B-Day, a Busy Day Brain-Fogged-Bone-Pain-Birthday Week

Walking around in the Foam Ball factory without the sun.

I thought I got away from bone pain this chemo round, but it has revisited me since yesterday. I refuse to take Tylenol this time in fear that it may hide my fever again. I can’t complain too much though. The pain is mild, not even half as bad compared to three weeks ago. I continue taking Claritin. I feel that it helps lessen the pain and I can continue with my activities to get my endorphins going.

When pain on my legs subsided yesterday, I joined the kids in the Foam Ball factory in Fun City. I did not touch any balls (germs). I doubt if those get cleaned. I walked around and watched my kids play. Yesterday was a short day in school. As part of my early birthday celebration, I took them out. This weekday, we avoided the weekend crowd, as my kids enjoyed the other attractions without waiting in line–a double bonus. The place is like a ghost town. I could count the kids present with my fingers.

Now, I have an issue with chemo brain fog too. I say the same stories over and over to the same people this week. To remedy or ease my brain deterioration, I exercise my brain by solving Sudoku puzzles. The “easy” version of the game sends me puzzled for a good half an hour but in the end I solve each one of them. I feel so proud and I wanted to show off my great brain work to my kids one day, until I realized I forgot the puzzle book on the the plastic surgeon’s desk. Grr….

My appointment with my plastic surgeon went well. The good news is my surgery is a great success. He wants to see me again for my areola tattooing after my rounds of chemo. He also said I can lift up to fifty pounds now which means I can resume working. I don’t know whether to celebrate or not because with my nature of work, I will be more exposed to bugs going back to my bedside nursing job. Oh well, I have to go back so I can afford to buy organic dairy. This controversy on hormone-related cancers and conventional pasteurized milk makes me nervous. I plan to buy mostly organic milk and milk products soon.

Speaking of chemo, I am now plagued with metallic taste in my mouth. I try to ignore it and eat different foods–Mongolian beef with veggies made to order yesterday, tempura–all-cooked sushi the other day, home cooked Philippine chicken adobo….The metallic taste bothers me. Nothing tastes the same. My nausea is not too bad though and I can still force myself to eat and drink without throwing up.

I can’t wait for my chemotherapy and its side effects to end.

Fair Trade

Why I need to teach my son the cost of food items

My son loves cookies. He likes pistachios too but not as much as cookies. I had to wait for Pistachios to go on sale and match it with a coupon so I can afford it which is why I just about died when he told me he traded it for a cheap oatmeal cookie. *sigh*

Here’s my financial situation. Now that: 1.) I haven’t worked for more than two months, and 2.) I have no confirmation on when I can come back due to two things–lifting requirement as a staff nurse (fifty pounds), and lifting restriction imposed by my plastic surgeon (fifteen pounds), I really have to watch my wallet. Providing solely to two growing small people does not help. Trying to eat healthier makes it even more challenging. I can’t buy all-organic if I want to. *another sigh*

Why didn’t my surgeon warn me about the long lifting restriction before surgery? I will ask him on my next appointment. I knew after DIEP breast reconstruction, I am at risk for abdominal hernia but I did not know about the very strict precautions I have to adhere to. I guess I have to nurse this hip-to-hip-supposedly-completely-healed belly incision for a bit more. No moving the couch to vacuüm, no shoveling big piles of snow (only little ones), and no carrying heavy hamper of laundry. Wait, is the last more than fifteen pounds?

Now that I let my frustration out, I can think about more fun things. I get to have a free photo shoot and professional make up at home. I and two other cancer warriors will pose and receive complimentary photos. Sweet. But that won’t be until tomorrow in the afternoon, after I get my second round of chemo in the morning.

I will take my kids in tow to my appointment at the chemotherapy clinic. They want to see how it is, what I go through–from the needle pokes to the drug administration. I will get an excuse for them to miss school. It will be a learning experience. Maybe they will  have more compassion when they see me in that environment,  sitting there with other patients who look sicker and more tired than I do.

