Category Archives: family

A year later…and then some.

When I started this blog, I intended to keep everyone up to date with all the happenings of our lives. At the time I had a lot of changes going on, always something new to tell so I posted quite often. Since my last surgery over a year ago, I haven’t felt the need to update on any of that because I’ve been doing great. I’ve been living my life, working all the time, and quite honestly blogging hasn’t been my go-to method for updating people of the world (ok, mostly family and friends that are spread out all over) about happenings. I often turn to Instagram for pictures and push those photos to Facebook and Twitter because I like to think that I work smarter, not harder when it comes to social media. Apologies to those who follow me on all 3 and feel overloaded.

My absence from this blog could be blamed on the fact that I’ve had so much going on, there’s no time to sit and reflect and write about what’s happened. But perhaps I should be doing more of that. It’s been an interesting year to say the least. Lots of ups, several downs, obviously. That’s life in a nutshell, don’t you agree?

We moved to another apartment last summer and are still making it “ours”. This apartment is in a more convenient part of town. It also has a wood fireplace which I absolutely love, and a LOT more closet space which we are trying to take full advantage of. It’s also cheaper than the old apartment so it’s a win all the way around. It is also NOT in a basement/dungeon so it even feels more airy, cheery and light which is much needed. It’s a townhouse style so the only people that are walking around upstairs making noise is anyone who happens to be in our bedrooms. Heh. The parking situation is a little janky but hey, if that’s the only complaint then I don’t think we are doing too shabby.

We are looking forward to some travel this year. Nothing abroad, however we are planning for that in the next few years. Seattle and Portland in the summer. Asheville at some point. All places we have never traveled together. Last year we visited Boston and had a blast. I fell in love with that city! I would want to move to Boston if it wasn’t for the horrible winters.

Mike has a new job which is a fantastic move for our family. He’s even ridden his bike there a couple times though at first we were skeptical about the route. He works for Bridgestone Americas and they will be moving to a new building downtown in 2017. I fantasize about living downtown and being close to all the things, but the way the housing market is going, who knows what the prices would be. Sigh. I’ll take 10-15 minutes away for affordable housing though.

My job is going swimmingly as a manager of my shop. Hard to believe this summer will be 2 years there. I celebrated 2 years with the company in January. This coming fall I fully intend to go to Minneapolis to claim an award for our salon. We still have a few months to seal the deal, but it’s looking like we will get it. My staff is so hardworking. I am proud of them!!

I turn 40 in a month. I’m not freaking out about it. I’m embracing it and already have my glittery party dress for that night! My mom and stepdad will be coming into town, and we will celebrate in style. I am very much looking forward to their visit and celebrating with them. 40 is the new 30, or so I hear.

It’s been nearly three years since my cancer diagnosis. Life has changed dramatically since then. I haven’t had surgery for over a year now, and I think I could probably go for one more tweak. I just don’t know if I *want* to. Every time I have surgery, they want me to be out of work for 2 weeks. I’d much rather be working, traveling or what have you. The scars and lumps that only I see can wait, but I still don’t like them. It’s a constant reminder of what I went through. I hate being self-conscious about people being able to see a scar indentation through my clothes. SIGH. I want to get either nipple tattoos or artistic tattoos also, but if I’m wanting surgery then that also needs to wait. I hate how long and drawn-out this process can be. I know my complaints don’t even begin to compare to what metastatic patients have to go through,  but it’s still my experience and cancer sucks no matter what stage you are in; all of it is awful. I just want the old me back. I must keep plugging and be happy with the new normal. I’m not always successful with that.

The boys are all doing SO well. T is finishing up his freshman year at UT Knoxville, H is in his junior year of High School and working a part time job. A is in his freshman year of High School & still playing tuba in the band. H & A both live with their dad up in Maryland… I miss them so much! T will be home tomorrow and all next week since it’s his Spring Break. I enjoy his visits so much. I hope we get some good 1 on 1 time while he’s home.

Ok, enough rambling for now! I promise it won’t be a year before I post again.

XOXO,
Jen

 

 

Post Surgery Update!

So I had the much anticipated implant surgery on Friday morning. Got up early to take a shower, and make sure the boys were getting up and around so they would catch the bus for school after we left. We had to be at the Surgery Center at 6:15 for my 8:15 procedure. As I was to undergo general anesthesia, I had been fasting since midnight. No food, water, candy, gum, nada since midnight. My mom & John flew in late on Thursday night so they could be here for us. Friday morning they met us here at home, then we left for the Outpatient Surgery Center. We all got there and got passes for parking since the Valet wasn’t open until 8am. There was one other patient there having surgery when I was (different surgeon, obviously) and her daughter looked older than me. She looked at me and asked if I was having surgery. I think she was thrown for a loop because of my age. (Yes, I know I look younger than my age, but I’m still too young to have this!)

