Monday, 8 June 2009

64. So how am I doing 3 months on?

Great! Apart from some setbacks emotionally which I am sorting out now, great. Much greater than I imagined.

The warnings attached to having my kind of surgery are that back pain may be experienced initially and weakness in the shoulder. Now this worried me. I think anyone facing life altering surgery will be apprehensive about the future and their physical limitations, I guess I did think that I would be quite impaired for a long time. In reality, yes I am - I can't lift heavy things, hold anything weighty out in front of me for any length of time and it is only recently that I noticed holding up the phone to my ear for over 10 minutes doesn't make my shoulders ache.

The initial 3 months have seen me go from not being able to dress myself, wash my hair, sleep well, find 'comfortable', cook, drive or walk even to yesterday mowing the lawn, digging in some plants and pottering in the garden. I even attempted some Wii Fit boxing and aerobics the other day but the after effects left me feeling a little overworked and a bit pumped in the pectoral muscles. My Latissimus Dorsi muscles are stitched into place on top so they may have absorbed some of the workout and I felt very firm for a day or two - it was quite weird. Aside from that, life returns to normal pretty much. Pain is still a frequent visitor to my body but is nothing compared to Week 1 and 2!! I have odd twinges but actually, all in - things are pretty good. I have got used to the tightness in my back and my husband is helping me massage my back scars to loosen them up. I have can sleep on my front although if I was of any real size I am sure this would still not be possible comfortably. I can also sleep on my side but have recently been waking on my back with my arms up by my head on the pillow which is uncomfortable after some time. Waking up is still mildly painful but I am moving around like normal now in my sleep and I thought I would never find comfort again but I have.

I am still waiting for my tidy up surgery and nipple consultation but in the meantime, I face my emotions. Something has been haunting me lately and I cannot shake it. Self esteem is critical in recovering from such body changing surgery and nothing can prepare you for how body critical you can become in living through it. I have struggled with the loss of some breast size - it bothers me and I am bothered that it bothers me! I had a perfect hourglass shape and now I feel pear shaped, unbalanced and I cannot shake the sadness right now. I also don't feel sexy at all..where has it gone? I don't know but it will pass. I have expressed to my BCN how sad this has made me and to my doctor and I am embarking on some CBT Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to help keep things in perspective. Some people suffer depression after such surgery and it is important to keep a healthy mental state. I don't feel depressed, just a bit confused and lost with my feelings. I have spoken to many women who face the same risks as me with their genetic mutation and some have suffered depression. It's to be expected - its huge what we do, it's not just surgery - its the whole deal, the risk, family choices, telling everyone else, facing it, worrying about cancer. It's draining and on top of that you have to work, keep sane, run a house and family.. we are not superhuman..we are just human and we need everyone around us to get through.

So, in an hour I am off to my first CBT session and strangely I am looking forward to talking to someone completely unbiased to my situation about my life and my struggles with this whole malarky.


Dee said...

Hi, I just found out that I am BRCA1+ a month ago and started a blog. I'm struggling with so many things too.

Wishing you the best.


Teri Smieja said...

Leigh Ann,
I'm so sorry that you are struggling so much emotionally. This is no easy thing that you've gone through, and I have to think that it must be pretty normal to have feelings like this. I'm so glad that you found someone to talk to about it, I think that is key to helping you feel better. Don't want to keep all of that stuff bottled up inside. You have lots of people that care for you, and we are all wishing you the best. Take care!