Monday, September 24, 2012

Breast Cancer Awareness Tattoo - Warrior Badge

Pink Ribbon Tattoo - 9/23/12
I have lots to update about which I’ll do tomorrow, but for now I’m just too excited to wait to share my newest tattoo!  It is for Breast Cancer Awareness.  I wear this pink ribbon for myself and for the support of all the other women who have, who are, and who will have to “fight like a girl” to survive.  Mark and I call it my Warrior Badge.  He's getting the same one next week, but not in the same place (yes there will be pictures). My hubby rocks!

Breast Cancer Awareness Tattoo

Connie has done several of our tattoo’s over the past 10 years, so of course she was the one who I wanted to do this piece.  I wanted the ribbon to be a little different, so Connie drew it up in a flash and I loved it!  I'll take another pic after it's healed, but I think it looks pretty darn good right now!
If you’re in the market for a tattoo, I highly recommend Connie.  She’s a busy gal and mostly goes by appointments, but stop in or give her a call - you won’t be disappointed.  You can find her at High Altitude Ink 3 - her own all female tattoo & piercing shop.

This was a FUN weekend and, I must say, long overdue.  As was the need for a haircut n color.  So here I am, brand new tattoo, fresh hair, Starbucks within reach, breast-free, and although I'm still puffy on the sides with other stuff from surgery, I’m smiling ear to ear because I’m happy simply being me. 
Peace, Rocki

Monday, September 17, 2012

Obstacles are meant to be overcome

When faced with an obstacle, make a new path - I did.

My motto for many years has been "never give up.” No matter if it is a goal to reach or one of many obstacles to overcome that life throws at you - with a positive attitude, strength, determination, faith, willpower and the love and support of family and friends, you will get through it - usually with a better outcome.
Peace and Kindness,

Friday, September 14, 2012

Bilateral Total Mastectomy Recovery Status - Day 15

My Open Diary update

All 61 surgical staples were removed on Wednesday (9/12/12).  I wasn’t worried about this part or expecting any type of pain.  Actually, I didn’t know what to expect, except maybe feeling like a giant piece of paper.  In short, the nurse removed the staples with a medical staple remover.  Mark said it was like long hand held type of tool.  It did not hurt at all and nothing to stress over.  Some of them I couldn’t feel being removed due to numbness, most felt like a sticker being pulled out and a few towards the middle section felt like a BIG sticker, with a little sting.  Easy peasy.

Doc said healing is still going well, but I have to stay off of my Ogen (hormone) - forever.  When I was 29 I had to have a hysterectomy (have 1 ovary & 1 fallopian tube, everything else is gone) and went into a brief medical menopause at that time (boy was that fun), but didn’t need hormones, then.  I also went through it again a couple years ago.  Short version:  I’ve been on this hormone for 15 years and while I wanted to go natural for years, I wasn’t able to make the switch for a variety of reasons.  So, Mark & I are buckling up for this ride. 

I FINALLY was able to start sleeping in the bed Wednesday night…boy did that feel great!  I had pillows around me to not roll over.  Mark looked at me, smiled and said that he hoped he could sleep during the night with me in the bed.   I’m like, “what?”  He said my smile was so huge that the gleam from my teeth brightened the entire room – lol, he’s so funny!  Next step: sleep on my side.  That will be in the coming week or so, but at least I’m out of the recliner.

Each day I’m slowly improving and while the below may sound like I’m stuck in bed and sick 24/7, I’m not.  It’s just that some days/times are worse than others.  I’m taking good care of myself and Mark is making sure of that as well.  I’m not on any pain meds, just Tylenol when needed.  These are the symptoms I’m having to deal with either related to surgery and/or going off hormones:

Exhaust semi-easily (has improved)
Bad burning sensation/pain in upper side chest area and under arms, especially after continued use
Right arm (node biopsy) hurts worse, feels like a cell phone to a golf ball under my arm
Swelling and numbness (swelling makes above it worse)
Range of motion about 60%
Tightness across chest is less and getting better
Nausea and sick feeling
Horrid hot flashes, major sweats and other related stuff
A little blue yesterday, but not too emotional (hormones I’m sure)
My hair looks like crap (yes, this is a symptom)

Okay so there it is in a nutshell.  Now to fix a bite to eat and slowly start my awesome day.

