Archive | May, 2012

How God Prepared Me in Advance

31 May
As I look back and reflect over the last few years I can see God preparing me (and Kevan) for my breast cancer diagnosis.  I know that this may sound strange to some of you, but without certain events in my life I don’t think I would have been as strong and as accepting of the diagnosis I received on April 6. 2012.  I see now that God strengthened our marriage, worked in my heart to bring me closer to Him through His Word and comforted me through a book I read within weeks of my diagnosis.  I’m sorry this is so long, but it’s my story and I tend to be wordy.
Preparing our Marriage
Several years ago, in 2010, Kevan and I went through a rough time in our marriage.  As some of you know, we haven’t been able to have children.  Infertility is very hard on a marriage.  God has instilled in most women a yearning to be a mother and sometimes it can be overwhelming and sometimes husband’s just don’t understand those feelings.  I believe, at this point we had been off birth control for almost 4 years and had not conceived.  I wanted a baby and could think of nothing else.  Kevan wanted only what God wanted for us and if he didn’t give us a child then so be it.  I felt like we were both getting old and I didn’t have much time left.  Everyone I knew was having babies, all of our friends had children and we no longer fit in.  Kevan worked outside the home at that time and I would cry some days while he was away at work and not tell him when he got home that I had had an emotional breakdown for most of the day.  Kevan and I are best friends and throughout our marriage we have always been able to communicate, but during this time our communication with each other broke down.  I was feeling like he didn’t love me because I wanted to see a fertility doctor or look into adoption and he wasn’t ready for either.  He wanted to wait on God.  I began pushing him away.   He started to feel me pushing him away so he was trying to grasp on tighter to me and I felt like I was drowning.  Normally, we do everything together and I was finding myself stealing away to my bedroom to get away from him, going places alone and dreaming of a life where I had a family, not necessarily with him in it.  I stopped reading my bible and praying because I didn’t understand why God wouldn’t “make” Kevan listen.  Lol!  I am ashamed to admit this, but at this point in my life I wanted to do anything I could to have a family and if Kevan wasn’t going to help me why was I with him?  I had questions in my head, “Should I divorce him and find someone that wants to adopt children?  Is there someone out there that would love me enough to go through all the fertility tests?”  I was desperate.
I decided to see a Christian counselor so I could talk freely about the thoughts that I was having because I didn’t want Kevan to know that I really was so desperate that I wanted to leave him.  I was very honest with the counselor and it was a relief to get it off my chest.  Kevan started coming with me and even though the counselor didn’t provide us with much insight it MADE us communicate with each other.  Kevan still did not understand why I was making such a big deal about not having children and like Hanna’s husband in the bible didn’t understand why he wasn’t enough for me.  Things started getting better and Kevan agreed that we could start seeing an fertility specialist.  In the end, we found out that there is nothing physically wrong with either of us, but my heart just needed to know this.  It still meant a lot to me that he was willing to go through it with me.  I needed him to support me and he did.  Now, I knew, nothing was wrong with me, we just needed to continue to wait on God to give us our own child and/or pray whether adoption is His plan for us. 
Once we were through these dark days I realized how much I loved this man and how much he loves me.  I mean, I loved him before, but now I knew in my heart that I would never want anyone else.  He went through something he was not comfortable with (fertility tests, shots, “samples”) just for me and he went to all the appointments with me.  He listened, he took notes, asked questions….he was there for me even though I knew he didn’t really want to be.  But, that was okay.  It really meant so much to me that he did it and that he was supportive and not negative during the process.  This struggle made our marriage stronger and showed us that we need to communicate no matter what, we need to support each other and that we want to be together until death parts us.   Kevan loves me and I feel loved.
Preparing my Heart
In the midst of the fertility tests I stared reading my bible and praying again.  I stopped being angry with God and repented of my selfishness.  I decided I needed to read the bible from cover to cover.   I had never accomplished this before, but had tried many times.  Boy did this show me just how sinful I was.  I was ashamed of myself as I read God’s Word.  God takes marriage very seriously in the bible and I had been ready to throw it away just because I wasn’t getting what I wanted.  I realized now how holy God was and who was I to demand a child from Him? 
I loved getting to know the God of the Old Testament and understanding so much more than I had before.  The New Testament had so much that my heart also needed.  I read out loud to Kevan many times too just so I can fit in my daily reading while we drove somewhere or if we were just hanging out.  If I had questions he would help to answer them.  It was surprising to me that it took me over 10 months just to read the Old Testament.  It is A LOT to read.  I read almost 45 minutes to 1 hour each day and it still took that long.  I did miss a few days of reading here and there, but I still pressed on.  The New Testament only took me about 5 weeks to read through.  This was such a special time for me.  I was learning so much about God and how He really loves ME.  Spending time with Him daily was readying me for something, I could feel it.  In my heart I believed He was readying me for motherhood, but now I know he was readying me for cancer.  I’m not angry with Him for allowing cancer instead of giving me a child.  He loves me and He knows what I need.  Right now, I need Him to bear this burden he has given me for this time in my life.  But, it isn’t a burden I carry myself.  He carries it for me.  I just need to give it to Him daily.  On the days I don’t give it to Him…they are my hardest days…because I cannot go through it myself.
Side note – Every time I tried to read the bible through I used a traditional bible and I was unsuccessful…I would just give up.  It seemed like too big of a task.  This time I read it using my kindle and the little percentage at the bottom pushed me to read more.  When I would see me reach 15%, 25%, etc….it would push me to read more and I would be so excited that I had made it so far.  You can read about my experience here.
Preparing me for Death
As a believer in Jesus Christ, I believe that when I die I go to Heaven to live with our Heavenly Father for eternity.  Heaven is not a spiritual place, as some believe, but an actual place that we will actually reside, in our heavenly bodies, if we are true believers.  I wasn’t really scared of dying.  It hasn’t really bothered me because I know I’ll be in Heaven.  But, the “eternity thing”…has always freaked me out.  I know, who wouldn’t want to live forever?  Well, ME.  It seemed so tiring to me to have to wear a white robe, sing all day and never get to take a nap.  I love naps on Sunday afternoons.  LOL!   I thought heaven was going to be this boring place.  I have never been a gold girl…..more into silver jewelry…so when the bible talks about heaven having “streets of gold”, it kind of makes my eyes hurt.  I’m sorry Lord, but I’m just being honest.  Really…..when I say it freaked me out to think of being in Heaven for eternity…I mean…it freaked me out!
Then, I attended a conference.  One of the speakers, Steve Lawson, spoke about Charles Spurgeon and a new book that he had written about Spurgeon.  You can watch Mr. Lawson’s message, here.  I had heard of Spurgeon’s name before, but had never really looked him up or read anything by him.  Well, Mr. Lawson piqued my interests.  I love history and I love the 1800’s.  I have not read Lawson’s book, but on our drive home from the conference I started researching Charles Spurgeon on my phone.  Then, I thought I’d browse Amazon.com to see if there was anything out there I could read on my kindle for free.  There was a book called “We Shall See God” that was available to be borrowed for Prime Members (and still is!).  So, I borrowed it.  It changed my life.  Really.  Not just my thoughts on Heaven, but my whole outlook on how wonderful my life is going to be when I die.  I’m no longer scared of the “eternity” thing.  I am looking forward to it.  Heaven is going to be awesome! 
Unfortunately, I cannot think of a time when one of my pastors spoke on what Heaven is going to be like (besides the pearly gates and streets of gold).  I’m sure they have, but if so it did not have a positive impact on me.  Well, in this book, “We Shall See God”, Spurgeon and Alcorn open my eyes to all the wonder and glory of Heaven.  I have no fear now that it will be boring or that I won’t like it.  So, when I was told that I had cancer and had to come to the realization that I might die.  I was okay with it.  I’m still okay with it.  I get to go to Heaven…I get to be with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…I get to be with my Creator.  It will be a place of joy, fun, friendship, beauty and so much more.  I even discovered from scripture that we will have a day of rest in Heaven as well…so maybe I will get a nap here and there.  Lol!  It will be an eternity of wonder!   ETERNITY!  No longer a scary word.
The book is more like a daily reading (devotional), but I pretty much devoured it and didn’t read one day at a time.  Randy Alcorn has pulled together some of Spurgeon’s sermons on heaven so each day has a different excerpt from one of his sermons back in the 1800’s.  Then, after each excerpt Randy also shares a little insight on the same subject that Spurgeon was speaking on.  He also does a great job.  
I took many notes on my Kindle Keyboard and have read some excerpts from the book to Kevan as well.   If you believe that Heaven is going to be boring you should read this book.  Or even if you don’t….you should read this book.  Also, Randy Alcorn has his own book on Heaven which I will be buying as soon as I’m done reading Spurgeon’s book on prayer.
I will leave you with a few of my favorite quotes from the book:
“Many people view Heaven as an uncertain gamble, spending their lives wondering if they will arrive at their desired destination.  But it doesn’t have to be this way.  Through Christ, we can be assured of eternal life!” – Spurgeon – Read Psalm 103:1-5
 “Eternal life means enjoying forever the finest moments of life on Earth the way they were intended.  Since in heaven we’ll experience life at its best, it would be more accurate to call our present existence, the beforelife rather than to call what follows the afterlife.” – Alcorn
Every Christian friend that goes before us from this world is a ransomed spirit waiting to welcome us in Heaven.  There will be the infant of days that we have lost below, through grace to be found above.  There the Christian father, and mother, and wife, and child, and friend…shall be commenced again in the upper sanctuary, and then shall never end.  There we shall have companionship with the patriarchs and fathers and saints of the Old and New Testaments…and there, above all, we shall enjoy and dwell with God the Father, whom we have loved with all our hearts on earth; and with Jesus Christ, our beloved Savior, who has always been to us the chief among the thousands, and altogether lovely; and with the Holy Spirit, our Sanctifier, and Guide, and Comforter; and shall be filled with all fullness of the Godhead forever!” – Spurgeon
The New Testament says that God “lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see” (I Tim 6:16).  To see God’s face has been utterly unthinkable.  That’s why, when we’re told in Revelation 22:4 that we’ll see God’s face, it should astound us.  For this to happen, it will require that we undergo radical change between now and then. “Without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14).  It’s only because we’ll be full righteous in Christ, deemed completely sinless, that we’ll be able to see God and live”. – Alcorn
Eden is a picture of rest – meaningful and enjoyable work, abundant food, beautiful environment, unhindered friendship with God and other people and animals.  Even in Eden’s perfection, one day was set aside for special rest and worship.  Work will be refreshing on the New Earth, yet regular rest will be built into our lives.” – Alcorn

