My account of life both on and off of two wheels...... "At least I'm enjoying the ride"

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sometimes, I am Wonder Woman!

I went in for surgery with the hopes of having a sense of closure to this whole process. Instead it was as if I had stepped right back into the throes of some old “cancer vortex” emotions.  This was not how I thought I would feel.
I woke up from surgery,  feeling groggy and sore, which I had expected.  As far as I could tell at that time- surgery went as planned.  My port was gone and so were the expanders.  DrDP said that all went well-phew! The radiated side was her biggest challenge as she had predicted.  The radiation caused a lot of damage to that area but she worked her magic.  She was able to get the implant into the ‘pocket’ and move my right breast pocket over to even things out.  She thinks we can both be very happy with the outcome.  Needless to say, I have more bruising on the radiated side than my prophylactic side.   I got a quick peek in the hospital before I was discharged.  DrDP wanted to see how things looked before she sent me home.  She wanted to check the incisions first , so she undid my surgical bra.  I was so nervous to look down.  When I did, I couldn’t help but start to cry.  Even with all the swelling, they looked more real than I thought they would.  My cleavage was back- well, sort of and they fell a lot more natural than the expanders.  Of course I am still without nipples- reconstruction is a long process.
G took me home to rest which is exactly what I did for the next few days.  I was a lot sorer than I had thought. I forgot how surgery messes with your whole body including your mind.  I had hopes for the weekend of going for a nice Fall drive with G and maybe the movies. But when the weekend rolled around,  I didn’t want to do any of it.  I was quickly slipping into a bit of a depression.  It took me a day or two to realize it but it became clear on Monday when I was home alone. 

I was able to shower after 48 hours but waited an extra day.   Mostly because I was too tired and dizzy from the pain medicine, which then triggered my vertigo.  I think I was also not really ready to see my new boobs in the mirror.  Body image has always played a large part in the process.  Up until now, it has all been temporary so I was not as attached to the outcome.  This time, this is it.  It is what I got. 

All the feelings started to come back.  It is as if this surgery stirred up dormant emotions of isolation, fear and sadness.  I was home alone a lot over that first week so that did not help.  I couldn’t drive yet and was instructed not to walk anywhere either.  Because I work from home, I always try to get out and about during the day so I have some sort of social interaction with the outside world.
The fear - did I make the right decision to have reconstruction?  Had I opted out, I would have nothing to recover from.  Will I heal well and will the implant settle in comfortably or will I need more surgery? 

The sadness crept back.  Being cooped up at home by myself just reminded me of all I had been through.  It may be the end of this chapter but for those that have not been following along closely; this has really been hard for me and the ones closest to me.  G has been there by my side every step and we are both exhausted.  “You are in the home stretch” they tell me.   Am I?

I slowly started to come around.  I am beginning to get use to the new view and feel of my new body.  The swelling has come down – for the most part and my vertigo has subsided. My mind is getting clearer every day. 

I had my one week post surgical follow up with DrDP and she was pleased with how well I was healing.  I was relieved to hear this and even more relieved that I do not have to wear that surgical bra anymore!  I will see her again in two weeks.  We will hopefully be discussing my future exercise plans.  In the meantime, light walking is it.  Very light walking.

Over the weekend, G and I went to our friends Halloween party.  It was a last minute decision. If you recall, I have a thing for my super hero alter ego, Wonder Woman.  I already had the Wonder Woman costume.  And when I went costume shopping I could not find anything new that was comfortable, so Wonder Woman it was.  I had some pain that night but it was worth it being out with some friends and enjoying myself.  I actually wore one of my wigs from treatment when I had no hair- I never wore out in public when I was bald.  Some party goers were shocked when I told them it was a wig.  It’s funny to me how confident I was wearing that wig that night when I actually had hair underneath. 

So glad there was a good excuse to put on the costume.  
It is amazing how different I feel after only 10 days post surgery.  I am sure now that I am able to get out more regularly, I will just feel better every day and as soon as I am able to have some sort of exercise – I’ll be back to my old self in no time.
Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bring 'em on!

