Thursday, April 29, 2010

Stand Tall and Fight

I am getting anxious again for my next surgery. I always get this way as every surgery approaches because I'm always very afraid that I will wake up with complications given the history I have of that. I am so tired of surgeries yet, in a way, surgeries have been the next steps to reclaiming my life so I have to be brave and couragous and face every upcoming surgery in the eyes and not be afraid. But I am afraid.

I must say, however, how lucky I am to have the kind of support system that I have. I have, for the first time in my life, real, true friends. Friends who would never stab me in the back but rather have my back. Friends who are so concerned that they want my mom to report to them as soon as she knows how the surgery went cause they can't wait for me to wake up to find out. Friends who want to be around me and miss me when I'm not. Friends who truly love me as much as I love them.

In the past month I have found a new one of those friends. He is the friend that I talked about that we went to college together and all along never knowing we grew up together in a different city when we were younger. We have come to be very good friends and I adore him. I have yet to see him, however, though I dearly want to see him and hang out finally after all our chatting online, texting and phone calls. But I am just not ready to see him as I am not ready to see a lot of people yet.

So, I must be brave. I must muster up the courage to not be afraid of this upcoming surgery. But it is so hard when you are so alone. I know I have my family and those friends I talked about but I don't have the companionship that I have talked about in previous blogs that I dearly long for. Fight Sarah, you must stand up tall and fight. Keep fighting.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Breakfast with My Best of the Best

This morning I saw my best of the best friend for 22 years that I hadn't seen for over 10 years. It's Corrie, the one who ran the half marathon in my honor. Anyway, her and her twin sister and their guys (corrie's boyfriend and Kate's husband) came down to Baker where her parents are to visit for the weekend and on the way back they wanted to pass through and have breakfast with me. So Corrie and Kate and Bobbie (mama) came up ahead of the boys, as they were still hunting, and we had breakfast together and oh how fun it was. And how so very special. These girls are like my second family (except for the nurses at the burn center lol) and I hadn't seen them in over 10 years. So we had breakfast and just chatted away talking about old and new things. It was so wonderful. I love these girls so much that it just broke my heart watching them drive away after we'd come back to the house to talk some more for a bit. I miss them so much already.

But I also got to meet their guys for the first time and I highly approve of both of them! lol! Mike, Corrie's boyfriend, and Keith, Kate's husband both seem like grade A guys. I'm so happy for them but it once again makes me feel so alone. I just know Corrie's going to get married to Mike. I just know he's the one. And I'm happy for both of them but I'm also jealous, IN A GOOD WAY, of the companionship that they have. I am just so lonely for that kind of companionship. But I'm so happy that they both have it with really good guys. Cause if anyone hurt EITHER of them, they'd have me to answer to :)

I am very lucky to have Corrie. Both her and Kate. They are true, true friends, much like Clay and Jen, and Sam and Jamie. But they are old school friends. People i've known for 22 years and are so very special to me. How many people my age can say they have a true real friend of 22 years? So I want to thank you, Corrie, and Kate, for being my bestest friends for so long. I know we lost touch for quite awhile but when I saw you today, it was like we had been close for all these years. But I know the reason is because we've been close in heart and soul. I love you Corrie. and I love you too Kate abnd Bobbie! Gosh, you are all just so dear to my heart that I hope we never lose touch again. I love you guys!

From left to right: Corrie, Bobbie, Kate

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Discovering a New and Old Friend

A big smile was put on my face today when I was chatting with an old acquaintance and we discovered that we both went to the same gradeschool over in Baker City together and had some of the same teachers! We also both had the same teacher for Kindergarten. After fourth grade though I left to move to La Grande and he left to go to a Christian School. But it was just a crazy conversation that it brought happiness to my heart and a smile to my face. I've known him for some time now and never knew that we grew up together for a short bit in a different city when we were younger.

He also took care of me today by dropping off a movie, a book, his CD (he has a band), and a magazine for my entertainment today. I wish I could hang out with him cause we will have so much to talk about! but i'm just not ready for company yet. Perhaps after my next surgery I'll be ready. I hope so because he is such a good guy and I'm lucky to be friends with him.

Speaking of friends! Guess who finally contacted me?! Yes, my irish boy Colin Gallagher. I found him on Facebook months ago and requested to be friends and it was awhile before I heard back and when I finally did my heart was racing I was so excited. He wrote an extensive letter telling me that he is not on facebook that often and told me what he was up to and what was going on in his life. He accepted my friend request but I don't bother to write on his wall because as he said, he rarely gets on. But I did get another letter the other day from him! He told me he was thinking of me and all that I'm going through. He's in a relationship so don't be getting all matchmaker on me and so is my other friend. He's actually married. So I am surrounded by friends who are either in a relationship or married. And that's hard because I so do desire to have that kind of companionship. I feel so alone.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Disappointing Post-op appt 4/14/10 and some thoughts

I had my post-op appointment today for my latest surgeries and the doctor was not happy. The graft on the left side of my mouth failed, horribly. So he was pretty unhappy about that. And so am I. My body just does not like to accept grafts or heal well. Something in my genetic code the doctors say. I'm so mad at the body that I have. Why did I have to have one of the worst accidents a person can have with this horrible body?

