Smooth Round Moderate Plus Profile

Smooth Round Moderate Plus Profile Mentor MemoryGel Breast Implant

Yes, that is what is inside me now. I even have an ID card to tell me. (Pictured below)

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Let’s rewind to surgery day…here is a picture to help get you there:

image My IVs had been put in, I peed in a cup (and deemed not pregnant), and I had been drawn on with a sharpie by my doctor (you can see a little of it on my neck). This time, compared to the Double Mastectomy, it was so easy going and carefree. I was brought into the OR instead of knocked out beforehand. I did not have to have a catheter, but I did have a breathing tube. I remember the Operating Room, my doctor, and the nurses, however I do not remember being drugged whatsoever!  The next thing I knew my throat was sore and I was groggy.

Going into the OR

Going into the OR

Something I noticed right away after waking up, was a lightness in my chest. Fascinating, I know since they had just tugged, pulled, and cut it open.  But there is a distinct difference between the expanders and the  implants…THANK THE LORD!

I am now at home, alone, still groggy, can’t lift my arms over 90 degrees, can’t push or pull, lift anything over 10 pounds, and have to wear this really unattractive Jobst Bra that is a cross between a training bra and an old lady bra…for two weeks to a month.

For those of you who are going to undergo this surgery, this one is a walk in the park.

Preparation for Mastectomy and Reconstruction

Be Prepared!

Think about it: you are going to be laid up for at least a month (undergoing your exchange) or more (undergoing your first surgery for your Prophylactic Bilateral Mastetomy). You won’t be able to drive, wash or dry your own hair (big deal)! Put on your own clothes, reach the plates and glasses in your cabinets…the list goes on, so you better get your act together.

Let’s start with self-care:

  1. Get your hair done–Cut and colored or whatever you usually do, because unless you have someone to drive you around, you are going to be waiting awhile on this one.
  2. Waxing–Whatever you wax, wax it! You will be in a lot of pain and you certainly won’t feel like more once you are sent home from the hospital.
  3. Shave your Legs, Armpits, etc.–You won’t be able to do this for awhile so make sure you get this out of the way as close to the morning before as possible.

*Note: Do not get a manicure or pedicure! They will remove your polish before your surgery because it is one of the ways they check your vitals.

Mundane Tasks that just Have to be Done:

  1. Grocery Shopping--Very important! Stock up on the necessities. If you live by yourself, think easy, light weight, minimal effort. If you have a spouse, partner, or roommate, still go easy but at least they can help chop, open, and cut things for you. Also, from experience, you are not incredibly hungry after surgery so I wouldn’t plan on full course, heavy meals. Another note, you get severely constipated from pain medications, so stock up on veggies and fiber friendly foods.
  2. Laundry–Make sure all your shirts that button up, or zip up, are clean and ready to go. Those are the easiest and most comfortable to get on by yourself. You also don’t want to have to do laundry while you are laid up and let’s be honest, no one cares if you wear the same shirt over and over again.
  3. Pack for the Hospital–Your doctor will tell you the estimated amount of time that he/she expects you to stay at the hospital, but always pack for more just in case there are complications and you have to stay longer. Make sure you have at least the following: meds, a few changes of clothes, hairbrush, hair ties, phone charger, phone, license, health insurance card. Now I am a minimalist–you won’t find me getting up to brush my teeth or wash my face while I am on morphine and my breasts have just been chopped off, but we all have our priorities.

The Day and Night Before:

When I was preparing for my Prophylactic Bilateral Mastectomy I performed all my self-care items on the days leading up to the day before the surgery and performed the “Mundane Tasks that just Have to be Done” on the day before my surgery. That day was surprisingly calm. I would encourage you to keep busy. Make sure you have things to do and that you aren’t just waiting around otherwise time will pass SO SLOWLY and you will be filled with angst.

Tomorrow is my “Exchange” or the first process in my reconstruction. Although it is not as BIG of a surgery as the mastectomy, I still will be put completely out and will have to stay at the hospital for sometime afterwards. Like I did for my Prophylactic Mastectomy, I performed my self-care items earlier in the week and just today have been taking care of the Mundane Tasks. I went to the grocery store, have done three loads of laundry, cleaned, and then did something a little different this time around that I would strongly recommend.

