The surgery. The recovery. The changes to my everyday routines. The change of the seasons. Missing life in NYC. Not loving life in Ohio. The blood clot in my lung. More hospital stays. More medications & doctors visits. One highly emotional and unruly toddler. The lack of energy. The low level depression that takes up too much space in my head & makes me not want to do much of anything (including write). The never ending medical research. The complicated medical decisions. The difficult acknowledging of painful repressed feelings in therapy. The demands of being a cancer patient, a mother, and a wife.
And the resistance to accepting that all of this is my new normal.
The ladies from my dad’s online support group recently expressed concern because they hadn’t seen a post from me in nearly 2 weeks. Was everything OK? Technically, yes. Life goes on. I’m breathing. I’m alive.
But emotionally, psychologically, I feel smothered. Blanketed by lethargy. Trapped in a muddy mess. Sad. Frustrated. Angry. Despite all that I have, I find myself jealous of what others have. I want to be carefree. I want my worries to be about day-to-day crap and not about life or death crap. I want simple decisions to be the focus of my day. Like what to make for dinner. Or what to wear. Not decisions about side effects, medications, and potentially life threatening aches & pains.
I’m so frustrated with this confusing dance of treatment and consequences. It seems each step I take towards getting rid of the cancer brings with it a big bag of unwanted complications. Trying to chart the best path requires hours and hours of research, reading, and consulting with a host of healthcare professionals of varying specialties.
Right now I’m in the midst of deciding what to do about my breasts… Should I move forward with breast reconstruction knowing there is always the possibility of complication, infection, or illness that would require further surgeries? If I do, should I go with the silicone implant recommended by my plastic surgeon even though I’ve been hearing one too many horror stories about silicone implants being linked to autoimmune disorders and other sicknesses? Should I push to have my other breast removed as a precautionary measure even though my surgeon is not recommending it and the insurance company doesn’t want to pay for it? Or just have the other breast reduced and lifted which is a much easier surgery? Does having a double mastectomy improve outcomes with metastatic disease? If the cancer really wants to come back, won’t it come back regardless of whether there is a breast there or not?
Last week I made a quick 24 hour trip to NYC to meet with my plastic surgeon (where I was joined by my amazing and loving Auntie L who drove down from Massachusetts just to be with me and be my second set of ears at the appointment. Thank you Auntie!!!). I expressed my concerns to my plastic surgeon and he reassured me that the decisions were mine to make. He told me I had already gone through the toughest part by having the expander put in. We discussed my options. He answered my questions. And in the end, I decided to get a small amount (60 ccs) of saline injected into my expander.
The reality is that yes, I want boobs. But I don’t want life threatening complications or numerous corrective surgeries.
My thinking right now is that I might-as-well move forward with the reconstruction – But keep my new breasts very small (in case we need to remove them or the implants), choose saline over silicone implants (for safety reasons), and be prepared to remove the implant immediately if there are concerns.
As I make my way through the new normal that is my life, I keep trying to find healthy ways to deal with the confusion, stress, and sadness (ways that don’t involve eating rows of cookies or being mean to loved ones). Instead, I’m talking through stuff in therapy, carving out time for walks in nature & meditation sessions, trying to be truly in the moment with Miss M and appreciative of our time together and my time here on earth.
I’ve been allowing the sadness and feeling the depression. Now I want to pull myself out.
Baby steps. Just gotta take baby steps. One step at a time. Keep moving forward. And trust that eventually I will pull myself out and make it to a better place.
Peace and love to all. – T