Wednesday, September 5, 2018

On Vulnerability

A guest post by an anonymous writer, which will be an ongoing series.
Please join us on her journey!

I have been thinking a lot about how my journey has forced me to become more vulnerable. Some extent of vulnerability is necessary just to get a diagnosis. Then comes the treatment component. Physical vulnerability is just a part of the process - mammograms, MRI's, tests, exams, surgeries. Emotional vulnerability is another component, one which I was determined I was NOT going to subject myself to. I tried to separate myself from the process to avoid emotional vulnerability. I sort of went through the motions as a kind of observer of the process for as long as I could.

I am not "good" at vulnerability. I am totally uncomfortable with exposing myself. Being authentic was always something I prided myself on. I was an "open book" for a long time. I  was just "myself" with no apologies. I loved that part of myself - not caring what anyone thought. I would like to think I still do not care what anyone thinks of me, but if I am honest, that just is not the case. Too many things have happened in my adulthood that have made me a lot more guarded and protective - probably to an unhealthy extent. After my diagnosis I was quite thankful I had learned to be more guarded, to not show myself to very many people. It made me stronger in a sense, more able to handle any news, treatment option, or plan without much regard for how I felt about it. I was being strictly reasonable about it - studying my options as an observer of my own life - not a part of it emotionally - using only facts to drive my decisions.

This approach worked for a while. I was very matter of fact about the entire situation. I never cried about it - just trudged on to the next decision. This all changed the day mastectomy became the best course of action. I was surprised by my reaction, but I cried in the radiologist's office. Then I cried talking to the surgeon. Then I went back to being matter of fact for a few months to decide what to do. By the time I decided on a bilateral mastectomy (both sides) I was back to crying about it. All this time I was going it alone - mostly. Only a few people knew what I was going through. None of my friends knew. I had only told a few of my sisters and of course my husband and kids. 

At some point, complete vulnerability became a necessary evil (in my mind). I had no choice but to face it all, emotionally, in order to tell extended family, and then to start this blog series. As I became more comfortable with being vulnerable, I started to tell anyone who would listen and cried to more people than I care to admit. Essentially, I was becoming more of that authentic self that I used to love about me. 

There were a lot of benefits to allowing myself to be vulnerable:
  • I FELT better to some extent, feeling like I was no longer alone. 
  • I received the support I would not have otherwise received (through support groups, childcare and meals provided after surgeries, words of encouragement from others).
  • I was able to write things that may have helped others.
  • I found some purpose for what I was going through.
Despite all the benefits, I struggled with being so vulnerable. I still felt horrible about being so exposed. Every time I would tell someone, ask for prayer, inadvertently cry about it to someone while talking about it, I felt torn - like this vulnerability was a mistake. I have a hard time discerning who actually cares and who is just being "nice". When I did not receive any response about a way I felt or didn't have people checking on me I would wonder if I should have told anyone. I still feel this way at times.

A few weeks ago I made a hard decision to share my blog with a particular person I am not and never will be close with but thought it would encourage. At first, it was received well, but over time has seemed like a horrible mistake. I have felt exposed and judged because of that decision. I feel like the gesture was misunderstood and I have felt worse about that than I have about any choice I have made for vulnerability thus far.

I am still struggling with vulnerability. I was supposed to be done with this whole process in July. I am now ready for this to be a chapter of my life to be over - to close the book on it. To pretend it never happened. That is where I am right now. I just want to be done with it. I want to go back to the way things were. I want to not have to doubt things I share or how people react. I wonder, because of my experience with vulnerability - how raw and emotional it has made me feel (something I am totally uncomfortable with) - if I will ever be able to make the choice for vulnerability again. I would like to think I have learned that vulnerability is worth it. I am not so sure. I wonder if instead, I will become even more guarded in the future than I was before this whole chapter began (if that is even possible).

I want to believe vulnerability is worth it. I am just not there yet...because sometimes it isn't. Vulnerability is a risk. Now to decide: Is it a risk worth taking?

