I’ve Made A Decision…

Hey Everyone!!

Hey Everyone!!

This is as good a time as any to tell you that I’m headed under the knife again in just a day and a half. Wednesday morning–October 14th. 8am. I have soooooo much to do to get ready. It seems like I’m moving at warp speed. I have so many posts I want to get out, but just can’t get everything done in the time frame I have left. I have SO MUCH NEWS to report that for as much as I am getting really wigged out about this, I am looking forward to laying on the couch for a week and half–so I can sleep, blog, sleep, blog, sleep, and blog. I have pictures galore to upload and I have so many things I want to tell you all! I’m going to situate my computer, cell phone, and home phone on the couch along with the remotes, pain killers, bottle of water and puke bowl. I’m praying and hope you will also that I will be able to move my arm by the weekend so I can just type and click my mouse. I am praying for NO complications whatsoever.

For now–all I can say is that I need to get a million personal details attended to. I am determined to lay out at least a week and a half of full outfits for my son who will go to school in too small clothes if I leave it up to my hubby. I need to pick up more meds, mail off bills, contact my accountant (no my taxes aren’t done yet and I so don’t want to hear her get mad at me), volunteer at my son’s school for an hour, and clean my totally messy bedroom and put away tons of laundry. It will be a tall order and that’s just the half of it. I cancelled piano tonight and didn’t go to my wellness class so that I could start in on some of those things. I was hoping to get some of that accomplished this past weekend, but as usual, I was swamped. Saturday I didn’t have to work at the Arsenal and I spent the majority of the day birthday shopping for Jasmine who turned 18 on Friday, October 9th.

I also have the most exciting news. I received my first haircut on Saturday along with my little boy. I haven’t had that feeling since February when I was having a meltdown over the stylists boobs hanging in my face. My little boy needed one too and we both went to get a cut. My hair has been growing in all funky since it fell out in May. Super dark, super soft, very colicky, long, gray, faster-growing, wild ones sprouting out, it parts to the opposite side now, but not in a neat part–one that is jagged as heck, and the receding hairline that has plagued me my whole life on the side of my head that I used to strategically place my bangs is now coming in thick! Go figure!! I have noticed lately that the hair on the tops of my ears was actually starting to curl a little and get fuzzy–and I thought I’d better trim some dead ends. Maybe that would help it grow, too! I couldn’t believe my eyes–when the stylist finished–my head had a style again! Very Jaime Lee Curtis-ish!!! I loved it! Amazing what a makeover will do for you! Just what my self-confidence needed! I have plenty of pics to post, (bear with me) but here’s a teaser:

Lookin' Good! Feelin' Great!

Lookin' Good! Feelin' Great!

Here’s the sunset that night shining brightly into the car allowing me to get these great shots of the new feisty haircut:

Super Spikey!

Super Spikey!

Short & Sassy!

Short & Sassy!

Oh–and here’s one of Justin’s new-do:

Shark Hair

Shark Hair

Have you all noticed that I’ve finally figured out how to use more than one picture throughout the post! Yeah!!

Since my car accident a month ago, the insurance companies have been haggling out who should pay and my hubby’s car is still not fixed. We had to break the news to her on Friday’s conference call that we wouldn’t be able to come up to see her over the weekend. She was devastated. We had already given her a heads up on Tuesday’s conference call, and I guess she took it pretty hard and the rest of her week didn’t go well. What she didn’t know on Friday when we called her was that we were totally blowing smoke. Jeff’s family let us borrow their fuel efficient vehicle and so we decided to make the 12 hour drive complete with an hour or so of pit stops just so we could surprise her and visit her for 3 hours. We’ve done it several times now and let me tell you–it’s exhausting to cram that much into one day and that many people into one tiny car for that long. So, that’s what we did on Sunday. When we got to Sioux City, IA we went into a back room while we waited for Jasmine to come in. When she got into the main room, we waited a minute or so and then we all busted out yelling “SURPRISE!!!” For a minute, she didn’t realize what was happening or who we were because she had resigned to thinking we weren’t coming up. She started crying and jumped up and hugged me sooooo tight and didn’t let go for the longest time. We had the best visit and I took the best pictures of her. Here’s the whole family together. Doesn’t she look healthy and happy!!

