Hey there stranger!

Yes, it’s been a while.  I would LOVE to say I have been just fabulously busy doing fun, exotic things, but I haven’t.

I’ve been stressed the eff out.

Being stressed is not ideal to stay healthy.  Almost a month ago, I smacked my forearm on a door frame (door frames and I do not have a healthy relationship).  When it happened, I really didn’t think anything of it, because me being klutzy is just a part of my everyday.  I know, you are just SHOCKED.  I have never been a graceful person.

A couple of days after smacking my arm, I noticed what looked like a bruise.  What did I immediately do?  What does EVERYONE do when they see a bruise?  Yes, I jabbed at it.  I was like huh, that sucks, and went about my day.  A couple of days after that, I noticed a lump, and of course, jabbed at it.  That hurt even more.  Later that weekend, Maegan just very gently laid her hand on my forearm, and I just about go through the roof.  Jim suggested I go have it looked at.

OY!  I seriously do not ever want to see the inside of any hospital, doctor office or urgent care EVER.  I am sick to death of being sick or injured.

So, I go over to Chandler Regional Hospital.  I figure this is a safer bet than the Banner Hospital closer to my house.  What I didn’t know is that CRH became a level 1 trauma center back in May.  The place was just wall to wall people.  I thought about just going back to Banner, but reason that I had already driven down to CRH, so I might as well wait.

They took blood, did an ultrasound, poked and prodded more.  After HOURS of waiting and waiting, they said it is “Nonocclusive superficial thrombophlebitis”.  In English, it was a blood clot in a vein, as opposed to an artery.  They send me home.

Couple of days later, I get a call from a doctor at CRH and he tells me that I have “gram negative rods” in my blood.  Then he says nothing else.  I ask “what does that mean?”, he very nonchalantly tells me that “there is a bacterial infection in my blood, it could be MRSA, staph, eColi…” any number of extremely terrifying things.  ANY bacteria in your blood, no matter what type, is sepsis.  Sepsis can cause you to go into septic shock, and then you could die.  I do not think I was anywhere near that point.

The conclusion was that I needed to be admitted for observation and massive amounts of antibiotics.  It was suggested to me that I get one of my surgeons to direct admit me, so I wouldn’t have to wait in the ER to be admitted.

Not only am I klutzy, but my timing sucks too, because this all goes down on July 3.  All of my doctors politely said they wouldn’t do a direct admit.  If a doctor directly admits you to a hospital, they have to come and treat you in the hospital.  Both of my surgeons were going out-of-town for the holiday.

That night, I pack a bag, and head over to CRH.  Jim didn’t want me to drive, because if I was admitted, my car would just sit there.  I didn’t want Jim and Maegan to come, because it would have been just a lot of hurry up and wait.  The problem was that I was going through the ER again, so there was no guarantee that I was going to be admitted.  The doc that treated me that night could have just said “meh, no worries, take this antibiotic pill at home”.

But, after hours and hours and hours, they finally told me I was being admitted at 2:30 am.  Maegan is asleep with me on the gurney, I am half asleep, Jim was trying to contort himself into a semi-comfortable position.  They finally got to leave, I think I got a room at 4 am.  I vaguely remember them wheeling me up and asking if I could walk into my room.  I know I slept diagonal on top of the covers until the first nurse came in to poke me with another needle, and then blood pressure and pulse ox and temperature.  I vaguely remember a doctor coming in at about 6:30 to “talk about whats going on”, I have no idea what I said or what he said.  I later asked my nurse what the plan was, and she said “oh, the doc didn’t tell you?”, then I explained what happened.  She tells me “well, we just keep drawing and testing your blood until it doesn’t sprout anything on the culture, could take a day, could take a week…”

Thankfully, I was better by Saturday.  I like CRH, the rooms are small, but private.  The nurses and doctors are always good.  But the food in that hospital is the WORST.  It’s the stereotypical hospital food.

That’s all for not, I will try to post more often!

Love and Light – Jen

OH NO SHE DI-INT!

Yesterday, I decided it was time to buy a bra.  I haven’t had to wear a bra since 1/8/14.  My last visit with the reconstructive surgeon, I asked if a bra was necessary, she said “meh, if you want”.  I thought I might as well get used to it again, so I went shopping.

