery so outside of being tired no one knew what I had been through.

Then I found out that I should do chemotherapy to kill what ever rogue cells that may have escaped. Also to lower my chances of recurrence. Now I had to go public because the side effects of chemotherapy are hard to hide and I planned on working as much as possible through all of it. Chemotherapy started on my son’s birthday in March. Ironic. Hmm.

Had a consultation with the genetic counselor suggesting I have my ovaries removed. Had those removed in July, the same day that Keith was to fly out to AZ for his class reunion. He changed his plans. I don’t think I could have managed without him.

My final surgery, the exchange surgery ended up being in October. I missed out on my friends Halloween party. First time in four years. Keith missed work for a week and they were busy. He had to play catch up all year because of me.

As things are getting ‘back to normal’ ha! as if it will ever be normal again….I have learned this:

  • My husband loves me more than I ever thought he did, or could.
  • I love him more now than I ever had
  • our relationship is better, even better than when we first started
  • I had no idea it could get better or stronger or healthier
  • I have amazing friends and family in my life
  • I had no idea menopause was so terrible
  • I am not the same person I was before and I never will be again
  • I need people. I need Keith. I need my son Richard. I need my family. I need to focus on the future, on strength, on kindness to others, on love.

Keith and I decided that we want to be healthier together. Eat out less, exercise more, make better food and beverage choices. You know..blah blah blah. We also decided that we would start on New Year’s Day. Not January 1st but OUR New Year’s day. January 15th. That is our new year. Yes his birthday, but our first new year.

Okay, the watching what we eat will actually commence tomorrow because today we celebrate with a party!! My friend is hosting a ‘Renee Kicked cancer’s ass and we are celebrating one year cancer free’ party!! I know a mouthful. Just take a deep breath before you say it… Then breathe in again afterwards.

I don’t think this blog post came out in any way shape or form as I intended. It is what it is. Long. Heartfelt. Truth. Snippets. Healing.

PS: I have signed up for two runs this year so far and I am totally back in revenge mode!! So keep checking in on me… Take that cancer!!

ONE YEAR AGO!!!!!! 

 

 

 

All I can say…..

Every four hours.

I am taking my pain medication every four hours, even into the wee hours of night. This is how it works.

My husband sets his alarm for every four hours. He wakes up comes into the bedroom. Helps me sit up and gives me my water and my pain med. He then helps me lay back down since I can’t do it on my own yet.

At 3AM as he is helping me lay back down he tells me he loves me.

All I can say is ‘I know’

My evil plans….(insert maniacal laugh here)

I have plans tonight with my family. It is Star Wars night at the ballpark. My husband is a season ticket holder for the local Class A Short Season Northwest League. He is a lover of the sport and actually enjoys watching farm teams more than most Major League teams.He gets so excited if I show any interest in going with him. It makes him so happy. I like to make him happy. So tonight I am going to the game, my son is joining us too.

Since I am still in recovery mode from my latest surgery my husband has given me very strict rules today: Take lots of naps today!! No walks. No exertion of any kind.

Today I am feeling somewhat better and my apartment is a mess, a mess I tell you. So messy that when my friend Scott came over after we had lunch to see where we live he gave a very disapproving look! He is a bachelor and a better housekeeper than me. It made me a bit ashamed. I just kept making excuses. The sad truth is I hate cleaning house. I have always been bad at it. It has never been a priority to me and even less now that I realize how short life really is. Oh, that disapproving look! It got to me.

So today my evil plan is to clean, clean, clean the house! Also a  possible walk around the park with my neighbor. I just have to wait for the husband to leave for work. Also for the ibuprofen to kick in. BUT I WILL GET REVENGE AGAINST THE DUST!!!! ah ah ah!!

How sad is it that my evil revenge plans are to clean my own home.

I will get rest today. I want to be able to stay awake for a very long game tonight. The Star Wars part won’t start until the game is over and it is dark enough out. Unfortunately living in the Inland Northwest this time of year it really isn’t dark until around 10.

What revenge plans do you have?

Today is better….

I was so discouraged the other day. The day I wrote about ‘I can’t’

It was the first time that I really thought I can’t since that fateful call on Nov. 3rd.

My poor husband. I came home on Wednesday and he made the mistake of asking if I was okay. Okay!?!? NO! No I am not okay as I lay crying in a lump on the bed. What was your first clue? I was so tired. I just kept telling him I can’t do this. I can’t do this.

He picked me up and said yes you can you are just tired. He then told me that he will feed me Taco Bell and then I should go to bed. I think it helped. I know the Taco Bell did.

They told me that the last round of chemotherapy will hit me the hardest. Knowing it and living it are two different things. No matter how much I braced myself for it I was not mentally prepared. The fatigue was harder, the dry fingertips are unmanageable , the flat taste in my mouth and dried tongue are worse. Then to top it off my asthma started kicking my ass, er lung I should say. So not sleeping from night sweats, chemically induced fatigue and a cramping right lung truly left me discouraged. It left me at I can’t.

