Archives for posts with tag: Best of Blog

This post is from 8/7/12, the day before my right-side mastectomy. So I am reposting it now on the day before I have my reconstructive surgery and will get a new breast. I’ve had a plastic or foam breast for seven months.

Tomorrow is the day that I say goodbye to rightie, the ta to my other ta, the oonga to my baz, and the crenshaw to my honeydew. And you don’t have to tell me that it’s sad because I already know. I do need to move forward and the sooner I have this surgery, the sooner I can get over the next round of painful and yucky stuff. My outward appearance with go from Elizabeth 1.0 to Elizabeth 2.0 to Elizabeth 3.0 by the time the holiday season comes upon us. (Just pretend that I was never a baby and I started out life as a 46 year old woman. Be creative.)

Elizabeth 1.0 did have a proper send off today. As I walked into Trader Joe’s, I received not one, but two compliments from the Trader Joe’s employee who was working out front. First he said, “Have a good time shopping” followed by, “I like your dress.” He may have even been younger than me. As an extra bonus, he was not one of the drunk guys at the bus shelter in the Junction, ergo the flirting was not the least bit creepy or boundary violating. The bus guys seem to be my main fan club. (And drunk guys, I haven’t heard a lot from you lately. Middle aged ladies need a little encouragement.) So hey, Elizabeth 1.0, you still got it and with a sober guy, too!

I am not going to be bringing my computer to the hospital tomorrow so I may not post anything until I get home on Thursday. John may have his computer and if I am mentally with-it enough I may be able to get him to post on my behalf. Otherwise, please be patient. I’m not sure what I am going to be up for communication-wise for a couple of days. I am confident that surgery will go well and even though it is likely to hurt for awhile and to be very upsetting, I will be okay. During my meeting with Dr. Beatty last Thursday I said, “I’m going to thank you now because next time I see you I may have lost perspective.” His reply was, “No, you won’t.” He’s probably right.

Goodbye, Girl; hello, long and healthy life.

The Trader Joe’s guy has an affinity for prints, apparently. I do think I looked better in this dress for the obvious reason. My whole head showed rather than being semi-headless like this model. To have an entire head is more aesthetically pleasing. I learned that in my art history classes. I do like her earrings, though. Buy your own dress at http://www.sierratradingpost.com/chetta-b-jersey-print-dress-v-neck-short-sleeve-for-women~p~4059u/?filterString=womens-dresses~d~257%2F&colorFamily=02

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This blog was posted on 8/1/12. This stressful period of my life was good comedy material, prompting my brother to quip, “Cancer has made you clever.”

You remember who was in the chorus of the Gene Wilder musical classic? Yes, the Oompa Loompas. And what color were the Oompa Loompas? Yes, they were orange. And what color were my roots after using an unfortunate shade of Clairol Natural Instincts? Yes, they were a very deep shade of overripe cantalope. “Natural” Instincts, my ass!

I’ve never messed up a hair color before but I haven’t done it myself for several years and apparently, Clairol Natural Instincts uses a totally different formula than they did when I last used their products. And they are on a melon kick! Not to be seen in public (other than going to Target to get a fix for this), I used a non-permanent, normal looking reddish brown dye today. Ah, much better. Most of the melon is gone.

The Oompa Loompas would say that my parents are to blame for this mishap (“…the mother and the fa-ather”). However, the same thing happened to my mom and she warned me about it. When did I remember this? After I rinsed the color out of my hair! So, I’ve decided to blame Roald Dahl.

It will be so nice to be able to go back to the salon. It will happen.

P.S. The color was just like this except MORE orange. No lie.

The Oompa Loompas after disobeying their lax parents in the Clairol Factory and falling into a vat of Natural Instincts “Dark Auburn.”

This post is from 7/31/12, the day of my first visit to a plastic surgery office. It was surreal.

This afternoon I met with Drew Welk, M.D. a plastic surgeon at the Polyclinic. We had a good meeting and it was interesting to shift from a physician who focuses on disease treatment to one who focuses on aesthetics. I found out that my incision is not in the best place to which I replied, “Yeah, my cancer insists on being all kinds of inconvenient.” To his credit, he laughed at my ribbing. I did learn that I have very favorable “breast geometry” with only a little post-partum loss of muscle tone. Yay, my breasts got complimented! They’ve been a little starved for positive comments lately, especially the right one, which is currently looks like a more than a  little like a dented tin can these days.