Special Prayer Request and Chemo Update

30 May

I found out yesterday that my chemo will start on 6/26.  I hate moving it out that far since I just want to get it over with, but I’m glad that it will be 7 weeks since my surgery.  I should be healed pretty good and Kevan will be home from Mexico and will be able to go with me.  God’s timing is perfect so I will take that date!  I will have blood work done, a visit with the Oncologist and then treatment that same day.  I have no idea if I will have to have a “port” yet.  I am leaning towards not having one and just having the IV each time.  But, we will see what the doctor says.  I’m just freaking out over yet ANOTHER scar and the freaky-ness of having it under my skin the whole time.  lol!

My “fills” at the plastic surgeon will continue during chemo treatment.  I have an appointment in 2 days (Friday) for my next fill.  If you read about my last fill you know that she was only able to do half of a fill (30cc).  I was very disappointed, but I know she wants to take it easy on me because it can be painful if they do too much at a time.  I wanted to ask you all for prayer.  Please?  I am hoping that my skin is ready to receive a fill on Friday because we are going a little earlier than we were supposed to since I wanted Kevan there with me.  I don’t feel ready since the skin is VERY hard and I don’t know feel any room for anything else….but I have no idea what I’m feeling for or what they look for when they do the fill.  Also, if they can’t do a fill then I will have to wait an additional 3 weeks so Kevan will be back and can go with me.  The thought really saddens me.  I would love to have 2 fills before chemo starts.  Please pray that my skin will be ready…..and I would love it to be ready for 60cc instead of 30cc.  Please Lord?  I have such a hard time looking at myself and the more fills I receive the more I will start to look normal again.

