Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Long Overdue Update

It's been almost 3 months since my reconstruction surgery, and I am so sorry to be remiss in giving updates.

I am just flat-assed happy that I had this reconstruction done. I am finished with physical therapy, and have complete range of motion (ROM) in my left arm with almost no discomfort. My right arm ROM is vastly improved over pre-reconstruction status, although not 100%. But manageable, very manageable. And it may continue to improve over time. Experience shows that it takes me about a full year to fully recover from a major surgery.

My abdominal swelling is completely resolved, and I can button my jeans again. YEAH!!

I found myself slipping back into clinical depression after the surgery, and I really couldn't understand why. My therapist suggested I go back onto antidepressants, but the nurse practitioner that I wanted to see in the office was not taking new Medicare patients. (Why this place screws with mentally ill people has always confused me.) But over time, the depression lifted. I mentioned this at a cancer support group meeting, and someone suggested it might have been anesthesia-induced depression. I had never heard of such a thing, but it certainly made sense.

I have started exercising again, mostly at the YMCA. I try to do at least 2 yoga sessions a week, as well as something else. Sometimes the something else is a mile or two on the stationary bike. This week the something else was a class called "Dance NRG" (energy). Semi-aerobic, lots of bouncing and stretching, quite a challenge for the sensory neuropathy in my feet and the motor neuropathy in my legs, and a real brain teaser for my cognitive impairment--trying to remember the steps. I just might do that class again next week.

I am trying to get into an exercise study for breast cancer survivors. It would involve 14 weeks of supervised exercise at a pretty classy rehab facility. There would be pre- and post-study measurements. The one problem is that the study would have a randomly chosen control group. The control group would get the measurements, but be asked not to engage in an exercise program during the study period. I will not be part of the control group, even if it means not joining the study and thus not getting the possible opportunity for the supervised exercise.

I lack stamina right now, and I know exercise, and nutrition, will put me back to right. And we all know how bad I am about nutrition, so exercise is necessary.

Here's an example of lack of stamina. Yesterday, I did about 2 hours of running around chores, and then about 2 hours of housework. Nothing really physically challenging. I watched TV in my bedroom in the evening, and laid my head down at 10pm for a quick nap. I woke at 1:30am. I hadn't realized how pooped I was.

Jim has been away this week at Myrtle Beach for a guys golf week. It's been nice to get a little alone time, and not have to plan and make dinner every day.

We haven't had such a great 2009 so far. At New Year's, Jim and I both came down with a GI tract virus--vomiting and diarrhea. It wasn't the flu; no fever or muscle discomfort. Jim had it for 3 days; thankfully, mine was only one day. Then Jim had in-office surgery on his head for a basal cell skin cancer. The next day he was diagnosed with macular degeneration. We saw a specialist, and he had the dry kind in his left eye and the wet kind in his right eye. His left eye isn't too bad, but the right is. He has started treatment on his right eye, which involves the injection of a small amount of a chemotherpy agent into his eyeball. Every six weeks. The shot isn't painful, just frightening, so I will be pre-medicating Jim with some valium before his next shot. (There is no treatment for the dry type of macular degeneration.)

I had been suffering since early December with a full body rash. Our dermatologist gave me a cortisone shot and some acid mantle cream, and although the rash and itching were reduced, they did not fully resolve. When the DR saw me 10 days later, she declared that I had scabies, which comes from mites. The DR said I probably picked them up in the hospital. Both Jim and I had to be treated with a Permethrin cream, and our bedding, towels, and clothes had to be washed in hot water, or put into sealed trash bags for two weeks. I still have some itching, but I think it is just my normal winter dry skin.

And of course, there are our new babies. Emma Leah is a grey tabby with white bib and legs, and Casey is an orange tabby with white bib and legs. When we got them in early December, Emma was 4 months and Casey was 6 months old. Both came from shelter/rescue situations. Casey brought in a very nasty upper respiratory infection, which all the cats got, including Grandpa Ennis. It continues even now, with Casey finally on a course of Doxycycline Hyclate (an antibiotic) because he is now sneezing green snot.

Ennis isn't thrilled with the new cats, but he's becoming accustomed to them, especially now that he is over the conjunctivitis he picked up from Casey.

So what does the future hold? Jim is toying with the idea of going to Clearwater, FL, in March for part of the Phillies spring training. I am starting back on that book I still need to write for the AICPA. I have revision surgery on April 27, where the surgeon will be making cosmetic corrections to my breast flaps and adding nipples. Jim may have his other knee replaced this summer....he seems reluctant to go through it again. Other than that, we are just looking forward to the end of winter, even though we have been very fortunate with little snowfall so far.


cleodacat said...

Venita, you are a fabulous woman and your story is inspiring. so glad you and jim have little kitties to love on. wonderful to see how well you are doing, and i know it will only get better and better. Hugs, Chris

Anonymous said...

Glad things are going better.