Heald Family 10-11-09

Heald Family 10-11-09

I have completed another observation to re-certify myself for ChildNet this morning. What a breeze that was compared to last week’s accreditation observation! I would love to get the State of Iowa’s Home Auditor out here as well–maybe tomorrow?–for a spot check and have talked to the Dept. of Health to come out the week I’m off to try and complete 2-3 of my spot checks for them. Since the house is clean and all organized and ready for me to be off duty from everything–may as well get as many people in here as possible to get some of those visits completed. I’ll just lay on the couch and they can do their thing. I’ll look like crap and probably smell that way too, but I know that from here to the beginning of next year, I won’t be able to do things–like lifting and hoisting kids–and I don’t want to go out of compliance on anything since many expiration dates will come toward the end of the year. I’ll work toward all other recertifications after the first of the year. Much to think about.

Through all the childcare hoopla, I have been under the most extreme pressure and stress to get the ball rolling with any additional surgeries I may want to have sometime in the future. Jeff’s job situation is getting very ugly and I am once again faced with the ever present threat that we will be losing our insurance not to mention Jeff will be losing his job altogether which will be devastating to our finances and all before Christmas. Sigh. My stomach just turns and the anxiety runs high because there are just too many unknowns that are still on the horizon and yet, all I can think about is that I may spend the next 40 yrs. plus–lopsided. It has spurned huge arguments and also great concern over a myriad of details. I’ll try to sort it out another time, but for now…

I’VE MADE A DECISION! A big one. There is much that went into this and it all came about pretty suddenly–like a week and a half ago. I’m moving forward on Wednesday with the first of two surgeries for a reconstruction. Yes–you heard it–I’M GETTING MY BOOB JOB!!!

I’ve had lots of tests to get ready for this.

EKG is good.

Getting all the electrodes ready

Getting all the electrodes ready

Placing the electrodes

Placing the electrodes

All hooked up for my EKG  10-8-09

All hooked up for my EKG 10-8-09

Bloodwork looks good. I guess my white count is good!!

AND–GUESS WHAT???

My first mammogram since January came back clean!!!! Even my No-Bo side!!

Remember I posted in the beginning that my kids always referred to my boobs as Bo-Bo’s as they were growing up? Well, now I have a Bo and a No-Bo according to my son. Gotta love the way he thinks! And in case you were wondering–when they tried to gather up all my backfat and any tissue left to squeeze in the pancake masher–yes, I almost fainted. There’s nothing left. It’s just too hard to imagine (unless you’ve been in my situation) how painful that was especially since I have deep tissue pain that persists and I gotta tell you, I almost threw up it hurt so bad.

I did, however, get to see 3-D pictures of the boob I lost. A lump formed in my throat as I stared at my old friend. All I could think of was how my children used to nurse from there and how much love that little round button produced over 9 years. I couldn’t help but stare wide-eyed at my boob. I hadn’t seen it in over 7 months. I missed it terribly. Then I looked behind the nipple and saw the cancer. The dragon that had fed off me and used me as its host for God knows how long. The tears were streaming down my face as the past 7 months of anguish and anger were replaying through my head. I heard that doctor’s words over and over and over again–all over again–saying, “Do You See What I See”. (Yeah! I figured out how to link back to previous posts!)

The only suspicious thing I have to report is a 3 cm. mass that has been found in my left ovary. Cyst? Tumor? Not sure. Waiting for the film to be read. My uterus looked good, though–no fibroids and no endometrial issues (thickening which might signal cancer). So, I will wait to hear back from him on the mass. In case your wondering–I convinced my new onco man, whom I just love, to give me the ultrasound I wanted. Here he is. He’s spunky and gives it back to me just as good as I let him have it. We laugh and he thinks I’m the most stubborn Belgian woman he’s ever met. I have to thank my dad for that gift!

He gave me some hormone testing that day as well and, at first, thought I was menopausal and that’s why I hadn’t had a period since January. So, he was going to take me off the Tamoxifin and switch me to something else–less chance for uterine issues (possible cancer) that could result from it. I received a call today, though, saying my levels came back and I wasn’t menopausal. I will need to continue the Tamoxifin for the next 5 years. He also said that my CA125 ovarian tumor marker came back with a score of 12!! I guess anything over a 20 is cause for concern so, I am breathing easier on the reproductive stuff down there and can turn my attention back to my top half.

