Surgery on September 20th was not as successful as we had hoped. Within the week infection was back and got increasingly worse the second week. By October 1st additional antibiotics were prescribed. I was weak, exhausted, not eating, losing weight. It was an effort to even lift my arm, let alone walk for any distance. I thought the surgery was supposed to be the easy part of this journey – at least comparatively.
After Dr. Powers saw me on Tuesday and prescribed additional antibiotics, she wanted to see me again on Friday – this time not messing around. Things got progressively worse and Friday I ended up @ UTMB with IV antibiotics every 6-8 hours. Infectious Disease specialists were consulted to help with finding the right antibiotics. By Sunday evening I had had enough – I was done. As I lay in the hospital bed, hooked up to an IV, I cried, I prayed, I thought. And I reached a decision. The reconstruction effort was done – it had to come out AND I now understand why women choose to have bi-lateral mastectomies even when cancer is not present in the other side. It’s the fear (very real) of the cancer reappearing and having to go through all of this again … and I’m just at the beginning.
On Monday, I told Dr. Powers that I was done. I wanted the tissue expander out and I wanted a mastectomy on the other breast. I realize that now is not the time for the 2nd mastectomy – I NEED to get to chemo, but she understood. Taking out the expander has a recovery time of (hopefully) 10 days, where the mastectomy would take 4 weeks or longer. No one would do that now. And, after chemo, we can reassess our options.
Surgery was scheduled for Wednesday morning for about an hour and a half. Once they got inside, it took much longer, around 4 hours. Apparently the infection was in deep, but they are confident they got it all. I could stay in the hospital for another day or so, or I could go home. The only antibiotics were being given orally and I was tired. We headed home.
During this last couple of weeks I don’t know how I could have made it without my family surrounding me – my strength when I didn’t have any, taking me to appointments, to the hospital, forcing me to eat, making me laugh. I keep telling my children “I’m the mom”, but there’s lots of times when I don’t feel like it.
July 30 – Biopsy
Aug 1 – Diagnosis
Aug 29 – Mastectomy / Initial Reconstruction
Sep 20 – Wound Revision #1
Oct 4-9 Hospital Stay
Oct 9 – Wound Revision #2
Hopefully chemo will start in 10 days or so … a whole new adventure. I’m praying this one won’t be as tough as the first part, but to quote my chemo doctor … “It’s gonna kick your ass”.
I think that’s already been kicked.