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).


Anonymous said...

Sending you big hugs and kisses. I am thinking of you and Jim.

Love Alice

Anonymous said...

Alexander Technique lessons made a big, big difference for me after surgery. They have a great site at