Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Endlessly Uttering Incoherent Pre-Mastectomy Mutterings.

Poor Steve.

He knew I’d been having a tough morning, but when he arrived home for lunch today, he wasn’t really prepared to find me gone.

Just gone.

Snowy was put away in his kennel. My van was sitting in the driveway. But I was gone.

He looked through every room and bathroom. Twice.

He went to the third floor and looked through Sarah’s domain. No wife.

He called my cell phone. No answer.

He went outside and looked up and down the street to see if maybe I was wandering mindlessly about, endlessly uttering incoherent, pre-mastectomy mutterings.

There was no incoherently muttering wife to be found.

He came back inside. He pondered for a while. When he was done with that, he pondered a while more.

And then? All that pondering paid off! He remembered something!

He remembered that I had told him I was having lunch today with a friend from the church; however, what I hadn’t told him was that she was picking me up. So when he forgot the lunch date, saw my van in the driveway and still wasn’t able to find me? Let’s just say he was very relieved when all the facts finally came together and he realized I really hadn’t evaporated. Or run away to Tahiti. (smile)

Lunch was especially therapeutic after a very hard morning. The friend I ate with has a 30-year old daughter who had a bilateral mastectomy about a month ago and is now on chemo. My friend lives next door to her daughter and so she’s had a front row seat on all the nursing tasks involved; she was a veritable fount of knowledge when it came to answering the practical and personal concerns that I had about what the whole post-surgical process would be like.

So while on one hand it was a little overwhelming to hear it all, on the other hand it was comforting. The only thing worse than having too much information about an upcoming surgery (and all its ramifications) is not having enough information.

And speaking of surgeries, for those of you who have had bilateral mastectomies (with immediate expander implants) or have a friend who has had one—I am curious about the length of the hospital stay. We were told that bilateral mastectomies are now done on an out patient basis, which basically shocked and alarmed me. (However, they have reserved a hospital room for me to stay in overnight if I don’t feel up to going home, which makes me feel better.) I would be curious to know what other peoples’ experiences have been in that regard. You can post your response in the comments area or email me at smithellaneous@yahoo.com

Thank you so much to each of you who left a comment after my earlier post today. It was so touching to feel the cyber hubs and loving prayers headed in my direction. I felt encouraged and not quite so overwhelmed by life.

It’s funny though. After I posted this morning, I felt sort of guilty. I thought, “I know that so many people have told me that they come to Smithellaneous for a smile or a cheery story or a heartwarming anecdote. And now today, people may have dropped by for encouragement and all they got were the morose ramblings of a weighted down pastor’s wife.”

And yet I know and you know that no one is cheery all the time; we all have our down days. But I’m just not clear if I need to be forthright with my down times or wait for the down time to pass before posting. I do want you to feel like this is a place where you can receive an infusion of joy and yet every day isn’t a happy day for me, especially with what we have going on right now. I guess I’ll just have to find the balance between being honest and being downright depressing. (smile)

For right now though, I will share some pictures with you of some recent happy mail that made me smile big. Really, really big. Which I really, really needed that day.

The first thing to arrive was this lovely box with a shiny gold tissue laid down over it. I was so impressed by the presentation, I almost didn’t want to open the box!


But I did, finally. And saw these.


Tulips! Lovely, lovely tulips! And an official Tulip Vase.


The whole kitchen was enhanced by the tulips in its midst.

IMG_3332 IMG_3335

Question: How can a vase of tulips possibly be made any more beautiful than it already is? Answer: When a recently delivered box of chocolates is placed in front of it.


And when the chocolates are surrounded by various cards, it gets even better. And when each card represents the love and prayers of friends who I haven’t even met, it’s even lovelier.


And now, several days later, the tulips are still adorning our home! (Although the chocolate is, um, gone. Mysteriously gone. Ahem.)



And so there you have it! A post about chocolate and tulips.

What could possibly be cheerier than that?


