You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘healing’ tag.

So I realize how long it’s been since I’ve posted here. Many things, so many things, have changed. There have been tough times and incredibly wonderful times. Now I’m settling in.

This won’t be long…just a short run down since, um, 3 years ago. I think I last wrote when I was still having complications with my surgery. I have since had a couple of additional surgeries. The bottom line is my abdominal muscle will always be “detached” and weaker. However, I have never been more strong. My breasts actually look better than the real ones ever did and I feel better than I ever have…even in my younger years. I’ve said it before, I’m scarred but who isn’t? I no longer differentiate between those scars or any others on my body, with the exception of one. The damn scar on my shin from a missed box jump is worse than any other one on my body. I am, admittedly, self conscious about that one.

Let’s see…I was also married when I last wrote. That changed on Christmas Day 2011 when my ex walked out. I did the typical tailspin for a while and now realize that was the best, and I mean absolute best, thing he ever did for me. I have grown as an independent woman and have learned to accept myself for who I am, which happens to be a damn strong, intelligent, loving, beautiful human being. I love me and I love my family.

Another update…my son and I moved to Frisco, Texas. I left behind a few very, very dear friends who I really don’t want to be away from. There’s also the network of friends who you know are always going to be around somewhere at any given time. Moving is scary and, holy crap, is it stressful. But things are falling into place. The house actually feels more like a home now that things are unpacked and finding the way into the proper places. My son is playing hockey and the best part is that I’m 20 minutes from my aunt and 20 minutes from my cousin. I get to see them all the time now and I love it.

Oh yeah, all the reconstructions? That’s all done. The fat grafting, implants, more fat grafting…no more. Not because I can’t handle it anymore, I simply don’t need it. Now my scars are faded, and did I mention that my breasts look better than they ever did before? I think so, but it bears repeating ūüėČ I’m fit and started training for triathlons. I simply feel great about myself. Now, I’m normal, so it’s not all rainbows and butterflies, but it’s really pretty damn good.

Looking back, I wrote about a really jacked up experience. What I went through, and chose to write about, was definitely raw. I was in the emotional and physical trenches. It feels weird to read some of what I’ve written. Some is embarrassing and I have felt tempted to remove it or close the blog. But then I think of the other women who are facing the choice I had to face and I feel like this might be helpful in some way. So I’m swallowing the pride and leaving it all out there.

In the end, full circle doesn’t really describe my journey. I haven’t stopped where I began. I’m in a completely different place; someplace so much more positive and peaceful than the starting point. I’m grateful for the important people in my life who have helped me get here because it didn’t happen all by itself. But it happened.

 

halloween wonder woman

Thinking back, I find it hard to believe it’s been almost 2 years since my last surgery. Really. I was going over it in my head. How did the time go so quickly? So many things have changed in the last few years, aside from the obvious tragic losses. I moved to New England and got to meet wonderful people. I got to visit Boston frequently and learned to love certain things about that city. I thoroughly enjoyed taking my aunt through Boston and showing her the sights. My husband and I learned valuable life lessons in that move, things that make us stronger as a couple, better parents and things that made us grow in our professions. That being said, we realized it wasn’t the best place for us and came back home…to Michigan…another thing I can’t believe. Michigan has become my home.

Coming home was like taking a deep breath. I had already started trying to lose weight and had lost about 30 pounds. After moving home I continued losing weight and started working out really hard. I have gained so much strength. A year ago, if I were sitting on the floor, I would have to have help getting up. There was no way I could do one pushup….on my knees. Now I’m doing turkish getups (youtube it) with kettlebells. I’m doing planks WITH added challenges. I can see my muscles. I can feel my muscles. I have lost 50 pounds. I’m setting goals for myself again, goals I thought would be impossible forever. Oh, if you could see the smile on my face. Speaking of smiles, here’s something else that makes me smile….my new tattoo. The pink ribbon represents breast cancer and the teal represents ovarian cancer. Because I feel freed from cancer by learning about my mutation and taking the steps I felt were right for me, I wanted the breaking chain in the tattoo, with the word Previvor. I think that says it all.

                                    

Here’s the thing. My abdomen is still not healed. Something is wrong. I have that unsightly bulge above my incision on the left, which is really not the biggest deal. The problem is that my abdominal muscles on the left may be atrophied and have lost nerve connection. The weakness leads to an imbalance when I workout and, while I have gained strength, I am still hindered by this issue. So we are going back to surgery. My surgeon is going to take a look at my abdomen and see if it can be fixed. I’ve said if it looks like the chances are very high for a good outcome, go for it. On the other hand, if it looks like nothing can be done or the chances for a good outcome are slim, just leave it as is. I will have to figure out a way to strengthen the muscles around the defect. As far as the bulge goes, I think that’s a bit of the mesh from my last surgery that may be bunched up. You can almost feel it if you push on it. Yeah, I know, yuk. Then there’s the boob issue. The whole boob¬†aesthetics isn’t huge with me. I’m not beyond wanting to look good, but I don’t need perfect boobs. However, when you’ve had your boobs completely removed and rebuilt out of belly fat, wanting them to look normal is sort of…..normal. There was always a little divot in the cleavage area on both sides. Now the boobs have sort of settled and I’ve lost weight so it’s much more pronounced. You can see my ribs¬†¬†instead of cleavage. Yeah, yuk #2. Sorry folks. This blog is about the ugly, and beautiful, truth of my personal BRCA fallout.

