It’s been 2 weeks since I found out that I had to have a second surgery. What a roller coaster it has been. For every high there is a low, some of that is emotional and some is for the good news we get there is also bad news, or less welcome information.
Let me go back a bit to my first post op appointment, 10 days after my Bilateral Mastectomy. My husband and I drove up to Portland to meet with my doctors for my first appointment, and we were hopeful to find out the results of my pathology. As I mentioned before, I tried to be prepared for bad news but I didn’t even know that the news I was about to hear was a possibility. To have to go back into surgery was a shock to my system. This time I was scared. I was scared the first time, really scared but something about this felt different. I think it may have been the unknown, there was no way I could have planned for this, and what if this happened again.
With the frustrating and difficult news of the surgery we also received my pathology report, which confirmed that the cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes and it had not become invasive. This was incredible news, news that everyone wants to hear, this was the best kind of news. I think one of my doctors said it to me well, when she said this is the very best of a very bad situation.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m fortunate and so grateful, this could be so much worse. I’ve tried so hard to be positive and grateful about my situation. I’m often so worried about what impression I might give off or what others will think. I am completely aware that so many women have it much worse than me. But bad is still bad. I think sometimes I just need to give myself room to feel that. I need to realize it’s not about feeling sorry for myself, rather it’s admitting that this sucks. Cancer sucks!
My second surgery went well and my hospital stay was very different this time, I was awake and alert. I could get up and move on my own and my sweet husband was able to get some rest. I was also blessed to have some of the same nurses again, in some ways it felt routine, we knew what was going on, we knew what to expect and so we were able to relax more. However, a second surgery in the same spot meant more pain and that I still had a drain on one side. Ugh! I can not even describe the drains, they are uncomfortable, stressful, and you have to drain them every 4-6 hours. If you’ve had them, you know. If you haven’t, I hope you never have to experience them.
When we were released from the hospital my husband took me to Krispy Kreme on the way home, where the sweetest surprise was waiting. We went through the drive thru and as we got to the window I looked up to see a beloved familiar face. A sweet family friend and one of the students I worked with at the Vibe Dance Center who had recently moved, Matthew. My body was sore and tired, I had just had surgery and I was met with a wonderful surprise. I was absolutely overjoyed by this chance encounter.
Over the next few days I was able to move around much better than after the first surgery, however I was in more pain and the medication they put me on was making me queasy. I was able to go back up to Portland just 3 days later to get my last drain out. Hooray! I was so happy to have my drain out, and thought that I would be able to do a lot more now. However, my restrictions were just as strict as ever. I am not out of the woods yet, there is still cause for caution and concern. My hope to feel better with the removal of the drain was dashed by the reality that I am not well yet.
I know it’s only been 3 weeks since my first surgery and I was prepared for a 6-week recovery. The truth is, I’m not sure that I’m a very patient, patient. I’m thinking that maybe moms and wives generally don’t make the best patients. We are so used to being the hub of the family, taking care of everything and everyone, including ourselves; I just want to be able to do things, for myself. My husband is AMAZING! He takes better care of me than I do myself. He is way more on top of laundry than I ever am, he makes the kids lunches everyday and he is doing all of this and more while working full time. I’m a super proud wife.
So now here I am, home, recovering. My husband has been able to go back to work in the office, and I am able to get the kids up and get them ready for school in the morning. It’s nice to have things semi back to normal, especially for my 3 littles. I feel like I’m able to be mom again and that feels great! Even if being home alone means that I can’t reach the top shelf in the fridge or the pantry, I can’t do laundry, I can’t even go to Target by myself. I am truly on a roller coaster of feelings, thoughts and emotions during this time of recovery and I think it’s ok. I think that it is part of the process. I have been telling my husband that right now the most important thing to me is that I don’t miss anything through this journey. I don’t want to be so caught up or so quick to get through it and be on the other side that I miss something, something God has to teach me, something I’m supposed to learn, some way I’m supposed to grow, or help someone else. I think this roller coaster is a part of that growth and learning. I think maybe its ok for me to be bummed or frustrated sometimes, having breast cancer (any kind, any stage) having any surgery, these are big things, monumental events, no one can be cheery all the time. But I also think, hey I’m here, we caught it and I’m here. I’m sitting on my very cozy couch in the comfort of my family room on a beautiful crisp fall day with the sun light flooding in through my sliding glass door with my computer on my lap, it’s a good day and a great moment under any circumstances.
This will never be over, not entirely, my life and my body are changed and this will always be a part of me, but I will get through this major healing part. Until I do, I will ride my roller coaster, I will be all in with the thrilling heights and the lows that make your tummy flip flop and then when it’s done, I’ll go to Disneyland to celebrate and ride some real roller coasters.