Today, today is so much better. Now my mind is wandering and wondering.

Thinking of things like the following:

Are chemically induced hot flashes worse than when it happens naturally? My vote is yes.

The hair on my head that is growing back is like a brillo pad. It is coarse, gray and sticks out in all directions. Soon it will poke straight through my hats and wigs. When I showered the other day I used conditioner on it hoping it will soften. I think it is a logical conclusion. It didn’t.

Vanilla seems to be the saving grace for my coffee with the tongue/taste bud issues. Is it wrong that I am drinking extra cups of my froo froo sweet vanilla coffee because it actually tastes good? Probably, but right now I am still too tired to worry about calories and dehydration. I will just drink more water inbetween cups, yeah that is totally logical.

Why isn’t being naked at work and in public acceptable? The moment I put clothes on I start sweating. Granted I don’t think people would appreciate all of ‘this’ (pointing to my body) naked.

Do all the hot flashes and night sweats smell, or is it just in my head? I have started spraying my clothes down with my signature scent just in case. It worked for the French.

I am ready for life after chemotherapy. I am searching for my new ‘normal’ I will find it. One cup of coffee and douse of perfume at a time.

 

 

 

 

 

A little personal…

As I am navigating this new journey that life has handed me, I realize how much uncharted waters there really are.

Changes in my body by surgery. Changes in my diet, exercise, daily living. Learning that not all change is good. Accepting that all change can be turned into good if I focus it. All the mental challenges of the diagnosis itself. Reminding myself that I have revenge goals that I damn well want to meet next year.

I tested a wog yesterday when I took out the trash. It was from the garbage can to the front door but I feel like I can do it. I tested lifting heavier weights in a private workout and feel like I can do it. I tested a new sleep combination/blanket and feel like maybe I can do it. Started taking my hair, skin and nails vitamins yesterday and feel confident I will have hair again. It is all these little things that are making me stronger. That I am choosing to make me stronger.

There are things I didn’t think about having to navigate through. Like yesterday. A new challenge confronted itself.

I was at a friends thirty-two hot to handle birthday party at a local Irish Pub. Excused myself to use the restroom. No big deal. I get to the public restroom and put down the thin potty seat protector (I used to never use these things but germs  concern me because of the chemo) I sit down on the toilet and do my business. Not really thinking it through. I was having a hot flash. When you have a ‘flash’ your whole body becomes a sweat pool. THE WHOLE BODY including the backs of your thighs! The part sitting on a thin piece of paper that is now officially stuck to you. Not all the paper, bits and pieces of the paper. So you catch yourself peeling chunks of ‘protective’ paper off your flesh and trying to get it all in the toilet without making another kind of mess.  Oh there are other messes. Trust me.

 

I found this today in FB I think this should be a law. 13260170_1173613056005518_4980833294891281579_n

And now I must go. The laptop is making me have a hot flash as I type! At least you now know what to expect if you are starting menopause and have to use a public restroom. The germs are probably less annoying than the paper sheet stuck to your thighs.

the piles in my life…….

I have piles of clothes in my room.

There is a pile of clothes that I can put on and take off by myself.

There is a pile of clothes that are beyond comfy.

There is a pile of clothes that I can put on by myself but have to have help to take off.

There is a pile of only button or zip down tops and pull up yoga pants.

There is a whole pile of clothes hanging in the closet that I don’t even look at.

The other day I tried on a sweater to see if I could take it off again. Thank goodness I could! Hubby had already left and I tried it on without my bra on. It could have been an awkward day at work.

Trial and errors of piles.

Preparedness..

Things you think of while preparing for the “big” surgery:

Pre-moistened body clothes since you can’t shower until the drainage tubes are removed.

Toothpaste, mostly for your mom and sisters visit. The tube was ‘almost’ empty. I could have made it last.

Extra sheets and pillowcases and lots of quarters for the laundry since you can’t shower for sometime.

Pencil sharpener for your colored pencils that you are using on your adult coloring book. (by the way, it truly is calming)

Figuring out if you have enough pillows to prop yourself in a comfortable enough position to get some “sleep”.

Shake mix, saltine crackers.

Pay the phone bill, order coffee, get retirement gift, drop off paperwork for the donations you usually handle for the theatre.

Zip and button up shirts and hoodies to be able to dress yourself with.

Clean house since your sister and mom are coming to stay with you.

Pretend that everything is all right at work for the next three days.

Drink coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

Have a book and journal next to the bed so you can access it easily.

And I am sure there are hundreds of things I did not think of or have missed.

As soon as I can I will be walking the stairs to keep my butt looking like my butt. I will be blogging and plotting revenge once again.

Friday feels so far away, yet it is so close.

Can you ever truly be prepared?