Monday, January 28, 2013

Back to work. I survived!

I went back to work on Tuesday of last week and besides some crazy drives to and from work, due to snow, all went smoothly. Dan is home in the afternoons and he is able to help when I need to rest. The infection is clearly just very slooooowwwly. The fluid they analyzed showed no bacteria and therefore the infection is technically gone. My skin is still healing and is still not better. Like I said it is a slow process. Most of the fluid has absorbed back into my body but the surface skin is peeling off in a rather disgusting fashion.

There are times throughout the day when I forget about the expanders which I consider to be major progress. At one point I thought that I would never be able to function with these things in me, but I guess my body is just getting used to them. Sleeping is still difficult but again I am kind of getting used that as well.

My Doctor would like me to come in next week and if the skin is healed I *might* be able to get expanded a little. He likes to over expand so the "real" implant has a nice pocket of skin to sit in. I hope that we can begin looking at dates for my next surgery. That is the surgery where a real and permanent implant will be slid into the pocket already created with the temporary, expander, implant I currently have.

The stress of returning to work and some other things that I don't really need to get into on here have caused me to feel down a lot.  I am obviously not handling the stress of all of those things combined well. I think I need to get back to the gym and get the endorphins flowing. I hear there is good weather on the way so that should help also. The important thing is I am healing and mostly pain free through the days. I am pretty much as back to "normal" as you can be with the expanders. So that is promising!

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Though my mood and outlook on my healing has continued to improve, unfortunately my infection has not.  I went back to the doctor for another follow up and it is still not healed. I didn't need a doctor to figure that out. There is a lot of fluid built up around my incision site that is just not going away. I finished a 14 day round of antibiotics on Sunday and it hasn't worsened but hasn't improved either. My skin is still discolored. So, the doctor decide to take some fluid out to send it off to be analyzed so they can figure out what exact bacteria is in there to match up the right antibiotic with it. I have no idea why my boobs have such issues with infections and healing. If you've been with me for a while you'll remember my posts about my issues while breast feeding and my resistance to typical antibiotics. Weird. It was a good doctor's visit as he cleared me to pick up Carter and go back to work on Tuesday. He also said I could do some *light* weight lifting and slow running. He said too much arm motion with speed work or heavy lifting would be too much for my healing pec muscle. Ha-lucky for me I run slow!

The gross part is how he....uhhh....collected the fluid so stop reading if you are squeamish. He stuck a need in that area and sucked it out. I am wincing just typing this. I obviously looked away and wanted no part of seeing this take place in the exam room. I am totally numb so I felt no pain, which is at least one benefit of having no sensation in that area! Since the infection has compromised the skin so much he is really not ready to talk at ALL about my next surgery and getting the real implants. He just wants my skin to heal and then we'll go from there. I told you I was impatient! I go back in 3 weeks to see how I am doing. It turns out I do need at least one expander fill to fill up my expanders a little more. He said they over expand the skin so there is a nice pocket for the real implant to be in when the time comes.

It was a good appointment, despite going out in the pouring rain. I got groceries afterwards, got them to the car, and into the house all by myself and when I see Carter today you can bet the first thing I am going to do is pick her up and give her a big squeeze!

Snow is predicted and I would love nothing more than to suit up and head outside in the snow tomorrow to play with my 3 favorite people. Snow days are fun even when you are still on medical leave :o)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Blue nails make everything better.

I know you are all hoping for a happy post, and you are going to get it. My plan of getting out of my funk was a success. With a new attitude and blue nails I've been in a much better place lately. I guess 6 weeks out was the magic amount of time where I could turn the corner, finally. The infection is on it's way out, though still not 100% healed. I've gotten up dressed and out of the house each day. The maid is scheduled and I took a walk around the neighborhood last night with the kids. My pain is minimal during the day. I still am aware of the expanders but they don't hurt, just are weird and uncomfortable. At night, it is still difficult to sleep through but I hope that will continue to improve with time as my body continues to adjust to the expanders. Being more active, involved with the kids and house hold stuff has caused me a little more soreness in the muslce area but I think it would be sore whenever I resumed normal activities. I just need to build my strength back up so I can pick up Carter without being sore the next day.

I have one more week of medical leave and I am excited to rest and relax before the craziness of working full time with two kids resumes. I hope in one more week I can feel even better than I do now and be 100% infection free!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Fake it til you make it...

