Monday, April 20, 2015

The first week at home, post-surgery

I'm sure everyone is on the edge of their seats wondering how things have been!   

As I mentioned before, I started keeping a note pad of when I take my medication, so I'm not taking it too frequently.  Things seem to be going well. About every five to six hours for the pain medication.    
I think Sunday morning is funny. I woke up and decided that half a pain pill would do.
Fifteen minutes later I mentally slapped myself and took the other half.  
Monday I decided I'd had enough and had to do a sponge bath!  First, I knelt on  the floor and washed the hair by tub faucet. This is something I haven't done often since high school.  It's funny that even though I've been in this house for fifteen years, the fact that the faucet is on the opposite side of the tub than the one I grew up with throws me off every time I wash the hair this way.   Next up, it was sitting on the side of the tub while not getting the lymph node incision or the surgery foot wet.  It takes so much longer when one has to be careful about surgery sites!   I was exhausted by the time I was finished and ended up just putting some basic hair cream (Aveda Be Curly) in my hair and using the blow  dryer/diffuser on it quickly.  Curly it would be for the next few days.  I chilled out, took pain pills--and the hour long naps that came with it--and waited for the Mike to get home.  I think the worst part is the pain pills and not being able to focus on anything for too long. I have no idea how people function who become hooked on these things.  

Feeling spiffy with a sponge bath, washed hair and non lounging clothes! 
Hubby got home about 5 tonight and came in the kitchen door, which was a little odd. Then he had me come out to the kitchen. Um, okay--he wants me to walk. OH! FLOWERS.  
Yes, I'll hobble to get my flowers :-) 
Flowers from my fabulous husband. 

Leftovers for dinner: Porkchop, corn and instant mashed potatoes 
A few weeks before the surgery, I made up freezer meals for The Mike, as I was to be gone for about a week, and also for the first week at home.  Some meals were complete (meatloaf frozen with sweet potatoes), and others were just cooked seasoned meat we could pair with something quickly.  The porkchop fell in the second category. I had no problem whipping up some instant mashed potatoes when circumstances prevent one from standing/being in the kitchen for long.  

As for the foot, we have to clean and re-bandage twice a day.  I've been doing this in the morning about 8am and The Mike does it in the evening --so he can see what it looks like as well. We've been cleaning it off with a quick swipe of alcohol (not the drinking kind), and then placing Bacitracin on the stitches/incision line. The next thing we do is open a piece of 2x2 gauze to the rectangle and place that between the pinkie and ring toe.  Then we wrap it with a bit of roll gauze, and put the ace bandage on at night.
Tuesday night I got frustrated with dinner.  I thought we'd have these two entrees, split if we'd like, with some ground beef and veggies.  I bought them a few weeks ago when I was in the grocery store.  
I confess, I didn't even look at the ingredients--those of us with food allergies know this is necessary!  
As I was heating up the Enchilada Pie I saw that it has soy in the ingredient list.  Yes, someone puts soy sauce in the enchilada pie.  Granted, it was GF, but that didn't help with my soy intolerance, so the hubby took one for the team and had it for supper.  I had the fabulous Amy's mac and cheese. 

Wednesday the toe was a little more red at the base, but it wasn't bothering me.  At 1pm I got the call from the doctor's office that the pathology of the skin and lymph nodes removed had come back and it was clean. All my margins were clean!  FABULOUS!   This meant no radiation, no chemotherapy. This would be another thing to note. The punch biopsy --and ultimate bad news of cancer--took two weeks to get the news back, as it was sent to the local lab and then Mayo Clinic for confirmation. The  good news with the skin removal only took four working days to have the results.   

About 3pm my toe had been throbbing a bit, feeling swollen, and then it started going numb--just the surgery toe.  So I did what most people would do and I freaked out a bit.  I called the surgeon's office, and was told he was out of the office for the rest of the afternoon, and of course in surgery on Thursday. I offered to send photos of the toe to the nurse for her to review.  I sent one from Monday and then the one below.  She called back within a few minutes and made an appointment for me to come in on Thursday morning to see one of the surgeon's associates in the office.    

The Mike had an out of town meeting on Thursday and he asked my father in law to come and take me to the doctor appointment. Hubby didn't want me trying to drive myself while still on the pain pills --I offered to abstain from one in the morning. 
Modified house slippers
One of the things we had to figure out was "what shoes would I wear".  Since the appointment was first in the morning, I wasn't going to change out the Ace bandage and I needed to find something that would accommodate.   The Merrill slip in shoes I bought for post-surgery wouldn't work (drat).  My current house slippers wouldn't work, but wait--I have my old house slippers!  The old Keen slippers had been coming apart and the lining had compressed, so I didn't feel bad about modifying them. A quick cut to the front area left the toe bumper in place and the leather bottoms on concrete would be fine (they're not on ice--just in case you walk on your stoop to meet the mailman!)  

