Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Recon Redo- The Switch.

I went for my post-op visit yesterday.

December 14th I had my second surgery for the reconstruction.  The big switch.  The one where the expander's come out and the implants go in. The one with the skin grafts.  The one Dr. Thomas says is easy. The one that's supposed to make me "normal" again.

After months of recovery from the initial surgery, being stretched and carrying around the uncomfortable, hard expander's inside my chest-  I was ready for this one.

waiting, the worst part

This surgery was supposed to be outpatient, but I had some trouble waking up from anesthesia- and was in a lot of pain.  The internal stitching for this surgery is more involved- making the pain different but still intense. So, I was admitted and enjoyed the morphine pump for a while.

That's kind of a lie, there isn't anything enjoyable about a morphine pump after surgery. But having Shayne come to town to check on me, that made me smile.

Shayne, the best surprise 

It was a challenge having surgery less than two weeks before Christmas. With post-op restrictions, there was no wrapping presents, cooking, laundry, etc.  Shopping was completely out of the picture.  So I was thankful for my sister who came and stayed with us for 10 days after my surgery- and Mom and Larry who wrapped all the presents for us.  I'm not good at being still- so I'm thankful that at least for this season God slowed me to a stop and forced me to watch the season of Christmas from my couch - giving me a different view than the normal busy busy of the season.

Renee, making her famous cookies.

These surgeries took a toll on me. More than I expected.  I blame the drugs but the truth is- when you go through life and body changing reconstruction- you try to move on as if everything is the same, but it isn't.  You can only avoid thinking about it, going through the motions for so long.

The pain searing through your chest when you reach for anything, hug your kids or simply try to comb you hair reminds you that you're different.  Feeling like a mummy in your own bed because moving hurts keeps you in that place.   Privacy- hiding from others when trying on clothes or changing at the gym becomes huge. Nervous about how your husband will look at you from now on- all constant reminders.

I never hear the words breast cancer without a sting in the pit of my stomach catapulting me to that place of sensing something was wrong oh so many years ago.  And gratitude that God gave me that sense- and through all the yuck of exams, biopsies, mammograms, surgeries, disfigurement and reconstruction- twice- thankful that I am cancer free and I didn't have to go through chemo or radiation to get there. It's an emotional connection that I can't explain- a sister-hood of understanding the fear and the courage in the survival journey that are all different but in some ways the same.

Pastor Jake spoke recently on Habakkuk. He talked about the importance of expressing our true self to God- our feelings, frustrations, fears, anger and grief.  Acting like I'm supposed to, like I'm fine when I'm struggling- is just that, it's an act.  God wants us to be real with him.  Questioning God isn't doubt- it's an act of faith.

It was comforting to me, because I've wondered why God would save me from cancer but still take me down the path of loosing my breasts.  I don't have a clear answer yet, but I'm asking.  And one day maybe it will be clear.  But for now, I'm taking it a day at a time and admitting this is a very hard road.  I'm not spitting out that I'm fine and I got through this unscathed.  I didn't.  After months  of uncontrollable crying, an inability to focus, yelling at my kids for being kids and the dog for being a dog, forgetting everything important, not being able to think clearly, plan or follow-through on anything I admitted that I needed some help and asked my Doctor for some medication.

I share that with you only because it's a struggle, as a Christian, to admit that we don't have it together.  That sometimes life's circumstances throw more at us than we can handle on our own and trusting the wisdom of physicians to help us.  I spent years in shame because I thought I had to keep up the "act" and it can't be done.

God is our Wonderful Counselor, I can be honest with Him, but that doesn't mean I'll get the answers I'm looking for.  It doesn't mean you'll get the answers you're looking for.  But we can all find peace in our relationship with Him.

Other than suggesting one more minor office procedure to complete the process, I was cleared yesterday- no restrictions.  The pain I'm still experiencing is normal and Dr. T promises it will eventually go away. I am learning a new normal, and am so thankful for a skilled surgeon who takes the ugly and transforms it.

Eventually I'll look in the mirror and not be shocked with what I see.  And that 8- 10% chance that I will have the same complication again.  That I could find myself in this same place a few years down the road.... well, I'm leaving that at the feet of the cross.

Me, I'm going shopping for new clothes.



Happy Wednesday y'all!


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