Saturday, March 03, 2007

As long as I don't move..!

I feel okay, as long as I'm sitting perfectly still. Sigh. I'm to the point where I count the hours until my next pain pill, and rolling, sitting, standing, or shifting positions HURT.

This too shall pass.

So far so good

Well, I was able to sleep moderately well last night, and that is a very good thing. A good rest is a cure-all for most things, I'm finding! I was tired not only from the surgery, but also from lack of sleep the night before. Tessa had been feeling my anxiety over this procedure, I think, and woke up sobbing "Mama, Mama! Hold me!" which was just heartbreaking...and more than slightly exhausting, as she did this for at least three hours on Thursday night, finally falling asleep in my arms in our bed. My heart went out to her...but it gave me a little pity-party, too, because I, too, was tired and anxious and this didn't help.

Tessa is in a great mood today, however....I've showed her my hospital bracelet, and my bandages, and since these things are (unfortunately) quite familiar to her, I think she feels better about the situation now.

I am very, very tender right now, and can hardly move my left arm, but this should improve with time. I am up and about, but I'm forcing myself to stay in my PJs today to keep myself down. Still, I've been able to help put Frontline on the dog & cat (no more ticks - PLEASE!), to help with breakfast, and to play a bit with Tessa. Ryan is being incredibly kind and considerate (and just finished vacuuming - boy is it sexy when a man vacuums ;-) ) to me and is encouraging me to rest, but I can't just sit in bed all day, because then I REALLY feel sick!

In addition to tenderness/pain in my chest, I have a really sore throat from the breathing tube (what's the name for that thing again?). This too shall pass.

I think that Ryan & Tessa are going to the "Grossology" exhibit today or tomorrow, and Shep has put in his request for a trip to the dog park. Not bad, all things considered. It's certainly been worse, and if this is the worst of it, I'll be okay.

Many thanks and much love to my parents for watching Tessa so lovingly all day yesterday so that Ryan could care for me and so that Tessa didn't have to hang out at the hospital for hours on end.


Friday, March 02, 2007

Surgery # 7 Completed

I'm home!

The surgery went well, and I am now home and resting. I haven't seen the results yet as they're hidden under a Goliath of a white cotton post-surgical bra, but I am hopeful. I feel okay; I definitely won't be going out dancing any time soon but I've experienced much worse and I'm hopeful for a quick recovery.

It is good to be home.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Okay, at least this time tomorrow it will be done!

Despite my bad attitude, I'm going about the preparations for surgery. The house is sort of in order (!), the freezer is full of food, childcare is lined up for pretty much all of next week, I bought some PJs that button up in the front, I made sure that Tessa got two great playdates today and some good 1:1 Mommy & Tessa time. I took the dog to the vet (because he got a tick - yuck), I did's been quite a day.

My apologies to Beth who came over for a quiet coffee date (moms) and playdate (girls) and ended being swept up in my crazy afternoon! Thank you for understanding, Beth, and for watching Tessa so I could do the emergency vet run.

I'm tired and still haven't packed a hospital bag, but that's okay. I'm going to bed - I'll pack the bag tomorrow!


Wednesday, February 28, 2007

bad attitude

I've got a bad attitude.

I just got off the phone with the plastic surgeon's office, and I was informed that I will not be able to drive for about a week and a half.


In addition to the problems this causes with caring for Tessa (preschool, swim lessons) I'm thinking about grocery shopping, playdates, errands. I'm thinking about how on earth are the next two weeks going to look?

I am so, so, so tired of being a patient. I want to be done. I want to fast forward the hard parts. I want to feel strong again. I want to move ON!

I do a lot of visualizations to stay strong; I've been thinking a lot of playing on the beach in Hawaii with my family. In my image, Tessa and I are holding hands and running into the surf. We're laughing, my face is turned to watch hers delight with amazement. I'm wearing the itsy-bitsy bikini that I bought, feeling good about myself, but not thinking of my body at all, jsut thinking of the moment....of Tessa's laughter, the warm water, the sun on our skin, the sand under our toes, the delight in Tessa's eyes, the feeling of her small hand, so trusting, in mine. Of Ryan watching us, and smiling until his eyes twinkle, happy. In that moment, the surgery will be behind me, not looming over me as it is now.

But even the vision is not helping me today! Today I'm sad and scared and resentful. Harumph.

