My Inspiration

My Inspiration

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Big Show

Monday May 19th, the day before my mastectomy, I was so glad to have the opportunity to spend the day with a good friend, talking, laughing and crying about our family, children and life and NOT CANCER, like normal girlfriends do.  
I came home to a clean house, bathed and put to bed the kids, and sat down with Keith to talk about all the things that needed to be done, but will have to wait.
All but one, I needed to have a blessing before this next step.
We called a friend to come over, he and Keith gave me a Priesthood blessing.  I've had a number of Priesthood blessings given to me through this journey, each one has given me comfort and understanding to handle the next challenge I had to face.
But for this next step I needed strength.
I have begun to feel too weak to handle one more thing, almost to the point of stopping, giving up, or even thinking I might not make it.  Reason, science, and Keith would tell me that things will get better.  But it seems like just when I'd start to get better, I'd get hit by one more illness.  So choosing to go in for a major surgery that will leave me weak again, seemed too much for this little girl.
The next morning when Keith and I were waiting in pre-op for the surgeons to make arrangements, I thought of all the painful, dark, long days I had endured, and I found strength in knowing that I can do 6 more weeks.  I had to remind myself, I can do hard things.
Once again, the surgeon, the plastic surgeon, the Anesthesiologist and the nurses all come in to mark up my chest and prepare Keith and I for the surgery.
They were all wonderful and next thing I knew I was out!
The surgery took a little longer than they had expected, it was almost 7 hours, so they didn't finish until after 6:00 p.m. As one of the doctors later told me, "You were up for the Big Show, and came through with flying colors!"  They told Keith that everything went well.  I had a complete mastectomy on the right side, meaning non skin sparing, and no nipple sparing, and a skin and nipple sparing on the left.  They were able to place the expanders and the cadaver skin in and fill them halfways so when I woke up I was surprised that I was not completely flat like I had seen on the internet.  I was probably a A cup, which is not too shabby when you're mentally prepared for a little boys chest.    
After the surgery, the next thing I remember was a nurse's voice telling me that if I opened my eyes I could get more medicine for the pain.  I guess I was complaining of pain while I was coming out of the anesthesia.  Thank heavens for modern pain medicine.  I can see how people could get addicted to that stuff.
That night when Keith came back to check on me, I decided I wanted to try to stand up and go to the restroom.  He and the nurse were helping me stand up, when everything went black.  Keith said my eyes rolled back and I was out.  But after a long night of pain, and little sleep, they had me up to walk around.   I was still in a lot of pain, so I was on really strong medicines that made me sleep a lot.
Also the pain medicine combined with the effects of the anesthesia caused my bowel to completely stop.  So I spent the next few days trying to work that out and get things up and running.
Also before I left the hospital, the nurses had to teach me and mom how to drain and keep the 4 tubes that come out of my body under my arms.  You have to drain the fluid/blood that could build up in the tubes and little plastic grenade at the end.  From what I've been told, care of these obnoxious tubes and grenades will help prevent swelling and infection.  We also have to clean, and dress all the stitches across my chest.
When I came home on Thursday, my mom and Keith had the kids and the house managed quite well.
I spent next few days, drugged, sleepy, and tucked away so that no one could touch me.
My dear mother would come up every night to help me drain my tubes and change my bandages. OUCH!

By my two week post op appointment I was feeling better and my drain had turned clear and were draining less, so the plastic surgeon decided to remove my lower drains on both sides.  I was happy about losing at least 2 of them.
But he also decided to fill my expanders to stretch out my skin. The doctor placed a magnet on the top of my chest until he found and marked the spot on the expanders to infected the fluid.  Then he brought out a huge tube of saline with a long needle.  I immediately looked away, but could feel the pressure in my chest.
Keith, who was at my feet said it was the craziest thing to see how much he put in me and watching my chest rise like a blow up pool toy.   Odd experience!
He injected two  bags in both my boobs until I was so tight and in pain, I thought I was going to pop.  The whole trip home I could feel every bump on my rode.

Now it's 6 days later and most of my pain is relieved.   Not looking forward to doing that one more time, but Keith keeps reminding me it will be over soon and worth it.
My scars are healing and I'm beginning to feel human again.  I still get light headed and dizzy, and I have to remind myself not to stretch for or pick up heavy things.
Thankfully my mom was here for two and half weeks, and my sister-in-law and niece are coming out the for next two weeks to help with all the crazy end of the year stuff.  The end is in sight!


  1. Tamee! You are so amazing! You are my role model on so many levels. Thanks for just being you! -Leah Garney

  2. Sweet girl, what a testimony you are. When you regain your strength, you will be unstoppable. So proud of you :)

  3. What an ordeal. I had no idea the mastectomy surgery required so much of a girl. You are brave and strong. I also know in your weakest moments when you think you can't go on, God is carrying you through. God bless you, Tamee.

  4. Miss Tamee, sure love you. I would expect nothing less than this honest, no-holds-barred account of this raucous adventure you're on. Keep holding has to stop some time, right? Sorry it's hard ... awed by your courage. xoxo, Teri

  5. You are amazing!!!
    Hang in there!
    Love you!