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Let's help Rick and Tanya



  • Erin Holohan HaskellErin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 1,348
    Thanks for the update. Thinking of you Tanya, @rick in Alaska, and family and sending lots of love and good wishes for many bright days ahead.
  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,003
    The latest news from Tanya:

    New News is Good News!

    Journal entry by Tanya Norvell — 3 hours ago
    Hello Everyone,

    It was so wonderful to go home for more than 10 days!! I got to spend time with my hubby and got lots of kitty time. Mom and I got to resume our weekly lunches at her favorite Thia restaurant. I got to see several friends, met folks for lunches, got all the paperwork for 2 of our 3 tiny businesses up to date, and got lots of garden therapy with 2 full weeks of beautiful sunshine!

    Now I am back in Seattle. This has been a busy week with appointments and my CT scan and all. And now for the really good news of the day. I met with the Thoracic Surgery Team today and all of the lymph nodes in my chest have gone down in size! No biopsy needed and no follow-up from Thoracic. They just said we might want to have another CT done down the road to make sure they continue to retreat. We are doin' the happy dance from Alaska to the East Coast and you are all welcome to join in

    We are now T-minus 41 days to reconstructive surgery! Then 4 to 6 weeks recovery which should put me home before Christmas!!!

    Since I wrote last I contracted another infection. This time they suspect sinus and it triggered another asthma episode that has lasted 2 weeks. They put me on Prednisone and an antibiotic and I have made a vast improvement over the past few days. They think my system is just super sensitive right now and is misbehaving a wee bit.

    From the "we don't do anything half way in our family department" I was also diagnosed with 2 types of sleep apnea about 3 weeks ago. I have both obstructive and central sleep apnea. Obstructive apnea is what most people have and is caused by muscles relaxing in the throat that causes snoring. Central sleep apnea is caused by the brain actually forgetting to tell you to breath. How crazy is that?! The brain just goes on intermittent holidays during the night and doesn't leave a forwarding address.

    Normal sleep: Fewer than 5 events per hour
    Mild sleep apnea: 5 to 14 events per hour
    Moderate sleep apnea: 15 to 29 events per hour
    Severe sleep apnea: 30 or more events per hour

    My score was 31.1 per hour owhich means I stopped breathing 248.8 times in 8 hours!

    The doctor said it was no wonder I am so tired all the time, can't remember things,can't concentrate for more than a few seconds at at a time, etc. Apparently one of the side effects of this severe a sleep apnea is low blood oxygen counts. They should be between 94 and 100% . The highest mine got during the night was only 92% and it went as low as 86%. I have my friend Peg to thank for this little silver lining event. We shared a hotel room and when we got up in the morning she said "you need a sleep test, you gasp in your sleep". Thanks to her, I was able to find another thing affecting the way I feel and my health in general AND catch it before it started to affect my heart. I now have a spiffy new APAP machine. The Doc said it would likely take 4 to 6 weeks to notice a big change ( a friend of ours noticed it after 4 weeks). I think I may be starting to notice it a little bit. Sooo, if you notice someone snoring heavily or gasping in their sleep ( they won't know they are doing it unless someone tells them) let them know they snore and might want to get tested. You can take the test at home for a fraction ($250.00 as opposed to several thousand dollars) of the price of an in house sleep clinic.

    It isn't just that we keep other people awake it's is a serious sleep disorder the following is from WebMed
    What Are the Effects of Sleep Apnea?

    If left untreated, sleep apnea can result in a growing number of health problems, including:

    High blood pressure
    Heart failure, irregular heart beats, and heart
    Worsening of ADHD

    Okay... enough of that :-)

    I finally gained that 10 pounds for my next surgery and am maintaining it between 151 and 155. I just have to keep it up for the next 41 days.

    I may put a few posts on here between now and my surgery on Halloween but they will NOT be medical related, they will just be to say hi and maybe share a few thoughts, pictures, you know, fun stuff for the fun of it :-)

    I am constantly amazed at the kindness of people and am so very grateful for each and every one of you. This journey would be exponentially more difficult without all of you pulling for us. It will be a year before we reach the end of this chapter (3 to 4 more surgeries) but we are coming out of it better and stronger than we were before. Then it is retirement for us. We have a few things we would like to do that have absolutely NOTHING to do with work!

    I thought maybe a few pictures might be in order so I am including some of our amazing garden this summer courtesy of our totally awesome friend Joseph who is a master at making things grow! And I kinda promised Squirrel I would send one of her and her sibs but we are limited to 3 pics, the Kits said I could send their pictures next time :-)

    Blessings to all of you and thank you again for cheering us on!

    Retired and loving it.
  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,003

    Hey there, thanks for checking in!

    Squirrel Girl here. I thought I would dig myself out of my catnip party long enough to send a non-specific post to everyone.

    Mama has been home for 7 whole days!! She didn’t tell us kids she was coming home and she swore Papa to secrecy so we were so surprised when she just showed up! We were so excited to see her! Pretty much occupied her lap every time she sat down.

    We were so happy to see her each of us actually let her actually carry us in her arms. I practiced being carried about with Auntie Peg this past summer. She was very patient with me and I got pretty good at being carried around.

    This has been a great summer for growing things in the garden! it is nearly the middle of October and there are still flowers and veggies blooming and growing in the garden! The peeps just picked all the rest of the cabbage and made 8 more pounds of homemade sauerkraut. Mom put caraway seeds in the first batch and she says she is gonna split the last batch and make part of it garlic kraut and part of it Mesquite kraut. She is picking a whole bunch of Lacinato kale today and is gonna try making some kale chips.

    It is beginning to feel like fall now though. The October rains are here which is good since we are on a well and need the rain for the water table. Looks like we will have days of at least partial sun in between the rain so it should be a pretty nice fall. According to the extended forecast on the internet we should have temps that are between 5 and 10 degrees higher than normal for the next month.

    Mom is a bit upset with herself. She was so excited to get home that she forgot she had a pre-op appointment on the 23rd of Oct. She made plane flights plans so she and Papa could fly back to Seattle together for her big surgery. Then day before yesterday she had an inclination to check her U of W medical page and discovered her appointment for the 23rd.

    She had to change her flight to a week earlier than she had planned on and now they will be flying a week apart. Mom leaves the 22nd and Papa leaves the 29th.

    Her surgery is on Halloween day, I guess you know she is gonna have fun with that! I am sure the doctors and nurses will be getting a laugh that morning :-)

    Well, I have a brand new pile of fresh from the garden catnip waiting for me so I am gonna go roll in it. I hope all you folks can find a bunch of catnip to roll in yourselves!

