This morning, just minutes after my husband closed our front door and headed to his car, while my oldest daughter was brushing her hair, I cheated. I thought he was gone. His shoes were gone, his house keys were gone, and the our two beautiful children who he brings to day care and school every day were also gone. I thought I was safe. “He’ll never know,” I chuckled, confidently, securely, and safely. “Joli, I’m going to the basement. I’ll be right back!”
And, with two hands wrapped tightly around the sides of my love, I began to descend the flight of stairs into the basement. “Heh, heh, heh, I can’t believe I’m getting away with this,” I thought joyously, even though the muscles in my chest, deep below my implants began to twitch with pain. “This is too easy.”
That’s when it happened. I was just 5 feet from the door when it swung open and Jorge’s jaw dropped. “What the hell are you doing, Liza?”
I could feel my hands loosen around the sides of my love. I felt my knees weaken, my heart race, and my eyes widen. Crap. He caught me.
“Liza! Put down the laundry basket, right now!” he firmly yelled. I loosened my grip around the sides of my 8 lb waffle woven laundry basket in a beautiful plastic teal green. “Urgh! I suspected you’ve been doing laundry while I’m at work. What do you think you’re doing??”
I was almost to the basement laundry room.
Jorge took the laundry out of the basket and piled it into the dark wicker hamper in our hallway.
“Joli!” he called to my oldest child who was still brushing her curly hair.
“You have permission to tattle. If Mama tries to do this laundry, call me. I mean it.”
I checked the clock. Joli would be leaving for school in 20 minutes….
I’ve been feeling better these days — at Day 22, I’m feeling better use of my chest muscles, feeling my biceps engaging and my arm strength slowly returning. I can’t sit for very long, though, because my chest can’t hold up my posture consistently. At our 10th wedding anniversary dinner last night, I found myself leaning nearly horizontal over my plate of penne and shrimp, and had to actively think about pulling my body back, lifting my chest up in the air, and drawing my shoulders towards my back. But, within minutes, I felt the heat of my plate once again rising up towards my chin. I felt like one of my daughter’s rag dolls that just won’t sit up nicely in bed.
Unlike the first two weeks where all I could do was either lay in bed or sit in my reclining chair as the Tylenol with codeine took away my pain and my ability to think, I’m feeling both physically able and emotionally interested (the latter being a major change) in doing things. And, at Day 22, I’m interested in testing my limits. “I wonder if I can now….” I frequently ask myself. I’m almost completely off of regular Tylenol and only take it sparingly at night. After a nasty (and accidental) banging of my chest by my 1-year old, I find some relief in placing a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in paper towels on my chest and alternating it with a very light massage.
Though I know to take it easy, there is a part of me that is feeling the pull between exhaustion and energy. I feel like my 1 1/2 year old son who is constantly testing his environment. Can I climb on this? Can I reach that? Can I lift this? What does this feel like? Can I… ? Can I … ? Can I … ?
At 10:40am on Day 22, my visiting nurse, Meghan, pulled the plastic Tegaderm wrappings that had been secured to my breasts since November 18, 2010. For three weeks, my stitches and scars have been hiding behind a tight, but blurry, wall of medical plastic wrap. Even after more than a dozen showers, the wrap was secure.
I’ve been struggling to find a way to describe the sensation of having someone pull a very sticky tape off of the body that is both numb and sensitive at the same time. On areas where I had sensation, it felt like a very sticky bandaid being peeled off the skin. However, in areas where I have no sensation, a strange “pulling” feeling — one that actually evoked the gag reflex in me — replaced a stinging painful feeling. You know that feeling of pulling of skin when you’ve had a sunburn? It’s kind of like that; but not. It’s a deeper, less painful, but more massive, feeling.
Don’t quite get it? Yea, it’s because it’s a sensation I have never experienced before in my life. It just made me feel, well, weird.
After Meghan pulled the tape, I excused myself while she entered my latest visit into her computer. I stood in front of my bedroom mirror and just stared. I stared at the Me behind the tape. For 22 days, there has been a thin film — but, still something — separating Me from My Body. For as long as those films were on my chest, I didn’t have to see myself fully, completely, nor willingly.
This is the new Me.
As I wandered back into the living room and zipped up my sweatshirt, I fought back tears. I wasn’t ready for this big unveiling of Me. These tapes were the last things separating me from taking full ownership over my journey and my body. As long as those tapes were on me, I still felt like a Patient; now, I had to face my body as Liza.
The pull towards accepting my body has arrived. I’m being tested — mentally and emotionally — with my physical limitations and my emotional baggage. The other day, while combing through a photo album of my Mb4M journey, I came across the last photos I took of my real breasts — taken on Nov 18, 2010 at 5:00m. I’m beginning to forget them. I’m beginning to forget their shape, their size, and their look.Though I am smiling in the photo, the breasts seem so foreign, so strange, and so overwhelming.
I know, soon enough, these black and dark red scars will fade to a light pink. And, soon, too, they will be Me. They will belong to Me. My muscles will, once again, be strong. I will be able, once again, to sit up straight with my chest held high.
And, once again, I will not feel this pull to be whole. I will just Be.
Peace, love and finding balance in this pull,
PS: I did NOT do the laundry today. My good friend Jacqueline stopped by and I asked her to throw the laundry in for me.