My New Onco Man

My New Onco Man

With that being said, I went to see my plastic surgeon once again to just check with him about the possibilities and ask a ton of questions. I left a week and a half ago, ready to don my hospital gown once again and take a trip down the corridor and back into that state of conciousness where you are hovering somewhere between life and death. I was super confident that this was the decision I needed to make. I was WAAAYYY too busy worrying about Accreditation than to worry about my surgery. Then, my friend down the street, Denise, calls me late one night when I’m almost asleep and tells me to turn on the TV because Lifetime is airing the movie “I Wore Lipstick to my Mastectomy”. I’ve never seen the movie or read the book, but I’ve heard about it. She tells me to turn it on, so I did. I found myself shaking and reliving most of my own ordeal as I watched this woman’s unfold on the television. The part that really grabbed my attention, though, was where she goes in to have reconstruction. She is having the same kind I’ve opted for. Implant–not a tramflap. Had I needed radiation, an implant wouldn’t be an option, but since I didn’t, I’ll stick with an implant. The tummy tuck I would have gotten out of the tramflap was enticing, but I really don’t want to lose any core muscle in order to do it. It’s not as simple as it sounds and for anyone who ever watched Dr. 90210, or Nip Tuck, you know that just a straightforward boobjob has its risks. Mine is much more complicated.

I have nothing on the right side of my chest except a 10 inch scar. Nerves have all been severed. No feeling on the surface. When they cut my boob off, they had to cut all that skin off too. The top of my chest was stretched down and the bottom was stretched up and where they met in the middle–they sewed me up. It’s taught, concave, and in order to make any kind of mound there to level me out again, the skin and the muscle will all need to be painfully stretched out. How? By inserting an empty bladder (looks like a deflated woopie cushion) under my pectoral muscle. They will have to cut me back open, lift the muscle off my chest and insert the empty bladder. A port will be left in place. I will be sewed up and will heal for two weeks. After that, once a week, for 6-8 weeks, I will go back and have a ginormous syringe filled with saline injected slowly into the port. It will fill over time. Actually, it will over fill and I will have a huge cyclops boob on my chest for a couple months. That will allow enough give once the real impant is put into place. The saline insertion, I have heard (and I saw on the movie), is extremely painful. I didn’t know this. Actually, I just didn’t give it much thought. After the 6-8 weeks, I will go in for another surgery where the bladder is taken out and the new implant will be put into place. The other boob will get a lift and a small implant if necessary to attempt symmetry. Barring any complications, that should be it. Are you still with me? You haven’t passed out yet, have you? So, I am now–just now–literally hours away from this surgery and I am beginning to get cold feet.

I wish I could say that my new Bo will look like my last one. It won’t. I am going to have to accept that, but I have also seen this doctor’s work up close and I can confidently say that he is meticulous. I’ll have to let it heal for some time before having the areola tattooed on. I can choose to put a nipple on or not. To do that, the doctor takes a circular skin graft from the inside of my thigh (wish he’d take half the crap that rubs together while he’s down there and maybe inject it back up into all these worry lines I’ve accumulated this year –lol) and he makes a slit in the mound. The patch is folded over to resemble a nipple, inserted through the slit in the mound and sewn into place. HOW FREAKING WEIRD IS THAT!!

The biggest question I have asked myself is, “Is going through all this-worth it?” You’ll have to read my upcoming post to get a sense of where my head has been and how I came to my decision. For now, I’ll leave you with that question and since it seems like I have a ton of readers, but only a few commentators–I’m going to ask that you comment and tell me what you would do–honestly–think about this. Really try to picture yourself without a Bo or both. Try to imagine what it would do to your self-image, confidence, sex life, ability to wear pretty bras, or a normal swimsuit. If you were faced with losing insurance that would pay for the job, would you do it? Let me know your thoughts. I’m going to be stuck on the couch for a week and a half alone in the house while everyone is gone and I’m going to need some kind of interaction. Leave comments and even if I may not type right away, I’m going to be reading them. Keep me in your prayers and I hope to be back to tell the tale, soon.

Ciao for Now–and keep your fingers crossed for me. cj

24 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Angie D
    Oct 13, 2009 @ 04:24:36

    good luck with your surgery chris I will keep you in my prayers.

