Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July 31 - I'm in a seriously rotten mood today.

Went to the dentist this morning. Found out that I'm supposed to be getting fitted for fluoride trays. They tried 3 times and were unable to get the tray molds around the swelling of my tongue. They rescheduled for a week from now.

At 11:30 I received a phone call from the PET scan people telling me that I'm not allowed to eat carbs for the rest of the day and I'm not allowed to eat anything at all tomorrow before my appt. at noon. Say what??  I had just put a crab stuffed salmon fillet with a side of cheesy rice in the oven and JT, H, and Jer were on their way over with a fruit smoothie AND a milkshake! I decided that the instructions didn't really need to go into effect until 1:00. Screw them. They should give a peep a little warning! Meanwhile since meat and salad are not currently in my diet, I'm stuck with egg salad and water for dinner.Whoa. Please, help me contain my excitement.

Went for my simulation appointment this afternoon. They expected me to have the trays with me so that they could make my mask with the trays in my mouth. I told them that a) my tongue is still too swollen and b) even if the dentist had managed to take the impressions, she told me it would take them a full week to make the trays. This threw everyone off their game. So, some 12 year old dude came to look at my tongue. Yeah, yeah, he's supposedly a doctor despite his youth. He decided to simply fabricate a bite plate for me to use until the trays can be made. Plus, he said their on-site facility can have trays made in 3 days so he told me to cancel with my dentist and he would set me up with them instead. He also made an off-hand comment about how the surgeon used too much flesh for my 'tongue' and that I would need to go back into surgery to have the excess removed.


I have been wondering for the past two weeks about that EXACT thing! How do they know how much flesh to use? And supposedly the majority of swelling goes down in 3 weeks and the rest of the swelling will be gone in 3 months. And I was definitely noticing the swelling decreasing on a daily basis for a while there but now I feel like it's come to a standstill and I still can't put my teeth together! Needless to say, his comment flipped me out. He noticed and apologized and said that he needs to learn when to stop talking. He then made a comment about better too much flesh than too little. I was not appeased. I am now counting the hours until I see Chrysa again so that I can get the truth about this.

Anywho, progressing along in the appointment, we headed down to the radiation treatment room and I got nekkid. I would like to note here that hanging around topless off and on in front of 3-4 people for an hour or so was a tad uncomfortable. I may have to rethink the porn vice. (And thank goodness JT can't post comments on here!) I was fitted with the mask. It's very hot plastic that they drape across your head, neck and shoulders. It then melts to a form fitting mold and has to stay in place for 25 minutes while it hardens. I also had a dot tattooed on my chest. Was not prepared for that but as it turns out, it's so teensy weensy it looks like just another freckle or mole which populate my body in large quantities anyway.

And that was pretty much it. I have a laminated picture ID that I can simply scan each time I show up for a radiation appointment, much like the gym. Radiation treatments start on 8/13 which is the same day I'm hoping to go back to work. My current timeslot, which stays the same for the full 6-7 weeks is 9:15. I wasn't thrilled. I'm going to show up at work for 45 minutes and then leave again?? I have a voicemail in with their scheduling person to see if they have a slot closer to the lunch hour. The less I have to interfere with my work schedule, the happier (and less stressed!) I will be. Meanwhile they still didn't have my airline letter ready for me as promised. Supposedly it will be ready tomorrow.

So, I'm pretty much aggravated all over the place. Boy, a glass of wine sure would be appreciated right about now. Unfortunately, the one time I tried a sip of wine since leaving the hospital, it burned the heck out of my 'tongue', plus, I'm sure it's loaded with carbs. Guess I'll just go crawl in bed and wish for this day to be over. (Actually I wish tomorrow was already over too!) <sigh>

Monday, July 30, 2012

July 30 - Guess what? For the first time since I came home from the hospital, my neck incision did NOT get infected this past weekend! I know, shocker, right?

My skin graft is finally looking MUCH better. I think showering with all the bandages off has been a huge help. A lot of the scabbimg and blood is slowly washing off and I can now see the healthy skin underneath. Plus, as of Friday it finally stopped oozing. It's been dry for 4 days straight, Woo hoo! Next appointment to see Chrysa is 8/8 and I'm feeling good about her letting me go back to work on 8/13! Yay! I've had more than enough downtime now, thank you very much.

Lots of stuff going on this week. Today, Sandi came out and spent a few hours kicking my butt at backgammon. She left right after lunch and I was immediately on the phone with a plumber. I did a load of laundry last night and the downstairs toilet and bathtub backed up plus the basement where the drain hole is located, flooded. Turns out the pipe from my house to the road had a bunch of roots blocking it. $166 later I can do laundry safely and dryly once again. On the downside, they showed me the view going all the way down the pipe to the street and there are numerous places where the pipe has corroded into nothingness or where it's collapsing in on itself. I am now pinching pennies and will hopefully have the 6K for that repair job saved up by February. Damn. Home ownership is costly!

