How different our lives are when we really know what is deeply important to us, and keeping that picture in mind, we manage ourselves each day to be and to do what really matters most.--Stephen Covey

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Tonsillectomy Recovery : Part I

I'd just like to start out by saying that my tonsillectomy was not just a typical tonsillectomy. At the same time, I had a partial thyroidectomy as well. If you have read some of my past posts (here, here, here, & here), you know that I spent the 6-months after Jake and I got married trying to figure out what was wrong with me... a little background, the last night of our honeymoon, I spent hugging the toilet. Not fun. I spent the entire month of June sick as well (not pleasant) and ended up at an endocrinologist office and finding out that I had a toxic nodule (more here). Treatment is an anti-thyroid drug (which isn't used widely in the US for any length of time), Radioactive Iodine Treatment (RAI), or surgery. I opted for surgery mainly because the small dose of iodine they gave me for the uptake scan of my thyroid gave me some strong reactions and Jake and I want to try to start a family in the next year and you have to wait 6-months to a year after RAI to try to become pregnant--Jake and I would have waited the entire year. It's not to say that we are going to start trying right now or that it will happen in the next year (because it's in God's hands), but we wanted to keep it open as an option. And, with thyroid problems and my cousin being diagnosed with thyroid cancer, we wanted the nodule to be removed and properly biopsied to be sure.

Anyway, the partial thyroidectomy was a breeze. Seriously. My incision looks amazing (props to my doc!) and it's healing well only after one week. I got my stitches out today and will be able to start a vitamin E oil on the incision to help reduce the scarring and help it heal. I got the pathology report today as well and everything was good. Which was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders because I was pretty worried about a cancer diagnosis. I was staying positive and praying that it was benign, but was prepared to take the worst if it came to that. I'm still waiting on my hormone levels to even out--they took blood today at my appointment, and everything is in the normal range but "on the higher side" so they will take blood again when I go at the end of December for my 6-week follow-up appointment. And at the beginning of January I have an appointment with my endocrinologist as well. I'm assuming that it takes some time for the hormones to leave the body/level out again and I am hoping everything returns to "normal" soon. It is safe to say that if I had just had the partial thyroidectomy, I would have been back to work this week. Today even. I have a little bit of stiffness in my neck where the incision is, but it's not uncomfortable or anything.

The tonsillectomy on the other hand. Well, let me sum up my research that I did before surgery. It's pure torture. It's not like a tonsillectomy for children--and if someone doesn't understand this as you are an adult going in for one, direct them to the various forums and websites that people have written to help adults get through the tonsillectomy. You'll read some horror stories. I didn't read them to get myself all worked up and worried. Actually, they didn't scare me--and people don't understand this. They just prepared me. I just wanted to be prepared for what I was getting myself in to and have the best recovery possible.

And I've had a good recovery. Here are some things that I have found absolutely necessary:
  • a warm mist humidifier (seriously!!)
  • ice packs (for the neck)
  • warm packs (for the ears)
  • a lot of ice
  • Gatorade & water
  • pudding (banana has been my fave)
  • applesauce (to help swallow pills...)
  • Panera Bread chicken noodle soup (cooled to room temp)
  • mac & cheese
  • Vaseline (for chapped lips)
  • baby wipes (you won't feel like showering--they are good for freshening up or if you are feeling clammy/hot)
  • a husband/friend/mom/boyfriend/whomever, that can handle you being a baby and be at your beck and call (trust me on this!)
In the next couple days, I'll update each day of my progress and how it went for me. My story is not as difficult as some of the stories I read online during the months before my surgery. I don't know if that is from my preparation or just my pain tolerance or good meds, or perhaps a combination of all of it, but I don't have a horror story. Expect it by the end of the week. I am staying off the heavy pain pills now and have been more alert during the day.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I knew He has a plan

It would make sense for me to say that God works in mysterious ways. I mean, God really is a complete mystery. Not that people don't know Him (I am walking my own journey right now), but that it is often difficult to understand what He is trying to each us. I am still trying to learn to sit still and simply listen to Him during the day but I find myself praying to Him more and more each time I am presented with something. My faith is growing in a time when it would be completely normalunderstandable for me to lose my faith. But here I am, turning to Him for the answers. Letting my faith guide me and show me the way.

I'm still working on listening to what He is trying to tell me. It's hard to listen when it is not something that is "normal" for you. I grew up in the Catholic church, I got baptized when I was in 5th grade, attended catechism, had communion in 6th grade, but it wasn't until recently that I really became a believer. In my early adulthood years (from 18-24ish), I considered myself agnostic. Which, honestly, at that point in my life, makes sense. I think that even those that grow up in the church and are believers go through some part of their twenties believing that everything is so unknown and is questioning everything. I think that is what we are "supposed" to do in our twenties. I can honestly say that I never stopped believing in God, just questioned everything.

I think part of the reason that Jake and I were led to live in the south is to help my faith in God grow. I know that we originally moved to Atlanta for Jake's career, but I have a difficult time figuring out why in the world we picked somewhere that we knew absolutely no one. Yea, yea, yea, job growth and all that. But, I miss Chicago. Not my hometown of Detroit, but Chicago--where I felt at home for the first time in my life. Jake and I both made a conscious decision to move to Atlanta and I was excited about moving to a new place (ya know, since I did it successfully from DET to CHI), but Atlanta has brought us nothing but hardship and heartache. Yes, Jake has an excellent job, and we are thankful for that every day, but it's also been difficult from the very beginning.

