Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Keeping Abreast of the Situation


Deep breath - where to begin, where to begin. I'd love to create this long, witty blog that will have you in stitches - but I'm still in stitches so let's go back to the drawing board.

I've been flat on my back for the last two weeks, and am just now beginning to join the human race again after a recovery from hell. I had the breast reduction surgery on March 8th, and its been rocky. Of course that led to three weeks off from the Masters of Education program - leaving me up to the proverbial tits in work (pun intended)!

All inappropriate joking aside - I thought I'd take a few moments to talk about this whole plastic surgery thing, and tell some truths to those who are thinking about it.

First shocker: it's not as bad as you think it will be!! And I'm being completely honest. Here in Ontario, it is day surgery. So basically I went in at 7 am and was on my way home around 2 pm. I spent three hours in the recovery room, and 2 hours in actual surgery. I WILL say, however - that is SUCKS when you first wake up after surgery (before the pain meds come along). I woke up FREEZING and in serious ouch. To top it off, the breathing tube they placed in my airway compressed my lip against my teeth, so I had a major fat lip as well! Thankfully, the lovely recovery nurses brought me a warm blanket (actually blew hot air on me) and some morphine for my IV. That made the world a little better.

Who am I kidding? That made the world a WHOLE lot better half an hour later after they gave me enough to take off the edge...

...of consciousness.

The tricky part at first was the drainage tubes that ran into each breast, and the little self-contained collection drums that were suspended from my bra. The entry points were very tender and it was hard to wear regular sized clothing. They were removed a day later (SUCK), and it was easier to move around after that. I have to admit that taking care of myself was not an option, so I shipped Thing One and Thing Two off to Dad's for the week, and stayed with a special person who was able to wake me for my pain meds (every four hours), cook me meals, assist me with getting dressed and helping me wash my hair in the sink. I was also fortunate to lean on my old friend Jenny to get me to appointments and help me once I returned back home. I thank those two very much for all their help and support. And of course - dear old Dad was my chauffeur and nurses aid on the day of surgery.

The pain was not what I thought it would be. To be honest - the problem areas were: drainage tubes, pot holes, seatbelts and anything that flies through the air. The pain was not how I imagined it, it was a severe discomfort. It felt like I was a breast feeding mom who missed sixteen meals (SO FULL AND UNCOMFORTABLE), but without relief. Certain parts of the breast were numb, probably thankfully so, but it creates an uncomfortable irritating feeling. I used ice packs to bring down the swelling, which did help. I should mention that although nipple sensation has been completely restored (PHEW), some sections of the breast are still numb.

During week two, I developed an infection in ole Lefty - which created a hot, swollen and painful addition to my recovery. I was placed on a 10 day cycle of antibiotics, which helped. To be honest, currently the right one is feeling quite well and minimally irritated, but the left is still causing me issues. I think perhaps the infection has just slowed the healing process on that side a little, so I'm anxious to have them catch up to each other. It's still swelling now and again and feeling irritated. It's almost like I've been wearing a bra with sandpaper on one side. I can't seem to get it comfortable. I am hoping it continues to improve.

Last Friday I had the sutures removed. Which is somewhat of a misnomer. They are dissolvable stitches, so they needed to clip the knots on either side of each breast and at each nipple. I have to admit that burned A LOT, but I was happy to have only that to deal with, and not the actual removal of each stitch. It did make me feel a bit like a patchwork quilt, and I'm still a little afraid of just busting apart. Like one minute everything is fine, and the next there are shards of breast flying in the face of my colleagues. I'm sure I'll get over that.

I was forbidden to shower until the stitches were dealt with, which was an arduous process of bathing from the waist down, then drying off and washing my hair with a measuring cup. I was happy to finally clean myself properly, however I did (and still do) get a little freaked out touching them. It's like alien breasts - they don't look or feel like mine, and the incisions freak me out exponentially. I''m sure once the numbness subsides and the scars aren't so fresh - we will become better acquainted.

So - all in all - I'm week three and doing ok. This lefty is going to have to get it together soon, I'm becoming frustrated with the irritated feeling and the swelling, but I have to remember to have patience as my body adjusts and heals. I'm beginning to get my energy back - but am finding I still tire very easily and would prefer to nap every day, although it is not a luxury I can afford. At the end of the day - I think it was worth it. Although I have to buy all new clothing because my shirt fronts sag to my bellybutton.



Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Finding Strength in Cliche Dreams...

This post has been a long time coming. Perhaps thirty-one years long, I cannot be sure. Somehow I had always hoped to arrive at this point - while at the same time feeling quite sure it would never come. Isn't it funny.

We all like to think we are strong. That the experiences of our childhood do not truly affect us - or make us less than what we should be. That WE will overcome it through our own perseverance, strength and determination. We use these as walls to build around our hearts - impenetrable fortresses of our own personal will that somehow prove our resiliency. But do they?

All my life I have longed to be loved. Truly loved, cared for and respected for just the person that I am, flaws and all. Although that search has led me through dark alleys and into the arms of blackness and back, somewhere I forgot what I was looking for. At some point, I raised those walls of strength to prove that I am independent, secure and self-sufficient. That trust is not something that I need to give away, but something to find within myself. In doing that - I stopped growing.

I have had a few great relationships and some terrible ones. I thought I was giving everything, working my hardest and yet failing miserably at each attempt. I walk away from those ruins with some beautiful memories and some lessons learned. I also walk away with deeper questions for myself. When the walls came tumbling down, the pyres burned and what was left of them were consumed in the inevitable stench of bitterness. I noticed that I, too, was in shambles. If I am honest with myself, I have been in shambles for some time now.

So what to do with it? As we all do, I laid in the corner and licked my wounds. I spent months carefully peering through the holes left behind, trying desperately to match up those tattered edges with who I thought I was. When I couldn't make that happen, I retreated.

And here is where the cliche comes alive. I breathe life into it, only because for me? It is everything.

Love heals all.

I can say I have never put much stock in these lofty ideals - and now I know why - I had no idea what love really was. I had a version - where I hid behind my strength and mistrust and asked others to jump over insurmountable obstacles. And yet I wondered why they failed. Every. Time. I had no idea that the one thing I held back was the very thing I had to give - myself.

How could I have ever imagined that tearing down these barriers that protected me would make me the strongest I have ever been? That the fear of placing the most tender part of me in someone else's hands would be the most frightening - and yet most freeing - thing of all? The commitment has been tried and tested - first by you and then by me - pulled at, turned inside out and then lovingly cradled. I have been afraid - really afraid. Trembling, overwhelming and teary afraid. Your strength has propped me up and allowed me to release the reins on my heart. To trust in your weight beneath me, the shelter of your arms and the warmth in your heart. And when I could finally stand, I was more than strong enough to prop you up too.

We haven't taught each other how to love. We must have known how - somewhere deep inside ourselves. However, we are still teaching each other, and ourselves, how to allow it to come. Like waves, it crashes over us, consumes us and erases the fallen sandcastles of old hurts. It leaves us refreshed and intact. Perhaps then, the cliche could be modified. It may not be that love heals all - perhaps just the *right* love can heal our fears, quell our anxieties and soothe old wounds. The questions I ask myself now have drastically changed. No longer do I need to re-evaluate my relationships or meter out my heart. Now I go freely forward with you - in the face of risking the sweetest part of me - the most fragile side, asking myself: how can I show you TODAY how much more I love you when, as you say, "there is no conceivable scale that could ever measure how much love that is."