This time last year I was just about to have my first surgery, a bi-lateral mastectomy. It seems so, so long ago. And, somehow, at the same time it is like it was yesterday. I can so vividly remember taking that last shower before surgery, washing my body with a special blue antiseptic soap that my surgeon asked me to use to help prevent infection. I will never forget that last shower, watching the bright blue soap run down my body and wash down the drain and thinking “this is the last time I will shower in this body.” I remember sobbing uncontrollably in the shower and even thinking of it now brings those tears right back. And I remember never feeling more alone in my life.
I remember knowing ahead of time that I would cry in the shower. Weird. I played it through my head before hand, like it was part of a movie script or something. But, as much as I had imagined it . . . when I took that shower . . . I was completely overcome with feelings I had not imagined, feelings of grief and sorrow and yes, some self pity and fear, but, mostly, just sorrow. I had imagined crying, but, I had not imagined how I would feel.
When I picture that time I am overcome again . . . here I am typing and crying . . . it has a way of sneaking up on you sometimes. Usually, it is when I am alone. But, sometimes it will hit me when I am not alone, maybe I am a passenger in a car – not alone – yet, alone in my thoughts for a bit . . . and I am struck with it and then the trick is to disguise it in some way.
I guess it is good to cry about it once in a while. After all, I think there has just been a numbness about it for this past year. And, there is/was/is the need to just be okay for everyone. That has been a big part of being numb, not letting myself go “there” . . . where ever there is . . .
I guess I could call it the big fake out . . . But, it is that fake out that has probably made it possible for me to get to where I am . . . so . . . that is good then. Still, it sneaks up on me sometimes.
I am okay though. But, it is hard now as I approach this next surgery. If I knew then what I know now, I am not sure I would be doing this. I guess it will all turn out. But, I am still not used to this new body and I wonder if I every really will be. I worry about taking the muscle out the right side of my back . . . not that I have a choice in the matter. But, I worry about it, about losing more feeling than I have already lost. It is surreal to willingly go through these things . . . for what, I wonder?
No one ever proposes the idea that maybe you don’t want to have reconstruction. Everyone, every doctor, surgeon etc., just assumes that it is what you, and what all women, want . . . to have replacement breasts. I just don’t know about that. If I could do it without losing physical agility, strength, then I probably would have no hesitation. But, I have not regained my pre-surgery use of my arms or strength.
I hear it takes a year or more for the tightness from this kind of surgery to go away. So, I guess I need to give it time. But, patience has not been one of my virtues lately. It was good, I think, to be very impatient with cancer. But, maybe not so good to be so impatient with this part of things.
Well, enough complaining. I have to get back to work!
Love and peace,