April 27, 2010

objects in front of you may be heavier than they appear

Some days I feel smart. On rare occasions, I feel slight flashes of brilliance. (Must be the Penn State grad schooling...we're trained to self-deprecate.)

Today was not one of those smart days.

Yes, it's a great milestone that I went back to work yesterday. My lesson? That tall, heavy wooden doors should be opened by someone who's not me. I tweaked a stomach muscle as a result of opening two of them today, and left a little early to come home and rest. To the tune of a 2.5 hour nap.

I need to remind myself that even though I'm up, walking around, and generally feeling great, I'm still only two weeks post-op. I know I'm not able to take Xander, our 80 lb. lab out to the bathroom yet (I can handle our 48 lb. boxer). I just have to be more aware of doing other things, like 150 lb. doors. That are made of wood. And obviously not meant for me to touch yet.

On a side note, one thing that's not heavier is me! When I got the cancer diagnosis at the beginning of February, I decided that it was time to tackle getting fit again. (I decided not to step on the scale until after my surgery.) It wasn't an all-out intensive diet or workout regimen, as I had too many things on my mind.

Instead, it was all about being more choiceful, which meant smaller portions and, at my acupuncturist's push, much more rich, healthy greens. So it was a salad at lunch chock full of spinach and veggies with chicken. Instead of dressing, I went with a good fat: guacamole.

One week after surgery, I stepped on the scale, and I'm down 15 pounds so far! At this point in the game, I'm having a broth-based soup (with chicken and veggies) for either lunch or dinner, and waiting for the clearance to begin working out.

Now if I can just remember to not do stupid stuff like, oh, lift or open heavy things.

April 26, 2010

two weeks and one less uterus later

Two weeks to the day of my hysterectomy, and one less uterus later, I'm back at work.

My coworkers decorated my office and wrote "Welcome back" in huge letters on my office window. While I'm in no way ungrateful to Nurse Mom for coming out for two weeks to help me heal, I'll be frank: it was so nice to talk to people other than my dogs and my mom today.

Recovery went very well. As it was outpatient surgery (not a typo), I walked up a flight of stairs when I got home that day (one of my mom's goals for the first few days).

I was off Percocet within 2 days, and stuck to Tylenol for a few days after that. By the third day we went on a little field trip.

I'm not a homebody by nature. Unless I'm on vacation, I like to be doing stuff. So each day we did a little more. I napped when I felt like it, and caught up on 27 hours of Olympic coverage that I taped back in February, knowing I'd need something to watch during recovery. (Sorry, Heroes, you were on my list, too, but you didn't make the viewing cut. I'm just not into you like that this season.)

The culmination of my recovery was a set visit to Glee's season finale (yes, it rocked).

I'm most surprised by how quickly my body bounced back from the surgery. While I'm not quite ready to go back to the chiropractor (all the pushing down and whatnot), I did go to the acupuncturist on Friday, and that was all kinds of fantabulous.

Now, if you don't mind, it's 8:45 p.m. and I'm going to bed (because while I lasted a whole day at work, I'm positively knackered now).

April 15, 2010

oh what a beautiful morning

Oh, What a beautiful mornin’,
Oh, What a beautiful day.
I got a beautiful feelin’
Everything’s goin’ my way.
- Rodgers and Hammerstein

My doctor's office just called, and happily reported the results of today's Pathology report: there are no residual signs of cancer.

They got it all!

I am, once again, cancer free. As I type this through happy tears, it's not lost on me that the last time I beat cancer my Mom was also here from New Jersey.

Must be the luck of the Irish.

April 14, 2010

funniest part of the hysterectomy

Hands down, the funniest part of the day: IT Geek stepping into the elevator to come up to recovery to visit me...

...while Dr. PCOS (from Local Research University) walked out of the elevator with my ovaries in a lunch box.

(I donated my ovaries, one each to two different research studies: PCOS and IVF.)

breaking out

After 3 days in captivity at home, I was able to break out went out today and got some much needed fresh air and sunshine.

That was enough to wipe me out so I took a 3 hour nap when we got home. But yes, it was nice to see the world. Nurse Mom and I stopped by the hospital to drop off a thank you gift basket to the doctors, nurses, and staff who did such a great job on Monday.

