Friday, October 29, 2010

Update from Surgery

Well, today is Friday...day 3 post op from the second surgery. I am doing okay for all that happened on Monday and early Tuesday morning. I am still a little shell shocked at what all happened, but I try not to think about it too much because it scares me when I do.

As for my energy, it is still very low. I tend to still get a little dizzy when I stand up or change positions too quickly, but it's getting less every day. My drain is still putting out over 200mls/day which is a lot but at least we are heading in the right direction - it is getting less and less each day! I'm praying that I can get it taken out on Wednesday when I go back for my appointment. I am trying to move around a little each day to work my strength back up, but for now it's tiring when I get up to go sit outside with David. Thankfully, he loves to take care of me and help me do everything. He has been such a hero this week. I love him more and more with each day that passes and I cannot imagine my life without him. I will have to think of some fun surprise for him once I am healed.

As for pain, it's simple. If I don't move or cough, or lean back, I don't have pain. However, movement is necessary so there is always some pain involved. However, it's becoming more manageable without the heavy narcotics. I am more reserving those for night time and first thing in the morning when I wake up and am stiff. Since I have 2 incisions, one down my back and one across my chest, it is hard to find a comfortable position, but once I do, I'm good to go.

The kids are doing wonderful at gramom's house in Georgia. I talked to Chloe last night for about 10 minutes and she was full of stories and questions for me. Her main question was "will you be able to carry me when I get home?" I had to tell her no, but that she could crawl in my lap and I could hold her or she could snuggle up on the couch with me. She's very excited to get to trick-or-treat with grandparents and Brody. We over-nighted their costumes to them yesterday so hopefully they will have them today and be ready to get all candied up. The plan is to go pick them up on Wednesday I think. I miss them terribly.

Other than that, I'm just resting and taking it easy. Reading some books, watching movies, sleeping a lot, and that's it. More updates to come.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Surgery Update

Yesterday was eventful. I had my latissimus flap reconstruction which went amazingly well. I woke up not knowing what I would look like but as soon as I looked down, I realized that God had answered my prayers and the reconstrucion worked!!! I was in tears almost. So after I was good and awake, I was able to come home.
However, that's when the drama really started. I was unable to pee (TMI, sorry) so I had to go to the urgent care center here and get a catheter. After that was done, we came back home and I emptied my drain. Then I emptied it 5 minutes later, then again 3 minutes later, and again about 3 minutes later. The drain was filling up that fast. So, we paged my plastic surgeon who advised us to come back to the ER immediately. I was losing so much blood that I was getting sick on my stomach, I fainted at least once and was very close to it multiple times. I couldn't walk down our stairs to get to the front door but instead had to sit down and go down them one at a time. I was so sick.
So, we got back to the hospital and my doctor was waiting on me. My blood pressure was only 90/54 at this point, so after Dr. Oslin assessed me and realized that I had an inernal bleed in my back, I was back in the operating room to find out where the bleeding was coming from and have it cauterized. Apparently, when he got in there he found several blood clots so he removed them figuring that the source of the bleed was a small artery underneath the clots. However, there was no bleed at that point. He said he even agitated the tissues trying to get it to bleed, and it wouldn't. So...I am choosing to believe that God answered the prayers of everyone that knew what was going on and He is the one who stopped it.
We stayed in the hospital till about noon and then were able to come back home. I am still draining a bit much, but nothing compared to yesterday. I think my total for yesterday was 700ml (almost a full liter) in a 7 hour time period. Today, it's been about 250 all day long. My blood counts are low, which explains the dizziness, fatigue, rapid heartbeat etc..., but they should start coming up now that there is no active bleeding going on.
I'm doing okay. The pain meds are working well for my pain, and I am resting quite well. David is being a true gem and getting me everything I need before I can even ask him. He really loves me and loves taking care of me when I am sick.
Thanks for all of your prayers. It means the world to me and David and we are both confident that our Lord heard them all and honored each one of them. Love and hugs...(sorry if this is a bit random sounding, it's the drugs I'm sure).

Friday, October 22, 2010

What a Week!

This has been such a crazy week. I have ridden the emotional roller coaster and held on for dear life. There were days (Monday and Tuesday) that I was upside down on the roller coaster and my seat belt was coming undone. And then there were days that were spent climbing the hill getting ready for the exciting time that is to come. Today however, the roller coaster has slowed to a near stop and I am breathing again normally. My heart rate is normal. My smile is wider than it's been in a long time and my peace is the peace that only Jesus can give.