Oh and for the last symptom, that will be remedied next Friday.  My sweet hair stylist buddy will take good care of me as usual.  I love you Chelsea!

Peace, Rocki

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Beautiful Cloudy Sunset

Taken from our side yard looking towards the front

View of northwest taken from our front yard

View from back yard as the storm rolled in

Can’t believe that we had two rainstorms in a matter of a few days, but we sure are enjoying it – as are all the plants and little creatures.   The one last night started early enough so I grabbed the camera to take a few pics before the rain began.  I’m no photographer, but you get the idea of the beautiful colors in the sunset we had.
Peace, Rocki

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Gila Woodpecker - A Bird Day

Today we are enjoying cooler weather and rain.  Our bird friends are also enjoying it, especially the male Gila Woodpecker.
As usual in the animal kingdom, the male is prettier than the female and this guy sports a bright red cap.  I just love the overall look of this bird!

The back yard is full with a variety of morning doves, sparrows, finches, towhee's, quails, grackles and humming birds.  But I couldn't seem to take my eyes off of Woody, neither could the little ones waiting for their turn at the food block.

I'm guessing that the little ones finally told Woody to quit being a hog and move on.

"I thought he would NEVER leave!"

Hope everyone is enjoying their day!

Peace, Rocki

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Bilateral Total Mastectomy Recovery - Day 10

My open diary update.
It’s been 10 days since my surgery and while recovery is going well, the past 3 days have been a little rough – physically speaking.  Guess that is to be expected.  However, I really think that if I hadn’t had such a horrible allergic reaction to the meds in the hospital that I would be doing even better. It took forever to flush that crud from my body.  Can’t complain though, it could be worse.  Much worse.
After the drainage tubes were removed on day 6 post surgery I felt so free!  I called them my ‘alien tentacles’ because, well, I felt like an alien with those long clear tubes coming out of each side of my body draining into a bulb pouch at the end.  It was fun showering with them (not) and getting dressed (not) and sleeping (not) and… well, you get the idea.   So very thankful that Mark helped with that part, as he has with every other aspect of this life event.
While I’m still mentally okay with everything, physically I’m drained.  Thursday I was feeling pretty good so I did a little laundry and other miscellaneous housework.  Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t zooming around by any means.  Oh no, not at all.  But I was feeling the urge to move, so I did – slowly.   I did a little of this, and then sat down.  Did a little of that, and then sat down.  Took a little nap (this has been a daily thing so far) and so on.  I even made dinner that night.  Okay, that’s a lie – sort of.  I stuck Mark’s Lean Cuisine and my GF/DF Mac-n-Cheese in the microwave.
Friday I was moving slow and wasn’t feeling very well.  Like I was getting sick.  I even took a few naps and still slept that night. Saturday morning I felt somewhat better so I went with Mark to do a little grocery shopping.  Halfway through – screeeeeech!  The rest of Saturday I pretty much spent in the recliner (where I’m still sleeping) and the couch (needed a different view).  Today has been up and down.  Drained, exhausted and lack energy.  To be honest, this bums me out.  But, I’ve been here before and just need to get through this hump with patience, gentleness and understanding.  Which I have and will overcome once again. 
There really isn’t ‘pain’ to speak of, it’s more like a soreness or bad bruise type of feeling, along with spasms here and there.  Sometimes more intense than not, but nothing to take a pain pill for.  Still have the tightness across the chest and arms, especially on the right.  Numbness in areas.  Range of motion is about 50%, but I’m working on that and have a printout of exercises to do, so that helps.  Appetite has been off and I've lost 4 pounds in 1 week.  Now I know what all was removed during surgery surely didn’t weigh that much.  Trust me.
Funny how I thought that I would be able to jump right back into work after this.  Obviously I’m not 100% ready, but I do feel that I’ll be able to do something.  So, I’m going to start working a little next week and see how I do.  I’m not rushing it as I’ll be at a MUCH slower pace, plus can’t handle a full day’s work yet anyway.  At least I was able to schedule the orders that I have received to date and update my customers – my very kind and patient customers – with their ship date.  And even though I still have a ton of sold and expired items that need to be relisted, I’m not stressed about it one little bit.  I’ll do that when I get more caught up.
So for the most part, despite how the above may sound, I am okay and truly doing much better than expected.  While I knew it wasn’t going to be a cake-walk, guess I just expected too much of myself too soon.
Peace, Rocki

