Reality Bites

I’m weaning myself off of my pain meds. Holy sweet 6lb sweet baby Jesus on a stick! FFFFFFFluffernutter! Jumpin’ Jehosephat! Damn, y’all. Breathing exercises are in full play, but that doesn’t mean I feel awesome. Double damn! The alternatives, though, are numb fingers and brain cells and overdoing things to the point of exhaustion because I’m not sure when to stop. That’s not conducive to healing. Being hopped up on muscle relaxers and pain meds feels amazing post-surgery, don’t get me wrong, and for the first time ever I was 100% compliant about taking them, but my plastic surgeon has told me it’s time to pull up my big girl panties and take it like a woman. Actually what he said was that by now I should be tapering it down because the worst is over. What I translated that into was “You are a badass and it’s time to sober up because you’re slurring.” What my 12 year old son said this morning as I slowly, painfully poured strong coffee into a thermal cup (with a lid, because I will spill it, otherwise), explaining to the troops that I’m off the good stuff and may be a bit crankier than normal was, “Oh, crap. HULK SMASH!” I shit you not.


I met my new oncologist yesterday. Dr. R was nice, personable, funny, and best of all seems to know her stuff. I am so, so SO relieved that I seem to have been sent only doctors, pa’s, nurses, and staff that I think are fabulous, who have excellent track records, and who have a patient-centered approach to their respective area of expertise. That doesn’t always happen, but for now, I’m going to be grateful. 3 other medical appointments were made, and my dance card is quite hastily being filled.

(Side note, here is a transcription, as close to verbatim, of the conversation that just occurred between kids 1, 2, & 3 as I was writing the previous paragraph)

3: (playing Call of Duty. Don’t judge.) You’re so ODSDT!

1: (from the other room where she is furiously iphoning, like it’s her job to fangirl. For real.) Did you just say he has an STD?!?!?!?!

3: (giggling) No-uh!!!! What does that even mean?!

2: (giggling) Dude, I think it’s some kind of disease.

1: Do you mean OCD?

3: I don’t know. Probably. STD, ODSDT, OCD, whatever!

Listening to these kids is seriously entertaining. The mess they make and the Level 49 Mommy Explosion that it results in, not so much.

Ok, back to me.

My lovely friend, M, has spent to better part of 2 days tootling me around to doctor’s appointments, to Target to pick up prescriptions (they have the best bottle labeling system ever), to lunch at my favorite Mediterranean place, and generally keeping me in fresh gauze and being awesome. She even pushed me around in a wheelchair! Funny story; this random guy kept waving at me and saying hi while I was in the chair. Hi, random guy! Nope, not special needs even though I apparently look it, but thanks for being awkwardly friendly and slightly creepy throughout the store!

Me & M
My palazzo pants game is strong

I’ve also been relaxing (read “forced into submission by pain, drugs, and strict doctor’s orders”) with my kids.

He voluntarily spent 2 days hanging out with me. Of his own volition. It’s a mastectomy miracle!
Getting a dose of Vitamin Q, before she started standing on her head next to me, scaring the ever-loving shit out of me that I’d get kicked.
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We were joking and laughing all morning. ALL MORNING! Again, it’s a mastectomy miracle!
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#3 trying to figure out why I interrupted him to take a bunch of pictures
My wild-haired curly girlie, who made me a sandwich because it was lunch time and she didn’t want me to get up

I’ve really had a chance to reconnect with my kids, to be part of their interactions with each other, and to be the recipient of their love. Oh, texting is the new invalid bell, just so you know. It’s awesome, you simply text the person whom you’ve chosen to perform your desired task, hear them grumble to each other, “Oh, god. What does she want now?!” and remind them that they love you are are doing this because CANCER!

So, enough of the feel-good, funny stuff. There’s so much more of that, but there’s also A LOT of the not fun stuff to go over. The really awesome things that have happened are that my drains are out! YES! OUT! It is amazing how much better that alone feels. I wish I had pictures of them coming out, but I had my eyes closed, doing breathing exercises to help with the weirdness and discomfort.

Ding dong, the drains are gone! Hell yeah!