    For Mama, Papa, Katey Kat and Winston this is Squirrel Girl signing off.

    PS I am sending along 3 photos. The first is Katey Kat being her adorable self, the second is one of our late blooming flowers, and the third is our version of fall colors.

    Retired and loving it.
  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,003
    The latest from Tanya:

    Hello Everyone!

    We are T-minus 5 days and counting to our next BIG step in my recovery process! We are all very much looking forward to this part being over. It will be the longest of any of the surgeries (10 hours) . Followed by another round of being able to do pretty much absolutely nothing for 4 to 6 weeks.

    I came back to Seattle the 22nd and had my pre-op appointments and an appointment with Rheumatology for my very compromised left thumb. I have gotten the all clear form my surgeon Dr. G. He is very pleased with my recovery and the healing of the surgery. He is also pleased that I managed to actually gain over 10 pounds in preparation for the surgery. Blood work is all stellar and everything is a go.

    I want to share a little about the place I am staying in Seattle. The name of the place is Pete Gross House. It is strategically located to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and easily accessible to the University of Washington Medical Center (about 10 unites away).

    Pete Gross was a local sports caster here in Seattle. They became aware of the lack of housing support for cancer patients when he was battling the disease himself. They were disturbed by the lack of housing so they got together with other family, friends, and members of the community to build the Pete Gross House. They built it as a lasting memorial of his life and the contributions he made to his community. The housing complex has 70 rooms ranging from studio to 2 bedroom. They are fully furnished. They even provide dishes, pots and pans, flatware, cutlery, coffee pot, blender. There is even a stacking washer/dryer in each unit.

    These accommodations are wonderful and we feel extremely fortunate to be able to rent one while I am here. The rates are such on a studio apartment that I can stay in Seattle for my treatments.

    The building has an on site maintenance dept., a security staff and of course the amazing office staff of 2 very fine ladies.

    We have an English bingo game once a month and it is a tremendous hoot! Complete with fun prizes and tea and coffee.

    This month they are holding a door decorating contest. I have participated and you can see all the doors on my personal FB page. I will put a few pictures of them here. To see them all, go to my FB page and vote for the one you think I made ;-)

    Then there will be a Winter Holiday/Christmas door decorating contest in December. We will see how I am feeling by then maybe I will make another attempt at frippery :-)

    This is a wonderful place. They take very good care of us here. We are beyond grateful that they exist and that we were able to find an apartment here.

    Here are a few pictures of the doors. Don’t forget to go to my FB Page and vote for the one you think I did :-) />

    Blessings Everyone,

    Tanya, Rick, Winston, Katey Kay and Squirrel Girl

    Retired and loving it.
  • Erin Holohan HaskellErin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 1,348
    Sending thoughts and prayers to @rick in Alaska and Tanya and family for a successful surgery and speedy recovery. I'm so glad Tanya is in a wonderful place with a supportive (and fun!) community. Love the door decorations.
  • Tim McElwainTim McElwain Member Posts: 4,373
    Tanya and Rick you folks seem to be in my mind everyday when I go to my prayer closet to pray. That is God's way with me to let me know that prayer is still needed. So I am praying for you both and believe that total recovery is yours in Jesus name. Love ya!
  • rick in Alaskarick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,086
    Thank you all for the support we have received. It means a lot to both of us to have so many people on our side sending good thoughts and prayers, and I am sure it has helped Tanya a lot. It has been a rough year with her gone most of the time, and on this trip, she won't be back until the middle of December. But your posts help her feel less alone. I will be down in Seattle for the next two weeks during her recovery, and then it is back to the winter grind.
    Again, thank you all!!
  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,003
    You’re a good man, Rick.
    Retired and loving it.
  • RoohollahRoohollah Member Posts: 114
    " A friend in need is a friend indeed "

    It is so sad to hear how the family battle with such condition . Honestly , their struggling against this condition is so inspiring . In fact , God will never leave them alone because He is with the family and is stronger than Cancer .

    From here , We wish the almighty God wrapping his hand around you and healing you and those who battle with such condition . Our heartily prayers be gifted to you and wish to hear the condition could become much better and mitigated .

    Sorry that I could be a help financially , but pray together for cure and defeating the problem as you did earlier .


    rick in Alaska
  • rick in Alaskarick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,086
    Thanks for the kind words. Money isn"t everything, and sometimes the best help is just knowing others care.
    Again, thank you to all.
  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,003
    Today's update:

    Hi everyone!

    Well today is my BIG day! I head to the hospital with my sweetheart by my side. Have to be at the hospital at 6:15AM. Which is great because we were originally told it would be 5AM!! Just picked up an hour and a half of sleep time before we go... WAhoo

    The surgery as most know is my first reconstructive surgery. It will be the longest and is expected to be 10 hours. There will be 2 surgeons, one on each side working in tandem and they will be assisted of course by all the requisite medical support staff.

    It will probably be Thursday before Rick gets an update posted so we will ask you to go with the no news is good news theory.

    Blessings to everyone, and I'll see ya on the other side!
    Help spread the word!
    Retired and loving it.
  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,003
    Update from Rick:

    Tanya made it through her surgery with stellar results. The surgeon said she did really well, with minimal issues. She was actually out of surgery about an hour faster than they had figured for the minimum time to get done. They put her in the ICU room for a few days until she was stabilized, before they would let her go to a standard ward room. Her Hematocrit level fell off because of the blood loss from the surgery , so they had to give her a blood transfusion on Saturday. She actually did so well that she was able to go back to her apartment on Saturday, instead of Sunday, which is when they had figured she would be discharged. Tough girl for sure!
    My sister Kathy was able to be here with me for this whole process, which was really nice for me and Tanya. She just headed home today, but will be back on the 11th after I go home, so she can be here to take over the care Tanya needs. At this time, Tanya will be needing full time care for the next month before she is healed enough to be able to move around by herself. She is not able to sit up by herself without help, because part of the process they did was make an incision all the way across her belly and used the fat material there to use for rebuilding her breasts. So, it is very painful right now for her to sit up, so she needs help to do that. Also, she is not able to raise her hands above her shoulders, so it makes it hard to get anything out of cupboards. Also, the part she finds hardest to remember is to not reach behind her back or to stabilize herself with her arms when she sits down.
    I really wanted to be able to stay the whole time to be here to help her, but I need to get back and catch up on all the service calls I have backed up so we can have income coming in. It makes it much easier knowing my sister is coming to take care of her when I leave, and then Tanya's girlfriend will also be here for a few days after my sister goes home. So, she is in good hands.
    At this time, her last appointment is in the middle of December, so that is when she should be coming home. It will still take some time after that for other touch up surgeries, but those should be far enough down the road she can stay home until then.
    I will end here for now, but want to also send out another big thank you to all the people who have supported us. We cannot express what a difference it has made to both of us to know we have so many wonderful loving and caring people praying for her recovery and supporting us in so many ways.

