I haven’t written in awhile – in part because my Mom always told me “if you don’t have anything nice to say…. ” well you know. Truthfully, while the first few days following my surgery weren’t bad at all (I think I was still feeling the effects of the anesthesia and was definitely feeling the effects of the pain pills) so I was too dopey and tired to write anything. Once all that passed, I wanted to write something positive, inspiring, uplifting – but all I had in me was whining and complaining and at the time, I didn’t want to share that.
Another reason I haven’t written is that the kids are home from school for Christmas and what I need most is to just to enjoy them. And I have. Although, I must admit, I’ve been a little irritable and cranky and I’m not sure they are enjoying having me around as much. Lack of sleep and discomfort – plus getting a little stir crazy just sitting around the house on top of the emotional impact of losing my breasts – well lets just say it didn’t make me my most pleasant.
So I am writing now because my kids are caught up playing Wizards 101 together, and I’m feeling pretty good today. In fact, them playing so nicely together is part of the reason I decided to write.
It’s one of the many silver linings around my cancer cloud.
This experience has definitely brought them closer together. I’ve seen them lean on each other and work together to help out around the house. The fact that they can rely on each other and take care of each other is truly a gift. One that they probably need right now while dealing with me.. poor babies. But they know how much I love them and they have not been stingy with their expressions of love for me lately. Another silver lining.
I think the cranky stems in part from the fact that I’ve been having some trouble sleeping – off and on. Now that I’m off the pain meds, it is a little harder. I don’t need the meds, I know that – I’m not in any real pain. Discomfort yes, but not pain. But I think they made it easier to sleep. Now, some nights I sleep like the dead and others I just can’t seem to get comfortable with the tissue expanders poking at me.
Have you ever worn an underwire bra that was a little too tight? The tissue expanders feel like that – under your skin.
After the first expansion, I was told I could sleep on my side but not on my stomach. I was SOO excited. Ah, the little things. So that night I got myself propped up on a wedge pillow with a nice soft pillow under my side – ahhhh. It was so comfortable and I fell asleep in minutes. But I woke up with a bruise right under the expander on that side. Sigh.
Drinking anything cold feels incredibly odd. It feels like the liquid is outside my body and spreading out under the expanders. I thought this was in my head until I googled it and found out that a lot of other mastectomy patients have had similar feelings.
I’m doing all my exercises and stretching. Sometimes its easy. Sometimes it hurts a little. My left arm is still pretty numb from under my arms to my elbow. The right is better. But when the feeling starts coming back, it gets kind of pins and needles. I also have had some odd tingling, firey sensations and a weird snake like sensation.
The nurse said that this was normal, but early. Which means I am healing quickly. So all the weirdness is good news! I tell myself that every time I feel that pulling sensation – like my ligaments have been shortened – in my left arm or the tightening across my chest or the pressure under my arms. I’m proud of myself for handling it and for finding the bright side.
That pride is another silver lining. Realizing I’m tougher than I thought.
But I’m also weaker than I thought – in a good way – if that makes sense.
One of the greatest silver linings is that this experience has brought me and Mike closer together. I’ve always been fairly independent. I never liked to rely on anyone and I don’t like to feel vulnerable or needy. But I’ve had to allow myself to be vulnerable and needy with Mike. I’ve had to let him take care of me. He has been helping me with everything – from something as simple as pouring me a glass of water (I’m not allowed to lift anything over 5 pounds and our giant pitcher is heavy) to as tough as emptying the drains full of my blood and fluids twice a day for the first week after surgery.
I have never felt closer to him. I can rely on him for all of this – the physical needs but I can count on him emotionally too. I can talk to him about how I feel about my body. I love that he is trying so hard to find the balance between making me feel cared for and not making me feel like an invalid. It is more than a silver lining.
There has also been a spiritual awakening that has come with this – a feeling of being closer to my faith that is also a silver lining – the belief that my “cancer-free” status stems from that faith and your prayers – the knowledge that prayer is powerful.
The gratefulness that I feel for all of the love, support and prayers that I have received. I’ve been so touched by the thoughtfulness of my friends – fb and real life – my soccer families and political family and my Hill sisters and my real family. My mom and dad and sisters have all made me feel so cared for and loved.
So it brings me full circle. I didn’t write for awhile because I didn’t want to complain. And then I remembered that I’m allowing myself to feel whatever I feel – I am having a good day. It made me able to look back on the bad with some perspective and it is ok for me to whine a little – as long as I am grateful and thankful for my blessings first and foremost.
And I wouldn’t have those silver linings if I didn’t have the cloud.