Well, it has been 8 months since my surgery in October, and next week I will be going in for my reconstruction surgery. Tuesday, July 14th, I will be admitted to Walter Reed and should actually come home later that night. I have had an uncomfortable tissue expander buried beneath my chest wall muscle all these months, and now that my chemo treatments are finished and I am not as prone to infection, it is time for it to be replaced.
I spent the entire day at the hospital on Wednesday this week, first in the chemo ward for my infusion, then to meet with my surgeon and pre-op team including anesthesia. Going through the steps preparing for surgery again takes my thoughts back to last year and all of the horrible emotions I was going through then. I suppose that is why I can’t get very excited about this next step in my recovery, because it is associated with many bad, traumatic memories. I just want it to be over and sitting there in the surgeon’s office I just wished I could get up and run out of the room and never return. But this, like the last surgery, is something I must do, and hopefully the one good thing about it, in the end, is that I will be more comfortable. Expected recovery time is a couple of weeks to a few weeks. I have hesitated for months about elaborating here about what type of surgery I am having or have had (“T.M.I.” as my kids may call it! Too much information) but I think it is important that people realize just what breast cancer does to a woman and that it can have a profound affect on her body, her self-esteem, her identity, her relationship and her future. All nerves from her collar bone to her rig cage are severed when the breast tissue is removed. She will never have feeling in that skin again. These effects last a lifetime and don’t end once many years have passed. She may seem normal on the outside but psychologically she suffers a tremendous loss.
I am experiencing some tightening of the tendon that runs from my arm pit to the wrist, a result of several lymph nodes being removed last October for biopsy. I am now doing daily physical therapy exercises to hopefully loosen things up and prevent scar tissue from building. The tingling feeling in my hands and fingers is lessening, and my fingernails are looking healthier, although they are still coming away from the nail bed. After three rounds of anti-biotics the lesions on the back of my neck are healed. The side effects from my current therapy are a constant drippy nose for the entire duration of a year ( I carry Kleenex with me EVERYWHERE), and some fatigue the couple of days after treatment.
My hair is coming in s-l-o-w-l-y, more slowly than I would like. This is still by far one of the hardest aspects of this journey and one I can’t wait to put behind me. I still cannot bear the thought of going out the front door without a scarf or wig on. Even around the house I do not go all-natural since my dog doesn’t recognize me and follows me around everywhere as if I am a stranger, and to be quite honest it is a disturbing site to see yourself in the mirror that way! 1/4 inch per month seems to be the going pace of growth, so in another 6 months I may have enough to style. I am walking every day and trying to build up my heart strength and stamina. The infusion drug I am currently on causes heart damage, and I have had a 10% decrease in output function since starting therapy in December. Pray that this number will stabilize and that I can get through the next 5 months of treatments without further damage. Please click on the video link below! Enjoy!
‘Til next week..
Breast Cancer Journey 7/10/09 <—-click here
I have created the video above as a photo journal of some of what has happened over the last 8 months.