Shopping isn’t my favorite thing.  Trying on anything is by far the worst.  So I went to Lane Bryant, home of the fat girl, chubs, Rubenesque, voluptuous woman.  This is where the nightmare begins.  I ask the woman if she could kindly size me, then I appended myself by saying “Before you agree, I want you to know I am post mastectomy and reconstruction.  My breasts are scarred, and scary looking.”  The woman stops and blinks at me.  She asked “How post surgical are you?”  I told her that was not her business.

Before I go on, I must tell you something.  Unless you live on Mars, you know I tend to be purposely overt and am very likely to say or do something to elicit a reaction.  ESPECIALLY if you are trying to be high-handed with me.

Ok, back to the story.

After telling miss nosy pants my post surgical status was none of her business, she arbitrarily sniffed in my direction and said “I just don’t think you are ready for a bra”.  To which, I throw her the dreaded “look”:

the look

She started backpedaling for her life, saying “you won’t be the right size, right now”.  I asked her how she knew MY size.  The whole time, I am staring at her gigantic, pendulous breasts like she will tell me she has had cancer.  My guess is she started to feel my anger, because she suddenly, and very meekly, said “Well, I had a friend who had breast cancer….”  I cut her off with a vicious barrage of “the look”:

the look the look   the look   the look

Then I proceeded to tell her “Your friend isn’t me…..” and turned to walk out.

I WAS FUMING!  The nerve of ANYONE to be as sanctimonious as that really got my last nerve.

But, I still needed a bra.

Also in this strip mall is a J.C. Penney.  I drove down, parked the car and was swallowing murderous rage.  I didn’t want to verbally behead an innocent, so I sat for a little to calm myself.

I go into Penney’s, and head to the bra section.  There is a woman working, and I asked her to size me and gave my speech.  She doesn’t balk, but she looks nervous.  She leads me into the fitting room, can’t look me in the eye.  So, I do what I do in a tense situation – and make a joke.  I said “Before I remove my shirt, I want you to know they look like Frankenboob, but you can’t catch anything”.  She laughed and relaxed.  The entire sizing process takes less than a minute, if the person knows what they are doing.

She tells me my size, which I am not posting, and I said “YOU MUST BE KIDDING ME!”, to which she shrank like a violet and started to stammer “well…uh…you can go up and down in size because…you know…different bras have different…..”  I apologized, and thanked her profusely for her help.

I head out to the shop floor, and suddenly it looks like an undulating ocean of empty promises of minimizers, maximizers, back fat busting, cup adding hell.  I pick out several in many sizes and promises, and head back to the fitting room.  After trying on eleventybillion bras, I settle on two, and check out.

Late last night, I decided to give them a whirl again, just to make sure.  Wouldn’t you know – the damn things are too big.  So, I give myself “the look”:

the lookI gave up and went to bed.  Maegan and I will be heading to Penney’s later….BAH!

Love and light – Jen

It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.

The title has nothing to do with what I wanted to write about.  It’s just one of my favorite Mark Twain quote.  Anyway, WordPress has an interesting feature when you are on your dashboard planning a new post.  It’s a link that says “inspire me”, and out of curiosity, I clicked it.  Below was the inspiration I received:

Write about your strongest memory of heart-pounding belly-twisting nervousness: what caused the adrenaline? Was it justified? How did you respond?

It’s like this blog can read my mind…lol.  I know this story as been told ad-flippin-nauseum, but hey, my blog, my rules.

Obviously, that day will always be reserved for November 18, 2013.  Being the pain in the ass that I am, I was told I would have my cancer results 3 days prior, alas that was not true.  At the time I was a pain in the ass patient who would call and call and call until they were SO sick of me, they had no choice to rush.  The doctor who had my results, very nonchalantly said “Yeah the mass is partially a radial scar, but you do have breast cancer.”  To answer the question if my reaction was justified, I’d say hell yes, especially in the early stages where no knows anything beyond the fact that you have cancer.  Lastly, the question of how did I respond – easy, I flipped out.

