Archive for May 10th, 2012

Warning: Somewhat explicit content. Don’t read if you don’t want to know too much or face details (I wish I could heed this warning!)…

Oh. My. Gosh. I never knew showering (alone) could be so tiring! Late yesterday I had the fourth and final drain removed. I was so happy because in so many ways it signals freedom: no more required bed rest, a decrease in medication, I can begin raising my arms and doing the beginner arm exercises, and, most important, I only had to wait another day to shower – no more sponge baths!!!

After spending the morning visiting with Tina (and snacking on her incredible avocado dip), I took a deep breath and headed for the bathroom. And then I froze. As much as I was dying to get completely clean, it suddenly occurred to me that in order to do so, I would need to get naked. And then I might see.

This might surprise some, but in a way I am still in denial. I have not looked at it yet. I am pretending they are both still there. Every time the doctors checked it in the hospital, I didn’t look. Of course, I didn’t (always) clamp my eyes closed or deliberately look away, either, since I didn’t want them to notice that I was avoiding it and tell me – as the doctor in a book I read did – that I had to look and face it before leaving the hospital. And each time I’ve been back at the hospital, for the drain removals and dressing changes, I’ve also averted my eyes. And otherwise, including during my baths, I had my surgical bra with the dressings on, since I couldn’t get the area wet yet. But now I’ve been given the all clear.

I did everything I could think of in the bathroom, like brushing my teeth and weighing myself (and texting Tara to ask how much she thought my boobs weighed to see if maybe I really have lost weight, even if you don’t factor cutting them off – which made me feel a bit better) before taking a deep breath and getting undressed.

Yes, other than a brief accidental glimpse, I was able to avoid seeing my chest. I guess it’s somewhat easier when there’s basically nothing there sticking out. But you can also do a lot with your eyes closed. Of course, when you’re trying to get thoroughly clean, you can’t avoid some touch, and that was difficult enough (mainly feels like a mound of muscle on the outside, while I still feel so tight and achy, like an elephant stepped on my chest and caved it in, on the inside).

But boy, I never thought I could get so tired just washing my hair! I can’t lift my arms very high, so I alternated bending my head down (eyes closed of course) and bending it to each side and just using that arm. I was completely wiped after – and I didn’t even attempt anything as complicated as shaving!

I needed a nap immediately, I could barely stay on my feet. As I drifted off, I thought how I guess the next time someone in a review or interview asks if I have something I have to work on, I guess I could add ‘being in denial’ to the list. And I will work on it – just not yet…

And then I contemplated whether to share something this intimate or not – and obviously decided yes. Some may wonder why, so I’ll tell you: because as much as I loved the book I recently read about a woman’s similar experience – and the movie version that I just watched the other night online – I was really surprised at how little time was spent, especially in the movie, on this part – the recovery, pre-additional treatment. It feels so long, painful and tiring, and each day is something new. So I thought since many others have not gone into it, I would…

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