With the shoes figured out, we headed to bed. We have switched sides of the bed so that the left foot can be elevated and on the outside of the bed. This, in turn, has completely thrown off the Felix cat who is use to hopping up, curling up on my chest and going to sleep, and cuddling against the head on cold days. The cat didn't know what to do when he hopped on the bed and found The Mike in my spot.  The cat did, eventually, go to sleep on his chest, but he was noisy later throughout the night.
Cuddlebud Felix during the day--napping on the chest
Thursday morning I had another sponge bath--not as exhausting as the first. I even had the energy to straighten my hair!  My fine escort arrived on time and we were off to the doctor!  The nurse took the covering off and then my FIL and I just hung out in the exam room for what seemed like half an hour, but probably wasn't that long.  We had a nice chat about a variety of things.  

Then the doctor came in and introduced himself.  Interestingly, in a good way, the doctor did wait for me to announce who was with me.  He then said he knows not to assume anything, that the person with me could be friend, brother, partner, husband, etc. (So true!)

The doctor said my toe healing is normally and not to be worried by the swelling/redness, that this is just basic healing. (okkkkaaayy).  That it can do this as the patient starts to feel better and starts doing more. I didn't think I was doing a lot more in the last few days. My laundry is by the kitchen (no stairs) and I can stand on my right leg while moving wet towels from the washer to the dryer.  

Orders:  he said to just continue the Bacitracin and gauze cover for the day, and then to see the surgeon tomorrow as already scheduled.  

We headed home, but first made a stop at McDonalds for me to treat my FIL to breakfast and where I enjoyed a sundae. Hey, it's GF and I've been having eggs for the last week for breakfast. My FIL headed home after dropping me off at mine.  I texted Mike about the visit and with my sister who had a mastectomy the day after my toe surgery.  She said my toe suture site looks worse than hers.  HA!  

I took an early afternoon nap, worn out from the days events.  I had set out hamburger to thaw and peeled and sliced the sweet potatoes for dinner.  When the Mike got home I was refreshed and had little time to spend in the kitchen since the prep work was already accomplished. I use Popular Paleo's recipe for the fries
This is healthy, right? 
Thursday would also be the last day I'd take any pain pills. That's a great feeling.  It took a while to differentiate between foot/nerve pain and toe/surgery pain. Once I did I was able to dial in the pain meds as needed for that.  Friday night I was having some toe pain, but had gone over 24 hours without any pain meds and was not going to give in to that!  

Friday arrived and with it a later appointment time, this meant I would change out my bandage first and then had to go through my shoes to see what would work. The Merrills were still out, the old stretched out Born sandals wouldn't work--as the leather strap cut across the toes horizontally.  I tried a few pairs of flip flops before trying my Hospital Hill finish shoes from 2012.  BINGO!  The straps cut back on the foot like true flip flops should.  However, I still don't understand how people walk in these things all the time!  
Perfect shoes for wounded ring toe
I paired these up with my "new" brown Athleta skort--I purchased it last fall, but hadn't worn it yet--and a nice springy orange top. I thought it screamed "refreshing".  With wardrobe out of the way, I had some time to kill before The Mike got home and I was feeling pretty good. I decided to make cupcakes and cake donuts. Okay, not true cake donuts--but rather some of the cake mix in the donut pan.  I always freeze most of the batch after baking; otherwise, they wouldn't last a couple of the days with The Mike' sweet tooth.
Yes, I put a towel under the cooling rack. It makes crumb pickup easy. 
Same scenario as the previous day: the nurse removed the bandage and left us alone for about ten/fifteen minutes. The surgeon came in with a shadow med student, and the nurse.  He said the toe was looking good, the swelling can be expected and the redness seemed to be okay, as there was no streaking from the toe down the foot (which would be really bad).  As a precaution, he ordered an antibiotic--Keflex--and then said to come back in three weeks. He'd like the sutures to remain in for a total of four weeks, since it's the foot and all.  The toe wasn't numb as it was the previous day and the doc didn't have anything to say about that.  

