Thursday, June 30, 2011

Of Mice and Boobs

Today was the Mastectomy class.  My husband came home to go with me because you are supposed to take your caregiver with you.  We were *almost* late because 2 hours before we were supposed to be there, the children found a mouse in the house and F-R-E-A-K-E-D!  Nothing like a teeny tiny mouse to incite screams from a 9 and 7 year old.  Unfortunately, we could not locate the mouse before we HAD to leave - so the children were quite appalled that I was leaving them and their grandmother here with, what they were convinced was, an ax-wielding, man-eating rodent.

We arrived to the cancer center and found the right conference room - which was a little confusing, because the paper said, "CLASSROOM A-B" but it was actually "CONFERENCE ROOM A-B."  Teachers notice these kinds of discrepancies (there is also a typo on the paper by the way...).  Anyway, we walked in to greet two other women with spouses already there.  I was asked if I wanted a free pillow that was polka-dotted or pink plaid.  So thankful I got the pink plaid one (free item #1) because the polka-dotted one was really hideous.  Anyway, I was a little sad that the other two ladies there were much older - grandma age - I was so hoping there would be someone younger that could relate more to me.  But, that's okay, because one of the "grandmas" turned out to be really nice.  In fact, all three of us have surgery the same day!  Next Wednesday - I think that's nothing short of amazing. The other two ladies are opting to have a single mastectomy, so I was also the only double mastectomy.

So, the one "grandma" was super nice and we talked after everything was over.  The other "grandma" was (how can I put this nicely?) "interesting" - she was just so woefully uninformed that it was frustrating.  There's just no reason in this day and age to not know what is going on in regards to your health.  She blamed everything on her doctors and was very bitter because she said her doctor didn't tell her anything!  In fact, this woman has the same surgeon as me and she said he didn't tell her anything.  Well, I can tell you it's HER fault because I asked him everything under the sun and he told me everything very clearly and explained every detail and spent as much time with me as I wanted. I even went in for a second appointment to ask more questions! So, please let me tell you, on behalf of doctor's everywhere, that they are not mind-readers!  Research for yourself - take charge of your health and treatment and find out what to ask and who to ask!  There are so many sites online about breast cancer and zillions of lists about good questions to ask your surgeon, oncologist, etc.  I referred to all of them before my appointments and wrote down the questions to ask, it was so helpful.  Doctors today expect informed patients - do your part.  

Anyway, imagine my utter GLEE when the Angel Joy walked in to lead the class!  Yeah!  Angel Joy in charge!  She's so stinkin cute, even if she hasn't gotten around to reading my blog yet!  Haha!

Over the next hour and ten minutes, we went through all of the items you should have on hand after the surgery (gauze, scissors, Motrin, etc), what to expect immediately after and weeks after. Angel Joy also went over how to maintain the drains of which I will have FOUR!!  Unfortunately, I already know all about drains from my stomach surgery last year and the renal surgery in January.  I am a drain expert - or, I should say, my husband is a drain expert.  I don't really look at them too much because they are super icky!  Seriously - SUPER ICKY!  <shudder>

At one point, the uninformed grandma announced to the group her current bra size (38DD) and then asked mine.  I really didn't want to announce that to a roomful of women and MEN that I don't know but fine - I said it.  I figured I'm not going to have them much longer anyway.  I don't know WHY she wanted to know that but okay.

The funniest part was when Angel Joy said that is was totally normal to start looking at everyone's breasts.  Oh thank goodness - I'm normal.  Really!  I am!  Joy said so!  I was a little concerned about one part of the information given though - that you should not start driving again until you are a safe driver.  My question though was, "What if you weren't a safe driver BEFORE the surgery?  Then how long should you wait?"  Joy thought that was pretty hilarious - why did they think I was kidding?  

Angel Joy had to leave and two ladies from the American Cancer Society stepped in to take us to be fitted for a camisole.  But not before I got a hug from Angel Joy (free item #2).  :)  

Pink Wig!
Lady Gaga
The two ladies, both breast cancer survivors, led us to the area of the Cancer Center where the American Red Cross is set up.  There are tons of books and materials about all different cancers and there were hats and head wraps there.  All for free!  There were tons of cute hats, about 100 to choose from!  I'll definitely be visiting there if I need to!  The next room we entered was filled with wigs (also all free!).  Hundreds of them, in a lot of "normal" hair colors which made me ask, "Where are the pink ones?  I want pink hair!"  They don't have those on hand, you have to special order them.  I guess most people don't want to wear bright pink wigs around when they lose their hair.  How odd. However, you can order any color or style you want - I told them I'd bring in some pictures of Lady Gaga.  They looked a little scared of me at that point. 


They did have black, brown, blonde, red, gray.  I wouldn't mind be a red head or blonde!  I'm not sure I'm a wig kind of gal though, seems odd to me.  I don't really want to wear someone else's hair.  I don't know where that hair has been!  One of the grandmas (the nice one) was brave enough to try on some of the wigs - she knows for sure she's having chemo she told us because her cancer is the most aggressive.  I couldn't try on the wigs, not yet.  I couldn't imagine that yet.  We could have taken some home if we had wanted but, again, I'm just not there yet.

We were fitted for a camisole to take home for after surgery (free item #3).  It's sooooooooo soft!  Like softest thing ever!  It velcros up the front and has pockets for up to 8 drains (EEK!) and then pockets to put foam boobs in for while you heal.  They said it's good to wear the foam boobs because they protect your incision site, a little extra cushioning.  It's actually really pretty and I was so happy to get it.  I think it'll be a life-saver for those first few weeks, though it's pretty long and bulky so I think it'll be pretty hard to hide under clothes since it's summer time.  At least this time I have a reason to dress like a goober.

After talking for a bit and asking more questions, the husband of the uniformed grandma came looking for his wife, he was impatient.  He broke up our party.  Which, actually, was really rude because we should have been able to spend as long as we needed visiting and asking questions.  But, I know where to find them now and there are so many services they offer there (acupunture (no thanks!), massage (yes, please!), psychiatry (well, maybe...)) and I'm so thankful to know about them all.  I want to go back tomorrow and chat with everyone and maybe take a nap on the comfy couch out in the lobby.  That's not at all weird, right?

This class not only provided a lot of great information but also FREE stuff.  The things I got for FREE are:

Free pillow!
1. Cutest heart shaped plaid pink pillow.
2. Many brochures and catalogs for hats and wigs (no pink - bummer).
3. Camisole with foam boobs.
4. Cancer Center lanyard (I really have no idea what I would use this for, but okay).
5. Measuring cup for measuring drain output.
6. Mini-pillow for use in the car.
7. A pen (but I'm pretty sure I accidentally stole that).
8. A hug from Joy.

Mouse visitor
And, yes, we found the mouse soon after we got home. We named him Chester. He was just a baby - he was released into the wild of our backyard.  The household is safe, for now.

Boob Count = 93

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