"God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say "thank you?"
- William Arthur Ward.
The new year came with sad times. My dad's cousin, Norine, died suddenly on December 29 and I was struck by so much sadness. I couldn't help but cry uncontrollably after reading a beautiful post that her son Jason wrote about his love for his Mom and family. I won't go in to too much detail because I haven't asked for permission but here is a snippet. Norine was a single Mom for the majority of her parenting and she raised three great kids that have become great parents. Jason's words struck me so much because she didn't always lead an easy life but she always gave 110% to her children and grandchildren. She was their biggest cheerleader and always supported them. Clearly this is a trait that runs in the family. Her father, Polly, and my grandma, Eileen, shared the same love for their children and passed it down. While we have never spent much time with my Dad's side of the family I used to run in to Norine often and was always inspired by her beauty and kindness. I so wish that I could know them all better. Jason's words about his Mom remind me so much of my love for my parents and their love for me. Many of my tears came from knowing that the kids would not have their cheerleader standing my their side but I need to remember that she will always be in their hearts. For those of you who are parents PLEASE always encourage and support your children...everyone needs a needs a cheerleader...there are few things more important in life. I wouldn't be who I am today without my parent's love. They are the president's of my fan club. Life is too short to not love family. Jason and his sisters' faith has also inspired me to reflect on my faith.
Jason wrote a sweet line in his posting about his love for his Mom:
One of Mom's favorite statements was, "Someday when you stand before God, He is going to ask you what you did with your gifts (this is how she referred to her children). How are you going to answer?" Well my Mom had that conversation with God on Saturday and when God asked her "What did you do with the gifts I gave you". I'm sure she answered, "Everything I could."
I don't know if I will be blessed with children but I do know that God has given me many gifts that I need to use to the fullest. WE all need to have the same answer that Norine had...WE all need to do everything we can. Jason, Nolan, Neely, and the rest of the family...you will always have a wonderful angel looking over you.
The first few days of January brought a trip to my plastic surgeon. I think that my car just drives itself to Loyola these days. The necrosis of my skin is getting worse daily. We have tried everything and the skin simply does not want to participate in the process. I have my appointment with Dr. V on Thursday, January 3. He takes a look at my right breast and simply says "what are you doing tomorrow?" If a doctor asks what I am doing on a Friday I would have high hopes that he is asking me to dinner or drinks but that is not the case. He feels that the skin in beyond repair and needs to be removed immediately. If I had my "responsible driver" with me I would have probably went in to surgery that day. My eyes filled with tears as I started to ask questions. What does this surgery mean? What all will happen? Surgery will include me completely going under, removal of my implant, removal of the dead skin, cleaning of the area, a new implant, AND A DRAIN. Seriously!?!?! I just got rid of my drains last week and I will get a new one tomorrow. The difficult part is that I actually like the look of my breast reconstruction and my right side was my "favorite". Well...now it is going to all change in less than 24 hours. Surgery is quickly scheduled for the morning. They move so fast on this because the skin can breakdown and potentially cause a severe infection because of the implant being a foreign body. I will be back in the morning for my third surgery of the journey. My first call on my way out is to make sure that my "responsible driver" is free.
Thursday evening my family meets at the wake. It is an emotional time for her family but I am in awe of their strength. My Dad's tears break my heart. I spend some time talking with Jodi, a friend from high school and a good friend of Jason's. When we reach the family at the front of the room the family could not have been kinder to me about my journey. I know that Jason and his family have said prayers and lit candles at the Notre Dame Grotto. But here he is in his time of grief and he supports me and my family. Truly a product of his mother's love. We were able to visit with many family members that I have not seen in ages. Always good to see family but I do wish that it would have occurred under better circumstance. I feel badly that I will not be able to go to the funeral to show my support. My family has decided that my Dad will go to the services and the rest of us will head to the hospital for surgery.