Tomorrow morning is the dentist appointment where they prep my teeth for radiation. JT, H, and Jer are coming to visit me at lunch. Then I'm off to the goop appointment in the afternoon. Wed is the PET scan. Thursday the plumbers are back to replace my hot water tank because it's 14 years old and rusting away to nothing. My friend Jamie will also be stopping by so that I can talk to him about potentially doing some part-time housekeeping for me during radiation treatments if necessary.

The "if necessary" part of that last sentence is new as of today. I was talking to Rochester Karen today and she said last summer her Dad had radiation treatments for his prostate. 5 days a week for 9 weeks and he wasn't affected by fatigue much at all. She said he was still golfing every week for crying out loud! So, I am now hoping my freak out about extreme exhaustion might all have been for naught.

Of course, I'm still going to take some precautions, just in case. I'm going to hit Walmart and stock up on everything! (Especially pet food.) And as mentioned above, have a housekeeper ready in the wings. I still need to buy the puke bucket. Can anyone think of what else I should do ahead of time, just in case?

Lastly, RayB stopped by on Saturday to play some cards with me. He had a most excellent suggestion for a new vice............Porn! LMAO!

Friday, July 27, 2012

July 27 - Part II - Okay, it turns out you can throw pretty much anything into a blender and call it a smoothie. Who knew?? LOLOLOL!
July 27 - Holy shit. Worst doctor's appointment ever.

So, first thing to clarify. Lis and Kunkel, I am NOT going crazy. The little pouch thing on my neck that I was complaining about yesterday? It's a direct result of the lymph nodes being removed. Not only do lymph nodes help prevent infections, they also move excess liquid in your body. Since I am now missing a number of lymph nodes in the right side of my neck, the liquid is building up. Once radiation starts, this pouch will become even more pronounced. Radiation doc says that eventually the left side of my neck will be able to compensate for the right side of my neck and the pouch will disappear. Unfortunately this takes 1-2 years.

Second thing to clarify. Radiation doc says cancer usually happens because of something rubbing for a long period of time not so much from something getting cut. She said if you continuously rubbed your finger in the same spot for months on end while introducing cigarettes and alcohol, cancer would happen. Weird.

Third thing to clarify. Some light exercise is a good idea. It will help build up some stamina after 4 weeks of lounging and will help combat fatigue once radiation starts. I will be walking on my treadmill for 30 minutes a day starting tomorrow. And yes, I realize walking outside would be much more enjoyable but I'm going to forgo that for two reasons. 1. I'm having dizzy/light-headedness spells every once in a while. 2. I'm still feeling very fragile out there in the big, bad world. My kick assed-ness is taking its own sweet time returning.

Received some interesting details about my surgery that I was unaware of. Instead of removing 10-12 lymph nodes, dude removed 37 from the right side of my neck and 4 from the left side of my neck. 2 of the lymph nodes from the right side of my neck WERE cancerous. Luckily the cancer was still contained in the nodes and hadn't breached the outer shell. But since cancer was present in the lymph nodes, not only will my tongue be receiving radiation but my neck will be as well.

Also, surgeon had to remove good tissue along with bad tissue on my tongue to make sure he got all the cancer. He was able to take a good margin on the circumference of my tongue but he was only able to remove a 3mm margin when it came to the depth of the tumor. If he took more than that, there would have been a serious loss of functionality. The chintzy 3mm margin is the reason he is recommending radiation as an insurance policy against the cancer coming back.

Still not clear on exactly when radiation treatments start but doc is making me cancel my September vacation. I'm guessing treatments will start in the next 3-4 weeks. They really will be 5 days a week for 6-7 weeks.

Side effects:

- My tongue and throat will feel like they are severely sunburned. This means eating will once again be painful and problematic. Normally they go ahead and implant a feeding tube in your stomach before radiation even starts, just to make sure it's available. Doc says she's not going to do this to me. She's going to meet with me every week and keep a careful eye on my weight. She said I will definitely be losing weight but so long as it's a slow loss, she'd rather not put me through the whole feeding tube in my stomach thing. (Phew!)
- My saliva glands will be affected. I will still be producing saliva but it will be thick and mucus-y. This is because my body will be trying to coat and heal the "sunburn". Some people carry around a box of tissues and spit out this saliva on a regular basis (attractive!). Also, some people upon waking up in the morning start coughing or gagging on the saliva build up and end up puking (note to self, buy big bucket for next to bed). The saliva issues should go away ~ 2 months after radiation treatments end.
- After a couple of weeks of radiation, fatigue will set in. Doc gave an example of me choosing to stay sitting on the couch instead of getting up and taking care of the dishes. Hell, that describes my life as I already know it!
- I will need to see my dentist one last time before radiation starts. This is to assess the health of the teeth on the right side of my mouth. A tooth with a cavity or some other weakness will likely fall out because of radiation.

