Monday, August 19, 2013

Going Under The Knife

Well, the big week is here. I have surgery scheduled for Wednesday morning.

Many people have caught me and told me they are praying for me this week. I can't tell you how much I appreciate that. I have to say, your prayers are doing great things!

A couple of updates:

#1- Fingernails: They are doing better! I know you were concerned. I know it's a small thing, but I really feel like God is answering our prayers about this. (He loves to answer prayers about the little things too.) They still feel pretty sensitive, and like they would hurt really bad if I caught them on anything, but I have been able to clip them maybe 3 times since the last time I wrote, and every time I do, I feel like I'm a millimeter closer to safety with them. I even dragged my cello out of its case and gave it a try last week, and it wasn't impossible. Except that I haven't practiced since I was diagnosed for whatever reason, so I'm pretty rusty. I wear rubber gloves in the kitchen a lot, when I'm making dinner, cleaning up, or eating a particularly messy meal -because nothing says "Good Nachos" like eating them with rubber gloves on!

I feel like the neuropathy has abated almost completely. As a matter of fact, I sat at the piano and sang and played for a good hour or more this afternoon, and didn't have any issues with my hands. So thank you so much for these prayers. God is truly answering!

#2- Provision: Oh. My. Goodness. You guys are the best. Thank you for everyone who has sent some money our way. We are so appreciative of the sacrifices you have made, and it makes me giddy to see how God provides through the gifts of his people. Four days in a row, we have received OUTRAGEOUS gifts- some anonymous, others not. We are thankful for each and every one. As a result, we celebrated our 21st anniversary (where someone snuck in and paid our bill- leaving in addition $21.21 in cash- which we were then able to leave as an outrageous tip for our cute waitress), and we will be able to meet our household bills for the end of August, as well as pay off the accumulated medical bills that have come our way in the last few weeks. So thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! We are humbled.

This is such a faith builder, when we place our trust in God for provision, and He nudges His people in this way. I would encourage you to trust Him when you are worried. Make your needs known for him, and ask for His help. He is a good Father, and meets the needs of His children. Sometimes, He provides like this, but more often in our lives, He has sent more work our way. Giving your child an opportunity to earn his or her income is a necessary something I do as a parent- why should He be any different?

#3- Platelets: They went up! They were at 142 when they ran labs on me last week. Those prayers did it again! This is not a super-high number, but it's high enough for surgery, and they are moving in the right direction. My liver numbers were a little low, so the doc told me lay off my celebratory drinks. :)  Also to stay away from Tylenol.

Moving Toward Surgery
I am following the pre-surgical protocol, and have not been taking any vitamin or herbal supplements since last Wednesday. My muscles sure got achy for a few days. Probably should have eased off.  I usually take a Vit D3, B Complex, Calcium Carbonate/ Magnesium, some fruit & vegetable juice supplements called Juice Plus, and an herbal supplement for the neuropathy called Neuro-QOL. (No drugs. Isn't that wonderful?) So I am off all that, and my system should be free of all the extras for Wednesday.

I am busily trying to get all my ducks in a row by tomorrow. School started for the kids today, so I'm finalizing carpool schedules, making sure they have all their school supplies, lunch money, etc. I am trying to get my lesson schedules set up, even though I won't go back to teaching until Oct. 1. I have 2 college students doing their senior recitals in September, so I did what I could to help them put finishing touches on that, and now it's up to them. I set up a meal sign-up for anyone local who wants to bring us meals over the next several weeks. I played as many services at our church as I could before taking some time off. Squeezing out the last of my service! Got my small group set up, and my moms' prayer group for school... I hope I'm not missing anything! I'll probably think of something huge at 3 am on Wednesday.

The Big Day
My timeline on Wednesday is arrival at 5:30 am. I was told not to bother being early, because that's when they open. Geesh. Then they are going to do a Sentinel Node Injection at 7 am. That is described as:
...a procedure used to help identify the sentinel lymph node(s), which is the first lymph node to which cancer cells are likely to spread from the primary tumor. The procedure involves injecting a radioactive isotope (technetium sulfur colloid) into the breast, generally around the central aspect of the breast.   The material moves through the lymphatic channels and accumulates in one or several lymph nodes. During surgery, a handheld gamma ray counter scans the area of the underarm to locate the sentinel node(s). ~Source: 
Surgery (bilateral simple mastectomies with possible right axillary node dissection) is scheduled for 9:00 am. I told several people it was at 7- I didn't read my admission sheets very thoroughly. Sorry. During surgery, the breast surgeon (Dr. Dosch- if you want to pray for him by name) will remove the breast tissue, and possibly one or two lymph nodes, according to what he sees with the Sentinal Node injection.

