Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy birthday Simon!

Today is officially Simon's 2nd birthday! On this day 2 years ago right now I was in L&D hooked up to IV's (pitocin & antibiotics mainly). At 6:36 pm Simon made his way officially into the world. He's never looked back since. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to say that about yourself? That you've never looked back w/ regret, hard feelings, etc?

Yesterday the grandparents came over & man was it a full house! My mom & dad, Andrew's mom w/ her husband, Andrew's dad with his wife, and my granddad. The kiddos were in 7th heaven. Rachel got held the whole time & Simon got cake, gifts, & lots of attention! He loved every second of it!

Tonight we're experimenting w/ the kids in their 'real' beds. Rachel has been in mine & Andrew's bed-room in a pack-n-play since she was born. Simon has still been sleeping in the crib. However, tonight Rachel is in the nursery in the crib while Simon is in his race-car bed. He napped in there earlier today with no trouble. I'm trying to make it fun for him, but not too fun since I want him to sleep. Rachel is out like a light - like always. Simon is being a bit more difficult, but I think he'll settle down. The key is to not have him wake up Rachel since they're now right next door to one another.

For the next couple of days (until Tuesday I think) we're going to cling close to one another & spend as much family time as we can before my surgery. Even though this surgery isn't as major as the one I wanted, it'll still leave me unable to do much for a while. So we're trying to store up as much kiddo time as we can. Plus we're going to be gone for at least a week, so, we'll miss them.

I can't decide if I'm going to have a vague "Tata to the Tata's" moment or not. On the one hand, I've read that it can be beneficial. However, in the back of my mind its giving it too much attention. The end result I want is to look and be the same as I was before July 7, 2009. I know in *many* ways that's not possible, but my brain wants to at least pretend. I've also thought of taking photos of me now to see the changes. However, again, I'm wondering why? I can't go back and hopefully, like the pains of child-birth, my body image will adapt itself to my present condition, not my past condition. Oh well, I still have a week or so to think about it.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Finally finished w/ the trip from hell!

I don't know who we made so angry, but the weather was certainly NOT with us this trip to Houston. While we were driving down it snowed all through TN, MO, & AR. Then it poured down rain all through TX w/ a little snow mixed in while we were in the northern portion. The whole time we were in Houston it rained too. Then we were trying to beat the bad weather that was supposed to hit this (Friday) morning by leaving right after my last appointment. It didn't work out so well - it snowed almost almost all the way up through TX! SNOW in TX!!! How often does that happen & why did it have to happen while we were trying to drive?!?! Each leg of our journey took 17+ hours verses the 13 hour trip we made back in July over the exact same route!

I had a pretty decent doctor day Thursday though. I was a little nervous b/c I was getting all my tests & examinations for ovarian cancer (the 2nd part of my genetics - BRCA1). I've had 'female' problems practically since puberty, so I've always kind of wondered if that will make the likelihood of me having ovarian cancer worse than a 'normal' BRCA1 carrier. Anyway, all my tests were negative for any problems. I spoke w/ the gynecology oncologist about going ahead and removing all my female parts to prevent ovarian cancer. I was afraid she would be *really* against it since I'm so 'young'. However, after cautioning me about the possible horrors of surgical menopause she listened to my reasons. She said she'd do it if I still want it done when I have my exchange surgery (the expanders get replaced w/ the real inserts about 3 months after the initial surgery). She did give me a book to read about the pros and cons of doing the surgery, but I don't think it is really going to change my mind.

I've spoken to another woman who is my same age, has the same age children (altho reversed - her girl was 2 & her boy was 2 months when she had her surgery). She didn't have cancer 1st, but she did the prophylactic surgeries. She said the side-effects were very minor for her. I'm polling others that I know have had the surgery (both actually) to see what their experience was like. I know everyone is different, but if several had good experiences, then I can at least hope.

It was so sweet to come home & see the babies again! Simon immediately latched on to Andrew (like usual). Rachel kind of did the same thing. She couldn't take her eyes off of him. When we had them both home with us, Simon was a bit jealous of Andrew's attention to Rachel, but he soon go over it. Before too long I was holding Rachel while Simon sat in my lap & 'helped' me feed her. He can count to 8 now all by himself. He's learning more of the alphabet too! We're having a grand-parent party for his birthday tomorrow. We decided to keep it really low key b/c of the illnesses going around, my upcoming surgery, and the weather. He'll have a good time regardless. Since even he's not quite smart enough to read I'll tell you guys what we got him for his birthday... A Radio Flyer tri-cycle! Its the fold-up kind & for a while anyway we're going to keep it in the house. We also got him a dump-truck w/ sand-toys (shovel, rake, & molds) for the sand-box we're going to build him this summer. He's already gotten 2 other gifts from us - a plush Ford tractor & a set of New Holland farm equipment: dually tractor, gravity grain wagon, semi-truck w/ grain trailer, and a combine with bean & corn headers. He absolutely loves it!

