Discover more from Moments Matter: Thriving With Metastatic Breast Cancer
August 31, 2019 - Who is in Control?
It is Saturday morning. Dorian is bearing down on my beautiful state of Florida and the Southeast. To all of my friends, family, and colleagues who are impacted, please stay safe!
As counties are being evacuated, grocery store shelves emptied, and gas is depleted, it is yet another sobering reminder that we are mere humans with very little control. This is true with weather and natural disasters. It is also true with our health. We can exercise and eat healthy, but in the end, we really are not in control.
This brings me to the crazy events of this week. We certainly were not in control.
We began the week very optimistic. The new incision “seemed” to be behaving. The antibiotics “seemed” to be working. In fact, I indulged myself with a pedicure and a visit to the hair salon on Monday. I was going to get a short pixie cut in preparation for hair loss, but I chickened out. I’m sure I will have more posts on that topic (hair) later.
I also had a dear friend visit from Tampa. She flew up Monday night, and we spent Tuesday visiting and catching up. I actually got out of the house and felt “normal”. It was a much needed diversion from the last few months. I am thankful for that day. On Wednesday, I spent the day resting, knowing we were heading to Atlanta on Thursday. I had doctor appointments Friday with my doctor as follow-up from surgery and an appointment with an infectious disease doctor to clear me from MRSA. After the doctor visits on Friday, our plan was to head to Savannah for Labor Day. I have not been back since my mother’s funeral, and I needed to help my brother tie up some loose ends from her estate.
(Proceed reading at your own risk, as it definitely falls into the category of over sharing. I am an open book after all.)
This brings me back to a Wednesday night. Jamie, Mason, and I went out to dinner for a quick bite. As we were wrapping up, Jamie noticed that I had spilled my drink down my shirt. Well, I didn’t. I wish it were due to my clumsiness. I knew right away that my incision must be leaking. That night, Jamie inspected the incision. There was not a gaping wound opening, thanks to the staples, but he could see a small opening. My cancer breast was also flaming red. I am not going to lie, hot tears sprang to my eyes. My only thoughts, were Noooooo. We dressed the incision with gauze and went to sleep praying and hoping for the best.
On Thursday morning, I woke up around 5:45AM. I could hear Jamie and Mason in the kitchen. Mason was eating breakfast while his daddy quizzed him on spelling words, a typical school morning.
I rolled out of bed, which takes me quite the effort these days. I stood up and grabbed my iPad and reading glasses. As I began to walk, it felt like I was walking in a puddle of water. I quickly turned on the lamp, looked down, and screamed for Jamie.
There was a puddle of fluid, my fluid, on the floor. My pajamas were wet and streaked in the front. I knew this was not good. Jamie came running. We went to the bathroom to really inspect. Here is the damndest thing. The gauze pads were soaked through, but the incision looked like it did the previous evening. Thankfully there was not a gaping hole or a wide open incision. However, the small opening had sprung a steady leak. Jamie ushered me in the shower and we put pressure on my breast. The fluid poured out. It was like we were milking a cow, only that cow was me. One day, I’m sure I will find humor in this.
That morning, I rested, while Jamie worked. Rested is a nice way of saying that I worried myself sick. Our plan was to pick up Mason after school and head to ATL. Around midday, I took a shower and we checked the incision. It had expelled a healthy amount of fluid in the gauze pad. And, as I applied more pressure to that breast, more fluid expelled. and expel more fluid. Another successful milking. I was totally freaked out, but tried to remain calm. Jamie had already taken pictures and texted them to my doc. We were just waiting for the appointment Friday AM.
I think this is good news, however I have no medical training, so it is solely based on my opinion. After the 2 “milking” sessions, it seemed that my output was diminished. That night at the hotel, we checked the bandage. It had some fluid, but it was a far cry from being saturated. When I awoke Friday AM, it was the same result, some leaking, but not nearly the amount from Thursday AM. No milking required, LOL!
In general, my breast surgeon was not overly concerned about the fluid, other than we know the clock is ticking for chemo to begin. He knows my healing is paramount to the process. He was concerned about the infection and glad we were seeing the Infectious Disease doctor. He was concerned the oral antibiotics weren’t cutting it. So, here is the plan. I am going back next Wednesday to see my breast surgeon. If the incision is not better, meaning if it stays the same or worsens, I will have surgery next Thursday. It will be my third. He will aggressively remove all tissue that is not healing fast enough or that may harbor infection. If that is the case, it will most certainly delay chemo. That is my worry.
However, if the Infectious Disease (ID) doctor can aggressively go after the infection, it may clear up the fluid and pave the way for healing and port insertion next Friday. That is our hope. We made our way over to this “new” doctor. I must say, visiting an Infectious Disease doctor is scary. None of his patients are there for a wellness check-up. Any patient there has some serious infection or disease. Imagine all of the germs, deadly germs. And, Mason was with us. If we told him once, we told him a thousand times, “Don’t touch anything”!
Once the ID doc examined me, he altered our course for the day. We thought he was going to take a culture and confirm MRSA was gone, but due to the incision leaking, he wanted to aggressively treat me. In a nutshell, he ordered me to have 2 infusion sessions of 2 very high powered antibiotics. He gave me the first IV drip, Vancomycin, in his office. It takes about 1 1/2 hours for that medicine to be administered. I have to say it wasn’t pleasant. His nurse had to stick me not one, not two, but three times to successfully find a vein. In addition, that medicine made me itch, really itch. It was insane.
We then had to head to Northside hospital to the Infusion Center for the second medicine, Dalvance. This is an top notch Infusion Center. There are over 20 infusion nurses working, meaning they are very experienced at starting an IV. I told the sweet nurse about my previous ordeal. She came over with the coolest machine. It was a Vein Finder. It made me think of Jamie’s handy dandy Stud Finder that he uses when doing construction, LOL. They basically shine the light on your arm and you can see your veins, thus making the needle insertion a piece of cake! I have included a picture, it was soooo cool. Yes, I am geeking out on med devices.
As you can see, the ID doc was NOT messing around. He wants to rid me of this infection as quickly as possible, so that my cancer treatment can continue. So, the next few days are critical. Next week, we will either head back into surgery on Thursday (not ideal), OR we proceed as planned with the Port Insertion on Friday. We are not in control. We can only pray.
So, we now wait. We pray for healing. We pray. I’ve been blesssed over and over with words of wisdom bestowed upon me from perfect strangers, angels on earth. I will leave you words I received yesterday that brought immense comfort to me.
“The Lord chooses the hardest battles for his toughest warriors.”
Love to you all!