Tuesday, April 14, 2015

What you gon' do wit all that breast?

Big shocker, I failed the blog challenge. I have no discipline, it's a wonder that I even bother. I was going strong for three, read it, THREE days in a row, and then I ran out of gas. Actually, it was really nice out last Saturday, and I went to go visit my friend Melissa. And then Easter, and then a death in the family, and then I just.... gave... up.

Sigh.... moving right along.

When I had my double mastectomy on December 1st, the plan was to go ahead with the second surgery in the middle to end of March. As you know, plans changed and I developed a seroma and severe infection. I wouldn't wish that week in the hospital over new year's on anyone. Saying it was awful is an understatement, and mind you, I don't remember huge chunks of that week due to being so sick.

As confident as I was going forward with the mastectomy, nothing prepared me for the emotional roller coaster I've been riding on these past few months. Not that I expected someone to sit me down and say, "now Marla, cutting off your breasts is going to very scary and emotional," because, duh, that's a given. Perhaps I figured since I didn't actually have cancer, nor have to endure any treatments after, that the entire process would be easier.

Guess what, it wasn't.

I remember my first post-operative dressing change in the hospital, looking down and being shocked... why aren't the expanders expanding? Did someone mess up? Where were my breasts?

In my Dilaudid- PCA haze, I lost it and cried my eyes out. The fellow doing the dressing change was sweet, but he was clearly not at all prepared to deal with my emotions and tears at 6am when he more than likely had at least another 20 patients to see before rounds.

Despite tons of tears, bottles of pain meds, a few setbacks, physical therapy, more tears, resorting to herbal remedies (we will leave it at that) to help with pain and insomnia, and a few more tears, there is finally light at the end of this tunnel.

Last Thursday, Steve and I went to the plastic surgeon to sign the consents for surgery to have the tissue expanders swapped out for permanent implants. I have a date!!!

April 21, 2015 is....
Titty Tuesday
Mark your calendars!
(   .   )(   .   )

Exam room selfie

One week from today, I will finally get relief from these tissue expanders, and Dr Fahey has assured me I will feel so much better after the switcheroo!

Love you all! <3

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Friday, April 3, 2015

You can stand under my umbrella...

Day 3 of the WEGO Health Writer's Month Challenge. I got this!

Today's Prompt
Good Samaritan
We love random acts of kindness. Write about a time when you benefitted from the kindness of a stranger, or a time when you were the one lending a helping a hand. How did you feel?

Yesterday's post was all about my key to happiness, and how I'm able to see the silver lining through all the hurdles I've had to jump over.

Ironically enough, not three hours after I hit 'publish' on the post, I received some news that broke my brain and my heart. I don't mean to be vague, it has nothing to do with me or my health, and it's not my business to put out there for all of blog land. I knew it was coming, but, upsetting nonetheless.

The woman who cleans my house once a month (yep, I have a cleaning lady. Don't judge. If you think I'm spending what little pain-free time I have cleaning my house, you're out of your fucking mind), Kim, opened my office door not knowing I was in there, only to find me hiding behind my computer in a pool of tears.

Before it even registered she was in the room, Kim pulled me out of the chair and embraced me in a hug. She asked what was wrong, and when I said I couldn't talk about it she made me promise that it had nothing to do with my health. I assured her that wasn't the case and she hugged me until I stopped shaking.

It was sweet, and in that moment I was surprisingly grateful. She eventually went back to doing her thing, but continued to check in on me every 10 minutes. She could have easily pretended the vacuum drowned out the sound of my sniffles and sobs, and the fact that she didn't was comforting.

Thank you, Kim. Your warm gesture and kindness meant more than you could possibly know.

Happy Passover to my fellow Jew-Jew Bees, and Happy Easter to my Catholic/Christian friends!

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

In every life we have some trouble...

It's Day 2 of the WEGO Health Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge, and I'm still going strong.

And by "going strong," I mean it took 5 hours to write this as I consumed a bag of Starburst jelly beans.

Today's Prompt
Key to Happiness
What do you think is the key to happiness? Is it being able to overcome a hard time? Laughter? Maintaining a positive attitude?

I'm grateful that despite everything I've been through medically, I'm a relatively happy person. I find myself in dark places or having bad thoughts like any human (and no doubt my cats when I sing to them), but over time, I'm able to shake myself out of the funk. 

I believed I'd be much "happier" if I didn't have any of my illnesses. Without my heart defect, I would have played sports growing up like I always wanted to. If lupus and other auto-immune diseases weren't a part of my life, I'd still be working as a pediatric nurse, doing what I love. I'd be pregnant with my third child (and in this fantasy, no stretch marks or extra chins), and having a double mastectomy wouldn't be a reality. 