Tomorrow should be interesting. I've already put him to bed. The odds are 50-50 that he'll stay in bed. He's been with Brenda & she has a tendency to hold him in her bed all night. He was exceptionally tired though, so hopefully he'll stay asleep!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Not as bad today

I seem to have somewhat recovered from my bad news yesterday. I'm still not happy with it, but I'm learning to accept it. Something that people that know me realize is that I resist change in all its fashions. Heck, when I was 7 or 8 they switched school buses on me & I actually cried. The driver, route, and fellow students on the bus were the same, but the bus itself was different. I'm OCD - its kind of hard to get around that. Anyway, at this point, the fake boobs will have to be ok. Maybe by the time they need replacement (usually w/n 10 years) I'll have enough belly fat to do the other reconstruction. If I'm lucky, they may even have a better method by then!

Today we spoke w/ the breast surgeon. She was very informative. She said that since I'm young & such complications should be minimal. She also gave me a choice that I wasn't aware I'd have... (this might be TMI) She can use 'new' technology and spare my nipples. That way I get to keep what I have visibly, but reduce the chances of cancer by taking out all the stuffing. We're leaving it up to the plastic surgeon at the time of surgery as to whether that is truly viable or not (a lot depends on asthetics at that point). However, when I look down I'll be seeing as much of 'me' as possible instead of some creation. The breast surgeon said I was a good candidate for that b/c of the placement of my original tumor and age. She said there was *very* little risk of any cancerous cells getting left behind. I think if I'd have been able to have the reconstruction I wanted I'd have forgone the nipple sparing, but I think maybe this will help me feel like I look like myself.

One troubling thing that the breast surgeon (she's an oncological surgeon) said was about possible radiation. I think that may be a standard CYA talk that she gave me, but it worries me none-the-less. Radiation would be used if they find any more cancer cells within the tissue they remove.

She also worried me a bit w/ my lymph nodes. She said that since my original tumor/scar is so far into my armpit (axilla) it can disrupt their methods for finding what they call my sentinal lymph nodes. They examine these lymph nodes for cancer b/c they generally the ones that are closest (as far as drainage is concerned) to the tumor. With the placement of my tumor/scar in relation to where lymph nodes are found, their is an increased chance of not finding the right nodes and/or getting false negative readings from the nodes they find. There's a decent chance that I'll have to have all my primary & secondary lymph nodes removed during surgery. They don't like to take chances w/ leaving cancerous ones in the body. Removal of these lymph nodes may decrease my cancer risk, but it leaves me wide open to lymphendema - swelling of the arm & sometimes chest - for the rest of my life. Basically what happens in lymphendema is that if I get a cut/scratch on my affected arm/side instead of the infection/inflammatory response draining properly it gets hung up in my arm & chest b/c the lymph nodes aren't there to filter & clear it. I don't think lymphendema is life threatening most of the time, more of an irritation and concern.

Tomorrow I meet w/ the gynecology oncologist and w/ Dr. L again. I also have more tests. Right now I'm feeling pretty positive that I'll be able to convince the gynecology oncologist to remove my ovaries/etc post-haste. If there's good reason (besides my youth and other such minor concerns) I'll keep them. However, I'm completely paranoid about getting ovarian cancer next. Although I'd love to have more children, I much prefer to live for the children I already have. The problem is that ovarian cancer is usually not detected until it is in the late stages. By the time its detected the survival rate is only 25%. They're working on finding out new/good ways to detect ovarian cancer, but so far I don't think they're having a whole lot of luck. While surgical menopause at 28 doesn't sound like a great option, neither does living in fear of ovarian cancer and quite possibly dying of it at a young age. I think I'm going to go for living w/ early surgical menopause rather than taking the risk. Of course, part of that is also my OCD coming out. I just want to be finished w// this worry of cancer - NOW. I want things to go back to their ordered normal ways. I'm not much of a risk-taker...

