Keri's Breast Cancer Story: Recovering from Surgery
My name is Doug Haberstroh, and my wife Keri was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. Keri's recovery from surgery (left breast plus lymph nodes) was a bit emotional. It was the first time the realization of what had been talked about through the past months became true. The realization was that Keri lost a part of her. She handled it like a champ. I, on the other hand, was a wreck. It hurt me to know what she had to go through and what she was still going through. I tried to make every arrangement I could think of to make her feel the most comfortable at all times. Her strength was amazing, as you can tell by this entry.
Surgery of any kind is a very emotional experience, and again I have to say that support is probably the biggest gift you can give during such a time. Keri and I were lucky enough to have her parents in town, and it helped out tremendously. Of course the patient is going to be tired and weak, but the same holds true for the caregiver. It takes a lot of energy to care for someone on a constant basis, so the more support you have, I believe, the better care you are giving your loved one.
Subject: Quick update
Sent: Monday, August 8, 2005 10:38 AM
This is going to be quick since I am not full strength yet. Thank you all very much for your thoughts and prayers on my surgery day. I know that is what carried me through and to this other side. I was told the surgery went well and that there were no surprises. They will still test everything that they removed and I have a call into the doctor today to find out what those results are.
Episode 4: See the full breast cancer comic strip.
They removed lymph nodes (not sure how many), removed the left breast, and inserted a saline filled implant. Right now the implant is a tissue expander, meaning they can fill it with more saline if it needs to be bigger or take some out if it needs to be smaller. I think they will not be able to determine that until some swelling goes down. That area is still pretty swollen, which is very uncomfortable, especially at night trying to sleep.
I am now sleeping on my back when I used to sleep on my side. I am working my arm as much as I can. The doctor said to just use it like I normally would, but since it's my left arm and I'm right handed that's been a little hard to do. So when I'm just sitting and watching tv sometimes I'll move it around to stretch it a little. What I'm hoping to avoid is physical therapy, but this is just the first week after the surgery and I have a few more weeks to go before things are again remotely normal.
The drain I have is not painful, but horribly uncomfortable. I have a little pocket like thing that it sits in and is tied over my shoulder, kind of like a purse. I got it from a group of ladies from Alabama that make things for people in the hospital. It's better than just letting it hang or pinning it to my shirt.
If you're curious...it's just a plastic bulb attached to a tube that is inside my arm and when the bulb is squished it creates the sucking action it needs to drain. We empty it a couple times a day. I'm not sure yet what determines when I will have it removed, but I guess there's no reason really to be in a hurry about that.
So I'm on some pain pills that help me to be a little more comfortable, but I really don't think I'll be completely comfortable until this is all healed. I'm learning what my tolerance on pain is and it seems like I'm doing pretty well.
Sometimes I have to grin and bear it and those are harder than other times. I'm just so concerned about losing any part of my arm function that I'm working past the pain. We are nearing the end of all this. If things continue to go well I will only have one more surgery to go through to finish the reconstruction and remove the port. If I hadn't told you we left the port in as a precaution pending the results of the tests on what they removed.
Okay I told you this would be quick and now I've lied. I guess I didn't lose any function in my fingers. :) Or my brain at that. :) I hope everything is going well for you all. Again thank you for your thoughts and prayers, flowers and cards. I am so blessed to have family and friends like you. Take care and I'll email again soon.
Love to you all,
We're also telling Keri's breast cancer story as a weekly comic strip. Check back each week to follow her story. This week's episode, Episode 4, follows the Keri's recovery from surgery and the beginning of breast reconstruction.A Note from Doug: