Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Barbie gets a nipple

In case you haven’t heard me say this before, I call the new boob my Bionic Baby Barbie boob. Bionic because they built it better; Baby because it’s still really young, and Barbie because it has no nipple. That’s all going to change tomorrow!

I’m going to St. Luke’s hospital where Dr. Morrissey will make me a brand new nipple! And, as I’ve always said, I love Dr. Morrissey, but for some reason, this surgery is making me nervous. It’s kind of dumb, but there you go. I’ve had a big ol’ slice of my abdomen & all its fat removed and placed where my old boob used to be (that was the only time I was happy I had plenty of c-section belly fat!). Two surgery sites – we’re talking major freaking surgery here, folks. Yet I’m nervous for this one – go figure.

I’m sidetracking right now, but I can’t help it. I’m going to confess something that I’m not proud of.

There’s a really, really shallow thought running thru my apparently extremely superficial brain which is really funny when you consider the fact that I’m almost 52 years old. This stuff shouldn’t be running thru my mind. I should be thinking about support hose and signing up for the AARP. Well, actually, support hose sounds really good right about now, I have an invitation to join the AARP on my kitchen counter, and frankly, a steel belted girdle is on my shopping list. But still.

As I’ve gotten older, my stupid skin has a few little red spots that are pissing me off. I’ve been able to cover them, but when you have surgery, you can’t wear make up! Crap! So there I’ll be, my big ol’ gut hanging out, hair pushed into one of those oh so attractive blue beanies, wearing one of those tie in the back “gowns” they give you that come apart at the first sign of any movement so why bother at all, with my blotchy, make up free face. I hope there’s no little kids getting surgery & waiting in the holding tank. I’m enough to scare the living daylights out of them. I can hear it now, children shrieking, “Mommy, shield me from the monster!” You know, I think it might behoove the medical establishment to let old ladies like me wear makeup just to spare them from looking at us.

Just a thought.

Wait, I haven’t adequately lamented about another thing I hate: pre-operative marking. It’s where the surgeon marks areas that he’ll be working on; usually done while I’m standing up. No matter how many times it’s been done to me, it’s still embarrassing. Maybe if I was a swim suit model or, I don’t know, twenty years old, it wouldn’t be quite so humiliating. But you get to stand there nekkid except for panties (and sometimes they’ve been off which is even WORSE) while the doctor is drawing on you, asking you to turn this way or that, using a sharpie to create his surgical road map. I know that it’s a good thing & is helpful to the surgeon. It’s just that when it’s happening to you, there’s no hiding anything. You’re on display like Honey Boo Boo and her hillbilly clan at a debutante ball.

But I guess if I’m being honest, what’s making this particularly scary for me is what it’s going to look like. I know Dr. Morrissey is the best, but I’ve looked online at all the different photos of nipple reconstruction. Gotta tell ya – some look good and some look like a well used dog’s chew toy. I’m positive mine will be fine, but those photos are going thru my mind.

On the bright side, I’m going to see if I can make Dr. Morrissey “remember” that he said (wink) that he’s going to throw in a small facelift or under eye surgery.

A girl can try!

But the other thing I’m thinking about tonight is how far I’ve come. It’s been three years of ups & downs – with a whole lot more downs than ups. Still, there were a lot of ups. I beat MRSA, survived chemo & radiation, underwent more surgeries than I care to remember, and have a breast where there wasn’t one. I’ve met wonderful people, both in the medical field and in doctor’s waiting rooms. I’ve mourned friends who lost their battle with cancer and am head cheerleader with others who are still in the throes of the fight.

Right now, I’m almost 2 years cancer free, although there have been two terrifying scares. Once the bone scan showed what looked like bone cancer, but was really a nick in the bone that Dr. Topham had made to thread veins. The other was a spot on my liver, but it turned out to be nothing. I had to undergo an MRI for the liver thing, and once again confirmed the fact that I’m claustrophobic. Thank God for the wonderful technicians at St. Luke’s who helped me through all my testing procedures.

Tomorrow is one step closer to closing this chapter in my life. Oh, I’ll always be vigilant in scheduling my scans and there will probably never be a day in my life that I won’t remember this journey. But I’ll also be thankful for the skilled surgeons and oncologists that held my hand thru it all. The nurses, CNAs & administrative staff that call me by name and laugh at my lame jokes hold a special place in my heart. And like I said, the techs were simply awesome.

More than anything, however, I’m grateful for the support of my family and friends, new and old. Jim Bryan, you’ve been a wonderful surprise and a friend that I’ll treasure forever. Thank you. And thank you to my Facebook friends who’ve cheered me & supported me. I wish I could name you all.

I’ve met the most amazing people who have followed my journey and cheered me on when I was down. I run a large homeschool group (between 350 & 400 families), and I have to be honest, I didn’t know all of the members by name. But some ladies who only knew me as the wacky broad who organizes things, volunteered to bring food to my house. Many offered to clean my house! Thank you to all of you – I’m forever in your debt.

And if you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know that my best friend is Michele. She’s been there thru it all – and laughed at me when I was a total dork. She’s irreplaceable and I’m so thankful I have her.

My mother in law, Gretchen, was wonderful. I didn’t share this with you, as it wasn’t mine to share, but Gretchen battled – and beat – bladder cancer during all of this. Yet no matter what I needed, she was there. My crazy sister, Theresa, was always on call – and always ready to help.

My kids have been awesome. They chauffeured me to chemo and then daily to radiation treatments.  They organized a chart with the list of medicines I was scheduled to take, and even gave me a bell to ring if I needed anything. They cleaned the house, learned how to do laundry, and turned out to be some darn good chefs.

And then there’s my Matt; my husband of 25 years. No one was blind sided by this disease more than Matt. I swear, when Dr. Quiros told us that there was no saving my right breast, and couldn’t tell us how extensive the cancer was or even give a prognosis; I actually felt the breath come right out of him. He was hit hard, and he was scared. He was trying to be strong for me, so it hasn’t been until recently that he’s shared how difficult this has been for him. Trust me, I knew it was hard; but I can’t imagine the hours he spent in Hell (also known as hospital waiting rooms), waiting for the doctors to tell him what was going on. We’ve truly been thru this together. And thankfully, we’re coming out the other side a stronger and more committed couple.

Finally, thank YOU! You’ve been reading this blog, & have been keeping me in your prayers. I’m so lucky and I thank you.

I’ll let you know as soon as I’m able about what happened. And, you know me, I’ll tell you every detail!

Good night everyone & thank you so very much.
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