It is funny that on Sunday I wore a strapless dress to church.  It was nice to feel girlie.  I had a few women come up to me and say, “You don’t look like you’ve had a mastectomy at all” when they looked at my chest.  That was very sweet of them.  I told them, “that is because I have 3 layers of padding”.  One friend called them my “friends”.  lol!  I know I’m telling my secrets, but if you are a woman going through the same thing don’t be afraid to use a few “friends” to help you feel more like a girl.   It really did make me feel good and I didn’t have to feel like a boy.  Also, it helps to imagine the day when the “friends” won’t be needed anymore and I will feel normal again.

Yesterday, I did my own bandaging since I will have to take care of myself while Kevan is away in Mexico.  I had to look in the mirror while I did it and I am becoming for comfortable with how I look and there were no tears.  That is an answer to prayer.  

Also, I mentioned yesterday about Kevan’s “home surgery” on a little area of my biopsy incision.  The doctor said that it wasn’t infected at all and that it is just a “spitting stitch”.  Definition – “A spitting stitch is caused when stitches work themselves to the surface, or the ends of a stitch pops out. This will sometimes manifest itself as a red spot that peaks in the way a pimple would, and then once it’s out it will heal. It can be painful, but it’s typically not serious.  When the stitch pops out it can look like a piece of soft white rice or have puss.  Nothing to worry about.  Just wait and show your plastic surgeon.”  Um…so…I got carved on for no reason!  At least I can say I was right!  I didn’t think it was infected.  lol!

While Kevan is in Mexico I’ve decided to go to the mountains to be with my MIL and her 3 aunts.  Kevan is going to drive me up there on Friday night and we are going to spend the night in a beautiful bed and breakfast before he drops me off with them on Saturday.  I am very excited about spending this time with him before he leaves.  Also, I will get to spend a week with some wonderful ladies and I’m grateful that I won’t have to be alone just in case I need help while Kevan is away.  I’ll try to post some pictures. 

3-Weeks Post Op

29 May

I’ve had an emotional morning.  I finally called Southwest to see if I could have my mission trip flight refunded.  I knew it would be emotional so I guess that is why I procrastinated so long.  The first woman that I spoke with at Southwest was such an encouragement.  She told me about her mom’s struggle with breast cancer and that she is now a survivor.  She said that instead of going on a mission’s trip for one week that God has given me another mission for my life.  She said this was a great opportunity to draw close to God, to encourage others going through the same struggle and to take the time to study His Word.  How wonderful to hear from someone else what has been going on in my heart all ready.  Confirmation.  I told her she was a blessing to me and that she really encouraged me.  I’m glad she wasn’t afraid of getting into trouble from Southwest for mention “God” and for encouraging me.  Southwest has always been my favorite airline….and it’s not just because you work there Peggy.  lol!  I will definitely be praying for the team several times a day and missing my best friend.  The second person at Southwest didn’t comment other then to tell me where to fax my doctor’s letters in order to receive the refund, but that’s ok.  I had already been blessed.

I can’t believe that it has been 3 weeks since I left our home to head to the hospital for my bilateral mastectomy and bilateral sentinel nodes biopsies.  My daily life and body have changed so much since then.  It has been hard.  I’ve went through the hardest and most painful 3 weeks of my life.  But, it has contained some of the best days because I have been blessed so much.  The outpouring of love to me has been overwhelming.  Really, OVERWHELMING!  I really cannot put into words how amazing everyone has been to me.  Friends and family have sent me cards, emails of encouragement, hand-made items, gifts, flowers, movies to watch, books, gift cards, brought us food and so much more.  It isn’t about the cards and gifts though.  It is just knowing that I have so many that love me and care for me.  That these people are all out their praying for me and cheering me on.  When I’m having a hard time I just think about how many out there are praying for me and want God to bring me through this so I will have the new title of “Survivor”.  Who wouldn’t feel better?  I mean, I knew I had friends.  But, I didn’t realize how many really really cared for me.  I love each of you. 

In these 3 weeks I have seen my husband nurse me, love me and care for me.  He is amazing.  He said on the way to the hospital he prayed and asked the Lord to help him be patient and to be able to care for me like he needed to.  Because, of course, married couples become impatient and annoyed with each other over the little things and he was scared he wouldn’t be able to be the husband he needed to be.  But, God answered his prayer and during this time it has been a special time for us.  I always pictured “in sickness and in health” as me being his nurse, but God has allowed me to see just how amazing my husband would be during a time like this.  Kevan has encouraged me through my hard days when I “look in the mirror”, when I’m in pain and when I can’t see the end.  Oh, I love this man.  Of course, he isn’t perfect, but he is perfect for me.

Also, I was able to spend 3 weeks with my parents when normally I only see them once or twice a year for a short time.  We had a great time together.  Both of my parents helped me so much and loved on me.  I’ve had a few surgeries in my life and it is always so much better to have my mom there with me.  Because, she’s MOM!  My in-laws have also helped a lot and I appreciate them so much.

Unfortunately, sometimes, it is only during times like this when you have to stop your busy life, because of illness, that you really see how much you are blessed and that is why you hear that over and over in my posts.  Because I have been forced to stop and reflect.  I cannot forget to mention that God has been with me daily through this.  I see His love for me.  He is always with me, but I have seen Him even more the last few weeks.  Again, because I have the time and I’m actually spending it with Him.  I can’t fill my days with all of the other things I normally do.  I’ve spent more time studying his Word and praying.  I cherish this time with Him.

Are y’all tired of the sappy posts about being so blessed?  I’m sorry.  I could tell you that yesterday Kevan noticed an area in one of my incisions that is getting infected so he decided to sterilize a knife, cut into it (while of course I was screaming and he was calling me a big baby.  lol!).  He let the puss out (yes, I said puss…ewwww!) and then he put medication on it before he bandaged it back up.  But, I doubt you want to hear that.  LOL!  I even sent a picture of it to my doctor so she’s aware.  Imagine getting that picture in your email box.  lol! 