    Rick and Tanya
    Retired and loving it.
  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,003
    Update from Tanya:

    Spoiler alert, this post may contain references to body parts and bodily functions... cancer removes all illusions of privacy and moves here-to-fore "intimate subjects" to the forefront of daily lives. Lucky us :-)

    I am 11 days post-op and I have spent a fair share of my days sleeping, and watching way too much TV, and having my amazing husband tend to my every need... literally. For those of you who have been through this I expect there is no need to fill you in on what I mean and for those of you who have not, I will do my best to spare you the most intimate of details.

    The particular surgery I had is called an Autologus procedure. The formal name is a DIEP Flap Surgery. Autologus means that they use your own tissue to reconstruct your breasts. It is a MUCH more invasive than the reconstruction with implants. With a considerably longer recovery time than an implant reconstruction. SO, why would I choose a much more extensive surgery and longer recovery time? Well, like so many of the things that a person with cancer has to deal with, making difficult decisions are right at the top of the list.

    With the advent of the internet it has become much easier to prepare one's self in the face of adversity and I am certainly a "for-warned is for-armed" kinda gal. So I am sure it surprises few who know me that the first thing I did was hit the internet and investigate the options we had. Did the same thing when Rick got Hodgkin's Lymphoma 18 years ago and when I got Thyroid cancer 5 years later.

    So when we went to our planning appointment with our cancer team at SCCA I not only knew from reading and deciphering the medi-speak on the biopsy reports, that I had a collision tumor which was actually 2 totally different types of cancer that decided the were lonely and wanted to become very close friends. I am a bit irritated with those pesky tumors because they did not query me for input on the subject. They didn't even ask me if they could set up house keeping in my breast to begin with... which I find very rude of them indeed. We are really grateful we got to them before they could start breeding and become a real nuisance. When we started discussing the whole "sitch" with our Doctor's they were surprised I knew it was a collision tumor and what that meant... gold star for me.

    I also had researched mastectomy VS lumpectomy, partial mastectomy (affected side only) VS double mastectomy, looked at pictures of each procedure so I would know what was going to happen and what results could be expected. I also checked out reconstruction VS no reconstruction. Then the various options of reconstruction. I found forums on all of the above and read hundreds of posts good and bad.

    I learned a whole lot on a subject that I truly thought I would never have to deal with. After all I was statistically at very low risk for breast cancer. There is no known family history of breast cancer in my family. We eat as healthy as we can within our budget and the food that we have available, we both quit smoking over 30 years ago now. 5 years ago we made a conscious decision to limit our garbage food intake by cutting out most sugar, and white bread, and cut down on pastas, but still eat potatoes... we of Irish and welsh heritage need our spuds ya know :-)... or so we thought. We also started gardening and grow a wonderful flower and veggie garden every summer. Then 2 years ago we decided to take it a step further because I just could not lose weight and had topped the scale a 201 pounds.

    So, we cut out all grain products, all sugar and our beloved potatoes. Twenty months later I weighed 143 pounds and went from a size 16 and XL to a size 5 dress and size 8 pants and medium tops. With no added physical routine, just changing the way we eat. We figured, we had this, eating good, planning our retirement another 30 years of wedded bliss ahead of us. No sweat 60th anniversary here we come, we will only be in our 90s.

    And... we had both beaten cancer before so being the smug and self righteous humans that we are, we decided in our own self serving manner that we had "gotten that out of the way" and we were done with it... ummm yah, not so much it turns out. Mother nature decided we needed another lesson in humility and here we are today.

    Sorry for the lengthy digression there :-)

    As I have said in previous posts, we chose the double mastectomy because we wanted to be absolutely as sure as humanly possible that it would not make an encore performance down the road. This is the same reason that I decided that they should take the both breasts in their entirety, including nipples. Nipple have milk ducts.. this was invasive ductile carcinoma that had escaped the ducts..nuff said. This option also made the need for radiation and chemo a non-issue because it had not metastasized outside the breast proper. This was a huge benefit as far as I was concerned!

    Back to our choice of the DIEP Flap Procedure. Our reconstruction team walked us through all the options. He said that with implants I was young enough that I would most likely need another surgery several years down the line (it's apparently a thing with implant surgery), if I got an infection anytime in the future and it went to the implants ( which such things are want to do)that the only option would be removal of the implants and new reconstruction. I would have to take antibiotics every time I had any kind of invasive procedure done, even any dental work. Implants are prone to "migrating" apparently they particularly like to park themselves somewhere between the shoulder bone and collar bone. I would personally find this somewhat distressing.

    This is the short list of implant issues. With the DIEP Flap there are none of the above issues. Once the surgeries have been completed and healed, the new breasts age with your body in a normal fashion. If you get an infection you take antibiotics and that's it. They can't migrate. There are no future surgeries several years down the road. Yes it had it's own sets of risks as far as the surgeries are concerned but only the standard risks and only at the time of the reconstruction, not years down the road.

    So now I am on day 11 of 72. I am healing what feels like a tiny bit every day. I am sure it is far greater than a tiny bit, but for now I am happy to fell a wee bit better and stronger every day. The scars are healing well and the doctors are quite pleased with themselves as are we. We are actually amazed at the small number of scars on the breasts. The scars are round and about 3-1/2 inches in diameter. The abdominal scar...whole "nuther" story and I will continue that topic in part 2.

    For now I leave you all with continued thanks for everything you are all doing for us. Keeping us in your prayers, sending cards, donating air miles, helping fund my living expenses while I am away from home. We are so very blessed to have such an amazing group of people holding us up and cheering us on.

    Blessings to every one of you and all of yours!

    Sending love from my little home away from home in Seattle.

    Tanya & Rick
    Retired and loving it.
  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,003
    Update from Tanya:

    Things have changed a bit since my post-op post 6 days ago. When I went for my first post-op appointment they removed the Doppler wires in my breasts that made it possible for them to listen to the blood flow to the new grafts. When they removed the tape the skin was showing signs of an infection. The doctor put me on antibiotics right away. The short story is, they worked well enough to keep it from completely taking over but not well enough to stop it in it’s tracks. They changed the type of antibiotic but the infection resisted it too.