Next week I have an appointment to get a head to toe PET scan. Doc says this is to make sure there is nothing else weird happening in my body (such as lung cancer). I actually need to take Adivan (an anti-anxiety drug) before this appointment because I'm told it takes a full 45 minutes to scan the entire body. Adivan is the drug they were giving me in the hospital to help me sleep so I am happy to revisit that old friend. :-)

I also have a 'simulation' appointment next week. They are going to goop warm plastic on my head and neck. This is to mold a mask of the exact position they want me to be in, each and every time I get a treatment. I guess if you are getting radiation on a different part of your body, they tattoo a permanent dot to mark where they want to radiate. They don't want to tattoo people's faces, hence a Silence of the Lambs type enclosure.

Not so fun fact: Radiation can cause cancer all on its own! WTF??

I think that was all the scoop I received today. Honestly, radiation is sounding a hundred times worse than the damn surgery! I would almost rather have another tracheotomy! I say almost because it's hard for my brain to imagine something more unpleasant than that whole trach experience.

So, on to some fun stuff:

- Had some visitors yesterday. Lis, Kunkel, Carolyn, Chuck, and William all stopped in to say 'hi' and bring me a smoothie, of course. ;-) I didn't think Chuck or William were actual going to make it in the door once they saw the dogs! (Wussy men!) Meanwhile, I forced Lisa to look at my arm (she, in turn, forced Kunkel to look at it as well. Ha!). I just wanted one other person out there in the world to see why I am so totally disgusted with my arm and I now feel better that there are 2 peeps just as horrified as I am. Sometimes the saying 'misery loves company' really does hold true. Lis and Kunkel told me that I'm looking great (and skinny!). It's good to hear even if it's total bullshit. I decided today that maybe it wasn't bullshit though. When the doc first walked in and introduced herself, she commented that after she read all of my files and health notes, she thought I was going to be a hot mess but upon seeing me, she says I look fantastic! That perked me up!

- Added a few more food items to my menu. Had a parmesan crusted tilapia filet with a side of cheesy rice. Mmmmmm. Had the hamburger gravy for dinner last night. Turns out ground beef is not such a good idea. Little pebbles of beef got stuck in all sorts of folds and pockets in my new tongue. Very uncomfortable, not to mention hard to remove. Going to have to freeze the rest of that to eat at a later date. Today for lunch I had stuffed clams, which were fantastic! Next on the list to try is a salmon filet. I also picked up some vanilla protein powder today along with strawberries, blueberries, and bananas. Protein shakes were highly recommended by both JBB and Karen. I just need to hit allrecipes.com to hunt down how to make them!

- One word: Dexter. I remembered that I had started watching it a couple of years ago but Netflix only had the first two seasons available and I was super bummed not to be able to continue it. I was cruisin' Amazon last night on my Smart TV (God, I love that thing!) and found that they have all 7 seasons for $16 a season. That should keep me busy for the next couple of weeks! :-)

- And lastly, I haven't found a vice yet but I've narrowed down where I will be funneling my energy once my life starts returning to norm. I'm going to build a raised vegetable/herb garden in the backyard and I'm going to delve into cooking with a renewed vigor. I'm going to learn how to make ravioli, and authentic Korean food, and lamb, and egg rolls, and.........

Crap, now I'm hungry. I'm off to find some food!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

July 26 - So, I've been pondering what vice I will be taking up now that smoking and drinking have been removed from the table. I realized this morning that I may have already stumbled onto my new vice by sitting home bored out of my mind.

Internet shopping!

I was just looking at my Yahoo in-box and there are a whole lot of order confirmations sitting there....

- I cleaned out all the cupboards in the kitchen and decided I needed all new Tupperware.
- I cleaned out the pantry and decided I needed a soup can organizer and a gravy packet organizer.
- I was getting ready for bed and thought it would be nice to own more than one nightgown so I ordered a couple and couldn't resist getting a bathrobe too.
- It rained a little yesterday and I realized I don't own an actual rain jacket, so I bought one.
- I was cleaning my living room and discovered that my Yankee Candle reed diffuser is empty so I bought a couple of refills.
- I saw a t-shirt in a catalog that made me laugh so I ordered it, along with 4 other t-shirts that made me laugh.

This is getting out of control and I'm shutting it down right now. Meanwhile, if anyone has suggestions for a vice that does NOT cost big bucks, it would be greatly appreciated if you could pass it along!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July 25 - Okay, just got back from seeing Chrysa (PA at plastic surgeon). She said the skin graft is looking much better. She can see "granulation" forming under the crust, which I gathered is a good thing. She wants me to start showering every day with the bandaging off so that the site can slowly get clean. She also wants me to start using my fingers a little bit. I'm still in the splint though. She thinks one more week with it should do it. Her concern is that it's still....um...well....oozing. Just in the rub spot over the tendon but I guess it should have stopped doing that by now. I told her I had no problem with that. Having a hard plaster mold protecting the site from me banging into anything is a huge relief based on the super klutz that I am!