I think I overdid things yesterday.  I tried to load the dishwasher and do some light laundry.  So, I am paying for it today.  It really wasn’t even that much, but by the end of the night I could barely move my arms.  I had a miserable night of sleep and the person that just said she loved mornings a few days ago was actually a big grump this morning.  LOL!  Even after my mocha.  This never happens. 

Thank you all for your encouragement.

A Blessed Day!

28 May
This post was written earlier in the day….so even thought it sounds “live” it was about 4 in the afternoon.  
Do you remember my previous post and how I stated that Sunday was a day blessed by God? Well, it was so true for me today! Oh, how wonderful He is to me.  He gives me so many blessings….to someone who doesn’t deserve it. I can’t count them all! 
This morning I wasn’t sure I wanted to go to church. I’ve been having nerve pain in my left arm that is excruciating and the over the counter pain killers are not cutting it. The doctor said that pain like that is the nerve(s) growing back.  But, I pushed on and went to church anyway. I had to keep maneuvering my arm during Sunday school and service so that it would hurt a little less. I’m sure I looked pretty funny.  But, no matter how much I moved it, I was still in pretty bad pain. Then, miraculously in the middle of service it went away and I haven’t felt it since. I feel as though someone had prayed for me then, realizing I was in pain, and God graciously answered their prayer for me. Thank you if you are reading this and that was you. If it wasn’t someone’s prayer (but mine because I was praying it over and over), then it was still God that healed me.  :o)  Also, I have not had much tissue expander pain since then either. Well, until I forgot my next dose of pain meds. But, I am feeling good again. 
I am at my father in law’s farm today.  Kevan brought my zero gravity chair over so I could relax and read my kindle and enjoy the outside.  He even filled up a cooler of ice and Gatorade for me in case I needed it.  He’s sweet like that.  :o)
Here is the view from my chair.  The cows are cooling off in the pond and little calves were running around.  You should be jealous.  I am, I wish I lived there every day.
If you have to have breast cancer (or any illness) this is the perfect place to sit and recuperate. My Father-in-law is soooooo blessed that this is his front yard.  
Nature is all around you. Blessing upon blessing. I love it here. I sat and watched the calves play together and then run over to their mamma’s for milk. Many birds chirped nearby and I wish I knew the song of each so I would know what type of bird each one was. I am ignorant when it comes to the different songs. A mockingbird is sitting on a fence post nearby. The beauty here reminds me of what heaven will be like but so much better.  Minus, the bugs, and other bad things….but filled with such beauty….and so much more. God’s creation is amazing. 
The day lilies are blooming. The breeze is cooling me on this hot day and I am the perfect temperature. Even Bear, the farm dog sits nearby keeping me company.
I see my husband in the distance helping my FIL “bush hog”. Since we hope to live here one day or bush hog our own property he needs to practice.  lol.  Yes, that is my FIL taking a ride on the back.
Up on this hill is where Kevan and I dream we will build a house one day.  I pray it is a dream that is God’s will one day for us.  I really dream of this being my front  yard one day.
After awhile my FIL banged the peanut bucket to call the donkeys.  They love peanuts.  The donkeys and the horse are my favorites.   I love the cows too, but they are so big it is kind of scary when they run up to you.
Look at her ears.  Aren’t they adorable?  L-O-V-E!!
Toward the end of the day Kevan brought the tractor in.  A “lever” of some kind had fallen off of it while he was bush hogging.  It was about 6 or 7 inches long.  Kind of looks like a screwdriver.  It would be like finding a needle in a haystack.  My FIL owns 80 acres!  So, we prayed and then as we walked around looking for it in the pasture (I’m supposed to be walking a little now to get a little more exercise) we found it.  It was amazing because it was so camouflaged in the grass and it really didn’t take that long.  Thank you Lord for answering our prayer and helping my FIL see the lever in the grass.
My pectoral muscles started stiffening back up around 7pm so we decided to head home.  So, that is how I spent my wonderful blessed day.  It was a great day.  I pray I am on the road to feeling a lot better.  We will see what tomorrow brings.

“He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains. They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches. He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work. He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate-bringing forth food from the earth.” Psalm 104:10-14

