DIEP Recovery, Day 13
This morning I got my last surgical drain out. If you've ever had surgical drains, you know that drain removal day is the BEST day. I feel so unencumbered! I think I'll burn these blood-stained robes with drain pockets and go back to my regular quarantine wardrobe: bathrobes without special pockets. Oh heck, I'm so happy, maybe I'll put on real clothes!
Another sign of progress is that I'm off antibiotics, blood thinners, and nerve pain medication, which means no more middle-of-the-night medication alarms. It also means more nerve pain. Interestingly, my lifted side hurts more than the reconstructed side, presumably because the mastectomy severed all of my nerves.
Scary side note: During a DIEP surgery, the surgeon leaves small titanium clips inside your abdomen and never bothers to inform you. I only found out after someone in my support group saw the clips during a scan and posted about it. I asked the Physician's Assistant about it today, and she shrugged and said, "You're right, we never mention it to the patient." Listen up, surgeons! If you plan on leaving something foreign inside someone's body, you need to inform them. They should teach that in medical school.
I've been hobbling around like a hunchback for two weeks and hence have been spending most of my time sitting down. I move from chair to couch to hammock to chair to couch to chair. It's very limiting.
The first week sounded like this:
"Jeff, will you hand me my neck pillow?"
"Jeff, can you throw away this trash?"
"Jeff, can you hand me a blanket?"
"Jeff, can you turn on the fan?"
"Jeff, can you get my green headband?"
"Jeff, can you reach my phone cord?"
"Jeff, can you turn off the fan?"
"Jeff, can you make some tea?"
"Jeff, can you crawl behind the recliner and find my sleep mask?"
I tried to get him to respond with "As you wish" but instead he says, "Ugh ... okay."
I stopped using the walker after a few days because the kids kept stealing it, and it was never where I needed it to be. When I do get up and walk around, my shoulders are hunched forward and I clasp my hands behind my back. Jeff says I look like Winston Churchill pacing before a speech.
Today, the PA said I can start standing straighter.
"Go ahead and try standing straight," she told me.
"Okay," I said.
"Go ahead and stand straight."
"No, you're still hunched over."
"Is that better?"
"No, not really."
"Oh. I guess that's just how I stand."
I've always had terrible posture. I was 5'11" in eighth grade and towered over all the boys, so I started slouching. It's a hard habit to break. At the moment, I'm afraid that if I stand too straight, my abdomen will split open. It feels tight, like I'm pulling on the dissolvable stitches. I'm used to my belly being loose and flabby. This "tightness" is a whole new sensation for me.
I'm excited to resume my normal activities, but I've been instructed to gradually increase my activity over a four-week period. Today, I'll go up and down the stairs. Tomorrow, I'll make my own coffee. And so on, until I am back to my independent self in early July. Cue the fireworks, Jami can fix herself lunch and wash the dishes all by herself!
Ordering my loved ones around is fun, but let's face it, there's no one who is qualified to replace me. My mom tries, she really does, but the other day she broke my Vitamix tamper and served me a chai-coconut-plastic smoothie. And then I accidentally ate some rotten chickpeas because I'm the only person who ever cleans out the fridge. Seriously, why won't anyone throw away the cupcakes that have been sitting on the counter for nine days? And why is there a hairbrush inside the piano bench? I swear, without me, this family would fall into chaos. Jeff and the kids would be eating mold-covered sandwiches for every meal, and the house would resemble an episode of Hoarders: Buried Alive.
Speaking of dads, I hope everyone had a nice Father's Day. (Yikes, this is a bit awkward.) What I meant to say in that last paragraph is that dads are awesome too! They do lots of important things, like taking out the trash after you remind them a few times. In all seriousness, a strong father-daughter relationship is said to have a positive effect on academic achievement, self-esteem, assertiveness, and future romantic relationships. And I'm sure Jeff would've found that hairbrush... eventually.
Some of you may have noticed that my blog looks a bit different. In my boredom, I gave my blog a makeover, bought a custom domain name (mommymoondragon.com), and got myself listed on the Top 50 Breast Cancer Blogs on Feedspot. When I began this journey, I had trouble finding personal experiences that I wanted to read. I would love to be a resource for the newly diagnosed, but unfortunately my social media presence is non-existent. I don't get it. I'm cool. Why am I not more of an influencer?
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