Early Friday morning came quickly. I am somewhat calmer than I have been for the other surgeries. There is simply nothing that I can do to change the situation. We did the usual routine and I picked up Mom and we headed to the hospital. Unfortunately my doctor was running late so we had a pretty long delay for waiting. I didn't sleep much the night before and I took my Xanax so a nap was easy for me in the waiting room. My Mom, Chris, and I waited for me to be called up to pre-op. A couple of hours later I was called and headed up with the nurse.
My fear of surgery mostly falls in the pre-op and post-op areas, after all that is when I am awake. The areas of the most concern are - getting the IV to allow for medicine, the fear of pain post-op, and the fact that it takes me a long time to get all the meds out of my system. I am unable to get an IV in my arms so they need to use a different location. My feet are still bruised from the double mastectomy and I am not looking forward to the anesthesia. I get undressed and put on the lovely gown. I still don't understand why I have to take my underwear off when there are working on the upper part of my body. It just doesn't make sense to me. Today I get the pleasure of working with my plastic surgeons 2nd year Fellow. Super nice guy whose name I can never remember so I refer to him as Fellow #2 (not to his face). He comes in and explains what all will be happening while the nurses are doing their thing. Then the Anesthesiologists come in. That's right I get two today. One is tall and a little funky and the other is like his quite sidekick. Not that he is an actual sidekick but Dr. Baker-Watson is providing the entertainment while Dr. Augustine is doing a lot of the work. I explained the IV situation and the challenges that we had with getting the needle in my feet. So they started looking at other areas on my body and ended with focusing on my neck...WHAT?!?! you can get an IN in your neck? Who knew? With that decision they decide to do the procedure in the OR so that they can number the area and move quickly. So off to the OR we go.
Upon rolling in to the OR I see a couple of residents, Fellow #2, and a nurse (she was cranky). I had to laugh because the residents and the #2 were all on the iPhones. I joked and said that one was on Facebook, the other was texting his girlfriend, and the third was checking the scores of a game. They all laughed and guaranteed me that they were "working". I slide over to the table and we are ready to go. Dr. Augustine is in charge of placing the jugular catheter (fancy name for a neck IV). He started on my left side. "This will be a pinch and a burn."...one of the many lines I don't like to hear. Once the area is numb they work on inserting the catheter. He has many challenges with the left side so he decides that I should turn the other check and does the same thing on my right. YIKES...if my feet don't work and my neck doesn't work where will they go next. I'm starting to get nervous but talking with everyone and laughing at Dr. Baker-Watson. I can't help but wonder why he has a hyphenated last name. While my neck is number I can still feel the blood squirting when he is working on it. I asked what was going on but was told that "everything is good". Once the line is in and we are ready for the meds to knock me out Dr. B-W has a handful of drugs to insert in the line. He has crazy music playing from the iPhone on his belt. It is almost like he is trying to hypnotize me instead of give me drugs. :) I ask what each drug is and he explains all to me. The last thing I remember is seeing a white milky drug that he is ready to insert. I say "what is that". He replies that it is Propofol the drug that knocked out Michael Jackson and with that I feel asleep.
The next thing I know I am in post-op and waking up to my family. I feel like I have been hit by a bus again but it seems to be par for the course. Dr. V comes to explain what all he did during surgery. He was able to remove the dead skin and clean the area to try to prevent future infections. He didn't have to reduce the size of the implant so that is a bonus and means that I will not have to have the left side re sized. We wait a little bit and then head home. Praying that the skin will be viable moving forward.
My Dad filled my Mom in about the services this morning. Jason asked if it would be ok add me to the prayer intentions during the mass. Of course my Dad appreciates this. Dad got very emotional during the funeral and left the church crying. While he was in the parking lot Jason followed him out and consoled him. I don't know the details of the conversation but I do know that Jason holds an extra special spot in my heart for taking care of my #1 guy! My Dad simply said that Jason is a truly special person and he got emotional while saying it. Thank you Jason! Hugs!
During the coming days I rested, measured fluid from my new drainage tube, and watched more tv.
Be well and hug your family today!