    Reply

  2. Julie
    Oct 13, 2009 @ 04:31:22

    I love the new pic’s – God bless you all – our prayer’s are with you for the 14th. Love You

    Reply

  3. Kim
    Oct 13, 2009 @ 12:00:01

    Chris, you have a beautiful family! I just wanted you to know you are in my thoughts and prayers. I will be thinking of you tomorrow morning. Stay strong and keep on fighting!

    Reply

    • Christina Heald
      Oct 18, 2009 @ 16:33:09

      Thanks for the prayers, Kim! What a crazy week this has been! I appreciate you keeping me in your prayers.

      Reply

  4. Deb Wheeler
    Oct 13, 2009 @ 12:12:10

    Good luck Chris with the surgery my prayers are with you. And to let you know i had decided awhile ago if it were to happen to me i would have the surgery too.

    Keep your chin up we are all praying for you, you are a fighter!

    Reply

    • Christina Heald
      Oct 18, 2009 @ 16:45:07

      Deb–It’s so nice to reconnect with you. I always get a chuckle when I see your email address–how fitting to my particular situation right now–I have always been curious what others would do in the same situation. Honestly, I didn’t think I was going to go ahead with any kind of reconstruction. Just didn’t think I had it in me. Then, everything changed in the blink of an eye. I started to feel like I would be settling in some way. I’ll elaborate later. I know it is a very personal decision, but it helps to know what other women would do–even if we’re just talking about it. I think had I been in 20 yrs. or so older my choice may have been different. I’m fighting right now to maintain some confidence with my self-image. Thanks for sharing.

      Reply

  5. Katie
    Oct 13, 2009 @ 20:57:36

    1. The very first thing I thought (before I read your reference to her) when I saw your picture was you look like a clone of Jamie Lee Curtis with that haircut. Wow!

    2. Prayers with you as you have surgery tomorrow.

    3. I think I’d get a boob job. It’s impossible to say though, unless you’re in that situation.

    Reply

    • Christina Heald
      Oct 18, 2009 @ 16:53:05

      Have you googled Jaime Lee Curtis lately–very stylish. My hair was like a baby bunny and although I was trying my best to sport the lesbian chic look without feeling too boyish–there’s nothing like a little pinache to brighten your day. I have spent 7 months trying hard NOT to ever look in the mirror and I was missing a lot of me. I’m glad you popped in to say hi. Your family has been missed. I’ve popped into your blog from time to time and love the portraits of Brogan. Sure would love a picture if you have any extra. I totally need some help with my Tweetdeck. Perhaps you could stop by sometime. Let me know.

      Reply

  6. ginny
    Oct 14, 2009 @ 08:29:30

    A prayer for protection and healing:

    Dear Heavenly Father, We recognize who you are and your soverignity and we know that you are a compassionate God who hears and cares for us as the sheep of your pasture. You know the voice of your flock and we know your touch as you guide us with your right hand of righteousness. We make our plans but YOU order our steps. We pray and plead the Blood of Jesus on Christina and her family. We pray protection for her and healing to her body, mind and spirit. We thank you that you guide the hands of the surgeon and we ask for complete and speedy recovery for our loved one. We thank you that not one prayer will fall to the ground unheeded by your Holy Spirit. Thank you for Christina, for her life and her family and we again thank YOU and give you all the honor, the glory and the praise for your guidance, your protection and your never failing love for us. In Jesus name we pray and release those things for your Glory. Amen

    Reply

    • Christina Heald
      Oct 18, 2009 @ 16:59:18

      Ginny–I’ve missed talking to you–how are you? I always appreciate your prayers. You are such a blessing in my life. I haven’t heard from Pam in quite some time. please be sure to say hello to her if you talk to her, ok?

      Reply

  7. kelsomom
    Oct 14, 2009 @ 16:29:32

    An idea for next summer :)

    Congrats and good wishes for a speedy recovery

    Reply

    • Christina Heald
      Oct 18, 2009 @ 16:48:49

      Totally love it–minus the earrings. I used to wear big ones like that back in the ’80’s. I dream of being able to have small boobs that are symmetrical again. I know one will be a Faux Bo, but the prosthetic was so hard to get used to and made me look like a cyclops all the time. Constantly riding and shifting in the chafing bra. I appreciate your positive thinking. It keeps me going!

