Sunday, August 26, 2012

quick update about mastectomy....
All tests have been completed and we have a surgery date finally! The mastectomy on my left breast
( the one on which I had the lumpectomy ) will be performed on September the 6th.  About a month later will be the surgery to remove the benign rib lesions and possibly the mastectomy of the right breast at the same time.  I will have to confirm that the two will be done together for it wasn't clear on Friday when I talked to the surgery coordinator.

Along with the mastectomy to remove the breast tissue, reconstruction of the breast will be begun during the same surgery. This process is done by placing a tissue expander ( like a thick skinned balloon ) behind the pectoral muscle to stretch it and prepare a pocket for the permanent silicone implant. Saline solution slowly fills the expander through weekly injections of saline into a port opening in the expander. It usually take from 6 to 8 weeks to fill the expander to the desired size. One usually waits 4 to six weeks to let the breast pocket heal, then in an out patient surgery the expander is removed and the silicone implant is placed in the prepared pocket. Most women who chose to have bilateral mastectomies will have the two breasts done at the same time. Preforming both at the same time will not be best for my unique case with the complication of the rib tumors.

The rib tumor surgery as I described in a previous post is very extensive. The removal of two right side ribs and a tumor in the front of chest wall and then deflating the right lung. This will allow the surgeon access to the rear right tumor on a rib near my spine. Another 2 to 3 ribs will be removed. Titanium mesh will form a new chest support in place of the ribs in the back. I think the surgeon I now have plans on Titanium ribs in the front with the chest opening being covered by a large muscle harvested from my back. Now I think my surgeon team may be planning to finish up this surgery with completing the mastectomy and placing of the expander in the right breast directly over the rib tumor surgery site. Whew, sounds like a very long surgery and really sounds like a long recovery!!!!

The best we can anticipate as far as the length of recovery from all this will be approximately September through January. Even then I'll still be going for the implant fillings which can cause a lot of discomfort. There may be smaller surgeries beyond that to fine tune the breast reconstruction. My second home will be Northside Hospital for the next year!

As you guessed our business and livelihood is going to be drastically and completely disrupted for quite a while. How we will meet our obligations is something of trust now. I'm expecting to work some by painting my oil paintings and gaining some income from that. Kenn has considered hiring someone to help him clean in place of me for a few months but some physical problems of his own are currently plaguing him and that doesn't seem an option.  He will probably be working full time as nurse, cook, chauffeur, house cleaner, laundry man and much more.  I'm told that I won't be able to lift more than 10 lbs for quite a while and should avoid flexing my pectoral muscle as the expander and breast pockets are healing. I won't be able to lift my arms above my waist for two weeks or bend over. Gee, I think Kenn will be very busy! :c

We are doing what we can to plan and prepare for our months ahead but at the same time trusting that God will lead us and provide for us in ways that we can't imagine at this moment. It all seems overwhelming at times and I do lose some sleep over my planning and thinking about it all. I have to remind myself of his promises and remember his provision in the past. He has never let us down and will not abandon us in all this. His peace is still with me most of the time as I trust him. His direction is available but sometimes not as immediate as I would like. I'm thankful for all as I see his purpose being revealed in little bits along the way and know that later as the journey has ended on the other side of these surgeries we will be able to see God's hand in it all and his purpose achieved.

Continue to lift us both up in your prayers as the days ahead may be more difficult than we can imagine. You all will be such support to us in you encouraging communications and prayers. Thank you all.