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Tomorrow morning is the surgery. I just took a shower with the Hibiclens that they gave me at my pre-op appointment. It was the last time that I’ll shower with my own breasts.  It’s hitting me tonight and I’m very weepy. I’ve been very strong thus far and have been able to pretty much hold it together but right now, I’m scared. I’m also very sad. I know that I’m making the right decision but I’m sad about the whole reason for having to do it in the first place.

I’m definitely scared. Scared that something will go wrong with the surgery, scared that they’ll find something, scared that I’ll have post-op complications, scared that I could die.  Of course, fear of the unknown is always there and I’ll be better facing things head on.

I certainly hope that I can sleep tonight, especially since I can’t drink anything after midnight and I usually drink all night when I wake up with night sweats. I’ve been listening to my relaxation tapes for the past month  as I go to sleep and it’s been calming and good for me. I’ll certainly plug in tonight as well.

It’s been a busy week and I haven’t had much time to really think about things. I’m kinda glad about that actually. I was able to get work together for my sub and she came in today to shadow me which was great.  I left school today quietly and not many people know I’m having surgery. I’m sure they’ll notice that I’m not there but I’m hoping to pretty much fly under the radar.

I got to kiss both of my kids tonight since my daughter came home from school tonight to see me before I go in. I’ll see my son again in the morning and we’ll be sharing well wishes; mine for the surgery and him for his final state wrestling tournament of his high school career.  Naturally my husband will be with me tomorrow and will be spending time going back and forth between the hospital and the tournament over the weekend.

Time for me to think positive thoughts and get ready to turn in….

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I can’t believe that D-Day is almost here.  I had a great school vacation week and it was very productive. Since going back to school on Monday, I’ve been busy getting things ready for my time out.

I told my coworkers today.. but did ask that they not spread it around. I know that folks will ask where I am but I requested that they just respond that I had surgery but leave it at that. I told them that I’m not comfortable having my health issues be common knowledge. It’s very personal to me and I would like it to stay that way.

It still doesn’t even seem that real to me yet….

I’m taking all the steps to insure that I’m going to be ready for the Big Day…

*Off all green tea and herbs

*Finished coursework for my online class today (Yippee!!)

*Told my dad about the surgery. (It wasn’t easy but he took it well considering the bomb that I dropped on him. He did understand my decision though and the reasons behind it.)

*Got my taxes done and bills paid for the month

*Updated son’s FAFSA form

*Listening to subliminal “music for surgery” and “positive outlook for stressful situations” cds as I go to sleep

As of now, there’s still a few days left of school vacation and since my classwork is done, I can watch the Olympics, read, and lounge a bit. I’ve been sick for the past few days but I needed to blow through the coursework.  We have a busy weekend ahead then I have 4 days of school. I plan on using every spare minute next week getting lesson plans and paperwork done for the sub.

I have such a great group of kids right now and my co-teacher and I have so many ideas and are excited about this year.. It’s hard to know that I’m not going to be there.

I’m on school vacation so I’m getting caught up on things around here. I’m taking a class and I need to finish the coursework this week because it ends after my surgery day. Next week I need to use my time to get work prepared for my sub.

I took a nice winter walk today with one of my dogs and it was refreshing and felt good to be out enjoying nature. Last night was horrible with night sweats galore. I didn’t sleep much but thankfully, I didn’t have to set an alarm today. I’m hoping for a decent night’s sleep tonight.

I’m enjoying watching the Olympics during my vacation and it’s nice lead into surgery doing something that I enjoy and can take my mind off of it.

Honestly… it still hasn’t really sunk in yet…..

I went for my pre-op blood work and paperwork signing yesterday and made out fine. That’s a big deal to me because I don’t do well with blood work and have to lie down to have it drawn or I’ll pass out.  Definitely not one of my favorite things to do in the world.

Last night was another sleepless night filled with sweating, freezing, tossing and turning. At least I’m on my school vacation this week and don’t have to set an alarm until 2/22. I’m not sure what today brings but I’m just glad to be home home.