For now I am holding on to the knowledge that I am not alone, even when I feel like I am:
"Even when it feels like my world is shaken, even when I've had all that I can take, I know you never let me go...I know no matter how it ends, you're with me even then"
(See video below)

Saturday, September 1, 2018

I Am Not My Body

A guest post by an anonymous writer, which will be an ongoing series.
Please join us on her journey!

We live in an appearance-obsessed culture. We change everything we can about ourselves to conform to some ideal image in our heads (whatever we can afford) from hair color, eye color, the length of our eyelashes or nails to more permanent things like cosmetic surgeries to "fix" everything that is wrong with us. We also buy trendy clothes, wear makeup and do everything possible to look like a better version of ourselves. My question is: aren't we ok just being ourselves? (and don't get me started on what we are teaching our daughters by buying into these messages that we are not good enough "as is". We think we are doing it "for fun" or some other reason but the truth is we have been brainwashed). 

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

Luckily, I never bought in much to all these messages (though they are everywhere). I have never colored or highlighted my hair (except a radical color a few times in my life). In fact, I only ever get it cut 1-2 times a year! I do not get my nails done (except maybe a few times a year). I don't get fake eyelashes, do not need to wear trendy clothes (and usually don't...most of my clothes are 20 years old), and wear little to no makeup. I do not get botox or anything to "fix" my wrinkles and never thought I would get cosmetic surgery of any kind. My cesarean scar, stretch marks, and acne scars have never bothered me. I have always been comfortable in my own skin...until now. *(see disclaimer) After this surgery I feel disfigured and ugly for the first time on this journey. Not to mention the stress seems to have aged me 5 years.

It's been a little over two weeks since my burn repair surgery. During that surgery, the burn was sutured (huge scar), the implant was taken out and an empty expander placed (one flat boob). In a month the expander will start to be filled and the new implant will be placed in November or December. This may be my last surgery. Before this burn happened the plan was for a fat grafting surgery and possible adjustments. At this point, I have no idea when or if that is happening. I am so confused and really want to know a timeline and a plan.

After this surgery, I feel better about the burn but worse about what I look like. I am grateful to have a better (though incomplete) idea of when this will be complete. Having the burn felt like a never-ending journey. Not knowing any kind of plan or timeline was very daunting. However, I was very surprised to feel bad about my appearance, given I never really cared that much, at least for the last 10 years or so. I have been shocked every time I look in the mirror and have continued to cry about the entire situation. I did not know what I was going to wear with one flat boob for a month (which has now turned into six weeks before the expander begins to be filled). Luckily, I found a silicone bra insert I had and that has helped a lot, at least when clothed. But when I dress or shower all I see is scars and a disfigured, unattractive body. 

This is so hard for me mostly because feeling this way (disfigured, unattractive) has been so unexpected. I honestly never thought I would feel this way, even if I had opted for no reconstruction. Part of this is because I haven't felt this way yet. So I never expected to. Since my first surgery, I had some volume from the expanders, plus my own skin and nipples and few visible scars. This surgery has been a sudden change to one large visible scar (where my burn was) and almost no volume on one side. Additionally, the contrast to the complete side is shocking!

Through this, I have continued to recognize and remind myself that I am not my body. What I look like is not "me". Me is something else entirely.
Don’t let your beauty consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and wearing gold jewelry or fine clothes, but rather what is inside the heart—the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 
1 Peter 3:3-4

The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7b

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. 
Proverbs 31:30

Here are some videos for you. I couldn't decide this week. Scroll down to view them all.

Scars to Your Beautiful -
"You should know you're beautiful just the way you are. And you don't have to change a thing, the world could change its heart. No scars to your beautiful, we're stars and we're beautiful"

Beautifully Broken -
"Even a million scars doesn't change whose (God's) you are...
Oh, the god who made the stars
Is the god that made your heart
And he's holding you right now
He can heal the broken parts
And make beauty from the scars, the scars, Beautiful scars!"

I love her reference to scars. I feel like they can be emotional and physical scars. In my case they are both.

