March 2020 was when the first of my reconstruction surgeries was supposed to happen. However, since I was on chemo through January, they were already scheduling for August. I was so disappointed and yes, I cried again. It felt like I had been waiting forever and the disappointment was quite upsetting. I was going to have to wait until July to get a call to set my surgery.
Reconstruction is around the corner
In May, I received a call from my surgeon’s office and they asked me if June 11th would be a good day for my reconstruction surgery. I was shocked and excited…and nervous. June 11, 2020 was the date! As surgery approached, obviously I got more nervous. This was a huge surgery that would take around 8 hours. That is a long time to be on an operating table!
No matter how low the possibility was that something would happen to me, there was still a possibility. So, I started writing out what I wanted upon my death. I wrote letters to my daughter, sons, mom, husband, dear friends, and even a letter to my pastor. I wasn’t leaving anything to chance. It was important to me to make sure everyone in my life knows what they mean to me even though I tell them on a daily basis. More importantly, I didn’t want anything to happen to me and have my mom or kids be sad and have a hard time dealing with something like that. I made sure everyone knew that this was wholly a decision I made and that I would be miserable if I had to live the way I was forever.
Normally, I have severe anxiety when it comes to procedures and surgeries, but I was surprisingly calm this time. My mother drove me to the hospital. We were in the room waiting to see the surgeon when I realized how calm I actually was. I think I welled up one time, but never actually cried. My mom was nervous, as mothers are in these types of situations. She told the surgeon that he better take good care of me and to let her know how I was doing since this was going to take so long.
The next thing I know, I am in a room and my mom is sitting in a chair next to me. I was so groggy, but I knew I made it through, and I was so completely grateful. The first part of my reconstruction was complete. I spent the next two days in the hospital and then got to go home. Although, I was happy to be home, it was going to be 6-8 weeks of restrictions. It is never fun to be full of drains, in binders and just plain uncomfortable.
My favorite flowers from my best friend Vero and my husband who measured the drains.
Time for Recovery
I had a wound vac over my abdominal sutures, two drains in my chest and two drains in my lower abdomen. I had to wear a bra binder and an abdominal binder 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It could be quite painful at times. It was about 3 weeks before I was able to get 3 drains removed and another week before I was able to have the fourth drain removed. That in itself was a huge relief.
After several more weeks of having to wear the binders constantly, I finally got some relief there as well. I was able to remove them at night and only wear them during the day. Then came time that I could switch to a regular bra (which had to follow certain rules) and a panty girdle. Mom and I bought many because we had no idea what size I was, plus there was so much swelling. There was crying and laughing going through that whole process.
Eventually, I made it to the eight weeks and was restriction free. Finally able to lift items, getting back to helping with the cleaning (oh yay!), and just being able to move easier.
It is not easy to look at the scars though. It is such a reminder of all that we as cancer fighters/survivors go through. A reminder that will always be there.
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