Life a Few Weeks After a Mastectomy

27 May
I’m sitting here drinking my coffee this morning while wearing the cutest slippers in the WHOLE world. A bunch of friends got together and sent me a wonderful gift basket.  These were included.  I LOVE them. The polka-dot pants were from my MIL. As you know, I love polka dots. lol! Don’t you love the slippers? They are perfect for a wanna be farm girl like me. 
I know I haven’t posted in a few days. This Tuesday I will be 3 weeks post-op. Nothing much to post about and I don’t want to sound depressing so I haven’t said much. My days are still painful. I dread going to bed at night because there is just no way to get comfortable. Also, for some reason I have bad dreams almost every night. This is not normal for me. I hardly ever have bad dreams. The good news is that I do normally sleep between 10pm-4am or 12am-4am. Which is really a blessing that I can get this much sleep. But, once 4am hits I am just in too much pain and I just lay there awake, uncomfortable until I get up. The mornings are okay, my chest feels uncomfortable/tight, but the pain is tolerable. I take my pain meds at about 4-6am depending on how long I laid in bed awake before I finally got up. 10am-2pm is usually the best time of the day and usually when I am the most active. Around 2pm I start to get tired and my muscles start to hurt more (probably from using them between 10 and 2) and I either watch a movie or take a nap. Sitting is way more comfortable than laying down. I am still not doing well with my exercises. I am supposed to do them 3 times a day and I do them once or twice. I would probably do them more if Kevan pushed me a little. I also have developed “phantom” pain from where they did my lymph node biopsy (and cut a nerve)on my left arm and this also causes a lot of discomfort. I am supposed to be able to massage it and it will eventually go away. I’m praying it goes away soon. 
I haven’t mentioned it yet on my blog, but my doctor informed me last week that she would not approve my travel to Tijuana, Mexico for our church mission trip (6/6-6/13) since I will only be 4 weeks post-op and will still have many restrictions. They will be helping with vacation bible school with the local kids, taking the children from the orphanage on a day out and having church at an adult rehab center. So, nothing manual, but doctor still said no. Kevan and I had purchased our tickets way before we found out I had cancer and I was really looking forward to it. I’ve never been on a mission trip before. She thinks the conditions there are not good and I could develop a sickness or infection. Also, the roads are bumpy and right now I’m at a critical stage with my tissue expanders. If they are jostled too much fluid can develop behind them which would cause them to have to either remove the excess fluid via needle or surgically – sometimes even having to have the expander removed due to infection from the fluid build-up. I really thought that God was going to do a miracle and I was still going to be able to go. Breaks my heart that Kevan is going without me and a part of me wants to ask him to stay home, but I know it is best he goes. He will be gone 8 days. This will be the longest we’ve been apart our whole dating/marriage (9 years). Everyone that knows us knows that this will be hard for us since we do everything together…so a huge part of me will be missing. I’m sure he will feel the same in Mexico, but at least he will be busy. I start back to work the day he leaves, 6/6. I was going to go stay with my mother-in-law so I wouldn’t be alone, but she will be going on a mountain vacation with a few of her family members (they go every year) and I haven’t decided if I want to tag along yet or not. I don’t want to feel like the 5th wheel. Plus, I start work that same week and would have to work from their cabin with satellite internet which is not that reliable. I, of course, don’t want to stay home alone, but it looks like that is what is going to happen. I wish my parents lived closer so the could be with me. But, most of all I wish I could go on the trip. :o( 
Another thing that happened, on Friday, is that I found out from the oncologist office that my chemo starts on 6/5. I did not realize I would be starting treatment so soon. I have asked to have it changed so that Kevan will be able to be with me, but they were very snotty to me and acted like it was hard to change a chemo schedule once it was already on the calendar. Still waiting to hear back from the nurse in their office. I SERIOUSLY do not want to have chemo for the first time the day before my husband leaves on an 8 day trip and the day before I start back to work. Ugh! I’m hoping to move it to 6/19. 
I think you are probably ready for some GOOD NEWS! 
  1. I’m able to put my hands up high enough to tie my own ponytail with only minimal pain. This is great because I no longer have to ask for help and I wear ponies almost every day now since using the hair dryer takes so long and is so heavy still. 
  2. Another praise is that I can put my hands totally above my head while touching my palms together. This is a great milestone. I was supposed to be at this point days ago per my PS, but I finally made it to it yesterday and I’ve very happy about that. 
  3. I get to wear a bra now instead of the wrap.  I like wearing it for most of the day, but by 8pm or so I’m ready to put the wrap back on.  The bras they provide are one size fits all and they are TIGHT….I have no idea how they are one size fits all because I’m pretty small framed.  But, I’m still glad to be able to wear a bra now.  It does not latch so I have to step into it and pull it up since I cannot put shirts/bras on over my head yet.  I know…..TMI!
  4. I’m thankful I feel good enough to go to church again today.  Although, I will be pretty worn out by 1pm.
 I’ve been thinking about posting pictures of my incisions and/or other pictures of how my right side (near my armpit) looks so much different than my left just so I can document this and see how I improve, but I haven’t decided it I’m brave enough to do that yet or even if you guys want to be grossed out by the pictures.  Not sure if it would be helpful for others going through the process.  I have searched and searched the internet and I cannot find ANYONE that has posted 2 week or 3 week post-op pictures that look like me and it scares me because everyone seems to look so much better.  My wonderful husband laid hands on me last night to pray for my pain, the journey and the end results.  He asked the Lord to help me to love the way I look when this is all over and I hope with all my heart that God answers that prayer (tears falling now).  
Well, I’m going to go read my bible, read some Spurgeon, take my shower and then wake Kevan up to help me with bandaging before we leave for church.  Not sure how much longer I will have to be bandaged, but hopefully, by 6/6 I won’t need to be any longer.  The days I do not start with my scripture reading and prayers are my worst days and I want today to be a great day!
Remember, today is a blessed day by God so y’all have a blessed day!
Genesis 2:2, 3By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

A Better Day

25 May

My husband is in a field helping my father-in-law with his tractor a few miles away so I thought I would take the time to tell everyone I had a better day today.

Let me start with last night.  For the first time in my life I fell asleep during a conversation with Kevan.   Next thing I know…I woke up and could hear him snoring in the bedroom and the light in the living room (where I had fallen asleep on the couch) was on.  It was very confusing.  Especially since I was off the GOOD pain meds so not sure why I had a 3 hour nap and still fell asleep so fast on a day I had no meds except Aleve.  Last I knew my husband was talking to me and then I wake up and it was 2 hours later.  It was about 12:30am and I didn’t want to have the light on all night and I can’t maneuver my arms backwards yet because of those darn pectoral muscles…so I pulled myself up and had to walk all the way around the couch to turn it off.  Then, find my way back in the dark.  I was a little irritated.  I laid there for a long time not able to sleep and still in pain.  No position is comfortable.  Darn tissue expanders!  So….I didn’t have a very good night.

First thing I did when I woke up was email the plastic surgeon (Dr. O) and let her know I wanted meds again!  She responded very fast.  She explained how if I stayed on Hydrocodone it can create excess fluid behind the tissue expanders which could cause issues or infection.  But, that I could take Valium.  She believed the Valium would help with the muscle spasms.  It sure did.  I felt good the rest of the day.  I laid out on our (almost) finished deck on one of our zero gravity chairs and watched the birds and just enjoyed being outside.  I was feeling very good….still am.

She also suggested ibuprofen instead of Aleve.  It does seem to be working better.  I just have to make sure I eat with it.

Also, a wonderful thing happened today.  My mother-in-law drove all the way here on her day off to clean my house.  Our house was so bad….it took her the whole day.  I felt awful.  I know it was hard on her and she wasn’t feeling well, but she did it anyway for me.  Thank you Judy.  You are the BEST mother-in-law.  I love you.  God blessed me with great in-laws.  I hope I get to make it up to you someday somehow when you need it too.  Or once I’m well again….I promise to paint another room in your house.  :o)

THANK YOU ALL for your encouragement and prayers yesterday.  It was a hard day.  I woke up late, didn’t read my bible and didn’t pray.  I’m sure that probably contributed to my depression because I didn’t start my day with the One I needed most.  The One that gives me strength.  Today, I made sure that is what I did first…..well…..after I made my coffee.

