I know it’s been a long time since I’ve been on here to update everyone. My day to day life has taken every once of my strength and will to just get through the basics of each day. A month ago we took the boys for a camping trip, one of our families very favorite things to do. The day we arrived and began to set up, without thinking I grabbed a side of our cooler to help my husband move it. Big mistake. Not only could I not even lift it in the slightest I hurt something really bad in my right expander. I know I know you’re thinking why would you even think of attempting to pick that up? The thing is, I didn’t. It was a no thought to it motion of normalcy that I’m just not ready for. my body made that very clear. The plan for our camping trip was for me to take it easy, relax, read, and watch the boys play. That’s exactly what I did the rest of the trip. I continued to be in a lot of pain as I relaxed, and once we went to bed the pain was unbearable. I woke up in tears several times in the night unable to breathe. I knew something was very wrong, but didn’t know what to do. The next day I did nothing but rest and relax and the pain continued. That night the pain intensified and I continued to cry and struggle to breath from the pain. We left camping and my husband took my to St. Joes ER to see what was going on. We thought maybe I ripped my expander out of place. Here’s the thing, I have been through an enormous amount of pain in this past year, and non of it compared to the pain I was in from this expander. The ER drugged me heavily with pain meds, did a check X-ray to confirm the expander was in place, and an ultrasound to confirm the same. As we waited for results and I laid in bed in tears they continued to push more and more pain meds. The decision was made that the expanders were in the correct place, and that maybe I just pulled a muscle. I was discharged and sent home with pain medicine. I was so frustrated because I have a very high tolerance for pain, and I know my body well. Something was wrong and no one would listen to me. I spoke with the nurse at my plastic surgeon and she said it could just be a pulled muscle so I should be taking Tylenol, ibuprofen, and a muscle relaxer every 6 hours until I seem to be better. A few days later, I went in and saw my surgeon. He said everything looked fine, that it may just take sometime for my body to heal from trying to lift the cooler. We then expanded more that day. In the hour it took me to get from his office home I was in the worst pain of my life. I could barely breath or move, and was crying so much my husband couldn’t understand what I was saying. I called the next morning and explained I couldn’t function in this pain. I went in and the NP took 50 cc of fluid out of each expander to try to give me some relief. It helped slightly but not much. I was again told to just give it time, and continue taking all of the medications every 6 hours. For weeks I had been taking tons of medication as requested, my husband helped me get dressed and undressed, he helped me shave my legs in the shower, he moved all of my things such as my tooth-brush and paste on top of the counter because I can’t bend down, every morning he would wrap my meds for the day up in aluminum foil packets with the time I needed to take them, he would pack me a snack, and have my breakfast ready. It didn’t stop there, he would drive me to work, and take me to lunch each day, wipe my tears when I was so exhausted from the pain I felt like I wanted to just give up, he would remind me how strong I am and what a fighter I am. Remind me that this is all temporary, even though each day of constant pain felt like an eternity. I had a major melt down one morning for several reasons, the most sleep I’ve had in the past month was 3 hours from all of the pain. When I did sleep I apparently cried while I was sleeping. Each morning I would slowly open my eyes and ne praying that I wouldn’t be in pain. It never happened. So then I would take a deep breath and cry for a brief moment knowing that day would be another day of un relenting pain. Wipe my tears, and get ready for the day. As I would get ready, every movement I made was so painful, looking in the mirror I hate my body from all of the weight I’ve gained from chemo, my inability to be as active as I was prior, I hate my short hair, and I hate the way my expanders look. On my way to work that day I called the nurse with plastics and cried my eyes out. She explained that the crease on my left expander and the bubble on the right would not be that way when my implants are placed next August. She also explained that I must have my expanders for much longer than most patients. I have to have mine for 16 months. She said she’s had many patients who have had them for only 3 months and had to take ibuprofen, Tylenol, and a muscle relaxer every 6 hours for the entire 3 months. I do not want to do this. I don’t want to be in this pain for another year. She assured my everything was normal, and that it’s just going to take time to heal. Thursday I woke up and from the bubble on my expander I was told was normal I was leaking a yellow fluid that had soaked my shirt and sheets. I immediately knew something wasn’t right. I got in my car and started driving to my plastic surgeon. I called while driving when they opened and told them I was on my way and what was going on. The nurse and nurse practitioner were not sure what was going on. They took pictures and sent them to my surgeon who was on a mastectomy case. He told them he wanted to see me that afternoon after his surgery. They covered me with gauze and I went to work until it was time to go back. In the short time I was at work I had completely soaked through the gauze and it was leaking through my dress. Dr. Kiehn examined me and said it looked like a ripped my muscle pretty bad lifting the cooler and now the fluid from the tear was pushing its way out of my skin. He wanted to do surgery immediately to ensure my safety and prevent me losing my expander completely. He scheduled me for the next day. As I was headed home I was scared and nervous for another surgery but so relieved to have answers and possibly have some relief coming my way. The surgery want well, Dr. Kiehn said the muscle damage was really bad, and that there was infection. He cleaned everything out, removed the expander, and placed a new one. He also removed the damaged skin and repaired both the skin and muscle with donated tissue. My husband and I received a long discussion about how admirable it is for Dr. Kiehn to watch me push through everything that has been thrown at me, but that I am not super woman. He wants me to slow down, rest more, limit my activity, and work less. This is a subject I’ve had many tears over. I don’t think anyone has the slightest idea how hard it is to balance life with cancer. It’s next to impossible, and I do the very best I can each day. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that all of this is temporary. One day we will look back at all of this and smile because we did it! I completed radiation August 15th, and started a new job the 24th. My skin was pretty damaged and is taking quiet sometime to heal. I continue to feel the effects from the radiation through out my body. But each day the skin damage improves. I also began taking Tamoxifen. I’ll be taking this everyday for the next 10 years. It’s pretty hard on your body, body aches, bone and joint pain, hot flashes, nausea, and headaches, But we are hopeful my body will begin to adjust to the medicine and some of the side effects will minimize. All of it is worth it knowing the studies show how well the Tamoxifen reduces reoccurrence. I’ll tell you, I would do anything my oncologist told me to never have to do this again. My hysterectomy is scheduled for November 29th which is out next big step. I have a lot of emotion around this but I know it’s the best for my health and prevention of cancer coming back. As we keep checking things off of our list, it doesn’t get easier. Each step is a new kind of hard. But we’re doing it all and we will get through everything that comes out way! Below are pictures of the damage from radiation, as well as pictures from the surgery I just had Friday.
One thought on “Growth is not a steady forward, upward progression.”
You are an inspiration to me Erin!!! I think of you so often and you bring me strength!!! Words can’t express how much you inspire me. Please let me know if I can help and I mean it! Love, hugs and many prayers for you and your beautiful family.
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