    I was readmitted to the hospital Friday night and put on high dose IV antibiotics. The morning after I was admitted there were small signs that the IV antibiotic was trying it’s best to work. The margins of the infection stopped progressing but it didn’t want to recede. My care team consulted with each other and decided that the area needed to be opened and thoroughly drained of the abscess, flushed and packed with gauze so it could continue to drain.

    They had expected that I would go back to the OR for the procedure but after a long consultation time my reconstructive surgeon decide he did not want to put me through the experience of the OR and general anesthesia. The other driving factor I believe was that the OR was packed all day and they didn’t know when I would be able to get in. Delay was not our friend in this situation so he decided the procedure was to be done in my room with local anesthesia.

    They came in and did the procedure “bedside”. The doctor said “oh my your poor girl, this is a really bad abscess”. She said it was a good thing we didn’t wait any longer to clean it out as the antibiotics alone would not have done the trick by themselves. It appears to have been a very aggressive infection. The cleaning and bug killing drugs seem to be doing the trick as the swelling and redness are much improved this morning and the wound is draining well.

    I remained on IV antibiotics until this morning. I just finished my last IV bag of them and am transitioning to the pill form.

    As long as the infection continues to respond to the antibiotics they hope to be able to discharge me late today.

    My awesome sister-in-law Kathy, has been waiting for me to get out before she goes home for Thanksgiving. She will be able to get me settled back in before she leaves.

    That is really all I can write for now as I am beyond exhausted and eed a nap.
    I hope this finds all of you happy healthy and looking forward to a great Thanksgiving.

    Blessings to all of you and all your families and friends,

    Help spread the word!
    Retired and loving it.
  • Larry WeingartenLarry Weingarten Member Posts: 1,822
    Hello, It's quite the demonstration of fortitude to be able to write so thoughtfully when still feeling so low. Keep on mending!!

    Yours, Larry
    rick in Alaska
  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,003
    And with all that’s going on, Tanya takes the time to bless us all. What a remarkable woman she is.
    Retired and loving it.
    rick in AlaskaErin Holohan Haskell
  • Erin Holohan HaskellErin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 1,348
    I'm so sorry about the infection, Tanya. We're thinking of you and are in your corner.
    rick in Alaska
  • Erin Holohan HaskellErin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 1,348
    An update from Tanya:

    The doctors came to see me again this afternoon and checked my wound. They were pleased to see that the swelling and redness were improved and said since I am staying so close to the hospital that they felt it was okay for me to come “home” so I am writing this from the recliner in my humble little abode.

    I started writing this yesterday after I got home from the hospital but just couldn’t get it done. So here I am to try again.

    One of the “deals” for coming home is that I have to remove the gauze packing from the wound and replace it at least once every day. This morning was my first foray into this new requirement and I must admit it is absolutely not my new favorite pastime. I made it through though and I expect it will get easier with each time.

    It is very important to keep the wound open so it can drain out all the poison. Also it makes it possible to keep an eye on the state of the infection and the quality of the drainage. If anything looks, feels, or smells suspicious I have orders to return to the clinic or hospital without delay.

    Kathy is staying until tomorrow morning and my longtime friend Janis will be coming on Sunday. I will have to be ever vigilant to behave myself and not do things I am not supposed to do between Kathy leaving and Jan arriving.

    I had a few emotional episodes yesterday and found myself in tears of and on all day and into the night. Fortunately Kathy is here and was my rock and voice of reason as well as a thoughtful and helpful sounding board. It is the first time I have fallen apart since this all began. Sometimes it makes all the difference just to have someone who loves you put their arms around you and hold you, no need for words just the love and the physical contact. I am so very grateful she has been able to be here. I feel a bit better emotionally today, still have that “think I might cry at any moment” feeling in the base of my throat but not as forceful as yesterday so I am sure it will abate soon.

    I am going to bolster my spirits with making preparations to decorate my door for our Christmas door decorating contest. I will post pictures after I get it done. I won’t do it until after Thanksgiving as I have a big issue with celebrating holidays so far in advance.

    I am looking forward to spending some time with my dear and long time friend Jan. Kathy and I have been having a great time with the exception of my latest stint in the hospital. It has been so fun discovering that we are actually true sisters from different mothers. I never realized how many things we have in common. It has been a try joy for me to get to know her so much better over the past week. I expect Jan and I will have a similarly joyful time which makes this all a much more tolerable experience.

    My brother and his wife are having my mom and Rick over for Thanksgiving which makes me very happy. It is sure to be a great meal as my brother has the family gift for producing some amazing vittles.

    Well all, I am feeling a need for a nap so I am gonna close. I wish for all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving, great family times and many wonderful new memories.

  • Alan R. Mercurio_3Alan R. Mercurio_3 Member Posts: 1,617
    Never forgetting when our industry friends were there for me 10 years ago with my health issues. I'm only to happy to be able to "Pay it Forward" if even in just in a small way. Please know you're in my prayers, Tanya.
    Your friend in the industry,

    Alan R. Mercurio
    Erin Holohan Haskellrick in Alaska
  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,003
    Update from Tanya:

    Hello Everyone!

    The unexpected just keeps bringing it’s version of gifts. I choose to beg to differ with it’s interpretation of gifts at this current moment, but I am sure there is a silver lining in here somewhere. I will continue to look until I find it.

    SO, the good news is that the infection in my right breast seems to be in full retreat. All swelling is gone and with daily packing of the open wound it is healing quite well. I saw the Doctor today and he is delighted with the healing of both the infection site in the “new” breast and all of the incisions (both breasts and the abdominal incision). He said several times, “I can’t believe how well you heal”. As much as I would love to take credit for that I think it has little to do with my determination and more to do with nature… But, I sure like hearing it!

    Now for the not-so-good news… as the “very nasty abscess” (doc’s description not mine) seems to be in making a full about face, I now have a totally unrelated infection at the site of the abdominal incision. We knew this was ALL a possibility before we moved forward with the procedure one is never truly prepared for the eventuality. We think we are, but truly… not so much. This one is VERY painful and very angry. It is very, very red and totally unhappy.

    The first infection did not respond to Bactrim (the first antibiotic) because it turned out to be a strain impervious to that antibiotic. It responded very well to Clindamycin. Unfortunately the new infection reared its ugly head at the end of that course of treatment. While we were waiting for the Clindamycin to work it’s magic on the abscess a totally different infection took hold in my abdomen. This one is clearly not afraid of Clindamycin or it never would have started so Doc G. put me on a new anti-biotic to see if it would get it under control.