My best friend sent me 2 verses today that meant a lot to me and encouraged me.  I thought I would share them.  Thank you Julie.  Also, thank you for calling me today.  You live way too far away.  I looked it up.  15 hours!!!  :o(  The verses were:

Psalm: 55:22 Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.

Psalm: 57:1 Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge.  I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.
 
Can you visualize being in the shadow of His wings?  If not….close your eyes.  Oh….what a wonderful vision.  Have mercy on me Lord.  Help me through this tough road.  Day by day….walk with me.  I can’t do it alone.  

Feeling Sorry For Myself

24 May
Today was a hard day. I’m weaning off the pain meds, I’m in pain and I’m emotional. I also decided since I had a “fill” yesterday that I would look in the mirror after I took my shower to see how good it looks now. I know. One ounce. In my mind I thought it would make a difference. It didn’t. I felt sorry for myself and then started bawling my eyes out. Kevan came along shortly after and said, “Sweetheart, are we going to have to go through this every time you look in the mirror?”. I guess so. It happens every time. I continued to cry for quite awhile…he told me I was beautiful…I told him that wasn’t true….I look like Frankenstein’s bride and then we both laughed. Then, as usual, he patiently medicated all my “areas” and bandaged me up. 
Kevan told me I needed to go find an emotional Hallmark movie and get all the tears out. Lol! Instead, I fell asleep for about 3 hours. I think it was my longest nap in history. Kevan even checked on me to make sure I was okay. 
I’m in pain. Lots of pain. My house is a wreck and it hurts to even make myself cereal. I’m feeling sorry for myself for that too. I’m sorry that I’m normally happy, in a good mood and okay with everything that is happening, but not today. In my mind today I don’t see the end of the pain, the procedures, the chemo, the final surgery. I knew this day would come when I would become discouraged. It’s here. I can’t see the end.
This doesn’t mean that God is any smaller than he was before. He is still my Comforter….I just need a little more comforting from Him today. He loves me…I don’t doubt it.  He has just ordained a little suffering for me, but he will be with me through it. He has a plan…I need to remember this. It will be a long road. I don’t see the end today.
Praying tomorrow is a better day.

If you are reading my blog let me know.  It will give me some encouragement that there are some out there thinking/praying for me.  I mean….I know there are, but I’d like to hear if you are reading these posts or if I’m just talking to myself.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

