About this blog

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on June 11, 2010. As a result of my treatment, I have lymphedema in my left arm. I draw my strength from the Lord, as well as my family's Scots-Irish heritage. Our Graham's were a tough and scrappy bunch of fighters on the Scottish/English border. They came to America and continued to fight when necessary: in the American Revolution; the Civil War; and my brother is a Captain in the U.S. Army. My ancestors settled this country against all odds. My great-grandmothers on both sides of the family were pioneer women who settled the West. Along with that heritage, and the full armor of God, I am walking the walk and fighting the good fight.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Recovery notes

Day 13 of recovery!

A big goal of mine right now is to get off the pain medication. Until I do, I can't drive. I can't even have a glass of wine with dinner. It will be a symbolic milestone in my recovery.

I'm on a drug called hydrocodone. It also has a hefty dose of acetaminophen. The maximum dose per day is 12. The most I ever took immediately post-op was 9. For several days I was taking about 6. One immediately upon waking, then 1 every 4 hours after that, and 2 at bedtime. Yesterday, I was able to space out the daytime doses so I got down to 5 pills for the whole day. When I started feeling sore in the afternoon, I took a nap rather than a pill.

I feel better in the morning than in the late afternoon/evening. Today I'd like to try to swap a dose of Tylenol for one of the morning doses of hydrocodone. The thing is, if it doesn't work, I can't just dose up on the hydrocodone, because I'll already have the acetaminophen from the Tylenol in my system. I feel pretty confident that it will be okay. Even if its not, I can tough it out for a few hours and then take the hydrocodone.

If I could wean myself to 1 tablet at bedtime, that will also help me get off of it. Since surgery, I have liked taking 2 because it totally knocks me out and I sleep all night. But perhaps I'm sleeping well anyway just because the Lord is blessing me with sleep! (He gives His beloved sleep. Psalm 127:2)

On other recovery notes, I think I'm doing pretty good. The swelling has gone down on the left side. It's still there, but not as bad. I still have that overall sunburn feeling across my upper chest and left tricep.

Yesterday, I considered not wearing a camisole at all. I tried it, but felt really exposed and bare. I e-mailed Judy, the nurse coordinator at Kaiser to see if there was any medical reason that I needed to wear a camisole. Perhaps the wounds still need compression, however light. She left a voice mail saying that it was okay to switch from the post-op camisole to the camisoles I got at the Women's Health Boutique. Uhh. Okay. I've been wearing those for over a week. I think I was supposed to keep Kaiser's immediate post-op camisole on until the drains were out. But after my first shower, I switched to the others that were not as tight. Perhaps that would have helped that one drain work more? My bad. Too late now.

Mom has been coming over and we've been getting some exercise. Well, its the second workout of the day for mom. She walks 3 miles every morning before she comes over. We alternate a walk with going to the gym and riding the recumbent bike. It feels good to move. Yesterday, we did 5 laps around Discovery Lake. That comes to about 3.75 miles. I don't really feel it until the 4th lap, so that 5th lap felt really good. Today we'll go to the gym and sweat on the bikes. I can't help but feel like a slowly inflating balloon. The exercise helps with that.

My mother in law has been here since the day before surgery. She leaves on Sunday. We are definitely going to miss her, especially Jean-Marc. She has been his caretaker and playmate for all of his waking hours. Even when I'm healthy, I didn't play with him that much! His French has really progressed too. He's at a point in his development where he's parroting everything. Right now, he's speaking more French than English. He even pooped in the potty for her yesterday! It was his first time using the pot at all, and it was a #2! It's going to be hard on everyone next week when she is gone.

One thing that she does right now that kind of irritates me is that she looks at me with these sad pitying eyes. Don't pity me, please! Yeah, I'm in pain right now. Yeah, cancer isn't something that I planned on. But I'm strong and I'm going to beat this. God is giving me the grace to handle this. He is faithful. I can do this. No pity. If I whine, let me whine. Then I'll snap out of it.

Tomorrow morning we meet with Dr. P., the oncologist. It will be good to hear how he interprets the pathology report and what his battle plan is. I'm looking forward to it, yet also kind of nervous. I don't want to hear I have a certain percentage chance to survive. Whatever the number is-whether its 95% or 5%. I'm not a number. I'm pretty much resolved to the fact that chemo and radiation will be recommended. It will be good to get some firm details so we can kind of plan the late summer and fall around my chemo schedule.

My prayer requests:
  • That my body continue to heal. I really want off of the pain killers. Pray that I am able to taper off in the next few days. That the swelling on my sides go down. That I don't develop lymphedema in my left arm.
  • That the health of the rest of my family continue to be good, especially Eric and my mom. They are being so supportive right now. (Well, they are all the time. But now I really need an extra dose). If they got sick, it would really be a hardship. Prayers for my dad are appreciated too, who suffers from chronic pain in his extreme lower back and his shoulder.
  • That everyone enjoy the last few days of my mother in law's visit. She and Eric have a tendency to get depressed towards the end of a visit. We are going to be celebrating Isabelle's birthday on Saturday. I hope there won't be a shadow cast over it.
  • That the visit with Dr. P go well tomorrow. That God gives him wisdom in my case. That we be able to think clearly and ask the right questions.


  1. Is a blog with good references and reports successful well, just remember that drugs like vicodin, hydrocodone, can be dangerous if not managed properly ..

  2. Perhaps taking ibuprofin instead of Tylenol? You *can* mix ibuprofin and Vicodin and ibuprofin also helps with swelling (we give it to mamas during engorgement if it's terribly painful).

    I think it's great you are hyper-aware of your body. Most people are so blind to their body's needs... you know when you need exercise, when you need meds... it is folks who are just tossing back the "drugs" that get addicted. From where I sit, you're doing great.

    You exercise gobs more than I can even imagine doing! Go, girl!