I had my first physical therapy appointment yesterday and it was nothing like I thought it would be. I’ve had PT before, for a pinched nerve in my shoulder, and it was pretty much a waste of time. But this? This was intense. I came home and crashed. Honestly, I could barely drive myself home.
As exhausting as it was, the appointment was kind of a revelation. The therapist is a breast cancer and lymphedema specialist, and her knowledge and understanding of my surgery and the whole recovery process was enlightening. She’s actually observed the surgery, that’s how closely she works with my breast surgeon and my plastic surgeon’s office. And guess what? I got to ask her a lot of the questions that have been on my mind.
What do they talk about in the operating room? Anything and everything.
Do they take bathroom breaks or step out for something to eat? No.
Do they listen to music? Yes.
She told me that there’s almost no way to describe how remarkable the surgery is, the amount of scraping and manipulation to ensure that there is no breast tissue left behind, the internal stitches to hold everything in place. She said the plastic surgeon cuts out a piece of the third rib on the left side to get access to the arteries he needs. He takes out a lymph node there (it’s tested to make sure the cancer is not in the chest wall) — I had seen in the pathology report that my rib was analyzed and “clean,” but I had no idea why.
It kind of blows my mind.
Anyway, I think PT is going to be a big help. The plan is for me to go twice a week and then on the off days, try to do as much cardio as I can manage. She doesn’t want me doing any arm, or abdominal exercises yet. Right now, the focus is on lengthening those muscles and getting my full range of motion back. I’m going to try to get to the gym or outside to walk a couple days a week.
The last time I went to the gym, I walked a mile on the treadmill. It was a 25 minute mile, but a mile nonetheless. I felt a little more confident, a little more sure of myself. I know I’m making progress. And the weather is changing, soon it will be nice enough to take long walks through town, and while it’s not the same as walking up into the foothills in California, it’s still the promise of fresh air and a nice change of scenery from the inside of these walls.
I have to keep my mind focused on the good, on the fact that I’m getting stronger, making progress, and doing remarkably well, all things considered.
I also need to get my diet back on track, to eliminate the sugar and eat smarter — but that’s a post for another day.