Today I was given a “drain belt.” It’s just not the sort of thing I can wrap my head around. Six felt pouches on a velcro band to hold six post-surgery drains. I am told the drains are heavy and I will want to wear the belt to support them so I can move around and be more comfortable. Then someone brought up showering and how you have to wrap the drains around a different kind of cord that drapes around the neck, and then my brain shut down.
I spent an hour this morning sitting around a table drinking coffee and chatting with other women who are pre- and post-surgery. The group meets once a month in my plastic surgeon’s office under the direction of a licensed social worker. It’s an amazing service, and I’m grateful Dr. F’s office believes in caring for the whole patient, and even the patient’s family. But it’s a lot to take in, and I’m not sure I’m ready. Or ever will be.
I walked out of there wanting something new, something just for me, so I wandered over to Lord & Taylor and bought myself a black leather tote bag and some Bobbi Brown cosmetics. Retail therapy works. Maybe better than group therapy.
My surgery is in three weeks. And because I can’t think too much about the actual procedure, I find myself wondering whether I should take my phone with me to the hospital and how soon I might be able to text or call my son. I wonder, too, whether I should pack a bag with toiletries or keep my wallet with me. Is 3-4 days in the hospital long enough to bring a robe and slippers? Will I even care about these things once I’m there?
I know my mother is going to call me after she reads this with the answers to all these questions. I don’t really want answers. I know none of it matters; these superficial worries, these things my mind holds on to in an effort to crowd out the bigger, scarier concerns.
When I met with the genetic counselor on Friday, she told me that the majority of cancers are random. Only a small percentage can be linked to genetic factors. I think most of us want to believe in something other than random cell mutations. If it’s random, there’s very little we can do to avoid it. Or control it.
This morning, one of the women mentioned that she’s having a hard time with chemo. The others nodded their heads and I realized how long this road may be. Surgery has been my entire focus. I want it to be the end of my journey, but it may likely be only the beginning.