Day 13

Today was probably a bit harder than most days yet. My nerves are beginning to “wake up” in my arm and right side, so alllll the hurt is coming back, full force.

I’m such an active person that this is really hard to navigate. I want to shovel the snow. I want to do the laundry. I want to fix and clean and do.

I haven’t gotten much sleep lately, so I’m sure that’s exacerbating the pain, but I could really use a break.

Here’s an update in pictures:

Recovery day 12

I feel pretty great! The hardest part of recovery is definitely not pain management but dealing with the drains. Thank goodness I only have one remaining.

Kayla (kinda) helped me take out the left drain today as I couldn’t see the insertion point (I think her eyes were closed though 😂😂). It was pretty cool to watch the drain come out from under my skin. It also made this whooshing suction noise that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. It wasn’t painful at all to remove, but you have to be able to stomach the weirdness of it.

We finished our last Christmas celebration on Tuesday with the littles heading to Grandma and Grandpa Redden’s house to spend the night. I needed a break from the excitement of everything and I’m so thankful they could take them. One night was enough for all and we will pick them up tonight when Brad finishes with his work day. It’ll be the longest car ride yet, but the kids will be happy, I’ll be happy and my parents will be happy that everyone is back where they belong. The kids need a couple of days during break to play with all of their new toys.

Next appointment is on Friday for physical therapy. I’m pretty sure I’ve been kicking ass at keeping up range of motion exercises, and will receive good reports there.

I’m giving 2017 an earnest attempt at being salvageable. So far, so good!

Recovery

All things considered, I’m feeling pretty great!  I’ve been off narcotic pain medication for a few days now and haven’t taken ibuprofen for 2 (probably because I don’t want to reach for it in the cupboard).  I still don’t feel like I can drive, and riding in a car is kept to a minimum.  Road bumps (literally and metaphorically) HURT.  I’m learning to stretch my arms out by my head many times throughout the day to keep the muscles from becoming uncomfortably stiff and painful.

It’s bizarre that I don’t have any feeling in my armpits or on the skin under my arms at all.  My right elbow to my shoulder is completely without feeling as the nerves have been disrupted during surgery and are learning how to “feel” again.  Let me tell you what it is like to put deodorant on when you can’t feel where you are putting it!

Throughout this process, I will NEVER forget the kindness and generosity of SO MANY people.  On any given day, I will get mail sent to me from a complete stranger, or a neighbor that stops by with a note and a hug.  It blows my mind and warms me to my core.  These people have given me the strength I have needed to get me this far.  I never dreamed in a million years that my journey would touch so many others.

Today I went to the gym for about an hour to walk and stretch.  It felt so good to get out and move around.  My in-laws have come to help me drink wine for a few days from Florida, so Grandpa Steve brought me to and from the gym.

I’m feeling very loved!

Parental Advisory-Explicit Photos

For real. The photos are VERY GRAPHIC and include some blood and guts and surgical sites. Only enter if you are interested. Like I would be.

I wore a couple of wigs to attempt to remove the bald distraction. You really cannot judge a book by its cover. I would have shown off my 6-pack, but, well, maybe next year.

This next photo is of my left side 4days post mastectomy.

this is my right side 4 Days post mastectomy.

This is one of the drains…

The Results Are IN!

Welllllll, my surgeon called me today to let me know that pathology was in. AKA she was about to tell me whether or not she managed to take all the lymph nodes she needed to, or got all the cancer in my right breast. Or if there was cancer in the left breast that we were previously unaware of.

Today I’ve felt pretty good as far as recovering goes. The healing is definitely happening, so things have started to have a bit of a burning sensation and/or itch. The drains hang like saddle bags around my midsection as if I’ve grown a few inches in my belly. It sucks. My range of motion is also very, very limited, but every single day is closer to feeling brand new.

Ailee was staring at my chest today and let me know that I “look like a teenager”. You know, one without breasts. I’ll admit that my reflection is strange, but I’m happy to trade my breasts for my life.

Anyway. Results. My surgeon took 14 additional lymph nodes (19 total after the first surgery where she found 5 full of cancer), my left breast with no history of cancer and my right breast that had been the original source of all of this. My surgeon called to say that there is no cancer in the lymph nodes. No cancer in my left breast. No cancer in my right breast.

So thankful for today.

Two Days After

It’s amazing what a shower can do. Today is day two that I woke up after surgery without breasts. Quite honestly, it’s not really that big of a deal. Especially after a shower.

I cleaned out my bra drawer today and tucked them away for the next six months or so. Out of habit, I went to grab one after having my shower. I don’t know how I could’ve forgotten since I had two drains clipped to a lanyard hanging around my neck, but whatever.

I asked Brad to take me to the gym today so I can walk on the treadmill. I won’t be able to walk very fast, but pacing around the house is really, really, really boring. He is still on the fence with that request.

The Littles are still down with aunt Chris and her family. I cringe every time we get a text with the thought that my kids have finally pushed her over the edge of sanity. They are cute, but they sure are a handful too. I miss the chaos and the noise of having them here. Brad and I sat down to dinner while Kayla was at work last night. It was awfully strange that we could actually sit through a meal without interruption, tears, discipline or any other type of break.

Something I don’t think I’ll ever forget is knowing that I had so many people at the hospital waiting for me to finish surgery. When I woke up I got to see my dad, Chris, my favorite brother Derek and my husband. I know so many others would’ve been there too, but the ones that were, were the ones that I needed at that time.

