"I enjoy convalescence. It is the part that makes illness worthwhile."
George Benard Shaw
Well three weeks have gone by since I last posted. I feel a little wiser, a little humbler, a little changed, and completely grateful. I am also a little blonder. Don't ask just tell me I look great. Midlife crisis comes in all forms, at least I didn't buy a car.
The day of my surgery came with less drama than the previous one. No migraine to distract or the feeling of loss of control with my initial diagnosis. I asked for this, I never asked for cancer. Now of course I am scared to death, but it was like choosing to walk through the haunted house and not being pushed. ( I like to be seasonal with my analogies). My fears were lessened with the nothing less than superb care I received from the surgical and recovery team at the Health Science Hospital. Doctors and nurses coming in to see me and get me ready, bringing a sense of calm and trust that was quite remarkable. I can't ever thank them enough for that. I was in good hands and I knew it. I wasn't sure exactly how I would look coming out as the surgeon wasn't completely sure himself if he would be giving me a implant or expander on my new mastectomy side. I was good with whatever at this point. My biggest concern was the fact they wanted me to take my underwear off. I did as instructed but like a completely obsessed person I kept looking at my husband and saying " wish I could wear my underwear" over and over again. A new nurse comes in and I try and see if I can figure out a way to get my drawers back on. Nope they gotta stay off. I know I wore them for my first mastectomy. Geez! Hmmm.... then they put the lovely white compression stockings on me from heel to hip. Well now. No underwear and these long stockings. Somehow it just felt wrong. I had not taken this part into account so no preliminary waxing you know, " down around". You know how they say if you cut the grass it will grow faster, well if your hair falls out and grows back its like a chia pet. Just saying...Anyways I knew I had to let it go. They brought me to the operating room and fussed, poked and talked to me to keep me calm. The mask went over my face, I panicked. I felt like I couldn't breath. The nurse sees this, and lightens her grip. I look up and say through the mask " thank you". She looks down. Good she hears me. She says " your welcome" and its night night Sondria.....I am theirs.....
I awake several hours later to find I have new breast on my left and expander now in my chest on the right. Still lopsided but on my way to getting back to something. I can't say getting back to the old me as that person doesn't exist anymore. The essence of me will always be here, but the new chick with cancer is part of me now as well. I have landed myself the most wonderful recovery nurse. She fusses and checks and asks how I am. The two new formed mounds on my chest are on "FIRE". She gives me doses of this and that, not working really. I am trying to evaluate my pain level and it seems to be maintaining at "OMG this friggin hurts". I find myself crying, and sobbing. Overwhelmed I believed its called. I find out later that this gets me my first ever Ativan. I seemed to be so much more coherent, and with it, last surgery. She works hard to get me settled and calm. I finally get to see my husband around 6 o'clock. I am completely full of painkillers while my husband sits for several hours. I can really only remember reaching over and touching his hand and saying " I love you Patrick" over and over again. I meant every word even if I was high as a kite. He is a man of few words so he sits quietly as I bob and weave out of being awake.
The nurse assures us we will be there in recovery for the night, but at around 10:30 pm beds are found for all three of us who are left there. I am going to cardiology. I hear someone say as they wheel me on the ward "sure you can eat of the floors on this ward its so clean". My luck is holding out. Again I am placed with a attentive and kind nurse who chats with me and makes me feel completely cared for. Pillows fixed, water when needed not a bad place at all.
The next day it seems the consensus is to go home. I was happy to stay and be a sick patient in a hospital bed, it seemed appealing. Again the faces of my ever enduring friends are there and ready to transfer me home. The last three weeks have finally brought me to a place where I knew I needed to stop completely. This was partly by choice and mostly due to pain and discomfort. As this journey has gone, with every negative there are more positives. I reconnected with old friends, got food cooked with love, and if after that I don't know that I am loved then I need to get a grip. I am once again humbled at my breast cancer support group as the women talk about their cancer journey's and I am reminded to be grateful. I get out of my own way as I see an old school friend deal with her 17 year olds' diagnosis of cancer and watch as they send out positive energy while their hearts are breaking. I call a dear old friend who is just finished her third round of chemo for breast cancer. A dedication from a niece for a fundraiser for breast cancer. Sometimes I just have to remind myself to ask people " are you okay today" so that the positive vibes I receive are recycled and given back.
As I am finishing writing this blog, my thoughts that I am writing down turn into reality. I receive an email from a friend. It contained a poem from a woman I am getting to know who just thought I might like to read it and that it might mean something to me. It does. Now I am sharing with you. Thank you Joanie.
Love after Love
The time will come
When, with elation,
You will greet yourself arriving
At your own door, in your own mirror,
And each will smile at the others welcome,
And say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
To itself, to the stranger who has loved you
All your life, whom you ignored
For another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
The photographs, the desperate notes,
Peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.