My blog in June included a farewell to my old knee, as I was headed for a total knee replacement surgery on June 15th. As of this writing, I am more than three weeks post-surgery, and my physical therapy is going well; I will soon be able to ditch the walker and simply use a single-point cane.
The process was not without its disappointments, in spite of my attention to detail in the plans for this operation. I experienced some unexpected symptoms that slowed my recovery, leading to a week in a transitional care unit instead of having physical therapy at home. The transitional care unit involved a 'boot camp' of physical therapy twice daily which has been wonderful for my getting back on my feet. I have been home a few weeks and getting stronger each day.
I am grateful for all the prayers from our Good Shepherd family including the prayer chain. I need to ask those prayers to continue.
During my pre-operative physical exam by my primary care physician, it was noted that I was overdue for this year's mammogram. I would have been perfectly happy to postpone it until later in the year when I would be more mobile, but my physician persuaded me to do it now “so we can check that one off the list of things to do.” This has become a familiar routine, as I have had annual mammograms for at least the past 45 years due to the prevalence of cancer in my family over several generations. So when I got a call to come back for a repeat mammogram and ultrasound, I wasn't a bit concerned --- the new 3D mammogram option is very sensitive, and I assumed there was some sort of 'shadow.'
More than a shadow, there was a teeny, weeny early stage breast cancer hiding in there. I had a needle biopsy on June 13th which confirmed a very early stage I breast cancer. The treatment plan will includes a lumpectomy, done as same-day-surgery, followed by a few weeks of radiation as a precaution. At this writing, the precise dates of treatment are not yet determined. Let me remind everyone that every journey with disease is different and personal, especially with a cancer diagnosis. I share this now for health education opportunities, as well as to ask for positive energy to be sent my way during this next chapter in my personal experience.
I have been asked why I didn't postpone the knee surgery and have the breast surgery immediately. With the detailed pathology obtained from the biopsy, I knew this was early stage, low grade, and very small in size. On the other hand, I was well on my way to through the preparation for the knee surgery. As you may know, one huge risk with bone surgery is blood clots. Those of us who take Coumadin, aka warfarin, aka blood thinners for heart issues need to stop that medication, and switch to a 'bridging' series of self-administered injections of another shorter-acting blood thinner. This change over from one drug to another takes at least six days pre-op, and about five days post-op to regulate. I didn't want to put that process aside, only to have to repeat it again in the near future.
In addition to the medication concern, I can't imagine getting to radiology appointments daily for several weeks while walking with a walker and being unable to drive myself. So my rationale was literally, I need a leg to stand on in order to embark on the cancer surgery and treatment, therefore the knee replacement surgery went on as scheduled. As of this writing, I anticipate the breast surgery yet this month (July).
It seems like kind of a double-whammy with these things happening so close together. In trying to process this information, and in prayer and meditation, I ask God to continue to walk with me. It is clear that I need two strong legs to stand on, going forward. I trust that the next steps in my life journey will be hand-in-hand with our Lord. As I was inspired and reassured during our bluegrass worship earlier this summer, I declared that I would go into the operating room with the song in my heart, “Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms . . . “ And I will sing the same song for these next steps along my way---knowing that I have a leg to stand on, and a faith to lean on.