Joy and Sparkle

  It’s been nine days since surgery.  I feel …  I have no idea how I feel.  My body is getting stronger but I’m not sure what’s happening in my mind.  I haven’t cried much, or cussed much or really felt much since my surgery.  I’m guessing that’s because of the assortment of pharmaceuticals polluting my body at the moment.
  So we’ll start with my body.  I am slowly regaining the use of my arms.  I can hold a full glass of ice water with minimal discomfort now.  I can do the Hale Hitler with my right arm and raise my left arm to parallel.  Shirts are a very tricky affair, what with getting them on and off over my head.  I have some button-ups, but they have long sleeves and my menopausal body is always hot.  My legs work great, though, and I quickly learned to press my feet into the ground to stand myself up without having to use my arms for leverage.  Chair pose sure does come in handy.
  I have a drain under each armpit.   Those drains, not so incidentally, freaking suck.  I have a silicon tube sutured under each armpit that drains into a bulb that fits in a pouch which velcros to the ugliest bra you’ve ever seen.  So with clothes on I look like I am wearing a bad, lumpy movie fat suit.  And the drains are gross.  I have to dump the contents of the drains (basically blood-tinged pus) into measuring cups 3 times a day and record the output.  When it gets to 25cc’s or less in a 24-hour period the drains can come out.  Oh, and I can’t shower until they are gone.  I do not like them Sam I am. 
  My breasts are sore in ways I can’t fully describe.  They are simultaneously numb and hurting.  After the breast surgeon scraped (her word) all the breast tissue out, including the tissue around the sides under my armpits, the plastic surgeon placed silicon tissue expanders under my chest muscles and then expanded them 1/2 full with saline solution.  So in addition to having 3″ incisions across the  middle of each breast, I have these Frankensteinien expanders pressing on my chest muscles.  And the layer of skin and muscle over the expanders is so thin that you can feel the outline of each expander.  They seem a touch wider than the body space allotted them.  Next week they’ll begin expanding them even more to stretch the skin and muscle.  This is done with a needle in the plastic surgeon’s office.  Eventually they’ll have made a breast pouch on each side that will be filled with my own tissue and saline implants.  C-cup, in case you were wondering.  Big enough to balance my bodacious booty but not so big that I look like I’m going to fall on my face any minute. 
  The morning after surgery the breast surgeon came in to see about me.  She said the surgery went well and that she wanted to send me home later that day and that I should make a follow-up appointment for the next week.  I asked about the pathology report and she said I’d get it when I come to her office.  But she said that during surgery they found no gross tumors and that I should consider that day “Day 2 of Being Cancer Free.”  I think she wanted me to get up and do a cheer, but I had a hard time receiving that news with the same joy in which it was delivered.  She asked if I didn’t seem happy because I was in pain or depressed, and I said both.  She offered for a psychiatrist to come visit me.  Which after she left made me feel a little like a weirdo.  Surely I wasn’t the only depressed person on the SURGICAL ONCOLOGY floor.
  Part of me does feel a huge relief that the surgery is over.  Then another part of me warns me not to get ahead of myself because that part sees that once you have cancer it’s not ever going to be over.  It won’t be such an enormous part of my life forever, but it is a part of my body, mind and spirit and it will be a practice for me for the rest of my life not to let it get the best of me.  I think part of recovering from surgery is recovering my sense of joyand sparkle.  I feel it in moments but it slips through my fingers much more quickly than before the cancer grew.  Instead of being a glass-overflowing kind of girl, I’ve become a glass-is-almost-empty kind of girl.  I dont’ like that girl nearly as much.  So I’ll focus on allowing myself more celebrations, even when the cancer fear monster wants to rain on the parade.  Surely if I have come this far Iam strong enough to figure out how to do that!

3 Replies to "Joy and Sparkle"

  • comment-avatar
    September 1, 2011 (5:43 pm)


    It is so GOOD to “see your voice”! The fact that you know “your joy and sparkle” is not as encompassing as before is a good sign, it means you are still in touch with it. I pray that as the healing continues each day, that inch by inch your cup fills up with “joy and sparkle and peace”. Your glass may currently be at “low tide” but as prayer, hugs, love and encouragement make their way over the rim of your emotions the tidal wave of God’s peace that passes all understanding will fill your cup to overflowing!

    I pray the healing balm of Giliad touch you from head to toe and bring peace and comfort to you physically, emotionally and spiritually. HUGE HUGS!!

  • comment-avatar
    Diane Chadwick
    September 1, 2011 (8:11 pm)

    Susan’s mom here–so glad that this ‘one more hurdle’ is behind you. Now you can concentrate on healing. It is been a rough road but praying that those bumps and cliffs are all behind you. Keep posting–love reading it. I will be headed to McKinney the end of October. Just think ahead to that time of the year–it will be cooler in TX and it will be 8 weeks AFTER your surgery. Psalm 30:11-12. Hugs & prayers continuing your way.

  • comment-avatar
    dawn thompson
    September 3, 2011 (12:52 am)

    I have been so blessed by your candor. I have done countless anesthestics for this kind of surgery for the past 20 years. No one ever told me how they felt emotionally, psychologically, or even spiritually afterwards. I now have a insight to prepare my patients, for more than just the immediate surgery and immediate postop effects. I salute your strength, courage and sense of humor. Remember, you are light, this body is just a very squishy box that carries that spirit. Some say they are a body who has a spirit. I believe you are a spirit who has a body… for a short while. This experience will give you such empathetic insight that will truly be a blessing to others. Take it from me the expanders work and the end results will surprise you. 🙂 But more importantly, because you are gleening this experience as a character building, you will shine with a spiritual perkiness that no Hollywood sex symbol could come close to touching. You go girl!