The Aftermath

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sorry I have been so quiet since my surgery! I honestly don't get on my laptop much because it just reminds me that I have to do my online class, so I avoid it. Terrible, I know! Unfortunately, the work has to be done by midnight tonight, so while I am doing that, I figured I would post something!

The surgery was extremely successful and went as expected. He was able to remove the tumor and all the affected areas (which I don't think there was much of). I got a little nervous before going back and had a little cry with my mom. Right after my cry, my surgeon came in (have we mentioned how much we love him?) and said "so you ready for your gender reassignment surgery?". I laughed and felt better after that :). I was back there about 4 hours and then in recovery for several more. I really don't remember much from that day (or that week really...I know my aunt and cousin were here, but I can't remember any details!). I do remember wanting my mom when I woke up, and luckily my nurse was nice enough to sneak her back into the recovery room and let her stay with me! It took FOREVER to get a room, but I was thankful to be able to recover on the 5th floor (which is where I usually go). It definitely helped to have familiar faces! I ended up being in the hospital from Tuesday (surgery day) to Saturday (we left by noon). Longer than I had anticipated, but definitely what was needed.

It has been a rough week or so of recovery. Much rougher than I expected. The pain I've felt is probably only second to my previous experience with mouth sores (pretty sure nothing will EVER beat that). It has improved a lot over the course of the week, which is good. I still cannot get up or down stairs very easily (you should have seen my family trying to get me in the house when we first got home...I can laugh about it now). I have been camped out on the main level of the house. Thankfully, we have a pull out sofa in the living room and a half bath. I don't know what I will do about showering once I can, but I haven't been able to anyway (don't worry I've still been washing off with a wash cloth!). I was sent home with a walker, crutches, and a wheelchair. I have mainly been using the walker to get around when I do, but I hope to practice more with the crutches so I can start to use those.

I have gone on little walks with my mom down the street. I make it about 2 or 3 houses before I have to turn back. It takes a lot of effort for me to walk, since I can really only put weight on one leg, and I have to push the walker. Plus it has been SO very hot, which is just not fun for many reasons. I am definitely looking forward to fall! I know we have a good while before the temperature actually drops, but my scarves are ready!

So, I have been spending a lot of time in bed, not doing my school work. I have been on painkillers, so I have slept a lot. I finally stopped taking one of them today, just because I was so tired of how they made me feel. I have not been super productive, but I have gotten a lot of snuggle time with Stanley! He is the absolute best and I am so thankful he is here! I wanted a cuddly dog for when I am stuck in bed, and they do not get more cuddly than Stanley.

I am still experiencing pain in my leg. I have quite an elaborate pillow set up for my leg and if ONE pillow moves an inch, it throws the whole thing off. I can finally get in and out of bed myself (as long as my walker is close to the bed), so that is a big improvement. I am not good at sitting around and having people do for me and bring me stuff. Sure, it is nice at first, but I start to feel bad. I know my parents (especially my mom) don't mind at all, but I am a pretty independent person, so I think it is just my nature. I also don't like waiting, so I would much rather go and do myself! I know I will be back to myself as soon as I can!

I have an appointment with my surgeon tomorrow. I am assuming he will look at the incision to make sure things are healing properly, and we will discuss the pathology. I have not been as anxious about it as I expected to be. I am hoping for the best (that the tumor was completely dead or mostly dead), but know that anything could happen. I am not sure when chemo will start or what that schedule will look like yet, but promise to keep everyone updated. If y'all wanted to send some good thoughts/prayers/wishes my way for the pathology tomorrow I would appreciate it :).

I also have my first physical therapy appointment tomorrow. I have a bunch of appointments set up, but obviously will have to adjust once chemo starts. I am excited because I want to get back to my fully capable self, but I also know it is going to be hard. It will probably hurt and it will probably wear me out. It is all for good though, and I am extremely motivated to be able to get back upstairs!

I know this post is long, but one more fun thing happened this week. On a particularly rough day, my dad brought inside a package for me. It did not have a clear return address, so we didn't know what it was. I opened it to find another box FULL of One Direction merch. There was a t-shirt, a tank top, a license plate, and all kinds of fun stuff from their current tour. There was also a picture that had a note attached that said it was hand signed by the boys! It made my day!! I cannot thank whoever made this possible enough. I have been shown SO much kindness during all this, and I promise I will pay it all forward as soon as I am better!

