Monday, October 29, 2012

Two Years and Counting...

Happy Cancerversary to ME!

Two years ago today, I spent the majority of my day sacked out on the couch or in my bed, slowly trying to climb out of the post-surgical fog that I was in, but mostly letting the world do its own thing.  I had just gotten home from the hospital the day before after having my bilateral mastectomies and removal of my lymph nodes on the 27th of October. 

Trying to nap between x-rays and surgery.  
Oddly, I remember most of what happened on that day, well, the parts where I was conscious anyway.  I remember those darn shots of radioactive dye into the left side of my chest – four in number.  The third hurt the worst, even with Valium on board!  I remember waiting and waiting to get x-rays and then finally being taken back to surgery.  Joe, Mom and Dad were there.  Friends also stopped by and called.  I remember chatting with the anesthesiologist about my bleeding issues and then moving myself from the gurney to the O.R. table.  I remember waking up in recovery, being in pain and alarms going off because I was breathing too shallowly and because my heart rate was too low.  Everything seemed so loud and so bright. 

Late in the afternoon, I remember being wheeled into my room and “Friends” being on the television.  I remember looking over at an anxious Joe and saying, in my best Joey voice, “How you doin’?”  The nurse cracked up!  Joe only cracked a smile. 

The kids checking out my drain lines and all my other gear.
Josie's face speaks volumes of what they all were thinking.
Mom and Dad brought the kids to see me in the hospital that night.  Their smiles didn’t reach their eyes as they walked into the room.  They were not used to seeing their mom hooked up to all kinds of machines and lying in bed.  I was in pain, pale, and probably a little bit loopy.  They did think seeing my pretty turquoise blue pee was cool (a side effect of the radioactive dye).  The night was long and uncomfortable.  My nurse’s name was John. 

Everyone (two & four-legged) was happy to have me home.
The day I came home from the hospital was really a blur.  I remember Dr. C coming to see me and the nurse taking off my bandages so I could see my scars.  The scars didn’t freak me out, but the drains sure did.  They were stitched to my skin – ewww.  I remember getting discharged from the hospital and getting creamsicle slush from Sonic on the way home. 

The house was quiet when we got there.  I vividly remember the look of relief on Joe’s face once he got me situated on the couch, him taking me into his arms and weeping with relief.  I didn’t realize until that moment just how scared he’d been of me going under the knife, worrying if the doctors would be able to keep me from bleeding too much. 

I don’t remember what happened after that, other than the kids coming home from school.  I guess the pain meds kicked in and my adrenalin pooped out.  According to Michelle and Joe, I guess I spent most of that day asleep in bed. 

I thought it would be hilarious to
go as a cow for Halloween.  My costume had udders but I didn't anymore.
I spent the next few days sleeping, recovering and getting back into the daily routine as much as I could.  I had to finish Joe’s costume, we had to carve pumpkins, go to soccer games and go trick-or-treating.   I started walking around the neighborhood two days after surgery.  Joe busted me five days post-op swiftly walking on the treadmill, my drains pinned to my shirt.  It’s hard to keep this chick down!

Surfing in O'ahu w/Becky and Matt
on Becky's b-day.
Last year, we celebrated my one-year “cancerversary” early with our trip to Hawaii, watching Joe compete in the Ironman World Championships with about twenty family and friends.  It was quite a memorable way to celebrate quite a tumultuous year!

My beloved boy
On the actual day of my first cancerversary, I had an appointment with Dr. C.  We talked about how much had transpired in a year, how much I’d overcome.  Mainly that day, I remember grieving the loss of my beloved Sneakers who died the day before.  I sincerely believe he hung in there to see me to that day, and for that, I’m so incredibly thankful for his giving, sweet soul.  Not a day goes by that I don't think about and miss my furry boy. :0(

This year, I came home from running errands on Friday to find a pretty bouquet of flowers sitting on the counter.  I assumed they were a bit of an apology from Joe since he and I had been having a bit of a tiff a few days earlier.  I did that is, until I read the card.  Somehow, my cancerversary had completely slipped my mind, but not Joe’s.  He obviously still doesn’t take my good health for granted.

Lynn & I ran the Half-Marathon
to Finish Breast Cancer on a
COLD February day in Jacksonville, FL.
The local Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure was this Saturday, my actual cancerversary.  I had been planning to run the race, but hadn’t planned on my calves and my right foot being in almost constant pain for the two weeks prior.  We were going to be camping with Jamie’s Boy Scout Den for the entire weekend, but the campsite was really close to the race site.  No problem.  I figured I would run/drive over to the race and then run/drive back to the campsite.  Darn injuries!  I am running a half-marathon with two of Joe’s sisters this coming weekend so I wasn’t going to do further damage just to run a 5K, regardless of what cause it was for.  The race next weekend is to benefit breast cancer and the one of the half-marathons I ran this past winter was also to benefit breast cancer so I think I’m good. :0)

Anyway, Joe surprised me yet again and had a bag of truffles and a heartfelt card in the morning.  Part of me felt very guilty for not running the race, but I spent the day with my family – the people I love the most and who had the most to lose if I hadn’t made it to this day.  We didn’t have a fancy dinner or do anything super-spectacular; that’s hard to do when you’re camping.  We were together and that was the best and most important part of this or any cancerversary. 

These are the people that I love the most!
I am blessed to spend another year with them, healthy and disease-free.
I am grateful that we’ve made it another year.  We could not have done it alone!  As always, I am thankful for all my friends who helped us get here.  Yes, this means YOU!  :0)  I try not to take my health and those I love for granted.  I’m still working on becoming more patient, but methinks that will be a never-ending project.  Anywho, here’s to another year of health, love, laughter, and NED (No Evidence of Disease)!