    I just started the new antibiotic today and the doc marked the margins of the infection with a sharpie so we could keep an eye on the margins. If the margins shrink we will stay the course. If not, we will move to the next option which will most likely mean another round in the hospital in hopes that new IV antibiotics will be the key to an infection free future and the ability for me to go home before Christmas. I must say I am a bit hesitant to put to many hopes up for a before Christmas return home with all the road blocks that keep arising but non-the-less I will make reservations for my return home shortly after my December 14th appointment all the while knowing there is a better than 50% chance I will have to delay the trip.

    My sister-in-law, Kathy left Tuesday the 20th and my longtime friend Janis came last Sunday the 25th. They have both been true gifts and helped me immeasurably both physically and emotionally.

    Jan is waiting to leave until Sunday to make sure the newest infection is under control before she goes home. Then if all goes well with the new infection and it begins to subside, I get to start my new round of PT on the 5TH of December.

    I will be looking for tickets home for after the 15TH of December. My final Post-op appointment for now is the 14Th of December. I am praying that everything stays on track now so that this all comes to pass.

    I guess that is it for now. I hope you are all planning a low stress and Merry Christmas and an amazing New Year.

    Blessings to all,

    Help spread the word!
    Retired and loving it.
  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,003
    Update from Tanya:

    Squirrel Girl here!

    Yep I am back, and you know what that means. Mama isn’t feelin’ so hot these past few days so I am here to fill in for her.

    It’s been a while since I have written all you fine humans! Dad, Winston, Katey Kat and I are doing our best to “hold down the fort” here in Homer while Mama does her best to recover in Seattle so she can come home to us.

    When I talked to her on the phone today she said she has tickets to come home on Dec. 20th! She’s gonna be home for Christmas! We are saying our kitty prayers every night that she gets all better and gets to keep her date with Alaska Airlines on December 20th!

    Yes, God listens to the prayers of kitties too. I know that because when I was a really tiny kitten and I was waiting for Mama to discover me I prayed everyday that I could find a family that would love a kitten that looked and acted more like a squirrel than a kitten. Then Mama saw my picture on Facebook. She said she fell in love with me the second she saw my picture! Proof positive that God listens to kittens too!

    As you all know she has been having some struggles with a couple nasty infections. The one in her breast is doing quite well now. She has been diligently been packing the wound everyday and keeping it extra clean and dry. She was really lucky when Jan was there because she just got her Medical Assistant certification and she packed it for her the week she was there helping mom.

    Mom has been tending it again since Jan left and the Doc is pleased with the healing. He thinks it will be ready to close (possibly on it’s own) within a week, maybe week and a half!

    So, now to the reason I am writing tonight instead of Mama.

    She has been re-admitted to the hospital. The new infection in her tummy surgery site is not responding quick enough or thoroughly enough to oral antibiotics. The margins of the large inflamed area have receded a bit but the portion that has not receded has become a wee bit puffy, the skin is shiny and a small area about 1 inch by 1/2 inch is peeling like a bad sunburn. It appears to be free of abscess. No mass is palpable like the one in her right breast was. Unfortunately the redness now runs the entire length on her abdominal scar extending about 3/8 to 1/2” above and below the incision scar. The main infection (original location) is on the left lower abdomen below the incision scar and covers an area approximately 4” long by 3” wide.

    She was re-admitted this evening about 5PM and has just finished her first round of IV antibiotics. Her treatment is hampered somewhat by the fact that she is allergic to penicillin and Vancomycin. Vancomycin is one of the top antibiotics they use for this condition so it limits the options they have for IV antibiotics.

    The doctor felt it was best not to continue with oral drugs because they do not seem to be providing enough bio-availability to get the infection under control. Once the infection is in full retreat she can go back to her apartment and continue with oral antibiotics like she did for the breast abscess.

    She is in room SA6407 at the University of Washington Medical Center. She said her “frequent flyer” rewards at the hospital got her a really nice room with a beautiful view of the park and river.:-)

    I guess that is about it for now folks. We hope you all get lots of catnip and stuffed toy mice in your Christmas Stockings!

    For Mama, Papa, Winston, and Katey Kat this is Squirrel Girl signing off ‘till next time

    Now we are gonna go say our kitty prayers that mama’s infection will heal and she will be home on the 20th!
    Retired and loving it.
  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,003
    Update from Tanya:

    Hello Everyone!,

    I am here to update you on Mama's progress. As you all know mama was re-admitted to the hospital this past Tuesday night. She was battling another infection. This time it was just below the tummy incision on the left side.

    They put her on IV antibiotics again and after about 24 hours it started to make red inflamed area recede. By Friday morning the infection had localized to an area about the size of a half dollar but it was now filled with "fluid" AKA was beginning to form another lovely little abscess. The on call plastic surgeon said they needed to drain this one now so that the infection can have a "way out". Once again, when he got it opened up he said that it was a good thing they did it 'cause the antibiotic would not have completely killed it and it would have come back once the antibiotics were done. They cleaned the infection out on Friday morning and discharged her that afternoon. She has been sleeping a lot but makes sure she gets up and walks a bit every day to help prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis and build a little strength.

    Mama was worried that she was doing something wrong to cause the infections but the Doctors assured her this was not the case. Every body (even us kitties who wash incessantly) have all sorts of "bugs" on and in our bodies at all times. Apparently some of these bugs are good, helpful and necessary for good health and others are nasty bad things that wreak all sorts of havoc. This is especially true for those with stressed immune systems. They said she was doing a great job which was proven by the awesome way the scars were healing. It is just that somehow one or more of the nasty bugs found its way under the skin and set up some rather successful housekeeping.

    Those nasty bugs have been kicked to the curb now though and things are clearing up nicely.

    Mama said there is a strange phenomena that goes along with cancer treatment. She said that she a Papa both experienced it when his treatment was done and the doctors said he could go home to Alaska. She says that when you are actively doing all the things that need to be done during cancer treatment that your brain gives all it’s concentration to those things. Everything revolves around treatments, appointments, tests, etc. Everyday is all about survival and getting well. Then as suddenly as it all started it comes to an end and you get your “walking papers”.

    She said it is kinda like being a tiny kitten. Your mama kitty takes care of all your needs, food, bathing, learning proper potty protocol, etc. Then all of a sudden a stranger comes and totes you off to a new life. You feel a loss at the separation from your mama kitty but you also know you have a new and exciting life ahead of you.