So that's it from here! One of my best friends is stopping by on her way back down to school and then I have to finish up some work for my class (which is online...minus the three times we have to be onsite to take exams! If anyone knows of any good proctoring sites in Greenville, please let me know!). I am hoping to get out of the house this week and maybe get to some stores...I really wanna decorate my walker :).

Thanks for all the love and prayers for my surgery! They were much appreciated and I felt so loved!

I love this quote, but couldn't help but use it on this post since I am walking a bit more slowly than usual :).

Barbara Stacy's photo.
My first walk down the street! I have informed the 2016 Olympics that I will not be able to compete next year in any of my scheduled events. They understood, but I know it will be a big loss to the team. Hopefully America can forgive me ;)

I don't know why the awkward spacing between pictures, but anywhere here is me with all the One Direction goodies I got! I almost bought that tank top at the concert instead of the t-shirt, so it is a good thing I didn't!

Two seconds before this he was running around like a lunatic...he literally just crashed! 

I've been hobbling onto the deck swing the last two days to get a change of scenery and of course he joins me! He loves to be outside! 

A Medium Day

Monday, August 17, 2015

Well, tomorrow is the big day.

I have to be at the hospital at 5:30am tomorrow. That should be fun (not!). I go straight to preop where they will do whatever they do there, and surgery should start around 8. I think the surgery takes anywhere from 2 1/2-4 hours (different people have told us different things). I will spend a few hours in recovery, then hopefully no more than 2 days in the hospital. I think the part I am dreading most is being back stuck in the hospital. I already want to come home, so I am hoping my stay is the shortest length possible!

I will do my best to post either on here or Facebook when I can! If I don't, I will definitely have my mom. I am extremely excited for tomorrow to be over and to have this step behind me. If you text me tomorrow (or my mom I'll go ahead and throw in there) please don't be offended if we don't answer right away! It is going to be a little bit of a long day, but we will do our best and obviously appreciate all the thoughts and prayers! It is a major step in this "journey" so I am happy to cross it off my list!

I honestly have felt pretty good today. I'm a little anxious, but mainly just ready to get it done. I wish that there was no reason for me to be having this surgery, but since I can't do anything about that, surgery it is. I hate that I won't know what to expect when I wake up. Not even really pain wise, but like how I will feel. Surgery is what is gonna take this stupid disease out of me and for that I am thankful!

I got to spend some one-on-one time with the little boy I babysit/nanny last week while his sister went back to school. I don't often get them by themselves, so I really enjoyed getting to spend time with just him. Anyway, I asked him if he was excited to start school (he starts Tuesday) and he said he was a little bit and that it was going to be a medium day. I then told him that I was going to be having surgery and he said "oh then it is going to be a bad day for you". I then explained that it was actually good, since it is taking what is making me sick out, and he replied "then it is a medium day for both of us!". I loved his way of putting it, and he is exactly right. It is a medium day :).

It is also my brother's last first day of high school tomorrow (I feel like it was just my senior year!)! I hate that all this is surrounding it and that my mom will miss it (my dad is staying to see him off then coming up to the hospital). I know he will be fine, but I can't help but feel bad that all this is happening during such an important time in his life. It will all be fine, I know, but still. It just sucks!

I am not going to lie, I had a really bad, "why me" kind of day yesterday. I moved into my apartment on Saturday and spent the rest of the weekend. It was SO hard to leave yesterday. I was pretty bummed the rest of the day once I got home. It just sucks that all my friends are back and school and I am not. I hate this. It isn't fair. I love the prospect of a new school year and the feeling of the first day (good thing I will be a teacher!). I am so mad I am not getting that this year. I should be at school in my apartment. It really, really just sucks. I just hope that I can be back there in January!

On the bright side, my aunt and one of my cousins are driving down tomorrow. I am SO excited they will be here. Surgery still sucks, but I am excited they will be here to keep me company! I felt so much better about everything once I heard they were coming. It will be so great to have them here!

I think I will sign off here for now! I will do my best to keep you all updated, I promise! In the mean time, any thoughts/prayers for a smooth procedure, easy recovery, and good pathology report are appreciated! And also some for my parents because I am sure waiting while I'm in the OR will be very hard for them! The nurse said they get frequent updates, but still I am sure they will worry!