Countdown to surgery

My new survivor friend, Maria, in writing about her double mastectomy, said, "It's like I have been erased." Her words took my breath away.

Yes, that's what it's like. Looking down on my chest, and seeing that flat line, really is like being erased. It made me feel small, insignificant. Unsure.

On Friday, I will get one step further to filling in the painting that is me; instead of blank spots on my chest (like after mastectomy) or pencil drawings of general shapes (like now, partially reconstructed with placeholders) we will begin to paint color and form. It is very symbolic to me in my journey that I get breasts back, and it is important to me to restore myself to some semblance of normal.

Today at the gym, I saw the looks. Confusion, then sadness or kindness or both, when women in the showers saw my deformed chest. I hope that soon it will not be quite so obvious, to them or to me.

On Monday, Tessa and Jessie and I were together, and the girls wanted me to read them a story. I sat on the couch, a beautiful little girl on either side of me, and we pulled out the first book. I tried to put my arms around each girl so that she could lean on me as we read, and it was impossible. My left arm doesn't lift that high, and my expanded chest is simply too rock hard and painful to allow a snuggle. In that moment, when I felt so filled with joy at the simple pleasure of reading with inquisitive, playful, loving children...I became filled with anger that I can't even cuddle, that I can't move the way a normal person can move.

I can't lift my arm to do the most basic of things. Driving is painful when I need to do shoulder checks, when I need to make a sharp turn, or when I need to pass a snack or something to Tessa in the back seat. Taking things out of the top cupboards is an act of will and balancing. Dispensing shampoo from the bottle, hanging at eye level in the shower, means standing on my tiptoes to raise my whole body where my arm will not go, so that I can catch the pumped shampoo. Walking with Tessa means gritting my teeth when she wants to hold my hand and hop and skip because it hurts my body. I refuse to NOT hold her hand - she is my daughter! - but I am so, so tired of the aches it causes.

At night, I awaken many times because of the discomfort or pain of rolling over; I can't get comfortable, and so I'm always tired.

I am tired of these minor, yet many, compromises. I want to just be able to move freely. I don't need to be able to lift weights, or to hang from a bar, or to do a lap of butterfly...I just want to stop hurting from doing normal, everyday actions. Now, I do some of these things, but it hurts, and it tires me, and it pushes me to the edge. But what else would I do - not drive? Of course not. I push on through.

Surgery is one step towards fixing that. Hopefully removing the expander will remove much of the discomfort; hopefully they'll be able to remove scar tissue without further damaging anything and I will be able to lift my arm again. For these reasons, I am looking forward to surgery. BRING IT ON!

But I'm scared, too. This is my 7th surgery since diagnosis. I know what it feels like to recover. The anesthesia makes me feel lousy, the pain meds make me feel lousy, the incisions make me feel lousy. Drugs to sleep, drugs to kill pain...drugs that numb my mind and make me an incompetent mother for the time-being. I know all too well what that feels like, and I'm bitterly resentful of it. I'm resentful that I will not be able to hug Tessa, or to let her hop along beside me as she holds my hand, while I heal. That I will not be able to make healthy meals for us, that I will not be able to do much.

This too shall pass. I hope it passes quickly, because I can't help but dread it. It IS worth it to me in the end, but it is still a terrible burden.

If this surgery goes perfectly, there will be one more surgery (nipples) and then tattoos (aereolas). If things aren't perfect (the implant on the left could slip like the one on the right, or they may be different sizes, or pointing in different directions....the radiated side may perform differently than the non-radiated side, even if we do the same procedures) then we'll need another corrective surgery before nipples.

I pray that I'm done with all surgery by my two year diagnosis anniversary, June 1. Two years seems like ENOUGH. I'll still be doing Herceptin through September, and Femara through 2011, but isn't two years of surgery ENOUGH?!

In a month, I will be able to hold Tessa tight to my chest, without hurting. My port will be gone (part of this surgery) and her head won't bonk it, making me yelp. I should be able to sit with a child on either side of me, snuggled up on the couch to read a story. Maybe I'll even be able to push Tessa on the swings, yelling "Underdog!" and hearing her laugh as I push her ever higher, running beneath her as she soars through the air.

I can do this. I've done worse. But with each successive surgery, it gets a little harder. I know what I'm getting into.