Thursday, March 13, 2014

Minor Setback (aka the Night My Boob Deflated)

First off, my apologies, as I've been meaning to provide an update on the great news from our discharge from Angeles Hospital and homecoming.  We received the pathology results before we checked out and they were great: Clear margins with no spread to the surrounding tissue or skin, only one of the five lymph nodes they removed showed cancer cells and THIS...

There was only one tumor present in the tissue they removed.

Yes, you are reading that correctly.  I had TWO tumors when I checked in to Angeles.  After about a week of treatment, I noticed i could no longer feel the smaller of the two tumors, but there was still a nanofraction of a doubt that perhaps it was just wishful thinking. Let's just say we were beyond ecstatic to learn that the tumor had been completely anhiliated during treatment.  The additional peace of mind this provides is priceless.

Hooray for hot cancer-fighting doctors.

So the good news is I've been back home for almost two weeks, recovering well and adjusting to life "on the outside."  Being with Charlie has been amazing, and I'm crazier about him than ever, if that's even possible.  I've even re-learned to cook for myself, though I'll admit I much preferred being served my meals on a regular basis by the friendly kitchen staff at the hospital.

 Snuggles with my little man

Unfortunately, my life is never without a little drama.  I awoke this morning to find my whole right side sopping wet.  First embarrassed that I'd overheated excessively overnight, I soon discovered that it wasn't in fact sweat.  Over the course of the evening, my lovely new boob had wilted like a balloon, flattening itself to resemble more of a pancake than a (small) melon.  

After a few phone calls, we found a great plastic surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic who came highly recommended and saw us this morning.  She noted that the 40cc's of fluid with which the original surgeon had filled my expander were not nearly enough to have given me the size of the lovely new boob that I was so enjoying. Apparently expanders take quite some time to fill to the appropriate size over the course of several weeks and it's rare that they leak, so the expander probably wasn't the culprit. I must have been too excited about the new boob to notice it getting slowly bigger.

It turns out it is more likely the size could be attributed to an accumulation of post-op fluid that gathered on the outside of the expander.  My body could no longer contain it, and therefore ejected it like a disorderly drunk at a bar.  I'm glad my body was proactive about the situation and all, but I had gotten kind of attached to my new "melon."

Because the fluid exited stage left (my right side for those of you not familiar with the theatre - affectation implied) through an opening in my incision, to prevent infection or further complications, the surgeon feels it's best to proactively replace the expander and re-suture the wound.  She will be placing the new expander under the muscle (my current one is over the muscle, a decision the original surgeon made to give the plastic surgeon more options), which will make for a slightly more painful recovery experience.

So tomorrow morning I will have another surgery followed by yet two more weeks of discomfort, which is a bummer.  Frankly, I'm just as worried about whether my darling spouse will burn the house down attempting to make meals that adhere to my new diet (he believes all food is best cooked on high heat), but I know he'll step up and do great, as he always does.

In the scheme of things, I know this is a minor setback and that everything happens for a reason.  I had been meaning to make an appointment with the plastic surgeon anyway, and she was very interested in my alternative cancer treatment, as opposed to being condescending or dismissive, so I really like the gal.  And perhaps the fact my breast tissue has already been expanded to close to its final goal size will make the reconstruction process less uncomfortable when I get there.

And of course I don't want to risk the chance of infection in my chest cavity, so there's that.  

I'm also keenly aware that this is the part of the show that caters to my vanity.  The cancer surgery and treatments have been completed, and over the next few months my at-home protocol will continue to facilitate the awesome search and destroy mission started at Angeles Hospital.  What I'm dealing with right now are complications due to my desire to make lemonade out of the lemons (perhaps I should say grapefruit juice since I'm working toward an upgrade?), so I will just have to suck it up.

I do feel bad that I have to take yet more time off work and inconvenience my loving friends and family with this setback in my recovery and ability to care for myself and my family.  I know, however, that you will forgive me, so for now, thanks in advance to each of you impacted by my little boob drama!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kelly keep positive you'll do great. Hugs to you and the family! Jen & Chris

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