Thanks for all the continued love and support!

Worrying Wont Stop The Bad Stuff From Happening It Just Stops You From Enjoying The Good

2 of my best friends (and roomies!)! We built that Ikea table in the background all by ourselves, so of course we had to take a picture! (you can also kinda see how my hair is coming in!). 

My room at school! Sorry the lighting is so bad.

Still missing a lot (left some stuff at home on purpose and by accident hahae) and I need to print recent pictures!

My pre surgery gift to myself was this new purse. I had been carrying my old one for almost two years, so when I saw this one I had to buy it! It ended up being $30 less than I expected too :). 

Thoughts and Feelings

Monday, August 10, 2015

Since I am almost officially one week out from surgery, I figured it was time for an update!

My mom and I spent last week in New Jersey visiting my aunt and uncle. It was a great little trip and felt so good to get a change of scenery. We ate a lot (did I mention how GOOD it feels to be able to eat?!). We went to one of our favorite delis where the sandwiches are literally the size of a small child and they have the best pickle bar. I am not even going to pretend I did not pig out. It was glorious.

We had a very eventful driving portion of the trip. My family and I used to make this trip 2-3 times a year (and sometimes still do!) and I have never had a trip this bad. Now believe me, I know it could have been 100x worse, so please read the following with that in mind! To start, I could not help drive any of the (supposed to be) 11 hour trip because my car ended up needing the AC fixed. Yes, I had been driving around in a car with basically no AC for weeks until the people at Nissan could find the leak. Turns out they managed to find it right before we were supposed to leave! That was a bummer because I was looking forward to driving to help with being bored in the car and to give my mom a break. Anyway, we left in the afternoon and were making such good time my mom thought we would be able to drive the whole way through that day. Around 10/11 we hit MASSIVE traffic. Like the three lane highway all had to merge into 1 lane. Then that cleared up and then the same thing happened AGAIN. The second time, we were sitting there and I was flipping through radio stations when we got rear ended. We had already lost a lot of time in the traffic so this pushed it over the edge. Luckily the couple was very nice and there was barely any damage. Still pulling off to the side of the road from the middle lane at 11 o'clock at night in massive traffic on 95 is enough to get to anyone. Once we cleared that up, we decided to stop at a hotel for the night and start fresh in the morning.

The next morning our goal was to leave at 8. Long story short, we ended up staying in the hotel because One Direction was on GMA and they kept saying they were next (as they always do) so I convinced my mom to stay and watch. They were done at 9, so we left shortly after. The ride was going fine until we got into New Jersey. I don't know how many people who read here live in Jersey, so if you don't then you need to know that the Turnpike is the main highway there. That's how you get to most places including the airport and NYC. Sure there are other ways, but that is the most convenient. Well, we kept seeing signs that the turnpike was closed "north of exit 10" but my mom and I both couldn't believe they could shut down the whole turnpike. We were wrong. It turns out a truck flipped over under an overpass and blew up (it was it). Long story short, all the back ways were crawling in massive traffic so it look us an extra hour to get to my aunts. It was a disaster. One Direction saved the day though, because if we had left at 8 we probably would have gotten stuck in the traffic on the turnpike when the accident first occurred...some of those people were stuck for 3 hours!

Speaking of One Direction, I did get to see them! It was my fourth time seeing them, but first time in a stadium. It was SUCH a good show! We had really good seats considering we bought them for resale. They put on such an amazing show and the weather was perfect for an outside concert. It was so nice to do a "normal" activity, and I was so happy to feel good enough to go! I stood the entire concert and was basically myself. I have been feeling like myself this last month, but it was still just exciting for me to feel good. They sang all my favorite songs and it was really just such a good night. It was well deserved after my last few months and made me feel ready to conquer the next few! Next time I see them I hope to be totally cancer free and front row :).

We got home Friday, after hitting massive traffic AGAIN. We lost two hours sitting in traffic. Needless to say, we were extremely happy to get home. I was so happy to be reunited with my dogs! And my bed! I love to travel and get away, but I will always be happy to come home!