I told her about the neck incident too. She said that there is probably a stitch under the skin that's getting irritated. She said it looks fine, leave it alone, and keep taking the antibiotics.

Lastly, I asked her about going back to work. She wants me to wait a few more weeks. She really wants to be sure the graft is set before approving a return to work. I was antsy about being home at first but with my neck getting infected (twice!), and the trach hole taking forever to heal up, and still not being able to chew, and talking still being garbled, and the skin graft not taking as quickly as it should......I'm okay with being home for a while longer.

Meanwhile, my eating has gotten more adventurous. Monday I had a cheese omelet which was oh-so-yummy! Went down as smooth as smooth can be too. Yesterday I ate a croissant with crab dip. My first bread product in weeks! It didn't go down so easy though. I had to break it into very small pieces and it took forever to eat. Might not try that again any time soon but it was good. Today I had pancakes, dripping in butter and syrup. Another winner to add to my diet. Maybe I can convince someone to go to IHOP with me for dinner some time soon! Tomorrow I'm going to be making myself hamburger gravy (mashed potatoes, ground beef, corn, gravy). So, project "beef up calorie intake" seems to be going well.

Chrysa asked me how my tongue is doing. I told her it was okay. She asked why it was just okay and not great. (Damn perky, cheerleader types...) I told her it will be great the moment I'm able to eat a steak!

And to end on a happy note: I received the most excellent surprise in the mail today. My friend Karen sent me some arm sleeves! There's a pair with paw prints and a pair with leopard spots. I love them! I am SO going to set a new style trend at work! LOL!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

July 22 - ARRGHH! This neck incision is going to be the death of me! It had finally stopped leaking last Tues/Wed. I think the hole it was leaking through actually healed up too. Then I noticed Friday night (why does it act up on the weekends when none of my doctors are available??) that my neck was getting all puffy and sore again but nothing could leak since the hole had healed. This morning I took a shower and between the hot water, steam, and movement in washing my hair, the incision opened again and drained. This should have come as a relief except as soon as it was done draining it started bleeding. A lot. I sat there for 10 minutes putting pressure on it. It looks like instead of a little 1/4" hole opening up, an entire inch or more of the incision has re-opened! Have I mentioned that my body seriously grosses me out nowadays? So, I am now once again swathing my neck in bandages and am sitting quietly on the couch. <sigh>

Since I was getting nekkid for the shower this morning, I hopped on the scale. I'm down another 3 pounds. I think I need to step up my eating habits a little. What makes it hard is that the antibiotics that I'm on don't react well with calcium. So, my yogurt, pudding, fortified juices, cottage cheese, ice cream, creamy soups, etc. all get taken off the table for a large chunk of the day. Based on the instructions on the label, I can only have calcium from 9 AM until noon and 9 PM until midnight!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

July 21 - Not a heck of a lot happening over here. I'm lazing my way through the dog days of summer. My days are spent reading, napping, and screwing around on my computer. Oh, and visiting, of course. RayB stopped by for a beer and some gossip earlier this week, Jer stopped in at lunch on Thursday, last night Messner stopped in to entertain me for a while....

Being in customer service, I'm used to talking (e-mailing) with hundreds of people every week. I enjoy a week long break from humans every few months but I have now been on a 3 week break and I'm dying. So, the visitors popping over and giving me a little human contact are hugely appreciated!

When I changed the bandage on my arm this morning, it looks like the smaller of the two rub spots is fading. Yay! So, hopefully the larger rub spot will be following that same path over the next few days.

The purple stuff that the PA put on the trach hole is definitely working, I believe in less than a week it will be fully healed. 

I'm still not able to close my teeth so no fun eating yet. PA had mentioned I can try some soft fish. I think I'm going to hit the grocery store today. I'm out of yogurt, pudding and soup as well. And really, there must be other interesting soft stuff that I can eat, right? I'm thinking guacamole, hummus, peanut butter......

Did you know that you clench your teeth when you sneeze? When you blow your nose? Yeah, it's like when you pull a muscle at the gym and you suddenly realize how often you use that muscle. I now know what activities call for clenched teeth!

Meanwhile, I was surfing the web recently and found a fun fact about taste buds on Wikipedia:

The tongue map or taste map is a common misconception that different sections of the tongue are exclusively responsible for different basic tastes. It is illustrated with a schematic map of the tongue, with certain parts of the tongue labeled for each taste. Although widely taught in schools, this was scientifically disproven by later research; all taste sensations come from all regions of the tongue, although parts may be more sensitive to certain flavors.[

That's all I've got. Hope everyone is staying cool out there!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

July 18 - Two more doctor's appointments out of the way and two more set up for next week...........