Then we learned something new before leaving--the nurse put gauze between the pinkie and ring toe and then started to wrap it. The surgeon said we need to put gauze between the other toes as well, in order to prevent toe sweat/funk and to provide some cushion and comfort. He was right, it felt much better than just the gauze pad at the suture site we were doing.  When we got home, I ordered some of the plain surgical gauze from amazon.  It would squish more easily in between the toes, and provide for some more air circulation than the gauze pads we were using. 

While waiting for Target to fill the RX, we headed to Culver's for sustenance. The location does now have UDIs GF buns, but I still prefer to just have the burger on its own (with green beans below), and save the carbs/starch/bread for something like pizza.   I was good and did not have any custard.  They forgot to bring The Mike's to the table and upgraded him from a medium to a large. He was not offended by that gesture.

We were going to head to the grocery store after the doc appointment, but I was pretty tired from the days events.  We headed home. I had a nap, The Mike worked from home.
For dinner we had an un-photogenic dinner and a reminder Saturday morning.  We made a box of Annie's Mac and Cheese, paired it with some mixed frozen vegetables. Then The Mike had left over hamburger with his and I had some sardines with mine.  It was tasty.  However, I awoke Saturday morning starving.  It's one of those reminders as to why I don't eat a lot of pasta for a main meal.  It's also a reason I don't "carbo load" with pastas the day before a race.  I prefer a small carb of a baked potato and then grilled salmon or some other light protein.  It works much better for my body. 

Saturday we made a run to the grocery store --oh, how I wish I could actually run, or walk full footed.   On with the snazzy sandals and off to the store. I think this store is rather large, and normally I just stick to the perimeter---as I usually just run in to get things from the healthfood section , meat and fruit/veggies which are all on the perimeter. This day, I had to walk a few of the aisles and it was more walking than I was use to.  I also climbed over the cushions to elevate the foot a few times. After my afternoon nap (man, I am sounding like a baby or 90 year old with all these naps!),  my left groin (lymph node site) was a little tender.  

We whipped up a Greek inspired pizza with the Chebe crust for supper. Red peppers, red onion, diced ham, left over bacon (how did that happen?), kalamata olives and feta cheese were the toppings.  I haven't bought a lot of cheese since January, so we are sticking to the idea of keeping consumption of that low.  To the crust, at the time I added the eggs and oil, I also added 2 tablespoons of milled chia I had soaked in 4 tablespoons of water.  I pulsed this in the Kitchenaid food processor, then added just under the 1/4 cup of water to create the consistency. The chia add nutrients, protein, fiber, omegas, antioxidants, and more.  This link provides amazing nutritional information on this seed that helped nourish the Aztec and Mayans.
Saturday night I felt a knot/ball under the groin incision site.  EEK.  A little worried, I knew I had probably over done it on the walking today, and we decided to see what Sunday brought.  

Sunday the knot/ball was a little smaller and I thought maybe it'd go away during the day if I kept it a fairly calm day.  However, we did need to head to Target to get the Felix cat (hyperthyroid) his wet cat food for extra calories. He's a bit spoiled.  

Smokie is spoiled as well: 

We also finished our weekend marathon of watching Netflix's Daredevil series. It is AWESOME.
Sunday evening dinner was created by Just Bare Chicken, pan cooked with salt & pepper, Three Bridges GF Ravioli, and then sauteed red onion and red pepper with wilted spinach and garlic. The red splash is pasta sauce.  

As I was typing this up, we were watching an episode of "How The States Got Their Shapes"---the Hatfield and McCoy episode.  There's a state line marathon event in June so named Hatfield McCoy Marathon.  It sounds great. I may try to add this to the 2016 schedule.  It's June 13, 2015 this year.  Too bad it's not near the Lynchberg, VA race---Oak Barrel Half--which was April 4, of this year. 
I'd love a medal formed from the barrel of Jack Daniels whiskey.  

To recap: 
The toe is doing well. Still red, but that's okay since there's not streaking on the foot.
Getting ready in the day can be exhausting. 
Finding shoes to work with a wrapped toe is hard.
Having great friends and family to help out is priceless.
Having a freezer with meals or half meals is a great idea. 
Being able to have the energy to walk around feels fabulous. 
Being off pain pills is great. Naps not required unless I exert myself with walking/shopping.  


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Day 3-4 The weekend!