While I was at the store, I came across some beautiful, rare coral peonies. Peony season just began and I could not deny their pink beauty in leu of my pink surgery approaching. I grabbed a few closed bunches and began down the produce aisle.

Guavas! My Mom always introduced us to new things growing up. One of the many new items we enjoyed as kids, were the different tropical fruits she would bring home from the grocery store. As I perused the fruit aisle I recognized a familiar scent, guavas! It had been years since I had seen them in the states. I touched a few to find those that gave at the skin, signifying ripeness and took some home with me.

One self care item I had left to do was shave my legs. As I drew a hot bath, I carefully arranged my beautiful, bright, cheery peonies. I knew that when I came home from the hospital, when I was alone and my husband off at work, I would have the gleeful pink with the yellow smile in the center to keep me company.

I grabbed one of my guavas, a martini glass, and gin. The exterior of a ripe guava is a yellowish green, but the interior flesh transforms you to a glorious tropical vacation. Do you know the color of guava? Yes, it is pink! What is more appropriate than celebrating my last day with expanders before my exchange than with pink peonies and pink cocktail?

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Last Thing to do Before your Surgery:

  1. Something for yourself–For me it was displaying pink flowers and making a pink cocktail then taking a bath. For you it may be something totally different, but do something, because tomorrow you will never be the same; you will be better!

Breast Cancer Free Cocktail

1/2 Guava

1/2 Lime

4 oz Gin

Handfull of Ice Cubes

1/2 Cup Sugar

1/2 Cup Water

1. Make your simple syrup by boiling the water and sugar together until dissolved. Set aside.

2. Scrape out the inside of the half of the grave and place in shaker.

3. Squeeze lime in shaker with guava and muddle. Add a tablespoon of simple syrup.

4. Add gin. Add ice cubes then shake and pour with strainer into martini glass.

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False Alarm

My Mom always said, “God’s Delay is not God’s Denial.” Well, in this situation that is certainly true. In this situation, I just needed to wait a couple days, answer the phone, and my prayers were answered!

“Hi Kaitlin, it’s Juanita again! (Oh shoot I’m thinking) I was able to move you to May 8th! Does that work for you? You would be the second surgery of the day and this way you don’t have to wait until the end of May! Can you do it?!

Juanita, you are my new best friend!

So, now my surgery is Friday, May 8th, one day after it was supposed to be! Also known as THIS FRIDAY at 12:30pm and I check in at 10:30am.

Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers! If you need to get ahold of me I will have my phone on me starting later into the weekend. James will be available via his phone and email to get information on me and how I am doing. Feel free to stop by and visit because James has to keep working so I will be bored and lonely and drugged 😉

Thank you for your continued support and love!

God’s Timing

God’s timing is CERTAINLY not my timing.

The next step in my reconstruction process is: THE EXCHANGE. Ominous sounding, I know. But in fact, it is rather simple. My fabulous plastic surgeon, who will remain nameless, will cut through my previous incisions, and remove my expanders that have been stretching my skin. He will replace them with my REAL but FAKE breasts, also known as implants. Once the implants are where they should be, he will stitch the skin back together from the inside and leave an exterior glue on the outside of my skin. The whole process should take 1 hour to an hour and a half compared to the 7 hours of my first surgery. It is an in-patient procedure performed at the hospital.

This second step in my reconstruction process was scheduled for Thursday, May 7th…next week. As my husband and my family were planning for this exciting next step, I couldn’t help but feel some relief. I am SO tired of these expanders. Everytime my husband hugs or cuddles me my response is “Ow!” or my “Chest!.” They are so sensitive and feel like they take over the entire top half of my body. They are larger than I want them to be, hard, obtrusive, and just in the way. I am ready to be rid of them, I am ready to move on, I am ready for my REAL, FAKE breasts.

In the middle of all this preparation and excitement, I received a phone call from my health care provider, but I didn’t notice until late last night. When I finally got around to checking it, I heard the voice of the surgery scheduler and my heart sank.