We waited until it was my turn to get registered and then I got called back for the pre-op tests. Small urine sample (good thing, I hadn’t had much to drink and used the bathroom before going to the Center!), BP and vitals taken, all the questions asked that needed answering. Undress and get into the lovely paper gown with the hole for the warm air tube to keep me warm 😀 They call it “Bair Paws”.. lovely invention, I tell ya! After I was all prepped and IV inserted, Mike, Mom & John were allowed to join me in the pre-op room. Hard not to have flashbacks to the first surgery. Somewhat emotional but kept those in check mostly. Had visits from the anesthesiology team, nurses and finally my Plastic Surgeon made his arrival and was able to mark me up (right after John took that as his cue to leave :p) and get me ready to go.

Said bye to Mike and Mom, then they wheeled me across the hall to the operating room. This time I do remember entering the OR (I fell asleep before this time last time because it was a much longer distance at the other surgery center) I remember getting into the room and getting some instruction but before they could move me to the Operating Table, I must have gone to sleep because before I knew it, I was waking up to people talking to me and it was all over with. The surgery took about 90 minutes as they expected it would, and I woke up with a surgical camisole in place to support my new implants. The new implants are much more comfortable as promised. Doctor Braun was able to get rid of the wound scar but he had to cut what looks like a smiley face on that side (Happy boobie!) and used the same vertical incision on my right to access that one.

I experienced some nausea post op due to anesthesia, which is never fun, but by Monday morning was feeling good enough to come off the pain pills and just take Ibuprofen. My soreness is very minimal, if any. I’m on restrictions not to use my arms excessively in the first week, not to lift more than 5 lbs (a bag of sugar), not to lay on my stomach for 4 weeks, not to have direct contact with my breasts for 4 weeks. No excessive exercise for 4-6 weeks. Had to wait 72 hours before I took my first shower. But the best part? No drains this time, and no steri-strips. The incisions seem to be healing normally which is a relief. I see Dr. Braun again on the 22nd, and look forward to hearing what he has to say about my recovery and what to do next. He did have to do some scar tissue removal and “sculpting” on my left side, and hopefully in time the implants will settle in and be symmetrical. I’m trying to be patient. I don’t expect perfection, but I do want to feel as normal — It’s such a tricky word anymore–as much like my old self as possible. There, that’s more like it.

I was able to come home by 12:30 that day and spent the rest of the time relaxing and being waited on.

Saturday afternoon was Tyler’s prom and I was able to get out to the park and take pictures of he and his date before they went. That was nice to be able to do that at least. I got some good shots and the fresh air on a beautiful day did wonders. I even wore one of my new dresses!

The biggest part of surgery recovery that’s hard for me is not being active. Especially after being home for 6 months after my last surgery and going through chemo, I like to get out of the house. I need to take this time to let myself be lazy, not overdo anything, and to enjoy the time “off” so that when it’s time to return to work, I’m really good & ready.

Thank you for all the good thoughts, vibes, prayers, love and light you all have sent me. I feel and appreciate it ALL.

XOXO,
Jen

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A New Normal

It’s been just under 2 months since I returned to work & life is beginning to feel like a new normal again. I go for my 3rd Herceptin only infusion & visit with my medical oncologist tomorrow. I was supposed to have the wound on my left side stitched up about 3 weeks ago, but it was healing on its own so we postponed that. Now it’s VERY VERY small & will be closed within a few days. I’m glad I opted against that procedure. I love seeing all that new pink skin that’s grown there! Hopefully tomorrow I can show Amanda & can schedule surgery for my implants…. FINALLY! This process has been a long one.

My hair is returning! I have been buzzing it to a 0 guard though because it is still thickening up. The thin spot at my crown isn’t noticeable now so hopefully I can just let it BE for awhile. Yesterday was the first day I worked with NO HAT! Everyone just thinks I have a buzz cut unless I tell them why. I know I’m one of the “lucky” ones in that regard, I can totally pull off the buzzed/bald look & it’s nice. I do miss doing funky things to my hair sometimes, but the no maintenance thing is awesome. My eyelashes are thickening up again and I’ll have to wax my eyebrows soon too. Now if the leg hair would just stay away.. hehe.

Last weekend (Feb 26-Mar 2) was the first weekend I traveled since my cancer journey started. I flew up to Minneapolis to be with my family for my brother’s wedding & then “girls weekend” with my mom, sister & stepsister for Mom’s birthday. It was TONS of fun & I really needed the family fix. Not everyone was able to make it, but I enjoyed the time spent with the ones that could. Mike stayed home & held the fort down. (I LOVE HIM.)

Before I left, I went by the Pretty In Pink boutique and purchased a compression sleeve for my arm on the side that I had lymph nodes removed. It’s to wear when I fly or exercise, as a prevention measure against lymphedema. I fell on my arm on Valentine’s Day and had a huge (though heart shaped!)  bruise on that side.. never had any lymphedema so I’m being really cautious now about that. Better safe than sorry. The compression sleeve is kind of a pain to put on/wear & it’s not the most attractive thing in the world but hey, neither is a big swollen arm. I’ll take precautions any day.

I have been working working working except when we have traveled to Crossville (Mike’s mom’s bday) and last weekend. This weekend coming up I’m finally getting a couple days off (without having to ask for them!) and Jess & Carter will be here to visit. I’m excited, and hope the weather is as gorgeous as it was this past weekend.

That’s all for now!