P.S. I mentioned last week that Nathan's girlfriend, Meagan, had surgery. If you have a moment, drop by her mom's blog to see how she's doing and leave a comment. It's turning out to be quite a challenging time for them.

24 Had Something To Say (Just click here!):

Saffyres said...

Yep, talking to those who've been through it does help.

I did NOT have immediate recon, but my BS told me the stay length post bilateral mastectomies would be the same - 23 hours, maximum. I was in overnight because my surgery was at 1:00pm; I was home by 8:00 the next morning. THAT part of the surgery was piece-of-cake. Had drains, though, and that was the worst part. I also had a bit of tenderness under the right arm from the sentinel node retrieval.

The expander placement surgery (two years later) had me in the hospital for seven hours; I was just in the day-surgery suite. This surgery was more painful as it involved a LOT of muscle cutting, placement of Alloderm for a "sling" to hold the implants... and again, DRAINS.

That part of the process seemed to take forEVER to get through - the expanding, the expanding, the expanding, then the WAITING...

I know you've been by my recon blog before, but stop back by. It's VERY detailed, especially in terms of the physical limitations post-surgery.


And your tulips are LOVELY.

Anonymous said...

Hi Becky,
Read your blog earlier today and saw that you were having a bad day. I prayed for you and have kept checking back to see if your day got any better.
I have not had a mastectomy, and 27 years ago when my mom did, well things were done so differently. She was in the hospital for days. But I did have breast reduction surgery in more recent years and I was told surgically it was much like having a mastectomy. I had more than half of my breast tissue removed with hundreds of internal and external stitches. You are probably wondering why anyone would choose to go through this. I did it because I was so large (like mom was) and he breast cancer was missed because of her size, the mammograms did not detect it. I also have Hailey Hailey Disease (as much of our families do) and always was broke out under my breasts from the HHD. So having breast reduction surgery was one of the best things I have ever done for myself. I would do it again in a New York Minute. I remember saying at the time it was a piece of cake. A very large piece of cake, but a piece of cake non the less. Back to the original reason for telling you all of this. Because I was told surgically it was similar to a mastectomy, I wanted to let you know that I spent one night in the hospital. Try to let them have you stay that one night you have reserved for you, you will need it. I remember getting pretty sick many hours after my surgery. Don't let them send you home that soon, spend the night. Just wanted to tell you this. Know that our family is praying for you.
Your cousin Sandy

Saffyres said...

I came back to add this:

Yes, mine was considered outpatient. That is FINE with me. I heal better at home, and am much more comfortable at home.

That's why I've never signed the petition that circulates on the Internet every October (the month you'll soon learn to hate with a passion as EVERYTHING has a pink ribbon splatted on it) that would force hospitals & insurance companies to MAKE women stay in the hospital for days-on-end (as my mom and her mom had to, when they had their mastectomies - DAYS).

MaryH said...

Say what is really happening with you and your feelings and your life - if you want to share. That is why I come to this site and contact you when I need a lift - I want the real stuff - not just the happy, fun, fluffy stuff - which I enjoy completely but, please, Becky, let us know whatever it is you want us to know because that is what you would want from us also. Praying. I am so glad you are getting firsthand advice on your upcoming surgery and recovery. Still praying even harder.

Gail Puckett said...

Everyone has bad days occasionally,I know that I do. Even when you are having a bad day, I am still cheered, because I know there is someone like me who isn't always up!!!!! I have a close friend who had the mastectomy and expanders immediately after. She is doing great and I know with the help of our Lord, so will you. Prayers are with you.

Mariela said...

Like Sandy, I also had a massive breast reduction (8 lb. or so) and was even given the discharge instructions for a double mastectomy. I felt fine that night and the next day, but the day after that was the worse. It significantly improved once I got off day pain meds (just Tylenol, but they were making me really sick). The one thing that I wished I had been told was that you will not be able to use your arms to push yourself up from lying prone. I ended up having to roll onto my front (protected by my arms!), then rotate my legs off the bed, and then tilt and stand up. A wedge pillow (I made one from the seat of a couch, propped up by a second) was useful. And don't lie down all the way on anything too soft and fluffy - I got stuck on the couch the first afternoon and had to wait for help!