Woot! The weekend is here, which means more conversation time, when I'm awake.  I don't know how people who abuse prescription drugs do it. I'm asleep so much with this RX!  
Breakfast in bed--well, the couch!
Scrambled eggs with cheese, and a small side of Paul Newman pineapple salsa,
plus a piece of UDIs whole grain toast with blackberry jam. 
Rebandaged for the day

Again, the height and warmth cuddle bud. He's on the cushions which are piled up for my foot. 
The mail arrived --while I was asleep--with this wonderful note!
I have no idea where the afternoon went, except it was spent behind my eyelids.
The Mike enjoyed a great afternoon for a bike ride.  
A rare event, both cats on the lap simultaneously. 
My heel was starting to hurt from hobbling around on it.  Since the gauze and owie level of the incisions prevents me from wearing a shoe, this is what we came up with:  Yoga Mat Heel cushion! 
Mike cut two pieces to layer in the ace bandage. 
True love is working with your spouse's incisions and finding ways to make her comfortable. 
Also in the mail, came a pick me up present from a sibling.  A new duvet cover with bicycles. 
It goes perfectly well with our blue walls!  
I have plenty of the sleeve gauze wrap stuff from when I had the Virginia Creeper/Poison Ivy crud on my wrists.  Silly me, I wore gloves, so my hands were fine, but the portion above the gloves was horribly exposed to the wicked juices.  I keep plenty of this stuff on hand as a precaution. 
Still seems like I'm missing a pinkie toe!  
As a special treat, The Mike set up the bed with piles of pillows, so I was able to sleep in bed.  We had to switch sides so my foot would be on the outside of the bed.  In addition, The Mike set up a stool for a bedside table for my phone, my medication, and bottle of water.  
The funny part of the evening was the cat. He didn't know where to be for sleeping and kept going between us. In the end, he slept where he normally does, geographically, which ended up being on The Mike's chest for this night. 

Day 2 Friday

After a fairly restful sleep on the couch, so as to not knock the foot too much, I had a cuddlebud with me most of the day. The cats know something is up and were pretty undemanding most of the day, except for wanting to be on me.  
Felix on my chest
Felix climbed high on the pillows elevating the foot, for the sun and the electric blanket warmth
Pretty much Friday I woke, took my medication (regular and pain pills) and slept a lot.  It also brought my sister's mastectomy day.  I knew she'd be at the hospital already and texted her a quick message, and then to her husband as well. Aside from tv and naps, it was an event for the day.
First, I ordered flowers to be sent to her from that new online company, Bouqs.  [They've since arrived and several roses were open fully, but most were not. They looked like a good bouquet].  
The gorgeous suntan from the antiseptic surgical wash. 
The lymph node wound.
The plastic tape cover worked fabulously, ignore all the wrinkles, they're just in the tape :-)
The incision here itself is covered in steri-strips 
Oh, see, Smokie had to get in on the cuddle action!
The arthritic and geriatric cat is not going to turn away time on the electric blanket!
The highlight of the afternoon arrived with the mail.  The postal woman came to the door and rang the bell several times. As she recognizes the vehicle, she knows someone is in the house; although, I suppose the television being on alerted her to that as well.  I hobbled to the door and she did a double take! [Maybe next time she'll think twice about needing someone to open the door!].  In the mail arrived my first StitchFix!  This is a service where you complete an online form, and once a month or every other month (as often as you select), you will be sent five items of clothing to try on, keep/buy, or mail back.   I was worried about it coming shortly after my surgery day, but it was a great pick-me-up! I was happy with the selection chosen for me, but ended up keeping only one top.
If anyone is interested in this, I have a referral code I can give you :-)  

The Mike came home from work and we had a fabulous dinner, one that we rarely get in this house:  Chicken Nuggets!  The Mike even arranged for a trio of dipping sauces.  
For the veggie accompaniment, we had peas and carrots.  You know, it's Forrest Gump's favorite. 
Gah! Where's the fifth toe? 
Friday evening brought  the first 24 hours ending and the first change in dressing. 
This is how the wound was wrapped underneath the ace bandage.  
Gauze aplenty. 
The first site of the toes.  Not too bad, long edges on the sutures. 
It looks pretty good in this photo, with the pinkie toe pressed in.  
The incision is pretty much all up the outside edge of that ring toe.  We've stuck with putting a piece of gauze in between the toes to prevent sweating and irritation.  
The vaseline looking stuff is Bacitracin, which must be applied twice daily. 

Surgery day. April 9.

You all remember this adventure started out with such a small colored piece of skin, in the shape of Saturn. A little round spot with 'edges' that resembled -to me- the rings of the planet. 
After my 'punch biopsy' the area slowly healed.  
The general surgeon I met with explained there is a nerve that runs right along the toe in this area, and that is why it had been a painful recovery from the punch biopsy.