“Hi Kaitlin, this is Juanita, I am sorry to have to do this, but there is a Cancer patient who needs an emergency double mastectomy on May 7th, and therefore we need to move your surgery date. I tried to reschedule it for the 8th, but it didn’t work. The soonest we have available is May 27th, so your exchange is now May 27th at 7:30am, you will check in at 5:30. Your doctor is aware that we had to move you and he is very sorry, it just couldn’t be avoided. Please call when you get a chance.”

Begin emotional break-down.

Yes, at first, I acknowledged that the Cancer patient needed the surgery more than I did.

Yes, at first, I was grateful that I did not actually have Cancer; that I had a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy that diminished that possibility.

And Yes, they were fleeting thoughts. They came quickly and passed quickly. I was more focused on the fact that my surgery date was being changed. That I had to wait longer, a few more weeks to become more comfortable, more normal, and move forward in my reconstruction process.

Selfish. That is what THAT is called, selfish.

I immediately called my Aunt to let her know my surgery date was changed to see if she would be able to make the new date. She reminded me to pray for the woman who was needing the emergency surgery and I slowly realized how trivial I was being. My surgery is a big deal, this is true, but I am already cancer free. And although I am in some pain, uncomfortable, and look like a bionic alien, I am alive! So, I am grateful that my timing is NOT God’s timing and that he is in control, NOT me. As for now, my surgery is Wednesday, May 27th at 7:30am.

Cooking with Mom in the Kitchen

My Momma grew up in New Mexico or the Land of Enchantment, as it is known to those who have seen its true beauty and discovered its secrets. She and my Father started a tradition when they were first married to vacation to Santa Fe immediately following Christmas to celebrate my Mom’s birthday. It was always kept as a sacred trip for the two of them–no kids. They would always drive in my Mom’s Pink Caddy through Raton Pass to their home away from home. When they returned, they always seemed refreshed, restored, all things anew. When I graduated eighth grade, my Mom invited me into the Land of Enchantment. This began our summer trip that just the two of us would take every year to Santa Fe.

My parents separated in 2012 and my mom’s birthday was approaching, clearly she would not be making the trip to Santa Fe with my Father. The child inside of me had always been jealous that my Father was able to celebrate my Mom’s birthday every year without us kids. Shortly before her birthday, we found out her Cancer came back and I knew this would be her last celebration. My Mom had never been lavished. She had many things, many things that people only dream of, but in the end, not what her heart desired. So, I planned to lavish her in love. I surprised her with a Mother-Daughter trip to Santa Fe, right after Christmas, like she was used to.

The two of us on that trip at The Shed

The two of us at The Shed

My Mom is a high energy woman, few people can keep up with her. I remember one time when we went to Santa Fe with my Mom’s best friend Sonya, we were walking up Canyon Road (a cobblestone street known for famous art galleries). It was August, hot, uphill–Sonya and I were complaining and had clearly had enough. We were asking if there was somewhere to stop for a drink, and my mom was about 100 feet ahead of us, booking it, and telling us, “We aren’t even to the best part yet!”

Saffron for Masa

Saffron for Masa

The term “Shop til you Drop” was created to describe my Mom. Although, she will “Shop til She Drops” then shop some more. Needless to say, sometimes vacation with my Mom wasn’t always vacation. The last time we went to Santa Fe however, was different. She didn’t have the same energy. But what I remember the most, was that she was savoring, savoring her life and memories in Santa Fe–we both were.

Two different Masa: Saffron and Black Olive

Two different Masa: Saffron and Black Olive

Mother’s Day is quickly approaching and shortly after that is the anniversary of my Mom’s death. My heart is heavy laden and I must admit I miss her greatly. This week, we had our dear friends over, Mark and Meg, and I was especially longing for my Momma’s presence, so I decided to invite her to dinner.

Prep Station for assembling Tamales

Prep Station for assembling Tamales

With our love for Santa Fe came a love for New Mexican cooking–my brothers and I all know what real Mexican food tastes like and can handle the heat! My Mom is a fabulous cook and I am grateful to have learned many techniques from her. I went to my Mom’s cookbooks, found her Tamale and Cafe Pasquals Cookbook (my favorite restaurant in Santa Fe in case you need a recommendation). As my fingers grazed through these relics, these pieces of history that have preserved my Mom, I came across her handwriting on her favorite recipes. An inscription from a friend and stains from when she too was making these very recipes. Just touching the stains made me feel closer to her.