I am so excited to report that I have had an awesome week of riding!  The weather has been cooperating nicely so the trails have been perfect!  I have been feeling stronger, faster and more confident every day.  This is all great news BUT as you know, I am having my exchange surgery tomorrow and have no idea how long it will take me to get back to this point again.  I do know that if I can get it back once - I can do it again.  It doesn’t make it any less frustrating.
Today was my third solo ride in a row.  As far as I could tell, I was the only person at Graham Hills this morning.  I pulled into the parking lot and it was empty. No bikers, no hikers, no dog walkers.  It was just me and the woods.  As usual I saw a few dozen chipmunks and squirrels that tried to play chicken with my front wheel and I startled a couple deer coming through the meadow.  I was in my groove and feeling actual speed in my legs for the first time in a while.  Just when I started to feel a sense of panic about my surgery taking that away, there it was.  The eagle (or hawk, not sure) swooped down over the trail in front of me and perched on a tree and watched me as I pedaled by.  This is the same bird that I have seen in Graham on other solo occasions.  It is always in the morning and once I even saw it swoop down and grab a huge squirrel off the trail in front of me and fly away with it!  Every time I see this bird, it is at a moment when I could use the reminder to reconnect with my spirituality.  When I need to be enjoying the moment and not worrying about what is ahead.  I have always viewed the woods as my grounding place and like the other mornings, this brought me the peace I needed today. 

Bring on my new boobs!!! 


Wednesday, October 5, 2011


I have been very anxious about my upcoming surgery.  I have been mostly nervous worrying about all the things that could go wrong:  I have to stop doing that to myself-it can’t be good for my health.
 I met with my plastic surgeon last week and I am really glad I did.  I needed to hear from her again what was going to take place during the surgery and what to expect after.  I needed to hear the confidence in her voice when she told me she has all the reasons to believe that my surgery will go well and that I will be more than happy with the results.  Knowing she cannot really ‘guarantee’ this outcome, I still left her office with a huge sense of relief.  And dare I say excitement. 
With roughly a week until my surgery and my anxiety sort of under control, I have been getting into preparation mode.  While my recovery is expected to be easier than the first surgery, I am still going to be down for a period of time.  It really hit me that I will have at least two weeks of doing a whole lot of nothing.  I can hopefully get back to work by the following Monday but I am also on full restriction- No exercise and no lifting of anything weighing more than a gallon of milk.  I remember back to my first surgery and how some of the daily activities were so difficult or just were impossible after surgery.  Cooking, laundry, picking up around the house- all of this will become a challenge again or just not get done. Obviously, there will be no biking of any kind for at least a month.  I will just have to find something else to do with my time…..

Besides a few pre- surgical doctor appointments, I have been going about my business- it has been a pretty regular routine for me.  I have been working a ton and trying to get in as much riding as possible.  It has been so incredibly rainy this season,  so getting out in the woods has been spotty at best.   I cannot remember a time when the woods were so saturated.  I have managed though and even have hit the road a bit which can be a great time with the right people. 

Taking a break after a brutal climb.
What was to be a mellow 30-40 mile ride turned into a near 60 miles with many hills and each hill seemed to be harder than the next. 

While the weather looks near perfect for the week ahead, fall has arrived.  I decided this was the right time to swap out my summer wardrobe.  As I pulled out the first bin under the bed, I opened it up and there it was- my bra collection!  It might as well have jumped out and grabbed me like the boogie man.  Why have I put all my bras away?  Simply, they do not fit over my tissue expanders and frankly they are uncomfortable and unnecessary.  These rocks do not move, even when I mountain bike!  The not so simple explanation is I got sick of opening my top draw and seeing them.  It was a memory that I was not ready to look at yet.  Some things still sting.  So while I may be getting my new ‘boobs’ in a week, they are not my old ones.  Those were pretty fabulous if I can say so myself. 
Bras will return in my future but chances are I will be shopping for some new ones.