A big update and more to come later today.
So here I am at 2 am unable to sleep with lots of thoughts and feelings which I hope to nail down a bit.
It is nine days since the lymph node clearance under my left arm to complement my mastectomy. The surgery went well and I was out of hospital the next day. You may recall that my wound had not healed very well ( about two inches of the 12 inch scar). The wound is now extended by another few inches and has been opened up past the sore bits and restitched and glued and looks a lot better.
In the immediate 48 hours after the op I felt OK if not a little sore. The wound ends right in the hollow of my arm pit. I had a nice shiny new drain and it had remained vacuumed happily. The seroma had been drained and my chest was as flat as a teenage boy. There was some bruising in my armpit and around the back of my arm but actually it seemed to be less than expected. The burning sensation in my arm pit has now moved away to the back of my arm for which I am thankful despite the raw feeling of fresh sunburn. So far so good. I am not doing the physio exercises as well as I did before and am not being so pushy about it. I want no wound problems to slow down further treatment. The seroma is back since the drain was removed on Tuesday.
Come Thursday I felt wiped out and totally tired and remained like that until Sunday. Now this is not the pattern I followed last time and I know ‘time of month’ had something to do with it but bloody hell. I have had low points but this was seriously bad. I moped, watched daytime TV and was in equal parts frustrated by my lack of energy but unable to do one darned thing about it. My mood has been low which is partly to do with that too but is worrying me now.
There are reasons to feel like this. It is normal for someone who has had two general anaesthetics in a short space of time, I am taking lots of energy to heal again, I have been taking painkillers with codeine in them and it was that time of month (traditionally I am extraordinarily tired at time of month time, more so this time seeing as I hadn’t had a visit from Mother Nature since June).
In addition to all the physical stuff my attitude has been changing a bit along the way. I have been accepting of things until the blip when I found I had to have more surgery. I am over that but am having to come to terms with the fact that I won’t be at work for a long time now. Not back after 6 or 8 weeks with short hours and radiotherapy. Now it is going to be next year, April or May.
I know I haven’t mentioned it before but I am a nurse. I have been working virtually non- stop for 30 years. I had a year off for the birth of my daughter and the subsequent back pain due to pregnancy and C section. Before that I had 8 weeks off for back injury in 1989. My current role is in a small specialist team that works across my hospital’s wards. It is a great and rewarding job which is emotionally demanding. Being a nurse is what I do.
My team is coping fine without me, no one is indispensable. Each of the others has had a long period off in the last few years, we coped. The thing is that I am used to being busy, active, physically and mentally stimulated from work and the allotment. Each day I had lots of conversations with all sorts of people, as a professional, friend and all round chatterer. I had routine and was mostly motivated.
Now my motivation has evaporated. I am managing to get a wash or two on and go for a short walk. I am watching junk TV and feel an achievement if I haven’t put the TV on until after midday (first time for this was yesterday). I know that this is normal and what I am asking of myself I would not expect in others. I don’t know why I would expect myself to be any better than anyone else. Despite being a nurse (no help by the way, breast cancer is not my area of expertise), I am not superwoman. I think I will have to have this mantra as I recover because the next few days may be tough.
At this point last time I started with the anaesthetic blues. I have an appointment later today to be told if I had cancer cells in the removed lymph nodes. If I have enough I will get a CT scan to check out for secondaries. No one has said the secondaries word to me directly yet but that is what is on my mind.
Breast cancer secondaries can be in the bones, lung, liver and brain. This is obviously scary. If there are four or more cancer cells found in the lymph glands they removed last week will indicate a need for a CT scan. If there less than four cancer cells there will be no further investigation. If there are none this is fine for me but I am not sure I can feel confident if they find less than four but do find some cancer cells.
So my feelings are my problem right now. I am experiencing a sense of loss. I am already moving from being the person I was to someone else. Unfortunately I like who I was and am unhappy about it yet logically I KNEW that this would happen. Just saying it makes me want to weep. I KNOW that at the end of it all there will be silver linings. I am just finding it difficult to be positive and forward looking. I know this is normal yet I feel like I have been stopped in my tracks. If I do anything else I feel like I might be overwhelmed. I don’t think I am depressed as such; just in a state of flux.
So my main concerns at the moment are:
Worries about being so tired and apathetic.
Worries about the future which may also be contributing to the above.
A loss of routine and and aim in life.
At this point I usually like to make a plan.
I feel a lot better for just saying all of the above. I will pop back over the next few days once I know more about my lymph nodes and hopefully have a minor plan for recovery.