Recovery was easy. I was getting round the clock attention, and everyday I would slowly walk to the mailbox to pull out half a dozen cards or so each day, and occasionally a get well package. The cards were all bright, cheery, happy. I wondered what kind of cards, if any, I would be getting had my cancer been more advanced.
I would assume notably less and notably more somber.
I spent my days propped on the couch watching reruns and bad daytime tv with my mom and sister. And then I spent my evenings laying on a large wedge pillow with Preston. I was forbidden from climbing steps without supervision, and I took ridiculously long and exhaustive showers trying to figure out how to wash my hair with one hand. I had full use of my right arm, but my left arm was severely limited, which made everything awkward and complicated. I had trouble just sitting up, and that wedge pillow saved my life. I found myself dragging it with me to the couch in the morning and then back upstairs in the evening to sleep. I still cried out in the mornings when I raised myself up for the first time in several hours. It was by far the most painful part of the day, but that pillow made all the difference.
I met with Dr. W. one week after my surgery. Riding in the car for that first trip was challenging. Bumps and turns caused pain and discomfort, and I just wanted to sleep through it. But it was worth it because Dr. W. decided during that first visit that he would remove my tube and grenade, and with one really bizarre-feeling suction-ey yank, it was out. And I was finally free from that damn grenade. I had planned to take just 10 days off from work, and I had no intention of returning with a disgusting, bloody tube coming out from under my blouse.
Dr. W. looked over my surgery site, took out a few stitches, and did an injection into my expander. The expander looked odd beneath my skin, making my breast look misshapen and lumpy. Using a small gadget, the assistant marked where the opening to my expander was located. She then inserted a long thick needle through my skin right above where my nipple would be and into the expander, which under normal circumstances might hurt a whole lot, but I was completely numb over the entire left side of my chest. And as I looked down, my (non) breast began to grow!He could only inject a small amount, but as the expander began stretching, it started to take on the shape of my old breast.
Of course, it didn’t really look like a breast. I had a long scar stretching from where the inner part of the nipple would have been and all the way across and around my breast. My nipple was completely gone along with a mole I had always liked. Most of the skin that had been my breast had been cut away and sent off to labs to be biopsied. What skin was left had been stretched and stitched around the expander.
They did a great job, but even the best surgeons couldn’t eliminate the scars I would probably have forever.
My daily reminder.