Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Finding Happiness

A few nights ago, I slept really well.  I woke up once in the middle of the night when my phone alarm rang to take pain medication then went right back to sleep.  When I awoke in the morning, I was really happy and content and I had totally forgotten that I have breast cancer.  I woke up with a smile on my face, so content, so pain-free.  Sadly, it didn't last long before reality slapped me in the face again. I remembered.  I looked down and I almost cried.  I know that my life will once again have more than 30 seconds of happiness at a time, but I'm not there yet.

Where am I now is just survival mode.  I sleep a lot, I set my phone alarm to take medications, I sleep some more.  I watch TV and then I fit a nap into my busy schedule of sleeping.  My household somehow manages to continue to run around me.  The children flit in and out playing in the fleeting sunshine that is the Seattle summer - they kiss me gently as they go by.  They say, "Mommy, I love you so much!" and  "Mommy, you are so beautiful to me."  It all makes me smile and I'm happy...for a moment, maybe longer.

Puppy totally unconcerned that her Mommy is a Nutcase.
Despite this, yesterday, I hit bottom.  After trying to switch from the pain medication to Motrin (too soon?), I realized that I can't take Motrin anymore and I got really sick.  So, I was in pain and horribly sick to my stomach.  It was hell.  I slept about 20 hours.  Somewhere in my haze, I remember uttering such intellectual gems as: "I don't want to do this anymore" and "Go get my boobs and sew them back on!!"  Thankfully, I'm pretty sure I only said the last one to the dog and she didn't seem too concerned about my sanity.  Last night, I had my husband sleep on the couch next to me (I'm sleeping downstairs in the recliner) because I couldn't stand to be alone anymore.  He snored loud enough to wake the dead (as usual), but I didn't care.  I just wanted him nearby.  Though what I really want to do is have my old life back and sleep in my bed with him next to me.  I'm tired of all of this.  Breast Cancer was fun, thanks, I wanna get off the ride now.

I remember one of my friends telling me that they remember the day that the news STOPPED being bad.  Today, was my day I think - I hope!  Today was the first post-op appointment with the surgeon.  I absolutely had to drag myself there.  I was so sick and so dizzy.  I was so out of it!  I've been dreading this day too, the day the bandages come off.  But I was excited to get the pathology results - so hopeful.  (Hopeful!  Isn't the human spirit amazing?  Why should I even have cause to "hope" at this point?!  But, HOPE, I did...)

I don't really remember much about the car ride there or going into the office - but I do remember the pathology report:


Very good news!!  The best possible news at this point.  The largest tumor was 2.1 cm and the smallest was just under 1 cm.  This puts the cancer at Stage II.

I don't know what this means for chemo and I won't know until I see my oncologist next Thursday.  I do know that he said that anything over 2 cm was a "for sure" for chemo - but with such clean lymph nodes, I'm not sure.  I'm feeling pretty beaten up by cancer right now and the thought of chemo is just completely overwhelming.

After hearing the pathology, it was time to remove the bandages.  It's pretty clear where I still have feeling and where I don't.  The bandages coming off of the front didn't hurt at all, but off the back = YEOUCH!  I kept my eyes closed.  My husband was pretty fascinated by it all and he and the doctor talked about the incisions and my husband asked some questions.  I still didn't look.  The doctor said everything looked great and he re-bandaged portions with smaller bandages.  I still didn't look.

The doctor gave me more pain pills and something for nausea (thank you!) and we made an appointment for next week.  I still have all 4 drains and I probably will for a while but they look good and are doing their job.  We left and headed to the pharmacy.  I threw up on the way home.  I don't know why my husband keeps a trash bag in his car door, but I'm thankful he does!  I felt so much better after throwing up but it didn't last long.  I continue to have waves of extreme nausea mixed in with waves of extreme hunger.  It's not a good combination as you can imagine. It's clear now that the pain medication is also making me sick.

I did look at the bandages on my chest when I got home.  Once I was sitting down and thought I could handle it.  It was okay.  I'm okay.  Instead of being all bandaged up, I just have two small bandages over where my breasts were.  There's nothing there, it's pretty obvious.  It's kind of surreal really.  I look down and I feel like I'm looking at someone else.  This can't be me.  I don't look like that.  I've looked several times now and it still hasn't really sunk in - who is this person?  Not me, surely.  But, it's all just an outer package isn't it?  It's what's inside that counts.  Those words were always just a nice adage to me until now.  I just hope the adage is actually true.

How do I look?  The best way I can describe it is that I look pregnant!  There is a point in your pregnancy where your stomach becomes larger than your breasts and you cross the line of looking just maybe chubby to actually looking for sure pregnant.  That's how I look.  In fact, I wonder if someone will eventually ask me, confused by my body ratio, if I'm pregnant.  It would be an honest mistake.  Not only do I already have my lovely chubby stomach, but I also have the drains in pockets in front which makes my stomach area appear even larger.  With the drains and the chubby stomach and the no breasts, I'd say I'm in about my 5th trimester.

So, on I go.  Trying to find the fleeting moments of true happiness as they come and holding on to them so they become more frequent.  I'm counting my blessings to be sure and remembering all that I do have to be thankful for.  I'm hoping the good news continues.  But, I'm also trying to gather my strength to continue to fight.  I want to be around for many more years of my children telling me that they love me and that I'm beautiful.  In fact, I want to be around to hear my grandchildren say those words.  I think I can make it!

For now, though, a nap is needed.

Boob Count = 99


  1. “Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.” ~ Bill Cosby

    One foot in front of the other Laura. It's going to be OK. (((hugs))))

  2. You are beautiful. Those 9 pounds weren't what made you beautiful.... who you are is what's beautiful.