But, here we are. In the south. In the heart of the south, at that. And the south is very much based on religion. I definitely would not have gotten this sort of faith building experience in the midwest. Which is not to say that people in the midwest are not religious or reliant on their faith, but it is not as strong as it is in the south. Or at least in my experience, it's not as prominent or recognizable as it is in the south.

Which brings me to right now. The faith that I feel is ... strong. I trust that God has my best interest in His hands and is helping to guide me to his plan. With my health and my mom's health being in shambles right now, I  know that God is telling me to focus on my health and make better health decisions. I know that God is telling me to take better care of myself. Because life is fragile. After my surgery, I am hoping and praying that it will be easier for me to lose weight so that I can be healthy again and I am going to work as hard as I can to get healthy again. Also, I know that God is doing great things in mine and Jake's marriage. Who knew that "in sickness and health" would come so quickly for us? 

My mom found out yesterday that she has to go through chemotherapy again. This time though, it will be less invasive and a "biological form" of chemotherapy that should not make her as sick. She will receive treatments every 3 weeks for a year. Did I mention that today is my mom's 50th birthday? She will spend her 50th year battling breast cancer, again. All I am praying that my mom gets close to another 50 years to celebrate her life. Anyway, my mom will be receiving Herceptin treatments (more info here too.) during the next year that will hopefully make her better. This is taken directly from the second link I provided above about the Herceptin: Herceptin is approved for the treatment of early-stage breast cancer that is Human Epidermal growth factor Receptor 2-positive (HER2+) and has spread into the lymph nodes; or is HER2+ and has not spread into the lymph nodes. If it has not spread into the lymph nodes, the cancer needs to be estrogen receptor/progesterone receptor (ER/PR)-negative or have one high risk feature. If I remember correctly (and I'm sure my mom will get on here and comment if I am wrong/right), she is positive for the HER2+ but there was no cancer in her lymph nodes and it is estrogen receptor negative. Right now she is upset because she will be missing my surgery because she can't come into town (and she will be receiving surgery the same day as me to receive the port for the chemotherapy) and is upset because she has to go through chemotherapy again. But, she is still in relatively good spirits and is determined to take care of herself. She is such a strong woman. I look up to her every day.

Please continue to keep my mom in your prayers! We are hoping that this will "cure" her and she will be cancer free again. I continue to pray that she finds the meaning in going through all this again so that she can figure out His plan as well. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Update on Liz's Mom

I bet everyone is wondering how my mom's surgery went. It's now 2 weeks since she got home from her surgery afterall...

I spent 6 days with my mom in North Carolina--2 days before surgery and the 4.5 days after surgery. I am so glad that I was able to go and stay with her a couple days before surgery--it gave us time to catch up and spend time together and it helped to ease my anxiety about the whole thing because I got to relax a couple days before she went in for surgery.

The surgery went well. It was estimated to be about 4-6 hours in the OR and she ended up being in surgery for 8-ish hours!! It then took her another 1-2 hours to wake up from the anesthesia. If you remember reading about it
last month, she had the double mastectomy and the reconstruction surgery at the same time this time--which are two pretty hefty surgeries to have at once. This website has a pretty good description of the reconstruction surgery/process that she had. She had to go with the latissimus dorsi flap because she had her gall bladder removed and the scar tissue from that surgery would have prevented the blood from reaching the tissue from her belly moved up to her breasts. Needless to say, she is in pain but keeping her spirits up and staying positive. She's one strong woman!! 

Before I left, she was able to finally take a shower. Which was a
process and exhausted her. She told me that she slept for the rest of the afternoon after the shower!! I had to remove all the bandages/gauze and then re-bandage/gauze everything. During the whole process we had a nice little laugh because I had to remove the bandages from her back incisions and I did it quickly. I swear that I asked her which she preferred--slow or fast--and she said fast. Or that she didn't care. But, it was painful, as you can image. So the other side, I did slowly :P She said that she now knows now it felt for us as kids to have her remove bandages fast like that. 

She's slowly recovering. The recovery for this type of surgery is typically 6 or so weeks... and she's on week 3 of recovery. She still has 2 of the 6 drainage tubes that they put in her and is hoping that those come out this week. And she has an appointment with the oncologist to talk about further treatment. Since there was no cancer in the lymph nodes and the cancer was
super small, we are hoping that she does not have to have any invasive treatment. She is prepared to deal with anything though. She thinks that they will put her on Tamoxifen again though. We'll see.

I'd like to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers! God is soooooooooooo good!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thankful Thursday - 11/3/11

The last couple weeks were busy, so I haven't been doing this. I have a few other blog updates coming, like how my mom's surgery went and how my halloween costume turned out, but I have a lot of work to still catch up on from being on vacation and this week. Hopefully this weekend I can catch up a bit.

This week I am thankful for:

The beautiful fall colors!!
We are having such a beautiful fall here in the ATL this year.

Health insurance.
For so many reasons.

As usual, my wonderful hubby.
I swear, he's a saint. He is such a trooper for taking care of me. And putting up with me when I'm sick... which is all the time lately.

Pretzels + Hershey's kisses + M&Ms.

A pair of jeans "fitting better" than they did 6 months ago.
Seriously, I haven't lost any weight since being super sick in June, but they fit much better!!

My mom's surgery going well.
She is such a strong woman.

The holiday season finally being here.
Hopefully it will bring happiness.

For having patience when I need it most.

Seriously, love-hate relationship. 
It's a time-suck, but I learn so much.

family, friends, Jake.

Your turn! What are you thankful for this week? Head on over to Curious Georgi and link up.

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