I turned on Fleetwood Mac–a family Favorite–poured a single of silver tequila on the rocks with a lime, began mixing Masa, and suddenly she was there. Her soft, silky smooth hands mixing with mine. We started dancing to, “Go Your Own Way,” bumping our ghetto booties together, and I saw her smiling back at me, saw the smile that everyone says I have.

Two types of hand-tied Tamales steaming

Two types of hand-tied Tamales steaming

Tamales are labor intensive, a labor of love. These tamales were full of love, grief, longing, laughing, dancing, and my Momma. Naturally, they were a hit. I am teaching my friend Meg how to make them next weekend, maybe my Mom will make a reappearance.

Cooking with Mom in the Kitchen Menu:

Appetizer: Oaxacan Mangoes

Salad: Roasted Poblano Salad

Entree: Two different Types of Tamales–Black Olive Masa with Goat Cheese and Fig Lemon Tapenade & Saffron Masa with Artichoke and Sundried Tomato with Tomato Basil Tapenade

Beautiful cooked Tamales Ready to eat!

Beautiful cooked Tamales ready to eat!

Update on Life, Expanders, and the Pursuit of…a Home

After recovering from the Oscars (Yes! It does take that long), James and I decided to stop house hunting.

For many of you who don’t live in Denver, the housing market here is INSANE. It is a complete sellers market, which of course is great if you are…a seller! We of course, were buyers, looking for our first house in the most popular price bracket of first home buyers (200-300k). As you can imagine, when there is not a lot of inventory, but a surplus of purchasers all looking for the same commodity, things can get nasty. And they did.

We ended up making an offer on a total of 6 houses and each one we lost for reasons such as: 1) We were outbid by $65,000 over the asking price (I encourage you to reread that, yes, it does say 65k OVER the asking price). 2) Others offered all cash, ALL CASH (One question for those in your mid-late twenties, if your parents are not providing you with these funds, where exactly are you getting hundreds of thousands of dollars in all cash, just curious). And 3) Non-FHA loans (This I just find ridiculous because initially the seller would advertise they were accepting FHA loans, and then once the offers were in, quickly change their minds…I call BS on that one!

After almost four months of this process, our realtor informed us that it could be another whole year of this process. James had a new job he was eager to start and we were ready to have our own place, so, we decided to look at rentals. We found a beautiful 2 bedroom, 2 bath in Central Denver about 15 minutes from Downtown with every amenity you could imagine–rooftop lounge with views of the mountains and city, outdoor pool and hot tub, outdoor grills, gym and yoga studio, allowed all pets, indoor parking, a granite island in the kitchen, and a huge master closet…ok now I’m just bragging. Needless to say, we feel incredibly blessed to now have a home.

Our Trojan Hourse in the Lobby

Our Trojan Hourse in the Lobby

View of our outdoor Pools

View of our outdoor Pools

On top of that, James has started his new job at Autonation, which he loves! He will eventually be in Finance, but he is happy to hook up anyone with a car 😉 Just say, “Your wife Kaitlin sent me!”

More change: I am no longer working at Abloom. Abloom was a fabulous transitional job for me after I lost my Mom. They provided a home for me, a place that allowed me to get in a rhythm even when all I felt like doing was staying in bed all day. In a way they brought me back to life, making friends that I will always have, and I am forever grateful. Now, it is time for me to move on and find my greater potential. I am hoping to do more with Breast Cancer and writing, taking everything I learned with me.

News just keeps getting better…I have my next surgery date! This next procedure is the second largest and is called “The Exchange.” They will literally be exchanging the expanders that I have in me now for, “my new fake boobs,” as I have started to affectionately call them. These will be my implants that will act as my breasts from now on. My Surgery will take place at St. Joseph’s hospital on 19th and Lafayatte on May 7th at 7:30am. It is an in-patient surgery, however I should only have to stay about 12-15 hours instead of overnight if everything goes well. Bottom line, I cannot wait to get these expanders OUT OF ME–we are not friends!