Between my 5 rescheduled surgery dates (so not only my mom could be here, but so we could explore our IVF options) to me pestering them again and again about really wanting the laproscopic option (so I'd only have a 2 week recovery and not a 6-8 week one), they were all fantabulous.

It's interesting, since Monday, I've had the same conversation with every woman over 40 years old:

Them: How are you feeling?
Me: Good. I'll be back to normal in 2 weeks.
Them: 2 weeks?! What?! (Me / my friends / my mom's) recovery time was 8 weeks!
Me: I had it done laproscopically, so it's less invasive and a much quicker healing time.

The only difference was when I talked to my fabulously gay best friend, Will, the conversation went something like this:

Will: How are you feeling?
Me: Good. I'll be back to normal in 2 weeks.
Will: You've never been "normal" - don't hope that you'll start now.
Me: True.

As the Will to my Grace, he's never minced words (and I'd have it no other way).

Of course, it didn't hurt that every single medical person I talked to the morning of the surgery got the same question from me:

Me to Dr. Man: "We're doing the 2 week version of the surgery, right?"
Me to Dr. Man's Resident: "We're doing the 2 week version of the surgery, right?"
Me to Anesthesiologist: "We're doing the 2 week version of the surgery, right?"
Me to all 3 nurses: "We're doing the 2 week version of the surgery, right?"

Just wanted to make sure we were on the same page.

In the past 9 weeks, I haven't bitched, whined, moaned or otherwise felt sorry for myself (mostly) through this whole "try to get pregnant - hi cancer - hello IVF embryos - hey hysterectomy" saga. For once, in all this, I selfishly wanted to catch just one break.

Imagine my happiness, in the haze of post-op, when through the fog I drowsily awoke to a nurse saying, "Yes, they were able to do it with the laproscope." While I wasn't able to open my heavy eyes, I did raise my left hand and made the thumbs-up sign, which made them chuckle.

I was happy.

April 12, 2010

thanks for the happy thoughts

They worked!

Surgery went VERY well. I'm home, happy and resting. (In case you were wondering, a laproscopic hysterectomy is an outpatient procedure. Seriously.) My biggest concern going into this was them slicing me open. I'm not worried about the scar, because this body will never rock a bikini. No, I was more worried about the 6-8 week time in captivity recovery time. Since the doctors were able to do it laproscopically, I'm down to 2-3 weeks! Aww, yeah!

Nurse Mom's in the house, large and in charge. She's already had me walk up a flight of stairs today. By myself. I did it one step at a time, and slowly, but I did it. Now I'm so stinking tired I'm off to bed.

ps - The drugs rock.

think 2 weeks this morning

*warning: girly bits candid discussion ahead*

Check-in's at BigHMO this morning at 7:55 a.m., with surgery somewhere around 9:30 or 10 a.m. After surgery, my ovaries will be whisked off to the two different research studies (one PCOS, one synthetic seaweed/IVF/petri dish coolness). Then we begin the hurry up and wait staging for the uterus cancer (which should take approximately two weeks).

If you want to help me this morning, chant this mantra repeatedly: "Two weeks, two weeks, two weeks." Or, for my British/Aussie mates: "Fortnight, fortnight, fortnight."

When Dr. Man first saw me, he decided due to the fact that my on-ramp is a smidge too long that we'd have to do a traditional, slice me open like Freddy Kruger-type abdominal hysterectomy (this means 3 days in the hospital and 6-8 weeks recovery).

The other option? This here new fangled, vaginal hysterectomy that only has a 2 week recovery period. And, by the way, is outpatient. (!) As I mentioned, Dr. Man said, "Nope, too long, can't do it." But at my pre-op, Dr. Man's Resident was all, "Yep, I can feel your cervix, we should be able to do it."

Rock on. So today I'm going to make sure, before I'm too high on the drugs, that Dr. Man and Resident see eye to eye on Operation Easy Recovery.

If you hear someone bellowing "MOTHER-EFFER!!!" around noon, echoing through Mission Valley, you'll know which way it ended up.

April 11, 2010

in lieu of flowers

Some folks have asked for my home address so they can send flowers. While I appreciate the gesture, we have two very active, very curious dogs, and not a lot of high space to put pretty flowers out of their reach. So I wanted to present you another option.