The reason I wanted to post today is a mixed bag of things.  An acquaintance of mine, who has always been very nice to me, so helpful, is basically in the last stages of life, from battling cancer as well.  It makes my heart sad.  He’s still up and around, and if you’d happen to see him on the street, you’d never even know he was sick.  We used to lunch together in the break room, I loved talking to him because he sounds like my father-in-law, with whom I am very close.  I hope I get to see my acquaintance one more time.

Also, a lot of people have asked me a good question, now that I am on the “other side” so to speak.  The question I am asked the most is “How did you feel and react after the initial diagnosis?”  This story is so MESSED UP.  These thoughts came before I knew anything about what was going to happen.

First of all, I had constructed this elaborate plan to divorce my husband and sign over my parental rights, as long as Jim and I could hash out a proper will of “who gets Maegan if we both die?”  I was so afraid that the cancer treatment would be the same regime as with my mom, that I was refusing to put anyone I acquainted with through that.  I was seriously going to pack and leave.

I hadn’t even broached the subject with Jim and one day when the cancer shit was hitting the fan, I was a blubbering mess.  He sat me down, got me to breathe, looked me in the eyes and said “Whatever it takes, we got this.”  In that moment I knew I needed Jim, as my everything, but that I had so many other people who have done so many things that have meant the world to me that I needed too.  I will list them below:

The best friend – who not only shared in the “yeah, it’s nothing” to blubbering on the phone when I results came in.

The sister – who said “Meh, it’s nothing” before diagnosis, and tried her hardest to get here for surgery.

The NV sister – who cried with me.  But insisted I’d be fine.

The NY sister – who cried so hard, and tried to make it out, but the stars were never aligned correctly

The Aerie girls – who said and meant “Whatever you need, I am there.”  They always followed though.

Then there was the unbending, no complaint awesomeness that I got from the people I work with.  I told them I planned to be back to work in a week after the mastectomy, it evolved into a month.  They have never once begrudged the frugalpoopillon doctors appointments after I returned.  I am thankful that I fell in with the right group, everyday.

Moral of the story?  You need your people if you are sick.  I thank my lucky stars daily for all of you in my life.

Love and light – Jen

What a day

Nothing but good news at the doctor today.  Not exactly a good time, but the news was good.

Started out with the reconstructive surgeon, Dr. Finkel.  I was worried that the sore on the left boobicle would need some surgical intervention.  Thankfully, it doesn’t.  She looked at me, at the boob, at me, at the boob, then quizzically said “What is the issue?”.  So, I was freaking out for nothing.

Second was the oncologist, Dr. Mendonca.  She is not my favorite practitioner, she is very arrogant and tells me to make a decision, then berates my decision.  Like when I decided against chemo, she said it was my decision – I made the decision and she tried to shame me.  Moving on – today, I waited to see her for 90 minutes.  When I finally get in the back – she is lazily lounging, eating.  I could get another doctor, but that would require more time off work, trying to establish a relationship, then THAT may not work.  The saving grace is that I don’t have to see her often, maybe once every other month.

Last was the psychiatrist, Dr. Muse.  Just the normal, blah, blah, blah, here are your meds.  He is, from what how he explains it, as from “the islands”, and will sometimes talk fast with his accent.  Inevitably, he will tell a joke that I just don’t understand because of his speech.  He will be laughing, and I will say “So sorry, can you repeat that?”.  It’s never the same, he’s annoyed, the moment is over.

I know, whoa is me, right?!?!?

Just in case I haven’t reminded you already:

The main event for our October charity has been moved up to October 4th, 2014. Mark your calendars for OCTOBER 4th, 2014. Hope to see you there!

Cool kids

C’mon, you know you wanna!

Love and light – Jen

 

It’s just faux Monday…

The main event for our October charity has been moved up to October 4th, 2014. Mark your calendars for OCTOBER 4th, 2014. Hope to see you there!

Cool kids

So, yeah…. It was a wonderful weekend filled with friends, and movies.

I am still feeling ok, but I am not excited for tomorrow.  I have a bevy of appointments with doctors, and I am afraid that my reconstructive surgeon will tell me I must have surgery on my left boob again.

