AND THEN NOTHING

Ah- ha! How many of you just lost bets that Liza wouldn’t start hittin’ the computer until after 1 week? No, fellow addicts. It’s at the end of Day 4 and I am surprising flying through my keyboard (I was mobile typing up until just now)! Yes, my side is starting to heat up. Yes, I can hear all of my mastectomy friends calling me all sorts of names. But, yes, I have a blogging responsibility, y’all!

So, things I could do in Day 4:

  • SHOWER. That was one of the biggest accomplishments I could do myself today. Now, I wouldn’t recommend anyone do any sort of clean test on me. I’m quite sure I missed a spot (or 100) with limited range of motion and, well, a genuine fear of a slippery bathtub right about now. But, I was surprised that I had enough range to gently (and sloppily) shampoo my hair and soap where I could reach. Looking for something to be thankful for in the morning? Be thankful you can wash your own parts!
  • By 7:30am, I had made some bad choices physically. I thought I was invincible and decided to stoop down and pick up a water bottle I had dropped. Uh, not a good idea. And, I actually knew it wasn’t a good idea while it was happening. I lost my footing, a little, and felt myself fall gently forward. Managed to draw on my leg strength to balance again without really using my arms, but it was enough of a scare to make me hop back into bed and surrender to limited activity.
  • I’m getting much better at using just my core to get out of bed. Not easy, seriously.
  • Spent most of the day sleeping — by choice — which meant I was plagued with codeine induced nightmares! Ack! Had weird dreams about my drains coming undone and blood squirting everywhere! Yeah, I’m gonna try to wean off the codeine today….

Okay, let me tell you about this shower and stuff.

So, if you’ve been following, you ‘ll know that I’m not ready to “look down” at my surgical sites (notice how I don’t even call them “my breasts”.. yeah, I’m in denial). I’ve gotten close, though. I’ve loosened my compression bra to give my skin some room to breathe, but then quickly pull the covers up to my chin. I tilt my head and my glasses in just the right way so that my surgical sites are “blurred” from my vision. And, today, miraculously, even in the shower, I didn’t look down. I strategically positioned myself to move away from the mirrors while getting in and out of the shower.

I’m just not ready.

My friend Steph read this and really encouraged me not to be afraid of myself. That, indeed, this is ME. This is the new ME. This is MINE. And, my body should not scare me. In fact, I just took a drastic step to make sure my body is something I should not fear. By removing my breasts, I have chosen not to live in fear of cancer; so, why am I so afraid of the very breasts that have, quite possibly, saved my life?

While I was afraid of seeing my breasts, I was more afraid of touching them. I prepared myself for The Numb. I was warned enough by post-mastectomy friends that I would feel nothing. But, as my soapy hand passed from my neck to around the right side of my new breast, I felt my hand quickly pull away.

For, at first I felt smooth; and then, nothing.

It wasn’t really, actually, nothing. though. It was something. It was an absence of all feeling, but a presence of no pain. Strange, I know. I could no longer feel my touch, the warmth of the soap, or the gentle drops of the shower. Yet, I felt it missing. I actually felt the absence.

My brain felt the sensation; my body could not.

I haven’t looked down, yet. At least not with any intention. I will. Soon. I will.

Weeks from now, after I have regained some strength, some motion, and some physical ability, I will then feel nothing. I will not feel the fear of cancer; I will not feel the pull of my drains, the tape on my side nor the heaviness in my chest. I will not feel the the dizziness of the pain medication, the blurriness of my affected vision, nor the queasiness of my stomach.

For, all of this is so present; so now. All of this is physical reminder to take care of myself, and that I have, in many ways, taken care of my family and our future together. All of this reminds me, each day, of thanks, patience, and love.

And, no, when all has healed, when medications have worn off, and when I can once again both give and receive an embrace, I will not be left with nothing.

I will have a new embrace of Everything.

Peace, love, and a sense of relief,

Liza

Yes… those are cupcakes on my pajamas. Thanks Mom.

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4 Responses to AND THEN NOTHING

  1. Anne says:

    Liza, my grandmother had a single mastectomy at the age of 70 & I had the privelege of being one of her caretakers when she was in her late 80s. I often helped her bathe, and the sight of her body was just another part of what I loved about her. “So brave” I thought. I think the same of you & when you have the courage to look, know that what you have done is an inspiration to us all. Anne ps love the jammies.

  2. Darcy says:

    Seriously Liza…You humble me with this inside look to a very private thing. I am so glad that I knew you in highschool and continue to know you through the wonderful world of the internet. I am so proud to call you “friend”. You bring tears to my eyes…..As some-one who lives with COPD (Notice that I said LIVE) I understand the fear of the unknown…You have taken brave steps to insure your future. You without a doubt one of the bravest ( or maybe just THE BRAVEST!) person I know…. You are , will , was and always beautiful from the inside ,out…..Love you Darcy

  3. Meisha says:

    Liza… You’re beautiful. And strong. When you do get the courage to look, you will live the new you! Ever given thought to a post-mastectomy tattoo? Well, baby-steps for now. Enjoy your beautiful family and the new you. Be at ease. Don’t rush into looking. That same Liza will be there when you’re ready!

  4. Steph H says:

    Thanks, as ever, for the shout-outs, my dear. Another thought about looking down (and sooner than later): it’s important to be watching your incision sites for signs of infection, for reddening on your skin, and irritation at your drain sites. If you aren’t looking at your body, then I hope you are allowing someone you trust to do so. I developed an irritation on my left drain site and my doctors were concerned about a possible infection — I was on antibiotics for weeks as a precaution. I know it is emotionally difficult, but maybe if you think of it as someone else on your check list — empty drains, take pain pills, take a look at boobs — it will be easier. These first days after surgery it’s particularly important to be vigilant, and no one knows your body better than you. So, please, take a clinical approach and look down — for you health. XOXO

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