Thanks for the prayers & thoughts.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


I just found out to day from the plastic surgeon that I won't be able to use my own tissue to reconstruct my breasts after surgery. I don't have enough abdominal fat. Even though I just had a baby 2 months ago, I'm too thin to have my breasts reconstructed from my abdominal fat.

This is probably where I'm going to get offensive, so... If you're prone to getting your feelings hurt, you should probably stop reading NOW.

I don't want to hear the jokes like, 'I've got plenty - I'll donate mine.' or anything either. I don't want people saying/thinking, 'Why are you whining you've got a flat belly?' I don't even want the cute comments of 'Go to the donut store/etc & eat lots.' To be completely honest, I don't want anything but a bit of sympathy for my situation.

I want to look NORMAL. Not like a Barbie doll or some skinny chick who got a boob job to try to look better. Instead I have 3 options: 1 - (the most viable) is implants, 2 - no reconstruction, and 3 - no surgery at all (least viable). I'm pretty sure that I won't be comfortable with myself if I don't at least have something there, so I'm going for the implants. The thing is that I really don't want to look like I've had a boob job. I mean REALLY don't want to. I don't want to go for a month (or more) with tissue expanders that don't even look real. I don't want to live w/ the over-expanded balloons on my chest for at least 3 months (according to the surgeon). I don't want to have to have another surgery to replace the expanders with the implants. I don't want ANY of that to happen. However, I'm stuck w/ things the way they are.

Before you go off thinking that I had unrealistic expectations and/or I should just be happy that I get to have reconstruction, let me tell you what I knew/thought before I went in. I knew there was a possibility of not having enough tissue (read back a few posts & you'll see me say just that). However, from the books & photographs of real women who'd had the procedure, I thought I was ok. I am also happy that any type of reconstruction is available for me. I know what non-reconstructed chests look like and I don't know that I could live with that.

However, those of you that really know me should realize that my main goal in life is to be that natural, normal, happy woman that guys & girls alike feel comfortable talking to and laughing with. I don't try to be skinny - I eat like a horse most of the time. I don't wear skimpy clothes or wear lots of make-up. I ride horses as a form of entertainment. If I have one pair of shoes that hasn't been out in the horse-lot I must have just bought them & never worn them anywhere. I try to get along with everyone by cracking jokes if necessary (they're usually un-funny, but sometimes that makes them funnier), giving comfort if necessary, etc.

I'm also more than a little obsessive compuslive and get out of whack if plans change. Sometimes even something as small as parking in a different area (like at my work) can leave me feeling a bit out-of-sorts. Yeah, I know I should probably get some medication/treatment for that. So that OCD aspect of me is one of the big reasons this has upset me so much. Just imagine if you can, how much just my diagnosis screwed w/ me w/ my OCD and desire to be normal. Can you say, "FAT CHANCE!"?

Tomorrow I meet w/ the breast surgeon and have more tests (see previous post for my actual schedule). Hopefully, I won't find out anything else that messes with my mind.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


I'm not a football fan & I'm not typically a New Orleans kind of gal, but I was rooting for the Saints. Yippee! I'm thinking that the Saints winning can be taken as a sign of good things to come. After-all, the saints are people we emulate as Catholics/Christians. I know I've been wearing St. Peregrine out in my prayers!

Andrew & I are all packed & ready to head out early tomorrow. The kids are already with their respective grandparents. Simon is with Brenda - my mother-in-law. Rachel is with my mom & dad. Hopefully they won't forget us while we're gone. We'll probably be leaving around 6 am and hopefully arriving around 730 pm (still Central time). Andrew is a good driver, so I'll be reading in the passenger seat. Here's the run-down of what I know is happening this trip.

Drive all day
845 am Meet w/ the plastic surgeon. At this meeting I'll hopefully find out that I'll be able to do the reconstruction I want. I should also be able to get some idea of how long the surgery will take. I'll also find out what size I'll be able to be.
320 pm Mammogram
900 am Meet w/ the breast oncology surgeon. At this meeting I'll find out more details of what they're removing and how long the surgery will take.
1100 am Blood tests
1130 am Chest X-ray
1230 pm Ultrasound
1230 pm Ultrasound
115 pm Anesthesia evaluation
230 pm Meet w/ gynecology oncologist. At this meeting I'll find out more about when/if I have to have a hysterectomy. Hopefully I'll also address some of my questions regarding my risks of ovarian cancer and hysterectomy side-effects.
300 pm Meet w/ Dr. L (breast oncologist). I'm not really sure what this will be about since I'm finished w/ chemo, but...
330 pm Blood tests
Drive all day

I plan on trying to update the blog & my facebook. However, I don't know if I will feel like it or have time. So keep the prayers coming & check in on the blog. Thanks!