You Say -
"The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me
In You I find my worth, in You I find my identity"

Being a child of God - the one who made me - is my identity, not my earthly body. My body is temporary, a tool to use on this earth. This song is a great reminder of what God thinks of me and who He sees when he looks at me.

Who You Say I Am -

"In my Father’s house
There’s a place for me
I’m a child of God
Yes I am
am chosen
Not forsaken
I am who You say I am
You are for me
Not against me
I am who You say I am"
Scars to Your Beautiful

Beautifully Broken

You Say

Who You Say I Am

* I do not judge other people who do these things. If it makes you happy, great. It just isn't for me and I do not find it necessary. God made you beautiful as is and you do not need to do these things. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Why? Finding a Purpose for Trials

A guest post by an anonymous writer, which will be an ongoing series.
Please join us on her journey!

As I type this I am getting ready to have another unexpected surgery in two days. During my July 12 reconstruction surgery, I got a bad surgical burn at the top of my left breast. My doctor had every reason to believe it would heal. However, it did not. I had an appointment on August 13 and the doctor was shocked at how bad the burn still looked. So he recommended going back into surgery to get the burn sutured. I will then, basically, start over the reconstruction process on that side. During this surgery, the burn will be sutured. A new expander will be placed, but not filled and I will wait for the suture to heal for about a month. After it is healed, the expander can be filled, only a little at a time, to get back to a place where I will have enough room to place a new implant, the same size I have now. Luckily, the right side needs nothing to be done. It is going to be another year before I am in the best place I can be with this. The scar will take that long to heal, and have "scar revision" after I am done with all my surgeries and the scar has healed as much as it can on its own. 

Honestly, this burn has been the hardest thing to deal with in this entire process. I have cried more in the last four weeks than all the time before that since my diagnosis. I started to question my decision for reconstruction. I wondered why is this happening to me? Why is this not healing? What am I doing wrong? I am not mad at the doctor. He is very apologetic and knowing all the details, I do not think it was negligence. I believe it was an honest mistake. He has been very responsive, communicative, available and is doing everything he can to make it right.

While I haven't come up with the specific "Why" in this situation, I think every situation has a purpose or something we can learn from it. I do not yet know any higher purpose, but I hope to figure it out in the future. 

Despite the "not knowing", there are a few things I do know:
  1. Nothing can hurt me - this sounds very odd, but it is something that struck me early on. I was thinking about getting a "bulletproof" tattoo and someone asked me what that means. I explained that no matter WHAT happens, I am always OK in the end. And in the End with a capital E, I am not only OK, but will have unfathomable joy, wholeness, and deliverance from every harmful thing. Furthermore, if I keep my eyes on Jesus and his unfailing love, the things of this world will not have the emotional effect that they have when I start to think of my current experience alone. It would be easy to get sucked into depression about many things in this world. However, these things are only temporal.

  2. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Cor 4:16-18
    More on this here. Nothing Can Hurt Me!

  3. God does not cause everything that happens to me, but he does allow things.  I believe everything that happens in life was either ordained by God or allowed by Him. If he allows hardship, it is for any number of reasons. It is never ordained by God for hardship to befall me. However, he may allow something (not stop it from happening) if it will help me, teach me something, protect me in the future from similar hardships (also learning), help someone else, give glory to Him or any number of reasons, many of which I will never understand.            
    "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways." This is the LORD's declaration. Is 55:8            
  4. God's hands are always on me, protecting me. Despite what I go through, God is always with me. This ties into how nothing can hurt me. I can always trust in Him to see me through to the other side and to give me hope in times of despair or doubt. 
    You are my shelter and my shield; I put my hope in your word. Ps 119:114 
    God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble. Ps 46:1
This has been a hard season. The hardest I can recall. Sometimes all I could do was cry. However, I haven't lost hope. God has always known what he is doing and always will, even if I don't always know what it is. I truly believe that and I have never stopped. 

