14 March 2010

Healing My Wounds and Heart

Several of you have expressed concern because I haven't written in a month. I am very appreciative to you who have been so thoughtful. I have started entries several times, and I just stop and think to myself "this isn't what I want to say". So I erase it and stop.

It has been a roller coaster of a ride for the last four weeks. I have had weeks where everyday I have crying spells with feelings of despair...so overwhelmed. It has been difficult to adjust emotionally from the mastectomy and the loss of my breasts. I don't really have the words to explain how that feels.

Then, there is the chronic pain. I have pain from three sources. The first is the incision itself. Even today, six weeks post surgery, I feel as if someone has taken a long piece of rough twine and wrapped it tightly around my chest, where your bra band would be. Well, except it doesn't hurt on my back. I have three places where the incision has not closed and healed. Two of the places are near my sides where the drain tubes were inserted for the week or so post surgery. They are tender and sting when my clothes or anything touches or bumps it. I also have about an inch of the 22" incision that is still an open wound. But, finally this last week, I have seen improvement and it doesn't hurt anymore...it's just really ugly.

The second source of pain is deep inside from nerve damage. One of the consequences of having this surgery with lymph node removal is that nerves are cut and damaged. Although I have no feeling on the surface of my skin at the point of where my breasts used to be, I have sharp jabs of pain deep inside me at those same places.

The third source of pain is referred pain from the above mentioned nerve damage. I have a numb strip that goes down my right upper arm from my shoulder to my elbow, but under that skin is a dull stabbing pain. Unbelievably, I have the same kind of pain on the outer part of my left upper thigh that goes down to my knee and ends in a sharp intermittent stabbing pain.

Thank heaven for good pain medication!!

Sleeping has been tough, because I have to sleep on my back. Those pains I described above made sleeping on my side totally impossible.

Now that the update on all the physical symptoms is complete I can write that I am doing much better emotionally now than a month ago. The steroids have probably all gone out of my system and now I only have mood swings associated with the chemotherapy induced menopause. Not great, but not as bad as the "crazy" I had with the steroids.

Over the next month or so, I will go weekly to the plastic surgeon to gradually have the expanders filled with saline. I cannot start radiation until I am completely expanded. I will start 6-7 weeks of radiation once the expansion is complete, which will be 6 weeks or less from now. Once radiation is complete, I have to go at least 6 months with the filled expanders in place before I have a second outpatient surgery where Dr. Hanna will remove the temporary expanders and replace them with regular saline breast implants. If I have one complaint, it is that all of the details including the knowledge of the second surgery was not explained to me from the beginning.

I have to mention that I have had many hours to contemplate the purpose of adversity in our lives. I really am grateful for the things that I am learning about myself and about how Heavenly Father works in our lives, if we let him. This really has been the most difficult time in my life. But, it also has been the best time of my life for knowing and feeling the love of God and His son, Jesus Christ. Just when I start to feel the worst despair and feelings of being alone, he sends his love through his Spirit or through my family and friends. My faith has been tested, but I continue to stand as a witness of his power and his mercy.

6 comments:

They call me grandma said...

Sally,
You are in my prayers as you navigate these uncharted waters. May you see joy somewhere each day as you cry. I am thankful for the privilege of your friendship. I send my love.

Marta

Brianna said...

I am so happy to see an update from you! You've been on my mind over the last few weeks, and I was starting to get worried. I wish you weren't in so much pain, but am glad your spirit and faith remain strong.

Sue said...

Sally,
It was so good to get an update on your progress. I'm sorry that you still have so much pain, but I hope that it will lessen over time. I really think it will as I have had similar experiences with post-surgery pain. It does get better! Praying for your comfort and peace. :)

Love,
Sue

NLP said...

so good to see you yesterday!! You look great!! I hope everything continues to improve!! ~ Nancy

Anonymous said...

I am glad to see that there is some progress in your recovery. Remember that slow and steady wins the race! And what a race you are in. You are in my prayers and thoughts... keep the faith!
kristi fandrei-rogers

Dudley Family said...

I hate that you are having to go through so much pain. You've been in our prayers and thoughts, and we hope you will continue to improve. Please know that we love you very much. Thank you for keeping this blog for those of us who care and are far away. You are an inspiration of strength to us. We love you.

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