So, I should go to bed now, right? A long day awaits me. I need my beauty sleep. The darn steroid keeps me hyper though. Perhaps it’s time I can use a sleep aid.. Hmm, a cup of chamomile tea?

Shameless in Hospital

Last December after bilateral mastectomy and breast reconstruction Copyright 2012 Pixton.com.


My last hospitalization, I notice my discomfort when interns, my oncologist, and internal medicine doctors asked to see my breasts. I knew, as I was there with fever, they wanted to know the cause of my infection. Maybe I had open wounds, maybe my incisions were swollen. Whatever. I knew my incisions looked okay, and who were they, anyway? They were not my plastic surgeon.

I remember Paul complaining to me last December how I flashed all girlfriends and female coworkers walking in the hospital room to show my newly reconstructed breasts. Someone walked in — I raised my top. Ha-ha. I asked first, of course, if my visitors wanted to see.
“…But you never waited for their response,” Paul said, “and I dread leaving your bedside for the fear that you will show your boobs to any male who happens to walk in.”
I thought it’s  funny that he was actually worried. But that was then, this is now. I feel uneasy showing my chest. Shameless, I am not anymore.

Why I Yelled at My Plastic Surgeon

Click to enlarge. Multiple blisters from the tape, droplet-size small, to large. In this picture, they seem less and not as bad as before I left the hospital.

“How are you today?”

Startled, almost, I looked up from the recliner by the hospital bed to see my plastic surgeon. Immediately, my belly reminded me of the pain, so raw, and now extreme.

“I feel miserable! My belly incisions HURT. I am miserable…”

I can’t remember how many times I had said, I am miserable, but I might had said it enough.

“Get hold of yourself. Calm down. I will call the nurse to help you back to bed. I will be back.”

This is just now a memory, maddening to me then (three days after surgery) but funny to me now. What happened? Well, last December, after  bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction using my belly fat, and after stopping my patient-controlled-anesthesia, my abdominal incision pain became unbearable. Dilaudid given intravenously (IV) and by mouth, plus Acetaminophen via IV, didn’t cut it.

Back to the hospital scene, in bed, after more Dilaudid, my plastic surgeon removed the Steritrips covering my incision. Multiple blisters, big and small showed up, the culprit of my pain.

“Oh my. Your skin reacted to the Steristrips…”

No kidding. I have told to doctors before him that my incision felt so tight. I thought the incision was tight. It was actually the tape that was too tight, pulling on my skin.

I mention this because I had a visit with him, my plastic surgeon today. As usual, he greeted me. I answered with, “I am well, and I will not yell at you today.” With that he laughed. We forgave each other.

My new breasts feel warm and look natural. In four months, he will tattoo my areola and reconstruct skin to make nipples. That is the plan, anyway. My abdominal scar? Well, my blisters made the incision look better, actually. The blister scars look more noticeable being darker, and covered more area. So, no more showing off bare belly for me when swimming. *sigh*

Here’s a link to an image similar to my surgery. Minus the breast line horizontally, I had the circular incisions on my breasts, and the skin and fat from my belly now fills my chest, hence, the reconstructed chests. My belly button got transplanted up, so I don’t look like belly buttonless Eve.

Eight days after surgery, I look like this. I lost around ten pounds from dehydration and nausea in that picture.

Now I almost got most of the weight back.

Happy and almost pain-free, I got my appetite back.

I graze before the chemo craze. Who knows how I will react to chemotherapy? In the mean time, I will load up on some yummy food  while I CAN eat.

Post Operative News

First day out, clinic visit not included, I head to the rec center with family...No, I didn't swim 8 days after surgery.

About three weeks after my mastectomy and breasts reconstruction, here I am!

I had both breasts removed, even though only one had cancer, to lower my risk to the unaffected side. I also have new breasts with my tummy as the donor site. I tell you, I might as well get a tummy tuck with all this pain and stress, and yes I got it. Plus now I have perky chests that will stay good throughout my life.

The other news? My breast cancer is stage 1, but triple negative, it is. More to this later. The main thing is none of the oral cancer drugs will work for me like Tamoxifen. I will need to go through chemotherapy.

So, bye-bye long hair…soon.