This first song has been exactly how I have felt through most of the last month. The second one has given me hope and speaks to God's protection.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

How to Help a Friend Facing Breast Cancer

A guest post by an anonymous writer, which will be an ongoing series.
Please join us on her journey!

Throughout this journey, from the time I was diagnosed until today, I have received many kinds of support from many people. I have not only received support from friends and family but also acquaintances, support group leaders and members and even strangers.  

I have never been a "needy" person. I learned to cope mostly by myself from a young age (relying mainly on myself and God). This is partly in response to life circumstances, being disappointed by others inability to help, and party due to my lack of courage to ask for help.

My experience with breast cancer has forced me to ask for help with certain things. Additionally, my willingness to share my story has resulted in many people reaching out to help me without my asking. It was these unprompted offers that have meant the most.

When people are faced with a person in need - any need - many do not know what to say or do, so they do nothing. I am here to tell you that saying or doing nothing is the worst thing a person can do. There have been times throughout this journey that I felt like no one cared. These were times when no one was saying or doing anything. It is a lonely journey at times. These were the times I relied most on God. So even in these lonely times, there was a gift - a gift of hope, a gift of joy, and a gift of remembering who loves me unconditionally, throughout all circumstances. However, without fail, whenever I started to feel (once again) that it was just me and God, someone came through for me.

Here are some things that you can do for someone facing breast cancer (or any surgery, illness or hardship, for that matter):
  • Send a text or card to say "I'm thinking of you" or "How are you doing?" or "when is your next surgery/treatment/test/appointment?" A lot of words are not necessary. Just knowing someone is thinking of you, praying for you or willing to help means more than you know. - I received several cards and continue to receive meaningful texts.
  • Offer to bring a meal or send a gift card for a restaurant. - Many meals were provided after my first surgery so I could focus on healing.
  • Offer child care, especially after surgery - countless friends have taken my kids for appointments, support groups, or just to give me a break. Additionally, two of my sisters came for a week each just to be there to drive my kids to activities, do morning routines, play, do bedtimes, baths or anything I did not feel up to doing.
  • Buy a practical gift related to the treatment such as comfy pajamas for recovery or self-care items - One of my most thoughtful gifts was a spa basket I received after my diagnosis. My friend met me at preschool pick up and brought me a coffee and a basket filled with bath salts, a candle, lavender infused socks, a spa mask, and lavender soap.
  • Offer to help with personal care after surgery. - After my mastectomy I had three women come to help me with my drains. I also had 4 people signed up to help me wash my hair (help I did not end up needing).
  • Offer to help with practical things: cleaning, laundry, driving kids to activities, school drop off or pick up - On bad days I did have people pick my kids up from school. I also had offers for cleaning and laundry I did not need to utilize. 
  • Visit - I had a plethora of visitors the first few days after my surgery. A few brought me a special lunch. One brought me a book. One brought fruit for my kids. A few brought me a coffee. 
  • Send a "downtime" gift for recovery - One friend sent me a movie gift card to download movies to watch during recovery.
  • Send a treat - three of my old roommates got together and baked cookies for me and my kids and sent them to me from many states away. In addition to the cookies, they included little gifts for my kids, downtime activities for me (adult coloring books), spa items, etc. 
  • Listen. Don't underestimate the power of an ear. Openness to hear the challenges (and victories) means a lot - there are a few friends and sisters I could text or call to cry or vent when something unexpected happened, I was frustrated with the process or celebrating a victory.
  • Laugh with them. A person facing breast cancer treatment doesn't want to focus on it 24/7. Time to cut loose, have fun and laugh is a must. I have a few friends, and my sisters when they visited, who I could go out for a gooey dessert, go to a movie, or laugh with. Having fun is a must. My kids helped with that every day, too. Kids are HILARIOUS. I can't believe how many jokes I sent to people about my boobs! I also have one very hilarious fellow support group member who can always make me laugh. She is also one person who consistently checks on me!
  • Anything else that you can think of. Think about the particular person you want to help. Think about how they are wired. Do something that fits them! - My MOPS group took it upon themselves to create a list of MANY things they were willing to do and had the steering team pass it around. It was so very generous - too generous. I did not need help with many of the things they volunteered for, but I was so touched by their generosity.
None of this is easy. All of it is a risk. But it is a risk worth taking, It might seem scary or vulnerable, and it can be. In the end, though, the result is much more significant than you could ever imagine! 