I tried calling my dad the other night to tell him about my upcoming surgery but he wasn’t home and hasn’t called me back yet. I don’t think he’s going to fully understand… many people don’t.  Not that I’ve personally told many people but there is so little known about BRCA mutations amongst people who are not affected by it that it’s completely foreign to them. I haven’t avoided telling him because I want to keep it a secret from him, rather, I don’t want him to worry about my surgery and think about it until it gets close. Also, I’ve chosen to not share it with everyone that I know so the fewer people that know about it, the less chance  it will become  a topic of conversation around town.

I grew up in a small city and still live and work in the area. I know a LOT of people and things spread like wildfire here. I don’t feel comfortable about having something so personal being the headline news around town. I don’t feel that people will be talking about it in a bad way or anything but I just don’t want my health to become such public knowledge. I also don’t want to have “explain” everything.. what it’s all about, my reasons for my decision, defending my decision, etc  AND…. like I said in my very first post:  My children and siblings have yet to be tested and I don’t want to drag their health into the gossip either.  It’s just not something that I want publicized.

I’m heading in for my pre-op bloodwork tomorrow morning and surgery will be two weeks away. Thankfully, I have a week’s school vacation before going in. I’ll be doing lots of work for the class that I’m taking, watching the Olympics and catching up on things that I’ll need to do before I go. I’ll also be doing some lesson plans to leave for my sub. The reality of the surgery and of taking that much time out of work is starting to really sink in.

As of right now, I’m pretty tired so I’m hoping to get as much sleep as I can. I can’t even remember what a full night’s sleep is like…..

I had a good cry the other night.  I was so frustrated from waking up all night and being uncomfortable that I felt like screaming. I’m so sick of this.  Surgery is 17 days away and I know that having THAT one isn’t going to make this uncomfortable situation any better… I’ll likely be dealing with the discomfort of the Bilateral Mastectomies and Tissue Expanders in ADDITION  to the hot flashes and night sweats.

I’ve been keeping my chin up and staying strong knowing that I’m making the right choices but I am human. I’m scared and I wish that I didn’t have to deal with any of this, but I do. I’m just trying to take one day at a time. Sometimes a good cry helps, then I can move on.

On another note, I’ve been off the Remifemin (black cohosh supplement)  since Friday (4 days ago) and don’t notice the symptoms to be any worse. I am missing my green tea  and chamomile tea though!  Once the surgery is over, I can go back to my favorite hot beverages but may not go back to the supplement if it doesn’t help anyway.

As for now, I just got word that school is canceled due to snow for tomorrow so if I’m up all night, at least I can relax and catch up on some sleep tomorrow.

Staying positive and choosing life!

I’m 19 days away from surgery and it’s been a good weekend. I’m off the Remifemin and so far I don’t notice any difference in hot flashes one way or another. I’m also not drinking any of my usual hot beverages; green tea or chamomile tea or taking any supplements as per my pre-op instructions.  I haven’t drunk much soy milk this  weekend, although not because of any pre-op dietary restrictions, rather, that I tend not to eat cold cereal or eat yogurt on the weekend,  instead opting for steel cut oatmeal and other snacks.

It’s been a great weekend; one without many plans.  I really hate it when my calendar is swamped. Since I don’t sleep well, I never get a chance to catch up on sleep if we are super busy.  Also, I tend to go to bed later on the weekends because we watch movies.  I’m glad that last night wasn’t too late and I only woke up about 6 times instead of a dozen.

I’ve got an extremely busy week coming up so I hope I sleep well tonight.

While multi-tasking today (upgrading my WordPress blogs) I spent some time  surfing around and reading. I came across this story on Susan Reynolds‘s blog and wanted to share it. Bravo, Eden.

A Healthy Woman’s Battle with Breast Cancer by Eden Spodek

To catch up to date since the time that I stopped journaling, here’s where I stand:  I met with the Plastic Surgeon, Dr. M. for an exam and to discuss reconstruction options should I decide to have a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy (PBM) with reconstruction.  The Breast Surgeon Dr.F. didn’t want my answer about/if I going going that route until meeting with Dr. M.

