February 17, 2012 by Julie Moon
Dr. James Craigie
Dr. Paul Baron
Last night as I was lying in my bed waiting for my body to fall asleep my thoughts turned to my surgeons in Charleston. I started to think through the first time I met them.
I drove from Athens, GA to Charleston, SC with the Mister so that we could visit the city and see if these were the right doctors for me. Some friends of mine who used to live in Charleston recommended a wonderful place to stay and we spent a whole day enjoying the city. The next day we drove to the Charleston Breast Center and first met with Dr. Craigie, plastic surgeon and his PA (whom I had already had over an hour conversation with over the phone…she was amazing and answered all my questions in depth). I already felt so comfortable since I had been in contact with them over the phone. In fact when I had emailed I had gotten a reply from Dr. Craigie himself. They were so amazing. The Mister had so many questions and Dr. Craigie fielded them all. They gave us so much attention and put me at ease. It really was feeling like the right choice. Then I was able to meet with Dr. Baron, the breast surgeon and his PA. Dr. Baron was very attentive to my questions and then at the end of our meeting he leaned over and gave me a hug and said “You’re going to be ok. We’re going to take good care of you.” It was right then that my heart decided. These were the right men for the job. Not only are they amazing surgeons but they were compassionate and caring. I felt as though I had two fathers who were going to care for me like a daughter. We scheduled my surgery for February 1, 2012. I would not see them again until the day before surgery.
They did not disappoint when it came to be surgery time. I met with Dr. Craigie the day before to be marked for surgery. This was the first time my mom had met him and he immediately greeted her with a hug. I felt so grateful for the PA Christina…seeing her was instant comfort. All of my pre-op and post-op meetings with them have been wonderful.
Last night I began to cry. My tears were not sad tears even though I’m still so uncomfortable and unable to sleep on my side. My tears were of gratitude for the healing hands of Charleston. I missed them. It seems so strange for them to be far away and not be able to see them. I am not sure if I will need to go back for a checkup before stage 2 of my surgery. I am grateful that I decided to go to Charleston. I will be eternally grateful for Dr. Craigie, Christina and Dr. Baron. They went above and beyond and took care of the whole person.
Dr. James Craigie and Dr. Richard Kline, The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction, Charleston, SC – on facebook
Dr. Paul Baron, Charleston Breast Center, Charleston, SC – on facebook
Category The Journey | Tags: blessings,breast cancer,charleston,decisions,God,mister,planning,plastic surgeon,surgeon,Surgery,travel | 2 Comments
February 8, 2012 by Julie Moon
My Recovery Home
Day 7…finishing up the first week of this new life. What a journey it has been already. Last night was a very hard night. Neither I or my mom slept very well at all. We both had some crazy dreams and I was hot and uncomfortable most of the night. My body feels so tight and swollen and I’m just so ready to be done with these drains.
I saw Dr. Craigie, the plastic surgeon, first today. He greeted my mom and I with hugs and a smile. He prescribed silvadene for my nipple that I may lose. If I do lose it he will be able to recreate something that looks similar…we knew this was one of the risks. That side was the side that got the radioactive dye for the sentinel node biopsy so I think it was harder to see during surgery and not damage. He also shorted my drain tubes for me so that I don’t have as long of tubes that can potentially get pulled on something. I will go back Friday to see the PA and she will remove my two breast drains. That will be great! We will head home to Athens after those are pulled on Friday.
After we left Dr. Craigie we filled our prescription and then drove over to see Dr. Baron, the breast surgeon. I had taken my pain meds as well as a zofran before I left Dr. Craigie’s office and the two of those combined really get me loopy. I feel like I’m floating all over the room and feel like I lose feeling in my legs. It was relaxing but definitely a strange feeling. He is so warm and compassionate and greeted my mom and I with hugs as well. I feel so taken care of by this team of doctors. He examined me and seemed a bit disappointed with the left nipple’s healing as well. I know he was hoping that they both would survive and look as they always have. He did feel great about everything else so far.
I am happy with my recovery so far. It’s not pretty for sure…but I know that’s all part of the journey.
We grabbed a late lunch and headed back to our recovery home. It’s so peaceful and quiet here. I need to gear myself up for heading back to my house which is full of loud children. I love them but it will be a big change for sure. I was out from 10-4 today and I’m very sore and tired now. I hope I sleep well tonight and really am able to relax and rest.
Category The Journey | Tags: charleston,family,fear,plans,plastic surgeon,recovery,scar,Sleep,surgeon,travel | No Comments
February 6, 2012 by Julie Moon
Yesterday I was discharged from the hospital. I was crying all morning because I was so scared to be away from all the “experts”. Noone checking my flaps hourly, monitoring my blood pressure, temp and having whatever drug I needed right on hand. My mom is an awesome caregiver but there was a certain comfort about being at the hospital.