This morning I went to see Erin, the PA at the ENT's office. She said everything looks good. She painted some purple medicine on what's left of my trach hole. She said it will help it heal up much faster. (Wish she had done that a week ago!) She asked me how the full liquid diet is going. I told her that I managed to eat some mac and cheese yesterday. I couldn't chew it but if I stuck to one noodle at a time, I could just let it slide down my throat. It was so awesome eating some actual food! Meanwhile Erin said this was super impressive and that I was way ahead of schedule. She also suggested mashed potatoes and gravy if I was craving 'real' food. (And with a quick stop made by my friend Kit, I was happily eating this for lunch today. Thanks Kit!) The last thing we discussed were the radiation treatments which will be starting up in a few weeks. It turns out that you go in for a consultation first where they whip out a "cookbook" and decide exactly what type of treatment will be most effective. Who knew radiation came in so many flavors and that treatment would be so interactive?? Excellent! So, the radiation consult appt is next Friday and I am now done with the ENT until 10/19.

This afternoon was an appointment with the plastic surgeon's office. First up was the PA, Chryssa. She was happy with my tongue although when I told her I was hoping to be able to chew this coming Monday, she winced. She gave me a reality check and said it would probably be a few more weeks yet. (I knew I couldn't trust that darn doc when he said 3 weeks!) Anyway, she wasn't thrilled with the graft site on my arm. There are two small areas in the middle that look like they've been 'rubbing' and the tendons underneath are barely still covered by the graft. If they break through, a second graft will need to be done. She said that I should probably keep the splint on for another week. She decided to go find Karen, the nurse who saw me on Friday to see if this is what the site looked like a few days ago.

While she was gone, the hottie plastic surgeon dude in training popped in to take a look at things (He was the one I saw the most of in the hospital.). He thought things looked okay and that I could go without the splint. His big fear about leaving the splint on for another week is that my wrist will stiffen up too much and I will then need physical therapy.

While he was still checking me out, the actual hottie plastic surgeon popped in. He thinks the graft is going to be okay. Then Chryssa was back with Karen. At this point I have pretty much the entire staff in the examination room with me and I'm feeling like a movie star or something! After much discussion amongst everyone it was decided the splint will stay on for another week and that the movement in my wrist is perfectly fine at this point and I'm likely too young to need any physical therapy even after another week in the splint.

Based on all of this, I refuse to use this hand for ANYthing over the next week. Not even to open a bottle! The last thing I want is to have to go back to the hospital for a second graft! Arrrgghh!

So, finally it was just me and Karen in the room. She wants me to start changing the dressing on the graft every day so she showed me how to do that and gave me a goody bag of supplies. I'm way unthrilled that I will be viewing this horror on a daily basis from here on out but I guess I'm suppose to be on the lookout for any 'swampiness' that may occur. A dry site is a healthy site. <sigh>

It should be noted that I have hopped on Amazon and found 'sleeves'. I'm contemplating the purchase of a few sets of these so that as previously mentioned, I can keep this thing covered and out of my sight for the next 6 months....

Meanwhile, I mentioned to Karen that I'm climbing the walls at home and asked what milestones need to be met in order for me to go back to work. Basically, she said they just want to verify that the skin graft really and truly adheres at which point I'm good to go. Although it sounds like I will be a one handed typist for a while. Not the most efficient Quinn but it has to be better than no Quinn, right??

So, I have an appointment next Wednesday to check and see if the rub points have healed. If they have, then I'll give it another week to set and then I'm hoping to return to work on 8/6.

As Sookie would say, "Let's boot and rally people!".

Monday, July 16, 2012

July 16 - The scab on my thigh peeled off. Yay! I think that particular wound site is now complete in its healing. It's such a perfect 3" x 2.5" rectangle! I told Patilda I was going to let it rest for a couple of years and then see if I can get a quote tattooed inside of it or something. Seems a shame to let such a perfectly symmetrical blemish go unadorned!

Yesterday I maneuvered my 'tongue' around a bit and managed to close my teeth together for the first time in 2 weeks. This is seriously exciting because you have to think eating can't be too far off now, right?? I was told it would take 3 weeks for a majority of the swelling to go down so I currently have my sights set on eating some real food next Monday. Of course, the doc also said it would only take 2-3 days for the trach hole to close when in reality it took a full 7 days. Based on that, I probably shouldn't be getting my hopes too high. <sigh>

Meanwhile I'm dreaming of food. Last night it was bacon and it was so, so good! Normally when I stop smoking, I dream of smoking every night. It has been 4 weeks since I stopped smoking and I haven't had any dreams. I think it's safe to say I am much more passionate about food than I ever was about nicotine!

Both doctor appointments land on Wednesday this week. The only question I can think to ask is a question that a number of people have asked me....is there any physical therapy involved in this? My thought is no. I haven't lost any functionality in my left arm so there's nothing there to rehabilitate. I'm wondering about my neck though. I currently have very limited turning ability due to the stiffness in the incisions. Does that go away on its own or should I be working on some stretching exercises?

That's all I have for now. Today is a shower day which is SUCH a fun project. Then I'm going to start to read Fifty Shades of Grey since it's all I've been hearing about for the past few months............