In two weeks I am having my reconstructive surgery with fat grafting (July 12). Looking back on how much has already been done for me, I don't feel worthy to receive another thing from anyone. It is SO difficult to ask. Yet, I have asked for what I need, and I would like to thank everyone for all of the help and kindness. I could not and can not get through this without all of the support. I am more than grateful! 

One of my favorite things is to help others. I look for opportunities to serve and when I recognize a need I can fill (I know I miss a lot of them), I see it as a blessing and a way to show love to others. Both serving and being served is a blessing. The latter has been very difficult for me in many ways. This season of life has allowed me to let go of my self-sufficiency enough to accept the blessing of being served and making myself vulnerable enough to accept love. I am so grateful for this experience in many areas. This is only one. I pray that I can bless others even a fraction of the extent that I have been blessed. 

Read other posts in this series:
Maxed Out Minivan
To start at part one go here:
Part 1: Stage Zero What?

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Meet-Up with ModernWell Founder and 30 Seconds Founder

Last week I had the opportunity to meet two amazing self-driven professional ladies at a very Zen work/relax/renew location, ModernWell!! The Founder of Elisa All Schmitz sent me a message saying she wanted to meet me IRL because she was going to be in Minneapolis for business, and she knew I was from Minnesota. I have been posting tips on the website since December and I really love it. It works like this: You create a profile, submit tips between 400-1200 words, wait for it to go through editing (which happens pretty fast, between 1 and 5 days), and then you are notified via e-mail when it is up on the website. There are many categories or "channels" such as Mom, Dad, Food, Health, Beauty, and Travel. Every time a tip is published you earn time to redeem for rewards in the "store". You can also earn "time" by sharing posts and commenting! It adds up fairly quickly. I love that currency, because as we all know "Time is Money!" I have already earned almost 45 minutes to spend, plus I won a $50 Amazon gift card by having the best tip on the Beauty Channel in April!!! They have contests every month to earn $50 Amazon gift cards and other fun giveaways. In May they are giving away Julie Burton's book: The Self-Care Solution: A Modern Mother's Must-Have Guide to Health and Well-Being. Elisa is very involved with her contributors, so I felt like I already knew her. She comments and shares contributors tips, and I already have 18 tips, so I know her fairly well!! Therefore, I was thrilled to get the chance to meet her and I jumped at the chance to make the 70-mile trip!

Elisa and I made this fun video about me and my involvement in 30 Seconds:

Little did I know, I would also be meeting Julie Burton, Author, wellness expert, and founder of ModernWell, a cooperative workspace for women with a relaxing wellness and nutrition element to it! This space is amazing! Going to work usually is not fun, but I am betting that anyone who chooses to buy a membership to work in this space is thrilled to go to work!!!

The ModernWell Website describes ModernWell as:

An Inspired Co-Opportunity for Women

Whether you want to meet a friend, colleague, or client for a cup of coffee or tea; schedule a board meeting; listen to an inspiring speaker; or simply want to get out of your house or office to work on the novel you’ve always wanted to write or sit by the fire and read the book that has been on your nightstand for months, ModernWell is your go-to oasis. Featuring open seating and private workspaces, wi-fi, coffee, tea, healthy food, private conference and consult rooms, yoga and ongoing enrichment classes, ModernWell is a space where women will be celebrated and supported both professionally and personally. Fostering a kind and inclusive community, we are unaffiliated with any religion or political party, welcoming all who believe in the power of women supporting women.

As if that isn't amazing enough, they also have amazing furniture, decor, amazing people and just a very Zen feeling to the place! Elisa bought me lunch there also. They get the food from a local juice shop called TRUCE. They have delicious salads, healthy bars, and juices. The salads were superb!! Julie is very nice, friendly, and helpful. She is there, with the clients, not behind the scenes. She takes time to get to know them and make them feel very at home! I had such a good time with these two beautiful ladies!! I feel very blessed!

