*from 5/3, the day after my Modified Radical Mastectomy
My first in-patient, major surgery is complete and I am doing fine. Bye-bye breast! I know I am better off without you but I already miss you a little. Thanks for helping to nourish my first child. I wish it could have been different with the second. They have taken good care of me at University of Washington Surgery Pavilion, but after a night in the hospital I am ready to get out of here! Thanks for all your continued love and support. It makes me feel good, even better than the drugs that helped my sleep and have me up and standing.
*from 5/9, One week post-surgery
Part of me is missing and I have been in a thick fog. It has been a week. 7 days that have slipped one into the next. Moments of something close to normal scattered amongst many more I can’t remember. After the excitement and highly drugged state of my hospital discharge on Wednesday, things got harder. The strong pain meds created a bunch of other problems (constipation) so I stopped taking them after a couple days. The reality of my mutilated body didn’t really sink in until we made the journey home on Thursday and I have struggled to find comfort despite loads of pillows and a team of dedicated caregivers. Liz met Matt and I in Seattle and Mom and Jess managed the homestead and little ones on Orcas. Everyone has been tip-toeing around trying to help me even while I have spent most of my time falling asleep, sleeping, and trying to wake up. My recovery mode is one of few words, little patience and lots of space, although I was anxious to come home and see my kids. They have been strong medicine that pulls me out of my funk and into the moment and I am grateful for that. I am also grateful for support enough that I can go rest in peace in the bedroom whenever I need to. Despite tons of rest, I think I have changed my clothes only a couple times and have yet to muster the energy to shower. My left arm has been almost glued to my side and excessive numbness in my armpit and chest is slowly being replaced by soreness and zings of pain as my body and nerves recover from the trauma of surgery. I have two drain tubes coming out of my left side that collect fluid and must be stripped and emptied twice a day, otherwise I am better left alone. Well, I hide a way from this process too as long as I can but it has to be done. And my family keeps putting food and drink and medicine in front of me despite my grumpiness and distance.
I feel like a ghost of my previous self, at least much of the time. But I left the house today and went to the park and took a walk and sat in the sun and shade and smiled and cooed at my baby and it was refreshing and promising. I hope this is a turning point after all day in bed yesterday. I hope to spend an increasing amount of time out in the fresh air and sun. And your gifts of kind words and flowers and food have been very much appreciated. Really. Thank you for thinking of me and supporting me and my family, still.
We head to Seattle tomorrow for a follow up on Wednesday. We spoke to the surgeon today about the pathology and nothing was a surprise. He removed a 9 cm tumor and 4 of the 11 lymph nodes removed were cancerous. The chemo seems to have unfortunately only treated the inflammatory components (redness, swelling, itchiness) but surgery has taken out what cancer was there and radiation is the next step in killing off whatever might be left behind. We are returning to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance for this treatment which should start early June. We are looking for a place to live in Seattle for the 6 week duration (for matt, 2 little ones and my mom and I), at least for Monday-Friday and we can return home on the weekends. I look forward to hearing from you or seeing you. Keep your own updates coming. I love to read them.
Down to one drain, 10 days out from surgery. This was a turning point in recovery for me and things got way easier once the final drain was removed a week later.
Some silliness on the ferry, rocking my post-surgical camisole. It had straps that clipped open and closed and pockets to hold the drains.