Sunday, July 15, 2012

July 15 - Much better this morning. I think most of the infection has drained and I'm now back to the process of simply healing. I'm dedicating today to some old school computer games. King's Quest, here I come!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

July 14 - Day is not starting well. Woke up at 6:00 because I smelled something rotting. I thought Itty may have left me a partially eaten present under the bed. Then I realized the smell was coming from me. It looks like my neck has abscessed and gotten infected. Called the doctor. He has a prescription for antibiotics called in for me but the pharmacy doesn't open until 8:30. So, I'm sitting here, biding my time, waiting for some drugs and trying not to ooze pus all over everything. Changed my t-shirt 3 times in the past 2 hours despite the huge absorbent bandages I keep packing on this wound. I'm not a happy camper. :-(

Friday, July 13, 2012

July 13 - Saw a nurse at the plastic surgeon's office today. (Thanks so much for the ride, Peg!) She changed out the bandage on the arm graft site. I took a deep breath and had the guts to finally take a peek. Probably shouldn't have. Seriously gross. I can see all the muscles, tendons, and veins very clearly through the thin layer of skin they're growing, Really, seriously gross. And the divot in my flesh is 10x more pronounced than the pictures they had shown me previously. Majorly, really, seriously gross. So, I asked and was told that some of the tissue will fill back in but it takes ~6 months. Think I might be wearing long sleeves for the next 6 months just for my own peace of mind.

Meanwhile, I asked how long the splint has to stay on. I have another appt. next Wednesday so they can take a look and evaluate where I'm at. Even once they take it off though, it sounds like it will still be heavily bandaged and I still won't be able to get it wet. One armed showers will likely be playing a role in my life for a stretch of time. I'm thinking about having someone come over and shave my head, a la Britney Spears style. I can't manage a ponytail on my own without a lot of pain in my mostly useless arm, and it's way too hot not to have my hair up! It would also make showering a thousand times quicker and simpler.....and hey, it's just hair, it will grow back...

On the bright side, I think the trach hole has FINALLY started to heal! I haven't felt or heard myself breathe through it for almost 24 hours now. Such a relief!

I love the show True Blood. I thought it would be a kick to go back and read the Sookie books to see how close they follow the show. In one of the scenes I read today, Sookie had just gotten the snot beaten out of her by a bunch of werewolves. When she woke up feeling like death the following morning, she commented that all it takes is a good beating to bring home the fact that we're nothing but bags of skin with some delicate bits floating around inside. I can SO embrace what she's saying, and she said it so well!

Fruit smoothie for lunch yesterday thanks to a visit from Lis, Kunkel, JT, and R. Another fruit smoothie today thanks to a visit from Jer, Bill, and G. I'm feeling an addiction settling in. Instead of one of those Starbucks junkies with their frappacinos, I'm going to be at the Mickey D's drive-thru every morning for one of these yummy concoctions!

I think that's all the updating for now. G brought me a new Wii game today that I totally need to check out (did I mention that I seem to be having an ongoing, endless birthday happening? Or maybe it's Christmas in July, over and over and over again....), so I'm out of here!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

July 11 - Had the presence of mind to hop on the scale this morning. I'm down 15 pounds! It won't last though. RayB, H, and Jer stopped by to say 'hi' yesterday. As soon as H heard about my all liquid diet, he was out the door and then back again with an Abbot's milkshake in hand. Mmmmmm, was so good in yesterday's heat! Jer sent me a list this morning of the DVDs he owns to see what I want to borrow. He's planning on dropping DVDs off with a MickeyD's fruit smoothie in hand. That 15 pounds will be back in no time! LOL!

This Friday I have an appointment with the plastic surgeon to change the bandage on my skin graft. No idea how long this splint has to stay on for. Guess I should be asking that while I'm there. Next Wednesday is an appointment with the ENT surgeon. Not sure what's involved with that appointment. Just to check that my new tongue still looks good? Or to talk about the start of radiation therapy? Guess I'll just have to wait and see. Hopefully my new tongue is still in my mouth for that appt. I've been sneezing the past couple of days which has been a truly unpleasant experience. I never realized how much force is behind a sneeze and all I can think about is this flap of forearm skin attached in my mouth with a few dissolve-able stitches!

Ha! I just re-read that last part. How many other people out there worry about sneezing their tongue out?!? Yet another plus for this experience..... unique, new things to worry about!

Still couldn't sleep well last night although I did better than I did in the hospital. I only woke up every hour instead of every 10 minutes. Blonde that I am, I dug out some sleeping pills from the medicine cabinet. It wasn't until one of the gel caps was resting in the palm of my hand that I realized I can't swallow anything solid yet. Duh! I think as soon as the trach hole heals and a little more swelling disappears from my tongue, I'll be okay. Meanwhile, seeing as how I'm kicking around with absolutely nothing to do anyway, it's okay that I'm dragging a little.

