Yesterday marked the 3 week mark. It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long. I mark my days by how much longer until I have to go to sleep. I dread sleep, or rather bedtime. Laying down in my bed used to be one of my favorite things in the world. Now it is filled with anxiety and dread. I am a truly uncomfortable person. I am a side or stomach sleeper and since the surgery I cannot lay on either without considerable pain. I can sleep a maximum of 2 hours before I have to get up to use the bathroom. Most of the time I go into the bathroom, not because I actually need to pee, but because the tile floors are cool. I get so hot at night. The hot flashes are the worst then. I haven’t shut the sliding glass door in our room in 3 weeks.
Early last week I told my surgeon that I would undergo a mastectomy twice compared to a hysterectomy. She was a little shocked that I would say that. I am beginning to reconsider those words. At 3 weeks post hysterectomy I was feeling pretty good. I had done a little gardening (did that on Sunday). I was taking very few over the counter pain medicines (still on those on a strict schedule). I still had a weight restriction (I believe I still have that for another week). This time around I have more pain on a constant basis. Today there is a pain on the left side. In an hour it may be on the right. Tylenol, ibuprofen and muscle relaxers only sort of mask it. I still get tired easily. Yesterday I went out to lunch and to a doctor’s appointment and then came home to sleep 2 hours.
On a couple of high notes… I did drive my car for the first time on Tuesday. I drove myself down to the nail salon. That made me feel good. Sitting in the chair with my arm up on the table was uncomfortable, but I did it. I also rode with Derek to pick up Oleg from school. I asked if he would take me over to my school so I can see my kids afterward. That was wonderful. They were all so excited to see me. They were hard at work prepping for the plant sale, but took time out to give hugs and take photos. I love them so.
The appointment I had yesterday was at the plastic surgeon’s office. It was the appointment for my first tissue expander fill. It was a rather emotional appointment. The nurse finally removed the tapes that had been covering the scars. At that point I was able to get a better look at the skin underneath. It is difficult for me to look at. I’ve only looked at myself in the mirror twice since surgery. I’ve had such a prominent physical feature removed from my body. While I’m happy that the cancer is gone, I am saddened by this loss. It is easy for someone to say, “if it were me I’d just say cut them off.” It was the right decision to make, but not one that comes without mental and emotional consequence. I am learning how to feel in this new body.
The expander fill did help somewhat. The process is very strange. I’ve been stuck with needles so many times I’m pretty used to it. SCCA and UW use lidocaine to numb the area prior to any stick. However, there is no feeling where they’re sticking me so no worries there. The PA uses a little device with a magnet to see where the port is. Once found she sticks a needle in that’s attached to a couple of tubes and a huge syringe. She pulls saline out of a small IV looking bag and then injects it into the expander. As the saline goes in, I can feel the bag inflate and it stretch the muscle and skin. She goes until it starts to become uncomfortable. The process is repeated on the other side.
The nice thing about having the expanders partially filled is that I now have very small boobs. It also makes things a little more comfortable. I was able to sleep on my right side last night. The not so great things is that they are quite hard and slightly uneven. The doctor does his best to make sure they are in the same spot during surgery, but things don’t always stay put. The right side sits a little lower than the left. I’ll need to do a little shopping to find clothes that will draw less attention to that fact.
Three weeks post I’m doing ok. Not spectacular. Not horrible. I’ll get there.