I am going in for surgery again on Monday. This is to attempt another reconstruction (called a latissimus flap) on the left breast. The first one failed and I have accepted that. I am ready to move forward with this next surgery knowing the following things:
1. This is probably going to work... there is a very small failure rate.
2. If this in fact does work, there will be one final surgery to replace the expanders with implants in 3 months.
3. If this does NOT work, this will be my last and final attempt at boobs.
4. If this does NOT work, there will be a grieving period I am quite sure.
5. If this does NOT work, then God intended it that way and for whatever reason, it will bring Him more glory. Maybe I will be used to encourage someone else along the way whose reconstruction fails. Or maybe others will look at me and see that you can still be sweet and sassy without boobs. Or maybe just maybe someone will see that my identity is NOT in my chest but is in Christ and that will encourage them.
6. I am NOT a bad person for trying a second time to have what was taken away from me by cancer. I had amputations. Lost 2 body parts.
7. I am NOT a bad mom for letting my kids spend quality time with their grandparents in Atlanta while I recover from this surgery the first week.
8. I am going to have a hard time recovering as there will be 2 incisions that are about 7 inches in length, one on my back and one across my chest. There will also be a drain again and it is a same day surgery.
9. I know that God is going to supply and meet all of my needs during this recovery time and I will depend on Him for that.
10. I know that my husband is going to be a phenomenal support to me just as he has been over the past 2 years, but probably stressed about having his wife at home in pain. So if you see him out, do me a favor and ask him how HE is doing. Make sure he is feeling okay about however my surgery turns out and ask if HE needs anything.
11. And finally, pray for my children that they will have a wonderful time at Gramom and Grandaddy's house and won't get homesick.

I will have David update the blog Monday afternoon or evening. My surgery is at 12:30 and will last about 3 hours. I will be in recovery for about 2 hours or so until I can wake up and be coherent enough to come home. Love and hugs to each of you!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Done Settling for This Life

I want more! I desire more. And I know I will get it because Jesus says (in John 10:10) that he didn't come to just bring life...but that He came to give ABUNDANT life. So, I'm taking that promise and I'm claiming my abundance because quite frankly, I've been living a life with quite a shortage in the department of abundance. I've been willing to settle for  "just okay" in my life lately and it's not working for me anymore. I feel like I'm back in the wilderness just wandering around aimlessly with fears, and worry, anxiety, and questions, negativity, and sadness. These were things that I haven't really struggled with since the beginning of my journey through breast cancer, but suddenly they are back. I worry about my upcoming surgery to try once again to build a boob on my radiated side. Attempt 1 was a failure, so if attempt 2 doesn't work, I face the possibility of living a life without boobs. Now, for those of you who are reading this thinking "well at least she's alive" I totally agree, but it's still hard to know that you've had 2 body parts removed with the expectations of having them put back on and it not work. It's still hard to think that I may never be able to wear the V-neck top or normal bathing suit when I take my babies to the pool. It's still hard to think about the fact that cancer creeped its way into my body and left me abnormal forever. Am I vain? NO! I have wondered this and questioned myself time and time again in regards to this, but I can assure you as can my friends and family who know me well, that I am one of the least vain people you will ever know. And on top of facing that I may never have a new set of girls comes the fact that I will also never be able to have more children. I don't think I have mentioned that much on here and that's been because of more backlash/opinions I am afraid of getting. I do have 2 amazingly beautiful children...YES! I am blessed beyond measure in that department. However, I missed almost the entire 1st year of Brody's life due to being so sick. It's so hard to know you have an infant that you just want to rock, cuddle, pour into, and love on, but can't because you are weak, tired, and have no strength to even do that...much less the strength to get on the floor and play all day long. I long to be able to hold another baby of my own. I am grieving the fact that there will never be another pregnancy test to take and get excited over. It saddens me to think of never having another baby in our home. I feel like I am just being stripped of all of the things that make me a woman and I HATE it. 

