I’m wondering how transparent I should be here. How much is too much info. Stop at any time if I cross the line for you.
All along this journey I have had certain things in my mind as to how things should go. How I would look during chemo, how quickly my hair would grow back, how sick I would be. So the mastectomies come without exception.
I truly thought my chest would not be unveiled until at least a week after surgery. I thought there would be some sort of unveiling procedure I would go through where they would say “open your eyes.” and there they would be. I would not pass out. I would adjust.
I was not ready for my surgeon to come racing in on Friday morning, running late from a train, in which she would frantically pull off my bandages. It really didn’t hurt, she just did it really fast. But not fast enough for me to sneak a peek. I wonder if she saw me peek. It was painful…..the peek not the bandage change. I was not ready for it.
They send me home with bandages and rolls of tape just in case I want to change it myself. What! I thought we set a reveal date. Now you expect me to flippantly change my own bandages. How are Jeremy and I supposed to face this together? Isn’t there supposed to be a doctor there to hold our hand through this? What if I pass out?
So we changed the bandages yesterday. I didn’t pass out. It looks like a zipper across my chest. There was no skin conservation in my mastectomy. I didn’t think there would be. IBC effects the skin and starts in the lymphatic system so skin saving is not an option really. My skin is pulled tight. No slight mound, no pucker, no nothing. Just a zipper. My how I wish I could unzip and stuff something in there.
On each side of my scars there are two tubes. They come from somewhere within and hang down each side of my body. At the end of each of these tubes is a grenade. Not a real grenade, because by now I would have blown something up. No, these hand grenades are the drainage cups. And they really look like plastic hand grenades. I have two hanging from either side of me.
When we were waiting in the waiting room before surgery Jeremy noticed someone familiar from our old church. I didn’t recognize this person but Jeremy did. He came over to chat. I could have kicked Jeremy when he asked what they were there for. Because I know what’s coming next. They were there for tubes in their sons ears. Me, a mastectomy thank you very much, and I’ll take the tubes hanging out of my body down the sides with grenades at the end. Oh….and please, please let me watch them fill up with blood and bodily fluids every few hours so we can put them in measuring cups to keep track of how much comes out.
This isn’t exactly how I envisioned it.
I envisioned that I would be in excruciating pain, and I’m not, but I do love pain medication. I’m starting to think I love it too much. I love to lay down when I get that lovely buzz and I don’t really fall asleep, I just really don’t care….about anything, nothing. For heaven’s sake, I’m a pastor. We are definately not supposed to admit liking pain meds this much….lol!
I envisioned I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed, and I can. Jeremy is going to take me to a movie in a few hours. A nice dark place where people can’t see my flat chest and these weird bumps under my shirt from the grenades.
I envisioned I would have some severe case of lymphodema from the start, and I don’t. They aren’t even going to send me to physical therapy because they don’t think I’ll have any problems. I put my wedding ring back on a day after surgery and it fits fine….what a relief.
I am amazed at how much thinner I look without breasts. I think I’ll be OK. I may decide I don’t even want to wear the prostethis. But hey….if I do….I can be an >A and a C all in one day. How many women can do that:)
What bothers me the most is that I am numb everywhere around my chest and under my armpits. I’ll have to ask the ladies over at Mothers With Cancer if this goes away. Numbness isn’t very pleasent. It carries its own sort of pain. A dull pain. It hurts most of all when I hug my kids. I can’t pick them up but I will bend down to hug them or when I’m sitting they will come give me a gentle hug. I can’t pull them close because it feels weird. I don’t mind not having breasts but I long to pull my children to my chest and hold them. This hurts my heart more than anything. Expectations always come with change. I fear change. I fear I will never feel the same even if I don’t look the same. I want so badley to pull my children to my chest and hold them close and feel nothing but love and warmth. I want them not to fear hurting me. I have this in my mind of how it should be and I’m not letting go.