It’s been a while since I’ve written. Writing in ‘real time’ has become a bit more challenging lately. My son was sick (bad cold and ear infection) and that sucked most of the life out of me for about a week. We went on a quick trip to visit family, which sucked the remaining life out of me. And, I started back at work, which actually brought a little of my life back! Tomorrow will be two months since my surgery – I can’t believe that I feel as good as I do. If on January 29th, someone had told me I’d feel pretty much normal in two months, I would have never believed them.
So, updates… let’s see. My abdominal incision is completely fine – nothing interesting oozing out, everything’s closed up; the scar is still scary to look at, but it doesn’t bother me at all (and who else is looking at it?). My belly button and stomach are no longer sore, but I’m still wearing the granny panties because my regular underwear rubs against my abdominal incision and that’s still a bit annoying. My belly button has healed a bit strangely – it looks normal but when I run my fingers over it, I can feel that the scar is not exactly smooth. You can see in the picture below that there is a lip of skin on the bottom and top – just a little ledge where there was probably some overlap in the sewing:
I’m mostly numb from about an inch above my belly button down to below the abdominal incision. It’s not all that strange for me though – I had been mostly numb in that same area since my c-section anyway.
My breasts are another story. I still do have a pulling feeling under my right arm from the SNB; I only really notice it when I carry my work bag, which is usually heavier than it’s supposed to be, or if I reach backward for something (like in the car). For the most part, I can squeeze and smoosh to my heart’s content and feel very little soreness; this is a huge improvement since, I think I mentioned, I’ve had breast tenderness for several years now.
My left breast still has an opening in the incision. It’s healed about half-way, but the rest is still rather open. This continues to frustrate me as it thwarts my efforts to get back to the pool. Nonetheless, I have cleaned off my vanity table of all first-aid supplies. Gauze, saline, and creams are all back in the closet. There’s nothing I can do to treat this wound, so there’s no reason to continue to look at the reminder of all that grossness!
I’m surprised to say that what I’m most worried about now is aesthetic. Because I don’t have nipples, my boobs are a strange shape. From a profile, they look like domes with a quarter resting on top of each – they’re flat in the center (it’s my pseudo-areola). I can see this when I look down, particularly if I’m wearing a tight shirt. I worry that others can see it too, although I asked a colleague today and she said I was probably the only one who notices. We also discussed that no one should really be staring at my chest long enough to determine any extent of roundness or flatness. Still, when I see Dr Gimbel next, I will ask about possibly filling that area with a bit of fat in order to round it out some more (that is, if I do decide to have the revision surgery).
Going back to work has been great, but definitely shell-shocking. There was no easing into this. I had 56 assignments waiting for my feedback, 70 students wondering who the hell I was, and the building I teach in seemed to forget who I was – I couldn’t unlock any of the classrooms with my code, I couldn’t get into any of the media carts. It was definitely a bit overwhelming, but eventually everything was settled, and all in all – it felt way better than a day wasted on the couch watching daytime talk shows.
Today we had a department faculty meeting. My Chair welcomed me back to a round of applause, which was rather embarrassing. Many people hugged me, which I found to be so interesting. I have only been at this job since August, so really, no one has known me longer than a few months. But I think many people recognize that I’d been through something difficult, particularly the women. And, it’s kind of funny how no one wants to hug me too close – people are definitely worried about hurting me. It’s sort of sweet.
Last night, my husband and I had a rather emotional talk – he confessed to me how worried he’d been the last few months, even as I’ve gotten better and started to go out more, take care of myself, etc. He worried about what he’d do without me around. While I tend to be quite practical about most things, he is the emotional one. As I’ve said, I don’t even really think about myself as having had cancer – it is not something I ever think about now that this surgery is over. But I guess to him that concept is much more real and he worries about me. We decided, now that I’ve significantly lowered my chances of a recurrence of breast cancer, we both need to make our best effort toward being as healthy as we can, for our son’s sake. We’re both too sedentary, eat too much crap, and our little guy is very soon going to outrun both of us. I’ve already eradicated our house of most processed food, products with excess sugar, chemicals, and overall bad-for-us items. I’m replacing as much as we can afford with organic and natural options. And if spring ever gets here, I’m hoping we’ll all be on the move a lot more.
So, two months, huh? Things haven’t entirely returned to normal. I still have another week and a half before I can lift my kiddo, which means my parents are still around every day to help out. But really, in terms of how I feel physically and emotionally, I couldn’t be happier.