Dr. Welk is talking to Dr. Beatty tomorrow to share his input regarding the best way to make incisions for the mastectomy so that he has something reasonable to work with later after the fat has been removed from my skin, the latter of which I get to keep. He took pictures in the clinic photography booth, which was set up like the DMV, except for the fact that I was partially disrobed and he had his choice of three different expensive looking cameras. (Or maybe the other cameras belonged to other surgeons. That makes more sense.) He took the last picture after he’d drawn a little incision map with a Sharpie.

It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and I liked him. Plus it was a surgery day for him so between his energetic demeanor and the fact that he was wearing scrubs, he looked like a surgeon action figure. (Not to be confused with 1973’s surgeon Barbie and yes, she was real; click the link. Also, not to be confused with an action figure for the character, Surgeon from Hellraiser 2. Mom don’t go to that link: That surgeon doll is heinous.)

Okay, so Michelangelo is probably not the best sculptor to reference in this post. He was criticized for the way he sculpted breasts, basically that it looked like he’d thrown a couple of softballs on top of a suspiciously manly shaped torso. A better sculptor might be the 20th century artist, Lachaise. That man knew how to sculpt realistic breasts on refreshingly substantial looking women. Hmm. “The Lachaise of La Twins”? I’ll stick with Michelangelo for the alliteration. My cousin, Beth favors Bernini breasts herself. Bernini’s sculptures are absolutely breath taking but the first thing that comes to my mind is “the Rape of Persephone”–not the image I want in my head when thinking about my breast reconstruction. Beth conceded that Bernini tended to show women on the run.  But I present exhibits A, B, and C for your consideration:

One of Lachaise’s fabulous, “Standing Woman” I think this is a clear winner. Unlike “Dawn”, Lachaise’s sculptures of women actual look like a woman modeled for them. Also, Lachaise’s women look like they could fend off a Greek god or random creep in the bushes, unlike Bernini’s stunningly beautiful but nearly defenseless damsels.

Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne. This is Beth’s submission. In this case, Daphne is so desperate to get out of Apollo’s stalkeresque clutches that she turns herself into a tree!

Michelangelo. This is a sculpture I’ve seen in person. It’s from the Tomb of the Medici’s in Florence. This figure is supposed to be “Dawn” Looks like a man named “Don” with softball boobs, am I right?

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You may have noticed that I’ve been re-posting old posts like there’s no tomorrow. I am fully expecting a tomorrow but there are some posts I wanted to get to reposting before my TRAM surgery and I am a stickler for keeping my “Best of Blogs” in chronological order. I’ve also discovered that I can write a post now and then schedule it to be posted later. How did I miss that little WordPress feature in my nine months of blogging?

Enjoy the “Best of Blog” Marathon!

This post is from 7/21/12. 

I know a lot of people say that clowns are scary. I have never found clowns to be scary, generally speaking but I do have a bad experience with a Seafair clown. I was 14 years old and had just completed the 8th grade. I can’t remember which of the Seafair parades I was attending but it was my first Seafair parade. Unfortunately, this parade marked another first for me, my first kiss, given to me by a Seafair clown. He planted a wet one right on my lips when I least expected it. Imagine being a 14 year-old girl and getting your first kiss from a middle-aged Seafair clown. Yuck!

Fast forward thirty-one years a year or two later, to the summer of 2011. I was attending the Chinatown Parade, my first Seafair-clown attending event since my unfortunate teen-aged experience. I was approached by one of the clowns and my dad wanted to take our picture together. Honestly, my stomach lunged a little from anxiety. But he looked trust-worthy and I gave it a go. He was a gentlemanly clown and we took a nice, healing photo together.

I am hoping for some healing tomorrow, too. I am looking forward to just being a mom at a parade, cheering on her kid.

This post is from 7/18/12, the day of my second lumpectomy. I was already resting at home and had enough energy and adrenaline to write two posts! This is the second post. I have been very lucky to have such caring and competent medical care. Unfortunately, this surgery was not the end of cancer surgeries since the margins weren’t clear. I had multi-focal cancer, meaning that there were multiple tumors, which although tiny and relatively slow growing, were separate tumors. Consequently, I got another toe squeeze from Dr. Beatty after my mastectomy, which I would have three weeks after I wrote this post.

 

 

Surgery went well and I am resting at home. Dr. Beatty reassuringly squeezed my foot as he left after we had our pre-op talk. My first thought? “I have to tell my mom!”.

