Mornings are hard. I think it’s tied to the lack of movement overnight, my inability to do anything other than sleep on my back. I wake up stiff and exhausted, it takes time for me to get my muscles warmed up. I’m down to just one Percocet right before bed. During the day I’ve been taking Aleve. My pain is entirely manageable and tolerable right now. I’d probably have to call it discomfort rather than real pain — and that’s a win.
Yesterday I saw my plastic surgeon for the first time since leaving the hospital. I had appointments with his PA and his NP last week, but I was curious to hear what Dr. F would have to say about my progress. When he came in the room, I told him I wanted to hug him, but I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to. He smiled and lightly wrapped his arms around me. He’s a funny guy. Confident and charming, clearly proud of his work. I bet if you asked him, he’d tell you that he considers himself to be an artist. And the truth is, he quite skillfully put me back together. My torso looks like a sewn together mess right now, but it won’t look like that forever. As Dr. F ran his hands over my incisions and explained how everything would eventually heal, he told me that my scars would pretty much disappear. Another win.
The challenge now is that it could take up to six months for my body to “settle.” I still have about 10 lbs of fluid weight to lose. There’s a weird squishy spot above the inside of my left elbow that looks like the muscle dropped and deflated, but according to Dr. F it’s more likely IV fluid. “You can’t imagine how much stuff we pump into you during surgery and immediately after,” he said. “It takes time.” My breasts are hard and still numb, though I’m told the feeling will come back and the tissue will soften — but again, all of this takes time.
My mobility is pretty good. I can lift my arms to about shoulder height, but now that the drains are out and the incisions are closed, getting back that full range of motion is a goal. Dr. F told me to start reaching for things, to go ahead and carry something that may feel a little heavy. The trick is not to overdue it. I don’t want to pull or strain anything, but I need to get my strength back. This morning I emptied the dishwasher and managed to place things onto some of the higher cabinet shelves. It may not sound like much, but for two weeks I’ve had to ask my husband or son to reach for a mug or a cereal bowl, so stretching my arm high enough to do that for myself feels like another win.
I have an appointment later today with my breast surgeon. I am anxious to hear her thoughts on my recovery. I know she plans to review the pathology with us and refer me to a medical oncologist. As much as I’d like to think this is the end of the road, I know I still have a lot of healing to do and possibly even more more treatment to come.
I do think I’m through the worst of it, though. Or at least I hope I am. It’s motivating and encouraging to feel like I’m making progress, to know that the surgery is behind me, that I really am starting to feel stronger and able to do more for myself. The more I can get back to my regular routine, the less overwhelming everything will seem.
The cancer is gone. And while that’s the piece of it that is hard to trust, I know I have to try hard to believe: the cancer we know of is gone. For now, I’ll call that another win.