Two weeks

I’m two weeks post-surgery today. I feel great – no pain and full range of motion on my right side – so much better than I thought I’d feel at this point.

In the last few weeks, I’ve had four doctor appointments, and one more scheduled for tomorrow. Thank goodness the cancer center is only a few miles away! The surgeon couldn’t believe I wasn’t in more discomfort or pain. The plastic surgeon checked all the incisions, removed my drain, ordered me to not lift more than 10 pounds (an increase from five pounds – yay!), avoid stress that would lead to high blood pressure or increased heart rate (easy with kids, right?!) and to wear a bra 24 hours a day (ugh). Also, I have to leave on a clear sticky surgical tape covering my incisions for another two weeks – because it’s so sticky, it’s full of little fuzz balls from towels and clothing. Yuck! The oncologist was giddy with the pathology results. He actually giggled at the success of the chemo and surgery. Of course, he’s also the one who proclaimed he loves “to kill cancer!” The oncologist said based on the pathology report and after I complete radiation, my odds of a reoccurrence would be “really, really, really low.” Woot!

The fourth appointment was with the lymph edema clinic – and a new doctor. Because lymph nodes were removed (only the three sentinel nodes), I’m at risk for lymph edema. After meeting with the lymph edema team, the thought of this condition scares me more than anything I’ve been through. The chance increases the more nodes are removed, and since I only had three removed, my risk is slight. But it’s a condition I’ll have to watch for – for the rest of my life. Any break in the skin (from a bug bite, needle stick, scratch), burn (including sunburn), “crushing” (like laying on the arm at night or having blood pressure taken on that side), or repetition (like up-and-down painting of a wall or the motion of cross country skiing) could cause a build up of protein within the cells that cannot be filtered out through the lymph system. This could result in swelling requiring compression sleeves and gloves, the need for lymph massage (not the relaxing kind of spa treatment I enjoy), or other treatments depending on the severity. It sucks.

But my biggest issue right now is figuring out what to do with the left breast. The right breast is amazing, but the left one… well, a friend summed it up by saying I’m my own before-and-after, at the same time. The left side is larger and lays lower on my chest – heck, it’s been exposed to gravity for 41 years so it sags a bit. When I look down, there’s a two-inch slope downward from my right breast to my left. It’s temporary – reconstruction has to wait until six months after radiation, and I thought it would be no big deal. But it is. I’ve scheduled a few appointments with bra fitters this week (what’s a few more appointments?!), but I don’t want to spend a ton of money (since it is a temporary condition). Worse case scenario, I’ll wear a LOT of scarves to cover my chest. Thank goodness I live in a climate where I can wear scarves from September until May! First world problems…

The kids have been great through all this, but they’re starting to get antsy, and, unfortunately, school doesn’t start until the end of the month. It hasn’t been the most fun summer – no road trips to the Gulf coast or weekend getaways this year. Everything has been dependent upon “how mom’s feeling.” Sure, they’ve been mini golfing and to the movies and fishing/camping (with my mom), but it hasn’t been our usual summer. I really need to think of a way to make next summer extra special…

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