Angela’s Corner: The Act of Recovering

Recovery n: the act or process or an instance of recovering; esp: return to a former normal state (as of health or spirits).

2012 08 16_Stuart Lake_9170Recovery can take weeks, months, even years. The duration and intensity is different for each individual. Knowing this, I was prepared to stay a week at my sister’s house to be closer to my doctors. She was going to provide me a live-in nursemaid during my stay. I have to say, that is one amazing sister to take time from her busy life to care for her sister — who was more than likely a big pain to her during our adolescent years.

Arriving at my sister’s house to welcoming arms and dinner was nice. The rush hour drive to her house exhausted me, even if I was only a passenger. As soon as I sat down in the recliner, I fell asleep, waking hours later to my husband with my next pill dosage. I had the privilege of taking an antibiotic, pain medicine, and a stool softener. My husband, being the genius I believe him to be, constructed a simple notebook with instructions on each pill, the dosage allowed, and the time variables. All we needed to do was write down each time a pill was taken. This would eliminate confusion hours later, especially if it was during the middle of the night in our drowsy state.

My sister’s recliner became my bed for the week since lying flat increased my pain. My husband slept on the couch next to me in case I needed him for anything during the night. Getting me in and out of the recliner was more difficult than I thought it would be. I surrounded myself with pillows to support my arms and blankets to keep me warm. All of these to the average “me” would be fine, but to the just-out-of-surgery “me” made me feel weak. Thankfully, Eric was instantly by my side to help me out of the tangled mess.

While Eric was still at my sister’s, the two of them teamed up when it was time to strip my drainage tubes. One would help me take my shirt off while the other gathered the necessary materials. They took their time taking off the bandages, looking over the incisions, then striping the tubes and draining them with accuracy, being careful not to pull or hurt me in any way. Soon this would solely be my sister’s job.

The act of recovery would take a lot of physical healing because I had two surgeries in one: bi-lateral mastectomies and tissue expansion. The physical healing process could take years before I feel like I am back to where I started. There’s a chance I will never get to 100% since my chest muscles have weakened significantly from having the expanders placed under them. My mental state had its ups and downs. Looking at myself in the mirror, to this day, still impacts me at times.

The emotional recovery, unfortunately, not only affects me. Our daughter has some emotional scars from this time. As a first grader, she was scared of what could and would happen to her mommy. She still carries that fear with her a year and a half later. My husband has his own emotional healing as well. Seeing his soul mate fighting for her health, struggling helplessly the first night out of surgery, knowing he wasn’t there for me for a week, those are things he still thinks about. My mom has survived two breast cancer bouts herself, and has lived through mine. I know how difficult it was for her; I can only imagine my own daughter one day receiving the same diagnosis. The saying, “Once a mom, always a mom,” holds true. I could see the pain in her eyes when she looked in my direction, thinking she gave me this breast cancer. Sure, we have a strong family history. Sure, there may be an unknown gene we carry. But, this was in God’s plan and I can honestly say He knows what he is doing.

Learn more about Angela’s battle against breast cancer.
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