Step by Step

In less than a week, I will undergo a bilateral mastectomy and begin the reconstruction process.

It’s been a rough journey, this countdown to surgery.  I worked at regaining my strength between August and December.  And, I was humbled at the start of the January semester, when I took a moment to reflect on how far I had come.

However, January also brought the reality that I would be having surgery this year.  And, while I have enjoyed these last two months, I have felt unsettled, both ready and reluctant to move forward.

The morale and the direction of the country have also brought me to my knees in prayer.

While I was less successful with my nutrition, I am proud that I kept up with my yoga.  The studio I attend is a sanctuary for my mind, body, and spirit.

Now, I am in the final week.  I have managed to pull out my hip and low back, causing me not only serious physical pain but also the loss of my serenity.  I had to let yoga go to give my muscles a chance to relax.  Thankfully, the medicinal jets of my hot tub and the chiropractor are putting me on the mend.

I know I haven’t written much of an update lately, so let me do a quick one.

The greatest change over the past month has been Scarlett, our Portuguese Water Dog.  She is an incredibly wonderful addition to our family.  She has bonded with me, and Kai is learning to create that deep bond of trust with her.  It is something we can work on together.  My heart was filled with such gratitude tonight as I stepped out front to see Kai skipping down the sidewalk with Scarlett, her happy “flag” flying, at his side.  (Part of the PWD show cut includes the tail being shaved except for the last 6ish inches so that the hair flies like a “flag” at the tip.)  Karl also adores her.  She is a silky snuggler and likes to join him on the office couch!

It is amazing to see how we each have a very unique relationship with her and how she gets something different from each of us. She is a healing, love-filled, joyful energy that brings us all together, a true family dog that is easy to take anywhere.

Well, except for one horrible habit.  We were in shock that the breeder allowed her to do this, but she has been allowed to stand up, paws on counters, to take food off the counters!  We are working on it.  But she is so cute it is easy to want to spoil her!

Thankfully Muphy the Cat is adjusting to Scarlett and the two of them are doing better—he just joined me and Scarlett on the couch, allbeit the other end.  J

I took in either a midterm exam or a final essay from each of my students over the last two days, so I have a bit of grading to do before surgery.  I am going to push through grading tomorrow so that I can spend the weekend enjoying my mobility.

I had the pre-op last Thursday where they had to go through every possible nightmare scenario so that I know the risks.  After 45 minutes of that as well as post-operative care instruction, I wanted nothing but unconsciousness.  Graciously, my friend who has already walked this path, invited me to do some art journaling as a quiet, intuitive healing.

People keep asking me if I am ready. I say, “I think so.”  I think, “I will undergo a bilateral mastectomy and begin the reconstruction process in less than a week, whether I am “ready” or not.”

The reality is I am just putting one foot in front of the other.

At one point, I would have felt bad about that answer, but now, I think it is just fine.  It represents one of the things I realized (and keep getting to practice!) during round one.  I don’t have to like it.  I don’t have to enjoy it.  But, I do have to keep moving.  And, I don’t have to get it “right” or judge myself.  I know that if I want the best outcome, I need to align my thoughts and intentions. And I am doing my best.

Sometimes, I charge forward confidently.  Sometimes, I resist, stumble and fall.  I am trying to move more slowly and consistently as well as to pause when necessary.  To remember to be grateful.  To trust that the universe has this.  To believe that I am strong enough, for this and whatever may come next.

I know many of you would like to know what to expect and a bit of a time line.  Here is what I understand so far.  The surgery should take between 6 and 7 hours. The first surgeon will do the removal and then the second team will come in to do the first stage of reconstruction.  I should be in the hospital a couple of days and then home to recover.

My first follow up with the doctor, and thus my first trip out of the house, is a week post-op.

My recovery time should be somewhere between four and eight weeks.   That is a big window, but there are so many variables.  After a three-month process of “expanding” the implant pocket, so hopefully In June, I will have the second surgery where the expanders will be removed and replaced with silicone implants.

So that is the plan.

Am I ready?    Yep, I am walking the path, day by day, sometimes step by step, just like you! ❤



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