A few years ago, a bunch of us established the Michael Sevareid Theatre Scholarship at my undergrad, Elizabethtown College. Mike was instrumental in my growth as a student and person while at Etown. When he was diagnosed with cancer, it was a blow to everyone, and establishing the scholarship was a great way to honor him.

If you'd like to give to something that means the world to me (and won't drive my dogs bonkers), this is it. :)

To donate, you can send a check to:
Elizabetown College Development Office
1 Alpha Dr.
Elizabethtown, PA 17022

(On check, put Kara DeFrias/Sevareid Scholarship.)

Or call:
Development Office - Ben Osterhout at 800.877.9658.

April 9, 2010

happy kiki eve!

Nurse Mom arrives tomorrow for two whole weeks, and I couldn't be more excited - YAY! :)

It's going to awesome having her here to help me heal. Mom's are a pretty big deal that way.

(Her nickname with the grandkids is "Kiki.")

April 6, 2010

half a dozen grade a eggs

Just heard from the folks at Dr. Hope's office, and it's awesome news:

We have half a dozen viable, wonderful, freezable Grade A eggs embryos! 5 were rated "good" and 1 "fair" (on a good - fair - poor scale).

According to the embryologist, they were hoping each embryo would have 6 cells around them...but, being overachievers like their mamma, each embryo had 8 cells!

So we're freezing all of them, and once the hysterectomy and cancer nonsense is over, IT Geek and I will begin talking about our surrogate options.


(In the meantime, if you're looking to eat out, click the Restaurant.com link to the right to get gift certificates for up to 80% off. I get a tiny kick back on each purchase, all of which is going toward bills for all this stuff!)

April 4, 2010

and then there were 6

When we left yesterday, Dr. Hope said that two eggs were mature, three were on their way to maturity, and two were just okay. As I keep saying, we only need one to have a baby, but we felt optimistic.

All along, my right ovary had been hiding from the ultrasound waves. The left one screamed, "Here I am! Look at me! I'm fabulous!" but the right one was harder to see than a Hollywood starlet's husband at a monogamy celebration.

While I was under, they had to push very hard on my lower right abdomen in order to find and extract on that side. Apparently my breathing became staggered and I didn't react well, so they had to be happy with one egg. (Hence the reason my jaw hurts so much today...they had to prop me up so my airway wouldn't collapse.)

I thought it would be tomorrow before we heard any news about the eggs, but lo and behold we just got a call from our embryologist, and great news: of the seven eggs they got yesterday, six matured and all six fertilized!

We are beyond thrilled with that. As I said to IT Geek, "Looks like my eggs are as obstinate and stubborn as me."

I'm happy with this development, though we still have another hurdle to cross: the viability. For the next two days, they'll monitor the embryos to stage their viability as good, fair or poor. On Tuesday, they'll grade them and freeze the "good" ones.

This process is kind of like a steeplechase - it's not a race to the finish line, but a series of small victories along the way.

Here's to this one!

math's never been my strong suit

Yesterday's IVF retrieval procedure went well! I'm crampy and achy today, but that's to be expected.

When we started this process, the doctors explained that while normal IVF patients can expect 10-15 viable eggs, my ovaries looked like they would produce about 20-25 based on the ultrasound.

So apparently I was a little confused in my drug-fueled haze yesterday. When Dr. Hope said we got 7 viable eggs from the left ovary, I thought she also said we got 6 from the right (hence, the baker's dozen).

Turns out, after all is said and done, we got 7 eggs total. (When we visit the casinos, I'm a craps player, so 7's been a great number for me on many an occastion.)

We should know in the next few days how many decided to become little embryos.

After all, we only need 1 to make a baby!

Next up: Nurse Mom comes into town for 2 weeks on Saturday, then hysterectomy next Monday (April 12).

April 2, 2010

our own easter egg hunt

To celebrate the weekend where Jesus rose from the dead and saw his shadow, thereby ensuring we get six more weeks of basketball, IT Geek and I are going on our own egg hunt.

After 3 weeks of meds, needles, and hormones, we are heading to Dr. Hope's office at 7:15 a.m. tomorrow morning so they can harvest my eggs!

In most cases, they expect to get 10-15 viable eggs from the IVF procedure. In my case, they said they're expecting 20-25. Wow.

Next steps include identifying the most mature eggs, fertilizing those eggs (we're doing ICSI just to be safe), and then freezing the most viable ones for future use with a surrogate mother.

Cluck cluck!