The surgery was pushed out a little bit for several factors doctor's  schedule, my schedule, hubby schedule, and with the OK of the general surgeon.  

One of the last "hurrahs" of springtime toes.
I used my Jamberry wraps (2013 ones) that just scream summer.  
Also, I enjoyed wearing my Born sandals as much as I could in the chilly spring air.  It doesn't seem like I wore them as much as I wanted.  It'll be a while before I can wear them again. 

Since surgery was pushed out an extra week, it was convenient for a sibling:  I spent a week in the D.C. metro area, hanging out with sibling and watching her son for his 'spring break'. My fee was spending time with nephew,  food, and trips to thrift stores :-)  
I scored a brand new pair of Fidji shoes with the sticker still on from Nordstroms---for $25!  

While the planes traveled through some turbulent clouds, when I got back to Iowa, the clouds were moving on in a perfect line.  Gorgeous skyline.
It reminded me of ocean water meeting the sandy beach. 

The Mike and I spent Easter with his parents. He drove back on the 'back roads' and we found a nice river overlook.  We usually travel the roadway/bridge that is in the far background. 
My sister in law's church made a prayer shawl for me--
and she got one for me in my signature purple (for pancreatic cancer)

All the fun out of the way and it was time for surgery. EEK.   One of the hospital nurse's called the day before to run through my medications, vitamins, and allergies.  Reporting to the hospital time was changed from 5:30am (GASP) to 11am. I still couldn't eat past midnight (sigh). 
Surgery time itself was changed from 9am to 3pm.  

Last Hurrah of toe socks for weeks to come. 

Pre-Op
The hospital intake was interesting and different.  Most of my colonoscopies have been in the doctor's ambulatory room.  The only surgery I can recall 'checking' into a hospital for was my breast reduction and that was a different hospital.   The intake person was fairly new, and she kept reiterating that.  I was told to bring copies of my Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney, and she apparently had never had to scan a document into the file for this.  
She then sent us down the hallway to the surgery wing.

In the hospital room I had an intake nurse  who promptly started getting things ready. First, I let her know I had brought food for the recovery room/post surgery when they always try to get a person to eat crackers.  She said just to leave those with The Mike as I'd get those when I came back to the same room after surgery.  Next, she verified medication/vitamins and then tried to get me to give a 'water' sample (which I wasn't told of and couldn't give for at least an hour).  

Before she even had me in a gown, transport was there to take me to nuclear lab for the lymph node mapping.  Even though they said there was no rush, the fact that these transport folks waited by the door while the nurse was doing her work was annoying to me, and must have been to her as well. While this was going on and the nurse was verifying info, an older nurse came in and just "had" to see my cancer spot on the toe as she thought it was a misprint. [okay, maybe she was a heavy smoker and had aged skin, but she seemed about 60].  I honestly have no idea if she was a nurse, I remember her saying her name, but for all I know, she probably was the busy body at the reception desk.

To my intake nurse, I verified that no I.V. can go in my left wrist due to scar tissue from my very first I.V. experience in August 1993. Most nurses don't believe me on this. Today I had medical tape with "NO I.V." written on it slapped on to my wrist vein :-)  My intake nurse believed me and tried to get the I.V. into my right wrist, under and around the name badge and allergy badge. It didn't go well, The vein blew. This means the vein got a hole in it and they would have to go in another place. It doesn't really hurt when this happens, but it is inconvenient.  Another nurse was called in -who apparently can do I.V.s under extreme pressure, and my IV was put in the inside elbow vein.  
I was quite impressed to get an allergy band that had not only Ibuprofen on it, 
but also gluten and soy!

Lymph node mapping. 
Mapping is . . . interesting.  I was taken down to the nuclear med floor and left in an actual waiting room which was vacant except for yours truly.  After about five minutes I was rolled down the hallway to the mapping room. The surgeon was there and he and I confirmed together where the Melanoma spot was located, he marked it for surgery, and then another spot (also between the toes) for the tech to inject the mapping dye. I was asked if I was pregnant.

The tech injected the dye, which was just a little twing, and then did a preliminary scan. After that, I was taken to have a chest X-ray performed. I assume this is because I'd be intubated for the surgery.  The technician there came out to verify my bracelet ID, even after I stated my name. As she was looking at it, she said I looked 25. WOOT!   Probably had something to do with the ponytail on top of the head and the Lululemon headband :-)  I was asked again if I was pregnant. Ah! Maybe this is why they wanted me to give a urine sample up in the intake room!