But the best thing happened yesterday. Three of my best friends drove 5 hours just to come and visit with me for a while. They lifted my spirits when they were rock bottom. They helped my mom and I get moved over to our temporary Charleston house…a beautiful home on the marsh. Our friends have generously offered to let us stay here while I’m recovering and can’t leave Charleston. It was so great to have a distraction and have friends here to make me laugh and give my mom a little respite from having to do everything for me. Mrs. B, whose house we are at, cooked us a delicious dinner last night. She’s been such a wonderful hostess and made us feel so welcome. Mr. B and all the girls sat on the sofa and watched golf…I think it was the first time he had ever paid that much attention to what the golfers were wearing. Ha!
Last night, at bedtime, mom and I went into my bedroom and emptied my drains, changed my bra and put on fresh pajamas. I just cried and cried. I felt so broken and so disfunctional. My breasts are certainly bigger than what I wanted them to be and that made me feel disappointed. I have four drains coming out of my body which just makes you feel gross and weird. Around my breasts are so very bruised and sore. One of my nipples is probably going to blister and scab over…hopefully it will fully survive. But for now it’s all gross and blue from the radioactive dye I had injected to do the sentinel lymph node biopsy. My backside is crazy looking. You can still see all the sharpie on my skin from getting marked before surgery and then I have two long incision scars….LONG. And I had a little over a pound of fat removed from each upper gluteal area…so for now there is a bit of a divot. This is why there is a second and third stage to the surgery. It’s definitely not over and this is in no way the “finished” product. But no matter how many times you tell yourself that…you still feel mournful.
I tried to skype with my children last night and they were screaming and being loud and it was all too overwhelming for me. I had to close down the chat pretty quickly. Hopefully I can have a moment with the Mister soon to video chat just he and I. I miss him and just want to snuggle into his neck and have him stroke my hair. It’s good for me to be away from the kids because I think they would be more than I could handle this week. But my heart longs for him.
I think I’m going to have my mom take some progress pictures starting today. I think that will help me feel like I’m healing even when I don’t feel like it.
Oh….one more thing! Yesterday Dr. Craigie told me my pathology came back all clear…no cancer anywhere!
Category The Journey | Tags: blessings,breast cancer,charleston,family,fear,friends,mister,plastic surgeon | No Comments
February 1, 2012 by Julie Moon
This is the place I will leave my risk of breast cancer. This is East Cooper Medical Center…a beautiful facility. We have met nothing but nice and helpful people. I was there twice today and it will become my new home through the weekend. I am so grateful that I was able to afford to travel here with my mom. I am so grateful for Dr. Craigie and Dr. Kline and Dr. Baron who will perform my surgeries. It will be mind blowing, life altering and life saving. I am so grateful that I do not have cancer and I get to tackle this as a healthy 34 year old woman. I am so grateful that the BRCA test was conclusive and I was able to confidently move foward with this step. I am so grateful for each and every person who is at home feeding, hugging, nurturing, driving, dressing, bathing, teaching, snuggling, and taking care of my dear sweet children.
I feel the prayers and positive energy of my friends. I am envisioning the candles that will be lit for me tomorrow. I pray for peace for my friends and family while I’m under. My wish is that tomorrow not only changes my own life but that it changes many people’s lives. I hope it inspires a woman to get her mammograms or research her genetics. I hope it encourages a husband to be completely supportive of radical preventative measures his wife may want to take for her health. I hope that it challenges more people to participate in the 3day and other events that support breast cancer research. We need more research. We need to find a cure.
Goodbye to the breasts I know and have loved…the breasts that have nourished my three children and have been loved by my husband. I am looking forward to meeting my new breasts…the ones that will carry me into my old age. I suppose if you want to be technical I have known those breasts all along since they will come from my back side. 🙂
Category The Journey | Tags: 3day,blessings,BRCA,breast cancer,charleston,plastic surgeon,surgeon,travel | No Comments
November 29, 2011 by Julie Moon
The Mister and I traveled to Charleston, SC this weekend to meet with the plastic and breast surgeons. We left on Saturday and were able to have two days to ourselves…without children to reconnect and just enjoy each other before the appointment day. I am so grateful for my sister watching the kids Saturday and Sunday…a wonderful babysitter helping out on Sunday night and Monday morning and one of my best friends coming over Monday after school to keep the kiddos, clean up the house and get everyone to bed before we got home. What a network of great people I have supporting me on this journey. It was reassuring to see that I could be gone for 3 days and things still function as normal. I have to admit that I am probably more nervous about what is going to happen to my kiddos when I’m gone for 2 weeks than I am about the surgery itself…ah motherhood!
The Mister and I were able to eat at some great restaurants, check out some local shops and the market and visit Folly beach at Sunset. Did I mention we slept? Oh the bliss of no children in the house kind of sleep…no naps interrupted by squeals of disagreement over the wii or by a toddler banging her fist over your head because she is hungry. We slept well and we napped. It was glorious!
I feel peaceful. I feel content. I feel excited. I feel nervous. I feel happy. I feel sad. I feel grateful. I feel blessed. I feel spared. I feel sure. I feel crazy. I feel amazed.
No wonder I can’t sleep yet tonight.
February 1, 2012…a day that will change my life forever.