23 May
Yesterday was a pretty big day.  A good day.  This will be a long post so I tried to divide it into little sections to make it easier to come back to if you want to read it, but can’t read it all now.  
Before I get into what happened yesterday I want to say that I am excited to tell all of you that I was able to get out of bed all by myself today!  It was a HUGE milestone for me.  I am 15 days Post-Op and I know Kevan is very happy too.  I hated having to ask for help every time I need to get up, use the rest room or even adjust a little.  To me…I feel like it has been a lot longer than 15 days since my surgery, but it is good that the worst parts are over and 15 days is a pretty short time.  I think they were 2 of the most painful weeks of my life.  But, necessary ones and now looking back it doesn’t seem as bad.
Also, as you read the below, “Miss L.” is what I will call the RN that is at my Plastic Surgeon office.  She is wonderful and I thank God for her.  She is always smiling, reassuring, does her job well and just has a great personality.  RN just sounds too rough for such a sweet person.
Physical Therapist
I saw my PT.  She seemed to think I was doing a great job with my range of motion so far.  I admit that I am not good at doing my exercises (I’m sorry Ann N.!) so I was actually shocked that she said I was doing great.  She showed me some exercises I will need to start on Friday now that my drains are removed to help me get back to where I was before surgery and also to prevent lymphedema.  She also gave me my prescription for my pretty compression sleeves.  I will have to wear them when I fly, when I lift weights, do exercises, lift anything pretty heavy, etc.  This is all just a precaution so I don’t develop lymphedema.  Since I’ve had 5 lymph nodes removed it is a risk.
When I saw Miss L. at the Plastic Surgeon she was not as impressed with my range of motion.  Dr. O (my plastic surgeon) is a strong supporter of immediate exercises right after surgery and that by 1 week post op I should be able to completely raise my arms above my head (with them completely straight) and touch my palms together.  I’m 15 days post op and I am not there yet.  I can do it, but my elbows are not straight.  So…..I hope/pray I get better at my exercises.
My N’s
When I undressed and Miss L. (remember my doctor is on bed rest) saw my nipples she couldn’t believe it.  The change was miraculous!  We all know why.  God healed them and supplied them with the blood flow they needed.  One of them was especially worrisome last week and now they both look just like they did pre-surgery (I get teary eyed just typing it I’m so happy).  Thank you all so much for your prayers for my “N’s”.  I am so so grateful.  I am also so thankful to my husband for his meticulous care he has taken with cleaning, medicating, bandaging my N’s as well as my other incisions.  I know it is because of his great care too.  I was so scared I might lose one, but they both now have great blood flow to them.  Anyway, Miss L. was all smiles and was so excited for me.  She took pictures so she could send them to Dr. O and show her how much they improved.  I praise God for his blessing to me!
Drains
For those of you who have never had drains I will explain a little of the removal process.  If you have a weak stomach…skip this paragraph.  They are sutured in so that they don’t get pulled while you have them in.  So, first, they remove the sutures.  This didn’t hurt at all…just a little pinch here and there.  Miss L. then asked me to take two deep breaths, then breathe out a long breath.  As I breathed out the long breath she would pull and pull and pull on the drain until it was removed.  You can feel this big “snake” being pulled through the inside of your body until it is removed.  It is VERY freaky and there is some minor pain with it.  I hated it.  One of them I actually didn’t even feel at all when she removed it.  It was awesome and then one was pretty painful and even hurt a little even after it was removed.  Kevan held my hand every time and watched them come out.  He said that the long tube for each is about 6-8 inches in the body.  Except one, it was about 12 inches.  Miss L. said it was the longest drain she had ever removed from someone.  I’m so special.  lol!  We had a lot of problems with this drain getting “clogged” too and hurting when Kevan would strip it, but it did finally start working okay.  It always burned inside my body though when he stripped it.  I hated that drain and I’m glad it is gone!  If you have to go through this and have drains it is a very annoying and uncomfortable part of the journey, but it is NECESSARY.  they don’t really hurt unless you pull on your sutures, if one gets “cloggy” and when you get them out.  Don’t be scared.  I actually will have to experience them again when I have my expander to implant exchange during my final reconstruction and although I’m really not looking forward to it I know it is necessary.  God will be with me again as he was this time.  I will be praying as I get them out (for strength) and I will be just as joyful when they are removed as I am today.  :o)
Expander Fill
Kevan took a picture of what the expander that is in my body looks like (see below).  It is sort of like an implant, that is rough feeling on the outside, with a big magnet in the middle (for the nurse to find where they need to insert the needle for each fill) and has 3 tabs on it that are used to suture it in place so it doesn’t move around.
Yesterday I had my first fill.  Miss L. brought in two huge syringes with 60cc’s of saline in both.  To give you an idea of 60cc’s that is the amount that is in a shot glass.  Not much.  She finds the magnet and then takes a butterfly needle and inserts it into where it needs to be.  Then, uses the syringe to inject the saline.  At the same time she pushes around on the expander/breast to feel how full the skin is feeling.  When she did the left one I didn’t feel anything at all.  Since they removed everything during the mastectomy it is normal to not have feeling.  When she did the right side I did feel a little pinch and she said it was probably the muscle that I was feeling.  It wasn’t bad at all.  The sad part is.  I am so small framed and have such thin skin that she could only fill 30cc’s in both.  :o(  This is going to be a long road getting to the final size.  But, I am grateful to have this option and that it is pretty much pain-free when I have the fill.  Now, the expander itself is NOT pain-free.  It feels like I have metal armor in my body under the skin and every time I move I can feel it.  Sometimes it is pretty painful and Miss L. said it was because of the tabs sutures.  
Also, if you see the picture on the right…that is what it looks like now, but on the inside.  Flat and ripply.  So, you can only imagine what it looks like on the outside.  :o(  Expanders are not made to help you look pretty.  They are only made to help expand the skin in order to do the final reconstruction of placing the implant.  So, it will always look ugly until the final exchange.  But, I’m thankful that it is possible and I will try my best to deal with the ugliness until then and pray that the final result will be pretty.  If everything goes well and looks good my next fill will be next Friday.
The fill makes me feel “full” and pretty achy.  I have 2 more days that my chest will have to continue to be “wrapped” once we do our normal care of the “wounds”.  Then, on Friday I will be able to start wearing a bra for the first time since surgery (using gauze/medication still on the incisions).  I’m pretty excited to feel normal again and that I can wear a bra.  They let me pick out 3 cute ones that I will use from now on.  I love polka dots so I was pretty happy that one was available.  lol!  I know….TMI, but I was just so excited about the polka dots I had to share.  lol!  Now…..this is really hard on me.  I just had a double mastectomy and am going through the expander process…..so…..I am so embarrassed that I am “FLAT”.  :o(  In a shirt….I look like a boy.  The bras are not the cute push-up ones you buy from Victoria Secret. So, I am a little sad about that and I will feel bad for Kevan that his wife looks like a boy in clothes, but I just keep telling myself it is only temporary. 
Pain
I now have to start weaning myself off of the great and wonderful pain medication.  This is good, but H-A-R-D.  I started last night.  Also, last night was the first night that Kevan and I slept in our bed together since my surgery.  It was nice to have him next to me again.  He said he would wake up to hear me moaning so he could tell I was in a lot of pain.  Which I was, but I don’t remember moaning so I must have been asleep.  I am still in A LOT of pain this morning.  So much so that I don’t even want to take my morning shower.  I just want to sit here in my robe and hold the stuffed kitty my dad bought me.  My chest is achy and where they removed the drains is hurting too.  I tend to walk around a little hunched over and clutch my chest as I’m walking.  I know I need to stop doing this.  It isn’t good.  
Specific Prayer
I have a certain side affect from taking antibiotics 3 times a day for about 20 days.  A secondary infection of a particular type (that I won’t name here) has developed and is causing me a great deal of discomfort.  Please pray this will go away quickly.  I’m not having such a good day today.  Also, the “glue” from my left biopsy incision has fallen off and looks really red and the incision looks like it is opening a little.  Miss L. seemed concerned so she wants us to watch it.
Conclusion
I am not allowed to do much of ANYTHING the next two days as my body gets used to not having the drains.  They don’t want me to produce too much fluid yet.  My house is a wreck and I’m having a REALLY hard time with it, but I’m not allowed to clean it.  This morning, Kevan said, “It looks like a tornado hit our house last night and it only hit a few rooms.  We better call the weather service.”  lol! He has to work so he won’t be much help.  He said when he got up to go to the bathroom last night he could even see the mess in the dark and had to maze through it.  :o(  My poor house.  My MIL is going to try to come from Nashville tomorrow to help me.  I’m so thankful for her, but sad that she will have to drive so far just to help me clean my house.  She also let me bring her my laundry yesterday (Kevan carried it for me since I can’t) and she washed it all for me (even folded and ironed it for me!) before we returned last night.  Thank you Judy.  I love you and am grateful for you.
Okay.  I don’t think I can take type any longer.  I hope this helps someone that goes through this in the future and I know many of you just want to know how I’m doing.  I’m thankful for each of you.

In about 90 seconds…..I will be asleep.  I keep almost falling asleep typing this and Kevan keeps laughing at me.  lol!

