Friday, 12/7/18

SIX MONTH FOLLOW UP – CANCER SURGEON

All good with Dr. Lim as well. Had a slight vertigo attack in exam room, but it was sparked by them adjusting the table. Still fine. I have no complications from the lymph nodes or the breasts. She, too, said it was one of the best outcomes she’s seen. She asked what my girlfriends thought and I realized I didn’t have any kind of celebratory whatever I’m supposed to have. I never showed anyone and just went about my business. Something about this made me sad and just highlighted how isolated I’ve become. I’m trying not to be pitiful, but I’m horribly depressed at times. Anyway, the cancer stuff looks good. I will go back again in six months.

Thursday, 12/6/18

SIX MONTH FOLLOW UP – RECONSTRUCTIVE SURGEON

All went well. It was so good to see Dr. Spiegel again. She’s an amazing person and a brilliant doctor. Her staff is incredible as well. She saw nothing to indicate any complications and felt the result was one of the best she’s encountered. I explained that I have some pretty hardcore stabbing pains on occasion which I told her I thought was the Lupus or Fibromyalgia or both. She said that I should get an even more supportive bra and gave me a sheet with options. I will see her again in one year; however, I will go back sooner to help with a promotional video or whatever they need from me.

Wednesday, 6/13/18

FINAL CLEARANCE BY RECONSTRUCTIVE SURGEON

The day has come! I have received post-operative clearance from Dr. Spiegel. Tomorrow marks my six-week anniversary of the surgery as well as the standard recovery time.  I will return again in two months to ensure the healing continued and that no new issues have arisen.

I’m wondering if it’s possible to be nostalgic for the time spent with them. Dr. Spiegel is a good soul, a rare breed in the medical field. I have a lot of good doctors; actually, I have some great doctors. But, as with every profession, I suppose, there are some people who are gifted and who happened to choose the field of expertise that suits their gifts best. I think of the many people I’ve come across and think, “They would’ve been a good engineer,” or “Man, they missed their calling as an artist.” I am so thankful that no one will ever say that about Dr. Spiegel. It seems she’s missed nothing, and her patients, her staff, her counterparts… we’re all beneficiaries. Four months ago I was terrified. I was navigating a path for myself and had slumped into a weird state of mind. I remember never being able to walk out of that hospital, that medical building, without hiding my crying face behind Ken’s shoulder as we walked. I crumpled up on the floor of the kitchen with my daughter, not knowing what kind of journey I was on. I had spontaneous fits of fear and anxiety that no one could quell. Every day was some weird cross between paralysis and muscle flexing. Every visit with Dr. Spiegel, or Dr. Lim, or Dr. Patel, felt like another step on the gangplank. Probably the strangest experience of all was that I did absolutely no reading, not an ounce of research on breast cancer, treatment, surgery, reconstruction or recovery. Very unlike me, with my mounds of books and papers on every condition or illness I’ve ever had. I put the word, “TRUST” as my iPhone’s wallpaper in a self-programming effort. The most surprising result happened the day of surgery. One short bout of tears between zen zones. I had accomplished what was, for me, the unthinkable. I was about to be a really good patient.

So, here we are, six weeks out, cancer free, and I’m receiving my final clearance from the women who’ve mastered the journey for so many. I am so eternally grateful for every single thing I’ve been through. This experience has given me an understanding of what every day heroes are truly like. They study their passion and perfect their service. They’re jam-packed with compassion and hold valuable the lives of others. Sometimes, they even bring people out of their darkest places. How lucky I am.

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The brilliant Dr. Aldona Spiegel, me, and Dr. Spiegel’s amazing and lovely PA, Nicole.

Thursday, 5/31/18

FOLLOW UP #4 – DR. SPIEGEL

The left incision has finally closed and the possibility of another surgery has been eliminated.  Something called a “knot stitch” (used at one end of an incision to create an “anchor” in creating a long line of stitches to close it) was trying to pop through the surface of my skin. I noticed it bulging and felt something sharp as well, but didn’t know what it was. Nicole, Dr. Spiegel’s PA, said that, most of the time, our bodies absorb it, but in my case, my body was trying to push it out. She made a gentle opening and took it out, placed a bandage and that was that. The holes from the drains are still healing, but doing very well. I will return again in two weeks because the swelling on the right hasn’t gone down as much as the left. All normal, they just need to follow closely before they clear me. I can drive again!! Four weeks of being a passenger – not favorable.  I still have to sleep on my back for another couple weeks. Not to be whiny, but I hate that part. I sneak a short side break in here and there, but I always move back, automatically it seems.

Friday, 5/25/18

0C0FE7DB-2F7D-43E7-842D-C15C8D86CB69TWO FOLLOW UPS

I went for follow up #3 today with Dr. Spiegel. She, again, looked at the left incision and thinks it’s doing better but still not exactly where she wants it. I will go again next Thursday with my fingers crossed. The issue is that there’s about a half inch area that won’t close. It was wider and gray last week. This week it’s smaller and white, which is better. All-in-all, she is super happy with my progress and the outcome. Dr. Spiegel speaks at conferences around the world and today she asked if I would be willing to be interviewed from a patient perspective for an upcoming video presentation. Very excited to share my experience and give back to her in any way I can. She is a brilliant surgeon.

I then went to see Dr. Lim, another medical genius and the one responsible for saving my life. Her work is astounding as well, considering all she did without making me look like Frankenstein. She was able to complete the mastectomies without damaging the outermost layer and without leaving any visible scars. She was the first doctor I saw in this process and her warmth and communication style set me up for success from the beginning. God knows how shaken I was at that first meeting. Dr. Lim has cleared me and will follow up with me again in six months. She is to the right in this picture and her PA and a resident are to the left.

Moving right along.

Tuesday, 5/22/18

0C2BACE5-FA74-4E81-BBE7-4B98463D601FFOLLOW UP #2 – RECONSTRUCTIVE SURGEON

Back at Dr. Spiegel’s office to, hopefully, remove the remaining two drains on either side of my rib cage. They have become so cumbersome and uncomfortable. I’ve been sleeping flat on my back for almost three weeks and, if you’ve ever tried such a stunt, it’ll make you grumpy. The good thing is that the fluids have reduced significantly and this little fact should seal the deal. Out with their invasive selves!!

The other issue of slightly higher significance is an area on the left side incision that seemed concerning to the PA last week. With constant cleaning, applying of Neosporin, gauze strips and a daily zinc supplement, I am hoping she is satisfied with the progress. Otherwise, I will need additional surgery within a week. Approaching this with high hopes!

Little side note: getting rid of this 24/7 surgical compression bra with Velcro would be a nice touch.

OK, and we wait…

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Drains are out!! Incision looking better, but one more follow up this Friday to be sure.

Wednesday, 5/16/18

I’M CLEARED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I went to see Dr. Patel for my post-op oncology appointment to find out what’s next with treatment beyond the mastectomies. There were, actually, three areas of breast cancer that were found, but none had become invasive. There was no cancer found in the lymph nodes that were removed. Because everything was removed in both breasts, there is NO NEED for further treatment at this time. We caught it super early, eradicated it from my body, and I am DONE!!!! I will still need to see her once a year. She suggested I go back and follow up on the ovarian cyst that got me here in the first place. Lastly, it’s also time for the dreaded colonoscopy. BUT, I AM CLEAR OF BREAST CANCER!!!!!!