Well, not absolutely nothing. I think it must be shedding season for the furballs. I'm awash in a drift of fur/dust bunnies. Guess I should be just a little productive on my "vacation". On that note, I'm off to start my day....

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

July 10 - Part II - Huge props to J-man for breaking me out this morning and then heading to the grocery store to fill my kitchen with all sorts of "full liquid" foods! I just found the cool whip and it made me laugh! Dude, you so rock!
July 10 - I'm home! Oh adorable furballs, oh super cute house, oh beloved Wii, iPhone, home pc, Kindle, and other assorted, cool technology............feels so good to be here!

Of course, the first thing I do when I walk in is pull out the rug shampooer and shampoo the office rug. I really need to teach Luke how to use this thing! I AM the crazy cat lady just based on the smell of my house. BLEAH.

I am now headed in to see what kind of bathing I can get done with a cast on my arm......

Monday, July 9, 2012

July 9 - Part II - Just saw the doc! He peeled my "road rash" skin graft site and removed the feeding tube from my nose. Def heading home tomorrow!! I'm off to do a couple of victory laps around the floor!

(Vanilla ice cream and cream of mushroom soup for lunch. Watch, I'm going to gain a hundred pounds now that I'm finally allowed to eat again. So, not cool.)
July 9 - IV guy didn't show up until 2:00 AM, poked me twice and didn't get a vein, I sent him away saying that I didn't think I really needed antibiotics anymore. Nurse showed up bright and early this morning and said the doctor agreed with me, no more IVs! Yay!

Had an actual breakfast this morning. Who knew plain oatmeal, vanilla pudding, and OJ could taste so good! And holy crap, I had forgotten how much I enjoy coffee! Life is definitely looking up!

Everyone seems to think I'll be released tomorrow. Unfortunately this is the second day in a row that I haven't seen the actual doctor, so I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that the masses are speaking the truth.

Plastic surgeon was in today to take the staples out of the tissue graft site. I refused to look at it the entire time he was at work. It's bad enough that I have to look at the long lines of stitches running up the sides of my neck every day, I'm going to spare myself the view of my arm for a while. I'm allowed to be a wuss sometimes! Plus Lisa, the PA in training who has been hanging around since I was admitted, looked for me. We then went into a huddled conference afterward so that she could reassure me that my arm is not a total nightmare. BTW, I've been having 'old' moments every day that I've been here, numerous times a day. I swear Lisa can't possibly have graduated high school yet, and most of the other people working with me seem to fall into the 'children' category. <sigh> Seriously sucks getting old.

That's about it for updates. All I want right now is a shower. Not that I'm going to be allowed one any time soon but I can at least lean over the bathtub at home and wash my stinkin' hair! Eau du Quinny is not a scent I would recommend. ;-P

Sunday, July 8, 2012

July 8 - Part II - Today ended up being 300 times worse than I thought it would be. It's still not over either. The third IV line in my arm collapsed today. They will have to try for #4 but they're going to wait until one of their experts comes on shift at 11:00 tonight since it's mission impossible to find veins in me. Looks like I'll be missing sleep again. On the bright side, sounds like I may get food tomorrow!

Meanwhile, thank all that is good in the world that Patilda stopped to see me this afternoon. Sometimes all you really need is for someone to sit next to you, stroking your hair, and telling you that they love you while you bawl your head off. I love you, Patilda!

July 8 - Morning! Medical stuff: The plastic surgeon had to re-wrap my left hand yesterday so I got a brief glimpse of the whole missing vessels, skin graft site. Um, ew. That's all I'm saying. I had to look away before I tossed cookies that I didn't even eat!

Last night with the trach gone was a living hell. My nose is all stuffed up and I can't blow it because there's a feeding tube stitched into it, so I can't breathe through my nose. More than half my mouth is filled with "tongue" so getting my mouth open far enough to breathe is hard work. And the slit in my throat is now plugged and half healed. The anti-anxiety meds were useless and I got NO sleep. Gonna be a fun day!

Meanwhile, I had an elevated temp yesterday and this morning I'm sneezing (ouch!). So, looks like I'm getting sick too. Can you tell it's going to be a glorious day for me today??

I'll leave you on a fun note though. There is a board in each patient's room where the nurses can list your goals for the day (like getting a trach out, or eating ice chips). A couple of days ago I swiped Hannah's dry erase marker and listed a goal of winning the lottery. She swiped it back and added "and share with Hannah". Last night she came on shift, wasn't even my assigned nurse, but popped in to say 'hi' to me. She then grinned and slid a scratch off ticket across the table to me. How bleeping cute was that?!? What an absolute doll! Erika's out, Hannah's in. ;-)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

July 7 - The days start early here in the hospital. It's only 7:21 AM and already my drain was removed and my trach was taken out. I now have another long day of lounging around and healing to do (maybe I can find a hot tub around here somewhere...). Doc said he's going to try me on ice chips tomorrow and evaluate on Monday if the feeding tube can come out or not. That's all the good medical stuff....moving on to fun stuff.