    She says that even though she knows she still has at least one more surgery and a follow-up CT scan coming in March that she is becoming anxious. She will be giving up her little “home away from home” on the 20th. This means she won’t have a place to come back to in Seattle in March. She will be a long way from her doctors which causes a bit more anxiety. She calls this phenomenon “separation anxiety”. I know what she means because I get it every time she leaves us to go back to Seattle. She says it is a very weird feeling because as much as she really wants to come home there is a strange fear of doing so.

    She is however getting things ready to come home, trying to eat the food she has left, figure out what she is bringing home and what she is leaving behind for future patients, getting instructions from all her various doctors, etc.

    This is going to be a very special Christmas in our little home in Alaska. We are already making plans to have Grandma over for dinner on Christmas. Papa says we are gonna get a whole bunch of snuggle time with both him and Mama over the holidays. We are all on board for that! We have been practicing proper snuggle and relaxation protocol so we can maximize our time with them when she gets home!

    Well, I guess that is about if for today. Mama and Papa both want me to tell you again how much all of you have made such a difference in her treatment and recovery. We (us kitties too) are all so grateful for everything all of you have done for us and all your prayers!

    For Mama, Papa, Winston and Katey Kat this is Squirrelly Girl signing off until next time.

    May your days be filled with sunny naps and dreams of catnip fields!
    Help spread the word!
    Retired and loving it.
  • Erin Holohan HaskellErin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 1,348
    Merry Christmas to @rick in Alaska, Tanya, and family.
  • rick in Alaskarick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,086
    It will be a great one for sure. I can't wait to get started.
    Erin Holohan Haskell
  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,003
    Great news from Tanya!

    Merry Christmas Everyone!

    Oh my, my, my, we kitties feel like we have landed in the middle of a humongous field of fresh blooming catnip! I can imagine rolling in it right now :-). Mama is HOME for Christmas! She arrived the night of the 20th and Papa took her and Grandma Peggy to dinner at Cafe Cups.

    They dropped Grandma off at her place and Mama and Papa came home. We were all waiting for her when they got here and convinced her that it was imperative that she go to bed. As soon as she got in bed we all piled on top of her and Papa and we all snuggled and watched movies. Then the next day Papa had some things to do. We 3 kits decided to make sure Mama rested really well. We kept her in bed most of the day :-)

    She was so tired by the time she got to our home we thought she was gonna fall over right on top of us. She said she couldn’t sleep the night before she came home. She wanted to come home so bad and she was afraid she would sleep through the alarm and miss her flight so sleeping was difficult. Pretty much she was up from 8AM the morning of the 19th until 10PM the night of the 20th. Then there was the “always energizing” airport experience and a 6 hour layover in Anchorage for the final leg of her trip home from Anchorage to Homer. She was more tired than a mama kitty with a passel of newborns!

    She is healing slowly but surely. Both infection sites are still open but they are taking a wee bit less packing every day. They should soon be healed enough to no longer need packing. That will be a red letter day :-)

    She gets to stay home until the middle of March! She has to return to Seattle March 11, 2019 for what the doctor thinks and we hope will be her last surgery to finish the reconstructive process. There is a bit of “fine tuning to do on the reconstruction and a little bit of “damage” from the infection sights that will be fixed and well as a bit of work on her abdominal incision.

    She will be gone 6 to 8 weeks and that will hopefully be it! She should be home shortly after May 6, 2019… for real!

    The BIG news now is that this latest escapade in health care has made it clear to Mama and Papa that they need to up the schedule on our retirement plans. Yep they are OUR retirement plans because we are a family so kitties get a say in things :-)…kitties rule

    They are now working on finishing out the lower level of our current house so they can get it on the market. Ceiling and floor trim and flooring are the big things on the “to-do” list.They hope to have the house listed by mid summer. They know it could take a year or more to sell so they want to get it on the market ASAP. They are hoping to be moving up their original retirement plans form

    They said they found a great little town in Washington called Goldendale, that will be our new town. They said that we will be able to watch lots of deer right in our front yard ( kind of like watching the moose here only according to mom the deer are a whole lot smaller.

    I know Mama and I have said it many times but we just want to thank all of you for everything you continue to do for her and Papa, and by extension us kitties.

    We all wish all of you the very best Christmas and New Year!

    For Mama, Papa, Katey Kat and Winston, the is Squirrel Girl sending love and head rubs to everyone!
    Help spread the word!
    Retired and loving it.
  • IronmanIronman Member Posts: 5,682
    Glad she's healing and home for Christmas. Wonderful news!
    Bob Boan

    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 12,948
    Wonderful news! Merry Christmas to all of you!
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • Larry WeingartenLarry Weingarten Member Posts: 1,822
    Big thumbs up!!!! <3
  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,003

    Good Day Everyone,

    Squirrel Girl here. Mama took a plane back to Seattle on Saturday for what we are all hoping will be her last surgery.

    She was using air miles to get there and she had to leave a week before her appointments or she would have had to use up all their available air miles.

    Since she is gonna be there so early she is visiting family in the Tri-Cities area of Eastern Washington until the 9th. Then she will head to Seattle and have her solid week of doctor appointments in preparation for the surgery on the 18th.

    Her next CAT ( I told her I could do a CAT scan for her but she said it isn’t that kinda “CAT” ) is scheduled for the 11th so we are all praying for a clean CAT. The lymph nodes behind her chest wall while a little smaller on the last CT were still enlarged so we are hoping that they will all be back to normal. Mama says, “we are operating on the theory that they were just enlarged because they were upset with the cancers invasion and they were just doing their jobs”

    After all she had 2 kinds of breast cancer at the same time, followed by 2 post op infections two weeks apart, so the lymph system had plenty to be riled up about.

    The wonderful folks at Pete Gross House do not have a room for her right now so she says she is going to be couch surfing with friends and family until her treatments are done or Pete Gross gets an opening.

    Papa will be heading down on the 24th of April and then Mom and Dad plan to return together on or around the 7th of May.

    Right now Mama is hanging out with Aunty Kathy and Uncle Mitch until Saturday. Then she goes to Seattle for a FULL week of pre-op appointments. Her next surgery is scheduled for Monday the 18th. With luck and God’s grace she will get a clean CAT scan and be home for good in May!

    We are praying our hearts out and crossing our little kitty paws and toes that all goes well. We sure did miss her last year and did our best every time she got a chance to come home for a few days to let her know how much we missed her and smother her with love and affection. I think she knows how much we all want her home for good.