It was not really necessary to have that consult before making my decision for a PBM though as it was a no-brainer for me. I refuse to live my life in fear of the disease and taking the gamble that I could outrun it and fail. It would kill me to know that I was aware of the risk and the chances yet sat back waiting for it to happen to me and waiting a bit too long and getting caught.  (This is MY personal choice… it is an Individual Choice and each person knows what is right for them. I, am  IN NO WAY criticizing  or judging the choices of other people who are facing their own decisions… this is the choice and decision that’s best for me.)

My biggest decision was over which type of reconstruction procedure I wanted.  I initially was attracted to the TRAM flap because it involved my own natural tissues and I am an “earthy-crunchy nature” type. However after looking into the possible side effects of severing my ab muscles and using them to form the breast I began to lean more towards the Chest Expanders/Implant option.  I really value my ability to do yoga, kayak, bike ride, kickbox, run, etc. and the thought of having difficulty doing those things was too great of a risk for me. I have also had a back injury (from falling down a flight of stairs) and my lower back acts up if I’ve overdone it. Losing core muscle strength would not be the best choice for my back either.

Weighing all the pros and cons I decided to go forward with the Chest Expander/ Saline Implant reconstruction. I’m scheduled for surgery on February 26th,….twenty days from today.

Another major decision/hurdle was telling my children “the whole story” behind my October surgery, telling them about my upcoming surgery, and also explaining what it potentially means for them. It was difficult for me and I cried through the whole thing but made it through. DD cried. DS said he thought I was going to tell them that I had cancer so anything else was a relief.  Both children will eventually be tested but there is no real hurry at this point.

I still haven’t told my father, in-laws or any extended family. I do need to talk to my dad very soon though, as well as DH’s parents. I’m sure that none of them will truly understand but I’ll do my best to explain it.

As far as how I’ve been feeling… let’s just put it this way.  I haven’t slept more than a two hour stretch since those hot flashes and night sweats have started in October. Some days I go to work with bags under my eyes because I woke up every hour. It’s not so much waking up sweaty and hot, rather the fact that I’m wet, it’s winter, then I freeze and can’t get back to sleep because I’m curled in a ball trying to get warm.  While the sweats are uncomfortable, it’s the chills that I can’t bear. I’ve had to toss my pillow because it was actually mildewed from being so wet. I guess I’m just one of those women who have intense, frequent flashes while some others have occasional ones.. gee thanks!

My new “uniform” is a sleeveless summer shirt and  a winter cardigan during the day. I need to be able to take the cardigan off when I start dripping with sweat at work, then cover up when it’s over and I get cold. My closet is jammed because I have both seasons of clothes in there.  I did make some room though,  because I cannot wear regular sweaters or long sleeve shirts so I moved them into DD’s closet while she’s away at college.

I talked to my Gynecologist, Dr. B. about my hot flashes and she suggested increasing my Soy consumption and also mentioned something about anti-depressants to help.. NO WAY am I going that route!!!  I don’t even like to take an aspirin if I can help it. I’m not taking a medication for something else to help with hot flashes.

Some women have success with Black Cohosh so I’ve been taking Remifemin, an herbal supplement for the past 3 months. I can’t honestly say if it works at all or not because I’m still in the same boat. I’ll know if it even took the edge off very soon though since as of yesterday I’m off it as part of my pre-op instructions.

I’m also not allowed to drink any green tea, chamomile tea or anything else of that sort until after surgery.  Since I don’t take any medications, that will be my only pre-0p changes.

I’m a vegetarian, and since the new year have been trying to replace soy for dairy so I’m almost completely vegan at this point in terms of my diet. (Light soy milk in my coffee instead of cream, soy yogurt, vege cheese) Unbelievably, my weight has gone up and and I’m sporting a tire around my belly.. .lo and behold, common side effects of menopause, but it  also could be due to the Black Cohosh. So, being off will also help me gauge what I’m like with nothing. If my weight drops and the hot flashes are still the same with or without it, I’ll go off it for good. (I never wanted to take it in the first place but was so desperate with no sleep that I was willing to try it.)

So here I stand… this is where I’m at and I’m taking one day at a time.