Also, since Lenten time is growing nearer I'm trying to get geared up. I'm going to miss part of it, but I'm going to try to do a few things. Here's my biggie: Go to Confession. I'm hoping to get in the habit of doing it more often. Here's a good examination of conscience and general guide for Confession. Even if you're not Catholic, Lent is the best time to try to prepare yourself for God. He sacrificed so much for us during Lent, we should sacrifice some for Him!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Busy week

We had a busy week this week. Wednesday we went down to Madisonville to visit my co-workers. Simon was a big hit b/c he's grown so much. He's able to entertain everyone w/ his words & actions. Of course, he's so shy (NOT!) he doesn't say anything... Actually we couldn't get him quiet for them to actually do work! Rachel amazed them all b/c she's already so big. They teased me & told me she was already half-grown since this is the first time they've seen her.

Its weird to go down there now. Its been so long since I've been there to work (July 30 was my last day). There have been 2 new hires (both women Thank God!) and my partner (other biologist) is now full-time in Madisonville. One of the mainstays of the lab has moved to another lab (yep, Joe, I called you a mainstay). One of the other guys has gone & gotten married! I guess everything else is pretty much the same, but its just weird to go there & not actually have the responsibility of working!

As if that didn't wear me down enough, we had James & his entourage (Jen & Vickie) over on Thursday. Simon & James had a wonderful time playing w/ Simon's various toys. James even let Simon tackle him repeatedly - even though Simon outweighs him by at least 5 lbs! We had lunch together and everything. We even had Rachel for a little bit of entertaining.

Today was a relaxing day - except Rachel apparently didn't get the memo. When I got to mom's this afternoon they told me that she got up at 2, 4, and finally 6 am. That's not typical for her. At least lucky for me (Thank God) mom & dad had her not me. So when I got there she had made a mess all over herself, so she got a wardrobe change first thing. Then she decided that she didn't want to sleep or be quiet - she wanted to be held while I stood! I wasn't allowed to sit or lay, just stand! We can't decide if she's feeling better or worse. She's also eating more, so we're leaning toward her feeling better.

Of course, now, Simon seems like he's not feeling as well. His nose is running clear & he's coughing a little. He's also sleeping a whole lot! I actually had to wake him up from his nap at 430 pm. That's really unusual! He's also really sensitive. Even watching a cartoon where the characters are in 'danger' is making him ask us to change the channel. For anyone w/ a little one that loves vehicles - I highly recommend Bigfoot Presents: Meteor and the Mighty Monster Trucks. Simon absolutely loves it! I'm feeling a little scratchy myself, but I'm pretty happy regardless!

Andrew is glad the work-week is over. He's worked really hard this week to get things in order before we leave for Houston. Its hard that we're going to be gone for so much of February. We're really going to have to hurry back for Simon's birthday next weekend. Then we're just going to have to turn around & leave again. :-( My poor babies are going to live with mom & dad (said sarcastically & w/ pity for myself not them). Actually, its probably poor mom & dad to have to put up w/ both my kiddos when they're not feeling 100%. Since they're so great they say they're glad to do it! I love my parents to death!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Play date

I'm exhausted from our playdate with James ( Jennifer Tinsley Tuck & Vickie Tinsley ). We had a great time. I'm paying for it now. Simon went to bed with absolutely no fuss! He was so tired, but so happy! Thank goodness for my mom again! She's got Rachel just in case she wakes up in the night! I just woke up again, but I'm ...going back to sleep for the rest of the night!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Coming closer...

I just now realized that in just a little over 2 weeks I'll be having my surgery. Really, this week is the last week I have 'free' before my surgery. I'm not quite as freaked out as I was, but I'm still a bit nervous.

Rachel gave dad her snots. He's feeling bad right now.

Simon is loving life as always!

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Smiling already at 2 weeks

Smiling already at 2 weeks
Rachel has been smiling as a response to other people since day one.

And two shall become one...

And two shall become one...
In 2006, Andrew & I became one before God and family! Shortly thereafter we became 3 with the birth of Simon in 2008... Then 4 with the addition of Rachel in 2009!

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