This is the email my mom sent to my last night after hearing about the clear PEM scan. (It still won’t make total sense so I’ll explain it later in the post.)

Hi Liz,
I was so relieved that I forgot to wish you well on the lumpectomy.
Hope all goes well. We love you so much.
All week I kept hoping that Dr. Clark would squeeze my foot
and tell me you’d be OK. I guess he did.
Okay, so here’s the explanation:
I was a preterm baby born with respiratory distress. My body was not yet producing sufficient surfactant, which allows lungs to inflate with air and keeps the air sacs in the lungs filled with air. Back then, physicians didn’t know how to treat it so the prognosis was more touch and go. JFK and Jacki Kennedy had lost a baby a couple of years previously from respiratory distress. (For years, all I knew about my rough start in life was that my lungs weren’t fully developed and that I had the thing that the Kennedy baby had.) To make a long story short, it wasn’t clear that I was going to survive. My mom’s OB/GYN, Dr. Clark was talking to her while she was in the hospital. I imagine that she was alone. She had 4 other children at the time so I am guessing my dad had them at home. Seeing that she was scared and tearing up, he squeezed her foot as he left the room. My mom has spoken of this event many times over the years so I know this little gesture meant a great deal her.
So when I told my mom about this she said, “You need to write about this in your blog!”
So hospital physicians out there, we like the foot squeeze. We give it two big toes up!

This post is from 7/14/12. It’s not so much of a “best of blog” for the writing but for what gardening means to me. I was so happy to be able to get out and weed. My garden used to be a sanctuary and I’ve really missed being able to work out there on a regular basis. I know that it’s only a matter of time until my schedule and body cooperate so that I can get out there again and do some real work. Unlike my daily walking, the gardening involves physical movement that is not as controlled and emphasizes my right upper body, you know the part that keeps getting surgery. Currently, I am physically up to it but my schedule is crazy until the surgery. My wonderful hubby did some clean up for my last weekend and it made a world of difference. I try not to look at the amount of grass that is invading the flowers and ground covers.

I got to get out in the yard and weed this morning. Yay! Here are some pictures of my Jungle of Delights!

This post is from 7/4/12, right after the pathology report came back from my first lumpectomy and I learned that the margins weren’t clear and I needed another surgery. Until the surgical part of treatment was done the rest of the treatment plan could not be solidified. So even though I’d been a cancer patient for over a month, I still didn’t know whether I would need to have chemotherapy or radiation treatment. As it turned out, I had two more surgeries to go and my treatment plan would not be formalized until August.

 

Yesterday, I saw a young woman waiting for the elevator at the Swedish Cancer Institute. She was probably in her late 30’s. She wore well-fitting jeans (not tight, just right), a top, and a cute little hat on top of her nearly bald head. I thought, “She’s rockin’ that look.”

I smiled at her, said “hi”, and we both got on the elevator. She saw my Swedish tote bag, which identified my membership in the cancer club. She remarked that she had carried hers around for months but it made her feel like a nerd.  I joked that I called it “my big ole’ bag o’ cancer.” It ended up that we were both headed to the surgery clinic. We chatted a bit more as we waited to check in. She seemed smart and friendly. After we checked in, I joined John who was already in the waiting room and she sat in a different section of the room.

After several minutes, she walked over and said, “I hate waiting. Would you like to chat?” We introduced ourselves and talked for a few minutes. Jen had also just gotten surgery but this was her second surgery. She had also just completed a round of chemotherapy and it was likely that she would complete another one. I wish I’d gotten a chance to talk with her more but I was called in for my appointment soon after she joined us.

Jen looks really young and she’s had a lot of treatment in the last 7 months (she was diagnosed in December). Despite these sobering facts, I was reassured by her. Two of my biggest concerns about cancer treatment are having energy and if I should ever need chemotherapy, changing the way I interact with the world because I would be an obviously ill person. But Jen had enough energy yesterday morning to take care in putting together an outfit, which she rocked. (I know that she had just finished chemotherapy so she probably felt worse earlier but still.) She also engaged with me, a stranger in an upbeat way. I’m sure she gets lots of looks and has the frequent dichotomy of experiences where people either avert their gaze and ignore you or approach you and talk about your illness even though they are a stranger. But still, her presence was reassuring.

If I don’t see you again, Jen keep rocking the hat and I wish you a speedy recovery from this point on.

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