Julie also did a video with Elisa, including a tour!!!  Check it out!!!

If you are looking for a workspace in the Minneapolis MN area please visit the ModernWell Website to check it out!

If you want to start publishing tips on 30 Seconds Website please visit their page and create a profile!!

Image result for logo
   Making Life Better in #30Seconds

Saturday, May 5, 2018

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

A guest post by an anonymous writer, which will be an ongoing series.
Please join us on her journey!

Recently, I was feeling quite isolated and alone on this journey and I realized why. In the beginning, when I started to tell people about my diagnosis and again after surgery, I received so much support. I received a lot of cards, texts, meals and practical help. Now that it has been almost two and a half months since my mastectomy, I am getting less and less support. When something is new, people rally. When a need is practical and immediate, people show up in big ways. Later, even when a need is still there, especially if it is less obvious, people wane in their support. This is no one's fault. I have been guilty of the same, I am sure. It is still hard, nonetheless. This is making me concerned about being able to get help after my next surgery. Reconstruction will probably be less involved for recovery but given I will be having fat grafting on several areas I know I will need some help. 

Another thing that has been hard, though I didn't allow myself to feel it or admit it in the beginning, is doing this without so many people that have been there for me in the past but are no longer a part of my life. Over the past several years I had a lot of big things happen and had some major emotional support from specific people I thought would always be around. Whether through death, miles or a decision by them (not me) not to be a part of my life, they are no longer there for me. I miss them dearly. I have had to find new people to support me (which has happened, only by the grace of God and this has been one of the biggest blessings on this journey). This too has been hard for me. 

The hardest part of this whole journey, though, has been and continues to be the waiting. I feel like waiting for things started the day of my mammogram that led to the biopsy (October 26, 2017) and has only continued to be a theme.

Here is the waiting I have already endured in between each step (chronologically):
  • Waiting for the biopsy (1 week)
  • Waiting for biopsy results (1 week)
  • Waiting for an appointment with the surgical oncologist (6 days)
  • Waiting for an additional mammogram (15 days)
  • Waiting for the core biopsy (15 days)
  • Waiting for biopsy results - again (5 days)
  • Waiting for the pre-surgery appointment (3 weeks)
  • Waiting for second opinion appointment (6 days)
  • Waiting for surgery (6 weeks)
  • Waiting at every appointment (very frequent visits) sometimes up to 2 hours!
Now for more waiting. Reconstruction with fat grafting is scheduled for July 12, tentatively. That means over two more months of waiting for this next surgery - 11 1/2 weeks of waiting since my last appointment (April 23) and almost 5 months total from my mastectomy surgery. This is pretty amazing, considering I thought I would have reconstruction at the beginning of April, about a month after mastectomy. After that, I will have more waiting for a possible third reconstructive surgery for minor adjustments.

An interesting thing happened to me regarding the waiting. At first, I just wanted to be done. I still do, but my perspective has changed. Initially, directly after surgery, I was hoping that I could get reconstruction early, about a month after my mastectomy (usually it is 8-12 weeks). The plastic surgeon looked into it and it was possible. I was a good candidate because I was healing so well. However, by the time I got my second tissue expander fill, it was almost May. I am traveling on June 9. The plastic surgeon thought it would be best to wait since surgery would only be 4-6 weeks before travel if I opted for earlier. He would not want me to still be healing on vacation. I decided to trust his judgment and have the implant and fat grafting surgery after vacation instead of before. I decided that what matters most is the long-term result, not my short-term discomfort and impatience. I am sure that in the long term I will be happy I waited. This perspective has not made the waiting easy, but it has made it easier! Waiting has also helped me grow in many areas:
  • Patience has never been a virtue of mine. When something needs to be done, it needs to be done NOW. This has helped me see that my timeline is not the only timeline and patience is, indeed, a virtue. I have learned to be more patient in general, more patient with others, and more patient with myself. It is much more peaceful to be patient than on edge!
  • I have been reminded that much is out of my control. It's not all about me and what I want. If it helps me grow, if it serves a higher purpose, that is more important. I am reminded again and again of  Isaiah 55:8-9  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways.”This is the Lord’s declaration. “For as heaven is higher than earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. I know that God knows more than I do and I trust that he knows what he is doing. He will use this and anything else I face for good.
  • Finally, I have been able to learn to trust others. My doctor (that he knows what he is doing), friends and supporters (to be vulnerable and talk to them - I'm not good at vulnerability), and God (to trust that he is watching over me, protecting me, leading me in my decisions and working all of it for good)! Only God can give me the strength to carry on in the waiting!