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Rocki vs Breast Cancer - TKO

Boy, so much to talk about in just these past few days, but I’ll *try* to condense.
Despite the fact that I’m still dealing with some nasty symptoms from the medicine reaction, not including from the actual surgery, my recovery is going better than expected.  Both Mark and I are really surprised, happily so.
Yesterday was my first post-op appointment and it was a good one.  Both drainage tubes were removed and let me just say this – THAT was a weird experience. Mark stood next to me and held my hand because to be honest, I think we were both expecting pain.  For me, I can’t say that it actually hurt as it was more of a burning stinging type sensation.  The tubes (one on each side) had one stitch each to keep it from falling out.  The doc clipped the stitch, said to relax and then pulled out the tube slowly.  The right one was first and it felt like a very long noodle coming out with a little stinging at the end.  Next was the left.  Same thing except it stung much worse and I think my eyes bugged out.  I am SO glad those are gone!
The zillion staples will be removed next Wednesday.  I look forward to that one.  I asked my doc about the swelling, etc., he said it’s normal, that I’m healing quite nicely and will know more of how I’ll actually look in about 6 months.  That works for me.
Now we come to the final pathology report.  The 3 Sentinel Nodes (I thought he took 2) that were removed for biopsy were clean - it did not spread there. (happy dance!).  However, there were several more areas found in my right breast than originally noted.  Lefty had a bunch of mumble jumble diagnosis with one being Periductal Chronic Inflammation and Fibrosis, but no cancer in that one.  The good news… ALL the cancer was removed and no other treatment needed.  TKO baby!
To celebrate, Mark took me to Starbucks.  That was a tasty treat!  It felt SO good to be out of the house.  Since he also had to make errand runs to banks, post office and the store, I decided to tag along.  So breast-free me and my honey had an enjoyable outing then back home to rest.  More like zonk out on my part.  In the store, Mark asked me how I felt about being out in public in my natural state.  While I did notice people look directly at my flat chest, honest to goodness it did not bother me.   I'm being completely honest here and not hiding anything, there would be no point in that, the only way to describe it is I felt free and happy.  Maybe I’m just weird, but that’s how I feel.
To sum up my “condensed” diary post, here’s a few highlights of my recovery status to date.  Again, I’m keeping track of this for myself and with hope that it helps others.  But if you're reading this, thank you, you're awesome!:
- While no chest muscle was removed, it will take time to strengthen that area and my arms, especially the right.  Never realized how much the chest muscle was used until now.
- Tightness, numbness and some odd healing sensations.
- Get tired easily, but that is expected right now (been there, done that).
- Working on range of motion.
- Plan on working on some studio orders next week, but s-l-o-w-l-y.
- Still can’t lie flat or recline on pillows in bed, so I'm still sleeping in recliner.
- My bum is numb.  Just sayin.
I’m starting to think that “condensed” is not in my vocabulary.
Peace, Rocki
p.s. - To all my dear customers: Thank you so much for your kind patience and working with me during this time!  Also, I have a TON of Sold and Expired items to relist, but will do that in the week or so to come.  Currently for new orders, my timeframe is *at least* 2 weeks or longer.  I'm also trying to catch up with messages, please bear with me.  I had no idea of the support I would receive.  I'll continue to update as I progress. Thank you all!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Rocki vs Breast Cancer - Surgery