So, I'm going to see him again next week for another tissue expansion and then the next week will be surgery time again. He's going to utilize the skin he stretched out and expanded using those expanders and do a "flap" where he wraps it around my neck rather than completely cutting it off and grafting it. He will also do a strip down the middle of my neck using skin from my scalp so my head will have to be shaved...again; Not very happy about that. And then also do a split-thickness graft on my mouth which should take better because split-thickness grafts just take better than full thickness grafts.

Otherwise the grafts on my chest took and are doing well. The release on my left shoulder did not release as much as we had hoped but it is at least released a little bit more. It will have to be released again in the future. So all in all, the doctor was not happy. He actually said he was depressed because he wants so badly for things to work out for me and my body just doesn't want to take or heal well. So I'm not happy either.

Anyway, I got expanded again quite a bit so I'm in pain. I hate the pain I get from these tissue expanders. It's like a dull, aching pain and sometimes it pinches a nerve and that kills me. But no pain is worse than the pain from a donor site (where they take the skin from) and my donor sites have healed fairly well so I'm not having much pain from them right now thank God.

So that's the latest news. Not good news and that continues to make me question God and my faith. I haven't lost complete faith or belief in God, but I question because of what happened and the body that I was given that won't heal easily or properly. A very good friend of mine said that when I look back on all this when I'm all recovered, that I will respect the person it made me grow into. I thought that was an interesting way to look at all of this. People have said I will be a stronger person because of it but no one has ever said I will respect the person it made out of me. Will I? Will I respect myself more and be stronger and wiser? I sure hope so. It's a nice thought out of all of this.

Monday, April 12, 2010

No Take on Graft on Mouth

Well, it doesn't look like the graft around my mouth took. So I'm pretty upset about that. I just don't understand. Why does my body want to reject grafts and contract like it does? I mean, the graft is from my own body and it still doesn't want to take it. And then I have to go through intense physical therapy to prevent contractures, which even with PT contractures still occur. I am having a hard time with the contractures in my neck. I have had 3 surgeries on my neck so far and it still wants to contract. Hopefully, this fourth surgery using these tissue expanders on the back of my shoulders will keep the contractures down because he is doing a flap instead. But I fight them everyday. They are really bad in my shoulders too which is what prevents me from getting a cup or dish down out of the cupboard by myself. On this last set of surgeries he released the left shoulder but I don't know it's full capabilities yet because I still have stitches in and it's still sore. I can't wait to see it's potential once those stitches are out and I can push it a little bit more. My right shoulder is the worst. I can barely make it to 90 degrees high.

However, the grafts on my chest seem to have taken ok, so that's good news. I don't know what the surgeon is going to want to do about my mouth whether he's going to want to try and regraft it or not. I will find out everything he has to say this week on the 14th when we go down to Portland for a post-op appt with him. I just get so discouraged when grafts don't take. I don't know how to put my faith in God that it will work out.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Successful Surgeries!

Well I had 6 more operations since I last wrote, making my total 26 operations. But this time I have good news. The surgeres were successful! What's even more exciting is that part of that success was getting me intubated successfully and they did! No complications occurred in the process either. It was a complete success. And all the grafts look good. Well, the one on my mouth only partially took but it still looks good. Part of it has died and will just sluff off. It's unfortunate that it wasn't a 100% take though so it may have to be regrafted...again.

My time in the hospital went much better this time. The first day, however, was excrutiating. The resident who was in on the surgery did not write good enough pain meds for me for post surgery so i was in horrible pain that brought me to tears so they very swiftly got me on a dilaudid PCA, which I should have been on in the very beginning. But after they got me hooked up to that, my pain got much better and they really listened to me this time regarding my pain. In the past they have just put me on pain meds that I have been on for two years so I'm very tolerant to them but this time they switched up my pain meds and ordered a much higher dose so I was much more comfortable this time around.

I was in the hospital for 5 days and left on the 6th, which was earlier than expected so everythign went really well. The grafts on my breasts look good and the z-plasty's on my left arm look good also. In case you're wondering, a z-plasty is where they cut the skin literally in a "z" shape and just rearrange the skin, instead of taking off the skin and grafting it. They ended up having to do four z-plasty's on my left arm because of the contractures.

So I am home now and doing ok. Pain is under control and I'm fairly comfortable. The only parts I really hate are bath time, cause it hurts, and having to be in the house all the time cause it gets boring. We have to do wound care once a day and it takes about an hour and a half so that gets a little tiresome after awhile.

So overall, I am very happy, except for my mouth that wasn't a 100% take. I have a follow up appointment with my doctor on the 14th so we'll see what he wants to do about it. Hopefully everything else, however, will look good to him.