9 Weeks Post-Surgery
Today is about 9 and a half weeks post-surgery. Thought I should give a little update, and show off my curly pixie haircut (which is about 6 months of growth from completely bald in July 2020)!
Cancer Treatment. I saw my oncologist, who was very pleased with my surgery pathology -- no evidence of cancer! Clearly the chemo was successful. Because my initial tumor was slightly estrogen positive, as one last attack and prevention method, he recommended I take Tamoxifen, an oral estrogen receptor modulator, probably for 5 years, as long as the side effects of it don't radically affect my day-to-day. I had thought it would be 100% required for me to take it, and I expected to be taking it for 10 years. I was also very nervous about the horrible side effects I've heard and read about. But, his "try it, and if you don't have severe side effects, take it for 5 years just to be sure we did ALL that we could" prescription sounded good to me! I'm going on almost two weeks on it, and so far haven't noticed a thing as far as side effects. He said it could take a month or two to see how it affects me though. So, stay tuned on that front...
Reconstruction. As far as my breast reconstruction process, the saline fills in my tissue expanders were pretty easy. I ended up with three fills, and am currently as large as I care to be at 300cc per breast. These tissue expanders are still really strange feeling and hard as rocks, with little air pockets in a couple of places. I'm extremely thankful these aren't the final product, but at this point they are tolerable, and not painful, and to be honest, I'm enjoying the rest of my body feeling GOOD enough that I can happily hold off a few months before facing a second surgery. The implant exchange surgery will be a nice finale to this treatment plan though. I'm currently very happy with my decision to reconstruct and though my breasts won't be the "same" again, they'll be just fine once it's all said and done.
Physically. My last post was written at 5 weeks post-surgery, and I had just started to do some really low-impact exercises and stretching and walking. My body has steadily improved week over week and now has returned to what I consider to be normal--not quite as strong or as fast as I was back in March, but plenty sufficient for a 41-year-old who has had the year I've had! I do have some sore tendons or something under my left armpit that seem to be surgery-related, but it's minor. And my left hip cracks and pops every time I do a squat. I wish I could inject some padding or lubricant into my hip-joints to make that stop. It doesn't hurt. But it's loud.
(7-weeks post-surgery, not at real-time speed of course, but feeling pretty strong!)
I spent week 6, 7, and 8 slowly increasing my workout length and intensity and working on flexibility, and this week was able to do all five of the Burn workouts for the week with just a few modifications--mainly to accomodate my bum elbow* that still hurts from an injury a year and a half ago. My endurance and strength otherwise feels pretty good.
*Clearly the plasma-rich platelet injection from last winter did not magically fix my elbow. Perhaps that's because right as it started to feel like it was really healing, I was diagnosed with cancer and COVID shut our world down, and I pretty much quit all physical therapy exercises for it. I had other things on my mind...
Mentally. While I still don't feel like my brain works as quickly as it used to, I haven't felt nearly as foggy or uncertain as I initially did as I was healing from surgery and chemo, and all the stress from 2020. I just seem to need more time to think, more time to process, more time to plan, and more time to do every task. But in a way, that's been kind of nice--to allow myself to do less, and expect less of myself each day. My pace has slowed down, I feel more focused, and am more willing to stop and sit and look around a little bit instead of just moving full speed ahead. I did a lot of puzzles over the Christmas break.
Emotionally. As my physical body has improved, my emotions have followed. I've been happy. Content. Downright pleasant. I still have bouts of anxiousness, especially in any kind of decision-making for the future situation (which feels wobbly at best). But, even though many circumstances haven't changed, or have gotten harder or more complicated, everything doesn't feel so sad and hopeless and tragic. I'm able to see the bright side a little more often, have a positive attitude again, and tackle problems a little bit at a time instead of being completely overwhelmed by them.
Socially. COVID is still a real drag on my social life, but we were able to pre-quarantine and see Ben's family over the Christmas holidays, which was blissfully almost-normal. I've started working with a couple of my closest friends on a project, so I've been able to see them some (who have all already had COVID) and interact with them on a more regular basis, so that has definitely helped. COVID seems to be *everywhere* right now in our area, so our family is staying to ourselves most of the time, and wearing masks more regularly. It would be really great NOT to get it...so I'm doing my best to avoid it.
But otherwise, we are trucking along pretty well, cautiously looking around the corner to see what 2021 has in store...