I've had lots of visitors which has helped alleviate the boredom. Big kisses to all who have come to suffer through the loveliness that is currently me. Some of you have even come twice (and your names have been noted for the sick voyeurs that you are). ;-P

Lots of flowers, gifts, magazines....everthing an inmate could possibly desire! Unfortunately, the very first gift I was given was "lost" while I was down in ICU. I am now not keeping anything of value in my room. No cell phone, no kindle, nothing. Hence the spotty contact and part of my boredom. I hope my Words with Friends games aren't auto-resigning!!! My apologies if they are!

Chuckle for the day: JT, Scott, and Leo came in to visit. Not 20 seconds after they left, the nurse on duty came flying into the room asking who all those hot men were! Two other nurses wandered in a while later asking the same thing. I laughed my ass off. So hey, if any single dudes out there want an intro, there are a ton of available cuties working here!

Allright back to my room, I think I'm due a feeding in 15 minutes. Yesterday was a marathon of "World's Deadliest Catch". Kind of a cool show. Wonder if it's on, on Saturdays........

Friday, July 6, 2012

July 6 - It's me, it's me! I believe I managed to hack a pc in one of the visitor's lounges! I'm always surprised to find the depths I will sink to in order to get my 'word in edgewise'. So surgery. Boy, that was just a blast and a half, let me tell you.

Woke up Monday night and the dirty deed was done. Turns out JT totally knew what he was talking about with the trach thing. This thing is freaking me out! I haven't really needed any pain meds (granted I HAVE taken some, simply because they're available) but it turns out what I really needed was some anti-anxiety meds due to the trach. I didn't sleep the first 24 hours b/c I was so afraid of choking! Luckily, it should be coming out tomorrow so I won't have to worry about it much longer.

Meanwhile, I'm up raisin' hell in the hallways, all seems to have gone well. Pathology on the tumor came back today. Doc said he doesn't recommend radiation lightly but based on its size, he's definitely recommending it for me. He said he's 100% sure he got all the cancer out and 80% sure it won't come back. Having radiation makes him 100% sure it won't come back.

OK, I'm keeping this short 'cause typing with one hand sucks plus I think Hannah is going off shift and I want to see who is replacing her. I have a total girl crush on a nurse names Erica, I hope it's her! More to come.....

Thursday, July 5, 2012

From JT:  I went in to see the Q with a few others today.  She's looking real good and seems to be in good spirits.  When we arrived she was in a chair playing cards with another coworker (who is on vacation, not playing hookey).  She's not being much of a talker though.  Apparently it has somehting to do with a tube in her neck!  Tomorow they are going to try and get her talking, I guess she has a little plug she puts in the trach.  Should be interesting.  I didn't get a good view of the tongue as there is still a lot of swelling but I was amazed at how good it actually looked.  She also showed us the patch on her leg they took to repair the arm, that looks nasty.  Not in an infected way, it's just a big red patch.

It sounds like she'll probably be going home on Monday, which I'm sure will make her happy!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

From JT:  An update from Scott who just called the hospital: Cathy is doing fine and will be moved from the ICU to a standard recovery room tonight or tomorrow.  If I find out anything else I'll let everyone know.

I just got forwarded this info from Patty:

The nurse asked Q if they could talk to me – guess she said, “yes!”   I didn’t ask about the face splitting thing, but the nurse said the surgery went as planned, that they’ve had her up out of bed and walking around a bit today, that she is in very good spirits and coming along nicely.  She’s not on a morphine drip, but can request morphine as she needs it.  They will be doing some tests tomorrow and she suspects she may be assigned to a regular room either tomorrow or the next day.

Monday, July 2, 2012

From JT:  I just got word from Scott that she is out of surgery and everything was successful.  She is recovering in the ICU.  Despite what some people told her, she was insistent on the ride in that the doctors said she'd be in the ICU to recover and she was right.  Why would anyone doubt her?  I plan on visiting her on Thursday so I will have more info then.  If I do find out anything sooner I will let everyone know!
From JT:  I just dropped the mighty Q off at the hospital.  She was kicking and screaming and wouldn't get out of the car so I just had to brace myself against my door and use both legs to push her out.  I think a couple of orderlies picked her up off the pavement, but it was hard to see in my rear view mirror as the parking lot was twisty and I didn't want to get into an accident as I sped away.  They should be able to fix any broken ribs during the surgery.

Okay, so maybe that's not how it went down.  Q was in good spirits, except for the fact that her Kindle broke this weekend, and wanted to go in by herself.  I was hoping to use her as an excuse to delay coming back to work, oh well.  I think she's handling this very well and she will do awesome in recovery, she doesn't take any crap from anybody or anything!

I'll post an update as soon as I hear anything, which probably won't be until tonight.

P.S. Don't worry about her Kindle situation, she already ordered a new one and it will be waiting for her when she gets out of the hospital.