How Am I Feeling?

I try to focus on all that makes my glass half-full. I am blessed in a myriad of ways and grateful for those blessings. When it comes to my health, I had health problems before cancer and post-treatment side effects have only exacerbated my day-to-day issues. Nonetheless, I wake up every morning thankful for what I have and prepared to do whatever I can with the body that I was given.

I've received quite a few questions from kind friends and readers asking how I’m doing post-surgery. Here’s the latest:

The Foobs: I still have the odd reaction on my left boob. It looks like I got sunburned on only that area of my body. The left breast is still swollen and a bit painful, and the surgeon mentioned that she’d like to go in again to: a) see if anything is going on inside; and b) shift things around.

I’m not excited at the possibility of more surgery, but I also appreciate that the surgeon is thorough and conservative. The signs don’t point to an infection (thankfully!), but the reaction is definitely abnormal in a breast that was never radiated.

The surgeon also isn’t thrilled about how the scars are healing. (It’s possible that the swelling is putting pressure on the scars, thereby causing them to be more pronounced.) She recommended that I use silicone scar sheets in the hopes of improving the scars. If needed, I can receive laser treatments to minimize the scars in the future.

The Nipples: I have three options for nipple reconstruction:

  1. Minor surgery with a skin graft to make a raised nipple;
  2. Getting the nipples and areola tattooed; or
  3. Getting the surgery for the raised portion of the nipple and then getting a tattoo of the areola.

For those of you who have never seen a nipple tattoo, check out Little Vinnie’s Tattoos. Little Vinnie is renowned for his work, and his 3-D tattoos look like real nipples!

Post-cancer, I view my breasts with ambivalence so the thought of nipples doesn’t really excite me. If I didn’t need surgery on the left breast anyway, I would probably just get the nipples and areola tattooed. But, since one more surgery seems likely, the nipple graft won’t hopefully be that big a deal.

Neurological Issues: I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve gotten sick in the past two months. (And, no, I’m not pregnant.) I hit my head in early October, which has just exacerbated my symptoms. My neurologist suggested that I consider inpatient treatment at The Mayo Clinic in Minnesota to evaluate how my migraines, occipital neuralgia and how my past neurosurgeries compromised my depth perception. The stay at the clinic could be anywhere from a week to a month.

I’m on the fence about whether or not I should go. On the one hand, I try to stay open to treatments that might benefit me. On the other hand, heading to Minnesota to try experimental therapies to see if they might improve unexplained complications caused by experimental surgeries seems like too many unknowns for me. I also am all too familiar with how many neurologists just like to throw medications at a problem. I feel the best when I’m on the fewest medications possible. Do I want to disrupt that balance?

The combination of nausea, dizziness and swelling has definitely caused me to be online sporadically. I’m hoping that changes and that I’ll be less of a stranger on my own blog. I won’t let relatively minor health issues detract me from counting my blessings, but I pray that the rest of the year will be less eventful.

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