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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Recovery: The half-way mark

Today marks three weeks since surgery. Given that the recovery time is six weeks, that makes today the half-way mark. The next three weeks will be spent healing internally, I guess, since the external healing apparently seems to be finished.

Two days ago, I still felt some soreness and weakness and some slight restriction in range of motion. I avoided, for instance, using my arms and shoulders to get up off the couch and would think twice before reaching for or lifting something (such as a 2 litre bottle of soda water), and would whinge when reaching and lifting. My sternum and ribs were tender.

Yesterday, I was expanded for the first time, and suddenly the vast majority of all discomfort disappeared. In fact, I have more range of motion than I did before. I can put one arm over my shoulder reaching toward my waist and the other reaching up my back, and they touch. I'm not able to grasp my hands like I was pre-surgery, but my fingertips touch. I'm satisfied.

I don't have a lot of strength, but I can function independently for the most part. I am driving without issue, I can get the drawers open on my own as well as the closet doors. I can fold laundry (shhh....don't tell my family), and I just proved that I can put on shirts over my head without discomfort. I pulled on my boots today without thinking about it. Two days ago, I had to make sure they were totally unzipped, sit down, and put them on like shoes. Today, I stood at the door and pulled them on.

Other activities requiring muscle use are still uncomfortable, such as cutting/chopping. I can slice. I can cut celery sticks or slice cheese, but I wouldn't want to chop all the veggies for veggie soup. I can't quite use the apple slicer, and I can feel the pull/twinges when cutting oranges. So, I don't do that. In sum, I can move nearly normally, I just can't accomplish a whole lot. But that's ok, because I've been working hard to avoid working hard and make my boyz work harder. Laundry is out, beyond putting things, item by item into the Wonder Washer. However, since my husband is anal about removing items and drying them and I only am responsible for my own clothing, for the most part, this works well.

In general, then, I feel really good. I tire easily, but I don't feel "fatigued" like I did with chemo. By Monday, I'd be in great shape for going back to work, were I going back to work.

And that's the kicker. I'm on medical leave this semester. I dragged my butt through last semester and chemo--the whole loooooooong semester--knowing as a reward, I'd really only have to deal with radiation--and maybe some reconstruction--this semester. I used the carrot of "eight months feeling relatively well" to get through last semester. Instead, I get to do four more rounds of chemo starting later this month. Depending on the protocol, that could be anywhere from 8-12 weeks. That's like a kick in the gut. I didn't tolerate the last few rounds of chemo so well the last time. I'd rather have surgery again, any day.

In sum, I feel great after surgery. I can do this with my tissue expanders. It's been a much smoother recovery than I'd anticipated. I'm trying to not spiral into a depression at the upcoming chemo. Instead, I'm just trying to remain angry. Anger is much better than depression. I'd rather be depressed when I'm in the midst of chemo-smackdown.

Here's what I feel about silver linings right now.

Here's what I feel about surgery and my new, temporary (and ever changing) yayas.

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