I’m already weaning off the pain medication. I think by tomorrow I’ll be able to just take some ibuprofen to get me through the day. I’m limited in how much I can move my arms, but I’m continuing to work on range of motion slowly so that I don’t heal with muscle retraction.

All in all, I’m doing OK. I really am.

https://www.youcaring.com/bethharrison-889731?fb_action_ids=1845422545471007&fb_action_types=youcaringcom%3Ashare&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map=%5B1395997887162420%5D&action_type_map=%5B%22youcaringcom%3Ashare%22%5D&action_ref_map=%5B%5D

T’was the Night Before Surgery

I couldn’t have asked for a better day! My coworkers managed to surprise me with a meatless pot-luck (do you have any idea how hard that must have been for a team from Minnesota?!) and an incredible bundle of gifts for me to enjoy after surgery.

When I got home after an appointment, Beckham asked me to open a package that his class had put together. It was a beautiful card that his class had signed with well wishes for me after surgery. I loved seeing their smiling faces in a picture that I’ll take with me tomorrow.

Ailee greeted me with the most thoughtful gift that her classroom put together, too. The generosity of my community is something unexplainable. Some of these classroom parents I haven’t even met and they are praying and giving to me and my family. I am so thankful. Over and over again I am thankful.

I had moments of pure grief today when I thought about tomorrow and the immediate days to follow. I’m not sure what I’ll look like or how painful it will be. I’m not sure if I’ll feel like more of a recluse as I have avoided as many social situations as possible for the last few months. I wonder if my hair will come quick enough so I can ditch the head scarves and put them around my neck to hide my new body shape. I wish for the holidays to come and be peaceful and as wonderful as ever.

I hope for a good prognosis.

Thank you. For the prayers. For the food. For all of the kindness. For adopting me and my family into your community. I couldn’t face this without you.

Is It Friday Yet?

For real. I’m almost certain that as soon as I came to terms that the countdown has begun, Time has ticked by slower than ever. I have never wanted a Friday More in my whole life.

Today I got to hold the most precious baby boy. He reminded me of my own babies and how I would snuggle them close and nurse them. I have such vivid memories of holding them over my breast to burp them or give them a soothing touch. I’ve had these old buggars for a lifetime. It’s sure going to be strange to part with them.

Today I realized that so much of myself has changed over the past few months, but I’m not even close to figuring out what that means.

Today it all became real.

I’m so thankful that I could hold that baby boy over my breast and feel normal. I’m so thankful that his mama knew I needed that.

I’m so thankful for today.

It’s The Final Countdown

Tonight I packed my bag for the inevitable hospital stay.  No bra needed.  Of course, I did pack my post-surgical wrap (Ace bandage type thingy) and made sure to have a button-up shirt along.  Last year around this time, I was happily beginning to pack for our trip to the beach and family in Florida.

My husband took the littles into “town” and gave me time and space to nest and pack.  Seriously, he is the Best. Dad. Ever.  They are all enjoying the winter parade and Christmas celebration together.  I would normally be with for events like this, but quite honestly, I have ZERO interest in sitting out in the cold weather and watching a parade.  I’d rather stay home and clean and scrub the house as I prepare for surgery.

I’m looking forward to crossing this next step off the list.  In fact, if I could fast-forward through the healing and radiation treatments, I’d be one happy camper.

My sister-in-law has graciously taken on the task of having my littles stay with her family in southern Minnesota for a few days after surgery.  I can’t imagine my husband having to balance my needs for those first few days and also caring for our angelic children.  I’m afraid it would be a weekend of me pushing myself beyond my limits and the kiddos wanting to “help” take care of mom.  I fear if they were going to be here, they would have negative memories of this part of my cancer process.

A week ago, surgery felt like it was eons away.  Now, I feel like it’s happening way too fast.  It’ll be here before I know it.  I have so much anxiety and so many fears that the surgery will be more involved than anticipated.  Or that my surgeon will have to postpone surgery for one reason or another.

My hair is starting to remember that it’s supposed to grow.  About a week ago, some “peach fuzz” began to appear on my scalp.  It still isn’t much more than that, but I’m SO excited to see what color it is when it does come in.  I’ve heard so many stories of change after chemo that I am positive that my hair will be flowing blond locks of thick healthy hair.  However, at this point, I’ll take what I can get!

Deadlines

Ugh.  I hate them and thrive on them.

This year my Christmas deadline is on December 14th.  The day before.  I’m pretty much done with shopping, wrapping and planning.  I think I’ve got everything ready for visitors and handing  over the torch.  This year, I really just want to be “present” and with my family enjoying every single moment.  My families have graciously taken over everything for me.  I won’t have to cook or travel and I get to be surrounded by so many people that I love.  I can’t wait.

I wonder how many Christmases I have left.  How many birthdays?  How many surgeries?  Treatments?  Years?  What I know now is that it doesn’t really matter.  If I could know what my expiration date was going to be, I’m certain that I would not choose to find out.

In ten days, I’ll undergo a major surgery.  I’ll have as many of my axillary lymph nodes removed as possible.  My surgeon will remove my breasts, remove my port, place her skilled hands in and around my chest and be a major player in what my future holds.  I’m so thankful for her and her team.