Even though it pained him, Eric went home a couple days after my surgery to care for our daughter. My mom followed his lead that Sunday to go back to work. That left my sister as my main caregiver until Eric came back the following week to take me home.
A caregiver can be anyone that takes care of a person in one form or another, such as providing physical and emotional needs. My sister stepped into a huge role and suceeded. Erica did not have to take on the caregiver role, but she chose to help out anyway. She stepped in to assist where needed, knowing that I would do the same for her.
My sister became an expert at stripping my two drain tubes; she had the act down pat. Using hand sanitizer between her fingers and the tube helped her fingers slide down the tube, allowing for great suction and little pulling – a tip we took home from the nurses. We both became intrigued by the amount of fluid draining and the funny looking stringy “chicken fat” that would clot in the drains. Erica and I are easily amused by the simplest of things, and making light of things was a must.
Looking down at my chest each time we had to strip the tubes was a little bit of a wake-up call. I knew my surgery was for both therapeutic and future preventative measures; I chose to do this to myself, but I knew something was not right. My nipples were black and were not changing to pink like they were supposed to. In just a couple short days I would be seeing my plastic surgeon for my first post-op and we would get the answers to the questions we started asking ourselves.
In the meantime, I needed to focus on my recovery. Getting out walking to the mailbox and back one day told me I needed to do more. The next day, my sister tied my shoes for me and we walked to my niece’s bus stop and back, giving me a good mile walk five days after surgery. Sure, I took my time, giving my best Tortoise impression from the Tortoise and the Hare story. The fact that I did it impressed me the most. I was ready for more, craved to do it more, but once I got back to the house, a nap was in order. I was exhausted! Recovering definitely wears you out.
Feeling helpless many times throughout the day was difficult and very humbling. As an adult, you really do not expect others to take care of you. Blankets were pulled up to my chin because the weight and movements just seemed to be too much. Drinking glasses were taken out of the cupboards for me since I was too short to reach them. Okay, I’m not that short, I just was not able to extend my arms far enough after the surgery. Food was dished up and brought to the table for me. The most humbling experience, though, and still fresh in my mind over a year later, was sitting in the bathtub as my sister bathed me.
The week I spent with my sister was a week of growth. Our relationship only strengthened as each day progressed. Erica, being as awesome as she is, helped me not only physically but emotionally. She helped alleviate the stress with jokes, rarely skipping a beat, and often lifted my spirits when I needed it the most.
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