It’s just not healing.  This stems from the mastectomy surgery on 1/9/14.  This wound has been de-breeded twice and is considerably smaller than the original, but it is still there.  It looks deep and hurts, the pain is just becoming second nature.

Other than that, I am healing fine.  All of the other incisions and JP drain hole are healing well, just ugly.

Work toward the event in October is still all just conceptual.  We have a ton of great ideas, just hesitant on the execution right now.  I can’t seem to find a charity or a theme that sits well.

Well, that was a throughly depressing update.  I will let you know more tomorrow after the doc.

Love and Light – Jen

Well, hi there! – important update!!!

**EDITED TO ADD** – the main event for our October charity has been moved up to October 4th, 2014.  Jim and I did not know that there was a previous event scheduled.  Again, mark your calendars for OCTOBER 4th, 2014.  Hope to see you there!

Cool kids

 Yea, it’s been a while.  I don’t really have a good excuse either.  Except to say I have been a real transition period.  Meds change, surgery, just….things.

Let’s see, where did we leave off?  Well, on April 11th, I had surgery to put in my permanent implants.  All was normal, it was painful, but I am healing pretty good.  My boobs are no longer an inch from my collarbone, so, that is a plus.  I don’t think you can tell their fake, and I really haven’t heard negative feedback from friends…so….yeah.  I think this paragraph would best be served with a photo.  I thought long and hard about posting pictures, we are talking topless photos here.  There were two people who stopped me, unbeknownst to them.  My father in law and my father.  I don’t think I could have ever looked those two in the face again, had I posted pictures.  If I know you, and ask to see them – shoot – I have flashed more ladies (in a discreet way), than I can ever really remember.  Pretty much all my friends have seen them.  They still honestly look really Frankenboobish, you know, scarred and not fully healed.  But they are getting better everyday.

Moving on – I have been on been on Tamoxifen for a couple of months now and it isn’t too bad.  The side effects I have been experiencing are a metallic taste in my mouth and bone pain.  It tastes like I have a mouthful of nickels, and I can’t stand a long time.  I would say that far outweighs where I would be if I had chosen to take chemo.  It’s not exactly unicorns farting rainbows and glitter, but I’ll take it.

I also had to change my medication for depression.  For many years, I was taking Zoloft and then down the line Seroquel was added to the mix.  Zoloft doesn’t play well with Tamoxifen, so it was changed to Celexa.  I started seeing a psychiatrist, and he took me off Seroquel and put me on Ambien.  To me – the change has been phenomenally good.  On the old combo – I was just there.  I never felt like there was a light at the end of the tunnel.  Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t thinking about offing myself, I was just meh.  Now that I am on Celexa, not everything looks so dark.  I think getting off the Seroquel helped tremendously as well.  Seroquel was originally prescribed to me at a VERY bad time in my life.  It was kind of back up to Zoloft, but it also helped you sleep.  What I didn’t notice was that it never really wore off.  I was dulled and exhausted most days.  Not taking Seroquel has really helped.  I take an Ambien at night, when I wake up in the morning, I feel like I am rested.  Again, don’t get me wrong, I don’t dance around like a hummingbird – but I don’t feel so foggy anymore.

As many of you may or may not know, Jim and I are involved with our local Fraternal Order of Eagles (#3468).  Each month, members decide what charity they will raise money for.  The last few months have been droll and so-so, there was a lot of tension, and a grave amount of backbiting and shenanigans.  Now, it is the start of a new year (well, in June), and Jim and I are planning a lot of exciting things for October – which is breast cancer awareness month.  We are in the early planning phases of ways to raise money for a specific breast cancer based community.  I haven’t talked to anyone within the organization yet, so, I do not want to name them.  For all of you that think you are smarty pants and guessed The Susan G. Komen foundation, you would be wrong.  They are a valuable fixture in the world of breast cancer, and I have no doubt that they will keep making strides to find a cure.  We think we are going to shoot for a smaller group that reaches out to individuals with love and support.  (For you doubting thomas’ out there – you’ll have the information so you can vet (and inexplicably tear down) whomever we choose, because that’s how you roll.)  Our vision is exciting, I will update here when I have any information.

The unfortunate side to hosting the month of October is that it pretty much means we have to tell Maegan.  I feel better about telling her now, because I am doing well.  She doesn’t need to be afraid.  It will still break my heart though.

