Saturday, June 13, 2009

Home Sweet Home!

Hi, everyone! Just wanted to let you know we arrived home safely around 1:00 yesterday. The staff at the hospital - everyone we met from the preop waiting area, the OR, the RR, and the women's ward where I spent the night - were absolutely wonderful, but it still feels great to be back home.

I am doing great. The biggest discomfort comes from the drains they put in under the skin. I have two on the left and one on the right. Fluid naturally accumulates under the skin as a result of the surgery. The drains remove that fluid so I can heal. When each drain drains less than 30ml of fluid in a day, they will be ready to come out. I am taking my Vicodin regularly so that I can do slow, easy stretching exercises. I am very pleased so far with my mobility and am trying to avoid stiffening up. Dr. Lang will be referring me to a physical therapist that specializes in working with mastectomy patients to help me build up my muscle strength again after I've had a chance to heal some.

I am able to take a shower and did so last night. It was heavenly! The warm water relaxed all of my muscles and I felt clean and fresh afterwards.

The incisions aren't so bad. I had thought I was pretty prepared for what to expect, but I don't think you can really know how you're going to react until you're faced with the real thing. I had thought I would be bandaged up and there would be this big unveiling at the doctor's office when it was time for the drains to come out. Instead, I came out of surgery with a bra on that fastens in the front and it was packed with lots of soft gauze (remember those junior high years girls?). That night in my room, the nurse asked Joe and I if we were ready to learn how to clean the drain sites and put on new dressings. We said yes and that was it. No big deal. No tears. The nurse was very matter of fact about it and Joe and I felt very comfortable. I'm pretty lumpy right now. You can see the drainage tubes under the skin and there are steristrips along the incision, but I can already tell it's going to look ok when everything heals.

I guess my blood pressure was pretty low during the surgery and so they ended up giving me five and a half liters of fluid. I looked a little bit like the Michellin Man the first night after surgery, but the swelling is starting to slowly go down.

Pam, Joe, and Janaya have been wonderful. My girlfriend, Carol, has arranged for friends to bring meals for us for the next week. I have recieved the nicest notes and words of encouragement. It is amazing how technology has enabled us to keep in touch with and be there for each other in ways we weren't in the past. Over and over throughout this journey, I've witnessed people dealing with similar or more difficult situations with little or no support system. I will be forever grateful for all of you and the love you've shown me.

I am going to close this post with a saying someone posted on a breast cancer support site. I read it a couple of weeks ago and it really helped me have the right frame of mind going into this surgery. Here it is:

"Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn-out, shouting "Holy Sh*t, what a ride!"

Isn't that great!

Love you all!


velvet brick said...

I LOVE THIS QUOTE!!!! It's a wonderful perspective of what life is! Thank you for sharing it...I needed to read it. Martha, you are just amazing and I hope you never get tired of hearing that because I never get tired of telling you that. As you describe the night after surgery and learning how to change dressings/drain tubes, etc, I so am in awe and amazement of your frame of mind, your ability to handle the reality of the hand you've been dealt and your bravery. Above all, you have never lost your humor. I have learned many lessons about life as I've walked this road with you...more than you are aware of. You continue to be such a beautiful and inspiring role model to me and so many others.

The book club babes are all doing happy dances about your successful surgery and recovery - we want to thank YOU and Joe for indulging us by allowing us to bring dinners over! You, Joe, Pam and your wonderful children have been nothing less than kind and gracious to each of us. We are very lucky to have the Hitzel family in our lives. It is very easy to help you out, becuase if the situation were reversed, you would be at my door...oh wait, you HAVE been at my door with a basket of goodies!! : )))))

Take sweet care of yourself and I'll be swinging by in a few hours with Papa John pizza! Nothing but the best for my girlfriend....uh, you do like anchovies, don't you??
; )) (I tease.... I TEASE!)

Cheela said...

I love the quote, too, Martha!! Kerri and I are doing dinner for you on Tuesday. Are you restricted on any kind of meals? We would like to make an old family recipe for chicken enchiladas that is so good. They aren't real spicy; we actually use chicken noodle soup in them Hope that will be okay. And I still owe you beans, but don't know if I will get to them before Tuesday!! So glad you are doing so well.

Dottie said...

You ROCK, Martha!!!!! What a wonderful relief it has been to get you to and see you at this point!!! You're just nothing but . . . REMARKABLE!!!

Love ya lots, Kiddo!!!