Take away my health issues, and what's left? Maybe I would have sucked at sports. I manage to trip over air on daily basis, so this is a real possibility. Without my experiences as a cardiac kid, I could've been the worst pediatric nurse on the planet. I wouldn't have this blog, and I would not be a world famous health advocate. 

I tend to think that if it weren't all the health stuff, it'd be something else. It's always something, right? I could be stuck in a loveless marriage, or in a job I truly dislike, and not know how to get out of either. I could hate puppies or ice cream or music or sunshine. Maybe I'd be one of those people who, no matter how much good is in their life, can never see the glass as half full. 

One of my all-time favorite quotes was spoken by the great Professor Randy Pausch- "We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand."

And that right there is how I maintain happiness (and my sanity) through all this adversity; I smile, I laugh, I crack jokes, and I've made my journey an open book in order to teach and advocate. Does this sound like happiness to everyone, absolutely not. Im sure there are people out there disgusted that I've shared post-mastectomy or nose tampon photos and wonder "when the hell is that Tina Fey wannabe going to stop cracking jokes and start taking her health seriously?" But, I could easily spend day after day alone in my house, only coming out for treatments and doctor's appointments. What kind of life is that?

I got this text yesterday from one of my dearest friends after she read my blog. And yes, we're friends, so she may be a bit biased (Hi Lisa!), but it solidified that while it may not be everyone's cup of tea, maintaining happiness through staying positive and sharing my story is what works for me.

I don't have the master key to happiness, and if I did, you can bet your sweet ass I would have sold that bitch a long time ago, and I'd be writing this from the beach with an umbrella'd drink in hand.

Everyone has his or her own perceived idea of "happiness." Mine is fairly simple: through it all smile and laugh.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

What they'd give just for the right to hold you...

Happy April Fools Day, Fools!!

Today was supposed to be day 1 of the WEGO Health Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge, but for some reason I haven't received an email with the writing prompts. Lame. Hopefully I'll get them today because after 2 years of failing the challenge after a week or so, I am convinced the third time is the charm. 

Who can forget last year's excuse for failing, the nose tampon debacle?

I digress.

Since I don't have the prompts, I decided to write about something that has been weighing heavily on my mind the past few days. 

A blog post has been floating around Facebook this week titled, "The Joke is STILL Over," which is the sequel to 2014's popular, "The Joke is Over." The author, Becky, writes that while unintentional, the Facebook/Instagram/Twitter April Fool's Day posts of "We're pregnant!!!!" are hurtful to those struggling with infertility or miscarriage.

I've never been big on April Fool's Day, and I never tried the "I'm pregnant!" joke on a boyfriend/my husband/my mom; I didn't see the humor in it. In the past, it never bothered me seeing others who attempted the prank, and it wasn't until a few short years ago when I found myself being one of those who felt the cruel side of the joke.

The doors to my baby-making factory have been shut down for almost two years; I am infertile. My journey there is a bit different. Steve and I didn't try to get pregnant for two years, I didn't track my basal body temperature, there were no fertility medications or IVF.  

I remember being in Disney World with Steve, drinking margaritas in "Mexico" at Epcot, excitedly talking about starting a family. Upon our return, I was going to go speak with my cardiologist about pregnancy, and by the end of that year we were going to start trying.

In my cardiologist's office, I was excited and nervous, armed with a trusty notebook and pen to scribble down every word he uttered. We chatted, talked about my heart defect and other health issues and how they affected my risk percentages if I became pregnant. As the discussion went on, the higher the percentages climbed. Perhaps I was naive, but hearing it all was dumbfounding.

A handful of my other specialists told me pregnancy wasn't worth the risk.

Marla, it could be detrimental to your health, detrimental to the baby's health. You could have a stroke, your lupus could flare, you could go into heart failure. You could die. Your baby could be born with lupus, complete heart block, tetralogy of Fallot. You work in the CICU, you know what goes on here. You're already on the patient and nurse side, do you want to be on the parent side? Or have Steve be on the parent side without you?

Most of those words will haunt me forever. 

No, I don't know the pain of getting my period month after month, nor will I have to deal with the horrible side effects of fertility drugs, or the financial burdens of IVF. But, I am infertile, and even though ultimately I'm the one who made that decision, I don't hurt any less. I'm nothing less than thrilled when I see friends post sonogram shots, gender reveals, new baby announcements, but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a jab to my wasted uterus. 

So, on this April Fool's Day, I ask that you are mindful of the pranks you choose to pull. There are ways to be funny without hurting feelings. Switch out the office coffee for decaff!

Love you all <3

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