So the plan is to, first, look at my abdomen and hope for an easy fix. Second, liposuction to harvest fat. People, let me tell you, this is a completely mixed bag. Lipo sounds great, but that shit hurts. Yes, it’s coming from areas that are more than willing to donate, but this is going to be the most painful part. See, there’s not much sensation in my breasts or in the superficial area of my abdomen so I don’t anticipate a lot of discomfort there…..hopefully. Then the harvested fat will be injected into the emptier areas of my breasts. We’ve decided to forgo an implant and use my own fat to make the breasts as full as possible. My surgeon says I don’t have much fat to give. Picture me doing a cross between (or both at the same time) a maniacal, sarcastic laugh and Katherine Heigl’s dumb little happy dance in the Ugly Truth. Yeah, yuk #3.

Today I donated the first of two units of blood to have on reserve for surgery. If you’ve read back in my blog, you know I don’t bounce back from surgery very well. During the first, the surgeon in Texas couldn’t get my bleeding to stop and I had to have a transfusion afterward. I had less bleeding in the second surgery, but still needed a transfusion afterward. And the third surgery may have been the worst. Even though I was given fresh frozen plasma during surgery to prevent a need for transfusion later, I still had a syncopal episode (passed out) in the bathroom…thank goodness the nurses were there to catch me before I hit the floor. I went home, spiked a fever the next day and ended up admitted to the hospital for about a week with, you guessed it, another transfusion. Now I’m banking my own blood, just in case. I have to give another unit next week. I’m NOT thrilled about doing that. They used a freakin’ 16 gauge needle! Totally unnecessary. My blood was flowing. They could get the full unit from me in less than 10 minutes with a 20 gauge…okay maybe an 18. The next couple of weeks are going to be tough. I just want to get this over with. At least I have a visit with my aunt and cousin in Texas in a week. That’s going to be so awesome, and it’ll help keep my mind off the surgery.

This is my journey and it’s not over. I have a lot of living to do and, thanks to learning about my genetic mutation, I’m going to live it without the fear of getting breast or ovarian cancer. I’m headed into the 4th surgery, but I’m headed in stronger than I have been in years. Those goals that I thought would be impossible forever? They may not ALL happen, but they’re all goals instead of just wishes. My family and I are back home and surrounded by people, even some from a distance, who make our lives better every day, people who motivate me, love me, encourage me and support me. I’m in a good place in my mind and in my soul…and in Michigan.

I’ve been meaning to get back to writing….and meaning…..and meaning….all the way until my head hits the pillow and I start all over again the next day. So much is happening and I just want to slow down for a minute. I want to hold my family close to me and let time speed on by…just for a selfish moment.

I knew letting my kids grow up was going to be hard-like I knew that birthing them would be hard. You just don’t know how hard until you’re in the moment. Childbirth was an agonizing, “I don’t think I’m going to live through this”, pain with a glorious purpose and a breathtaking reward. Watching my first-born graduate and come into her own in so many ways is sort of similar, but a little more painful-heartbreakingly painful. There’s, seriously, an enormous lump in my throat and in my chest when I think of it. It’s actually more like a vacuum that just sucks my air away for a moment. Then I have to blink so hard to stay the tears and pull up those hateful bootstraps. So many things play through my mind from the time she was a baby. She used to laugh so hard it would make her spit up. I warned people to stop making her laugh or she would nail them. She had no hair as a baby, then had a golden halo of curls, now has a cascading mane of honey blonde waves. She used to want to follow me, be with me, run to me when she saw me. She grew to hang out with me, share her day, talk about things she learned, smiled when she saw me, hugged me so tightly just when I needed it. Now, she’s ready to embark on her own life, ready to loosen my grip. She still hugs me tightly,¬†but I’m trying to get used to the fact that when I really need an Ali hug¬†I’ll have to wait until the next time I see¬† her. My beautiful angel. I’m so very proud of her. As pretty and funny as she is, her mind is what really blows me away. She’s going to do well, that one. While this time in my life is excruciating, it’s also exhilarating. My daughter is going to college, she’s starting to live her dream and become a woman. She believed me when I told her, truthfully and with loving confidence,¬†she could be anything she wants to be.

This is a new beginning in several ways. Ali has her new beginning, free from the cursed genetic mutation that I have. She doesn’t have to worry any more than the average woman does. Her risk of breast and ovarian cancer is that of the general population. She is free to start her journey without thinking about the ticking time bomb, being pressured to hurry up and have children so she can have the surgeries that would save her life. She can concentrate on political science or anthropology, plan on the Peace Corps and law school. She can fall in love, or not. She is free. Thank God.

We have a new beginning in Massachusetts. I like it so far. I suppose I have to see what it’s going to be like in the winter. My husband says it’s better than Michigan. The sun does shine more and that’s what I love, sunshine. I love my job so far and I’ve made some friends. I really love it. I do NOT like the house we’re renting, but we have a house and I can see the ocean from the deck. My husband likes his work and is doing well. My son likes his school and has lots of friends (almost too distracting). I’m looking forward to exploring New England on the weekends and learning more about the history…the real history. I want to avoid the places that have the cheesy gift shops.

My body is healing. There are some bad days still, but nothing like they used to be. My scars are healing pretty well. The crazy right breast problems that so many of us BRCA ladies have has a few scarring issues, but nothing major at all. I did have a little stitch work its way out today. I found it in the shower today. Even after four months, things are still trying to work back into place. Some might be discouraged by finding that they still aren’t healed after that time. Hell, I would have felt that way just a month ago. Now, it actually gives me hope. The quirks I have now aren’t permanent. My body isn’t done. I am healing. It’s been over a year. I’ve lost a year of activity, but I’ve gained untold time with my family. God willing, I will see my grandchildren graduate from high school. With every day that I am given, I get stronger.

It is a new beginning and I am hopeful.