    The totally awesome news is that she got to actually get in her studio for a few days while she was home so I thought maybe you would like to see a few pictures of her work. She has her first official Gallery show the entire month of August at the Ptarmigan Arts Gallery here in Homer, Alaska. The table top and wall scone are only in the fabrication stage but the 2 masks are from a group show she participated in a bout 18 months or so ago.

    The table top is self explanatory (mama has been teaching BIG words), the birds will become a wall sconce, and then of course there are the masks.

    I guess that is about it for now, till next time,

    May your days be filled with many cat naps and romps in fields of blooming catnip!

    For now this is Squirrel Girl signing off for Mama, Papa, Winston and Katy Kat.

    Retired and loving it.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 12,948
    Thank you for the update, SquirrelGirl -- and @DanHolohan -- I've been wondering how they were getting on, and praying for them.
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,003
    We’ll see them at Wetstock in August. Healthy and smiling!
    Retired and loving it.
    rick in AlaskaErin Holohan Haskell
  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,003

    Good Evening everyone,

    I went to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance yesterday for my CT scan. I do not have results on it yet but hope to have them possibly tomorrow but possibly not until Thursday.

    Today was my pre-op appointment for what Dr. Gougougtas to discuss the next step.

    We are both hoping and he seems optimistic that it will be my last surgery. This surgery is expected to be about 4 hours. It will include some scar revision to minimize the scaring as much as possible and some additional work on my tummy. The work on the tummy is because apparently the side I had the infection on (the left) is bulging a bit... okay quite a bit.

    The Doc says it is not a hernia but is kinda similar in that the muscle layers have pulled apart and can't hold the tummy tight on that side so he will fix that and fix what they call "dog ears" at both ends of the tummy incision. They are bits of skin that remain after the main reconstruction that are kinda shaped like the ears of a small dog except they are thick and not terribly attractive.

    Now that all the swelling has subsided the "hollows" left between my clavicles and the breast proper are quite noticeable so he will harvest fat from wherever he can find it and fill in those areas.

    He seemed a tiny bit concerned that he may have to take the fat from a few places as there may not be enough from just one location. I never thought I would be able to say "I don't have enough fat on me"! Yep, you got it... another silver lining!

    I am stressing much less this month as I was actually able to get all of our year end tax papers done and to the accountant before I left home and got the sales taxes paid for the month.

    Unlike last year, at least I am not sitting here fretting because the paperwork was piling up month after month.

    Now I am concentrating on glass designs for my Gallery show at Ptarmigan Arts Gallery in Homer this August. I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to gather enough art work for a show so a fellow artist who works in stained glass is going to show a few pieces also. Making kiln worked glass is much more fun to think about than paperwork!

    Well, I guess that is all for now. Rick and the kitties all wanted me to thank all of you again for being our cheerleaders and taking this journey with us. Knowing you are all there makes this whole thing so much easier.

    Blessings to you all!

    Tanya signing off for myself, Rick, Squirrel, Katey Kat, and Sir Winston.
    Help spread the word!
    Retired and loving it.
  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,003

    Good Day Everyone,

    Well it has been a busy week here in my temporary home away from in Seattle. I had my CT on Monday, met with my therapist, met with my surgeon on Tuesday and we formulated our plan for the 18th, and saw my Oncologist on Thursday.

    She was smiling when she came in so I was pretty sure she had good news. The results of the CT scan show that one node has shrunk and the other remains the same size so no biopsy at this time. Can you see us doing the happy dance?! We are all set to move forward with my next reconstructive surgery on Monday! Recovery is expected to be 3 weeks this time. And hopefully that will be it except for check-ups.

    Every 4 months for a year them I image I will graduate to yearly and we will once again begin clicking off those year counts to year 5 then 10 and so on.

    Rick is coming down April 24th and we will go visit the little town we will retire to in 2 years. Ricks brother and his wife will be there and we are hoping that the other brothers and sisters can come to for the weekend.

    Then I will have my last 2 appointments one on the 6th and 7th of May. Then we go home to Alaska the afternoon of the 7th or the morning of the 8th.

    Then I have to get to work on the glass creations for my show at Ptarmigan Arts which will be showing the entire month of August. I have several great pieces planned and am very excited to get to work on them.

    Our son and daughter-in-law are going to be out of state the week of my surgery so I am gonna hang at their place with our lovely granddaughter. I am praying that there are no illnesses or accesses this time. I will come home with an abdominal drain but none in my breasts this time! Thank heavens for small favors!

    My first post-op appointment is April fools day… First Halloween now April fools day, I think I am seeing a pattern here :-)

    I think that is about it for now. We hope you are all having a great March!

    Blessings to all,

    Tanya, Rick, Winston, Squirrel Girl and Katey Kat
    Retired and loving it.
    Erin Holohan HaskellFred
  • Erin Holohan HaskellErin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 1,348
    Such wonderful news!
    rick in Alaska
  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,003
    It sure is. I'm so looking forward to seeing them both at Wetstock in August.
    Retired and loving it.
    Erin Holohan Haskellrick in Alaska
  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,003

    Hello everyone!

    Everything went well with my surgery on Monday. Unfortunately this morning I am experiencing redness, swelling and soreness at the graft sights. I sent pictures and called the Doc. I expect I will be returning to the clinic today.

    Our granddaughter is here with me so she is going to accompany me to the hospital. I just wanted to make quick post to let you know what is happening. Hoping we caught it early enough that IV antibiotic will take care of it before it turns into another abcess.

    Seems like there is never a dull moment with me these days.

    Blessings to you all,

    I will post again in a couple days.
    Help spread the word!
    Retired and loving it.
  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,003

    Dear Family and Friends,

    I a m so sorry it has been so long since I wrote here. I know you all rely on these pages to know what is happening with me.

    I made the error of deciding in my own mind that this one would be cake walk compared to the previous 2 surgeries. Little did I know I had another lesson in humility coming.

    I had my surgery on Monday the 18th. The surgery was scheduled to be 2-1/2 to 4 hours long and turned out being 8-1/2 hours. More on that in a future post.

    On a really good note, a room opened up at Pete Gross House just before my surgery so another prayer answered there.

    I spent the week with our Granddaughter and she took very good care of me. I had to leave this weekend though as she started to come down with what we think is the flue. I feel very bad because I am sure she picked it up at the emergency room visits we have had to make since surgery. We decided that the best thing to do was to err on the side of caution and move me to my little efficiency apartment at Pete Gross. It almost feels like coming home and we are once again grateful to have this wonderful option.