Dr. Dosch may also fitz around with my port to make it work properly. It functions at 50% right now, meaning they can use it to put medicine in, but not to draw blood out. They are going to check and see if my insurance will cover that, and if so, he will fix it. If not, he'll leave it alone, and it won't be a huge deal.

Then the plastic surgeon (Dr. Karu) will do her magic. She will begin the reconstruction process by putting tissue expanders behind the pectoral muscles. These are like little water balloons that push the muscles into a new shape. She will pump me up a little bit at at time over the next few months. As you can imagine, the recovery from this surgery is pretty grueling. Think about all the things you use your chest muscles for.... yeah. Everything.

I will probably be in the hospital (Avera McKennan) for two nights, then they anticipate I will be pretty useless for a couple of weeks. They told me to take 4-6 weeks off from work, so I did. Of course, I haven't worked since school got out in May, so I'm anxious to get back, but I'll be fine. I will probably ease back into active life after the first couple of weeks, doing a lesson or two here and there, but I promise not to push it too fast.

My mom is going to come and stay with us for as long as we need her, and of course Matt will do double duty, working and taking care of the kids AND me. He's a super hero.

Prayer Requests:

  • One potential complication when they remove any lymph nodes can be
    , which is a "swelling in the arm that occurs when the normal flow of lymph in the arm is reduced." This would be bad, so let's pray it doesn't happen. The tips my little brochure gives me are to slowly return to normal use, protect hands from infection by wearing gloves and washing hands often (done!), don't wear tight sleeves, elastic cuffs, bracelets, watches or rings on that arm (rings? I... uh. OK), and do some therapy exercises. ~source: "Understanding Breast Cancer" Krames Patient Education.
  • Uneventful surgery.
    I would love to be "not weird" for this. I pray for a textbook surgery with no amazing stories for the docs to tell afterward.
  • Anesthesia sometimes makes me nauseous.
    It did not when I had my port put in, because I mentioned it to the anesthesiologist. They can add anti-nausea drugs to the drip so that I won't be sick afterward. On a side note, and I think I wrote about this before, but the last time I went under, I tried to pray for the whole group before we got started- but it turned out that the anesthesiologist did such a quick job that I thought I was praying for them before, and they were already done!
  • As a singer, I'm always nervous when they intubate me because that tube goes right past the
    vocal cords
    . So protection for those fragile little muscles that I put so much time and energy into.
  • And of course,
    recovery. I have given myself plenty of time before I will resume my normal life, but I am sort of a fast mover. You might have noticed that. I don't like sitting around. So I know I need to be patient with myself, and allow time for healing. 

Now, for the "before" picture: 
...and now you know why it was so easy to find a lump the size of a marble.

I know, right? All this fuss over those little things!? I'll leave you with a quote from my ever-encouraging mother. "I don't know what I'm so worried about. As small as you are, it shouldn't be any worse than having a wart removed."


  1. OH Amy! You make us laugh and draw us to prayer - love that! I'm praying for you. I just set the timer on my phone to remind me to specifically pray at 9 a.m. - so I'm on it girl! Have Matt post an update on you please when it is over! Still amazed to think about what God will do in/through you after all this! My friend did have reconstruction - and yes, the stretching process is grueling.... but it will be okay - she's okay now. :)Love to you and the family! - Shanda

  2. i am laughing, praying, crying, praying, on my knees, praying, rejoicing, praying for you, my precious friend! love & peace to you, amysueeitemillermorrison!

  3. YOU CAN DO IT!!!!! I'll be adding your list to my conversations with the creator...although you've been in on my conversations for some time now. :)

    I haven't had this surgery, but a friend who did, said just getting up and walking around as soon as possible helped with the lymph drainage issues for her. So hopefully that will work for you as well. Take advantage of gravity when you can I guess.

  4. Hi Amy,
    This is Dianne Zach a gal you have never met but I reside at Rancho Reata in the Fall/Winter months and met your wonderful mom and dad there. I have followed your blog and you are such a breath of fresh air even through all your trials of the past months. Now your big day is approaching and it certainly sounds like you have all your ducks in a row! It's been very inspirational getting to know you through your blog and I can tell you have an awesome family and a whole big support of friends. God is amazing and has been shining bright through your whole ordeal! Thanks Be To God! He will be at your side during surgery like he has been through every step leading to it. I am offering prayers for strength and comfort for you and your family to endure and a speedy recovery for you! I will also pray for all the hospital staff who will be taking good care of you as many will be so I don't think you have to use any of your energy but to put it to use to Get Well!!!! Catch my *hug* :)