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.
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.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m irrationally anxious about starting new chemo tomorrow. From all accounts, it should be an easier chemo overall, even though it will be weekly treatments. It shouldn’t cause as much fatigue nor nausea. The biggest side effect is numbness in the hands and feet that begin over time.
I’m not so worried about those side effects as I am the injection itself. People have allergic reactions to it during the injection, especially the first one. My doctor mentioned today that it’s not as common but it could feel like the throat is closing up. I honestly wanted to punch him for saying that out loud. I’m mean, seriously? If you read my post about my (also embarrassing) surgery recovery, you’ll remember that my WORST fear is choking. I do not need this thought in my head.
So today I’m thankful for the encouraging thoughts from my family and friends that I’ll be fine. And the very rational reminders from Patrick that they’re talking about a small number of people who have this reaction. True. And that I don’t have plant allergies. Also true. And I should stop googling it. Yeah, probably true.
While I have a tendency to sometimes get into my own head too much, I’ve never really over worried about health issues before. I’ve really been quite healthy up to this point, so if something checked out ok, I stopped thinking about it. But I realized while talking about it today that I now feel more wary. More susceptible or vulnerable to everything. Cancer came out of nowhere so what else is lurking around the corner?
It’s a lousy feeling, honestly. One I keep fighting against. I’ve never considered myself much of a victim and I hate to start now. So tomorrow I’m going to be fine. Really. Fine.
Wow. I can’t believe it’s August already. This is day 213…we are well over half way through this year. Soon school will start for everyone and fall will be upon us. As much as I love the fall trees and apple cider and cool evenings, I am not ready for it. Not at all. I still need a vacation (not happening) and I still have a house that isn’t fully painted (can that wait until next summer??). And besides, this summer has been so abnormally cool that it hasn’t even seemed like a summer. Doesn’t it sometimes feel like time is a falling star? Just as you see it moving, it’s gone. It’s been that way for me lately. (Ok, outside of the static zone of my office at work.) My days just vanish. And yet I feel like I haven’t moved. Those of you who follow my blog can probably guess how much that bothers me. I need to feel progress; I get anxious without it. I keep trying to live in the moment and not worry about the future, but it’s like fighting gray hair. Uneasiness keeps creeping back. So this week was actually another tough one for me. Too many nettlesome thoughts noodling around in my head. I know my puppy sleep deprivation hasn’t helped. And I know that will eventually get better. So I’m hanging on and waiting for this to pass and trying not to make hasty decisions on things. In the meantime, I’m thankful tonight for the few girlfriends who’ve been my sounding board this week. And my mom who always checks in on me but also made my sister check in on me. That made me laugh, but it was sweet.
Not every day seems like quality time with my kids. Thankfully, today was a good day. I’m glad I still have some of those.
some days I have nothing in me to offer
to you my daughter
the burden of living puts strings on my love
worry is a hard master with many demands
I’m a slave to the rose bed I’m buried in
I’d like to wrap up the wisdom of the trees
in gold foil and shiny bow to offer to you
as a parting gift the day you cut yourself free
age gets its wisdom through the mistakes of the young
I have nothing else to learn on my own
you’ll reappear as a beautiful apparition
in and out of my lonely days
when I have time to tell you of a mother’s love
and you can absolve me of my sins
and prepare me for rest
Today my heart was broken. Literally. While cleaning my office at work, I knocked over the red heart piggy bank that my boyfriend gave me for Valentine’s Day. I nearly cried. I’m a sucker for sweet gestures, so I really liked that bank. It was an unexpected gift, especially since we had just started dating and he’s not an overly expressive or publicly affectionate person. I was touched that he had filled it with my favorite candy and delivered it to my office. Never mind that the candy somehow melted inside; it was the thought that counted. So seeing it in pieces on my floor today was an extreme disappointment. I’m sure it won’t be replaced, and it was beyond repair. When I told a couple of girlfriends what I had done, their first instinct was to tell me they hoped it wasn’t a bad sign. As I vacuumed up the smaller shards, I secretly hoped it wasn’t either. Of course, I guess if accidently breaking a heart-shaped gift is a marker for the end of a relationship, then pretty much anything can be. And I don’t want to start down that slippery slope. Even though I’m not usually affected by superstitions, I do tend to worry. And I really like him; we’ve been friends for a long time and I want our relationship to continue. Thankfully, there was one large piece of the heart that remained intact. The one section that had another, smaller heart drawn on it. So I kept that piece and put it on my file cabinet. You know, just in case.
Super bowl Sunday. I actually like football. I enjoy watching a good football game. And I have asked enough questions over the years to have a pretty basic understanding of it: the calls, the strategy, the penalties. Unfortunately, today’s game wasn’t that exciting. When one team dominates so early on, it takes a bit of the fun out of it. Although, admittedly, I wasn’t rooting for either team, even though I kind of like Seattle’s team colors better than the Bronco’s. At any rate, I went to a Super bowl party at a friend’s house, like a lot of people do. We overate on junk food and beer and chatted with the football game playing in the background. Again, like a lot of people do.
At one point, one of my friends commented that football really isn’t important–why do we make such a fuss about it. Shouldn’t we be showing more important things on tv? (Exactly why I left early to make it home in time to watch Sherlock, but I digress.) I understand what she meant. In the grand scheme of things, football doesn’t matter, I guess. The world would go on without football teams and half-time shows by the current hot-list musical artist and numerous, odd automobile advertisements. The state of the economy is more important. Our healthcare crises is definitely more important. Education, poverty, family values…so many, many more important things to worry about than football. So much to worry about.
But look at what football did today. In my little world, it drew a handful of friends together to have a party. In New Jersey it drew crowds together to cheer for a team. Football creates some measure of pride and unity in whole cities and even states. We wear team jerseys and fly team flags. I’ve seen cars sporting logos or painted team colors. We love having something to cheer for. Believe in. We need that. I think we need football and all sports the same way we need music and art and literature and movies. It helps to balance out the heaviness of life. It helps to offset some of those never-ending worries. It helps us escape for a little bit and draws us closer together in the process. How many times have you met a complete stranger, found out you shared a love of the same thing (team, movie, book) and somehow felt connected? THAT is what’s important. Anything that helps us to connect with each other is worth making a little bit of fuss over.
I’ve said crazier stuff. But today, I’m thankful for football.