Thursday, March 28, 2013

Number Nine was Mighty Fine!

Ahhh, here we are again.  At the top of a 12-week expansion.  Our fifth, to be exact.  The air is filled with impatience, nervousness, and anxiety, as usual.  But it is also filled with delight, amazement, and hope.  I had surgery #9 one week ago, and it went as well as it ever has.

The time leading up to this surgery was a little different than before for two reasons.  First, Dr. Bauer asked us to take an extended break after the last surgery to give my skin and body a little extra time to heal after so many traumas.  So, getting back into the game was a little tougher than usual because we were really enjoying the freedom.

But also, we had no idea what to expect out of this next surgery.  Dr. Bauer had previously talked about finishing up the rest of my bottom one side at a time, because it will be easier on me pain-management wise, and it will heal better.  So, we figured I would have two more rounds of expansion, one expander at a time.  However, to our surprise and delight, I got two expanders. And moreover, I have two 500cc expanders; I have never had this big of an expander in my thighs before!  They are positioned a little differently than they have been in the past, this time being in the back of my thighs.  And they are already filled with 100cc (left) and 90cc (right), so we're off to a good start!  This does not mean Dr. B has changed his mind.  But he will do what he can with the expanded skin in this next removal so that hopefully, we pray, THESE WILL BE MY LAST EXPANDERS!!!  Then I imagine I will go back for one last excision-only surgery.  The thought had not entered our minds that we could finish up this year, but now that is a real possibility.

That said, this is only the beginning.  We don't take one second of this process for granted, as a complication can arise at any time.  Such complications can be simple and easy to overcome, or they can cause a significant delay of expansion, or they can be detrimental to the expanders requiring early removal.  So we take it one day at a time, and are continuously thankful for each step forward that we are able to take.  We should be able to do my first injection this Sunday, as long as the cough I started a few days ago continues to dissipate.

If this expansion goes anything like our trip to Chicago, however, it will be a breeze, and will be over before we know it.  This was, without question, one of our best trips.  It was filled with old and new friends, and lots of love.  We were so blessed to be able to spend time with some other nevus families, two of whom we met for the first time in person.

When we arrived on Tuesday, we met up with the Young family, and got to spend time with baby Andrew, who had just undergone his first nevus and expander removal surgery.  And I'm not surprised to say he pulled through like a champ!

The Young family.
Ok, yes, we forgot to take a picture with them.
So this is from their personal collection.
How could you tell?
We also got to spend TWO days with our very good friends, the Carraro's.  Taelor, who is a real expansion idol, has four expanders in right now and will be having her removal surgery next week.  We pray for awesome results for her.  We had so much fun with them, and they got to show us around the amazing Ronald McDonald house in the city, where they are staying.  We were so impressed by the RMH, and maybe we'll get to stay there someday too.    

Katie and Taelor, on the roof of RMH

Mommy and Taelor's mommy.  Great buds!
And we got to meet the Nolasco family, who came to Dr. B all the way from the Philippines (because, yes, Dr. B is that good)!  My little buddy Wade also just went through his first round of expansion and he is as cute as a button!  I'm so glad we got the chance to spend some time with them.  And his mommy brought us an amazing basket of goodies, which was a wonderful surprise!  We are still enjoying the treats they brought!

Mommy and the Nolasco family
Of course, we always make a trip out to daddy's hometown in the country to spend time with his best buddy and family.  They are such amazing people, and we had a wonderful day together.  And, the Easter bunny brought my sis and I an early surprise to their house!!  Yes, we are loved.

Check out these awesome baskets!
Thank you Kari and Ron, er, I mean,
Peter Cottontail!
So yes, we kept very busy on this trip.  But we were able to do that because I did so amazingly well with my surgery.  In at 6 a.m., surgery at 7:30 a.m., out of the hospital at 2 p.m.!!!  I can't say I was totally happy that day, but I was drinking, eating, taking my meds and asking to go home so we blew that popsicle stand as quickly as we could!  And back at the hotel, I was much happier.  I was managing my pain like a hero, hardly crying at all this time.  And by Saturday evening (two days after surgery), I was back to myself, up and walking and even weaning off my pain meds!!

Sissy walked me up to pre-op for the first time!
Keeping warm while we wait...
So peaceful.  Sleeping off the anesthesia
with my BFF.
Trying to crack a smile while they check my vitals.
And look at me,
smiling away just hours after surgery!
And here they are - my new bubbles!!
500cc expanders in each back thigh.  
Chillin' like the big, brave boy I am while Susan changes my dressings.

Now, as much fun as we were having (I know, it sounds crazy to say that this surgery trip was "fun"), we were happy to come home because it was FREEZING in Chicago!  Even in late March, it was continuing to snow, and at one point, with wind chill, the temperature was NEGATIVE one!  We made the most of it, and we survived the cold temps, but we are glad to be home where we wake up to a comfortable 60 degrees.

Trying to catch a snowflake
as the snow begins to fall...
Look, the snow is sticking!!
Ok, can I come back inside now?
So, here we are, one week past surgery and three days from pulling my drains and beginning my injections.  We are praying, constantly, that this expansion goes smoothly.  That I get through this round without infection.  That my expanders fill to capacity and maybe even more.  And that we make it to my next surgery date, June 13.  Please pray with us.  We are so very thankful for your support, and all of the love we have received through this process.  It's just that much easier with you by our side.