Ok – things are still gross (just want to throw that out there – I’m nowhere near ok with this craziness yet), but bit by bit, they are taking shape, and every once in a while, I feel like this is going to be doable. Most of the time, I remain kind of crabby and wallowing in self-pity, but I have found my way to inappropriate humor for fleeting moments, and for now, I’ll take that.
Yesterday, I got to meet my reconstructive plastic surgeon, Dr. Migliori, and he’s my kind of people. I had heard from my friend Sarah who has traveled a similar path that he was the bomb, and indeed, he really was. He expressed compassion, he inquired about our children and how they were doing with all of this, he made discussing boobs as comfortable as possible, and best of all, he “gets” that ridiculous humor is going to be the key to me making it to the other side of all of this crap.
We looked at photos of lots of different breasts, which were all different women he had worked with, each with different “case numbers” below them and no doubt hundreds of cancer journey tales both different and similar to mine. It felt strange looking at breasts and envisioning what this process will look like and feel like during the different stages of reconstruction. I needed to do that, but it was still funky. Sure, it wasn’t horrific for this mom of 3 in her late 40’s to hear that in all likelihood I will be able to go running in a year without any form of “support” and be rock solid (I’m still frankly dismayed by this!), but I’d no doubt rather stick with what I’ve got and accept gracefully what age, experience and gravity have done to me. Importantly – because of cancer that choice is no longer mine, and so, I’m trying with all my might to see any hint of faint rainbow at the end of this very ugly storm.
Most of all, he was kind, he acknowledged how painful, icky and jarring it is to be thrust into all of this craziness so abruptly, and he assured me that while he could not take all this grossness away, that he could do his best to help me feel like a new version of me complete with tattoos if I choose. Wow. He really does “get” this, and I am beyond lucky for the chance to work with him, and with my breast cancer surgeon, Dr. Bretzky. They team up for this type of project – roughly 1 ½ hours per surgeon, which frankly seems remarkable to me.
After the scheduling teams chatted, they reached out to me this afternoon to let me know we’re tentative for April 4th. Ironically, that’s my 49th birthday. They asked if that was a problem for me, and I said no – these rogue cells need to be gone, and that seems as good a birthday gift as I can imagine this year. Game on.
It’s been a crazy few days filled with ups and downs and kind reach outs and seriously whacky situations galore. My aunts came to town in an attempt to cheer me up despite me sharing what a crappy place I was in. Indeed, they did get me out into the sunshine, made me laugh, helped me do fun junk with my offspring, and prepare our toes ready for spring. Sometimes I was a crying jerk, but that’s not that unusual to be fair. I don’t deserve them.
Sunday afternoon, Ada shared with me that she didn’t want to hug me as she didn’t want to catch my cancer. She also said that Elliott told her I was going to die soon because of cancer. This caught me off guard, and I tried with all my might to keep it together while bringing the trio up to speed on what we know and don’t know at this point. Our discussion was honest, and while I can’t promise my kids I’m going to be fine, I did let them know that everything I’m learning from my medical team thus far is positive. I hope to be here causing great problems for them well into their adulthood. Come on – they owe me that! This situation reminded me this needs to be an ongoing dialog done regularly. Just another new spin on ASD for our family – we’ll just need to keep learning together, and we all have a long way to go figuring out how to do this.
Yesterday, my friend Kris came over and was an enormous help distracting me before my surgery consult apt. Our kitchen/living room area is still completely ripped up/nails exposed floor as we had decided weeks ago to take this opportunity (given to us by our faulty dishwasher last month) to make some additional changes to our kitchen layout. While this kind of thing overwhelms me anyway, throwing in breast cancer as we prepare for home renovations is just plain crazy pants. She had me out taking photos of light fixtures, carpeting, and even cabinet hardware, and I only cried a few times. She easily downsized our giant bag full of samples and craziness into a small ziplock – and that really does rock! Without her, Elliott and Ada would have bright pink everything.
Today I got to accompany Ada’s class on their field trip to the zoo. It was actually quite fun to just forget about all the ugliness of thinking/planning the upcoming months and just hang out with 3rd graders watching penguins bicker about who got the biggest fish snack. She loved it, and sometimes it’s nice for me to just recognize how far she has come on days like this where all the kids just enjoyed one another and laughed and negotiated where to go next and which animals smell the worst. I need to remember this day when math makes her want to resign from school again.
While the field trip was fab, we did have a fascinating exchange at the bus stop this morning. Ada and I were chatting with one of our neighborhood pals waiting for the bus, and out of the blue Ada looked at me and said “Mom, I’m not going to touch your breasts – you know, because of the cancer” – yikes! Just then the bus pulled up and while our friend looked a bit freaked out, I’m quite certain I did as well. Just another reminder that we’ll need to find a way to work on socially appropriate breast cancer dialog or our check-out friends at Target are going to be hearing all about my breasts in no time. Wow.
Most of all, this remains a roller coaster. I have so many thoughtful, heartwarming, and encouraging messages/notes/emails from people that I haven’t even come close to responding in a timely manner and thanking them. I feel like a big jerk as I hate not feeling like I’m using my friendship skills and manners, but right now, I’m just not able to be on top of things. Trying to get things – yes, even big-deal-important things – in order before surgery and whatever comes next is stressing me out a lot. I know I can’t keep up with what I do now, but how the heck can I not? We will muddle through, I know we will – but I hate that this is all happening, and I can’t help it. It just blows – and I can’t pretend it doesn’t. Ugh.
Ok – tomorrow morning is Ada’s IEP. I am less prepared than I’d like to be, but I have faith it will be ok. Besides, who knows what all these wonderful people have heard from Ada about my breasts? This could be a fascinating discussion – wish me well . . .