After a few chest xrays, I went back down the hall to the mapping room.  This whole time I just tucked my gown around my body to prevent a show. After 20+ years of showing myself for colonoscopies, I wasn't concerned with having my legs exposed, nor interested in more laundry for the hospital with extra gowns--but I did want to maintain modesty for the hospital workers. 

In the mapping room I was set up on a skinny table/bed/tray with warm blankets and there was a tube/machine I'd be fed into for scanning where the dye was in the body as it worked its way up from my toes to the pairing lymph nodes.  It was possible for these to be behind the knee, or by the groin area.  Eight photos were taken over a period of about 40 minutes.  During the second or third photo, the room was called by someone to see if I was done. HA! I'd barely been started upon!  A computer screen above the scanning area showed the starburst of the dye as it moved through the body. As each photo took about a minute to process, the starburst effect would be concentrated in a certain area for the nodes. 

After the photos were taken, the tech then had to mark on my body the locations of the three main lymph nodes that were marked with the dye.  I had no idea what was really going on, but it tickled and felt like a marker.  She was using a skinny marker to mark three locations on the groin area and then the doctor would take from each area.  The tech explained the nodes are basically a string of pearl like items and the surgeon would take out some from the three marked areas.

After this was done, I was taken back to my hospital room. I was able to give the sample they had wanted, and I got to wait until surgery time. While all this was "hurry up, hurry up, hurry up" time, now it was "wait, wait, wait".  Time was now just after Noon and I wouldn't be called back for surgery until 3:15pm.  

The Mike and I  were in the room together for a little bit when a nurse came in and asked if the doctor had been in yet. Well, I saw the doctor down at lymph node mapping, and he had been in about the same time to see my husband, but haven't seen him since then. My understanding was he was suppose to come in with both of us here. The nurse was just very terse and asked , "So he hasn't been in".  He was in to see my hubby about an hour ago, he saw me down at the lymph node mapping. Terse Nurse: (harumph/sigh) and sort of huffed out of the room. 
The Mike and I thought that was quite strange. 

tried watching tv, we tried reading magazines, and we generally just sat there and held hands, waiting for them to come and take me away for my cancer surgery. Even though it wouldn't be as invasive or as scary as my sister's mastectomy the next day, it was still cancer surgery for me, in an unusual location.  

For surgery, this is what I remember. We were taken out of the hospital room. The Mike was informed of the waiting room for family members, and they have a television screen to show my initials, color coding where I was (in surgery, in recovery, in hospital room).  The nurse transport team wheeled me past the cleaning/scrub stations for medical personnel, I was taken into the surgery room which was cold for me, but I'm sure it would be warm with the spot lights lit up for surgery.  I repeated my name, birthday, why I was there, which foot would have the surgery. I was transferred from the moving bed to the surgical bed, laid upon it, warm blankets given, and I exposed my thigh/groin for the techs, I breathed into the mask and that's it.

The next thing I know it's 5pm in the recovery room and I'm being fed ice chips in between quick naps.   After so many ice chips I'm taken back to the hospital room where The Mike is waiting for me and my foot is bundled as below: 
All this bandaging covers the fourth/fifth toe area/surgery location. 


Hanging out with my prayer shawl --which was perfect for the chilly room--and my Kinnikinnick graham animal crackers and Snyder GF pretzels.  (both of these have soy lecithin, but that is one thing my body can tolerate, it's soy oil and protein that I can't). 

Another nurse was caring for me when I returned to the room. I enjoyed a small orange juice, water, and my crackers and pretzels.  Then we had to wait for my RX to be filled at the pharmacy hospital. Normally I'd take it to Target ---especially in April for double points month--but it was going on 6pm and I couldn't remember when the pharmacy there closed 6pm or 7pm).  After twenty minutes the nurse comes back to say the fax RX didn't get sent.  She gave me a pain pill while we were there, and then I had my RX delivered about 20 minutes later. After this, it was discharge time!  

Finally, we were heading home. No plastic boot or shoe for the foot. . .nope, just the bandage wrapped foot that I'm not suppose to walk on for 3-4 weeks!  

First, a wheelchair ride to the entrance, followed by hopping one footed into the car, and then we were on our way :-)   The Mike pulled up as far as possible to the sidewalk and I one foot hopped (with his support) into the house and to the couch.
The comfortable couch is where I'd be for the next couple days. The Mike set up my phone charger, electric blanket, and beverage station, along with a small end table with my magazines and note pad to keep track of when I took my medication. I highly suggest this for anyone who has surgery and has to take sleepy time pain medication. Otherwise, the hours seem to blend together the first days.


