Monday, October 20, 2008

Please Help Simmy

This is the extra-sweet Simmy. Simmy is a diabetic, although he is presently diet-controlled. Simmy's person is Cheryl, and together they are known on the FDMB as Foursavages.

Here are the facts. Simmy need a visit to the vet and perhaps some procedures, and the fund I helped set up some time back to accept donations for Simmy's vet care and medical supplies is too low for what Simmy needs. We have a fund because, well, because we need to.

Here's the deal. Were you thinking of sending me a card while I was in the hospital? Maybe some flowers or a do-dad? Maybe even make a call to see how I am doing?

Could you take that $1, $5, or $10 and instead of spending it on me, send it to Simmy's fund? The fund is at PayPal, and you can read about Simmy and access the link to the fund at his blog: The PayPal link is at the top of the front page.

I would really appreciate your help, and I know Cheryl and Simmy would too. Even if you weren't going to send me a card or make a call, maybe you could consider a donation?

Thanks to all for listening.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

My pre-hospitalization Perm

For some reason, I thought this would be a good idea. The kitty is my dear Lily.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hospital and Surgery Info

I've been asked to give details about my surgery and info about the hospital.

The surgery is a Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator (DIEP) flap. This article includes drawings and photos. The surgeon will be removing an football shaped piece of skin with the underlying fat and associated blood vessels from my abdomen. That piece of tissue will be cut in two, and the blood vessels of the pieces reattached to the blood vessels in my chest area. The following drawing show a unilateral reconstruction; mine will be bilateral.

The surgery takes 6-8 hours, depending on how long it takes to identify the perforators. I will be in the Intensive Care Unit overnight and transferred to the ward the following morning. I am supposed to be able to ambulate on 1st postoperative day and be discharged home on 4th postoperative day.

I will have a second stage revision and nipple creation under local anaesthesia with intravenous sedation on an outpatient basis between 8 and 12 weeks after the initial surgery. The revision is to further refine and finish the appearance of the breasts. There may be scar revisions at the donor site performed at that time.

My surgery is at Mercy Hospital in Baltimore. The phone number to reach patients is 410-332-9000. For those who might not know, my last name is Wood. Visiting hours once I am out of ICU are 11am to 8:30pm. The cheapest parking is to leave your car with the valet at the Weinberg Medical center, which is attached to the hospital. Here is info on directions and parking.

Linda Lee (Linda and Napoleon) is our FDMB contact. She will be in touch with Jim or me, and post info on the Community Board. I will be home sometime on October 30, so after that you can reach me at home. I likely will not be getting on the computer often, so phone is better than PM or email.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Halloween's Coming....

Are you getting your costume ready?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

So What's Up?

Been a long time since I posted. Sorry.

Jim is recovering remarkably well from his knee replacement surgery. He had the left knee done, and presently it is his right knee that is troubling him. He has about 4 more weeks of physical therapy (3x/week). We walk in the neighborhood at least once a day and Jim does mobility exercises in the house twice a day.

Lily, my 15yo tabby cat, has been diagnosed with osteosarcoma (a bone cancer) in her jaw. It presented as a growth in the soft tissue of her mouth, which was surgically excised along with her upper right canine tooth that had been rotted by the cancer. X-Rays showed that Lily is not a candidate for surgical removal of the cancer from the jaw bone, so we are moving to medicine-based palliative care. Other than the cancer, Lily is in great shape for a cat her age. We can expect that she will live at least a few more months, but will start having clinical symptoms that will include drooling and discharge, bleeding, and odor from her mouth. We will be treating her with antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and pain medications. I have started a separate blog about Lily's cancer journey.

Two weeks from today, Jim and I will be traveling to Mercy Hospital in Baltimore for my Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator (DIEP) flap breast reconstruction surgery. This surgery will remove the skin and fat from my lower abdomen (without removing muscle), transfer the tissue to my chest area, and reconnect the feeding blood vessels to vessels in the armpit. The abdominal wound is closed like a tummy tuck.

I have gained about 30 pounds in the past year to be able to have the tissue to do this surgery. I'm up to almost 150 pounds. It's not a very attractive look on me, quite a bulbous belly, but the surgeon, who we saw two weeks ago, is very happy with it.

The surgery is scheduled for noon on Monday October 27. It will take 6-8 hours. I will be kept in ICU overnight so that there is constant monitoring of the bloodflow to the transplanted tissue. To monitor, the surgeon will put a doppler monitor in my chest. I will stay two more nights on a regular hospital floor, and hopefully be discharged on Thursday October 30. I will return to Baltimore the following week to have the surgical drains and doppler removed.

Jim will be staying in Baltimore with me, at a hotel across the street from the hospital. We hope to visit with Stefani the day before the surgery, which is also Jim's birthday.

We originally planned to take Ennis with us, but without knowing exactly when we would be leaving the hospital in relation to checkout time from the hotel, we decided to leave him at home. Leslie from the FDMB will be coming in once a day to give him his insulin shot. Because Lily might need to be started on medication while we are gone, she will be boarding at the vet.

The day after I get home, my sister-in-law Donna will be flying in from Texas to stay for 10 days. The day after she leaves, Linda Lee from the FDMB will be flying in from Atlanta for 10 days. The purpose of their visits is to keep me company, make the evening meal, and manage Jim--things like sending him out for provisions. Those flights were made possible by generous donations from two friends of frequent flyer miles. Thank you Dave and Jennifer!!

I have been spending alot of time trying to improve my mobility. I have greatly improved on the fatigue and bone pain fronts. I still have trouble with neuropathy in my feet and legs. I have been seeing an acupuncturist and she has returned some sensation to my feet and flexibility to one of my ankles. (She kindly is giving me a reduced rate.) I joined the local YMCA (on a low-income scholarship) and am taking a class in the Alexander Technique there. That has really helped my overall muscle pain. I also get into the pool and gym there as time permits.

I am paying to take a Feldenkrais Method class, but this Thursday will be my last class. Contrary to what should happen with this movement modality, I end up with cramps and in tears every time I try it. I consulted with a therapist about myofascial release massage on my restricted chest tissue to provide some relief in advance of my surgery, but she didn't want to take me on, fearing she might cause lymphedema in my arm.

And there is the bicycle I bought myself for my birthday. I probably could have better spent that money, because this bike's gearing system is really cranky compared to my old bike (which I sold at a garage sale).

That's where we are. I continue to thank the Powers that Be for my friends and for NED (no evidence of disease).