August 20, 2021

Last night I started feeling tired of my drains, tired of the heaviness in my chest, tired of sleeping in the recliner. Today I think it’s the emotional toll of this surgery that has been weighing on me. I feel broken in a way I haven’t up until now.

I knew having a bi-lateral mastectomy would be hard. Since the binding the surgeon put on during my surgery is clear, I’ve seen the bruising and swelling, although the dressings hide my incisions. It was startling at first, but not unexpected, and every day it looks a little better. I’m not sure why the sadness has hit me at this point. Maybe it’s that I’ve spent the last couple of weeks mostly sitting around, and the inactivity makes me feel like an invalid. Maybe it’s these stupid drains that I’ve been carrying around in a fanny pack in front of me that I’m constantly aware of. Maybe it’s that my mom (bless her!) has spent all day cleaning my house for us while I’ve sat outside, out of her way.

Or maybe it’s that I haven’t quite accepted the changes that I knew were inevitable. I wish it were quicker. Off with the old, on with the new. But it can’t work that way. It’s coming in stages and requires healing time. As I type this I realize that really is the crux of it for me. I want to be finished, so I can really move on. I don’t like the unknowns that still linger.

The pathology from my surgery showed positive margins which means some cancer cells may have been left behind. If we weren’t going to do radiation already, we would be now. I was told there’s also a chance my oncologist could suggest more chemo. I hope not. Next week I see him as well as the radiation oncologist. I also see both surgeons again. By Wednesday, I’ll know the next steps.

Still, I’m thankful today that I’m on the mend. That I had such great help from my mom and sister the last couple of weeks. That I’ll have answers early next week. And I’m grateful that my days feeling broken are few and quickly over.

August 13, 2021

No one tells you everything that chest surgery will affect. Well, that’s not true. My sister warned me that the chest muscles seem to be used all the time, and she is right. Just walking felt jarring at first. Sitting up straight is still awful. Laying back at a slight angle is ok. Getting back up from that angle is not. I cannot open a water bottle. Or a sealed bag. Or the sliding door. I can’t reach to the ground, so whatever I drop has to stay on the floor.

No one told me that my chest would feel so heavy. Like I’m carrying a couple of bricks around. And everything is so swollen that it feels about as hard. Leaning forward is uncomfortable. Turning to the side feels like I’m being torn. And my back hurts from trying to compensate for the lack of chest strength.

But I’m walking better today. That doesn’t hurt as much. And I can now reach out to the side without as much pain. And my drain tubes aren’t getting as full as they were initially. These are all signs that I’m healing for which I’m grateful. The rest of it will follow and soon the heaviness and the pain will subside, and I’ll regain my range of motion. It’s all good.

August 11, 2021

The transition to home from the hospital took a while because they were short-staffed. I was happy to leave though just so I could sleep uninterrupted.

The pups were super curious about what was going on with me. Before I entered the house, we made sure all my drains were hidden so they couldn’t accidentally catch one. They pretty much sat by my chair and kept poking their noses at me. Poor guys don’t understand why I’m not hugging on them.

I’m sore and it’s hard to move, but I’m thankful to be home and thankful for the additional help from my sister and mom.

August 10, 2021

I made it through surgery! It took a bit longer than anticipated but so far so good. I’ll spend the night in the hospital so I can get awakened every few hours for blood tests and medicine. I say that because the nurse just left so I have it in good authority.

I’m so thankful that I didn’t have my choking sensation and my that I’m doing well so far.

August 9, 2021

Well, here we are. The day before my bi-lateral mastectomy. I’ve been looking forward to and yet dreading surgery and my stomach has been doing flip flops since late yesterday. I keep remembering that stupid choking feeling I had when I awoke last time and pray that it’s nonexistent tomorrow.

It’s weird when you talk surgery with people. Everyone wants to share their experiences and/or thoughts about it. While mostly it’s to be helpful, sometimes it still backfires. These are some things I’ve heard recently: I wasn’t completely under anesthesia and could hear everything. I wonder if surgery makes cancer spread. Anesthesia makes me feel like I’m dying.

Um, thanks?

I’ve also had folks point out that mastectomies are a common procedure, which is true. There is some comfort in knowing that hundreds of others have lived through it. But I haven’t yet.

It’s a big deal. And not just because all major surgery is. It’s a big deal for me because this will change me. I’m having parts of me removed. Parts that are visible and somewhat defining and so natural that I don’t usually notice them. But the replacements will be something to get used to and will be unnatural for a while. I’ll have scars. I’ll lose sensation. I’ll have to think about them.

This morning I met with my plastic surgeon so he could do his markings on my chest. In four different colors of Sharpie. I look like an art project. But once again, he told me that everything would go well. His confidence was reassuring.

I know I’ll be fine. My desire to lose the cancer is stronger than my sadness at losing my breasts. I trust that my surgeons are talented and care about doing a good job. I’ll heal. I will get used to my new look. I know this and I’m thankful for it, even though I’m still a bit nervous today.

August 3, 2021

One week to surgery and I had my pre-op appointment with my general doctor to get clearance. Unfortunately, I didn’t know I’d have bloodwork done or I wouldn’t have eaten a chocolate cupcake just beforehand. Surprise! My glucose is high. I should just put that on a t-shirt. I’m pretty sure it was high every time I had bloodwork during chemo.

And even though my swollen fingers have gotten a bit better, they’re still not right after several weeks, so I mentioned it to the doctor. She added a couple tests for arthritis to the blood panel, so there’s that. Every week I get about ten years older. The first test results looked normal to my untrained eye, but the other results aren’t posted in my online chart yet. I’d cross my fingers if they weren’t too fat.

The nurse who did my blood draw was flabbergasted by my picture in my chart. She looked at it, then looked at me, then back at my picture. Finally, she asked, Have you seen your picture on here?! I laughed when I realized what she meant and told her I was sporting my chemo hair. I’m pretty sure she thought they hadn’t updated my picture in 20 years. She had the grace to tell me it looked good, and I think she felt bad for not noticing the diagnosis in my chart.

So while I seem to be falling apart bit by bit, I’m still good to go for surgery. The countdown now begins while I keep telling myself it will be fine. All is good. At least I’ll have young boobs when it’s all over.

July 15, 2021

Today I got confirmation that my surgery is officially scheduled for August 10 at 7:30 am. I’m pretty thankful for that, although I’m already feeling a bit nervous about it. I know it will be fine, but still, it’s a big deal. They said it will potentially be 7-8 hours long. I don’t even want to think about it. My mom and sister have already said they want to come and help out, which is comforting. It’s going to be fine.