January ten was the date of my bilateral mastectomy and left axillary dissection (multiple lymph nodes removed).
Day eleven was my follow up appointment with my surgeon to have the drains (3) removed (sutures snipped and drainage tubing ripped from inside my chest wall) and have the dressings taken off. It hurt. I didn’t look because I can’t see my own FLAT chest without a mirror while lying down on the table. She said everything looks good. <sweet> She said I could take a shower now. <great>
Day twelve I take my first look at myself with the help of a mirror (because when I look down all I see are skin-hills; the undulating hills and valleys topography of my new chest…with puckering…where the sutures are still holding my skin together over the scraped out chest wall….two horizontal pinched up lines from mid chest to underarms. I’m not surprised. I look and touch and think: this is my newest version of me. I get into the shower and lather up my palms and run my hands over my chest and under arms, I let my fingers trail over the sutures, the swells and depressions, the puckers and bruises. I get light-headed and have to get out.
Day thirteen I decide that my body needs healing, vitamin D is being showered down without the hinderance of clouds so I open my windows without screens and make myself comfortable in my chair in front of the window. I put on some olive oil – why not? and I sit in the sun and fall asleep.
Day seventeen I start feeling a little down, bored, useless, hobbled, in pain and hopeless. I’ve tried range-of-motion exercises and probed gently with my fingers under my left arm…the ropes that hinder my progress…what the fuck are those?! I can’t move my arm very far in any direction without a knife being jabbed into it. I join a FaceBook group and find out that the ‘ropes’ I feel are called “cords” that form due to lymph blockage due to the surgery and the lymph nodes taken out. Some say, “see a lymph massage specialist.” I just close out and go to sleep. The thought of anyone touching, much less ‘massaging’ or probing my underarm makes me queasy.
Day eighteen I sit in the sun again…no oil this time. Again, I fall asleep. I get into bed. I get out and shower and get back into bed. I binge on some show. I take some oxycodone and an ambien and I go back to sleep.
Day nineteen and I know something is happening. I’ve managed to go about eight months in flight….do what I gotta do…best not to think about it….just get shit done. But now I can’t really DO anything….I’m waiting; waiting to ‘feel better’, waiting to be ‘normal’ again…and wondering if that’s not going to happen.
~~~~ “Oh, your being melodramatic! Of course it’s going to happen, you just have to give it time.”
Yes, it will happen. One day I’ll be…better; not ‘normal’, not ‘myself’, but a new, healthier version of me.