That’s all for now…love and light – ya’ll

What NOT to say….

A friend of a very close friend was just diagnosed.  I am purposefully being vague, as it is not my story to tell.  Anyway, in speaking to my very close friend, I told her from the get go “Do not tell her to be strong”.  There is a method to my madness (HA!), and I shall explain.  So, for your reading pleasure, here is my official “Things not to say to someone who has just been diagnosed with cancer”:

1.  Thou shall not tell them to be strong.  The very LAST thing a person feels after a diagnosis of cancer is strong.  They feel vulnerable, violated, betrayed, scared, worried, none of these things are strong.  Hearing you have cancer is like getting slapped in the face, while being punched in the gut, followed by being kicked in the naughty bits.

2.  Thou shall not say “you will beat this”.  This is only because they don’t know.  When you are stunned by the diagnosis, you have no clue what you are up against.  The diagnosee wants to believe this, but they need prognosis and facts and just a little time to have their come to Jesus moment before they get to “oh fuck yeah, I got this”.

3.  Thou shall not say “I had a (insert person here) who died from cancer”.  This is just a dick move.  Do you know ANYONE who doesn’t know someone who has died from cancer?  Trust me, your mortality is on the forefront of your mind. Similarly….

4. Thou shall not say “I know a person who had that, it isn’t a big deal”.  First of all, fuck you, you insensitive bitch. (can you tell that someone actually said both of these things to me?)  That person you know is not me.  Cancer is not an equal opportunity destroyer.  Cancer works differently in all people.

5. Thou shall not say you are going to die.  Again, dick move.  It takes a special kind of asshole to say this.

6. Thou shall not say don’t freak out about it.  Oh, ok!  My doctor just told me that I have a disease that claims millions of people a year.  You’re right, it’s cool.  There is little to do BUT freak out.  I spent HOURS crying on my husbands chest when I thought about it.  You tend to think the worst – you envision hours in the hospital, chemotherapy, radiation, losing your hair…

7. Thou shall not say “God never gives you more than you can handle”.  Now, before I get hate mail, hear me out.  When you first find out and someone says this (to me anyway), my thought was “So God thought it’d be cool to serve me a heaping helping of cancer?”.  Not everyone on this planet is as mental as I, but, just don’t say it.

You read this list and think “who would say these things?”.  The answer is – a lot of people.  I, at 40 years of age, still tend to be socially awkward and just blurt “I have cancer” at very inopportune times.  So, I am not shocked at the range of reactions I have gotten.  I won’t tell you that I haven’t blurted it out just to deal a little shock to strangers, because I have.  Especially right after my double mastectomy when complete strangers would come up to me and say “awww, when are you due?” because I had no breasts, my gut stuck out and I indeed looked pregnant.

So, on the other side of the coin, the following is a list of things you should do:

1. Give them time and space to feel what they are going to feel.  There is nothing you can do or say, you have to let them go through it.

2. Let the person read about their disease on their own.  Sometimes, the internet can be your worst enemy.  In this day and age, this is what we reference.

3. Be there to listen.  Shut your trap, and let them talk.

4. Be a shoulder to cry on.  Even if your friend doesn’t turn to you, let them know you are willing to.

5. If that person calls you at midnight, pick up the phone.  I know nothing is worse than getting a call in the middle of the night, but cancer has no schedule, neither do your emotions.

6. Offer to make an easy, freezable dinner.  The last thing you want to attempt is to cook.  It’s also one less thing for your friend to worry about.

This is especially for the newly diagnosed friend of a friend, who we will name “A”:  There are so many more things I could go on about saying and not saying.  Not all people will care enough to be thoughtful, reasonable people who take the time to think, and that’s ok.  Some people just don’t like you, and that’s ok too.  It’s those people who show their true colors at a time like this.  When they do, it’s just an open invitation to yourself to cut them out of your life.  When you are diagnosed, you realize the your time has come to think about the hard stuff.  True friends will go out of their way to help you.  Even though I don’t know you, we now share the same battle trench, so I am your comrade in arms.  Our mutual friend can give you all my contact information.

Love and light – Jen