Saffyres said...

Mariela is RIGHT!

On the way home from work this afternoon, a thought suddenly popped into my head. You need a RECLINER. Yes, I know--- a RECLINER. If necessary, just RENT one for a couple of weeks. I slept in mine for the first couple of days - it was just more comfortable, and I didn't have to lie there until someone could help me up. :)

brooke said...

becky -
i don't come to smithellaneous for cheerful stories.. i come.. because you are wonderfully human. you cop to eating a lot of chocolate. you talk about the struggles of your in between jobs time, and the difficulty of selling a house. in many ways you've given me permission to be honest about what i'm going through with my father.. and while i don't have many readers (i don't care), i still write it down and that is a relief. it's okay to be human, that is what i read in your blog every day.

as far as mastectomies - i've never had one. breast reduction, yes. it was hard. sorry - but to be honest - it was hard. i only had drains for a couple of days though. my friend who had a mastectomy had drains for a long time. it was hard for them too. but i had lots of time in bed and cable tv and the internet, and i treated myself to new sheets and some big ol' pillows, and new pjs. that was nice.

please know you continue to be in my prayers.

Jessica Kramasz said...

Please continue to be forthright and honest. Don't worry about the bad days, is so nice to know other people have them too. And you blogging about them will help us know what you specifically need prayer for.

jmckemie said...

Don't ever doubt yourself about not always posting cheery things. While I do love to find a smile when I come here, I also love that you are real. Your "realness" is a large part of what makes everything you write seem like it applied to each one of us. We all have good and bad times and knowing the struggles of others and being given the privilege of lifting them in prayer, makes our own burdens lighter.

Anonymous said...

Becky, just continue to be real with us. My guess is that I speak for many when I say that I don't come here for the cheery words, although I'm a fan of your writing. I come here 'cause even though I don't know you, I've come to care about you and your family. That's why I read! So keep sharing, Becky - whether it's cheery news or not. We care.


Anonymous said...

Becky.....this is an exact email I received from my friend Karin who went through the VERY EXACT SAME SURGERY YOU WILL BE GOING THROUGH. Email me if you want more info. Jodi

I would be happy to talk with her on the phone, feel free to give her my number.

I stayed one night in the hospital, which I would recommend. I was very OUT of it and could not have focused on changing my drains until the next day. I would absolutely have her stay one night. I was fine to go home the next day, no problem. They wake you up like every hour to make sure you are okay, so I was ready to get home to my own bed. She will need to have some pillows to sleep with for support for a while too.

moll said...

My mom's bilateral mastectomy was an outpatient procedure (this was 2003 or so).
She did have a nurse or nurse's aide who came to our house several times during the two weeks after the surgery, in order to change and check the drains. See if that's something that your hospital provides or insurance covers.
She says now that the drains were uncomfy, but nothing compared to chemo. She was back to (very active) work as an elementary school principal in less than two weeks. Didn't do recon, and now says she wishes she'd just done it then, because it's such a hassle to find time to go in for an elective surgery years later.
You have a lot of prayer warriors - and prayer cheerleaders - out here. Go, Becky, go! You can do it! By the way, chocolate has antioxidant properties, which may provide anti-cancer benefits. Just sayin'.

Ann Martin said...

Becky, be yourself and write whatever comes to mind. Your writing shows us that you are human and we can relate to you. Some people tend to be so "perfect" that most of us cannot enjoy reading their writings. Continue to be honest and we'll keep praying for surgery, healing, and sale of the house. Tonight we had a special prayer meeting for our upcoming revival and you were prayed for especially by name tonight. Prayers are circling around the world for you and your family. God is in control. Feel His loving arms and our prayers.

Becky, UK said...