Read other posts in this series:

Maxed Out Minivan
To start at part one go here:
Part 1: Stage Zero What?

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

More Decisions

A guest post by an anonymous writer, which will be an ongoing series.
Please join us on her journey!

I am five weeks post surgery. My muscles are getting less tight and I have 100% mobility. I am getting back to my daily routine, slowly but surely, and it has been easier in many ways than I expected. I am still not "caught up" on everything I got behind on, and did absolutely nothing I had on my list to do while I was resting and healing, but I can accept that.

I had another doctor appointment with my plastic surgeon Monday. I went in for my first fill in my tissue expanders. The fill was fine. Everything is totally numb so didn't feel anything. I have a high pain tolerance, but I felt fine all day. I was a little worried because I have heard it can cause pain to get the fills. I have one more fill on April 23, then I should be ready for the next surgery. One thing I did not expect is that there is a sloshing sound when I go down stairs or move quickly! It is the saline they use to expand moving around!

I did get some answers regarding the ADM reaction. It turns out I can do fills and surgery as soon as I can even if the RBS doesn't resolve. I was a little pink at the appointment and he said it looked fine. Today it still looks mostly the same, so I am praying that the redness does not return. If the redness comes back I need to call to get refills on prednisone and antibiotics. He wanted to just do antibiotics but since I didn't have side effects to prednisone I would take that too. He said he is almost certain my RBS is an ADM reaction but the reason for antibiotics is because whenever there is redness they can't rule out infection so it's precautionary. There isn't necessarily a hot to the touch feeling or fever with a breast infection. So whenever there is redness they assume it could be an infection so they treat for both infection and RBS. Also, it will resolve. No one has it after expanders are removed and implants are placed. He says there isn't enough research and a lot of unknowns about RBS so there isn't a known cause or standard of care set. He thinks it's a combination of ADM reaction and body's response to expanders.   

Where my decisions come in are around reconstruction timing. I won't be able to complete construction before our trip in June. I'm a little annoyed about having to make more decisions. I thought I was done making decisions!

I have two options: 
  1. Do the second surgery without fat grafting soon and do a third surgery for fat grafting (I need to be bound for 3 weeks on places he does liposuction following surgery. He uses liposuction for fat harvesting). 
  2. Wait for any reconstruction until after my trip (implants and fat grafting).  The doctor said many people want a third surgery for fat grafting anyway, even if it was done on the second surgery. I am not sure what to do but he said we will play it by ear. Hopefully, we can come up with a plan at my next appointment on April 23.  
The fact that RBS always resolves after expanders are removed is a case for getting the implant surgery soon and the fat grafting later. If the redness returns, this seems like the best option.  

As I was thinking about this and getting frustrated, once again, I reminded myself that no matter the timeline, this is temporary. At some point, this will be over. That gives me a peace about it. It reminded me, also, that everything in this life is temporary. None of it is a permanent problem. I praise the Lord in these times that is the case, for I know what my future brings. In the end, there will be no suffering or hardship. I can get through anything knowing the promises I have been given!

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, 
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:21

Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! 
For you are like vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes.
James 4:14

Read more posts in this series:
Maxed Out Minivan
To start at part one go here:
Part 1: Stage Zero What?