Stay posted for some New Mexican Recipes from my Mommy!

A Night at the Oscars!

First let me apologize for being an absentee writer. We moved and it has been hectic to say the LEAST. But, more of that to come in blogs to follow. I need to catch you up on our life!

Since time has passed, many things have come and gone, one of which is the both hated and loved event of the Academy Awards. If you were here in Colorado, you will remember that the day before Sunday, February 22nd, we received about 10 inches of snow. As always, James and I had planned an Oscar party, because being a theatre major, I am very VERY passionate about the Oscars. Our dear friends, who also share my love for all things theatre, Paul and Christa, were coming down to where we had been staying. We had planned an extensive menu of heavy hors d’oeurves and champagne, Paul and Christa had hired a babysitter, and Christa and I had been cooking for two days.

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What was on the menu? I thought you would never ask!

1. Roasted Brussel Sprouts Dip with Bacon

2. Grilled Brie with Thyme, Honey, and Figs

3. Sourdough Panini with Basil, Chocolate, and Brie

4. Garlic Butter Sweet Potato Fries with a Creamy Feta Dip

5. Lemon Thyme Bars

6. Nectarine Basil and Rose Hand Pies

Well, Sunday morning came and it was still snowing. The afternoon came, and it was STILL SNOWING, HARD. By 3pm the party was off, an official Winter Storm Warning had been released and Paul and Christa were home with their two girls and James and I were home with all this food. We invited my brother and sister-in-law over, who live just down the street, so we were still able to celebrate, but the RL’s were greatly missed.

Despite the turnout of the Oscars (I was very disappointed by some of the winners and nominees), we were stuffed to the brim and I was very proud of the Nectarine Basil and Rose Hand Pies. They are incredibly delicious! The crust is perfectly flaky, and they have the perfect essence of rose. They are effervescent and remind you of spring with every bite. The basil adds the perfect taste of savory while calming the tang of the nectarine. I would serve these for a Garden Party, a Tea, or as the perfect light dessert.

Nectarine Basil and Rose Hand Pies

Ingredients:

One batch of Thomas Keller’s Buttery Pastry Crust or your favorite pie dough

2 cups diced ripe nectarines (about 2 nectarines)
2 Tbsp packed roughly chopped basil
1 tsp rosewater (or to taste starting at 1/4 tsp)
pinch of kosher salt
1/4 cup of honey (more if you’d like it sweeter)
squeeze of a lemon wedge
1 Tbsp cornstarch

1 egg, lightly beaten for wash
Sugar for sprinkling

Cooking Directions:

Heat oven to 425° F.

Mix all of the ingredients except the cornstarch in a bowl. Adjust taste to your liking. Let sit 15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.

Pour off about a tablspoon of the liquid in the bottom and mix with the cornstarch. Stir this back into the peaches.

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Generously flour your work surface. Place chilled, unwrapped dough on the flour and flour the top of the dough. Gently roll your dough out from the center until about 1/8 inch thick. Re-flour your surface as needed, continually lifting and rotating your dough to make sure no parts are sticking. If the dough becomes difficult to work with at any point, chill for a few minutes in the freezer on a baking sheet before continuing. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut an even number of circles in desired size using a floured biscuit cutter or the base of a small bowl. (I made 4″ pies using a scalloped biscuit cutter.) Lay circles on parchment lined baking sheet. Chill dough if getting too soft for a few minutes in the fridge or freezer before continuing.

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Fill a small bowl with cold water and keep it near by. Top half the circles with a small amount of filling, about 1 Tbsp.  Using your finger, lightly wet the bottom half with the water, top with another round, and seal edges by pressing gently but firmly to seal. You can also use a fork to seal them. Brush top with egg wash, sprinkle with raw sugar, and cut to vent.

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When completed place in the refrigerator to chill and repeat with other disc of dough and remaining filling. Bake for 5 minutes at 425° F and then reduce the temperature to 350° F and bake 10-15 more minutes until pies are golden brown.

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