Oh Becky...sorry I didn't comment yesterday (the Internet temporarily went on an unplanned hiatus)! Personally, I come here to read whatever you write, whether that's cheerful, funny, introspective or anything else, and you shouldn't feel you have to keep upbeat just for your readers. We're here to be your online 'family', and as such the honesty you display is refreshing. I just wanted to say I'm glad your lunch date cheered you up slightly and hope things are much better today (in so much as they can be).

Phyllis Lines said...

Becky, I had the mother of a good friend send you an e-mail. Her name is Frankie. She went through breast cancer almost 2 years ago.

Phyllis Lines

Anonymous said...

I am very sorry that you are going through this difficult time and appreciate your honesty about your feelings.

I will keep you and your family in my prayers.


Katrina said...

Dear Becky,

love your wrtiting, I love being a part of this big cyber family and I am sorry to hear that you had a bad day yesterday, but we can all have that. I agree with what Mary H said.

Becky you and your family are in my thoughts .
Lot of love, trine

LizW said...

Becky, never feel you are only entitled to write "happy posts". This is your blog, describing life as you see it and experience it, warts and all. I already think you are an amazing woman - if I didn't know you have your weak moments, it would make me feel very inferior, since I have many of them. It takes courage to share all feelings, but never feel you are letting your readers down.
Prayers continue, dear lady!


Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you're honest about your life and feelings! Hanging around with a "Mary Sunshine" just doesn't encourage me!

Though I have not had a mastectomy, my cousin had a bilateral (cancer in one and wasn't going to wait for it to show up in the other)and she spent much time in a recliner (even sleeping at night) finding it the most comfortable. My friend who had a single also found sleeping/living in an overstuffed chair and a half most comfortable.

My cousin was in her early 60s at the time and has celebrated her 5 year cancer free mark as has my friend.

My cuz' didn't opt for reconstruction. I remember going for a ride with her when she was released to drive (which was pretty quick to happen) and she popped a throw pillow over her chest THEN fastened the seatbelt and off we went on a joyride! I wondered what a police officer would ask if he stopped her for speeding? She eyes are about on the same level as the top of the steering wheel & she has a lead foot! Nothing keeps that little powerhouse down and I cannot keep up with her though I try!

You are going to be joyriding again, too, my friend ...with or without a fashionable pillow!

Love - Guerrina

Jenna said...

I love the photos of the tulips and also the pictures you've been sharing of the ocean and the beautiful part of the world where you live.

The scenery is so refereshing to see, especialy since where I live (Edmonton, Alberta) the snow has finally melted, but the grass is still brown and the trees don't have leaves or even buds yet, and there are no flowers to be seen (although the other day, I was delighted to discover the beginning of a tulip plant shoot up beside my house!!!)

Anyways, I know that you've had a very difficult challenging few weeks. Please know that there is someone far away who is holding you up in prayer.

Jenna Hoff

Jenna said...

One final thing that I wanted to add. I've never faced cancer, nor have I had a mastectomy. However, I have faced health issues that have caused a lot of pain at times, and required periods of recuperation.

The best thing I've learned (something I wish I'd learned a decade ago) is the importance of taking care of yourself. I've faced the consequences of pushing too fast, too hard to recover.

So, my advice is take time to rest, recover, and pamper yourself. Spend the time leading up to the surgery getting your house and life and family and any other oblications or responsibilities that you have in order. Cook and freeze meals now so you won't have to cook as much after the surgery. Tackle any cleaning or organizing or yard projects now. Buy fancy pajamas and comfy slippers and soft linen sheets. Do that one "tourist" thing that you've always wanted to do in Manteo, but haven't had the time or opportunity.

If you can, maybe even pack a special "Treat Box" that can only be opened on a day when you don't feel so good after the surgery. (It must contain chocolate, and could also contain a favorite book or movie or even an encouragement letter that you write to your future self to never give up).

Then, go into the surgery with courage and strength and the knowledge that God is on your side.

After surgery, let your recovery time be a time that you refresh, rejuvinate, and pour into your physical, emotional, and even spiritual well being. Let this be a fallow time where you take time to truly rest and reflect and listen to the voice of God.

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