It means I can raise my arms just a bit higher, I’m not tethered, they won’t catch on anything, my 4 year old won’t keep grabbing them, and the bulb won’t drop anymore while I’m trying to get clean pulling on the stitches and hurting like a little beyotch. I also got to shower. Finally! For the love of all things! I! GOT! TO! SHOWERRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!! And it was glorious, so sayeth Lex. The underarm hair growth wasn’t just embarrassing, it also made the incision from where my lymph nodes were removed really irritated. You can see it above, in the newly forming jungle, as a slightly thicker line toward the lower part of my underarm. That’s new scar tissue surrounded by really sensitive skin that was screaming at me to shave. The black stuff that you’re seeing is from my black bra and surgical glue (for reduced scaring) and the tape that held gauze in place. The other side has much more skin damage from the drain rubbing against it, blisters, etc. I’m walking much more, but using my kids as living walkers when I’m at home and exhausted.

Melissa, who can remove a JP drain like nobody’s business! She’s awesome! Shout Out!
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Dr. Schneider, a.k.a. The Breast Whisperer Need I say More?

As for showering, I can’t express what it means to be able to clean most of myself in a shower again. This entire experience could very easily be considered wholly undignified or as a way to do a little bit of letting go of ego and accepting that sometimes in life, we must show our true selves to others. So far for me that means showing the world my hairy armpits, my newly reconstructed boobs, and the embarrassing underbelly of my cancer and surgical experience. I’ve had to depend on others in a way that I’ve prided myself on not needing before. The act of raising my arms to eat has worn me out. My husband has had to sponge bathe me. The first time, I almost passed out from standing too long (all of about 5 minutes). My daughter has twice washed my hair. My children have had to adjust pillows, put my little desk over my legs, and have endured post-surgical, medication related constipation and gas that has stunned us all. Ego=Gone.

Speaking of gas, let’s go over some things you may or may not ever think could happen to you but have to me and luckily it was within the walls of my home among loved ones. Gas. There will be gas. And lots of it, sister. Remember all the stuff that gets pumped into the veins during and after surgery? It leaves you constipated. I took a shit-ton (pun intended) of other stuff to counter-act this, especially 3 days after surgery when I strained just a little. I immediately regretted this. I thought my chest had caught fire and I nearly fainted. I was literally in tears on the toilet, unable to get up for several minutes, The intense pain in my chest lasted for hours. The good news was that I was still unable to go and the buildup was turning my abdomen into a solid rock of doom. And then there was the gas. Oh, dear lord, the gas. So, the laxative pills, glyco-lax, prune juice, and suppositories were still attempting to work their collective doodoo voodoo (I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself there) and the result is that I was erupting in ways that left us all stunned. It was horrifying and yet so liberating, to be honest. Smells and sounds that made my 12 year old son ask if that had actually come out of my body or if I was playing a joke. Lots and lots and lots of air fresheners were brought on scene. What I can say now, now that I’m physically moving more (which works wonders for your system, let me tell you), and am no longer in fear of a spark near me causing an explosion, is that I don’t think I’ll ever not appreciate a regular bowel function again. Never, never, never. But if you experience something along these lines, know I feel your pain. And here’s some air freshener. And a salad.

I’m still getting strong enough to open the refrigerator door by myself, but haven’t leveled up to car door opening and closing. Now that I can shower and make coffee with out assistance, I’m pretty sure I’ll be driving again in no time! By which I mean maybe a week or so, which feels like an eternity. I miss it terribly. (Mazdas really do feel like Zoom Zoom) Losing your ability to perform basic, daily functions and drive yourself and/or others is really difficult. I’m frighteningly independent, so I’m looking at is as a major growth experience. Asking for help when needed is no longer optional, and I have a new appreciation for the people I’ve surrounded myself with and their willingness to jump in and take over.

I’m also waiting to get the new flavor of protein shake that Dr. Schneider has whipped up. Oh, did I forget to mention that the man who is the Houdini of Hooters, The Magician of lady Mounds, The Whisperer of Breasts, also has his own line of protein shakes and supplements? I’m waiting to try to coconut flavor. Apparently chocolate is amazing, but this takes it up a notch. That experience will definitely be related.

So, now that you’ve seen and read all the awfulness and embarrassing stuff that I was too doped up to talk about till now, I honestly hope you have a fantastic day!

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