Surgery has come and gone and now on the road to recovery. For those who do not know, I had a Bilateral Total Mastectomy without breast reconstruction due to breast cancer (early stage), along with a Sentinel Node Biopsy.  The doc said the 3 nodes that were removed looked good, but he’ll have the pathology report on my first follow-up next week.  The reason for the node biopsy is to make sure that the cancer has not spread, which he feels hasn’t.  So, if that is true then I am cancer free! 
We had to be at the hospital at 6:00 am and were up at 4:00 am, so this made for a very long day.  After check-in, lab work, etc. it was then time for the radioactive dye injection for the SN Biopsy (biopsy was done during surgery).  That part only took about a minute, which was done by my doc.  It  was not painful really, more of a burning stinging sensation.  The radioactive dye follows the cancer path and through the lymphatic channels to the lymph nodes.  The doc uses a handheld Geiger counter to locate the Sentinel Node, which gives off a specific sound and are the first nodes the cancer would travel to - IF it has spread.  I found that part very interesting.
Pre-op was simple.  I must say here that from start to finish, every single person that we came in contact with at the hospital made us feel very comfortable and were super nice.  After pre-op it was time for surgery and the anesthesiologist gave me a little cocktail on the way that made me go nighty night, but not before giving Mark a kiss.
Surgery was about 2 hours and I was in recovery for 1 hour, which I don’t remember at all.  The only part I do recall at this point was waking up and seeing Mark beside me, holding my hand and saying “I’m right here honey” while they were taking me up to my room.
The rest of Thursday and early Friday morning was horrible.  Not because of the pain from  surgery, but from the anesthesia and pain meds.  I was horrifically nauseated, couldn’t keep food or drink down as it would come right back up, blood pressure very low and felt like I was going to pass out even if just sitting up.  My body simply cannot handle meds – in fact I rarely ever take conventional medication and when I do, it’s either half the dose or children’s meds, so that part was really rough.  After my meds were changed to the lowest dose possible and upping my IV drip, I did better. 
My brother Chris and his family came to see me Thursday, but I was still pretty drugged up so I don’t recall the entire visit.  Except the part where I got sick and Mark had to get the bucket once again – and my brother ducked out of sight.  Oh and they brought me a little gift - a little bird figure with the words: Live, Laugh, Love on it, so cute!  I also apparently ‘drunk called’ (more like drug called) my boys that night, which I do not remember that either. 
So now we come to the part when the nurse took off the compression wrap Friday morning.  I was wondering if I was going to have a reaction like some people were afraid of, but I didn’t.  Not one tear.  Not one gulp.  Not one bit of sadness.  The only thing I could think of was the cancer was gone and don’t have to worry about it coming back.  Then I saw the swelling, drainage tubes and staples.  That part made me a bit woosy.  Picture it this way… staples from under one arm all the way to the other arm with about a 2 inch gap of no staples in the middle.  Plus another set in my right armpit where the SN biopsy was done.  Long drainage tubes from each side of the breast area that drain into a hand grenade size pouches. I can hardly wait for the swelling to go down to see how it’s going to look.  I also started a photo diary for my own keeping from before and after throughout my recovery time, and *may*share some of the pics down the road.

I know this is long and if you’ve made it this far, wow, thank you! This is simply my ‘open diary’ that I want to keep track of and hope that it helps others along the way.
Friday at 6pm I was released to go home.  After arriving home, saying hello to our 4-legged kids and having a bite to eat, Mark and I fell asleep around 8pm – he on the couch and me in the recliner.  We didn’t wake up until around 7:30 am Saturday morning.  That was the first night of full sleep we’ve had in a while and it sure felt good! 

Let me tell you that Mark makes an EXCELLENT nurse!  While in the hospital and at home, he’s doing anything and everything from taking me to the bathroom, bathing me, emptying my drainage tubes, walking me down the hall, feeding me ice chips, making sure I have plenty of water, making meals… the list goes on and on.  I couldn’t have done all this without him, as well as my family, friends and many others that continue sending me their love and support.
On Saturday evening I broke out in a blisters that freaked me out.  After contacting my doc, found out it was an allergic reaction to the pain meds, was told to stop taking them and to take an antihistamine.  The pain actually isn’t as bad as I thought it would be at that time, so that was good.  Basically now it is more of a tightness, pinching, pulling type pain across my chest and armpits with stiffness, which is tolerable.  One of the oddest things is the crawling wiggly type sensation that I’m told is nerve endings, along with numbness in some areas.  Weird stuff. 
So here I am, Sunday morning relaxing in my recliner, where I’ve been sleeping as well, except when walking around the house for exercise. With the symptoms mentioned above and not being able to lift anything more than a cup of coffee or exert much pressure with my hands/arms, I’m actually doing much better than expected.  And with my first follow up this coming Wednesday, the drainage tubes and possibly staples will be removed, plus get the final pathology report. 
The road to recovery is underway and I’m following doc’s orders exactly so that I will soon be back to my “normal” self.  Normal… what is that anyway?
Life is good.
Peace, Rocki