BUT...and this is a big BUT...I know that there is more than what this crappy life has to offer. I know that Jesus has invited us to experience being FREE, and taking God up on His offer of abundant life is how I plan to become free. I love this quote from Priscilla Shirer's book "One In A Million"...Satan is bent on burdening us hour after hour, making us seriously doubt that there is any deliverance available to us, then sapping us so completely of strength until we won't feel like calling out for help even if it does exist." And this my friends is where I have been this past week...

So, how am I going to accept this Promised Land/Abundant Life? How am I really going to be able to claim it this time and not be the Israelites who kept wandering around the desert complaining that Egypt was better? Well, I'm still reading the book, studying God's Word, and praying that He would show me what I need to do, or get rid of, or let go of so that I can live the John 10:10 way.

If you have any words of encouragement, or can speak from personal experience of losing part of "who you are" then please feel free to comment. If you read this and can't offer either one of those things, then just pray for me and love me where I am at in this season of life.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Nevermind

I take back what I said in the previous blog. I just got home from Kate's house and the pain, grief, and overwhelming heartache has set in. I cannot even begin to express the guilt that I feel that breast cancer took my friend and not me. Why her? It was all I could do to answer "yes" when her sweet family asked if I was doing well with my health. I felt like I was rubbing it in or something.

And then the kicker of it all...Tim pulled me aside and said that Kate had left something for me but that he wanted to give it to me when there weren't so many people around. That's my sweet friend...always thinking of others even in her own pain and suffering.
I miss her so much!!!
Please keep praying for her husband and family. And I also selfishly need some prayers too as I try to work through this process.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

2010 Race for the Cure

Today was a very important day for Team Blevins.


Today was emotional.

Today was beautiful.

Today was almost perfect.



Today...October 9, 2010 was the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Brentwood, TN. This is our 2nd annual race and it was totally different than last year. You see, last year I was still in treatment during the race and didn't really consider myself a survivor since I was still getting treatments. I think it was a protective coping mechanism. I was overwhelmed by the number of people there who were walking in memory of a lost loved one. I was much more sad than I was happy.

This year however, I really felt like a survivor. I am currently a 20 month survivor. This year I saw more survivors and more people walking in celebration of their loved ones. I participated in the Survivor's Parade and looked back at all of the other ladies who were lined up behind the 25 year survivor sign. I noticed the lady who was carrying a huge "5" balloon which signifies that she is CURED! I noticed all these signs of hope everywhere.

But...there was one element of sadness. Kate. I miss her. I wanted her there to walk with me. I wanted to cross that finish line with her. I wanted to share this day with her. Not fair. Not fair at all! Instead of doing those things, I walked in memory of my best friend and chemo buddy. I did "see" her today though. Bare with me and please don't think I'm crazy. On the way to the race, I asked the Lord to please let Kate be with me today...to please give me a glimpse of her in some special way. I kid you not that at the 1 mile mark, a sparrow flew right in front of me...as in I didn't even have to look up to see it, and it landed in the pear tree that we were walking by. I truly believe that the Lord gave me a special glimpse/reminder/hello from Kate and my heart swelled with emotion - joy! It was incredible. Nothing like that has ever happened to me before.

Anyways, we took in every element of the day from the Survivor-palooza breakfast to the tents with free items, the parade, the race, etc... It was amazing. No more speaking as our pictures are worth more than 1000 words.

Much love to each of you who have encouraged, prayed for, and blessed our family with your kindness and love. There is nothing that could repay you except to say that we love you and are eternally grateful to have you in our lives.


My sweet Chloe


My Super Hero - The BreastMan!


Carb loading with a cookie before the race

He needs all the carbs he can get. He can't afford to lose any weight :)


This ribbon means the world to Team Blevins 4.0


David with the Hooters Girl


Family photo op

Loved all the T-Shirts...especially this one since I went to Vandy for treatments


Lord only knows what he is looking at


Funny shirt...there were so many great ones


Walking in memory of my sweet friend


Walking in celebration of ME!


Lining up for the Survivor Parade


Do you see the numbers? They represent how many years you have been cancer free. 5 is considered cured and I am determined to make it to that one and then eventually to the 25 years and beyond!



LOVE these shirts!


Family pic again with David's cousin and his soon to be wife!


Lined up for the race


Chloe walking for a cure


She is really on the move...you go girl! The carb loading worked!


Rainbow Care Bear...slightly creepy looking!

Post-race...tired, sweaty, but happy to be here in the company of people with a common goal.