      Reply

  8. throwslikeagirl74
    Oct 14, 2009 @ 16:45:02

    Heya Chris, this is Nicole popping over from Mothers With Cancer. I just wanted you to know that my experiences with reconstruction are not the norm and that yours is going to be JUST fine. Most women have no problems at all. That’s why I hadn’t posted much over at MWC because I didn’t want people to think that my situation is common. Best of luck to you and your new foobs! I think that reconstruction is a large part of the healing process. Whether mine works or not, I don’t regret trying. :)

    Reply

    • Christina Heald
      Oct 18, 2009 @ 17:06:39

      Hi Nicole! Great to have you pop in. I have been in the background for a while with Mothers With Cancer and have been looking for a good chunk of time to finally check it out and jump in. I think this upcoming week off will give me that opportunity. I am a big believer in signs of one kind or another and I couldn’t believe that I had clicked into the site at the moment when you were talking about your reconstruction. I was starting to gather information and osmetimes that makes my nerves even more shaky. Then, I read about your situation and was immediately going into a panic attack. I knew the hazards of the tramflap and was terrified of losing all the tissue, blood flow, and core muscle and that’s why I opted for the implant. I really didn’t think (or didn’t want to) that there would be any problems. Of course, there can be problems, any time you go into surgery. I just needed some good news, finally. I needed to feel like I was making a decision that was going to help “right” the past 7 months of anguish. You know what I am talking about, I’m sure and I’m glad to have you to share some of these feelings with. I am looking forward to getting to know you and I have been wondering how you are doing? Please update me. I’ll be sitting down to read MWC this week. Thanks for the support.

      Reply

  9. melanie
    Oct 16, 2009 @ 17:10:11

    Hi Chris. You look beautiful in those pictures. I can’t wait to get together with you next summer! Jasmine looks great as well. As to your question of ‘what would you do?’, I just don’t know. And I’ve thought about it a lot. And in the end, like so many things, it’s a totally intense personal decision.

    You’re in my constant thoughts and prayers, Chris.

    Reply

    • Christina Heald
      Oct 18, 2009 @ 17:10:56

      Oh Melanie, you always know how to cheer me up! I know its a very personal decision, but was hoping to just open up some discussion. I hope you join in more–I love talking to you!

      Reply

  10. Marilyn
    Oct 19, 2009 @ 05:56:03

    Christina…love the pictures and you have a lot to look forward too..and yep…looks like your are getting those new boobs you wanted…(keep smiling). Love the hair…it looks beautiful!

    Reply

  11. Leslie
    Oct 26, 2009 @ 20:01:34

    Hello. I ran across your blog and wanted to comment that 2 years ago I had a bilateral mastectomy and have not had reconstruction. I don’t wear prostheses. I am married. My scars have healed nicely and have faded so much that my chest looks like I was born this way. I still feel sexy. My husband still finds me sexy and attractive. I love not wearing a bra. People are surprised when I tell them I have no boobs — they think I am athletically built and don’t even notice! So, basically, my message is that not all women are destroyed by losing their breasts. It is still possible to feel good about yourself and your body, to have a normal sex life, and to look normal in your clothes (even a bathing suit!). My identity goes way beyond my physical body, and I am content knowing I have reduced my chances of breast cancer recurring to almost 0%. I have beaten cancer, and I am proud to wear my scars, and I am proud to tell other women that survival goes beyond boobs.

    I hope your surgery is a success and that your recovery goes well. I am sending positive energy to you.

    All my best,

    Leslie

    Reply

  12. Lisa and Gabe
    Nov 04, 2009 @ 16:37:35

    Your hair looks super cute. I read that you have went back to surgery, I hope all is well. Gabe and I have been thinking about you a lot and I hope that one day you can forgive and forget. Mistakes do happen and depending on the way you go after that mistake can play on the whole future. God bless you through your healing Christina.

    Reply

  13. Juvy
    Jul 07, 2010 @ 08:05:17

    You are beautiful. You remind me of Ellen DeGeneres my favorite. Good luck and be blessed.
    -Juvy-

    Reply

  14. Mike Robles
    Sep 04, 2012 @ 15:46:15

    Hi,
    Got in touch with a long lost friend (20 years and three states), Frank, who is taking piano lessons from you. He really enjoys learning from you.

    Reply

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