Top 10 List…

21 May
This is my attempt to do a funny top 10 list of things that will be new experiences after a bilateral (double) mastectomy.  I know that my surgery was serious….but God gave us a sense of humor for a reason.  I’m still in pain, I still can’t look at myself in the mirror just yet (Kevan says things are looking better though!), but I can still laugh at the little things.  So, if you have to have one too, just ask God for strength, ask friends for prayer and laugh as much as you can through the pain.  God is with you and that’s all that matters.
  • The doctor will give you a lovely necklace (lanyard) to hang your drain tubes on.  This will become your new jewelry.  See my pretty necklace and drain tubes below.
  • If you can’t remember something or you fall asleep when someone is talking to you…..you can blame it on the Valium.  I blame the look on my face above….on the Valium.  I think I was in “la la land”.  Wherever that is.
  • When people ask you your prognosis (I don’t know why, but this drives me nuts) you can tell them your dying.  lol!  Cuz aren’t we all?  Of course, I have a good prognosis….but I always feel like the person asking what my prognosis is is secretly hoping I’ll say “soon”.  Now, if you are reading this and you are one of the ones that asked….just know that you ‘urked’ me just a little.  lol!  
  • If you have to have a sentinel node biopsy you are fitted with pretty little arm “fashion” sleeves.  And, if you are like me…and have two biopsies…you get one for both arms.  I’m thinking about getting this one for both arms so I can look like a biker babe, but without the real tattoos.  It will go great with my do-rag on my bald head.
  • You get a doctor’s note that you get to hand to your husband with a big smile on your face that tells him you are not allowed to do household chores!  No vacuuming, no sweeping, no laundry, no emptying the dishwasher and my favorite…..no kitty litter.
  • Your new best friends will be prunes and Senokot.  Believe me!  New…..Best…..Friends!  Narcotics may make you feel real good, but they sure don’t make your intestines work well.
  • Now, after said prunes/Senokot take effect everyone in your household will ask you “how’d it go?” when you leave the restroom and when you finally have good news….you will all have a mini-celebration.  At no other time would this be okay.  Seriously. 
  • You get to use your “cancer card”.  So, if you want something really bad…like say a Kindle Fire….and your hubby isn’t falling for it.  Just say, “But, I have cancer and I just had my boobies removed.”  It will work every time.  They will probably even have it over-nighted UPS. 
  • You get to lay and contemplate your life for a REALLY long time if there is no one around to help you up.  See my previous post.
  • And my absolute favorite.  Because you can’t wear deodorant for 3 weeks, by the end of each day you will smell like a freshly mowed lawn that contains a field of wild onions (this is a quote directly from my husband.  lol!).

Long story, but it’s pretty funny

21 May
I was really happy to be able to go to church today.  It was great to be able to worship and be with good friends.  It was so great to see everyone and they all knew that I had to have “side hugs” so it wouldn’t hurt me. :o)  Kevan and I also went early so we could go to Sunday School and after the church service there was a church business meeting so I was exhausted and in pain by the time we left.  I was due pain medication at least an hour before church ended and had forgotten it at home.  I couldn’t wait to get home to take it.  Although, since we live pretty far from town we had to run a few errands before we headed back home so the pain was getting a little unbearable. 
When we arrived back to the house after church I changed into my PJ’s, took my pain meds and told Kevan I needed to take a nap on the couch.  Keep in mind that I am able to lay myself down, but I am still unable to pull myself back up from a laying position.  So, I still require help.  Once I laid down I told him I forgot to grab the phone or the walkie talkie so he would need to set them near me before he went outside.  I fell right to sleep.  I woke up to one of my cats jumping onto my chest.  OUCH!  We were locking them out of the room so this wouldn’t happen, but now we’ve only been doing it at night when I’m in bed.  It hurt, but I don’t think he damaged anything.  But, it certainly scared me.
One thing about me is….I do not take long naps.  I am a 20-30 minute napper, but today I was actually able to sleep about an hour.  When I awoke I could hear hammering outside so I knew Kevan was out there working on the deck.  I looked around….there was no phone…no walkie talkie and I could hear my cell phone vibrating somewhere unreachable.  How could I call him to get me up?  I hate just sitting and doing nothing.  I laid there for about 30 minutes and realized that I might be able to at least reach the TV remote so I could at least watch TV.  After MUCH stretching and maneuvering I finally reached it and turned it on.  I watched TV for about 30 minutes and the whole time I am trying to figure out how Macgyver would get himself out of this situation….now remember…..this now has been 2 hours since I laid down and since Kevan last saw me.  I tried making a rope out of my blanket and pulling myself up.  Nope.  Didn’t work.  I tried grasping the top of the couch.  Nope.  I tried moving onto my side a little, but that just hurt my drain suture and I thought I might fall onto the floor and rip my drain out.  I was fuming after about 2 hours and 45 minutes of laying on this couch.  Then, I starting to cry a little.  lol!  Tears were actually falling.  I couldn’t believe my husband just forgot about me and all I needed was a little push to sit up!  It would only take about 4 seconds to help me up.  I was so mad that I still couldn’t sit up by myself.  Grrrrrr!!!!  
One funny part is that I would scream for him, “KEVAN!!” really loud hoping he would hear me.  Each time I did this our male cat, Aubie, would stand up, walk over to our female cat, Stormie, and bite her neck.  It was hilarious!  So, I’d tell Aubie, “No, quit biting your sister” and he’d stop.  Then, a little while later I’d scream for Kevan again and Aubie would go back over and bite her neck.  LOL!  I don’t know what in the world was going on in his little head but it sure was funny.  Aubie is probably our sweetest kitty even thought all 3 are pretty sweet.  This is what he does EVERY morning before Kevan gets up.  He goes in and cuddles with Kevan.  Isn’t he so sweet.  So, I don’t know what got into him earlier when I was screaming for his daddy.  lol!
Anyway, I FINALLY heard the door open and Kevan finally walked in to see how I was doing.  “HOW WAS I DOING??”  I asked him how in the world he could forget about his invalid wife for almost 3 hours and when had he ever known me to sleep longer than an hour!   Kevan is not good with time.  He said he had no idea it had been that long.  He wears a watch.  I just don’t get it. 
Now that I’m sitting up I can go to the bathroom if I want, I can get myself a drink, play a game on my phone, eat some chocolate, call my Mom….so many options.  I’m so happy to be out of that predicament.  I’m going to make myself a little dinner (from leftovers that friend’s from church brought over) and watch a good Hallmark movie.  Kevan and his dad are outside piddling around still.  
Even though he forgot about me for almost 3 HOURS I am still thankful for all he has done for me during this time that I’ve needed him so much.  I know he’s tired of having to do my bandages twice a day and having to do my drains.  But, he still does it and he doesn’t complain.  Now, if I could just get him to help clean the house a little since I can’t do it yet….but I really think he’d rather do bandages and drains.  lol!