Recovering from DIEP Surgery!

I’m home from Gainesville! The surgery was on Monday and went well. I was surprised by a few things so wanted to blog about it before I forget, so others can be aware. First of all, the most pain I have ever been in is when I woke up from the 8+ hour surgery and my arms burned like crazy. It turns out they are held perfectly still in some awful position throughout the surgery. If you only have one side done, then it’s only one arm. The pain meds don’t help and you’re not allowed to stretch them, which is the only thing that helps. It was so bad I would sneakily stretch when the workers were turned around. They’re still sore today, five days later. I heard that the reason the pain meds don’t help is that it’s nerve pain instead of surgically caused.

I was also very, very swollen from all the IV-fluid. My fingers looked like juice was about to burst out of them. That took two days to get back to normal. The last bad surprise is that I was not allowed to use my pectoral muscles at all once I could start using around. Not to brace myself when sitting up, to keep balance, etc. It’s hard to do that when your ab muscles have recently been removed then replaced into their cavity and only a binder is holding them in place. So the first day they had me move around was really, really hard. But I got the hang of it quickly.

The good surprise is that the nurses told me the recovery from this surgery is considered excruciating and they’d never seen anyone do so well with it. I’m pretty much fine. I feel like I had the surgery, and the 4 drains hanging from my body are very annoying. But I don’t feel much worse than I have after any other surgery, or like I did after 6 months of chemo. I stopped taking my pain meds more than 24 hours ago and am still managing.

My discharge note says not to lift more than 5 pounds or drive for 6 weeks. That has already been hard so I’m not sure how it will work. So far when Naomi needs something someone else has been around to help, or a few times I’ve let her climb on my back and I lift her that way. But it’s all going to get harder after the holidays when no one is around anymore, so please join me in prayer about that. I have a follow-up appointment on December 27 and hope Dr. Rosenberg will change my instructions at that time.

Anyway, before the surgery I started getting nervous about putting myself at risk for a cosmetic improvement. I prayed about it and God surprised me by filling me with true and complete peace about it. I never got concerned again. He took such great care of me. It shouldn’t surprise me after all He’s done for me, but I’m still shocked. He is so kind and loving. So gracious and awesome!

John 14:27  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid
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Prayers and Surgery

I’ve been so very busy lately and can’t wait to talk about some of the exciting things going on. But, for now I am just sending an update for special prayers:

Most importantly, Debora Passetti is having a CT scan tomorrow. She is the one with stage 4 breast cancer who’s been going through chemo for a long time now. It’s in her liver and the previous scans have shown improvement but it was still there. I know she has been working hard on having the confidence to believe she has been healed despite what the doctors say. Some people don’t get how hard that is. Maybe you can’t really get it until you’re in a situation like this. It’s terrifying. TERRIFYING. She’s been trucking through chemo for 6 months or so. I know she desperately wants tomorrow to be her day. Not just good news, but THE news. God can do it. God WILL do it. Support her as she prays Psalm 25:2, “I trust in you, my God! Do not let me be disgraced, or let my enemies rejoice in my defeat.” My heart races just thinking about it. (As a sidenote, the fundraiser we’re throwing for her will be a concert on January 11 at Four Oaks Community Church. Details to come.)

Please, please, pray that the scan shows all the cancer is gone. Pray that it shows her liver is in perfect condition too, not damaged by chemo. Pray that some sort of sign appears so the doctors know that God healed her, not just that the chemo did a good job. And pray that she will have good friends who come along and lift her up, to believe for her when she cannot do it herself. 

When God told Moses to lift his arms so the Israelites could win in a battle against the Amalekites, his arms got tired. Whenever he let his arms fall to his sides the enemy started winning again. So his friends held his arms up for him. Together they did what God asked, and God fought for them (Exodus 17:10-13). 

Sound familiar? That’s what we have to do for our brothers and sisters. People ask me all the time how they can support a loved one who has cancer, and that’s the answer. Hold their arms up when they are too weak to do it themselves. Help them to look where they need to go, and point their arms toward the heavens. Push any doubters from their presence so they have an unobstructed view of God’s plan. And you know what? If you’re one of those doubters, love them enough to stay out of the way. I am convinced that the damage caused by over-information (sharing horror stories, tons of news, scary statistics), gossip, and doubt (in the form of people claiming to be “realistic”) is more dangerous than the diseases themselves.

Please also pray for a woman named Laura Squires. She was recently diagnosed with a grade 3 gliobistoma brain tumor. It is apparently inoperable because it is so close to her motor functions. Her left side is paralyzed and she’s in rehab, about to start chemo/radiation. I don’t know much about her but this is obviously a dire situation and must be extremely scary. Please pray God will just take the tumor out and never lets it return.

Next, Aly, who I have mentioned on here before who is cancer-free after tons of treatment for stage 3 breast cancer, had scary tests done today to identify the cause of abdominal problems she’s been having. She’s been living in lots of pain and we are praying with her that the cause is nothing serious, easily solved, and very temporary. 

Finally, I am having my DIEP reconstruction Monday!!!!! We will leave for Gainesville Sunday, surgery will be about 8 hours on Monday. I am scheduled to be in the hospital until Thursday. Please pray for the surgeon’s steady hand and wisdom, a very easy and perfect surgery and for a smooth recovery. It supposedly takes about 6 weeks to fully recover and I’m hoping the pain isn’t debilitating as I spend much of my days with Naomi slung over my hip.

Thanks for all the prayers. The sadness I’ve mentioned lately is mostly gone. Now I’m just thrilled to remember how far God brought me out of that pit. I am so blessed and have a lot of great events coming up. More on those soon. 

Psam 118:21, “I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation.”