Welcome to My BRCA Blog. I'm Amanda, I'm 30. When I was 28, I tested positive for the BRCA2 gene mutation increasing my risk of Breast Cancer up to 84% and my risk of Ovarian Cancer to 27%. I recently had a prophylactic mastectomy to reduce my risk. I am using this blog as a forum to express my feelings through this journey as well as to keep others in the loop. Newest entries are on top, scroll down or use the links on the side to see older posts.
I have survived my first week back at work. I have to say it is a little awkward when people ask "so is it good to be back at work?" Um.... "sure?" Really I love my job, and I love the people I work with, and I did miss the social aspect of working, but honestly I really enjoy opportunities to not work. I like visiting with my parents in the morning and taking afternoon naps and being home for dinner with my husband and daughters every night.
But since I did have to go back to work, I was happy to go back to my job.
The Opening to my Office Space
My boss decorated my office area with all of our "Back to School" themed stuff. Which is so extremely sweet considering how against our decorating he is, and he came in on the weekend to do it! So I had curtains and apples everywhere and there were mini chalk boards hung on the wall saying "we are glad you are back" and there were all the fake sunflowers everywhere, but there were also real flowers for me, sunflowers and roses and a welcome back card.
The other person on my staff (who I would consider a great friend - but I can't hang out with her outside of work because of work rules) baked pumpkin chocolate chip cookies for me (for us?.. at my request..) - YUM. They're my favorite and the only thing I felt like eating that whole time I was sick. She stole my stapler and left a note saying that I would get my stapler back eventually but for now I can get assistance with stapling and hole punching from others (because she was told by someone that those actions would be painful for me).
Almost everyone seemed genuinely happy to see me and had nothing but good things to say about how my department ran in my absence (which some people may be insecure about, but I know it doesn't just reflect well on my staff (who really rocks), but on my management/training abilities as well). It was so nice to not have to worry about anything while I was gone, and it was also very helpful to me to not come back to a mess!
So coming back to work was good, and It helped that my nausea had subsided a few days prior, but I'm definitely tired (I've wanted to go to bed for about an hour now, but it's just not right to go to sleep at 7 pm on a Friday) and I'm pretty achy. I'm still taking pain meds though I've drastically reduced the amount, but it doesn't really take care of the arm/hand pain, and I end up pretty sore all over my upper body by the end of the day. It's particularly bad If I get too far off schedule with the pain meds, its then hard to get to to feeling comfortable. And I did try to staple something and it sent a quick ripple of pain through my chest, so I'm not going to try hole punching, and I'll go ahead and allow others to do those things for me for the time being.
Its been a challenge to get up and get dressed every morning. I've been doing it for awhile, but now I have to really consider how professional I look, and how comfortable I'll be for the next 8 to 12 hours. I have to layer my clothing differently, because before I didn't care if I occasionally showed a *little* cleavage, but now that there are NO boobs, and I'm stuffing a bra, over a soft tank top (with nursing pads to prevent rubbing)I have to really be sure that none of that will be given away regardless of what position I'm in (such as leaning over a desk to look at something with someone - which actually happens numerous times a day) PLUS just getting out of bed and trying to get a 4 year old ready and out the door and not get frustrated about whether I'll be getting to work "on time". Oy.
I also had 2 appointments this week. One was with my Rheumatologist, and the other was with the Plastic Surgeon.
The rheumatologist was interested in hearing all about the surgery and complications, and he was very sympathetic and then said that while this is all very hard and unpleasant, its good that I'm not having to deal with this along with a cancer diagnosis - and that reminded me that yes.. I still think I made the right decision. (and it felt good that he really gets it). He said he is fine with me staying off the plaquinil (the anti-malarial drug for my autoimmune disorder) as long as I'm managing okay. He says that it does not increase chances of infection, but he understands the surgeon's desire to eliminate variables. His concern is that if I have a recurrence of the pleurisy or pleural effusion, we would then have to treat with prednisone which IS known to increase risk of infection and hinder wound healing. I discussed this with the plastic surgeon and he said that if plaquinil is something I can easily go on and off on, he'd suggest I go back on it now and come back off a month before surgery, so I'll take that idea back to the rheumatologist and see what he thinks.
At the Plastic Surgeon appointment today, he said things look really good. And gave the run down on time frame again for the reconstruction.. I need to wait until at least mid February for the expander placement, then it will be 5 months (or more) until we replace the expanders with silicone implants. So my next appointment with his is in a little over 6 weeks, and at that time he would like me to have some ideas on my schedule and when I might like to do it so we can start scheduling and planning. They then removed the little poky stitches that were sticking out the corners of my incision, and determined the weird lumpy thing under my skin on my right chest area (cant really call it a boob...) is a suture that has come loose, and it should go away. We also talked more about my hands and arms. He is a little surprised that I'm still having issues, but acknowledges that it is possible and perhaps I'm a person more prone to nerve issues. He thinks it is a possibility too that this has triggered carpal tunnel... so if I don't continue to see improvement or if I determine that its not something I can tolerate, he can refer me to a nerve specialist. But for now, I feel like its getting at least a little better all the time (just slowly....) so I'll wait and see.
NOW it's time to go to bed. *Hopefully* I'll get to sleep in a little!