    My immune system is so exhausted that the wretched skin infection returned 2 days after surgery. This time it encompasses the majority of both breasts. They are treating it with 2 different types of oral antibiotics but so far they have not readmitted me to the hospital. The infection appears to be a dormant strain of Staph that has been playing hide and seek in my body for about 40 years. The first time it reared its ugly head was when I was working in a hospital kitchen in Pendleton, Oregon. I was in my early 20’s and cut it from a cut in the kitchen. They treated it and it subsided. Only to hang out for 40 years waiting to make a reappearance and quite the reappearance it has made.

    It has been exactly one week since I got out of recovery and the infection, while very slowly receding is still quite painful. It is kind of like having a 3rd degree sunburn. It is very red and is raised like welts. The welts are hard and painful to the touch be it hand or clothing.

    As this infection continues to be an issue, I need to stay in Seattle until I am at least 4 weeks out from surgery so my plans to return for a visit to Eastern Washington are on indeterminate hold.

    I was able to get to the store VIA Reach Now. They provide each cancer patient at the Pete Gross house with $250 a month free car rental or rides. So I mustered up conviction, put my big girl panties on and called for a driver to take me to the store. My driver (Peyman) was really nice and said he would hang out in the area as long as he could so if he was available he could give me a ride back. I told him it could be a long time because I can’t move very fast and he said it was okay. I really didn’t think he would be there but low and behold, there he was! He had just returned from a fare to the airport and had just gotten back in the area.

    He loaded and unloaded my groceries for me and put them on the trolley at Pete Gross for me.

    I was able to get enough groceries for at least a week as well as my needed staples. Now I am set to hibernate in my room until I get over the infection and gain some strength back.

    I do get to go to the hospital tomorrow and get my abdominal tube removed tomorrow. I will take the shuttle that takes us there and back and that will be my outing until April 1 which is my first official post-op appointment with reconstructive surgery.

    Well, I guess that is it for now. I need to muster the determination to make some dinner and get some rest.

    Blessings to all of you and again thank you for your continued love and support.

    Tanya, Rick, Winston, Katey Kat and Squirrelly Girl
    Help spread the word!
    Retired and loving it.
  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,003
    Update, and Tanya, you are so beautiful!

    Good Evening Everyone,

    It has been one year since my diagnosis and exactly 3 weeks since my marathon 3rd surgery in this journey to health. Time flies when you're having fun! I am very pleased to say that the last 3 or 4 days I have been feeling much better! I have been waking up at 7AM. I was able to do laundry on Saturday, clean the itty bitty kitchen yesterday and sweep and mop the kitchen and bathroom floors today. I is only one thing a day and doesn’t seem like much but it feels huge right now. Indeed, it's the small things that make a day worth looking forward to .

    A few other “little things” being strong enough and healed enough to actually get across the cross walk of a 4 lane Seattle intersection in the 19 seconds they give you to make the trip. Being able to actually take a bath instead of a shower. Not that I take a lot of baths, but it's kinda like when you go on a diet and you know you can’t eat cake. Even when you never eat cake, just knowing you “can’t” have it makes you want it! I am taking my first bath since surgery tomorrow! I’ve been dreaming about it since a week before surgery . I hope it turns out as delish as the dreams have been! Not having to sit down to wait for the elevator to get from the first to the 6th floor is another milestone. Finally being able to push myself up with my arms to get out of bed yet another. In the daily scheme of things they all seem like insanely small things but each one is a triumph these days and I like celebrating triumphs. I think a glass of red wine might be in order

    One of my favorite little things is when I get an Instant Message from my most wonderful husband that has a flower emoji in it. He knows I can’t have flowers at Pete Gross House because so many of the other patients are immuno-compromised because they are stem cell transplant patients so he sends me pictures of them. They always make me smile and then there are the pictures of the kitties all piled up on the bed with him.

    It truly is the little things that make my days of late.

    Since I last wrote I have had 3 Doctor appointments and lots of rest. Previous to my surgery at my Pre-op appointment we discussed the fact that the left side of my abdomen was quite distended. Dr. Gougoutas was very clear we needed to investigate and fix it while I was in surgery for the final breast reconstruction and revision of the “dog ears” at the outer aspects of my abdominal scar. And… this is where the 4-1/2 hour surgery turned into and 8-1/2 hour surgery. Doc G. told me that the reason my surgery took so long was that the area that was distended (the same side as the infection that reared it’s ugly head during the first reconstruction surgery) had become very lax and had filled in with A LOT of scar tissue. While my body seems to have difficulty fighting the infections when it is worn down, the actual surgical incisions heal very well and quickly. This means it also builds scar tissue rapidly and apparently when incisions are combined with infection damage, it means it builds a lot of scar tissue. It took all that extra time to clean out the old wound, install some “binding material” to strengthen the abdominal wall, and do the revision on the rest of the work.

    He is not surprised that I have been so fatigued and that it is taking so long to heal. He had to harvest the fat from my "love handles" and from multiple locations on my back to get enough to fill in the concave areas of both breasts that were left after all the swelling subsided. I think I counted 8 different access locations with another 6 insertion locations.

    I now get to experience wearing a compression garment that reaches from my knees to my shoulders for six weeks. I have to say, it gives me an all new appreciation for “women of a certain age” wore these things on a daily basis just to fit into tiny waisted dresses in the mid 20th century! These would be the same ladies who would wait until their husbands went to sleep then get up, take their make-up off, roll their hair and tie it all up with a bandana. Then they would get up in the morning before their hubby woke up, put their make-up on, come out their hair and go back to bed so they looked perfectly “put together” when their man woke up. Seriously… they really did this! In fact they went to “finishing school” to learn these and other various things to keep the hubby wanting to keep coming home!

    I am so glad I am an adult in this century. I think my mom was the last generation that went through that.

    The infection has mostly cleared and this time without hospitalization! It was slow resolving and the skin continues to be quite sensitive. It itches something fierce so I am going through cortisone cream at a fairly rapid pace.

    I spend a lot of time counting the days until my sweetheart gets here, T-minus 17 and counting and 23 days until my final post-op appointment with Dr. G and our plane flight home that night!

    I will be sending the next 3 weeks resting a lot, eating well, walking as much as I can and staying healthy so we have no delays in our schedule to return home!

    Thank you all for continuing on this journey with us. We have almost caught up to that light at the end of the tunnel and you have all made it a much easier ride!

    Blessings to all,

    This is Tanya signing off for myself, Rick, Squirrel Girl, Katey Kat and Winston
    Help spread the word!
    Retired and loving it.
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