This time last year . . .

4 Aug

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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 everย thereย is . . .

I guess I could call it the big fake out . . . ๐Ÿ™‚ 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,


3 Responses to “This time last year . . .”

  1. Sandy August 4, 2010 at 11:26 AM #

    I’m sorry that you felt so alone. You never were, you know. It was all just an illusion. The night before your surgery, after Michael and I visited, I stayed up doing Buddhist chants for your healing. The day of your surgery, I did more. I’m sure many others were praying for you, some at the very moment you were crying. You were surrounded with love. Sometimes, our fear or grief can be so strong we don’t notice the love and energy coming our way, but it’s always there. *hug*

    BTW, crying is good for us. I recently discovered some new research that indicates that a really good cry removes excess estrogen from our systems. Who knew? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Let me know if you need anything.


  2. cancerfree2b August 4, 2010 at 11:57 AM #

    Hi Sandy,
    Hug right back at you! I know I wasn’t alone, but . . . fortunately, since I WAS in the shower, I guess it was good that I was physically alone ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thank you now and thank you then for all that you have done for me, the prayers, the rides, the support and thoughtfulness that have constantly come my way from you have been a great source of strength. I know I was not alone and I am not alone now. It is a humbling experience, this cancer nonsense. I see many who do not survive it and many who suffer so much just to be here a bit longer. All of that makes my complaining seem stupid and petty.

    But, I wrote what I did today because of something that I read on someone else’s blog. It was a tribute to her friend who recently lost his battle with cancer. She wrote that he (her friend) taught her to be honest about her own cancer. That without him, she would not have learned to tell the truth about treatment, what she was going through etc. And, that without him she would not have been as strong or capable herself . . . without hearing the truth.

    I guess I would have liked to have known a lot more about this – the reconstruction part of things – before undertaking it. So, I wanted this out there . . . not so much for someone who is going through this to read this and then change their mind about having reconstructive surgery, but, simply to know a little more about how one might feel about it before undertaking it . . . to perhaps give some thought to not doing it, or at least have an idea of some of the feelings surrounding it, I guess ๐Ÿ™‚

    I really think that it would have been completely okay to NOT have reconstructive surgery. But, it was never given as an option, it was just sort of this railroad to breast reconstruction junction, never a thought given to NOT doing it. I don’t know, it was almost like whenever I brought it up to any doctor that I was treated like I was crazy. All I wanted was to be well, get well, to no longer be sick. It just seems to add on more physical burdens to the past year and a half is wasteful, months of recovery, when I could be DOING something that is good . . . all of this in the name of new breasts.

    Thank you for your comments. I always appreciate what you have to say. And, oh my goodness . . . releasing estrogen? Wow, well maybe I will incorporate crying into my regular health regime . . . ๐Ÿ™‚

    Okay, maybe not ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. Sandy August 4, 2010 at 12:37 PM #

    *lol* about the crying. You’re funny. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I don’t think your complaining is stupid or petty. I recall whining over something to a friend of mine who’s in a wheelchair, then having that moment of realization about just who I was complaining to. I apologized for being so petty. He said not to worry, “You can’t be competitive with suffering.” He said my problems were as serious to me as his were to him. Yours are as serious to you. And so it goes.


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