STARTING WEEK THREE
I am not sure what I anticipated the beginning of WEEK THREE to feel like, to be like, but if I had to rate it on a scale of 1–10, 10 being amazing, 1 being totally not amazing, I would rate it an 8 and a 3. Two scores because the mental aspect of this WEEK AHEAD is pure power. I actually feel mentally unstoppable. I love the way my upper body reminds me of this power and the strength it has bestowed on my ability to move through my day.
I feel physically like I probably should be feeling, alive, for one, but also healing and improving. The incisions are already turning into scars and the scars are looking much better than I thought they would at this time. The 3 score is more the weird unexpected physical stuff going on in the insides of my chest and upper back. The morning showers help for sure, much better than popping a nasty Motrin as soon as I roll out of bed. This was my good Doctor’s advice at my follow up visit a week after my surgery. I have been following it ever since and it has been a really soothing outcome. So the 3 is more about the unexpected. That may seem like a weird word to use, unexpected since this whole upheaval of my upperbody is mostly unexpected. Afterall if one hasn’t been through this experience before, isn’t everything unexpected? What I mean is that at WEEK THREE, my limitations of reaching, not having a structure to work my upper body with stretching exercises, “shouldn’t I be doing physical therapy or yoga or stretching by now,” I asked Dr. Dreamboat. (my aunt’s words, not mine) “Not right now,” he replied, “you do what you need to, not what you want to, and you don’t need to exercise right now.” Clearly the good doctor does not know that I exercise for my mental state so there is a need, because my mental state is definitely challenged as I am in a holding pattern. For those of you who know me, alayne is not synonymous with holding patterns. Don’t get me wrong, I am walking everyday, trying to stay as active as I can, both mentally and physically, but obviously there are huge limitations.
In addition to my desire to get on with my life, I am still in need of help to perform basic tasks like making my bed, moving the laundry from washer to dryer, reaching for dishes that are above head level and many others basic home tasks. I am not complaining at all; I am just simply listing the realities of this serious surgery. I guess because I felt so much better than I thought right out of the gate, that I didn’t think some of these physical feelings arriving at WEEK THREE would be as potent. If I could go to my son’s rugby game less than one week after getting out of the hospital…. Drats, am I needing a managing expectations check in again? Come on Alayne, just because I am calling this writing STARTING WEEK THREE, am I forgetting that this also means completing WEEK TWO? Why does WEEK THREE sound so much further away than WEEK TWO.
Time to call in my friend, Patience.
Here are some of the weird tweaks that I really noticed last night at bedtime. Cramping, actually more like a charlie horse, under my left arm on the left side of my breast, (perfectly normal, my Dr. assured me because he had to cut some muscle or something, easy for him to say) Tingly sensations in my left pinky and ring finger, (this just happened this morning so not sure if this is normal) A tightness in my back that feels like I have a extra small workout bra on and can’t wait until I get home to take it off. (I have actually reached under my breasts to adjust this realizing that there is nothing to adjust, it is that strong of a feeling). It also feels like the front of my body is walking around with a mammogram unit attached to my front. I am getting so used to this feeling by now that I am almost disappointed I will no longer be needing mammograms. (If there is a woman reading this who doesn’t know what this feels like and is over forty, if I have taught you anything get your ass to the mammogram machine. You don’t have to dies from breast cancer.)
The sharp electrical jolt kind of feelings in my breasts are always a bit startling. I just described them as fireworks going off in my chest. This apparently happens because of the nerves healing. So knowing this, makes me super grateful when I feel the fiery tangy jolt because this means that everything is going as planned. Because my left breast went through prior surgery and radiation, this is the one that has more intensity. This is the one that has more swelling, I won’t go into detail because for women who haven’t had this experience, it will likely freak you out, but for me going through it, it is not freaking me out at all. This has probably been the thing that has surprised me the most. I am not freaked out. I am actually enjoying the process even though I give the pain a 3, it is more discomfort than pain.
I have mentioned in past writings about the joyous cards and gifts I have received during this ordeal. Many cards and calls have come from people I would expect and I cherish them, there have also been many that have come from people who I either don’t know and have just found me because of my writings, or old friends who have reached out. A few people come to mind right off the bat, (there are so many more too).
I heard from my childhood friend I grew up with in Fall River, Mass from kindergarten to fourth grade before moving to Jamestown, RI. She still lives around here and is bringing lunch next week for a visit. I haven’t seen her in about twenty years. She was my neighbor down the street who had the built in pool and I hung out with her endlessly. Her very Irish Catholic traditional family, Sunday dinners, no one goes upstairs and no sleepovers, no swearing, Dad worked as a fireman, mom was a homemaker, were the gauge for normalcy in my young life. She was the youngest in her family with two older brothers. Her parents always seemed much older to me; why wouldn’t they, my parents were unusually young. Her perception of my parents was that they were so cool and hip and I suppose relative to her parents, there was a lot of truth to this. I am really looking forward to being in her company and revisiting our young lives. She is really the only witness I have to this time in my life besides family as my brother would have been the only other and he of course left this planet.
I heard from an old friend who I was good friends with in high school. It turns out she had a single mastectomy and lung cancer and is recovering and struggling, but fortunately is going to come for a visit because I still can’t drive. The amount of cancer in our little Rhode Island state is appalling. Was it all of the pre OSHA manufacturing that has gone on in our towns? I can’t get sucked into this rabbit hole, I must stay surrounded by happy thinking and not go to the energy depleting worry meter.
Another dear friend who I worked with when I worked with Aveda in the late eighties and early nineties has sent me a few cards. Yesterday I received one acknowledging my writing as helpful and positive. Probably one of the nicest cards I have received since I started this travel down the yellow brick road (see I still refuse to say the J word) and I have received many beautiful thoughtful writings that I cherish. The handwritten card said the following:
“Happy Healing Alayne! My friends and I are really enjoying your blog. It is de-mystifying a process that many hope never to face. I love you and send you healing vibes!! Love Rose.”
My healing, my vibes have come from all of this writing. I have found that this outlet of my heart, my depths have been an integral part of this speedy recovery. The fact that some of it has helped other people has been an added bonus. This was never the intention, when I wrote my first piece, THE MAGNIFYING MIRROR. My intention was to use the writing to express and squeeze out every morsel of emotion on paper so that it could move out, move on and move.
I have been writing since I was in third grade, the piles of writing in journals, in notebooks, on my computer and in a manila folder marked “alayne’s writing” have never had any place to land. When my partner turned me on to the MEDIUM site, it was like I could breathe. I finally had a place to place my words. The idea that people have responded is really rewarding, but I have to keep my over achieving personality in check. I have to write, as I say in my tagline, “because it feels good,” not because I have people to satisfy. It is a fine line and a balancing act as I have at times found myself reading stats on how many people have read a certain piece. This is when washing machine brain can go into overdrive and I have to quickly re read my personal writing mission, I WRITE BECAUSE IT FEELS GOOD. period. Or maybe I can give myself a COMMA or a SEMICOLON or an AND. I write because it feels good AND because it could help someone else feel good too.
Ahh love it when I can find the grey between the black and white rules I set up for myself. This is progress.