I don't have much on the agenda for the week. I just plan on embracing my last week before I am down again for awhile. I am getting kind of anxious about surgery. Not so much about the actual procedure, but the recovery. I don't like the idea of not knowing what I will feel like when I wake up from it. I don't know if I will be in a lot of pain or how long it will be before I can get up and go like I am used to. I am probably making it much worse in my head, but that's just what I do. I know it will affect my walking but I am scared it will hurt and a lot and be for awhile. It is basically changing something I have been used to my whole life and that is scary. The doctor said I will not be able to tell once the piece is in there and that the surgery is easier than the chemo, so I am holding onto that. He said stairs shouldn't be an issue, but I am still nervous they will be. I am scared to be really out of commission, like not being able to stand up and walk as usual. I am lucky I know my family will be there to help me, but I do not like depending on people! I am trying not to think about it too much, but I can't help it sometimes.

I am ready to get the surgery over with and power through the rest of the chemo. I want this to be over. Half the time, I still can't believe this is something that happened to me. It is easy to forget when I feel good until I see my bald head in the mirror. It is actually less bald now though! I know all the hair that is currently growing will fall out again, but I have a fair amount on my head! You can tell because my scalp looks darker and you can feel it (so soft!). I have also started shaving again (gonna be completely honest...I did not miss that!). I will be so happy when it starts coming back and I know it will be there to stay! I really miss having hair. I complained a lot about bad hair days, but I would love to have one of those now!

I move into my apartment on Friday. I am planning to go move in and stay at least Friday night, maybe Saturday night too. I am taking it all one day at a time. I am super excited to move in and finally live with my best friends, but I can't help but think about how unfair this crappy situation is. I wish I could be excited about moving in and going back to school. My friends and I signed the lease for this apartment back in like November...I never would have thought I would not be moving in when I should be. I remember shopping with one of my friends last year for our separate apartments and talking about how we couldn't wait to shop for our own apartment this year. We have been shopping, but it really sucks knowing I won't be there like I should be. I plan to visit whenever I can, but it is not going to be the same. Plus, I miss being on my own in my own space.  I am sad to be missing out on all the fun things I am used to doing fall semester at school. I miss my school routines. I should be starting the professional program which is when things finally get serious. It just sucks. A lot. I love home, but I liked school too. I am really struggling with this and I am scared moving in is going to be really hard. The last two years I have gotten sad when it comes to leaving home and going back, and I wish that's what I was dealing with this year. It is kind of funny that usually I am sad to leave home, but this year I am sad that I have to come back home! Perspective is a funny thing! It just isn't fair and there's not much else to say about that.

It also sucks for my two best friends who will be living there without me. I haven't talked with them much about it (probably because we would all cry), but it is going to be hard for them too. My stuff will be there, but I won't be. We had all been looking forward to this time and to have it delayed is a bummer. We had TV nights planned and different traditions to start. We will (prayerfully!) have spring semester and then senior year together too, but I hate we have to miss out on this semester.

Not to mention, all my friends will be back at school. This sucks for a number of reasons. They won't be able to come visit me in the hospital or sit with me at my chemo. I have been EXTREMELY blessed with fantastic friends and I am so thankful they have done those things. It is going to SUCK going into those things and knowing they won't be there. I know they will come and see me as much as possible, but it is not going to be the same. I was extremely lucky to start all this during the summer when they were all home so it is going to be weird and hard that they won't be. I am going to miss them so much and will be counting down till all the breaks so they can come home!

This post is getting long and deep, so I will sign off for now. I am sure I will post again before surgery (I have a lot of thoughts and feelings still!). I am still feeling like myself and just enjoying that before going back to the cancer world next week!

Thanks for all the continued love and support...especially next week! I hope everyone is enjoying what is left of summer (no school wise at least...we all know it will be hot until at least October! :) )

Again, I will leave you with some pictures!

“When faced with the scariest of things, all you want to do is turn away, hide in your own invisible place. But you can't. That's why it's not only important for us to be seen, but to have someone to look for us, as well.” 
― Sarah DessenSaint Anything

Yes, I bought Stanley a Halloween costume in August...but you should see the way he flies around with his cape! 

Some pictures from the concert :)

Corn beef from Harold's Deli aka THE BEST

My mom and me before the concert! *side note* I was super excited about that necklace I found to match that dress like two days before we left. When we got to our seats at the concert, I turned my head and it broke! It was such a bummer so I retuned it when we got home!

My mom, my aunt , and me before the show! My aunt lives 30 minutes from Metlife so she graciously offered to drop us off and pick us up!