A week ago today, I had a pretty major surgery, specifically a double mastectomy. Friends and strangers alike can tell you all the stories of what it will be like to have such a devastating surgical procedure but nothing can truly prepare you for it until you have it done yourself. I have to admit that, one week later, the feeling that is most prominent in my psyche is gratitude. I have felt an intense pain, I have thrown up on my husband (that will surely be a blog for another time and place in the future), and I have taken drugs almost non-stop but those are not the overwhelming feelings I am feeling today. I love to write and I love to express my feelings but words fail me in explaining how grateful I am to have the healing hands of doctors who truly care, nurses who laugh at my stupid drug-induced jokes, and particularly friends and family who have gone above and beyond with caring for my every need. As a strong-willed (Dave says “stubborn mule” but I prefer strong-willed) person, I don’t always take direction well, but if I want to get better, I know that the doctor’s orders are pretty clear and crucial. I need to take the medicine as prescribed before the pain ever catches up, I need to get rest (I feel like I am sleeping the days away but I hear that is precisely what I am supposed to do), and I am supremely blessed to have people around to keep me upbeat.
Here is a sampling of what has been done for me:
*Angie who gave me really good questions to ask the doctor about decisions to make
*Christie and Denise visited the weekend before the surgery to take my mind off of the pending surgery, We laughed and reminisced and ate and joked for two days.
*Dave took me to the surgery , where the surgical staff made sure my toes were warm (a constant worry and problem with me) before they put me to sleep, only to waken with two less ovaries and two less breasts and a good bit of pain and nausea.
*Dave spent the entire night at home with me, feeding me medicine (as food would not stay down for the first twelve hours or so) and propped up pillows all around me to get me to be as comfortable.
*Teresa Lien sent a beautiful bouquet of flowers that smelled like Heaven (which, after throwing up for several hours, anything would have smelled dreamy but this truly was lovely) and then another bouquet was sent from Waterford, the great early learning company for which I am a consultant. I know some people say flowers are an easy out to send to someone ailing, but I have to say I appreciate them so very much as the beauty of them makes me smile and the thoughtfulness makes me feel so appreciated, as well.
During the next couple of days, Dave learned new skills, particularly how to drain the tubes that collect fluid around my chest. They have to be emptied every few hours as they collect with blood and other bodily fluids (I somehow feel better if I don’t know exactly what it is). As an engineer, he has learned to do it with precision and without saying “Ewwww!” even one time, which I find remarkable.
Glenn and Callista, our dear friends who live nearby, have brought pizza and salad and haven’t complained once that I almost fall asleep while eating a few bites.
Enter Robin, who is one of my very best friends from college, who without question, made reservations to come stay for a week so Dave could go back to work. She has taken over emptying tube duty, “milking the lines” (best not to ask), made dinner, shopped, and make certain I took my meds on time.
Couple these helpful caretaking items with cards, letters, and fun novelty items (like a puzzle from Kelly and Angelle that I promise to start when I am a bit more coherent and a beautiful squeezable pink cross, and so many more). I will just say I honestly feel loved.
I have lost all sense of modesty and feel like I am a bit like a science experiment at this point.
But what I have gained is a true appreciation for what everyone has done and continues to do for me at this point. I adore my family and friends and look forward to more time with any and all that call and visit.
Gratitude for having breast cancer? Maybe not . Gratitude for friend and family who are helping me through it? Absolutely!!
Just for today, perhaps we can be thankful for all that we have been given.