Disclaimer: My apologies for any misspellings or grammar mistakes.  I'm still on pain pills :-)  

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Surgery is tomorrow!

Surgery for the "toe cancer", actually known as a Melanoma on the webbing of my left foot ring toe, is scheduled for tomorrow.  Originally it was set for me to arrive at the hospital at 5:30am. Eek to the time, but at least the no-eating thing wouldn't be an issue.

Now, surgery is set for 3pm with me to arrive at 11am, and no eating or drinking or chewing gum or having a mint after midnight--except for a 'sip' to take two giant RX oblong pills for my colitis. I hope the nerves will take care of the "h-angry".

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Super Toe to become Surgery Toe

Sorry, no pictures, just information. 

Superficial Malignant Melanoma. 

It's still hard to say that. I have skin cancer.  I've gone to calling it "toe cancer".  Post about Super Toe update.   Post about Super Toe & original biopsy. 

Friday (20th) I ended up having my appt/consultation with the general surgeon, thanks to the GI, a week earlier than planned.  

I was suppose to have my Remicade on the 17th.  My Gastro acted like he had never heard of my calling in about the Melanoma. He was going to call a Mayo doc he had worked with at a different hospital to ask about my condition, medicine, then my PCP and the general surgeon. 

He didn't want to  me to have my Remicade and said we'd schedule that later, if again.  He said, contrary to what the CCFA said, that there  was no way to prove that Remicade causes melanoma. Given his behavior and such, I wonder if it was a CYA statement.   Really.   Especially with the 'we may not give it to you again'.   Not that I'd have it again once the Melanoma/toe issue was resolved, but that "we may not give it to you again'.

The danger is if a person who regularly is given Remicade goes off the medication, that, when the patient is given Remicade in the future, the person would have a 30% chance of having a negative reaction. I've never asked how they'd treat a "negative reaction" since the medicine would be in one's body for at least eight weeks.  

Ever the optimistic person, I read that as there is a 70% chance I can go back on it. Alas, the medical world doesn't see it that way. 

My mind was prepared to have an appt with the general surgeon for the 27th, not the 20th.  I wasn't all that happy that the Gastro had to suddenly make sure this appointment was ASAP.  More so that The Mike had taken the 27th off from work in order to be with at this appointment. Now it meant that I'd be going to the surgeon's office on my own. Yes, I'm a big girl. Yes, I should be able to do this on my own. No, I don't want to. (pout).  Plus, I want more people who are on my side and can remember what is being said--even though I take notes--than what little information the doctor ends up putting in his medical notes.  The Mike had a conflict at work and could not be at my appointment. 

Adding to my frustration for the day, the Gastro told me not to eat before the appointment in case the surgeon did the biopsy that day in the office--seriously? without a driver for me? My PCP told me that a large area of skin would be removed by the surgeon, so I had a hard time believing he'd do this in office.  Once I found out that the appointment was at 11:30am I said there was no way I wasn't eating. So I had breakfast, of course it was after the headache set in for not eating. :-( 

Surgeon: Great guy. Nice, personable. Is a runner. First, he threw me off by asking if I've been feeling okay lately. I said, "well, compared to how I've felt for the last four years that no one is able to tell me why, yes". So I explained the tired, the fatigue, the lack of energy, the bruising, the feeling of running 10 miles after running 3 miles, that I've increased my magnesium and feel a lot better.   His reply?   Have you seen a rheumatologist?  A rheumatologist could probably help you with these symptoms. Really?  Why would my PCP and GI never suggest such a thing!

The surgeon also always refers all cancer patients to the oncologist for a discussion/talk through. Wow.  This stuff is getting real (mom would be proud to know I didn't type my "favorite" word). Not only do I need a biopsy for the Melanoma (gulp, again, reminding myself I have cancer). I have to also see the oncologist (gulp, gulp). 

Surgery will be in the hospital because the location will be tricky to get to, and there is a nerve that runs up that toe.   light bulb moment. Ah, this is why the toe has been so very sensitive in this location!  

Basically he'll cut out the area more fully, then sew it up. The nerve will probably be cut, which means I'll have a lack of feeling in the toe forever then.  If it's not fully cut, it could  mean I'll have the 'drunk tingly skin' feeling as after the knee surgery. It took about five years for that to go away completely. The cut/removal will basically look like an eye. 

