When I awoke I remember the heaviness on my chest. It wasn’t at all what I had expected. I guess I expected sharp pains, but it wasn’t… it was intense pressure on my chest. I remember asking the nurse to please remove the elephant that was sitting on it.
My girlfriend was there, ever so nurturing, I was safe, I made it… The cancer was gone, the 60% risk of each cancer returning and 60% of getting a new primary cancer had been reduced… and reconstruction was underway. I looked down at my johnnie…. my chest was flat, concave actually. I lifted the collar to look…. deep breath. My girlfriend touched my hand and said, it is okay, it is okay…. my emotions were stabilized by her love and reassurance. I am not my breasts, they did not define me… It is okay, it is okay, it is okay….
I love the morphine pump. Every surgery I have had, I push that button in my sleep! The nurse told me that I was going through an awful lot of pain medication. I said, well ya know… I’m in an awful lot of pain… which was in fact, true.
I awoke again to the incredible aroma of food… I couldn’t define what it was, but it smelled good, and it was the last thing I wanted…. But somehow the smell really brought comfort to me. First it subdued the sterile smell of the hospital room, and also I knew my girlfriend was going to finally eat. This woman who slept on the chairs in the lobby the first night because they wouldn’t allow her in my room because I had a roomie. This woman who just got on a plane and met me in Logan Airport to be there to support me. This was an unbelievable, indescribable gift to me. “You need someone with you, you need someone to be your voice”…. she was indeed, correct. That voice made sure my needs were met, and also was stern with me when I was being an ass. And I was. Pain does not bring out the best in me, and pain meds make me suspicious, paranoid, and insane! It was weeks later that when I was driving that I had flashbacks of a conversation that I had with her then, and not particularly a nice one. I accused her of things that she would never do. (hiding my face in embarassment). I called her and said “Did this happen? Did I really say these things to you?” She said, yes, you did. Holy shit. I’m so sorry…. apology accepted, you were wasted on morphine…. deep sighs
Fortunately, the roomie was also dealing with breast cancer, had had a mastectomy and diep flap (breast made out of abdomen fat). There really was no explaining emotions or pain… there was respect for each other’s plight. Her parents were with her most of the time, she was in her 50’s… older than me, but a good roommate. This was her second bout of breast cancer.
I was in the hospital for 3 or 4 nights, I really cannot remember which. I just knew that when my gf left to go home , I felt a void, an emptiness that I couldn’t shake. Hours from my family, and trust me when I tell you, driving in Boston is nothing you want to do if you don’t have to! My friend who lived outside of Boston had come to visit the first night… he did not return. The last night when I was alone, I layed there and just cried. I was also vocal with the nurses as they had messed up my everyday meds… and I was then day #4 without antidepressants… NOT a good thing for a woman who has battled three clinical depressions and just had her breasts removed.
My plastic surgeon was awesome, he stopped by daily. My anesthesiologist was awesome too. He was from Vermont, and entertained me with Boston traffic stories. He shared that his father had died of cancer very young, but moved his mother and their two children to an area where there was excellent education and opportunities for them. This young guy (late 20’s, early 30’s) had it going on. He had a wonderful bedside manner, and great personality. He really hit it off with my girlfriend as well, who is a psychic. When he walked into the room, I introduced them, and she gave him a reading that his jaw opened and he was fascinated with it. She pegged him, that he was a musician, and that he would be moving soon to new endeavors. The last night I was there and she had gone home, he stopped by to see me. Just sat with me for a bit. We talked about art, Vermont, and where did my girlfriend attain these skills? laughing.
My brother, who was on leave recooperating from his cancer surgery(ies) and about to undergo chemo, drove into Boston and picked me up. I have never been so happy to see him in my life. My brother is a handsome guy, tall, muscular… the nurses were checking him out. lol. To me, the eye contact with him, the familiarity of his face, his being was what I needed. Take me home please, take me home. I have no absolutely no recollection of the trip home. None. I do remember my mother was there waiting for me, she was going to stay at my house to help me. Thank God she did. I was blessed with caring people who loved me and helped me every step of the way. Thank you all for everything. I could not have done this trek without you.
The visiting nurse recommended that they add an additional medication to my mix, because the tightness and pressure on my chest was still very intense. This cocktail mixture made for some high flying times. When a girlfriend visited me at home (to which I vaguely remember), I said “do you want to see what I look like?” and lifted my shirt. Fortunately she was prepared, and also fascinated with how drugged I was. When she went downstairs after our visit she said “Is she getting too much? What exactly is she on?” laughing.
Upon having two friends stop by for homemade pie that my mom had made, I sat down with them briefly. My friend asked me… what did they do exactly? So I told her. What did they do with the nipples she said? I told her “they sewed them to my ass so I would have better traction for sitting in these chairs”. Yup, flying high…. flying high.