Coming up for Air…

At least that is how I feel today…or like I am about to.

It’s been another difficult day, but it finally brought forward some positives.

Today started out as another day of exhaustion. I went for a 15 min walk yesterday and today getting out of bed was another struggle.  Even with the change in time for taking my hormone therapy I was still having trouble sleeping–but I was able to determine that the main thing waking me up was intense hot flashes.

Since it had been 3 days since I talked to the oncology nurse and there wasn’t much difference in how I felt I called her again today.  Finally, we had a conversation that had some progress and she had my chart in front of her to refer to.  After we went through everything I was experiencing (again), she finally agreed that the side effects I was experiencing were extreme and went to talk to the oncologist to get a plan for what to do (Yay!).

She called me back, and finally there is a plan that makes some sense!  My appointment with the oncologist has been moved forward to the first week of February (his first available), and in the meantime I have been told to stop taking the HT.  I also have to track the side effects I am experiencing from today until I see him as some of these side effects, like the hot flashes, I was having before I even started the HT and the HT seems to have made them worse.

I have been having menopause symptoms since my second chemo treatment (almost a year now) and my blood work confirms my ovaries have shut down, even though I am just shy of my 37th birthday.  The chemotherapy I was on can cause premature menopause, although it is rarely permanent.  It’s apparently very hard to tell because chemo can shut down the ovaries for up to 2 years before they wake back up again, so only time will tell.

But that is the reason to keep track of the side effects I am having–to see what is what, and what they should be treating and how.  I am also going to be able to have a good frank conversation with my oncologist to discuss the actual benefit of the HT since I have had a double mastectomy (which is something they didn’t consider when they first prescribed the HT back in August prior to radiation–and the fact that I have almost no breast tissue now needs to be considered).

I can’t describe the relief I felt when the nurse told me I could stop the HT until I see the Oncologist.  I am hopeful that in a couple days, as the HT clears out of my system, I might start to get back to feeling like my usual optimistic, positive and energetic self.

Which brings me to my other news for today–I am cleared by the surgeon to return (slowly) back to dance!

He is going to bring me in for small surgery sometime next week to close up the wound under my left breast (I have never looked forward to stitches so much in my life!), and also drain some fluid that has collected in my lower abdomen.  It will all be done with local anesthetic, so it shouldn’t be to bad, and finally the last of my wounds will be on it’s way to recovery!

We also had a conversation today about doing revisions in the future.  During my surgery, the surgeon did try to do a reduction on both breasts, but because of how my abdomen was shaped and how the blood flow worked I am only one cup size smaller–basically almost all my old bras still fit me.  I also have some ‘puckers’ of skin under each breast that had to be left in order to facilitate how the incisions needed to be made for the reduction.  There is also a decision to be made about whether I want nipples reconstructed or not.

For right now, the plan is for me to take the time to go back to losing the weight I gained during chemo and the rest of the weight I want to lose to get to my goal weight before my next major surgery to do a reduction.  The reason is simple–because my ‘breasts’ are now all belly fat, as I lose weight they will also go down in size–much more than real breasts would.  So, he doesn’t want to make them small now and have them disappear on me later!

I completely agree with that, not that I am in any hurry to rush into another surgery right now!  Since my surgery I have already lost a small amount of weight, despite essentially not doing anything, and I want to get back to being active and finally get down to my goal weight.  In addition to going back to dance, I also hope to return to strength training again and (my version of) running.  Baby steps though.

Which brings me to my last point for tonight and a post that is much longer than I intended.  When I got permission from my surgeon to return to dance, I realized I actually have no idea where to start!  Well, first I need to find my energy (here’s hoping it comes back as the HT leaves), but then beyond my ballet exercises….seems like so many possibilities!

I did have a very brief conversation with Boss last week about coming back and I know he has some definite ideas, many which are probably different from my own.  I guess some thought on my part and a discussion with him is in order to figure out how to do this.

Time for a big breath of fresh air, me thinks.

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