Category The Journey | Tags: breast cancer,charleston,decisions,family,fear,friends,mister,plastic surgeon,surgeon,travel,waiting | No Comments
November 20, 2011 by Julie Moon
I feel the emotions starting to bubble up. Here’s the rambings of an emotional woman…hold on….
I am working lots right now…both of my jobs. Yes I have two jobs on top of being a mother and being married to a very busy entrepreneur. There is tons to do to get ready for Christmas. I’m trying to calmly and rationally knock things off the present list but I feel it hanging over my head. I worked all day today and I’m working most of the day tomorrow. I got upset tonight about the quality of some of my work and I just broke down. I was so mad at myself. I nearly chunked my camera into a brick wall. Thankfully one of my friends was there to listen to me and calmed me down a bit. I’m still pretty upset and disappointed. I know I will get it all figured out but I know I’m better than the work I’m producing. It’s Thanksgiving and I miss my brother. I’m not scared about next weekend meeting the doctors but I think I”m starting to get really emotional about it…like that deep dark emotion that you don’t really realize is in there but it TOTALLY affects you. My friend is out in San Diego at the 3day this weekend and posting pictures and it’s making me so emotional to see the event again. I can’t explain it to you all who haven’t been…I think there’s a Pavlovian reaction to seeing the 3day…just brings it out of me. I’m not out of control. I’m not angry. I just feel a storm brewing in my heart.
Category The Journey | Tags: breast cancer,charleston,family,fear,plastic surgeon,work | No Comments
November 12, 2011 by Julie Moon
Grateful beyond belief for health insurance but all the little details are so confusing and annoying.
Tuesday I talked to the NOLA insurance people and she said that my insurance is out of network. She said that every single insurance is out of network except for Cigna. That means that my total out of pocket would be $8000 instead of $4000 for the covered procedures. I’m still not entirely clear if everything is covered. I spoke with the Charleston office and they are IN network for my insurance. So I think the path becomes clearer. I am planning a consultation with them on November 28th. The Mister will travel with me and we will meet with both the breast surgeon and the plastic surgeon that day.
Charleston is about a 4.5 hour drive but we will probably go for a couple days before and just get comfortable with the city…see what the hospital looks like, etc. If after visiting Charleston I do not feel 100% great about it I might go to visit New Orleans. I found out on Wednesday that one of my great friends gave birth at the hospital in Charleston…she said it was small but very nice.
Category The Journey | Tags: breast cancer,charleston,decisions,insurance,mister,nola,plastic surgeon,surgeon,travel | No Comments
November 7, 2011 by Julie Moon
I think I’ve decided I’m going to do my surgery in New Orleans. I spent a long night talking with my best friend last night and we just talked our way through most of it. Today I talked to the Mister about it all and I think it’s pretty clear that I’m leaning towards going to New Orleans. I don’t really feel like either place is a bad choice…but I think if expenses are not accounted for I am definitely leaning towards NO. I’m sure I’ll probably change my mind 12 more times before I schedule the surgery…but anyone who knows me knows that THAT is what I do. I should be able to get everything scheduled this week and figure out flight information by the weekend. Mister is traveling with me this time and my mom will travel with me for my surgeries. Mom told me to close my eyes, put my hand over my heart and envision where I was when I had my surgery. I keep trying that…and it’s not totally clear just yet. I believe it will be….eventually.
Category The Journey | Tags: breast cancer,decisions,family,mister,plastic surgeon | No Comments
November 5, 2011 by Julie Moon
I spoke with someone from the New Orleans clinic today and I really am undecided about which is a better choice for me. What I want to do is to visit both and do a consultation with each one before I need to make a decision. I am hoping we can come up with the funds to be able to fly to New Orleans and to visit Charleston. I think I will feel more peaceful about deciding once I do this. I am also trying to find out if there are any differences in cost.
Category The Journey | Tags: breast cancer,decisions,insurance,plastic surgeon | No Comments
November 3, 2011 by Julie Moon
Today is a day dedicated to staying in my pajamas and researching. I need to figure out what kind of reconstruction I want. I am leaning towards really wanting to reconstruct my breasts with tissue from my own body…not implants. I really like the idea of whatever is in my body being my own…less chance for my body to reject it. I like the idea of having one surgery and being done…not having to replace implants long term. I like the idea that if I gain weight or lose weight my breasts will gain or lose with me. I like the idea of losing a bit of fat from another part of my body in the process of gaining new breasts. I am seriously considering traveling out of town for this reconstruction…there are two centers I am researching…one in New Orleans and another in Charleston, SC. It looks like they both cover my insurance so I would just have the extra travel expenses.
I’d be just like a real life Hollywood star. Travel out of town and have some major plastic surgery and return home a new woman. ha!
Here are the links to two of the places I’m considering. They do so many more DIEP and GAP procedures than anyone in Atlanta. There’s lots of great reading about what it is I’m planning on doing on their websites.
Category The Journey | Tags: breast cancer,decisions,insurance,plastic surgeon,surgeon | No Comments