I've always preached how important self talk is to my students during our counseling sessions, I've even preached it to friends and family and to anyone who asked my advice. But, I haven't taken my own advice. All I seem to do is complain about my life. Claim what a funk I am in. Avoiding or dreading social gatherings or phone calls from friends. If you know me well you know I am a shower freak and there are days that it is the afternoon that I haven't even showered and sometimes even then it is only to put back on clean PJ's. So, operation de-funking myself is going to commence. I went to the Doctor (AGAIN!) today because I feared the infection was getting worse, when according to my Dr. it is getting better. It is a very slow process. I realize that I am not patient. I even asked him if there was anything I could do to speed things up, ice? More Rest? More water? Etc. He said, "no" it just takes time and he believes the antibiotics are in fact working. It is a good thing I like him because I have a hard time believing that given what it looks like (though I admit it is getting smaller it is getting nastier, ewww)

Ok, so here are some of my downfalls that need to be changed.
1. Get up and shower and get dressed and stop living in PJ's.
2. Get my nails done. Since I haven't lifted a finger in 6 weeks my nails look amazing. Maybe that would be a nice treat (though finances are tight so a full retail therapy shopping spree isn't an option)
3. Schedule the maid that two awesome people pre-paid for me. Thank you sister in law Anne and highschool friend Candyce! A clean house (times 3)  always makes things better.
4. Exercise. No, folks not going for a 5 mile jog but start with walking in the neighborhood and then even try the gym. The bike should be an option. I always feel better when I work out.
5. Fake it. Pretend I am back to normal. Play with my kids. Do housework (within reason) stop being an invisible person in my own house.

Nights are still troubling to me and I am not sleeping well. My moods and emotions really get the best of me at night as does my anxiety over this infection. I am not sure what I can do control that but perhaps if I am in a better mood and busier during the day I'll be more tired and relaxed at bedtime. We'll see.

So, my two adorable kids are being dropped off at my house in  a few minutes and I am on mommy duty ALONE for the first time since surgery. I can do this. Funk be gone. The one thing I keep forgetting in all of this is the only thing that really matters: I do not have cancer.

It could be worse.

Keep a lookout for the old fun loving Erin. I think she is making a come back.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Infection update

Well after staying up until the wee hours of the night worrying the night before my appointment (yes, 4:30 am) it seems things are improving. My doctor is really not that concerned about the infection because it is a skin only type infection. It is hard to explain but I have a complicated history. For one, I've already had breast surgery and existing scars that span twice as long as my new scar. The patch of skin that is infected has 3 sides of scars. Couple that with my apparently resistance to many antibiotics that I discovered when I had mastitis while breastfeeding (I tried to explain that to the first on call doc but yet he didn't give me the strong stuff that my Doctor admitted he would have-oh well it was a weekend and holiday and the on call doc did come into the office on a SATURDAY with his kids to see me) and you have recipe for a disaster. Oh, also add in the alloderm, which is a substance used to patch me up inside when there was a lack of existing tissue (since they took it all during the mastectomy), since below my skin there is alloderm there is even less blood flow to the infected area which already had low blood flow because of the scar tissues. So, when he explained it like that, it made sense and he in no way thinks this will lead to me losing the expander.

On Monday, he drew lines around the infection and on Wednesday there was one small area that it had receded so he took that as a good sign. Today it even looks better, also. So after 3 days of the Bactrim, which also cured my mastitis, I think I am on the right track. It doesn't hurt more or anything it just looks nasty! But today it looks better so I am relieved.

I am so glad that I love my Doctor and the whole practice. Like I said a random on call guy came in on a Saturday to see me and my personal doctor goes out of his way to get me in to see him. The receptionists know me by name! I feel like I need a special parking spot because I frequent the office so much though I hope that will be diminishing with less complications. I am a little sore today since I drove myself to the doctor but I think with time I can build my muscles back up. One of the other doctors I saw last week suggested physical therapy and gave me a prescription for that. I'll see if it I need it. For daily stuff I am fine to get around the house, do laundry, get food out of the fridge, etc though I still cannot pick up Carter. Driving doesn't hurt but it has made my pec muscles pretty sore this morning.

I've been in a bad place for a while now and I hope I can get back to the fun, worry free, Erin. I am not sure where she is hiding but I know that I had no idea I would have this kind of recovery. I guess it was naive of me assume that everything would fall into place and I'd be out running 4 weeks post surgery. At this point I am sad to report that I regret my decision to have the surgery. I sincerely hope at some point in the near future that I will not feel like that. I hope it is one day soon. Feeling better and getting rid of this infection sure would be a good start.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


As you have noticed I haven't posted much because to be honest, I haven't had anything nice to say. As I reported in my last post my left side expander was hurting a lot more than it had been. It hurt like that for over a week and I had to resume pain killers to make it through Christmas. I couldn't get out of bed, hold a cup, get off the couch. It was bad. All the while I was developing an infection on the *other* side. Go figure. I am a week an a half into this infection and now on the second antibiotic praying that it works. It looks pretty nasty. I am supposed to call my plastic surgeon in the morning to decide what to do and to see if it the infection is responding to the new medicine. (next stop could be IV antibiotics in the hospital) If it cannot be fixed the expander would have to come out. As much as I complain about them I certainly don't want to start ALL over again. As far as the expander pain it is diminishing. I am uncomfortable all the time but I don't need the pain killers to do daily tasks (except sleep at night). 1 month out and finally I can see the pain lets just pray this infection goes away so I can start moving in the right direction!