Draw an eye on a piece of paper, iris, pupil, open eye lids.  The tiny iris would be the melanoma, the pupil (1 cm diameter) skin removal for cell removal, and then the open eye lid are is the basic cut where he would draw the skin (tight) and close it in a straight line.  The end of the cut on the top of the foot would be about half an inch and then about the same on the underfoot as well.  Go ahead, look at your toes. How much skin do you have there to take a 1cm out for this.  My mind is saying OWIE and the surgery hasn't even happened!  

I will also have a lymph node biopsy performed.  My melanoma was .5mm and if it was .76mm it'd be an automatic biopsy, but since mine is smaller, it's just an option for me, which we'll take.  It was .5mm at the time I caught it, who knows at surgery time.  

Oncologist. Nice woman.  Met with her yesterday.  She said if the spot was 4mm or larger, then there would be drug involvement, but at .5mm, there won't be--on her end.  Also, told me that Remicade doesn't necessary "cause" melanoma, but that in addition to suppressing the immune system that would want to fight my colitis, it also suppresses the immune system that helps protect against cancer.  So much information to absorb!  

As of now, the surgery to remove the melanoma fully is April 9, which works with the surgeon's, The Mike's, and my schedule. After that, no running for at least 3 weeks, minimum, per the surgeon. He said no way, no how would I be running before at least three weeks from the surgery date. My mind said "Darn" but also is happy he can say that honestly up front. I'd hate to be told that I could be doing something a week out and then not. 

Snagged this from the CCFA facebook page
  

Friday, February 20, 2015

Pork chops and rice. . .what to do?


Thursday night I only knew we were having porkchops and brown rice.  The porkchops because that is what I had gotten at the grocer on Tuesday, and I had brined them Thursday morning with a tablespoon of salt, a tsp of sugar, and filled the container with water. Brining helps keep the pork tender. We learned of this from Alton Brown on his turkey brine recipe, but also on America's Test Kitchen.   The rice, because I was cleaning out the pantry and had a cup and a half of brown rice left, for over a year or so.  I always pass it up to cook because it takes 45 minutes to cook. YIKES. No way to do quick meals with that time restriction! 

Thanks to Pinterest, I found this recipe by Southern Krazed. It looked fabulous and just what I was looking for since it contained 1. porkchops and 2. rice. 

Her ingredient list: 
  • 4 Small Boneless Pork Chops (approximately 1 lbs.)
  • 1 Can Chicken Broth (15 oz.)
  • 1 Cup White Rice (not instant)
  • 2 Cups Chunky Salsa (your favorite brand and heat level)
  • 1 Can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Can or 2 Cups Frozen Corn
  • 1 Cup Shredded Cheddar Jack Cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
Well, I already had cooked the rice, plus I didn't have all the ingredients. Now, some might freak out at that and I said, "well, I'm making my own thing here with hers as an inspiration!".  

My supplies:

*two cups of red salsa (Mad Butcher if you're around Iowa, or you can order on line). 
*one can of refried black beans 
*3/4 cup of frozen corn
*no cheese since we're eliminating it from the house
*two butterfly pork chops ---which really means four small porkchops. 
*already cooked rice

I also had: 

*half a can of diced jalapenos
*Trader Joe taco seasoning
*Avocados
*Green salsa

I also had a couple containers of Newman's Pineapple salsa, but somehow I didn't think I'd actually like that in the meal tonight.  

I ended up cooking the pork chops by heating a Tablespoon of olive oil in the pan, and tossing the drained and dried pork chops in the pan to sear on both sides.  Then I added about a half tablespoon of taco seasoning to the pan with some water, covered and let simmer/cook.

In a skillet I added the frozen corn, the rice, the half can of jalapenos, and a cup of red salsa which I then stirred and heated through. I didn't want to use all the red salsa in case The Mike wanted more on his plate--'cause I'm caring that way. 

The black beans I heated up in the microwave. 

For plating, I completely forgot about the avocados, even though there are five in the fruit basket right on the counter where I plate the meals!  
Spanish rice flare with seasoned porkchops, side of black beans and green salsa.  

No cheese and it was fabulous.  Hubby gets this for leftovers today while I'll have the tuna noodle from Wednesday or sardines.  

I ended up mixing my beans and rice together, but, of course, that doesn't make a pretty photo.  

I never use to be one for salsa, and have come to realize I don't really care for red "normal" salsa, but love the different ones like the green salsa and the Pineapple salsa--which is great with tortilla chips and (gulp) sometimes on an omelet.  (There was a time, pre-The Mike, where I'd never have put salsa on my eggs.