Monday, January 25, 2010

Reconstruction Junction aka "Look Out Bionic Woman! Here I Come!"

Hello dear family and friends!

Tomorrow morning I am having my first reconstructive surgery. I am a little nervous, but also excited. Alot of people I've told about reconstruction automatically assume that it is just breast implant surgery, but it is not. That is a later surgery.

Tomorrow's surgery is the first of three surgeries and the most complicated. The surgeon will take skin and muscle from my back and transplant it over my left chest to "rebuild" it. As I understand it, the radiation and scaring has damaged my original skin. By replacing the skin they can implant a temporary muscle expander which will have to be injected with saline on 6-7 different occassions to fully stretch the skin. I have surfed the net doing research so I know what to expect with the scars when I come out of surgery. It seems a bit morbid I know but it did serve me well last time with the mastectomy and prevented some of the initial shock. Plus I have already had the muscle expander put in on the right side so I know what it feels like and will only have one side affected this go around. 

As I picture myself on the operating table one funny thing is I keep having the themes from those 70's shows 'The Six Milion Dollar Man" and "The Bionic Woman" running through my head. Obviously there is no comparison here but it has made me laugh.

Laura and Leslie are up at Aunt Mitzi's house. It is strangely quiet around here and we miss them, but Randy and I are thankful that they are safe, happy and having lots of fun.

I really appreciated everyone's comments about my cancerversary in the last post. I have decided to celebrate it each year by dropping off a care package at the cancer ward where I was treated. It seems like a fitting way to celebrate. I am mailing out two today. One to a bc sister and one to a child with cancer.

It is so nice to be getting on with life. I have become quite the organic eating, vegetable-chopping chef around here. I hope to participate in the Knoxville Covenant Health 5 K coming up late March. We are planning family trips again...looking ahead to the future while still enjoying the moment. Despite the fact that I was diagnosed with cancer and Randy with diabetes this year, I actually have aspirations that I will be "better than I was before....better, stronger, faster."  When all this is said and done, maybe I will be healthier.  I may be only 5 feet 1 inches tall but every bit of me cries out, "Look out Bionic woman! Here I come!" Lots of love to all,


Friday, January 15, 2010

My 1st Cancerversary

Saturday January 16th is my first cancerversary. It will be a year ago from the day when I was officially diagnosed with breast cancer.

A doctor actually looked me in the eye on January 7th of last year and told me I had it, but I didn't officially get diagnosed until the test results came back on the 16th.

January of last year was truly the most awful month in my life. Ironically, it was also the most miraculous month of my life. It was when things were the worst that I felt God's love and presence the most.

I have a friend whose house burned down a few weeks ago, two days after Christmas. She said whenever she gets frightened or worried about where they are going to live day to day and how they are going to get by she can immediately feel a presence intervene on her behalf. She described it as an invisible hand that comes between her and those dark emotions and holds them back just when she needs it. I thought that was such a beautiful description.
January 16 will always be my cancerversary. I would like to mark it by doing something special and meaningful every year.  A few weeks ago I read a story in the newspaper about a woman whose son died long ago. On the anniversary of his death, she goes and visits his favorite park. She's been doing it for 30+ years. I would like my cancerversary to be like that.

Hope the new year is being as good a blessing to you as it is to me. Lots of love,


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wanting Justice in a Fallen World

Last night I couldn't sleep because I was so mad.

We have two toy collies. They are confined to the yard by a pet fence. Monday morning a big German Shepherd wandered onto our property and attacked our 11 pound male named Stradivarius. (Our little dog with the big heart and the big name). Strad is the sweetest dog. He always lets our female Mandy eat first. When the girls were little they used to give him rides in a little doll stroller.

Around 8 a.m. we heard a commotion. When we opened the door Strad bolted inside, bleeding profusely. I saw the other dog leaving our property and heading down the street. He had ripped a hole in Strad's side. As you can imagine this was quite a traumatic sight for Laura and Leslie. I was pretty sure though it was not life-threatening, so I reassured my girls and we rushed Strad to the vet. She confirmed he was the victim of a dog attack. He was kept at the vet's office all day while she gave him anesthesia, performed surgery, implanted a drain and stitched him up.

When we got home around 10 a.m. the dog was still wandering the neighborhood. I called my next door neighbor who also has dogs to warn him about it. I had a very clear description of the dog, including the width and color of his collar. It turned out my neighbor's son had seen that dog wandering around in our yard before dawn and he knew who it belonged to. It belonged to a relative of his who lives on a neighboring street. The dog had chased his sister in law and bitten a total of 3 people in the neighborhood recently. The owner had been ordered by the court to keep the dog on a leash or in a fenced in yard. He had basically boasted to my neighbor that he let the dog out at night anyway because "no one is outside after 10 p.m."

Strad stayed all day at the vet. Following anesthesia and surgery they stitched him up. Fortunately no vital organs were injured. He came home with a drain sticking out of his side and stitches with a scar over 4 inches long covering an one side of his body. He couldn't walk at all for 24 hours. We have thus far had to pay $350 and have at least two more follow up visits to remove the drain and the stitching. I anticipate we'll end up spending at least $500 total.

And the owner's reaction to the news when his relative called him and told him what had happened? He didn't care. In fact he got mad that my neighbor told us who the dog belonged to. I called the police and filled out a police report. The policeman visited the owner and warned him about keeping the dog restrained. Then he told me unless I had witnessed the attack there was nothing he could do. He said next time if the dog ventured onto our property we had the right to defend ourselves and shoot it. And that was the best advice he could give. No consequences for the owner who violated the court order. No restitution. That was it.

My kids are now afraid to go outside. Every time I open the front door I find myself looking anxiously around to make sure that dog isn't around. There are at least three toddlers in our neighborhood. I am concerned for their safety too. My kids are asking me if someone is going to punish that owner or if he is going to pay our vet bills. When I told them I didn't know they said, "We need to call Judge Judy."

Right now all I can tell them is that "what goes around comes around" and "you reap what you sow." It doesn't alleviate the anger but I know it is a true principle. I don't know how some people live with themselves sometimes. At least we can sleep well at night. Now that is a blessing. Lots of love,