breast cancer, life, Uncategorized

Slowly building stamina

When we knew surgery would be unavoidable, A told me he’s glad I’m (usually) a fast healer. Of course, he based that entire assumption on my two c-sections. I did bounce back from those pretty quickly, but then again, I also had two newborns, both with some pretty nasty digestive issues who needed my full attention (S had severe GERD; AJ had a protein intolerance to diary and soy products. Thankfully, AJ outgrew his protein intolerance, and S now just has occasional reflux). I was also nearly a decade younger. I was 27 when S was born and 30 when AJ was born. I was in better shape. I had more stamina. Granted, I was exhausted from caring for newborns, but I shared that with A and our parents who helped as they could.

With this surgery, it’s not that I’m exhausted all the time, it’s that my stamina is less. I’ve transitioned to sleeping on the couch, and for the last two nights, I’ve slept better, which helps. But, what I’ve found is I have about two…maybe three good hours of active stamina and wakefulness and that’s it. After that, I have to rest. My body gives me no choice. I can sit and try to work on my Thank You cards, and I can get a couple done, but then my right arm reminds me it had lymph node surgery as well and needs to rest some, too. My left arm laughs at me. Often. It feels tighter, and not in a good way. The day after surgery, I could lift my left arm straight over my head. Now…I can’t. Not exactly. It stays at an angle. So, I’ve started doing finger crawls with it. I push myself just a tiny point past the tightness into uncomfortable and painful, but I don’t push it to the point of my arm yelling WHAT ARE YOU DOING YOU FOOL? at me. I also do what the physical therapist called chicken wings. Basically, I put my left hand on the back of my head so that my arm is elevated and bent and bring my elbow in and out. It stretches the tightest part of my left arm. The stretches help.

My left hand tingles and feels numb sometimes…it began this weekend. I’m hoping that isn’t the beginning of lymphadema.

I want to go back to work, but at the same time, even I can admit I don’t think I could handle it right now. I’m ornery and cranky and annoyed by the fact I’m not able to do everything I want or think I should do. A tells me I may feel stronger, but that’s also when I’m more likely to hurt myself. I don’t want to admit I have limits. And, he’s afraid (and to an extent, so am I) if I go back to work before I’m really ready and released from restrictions by my surgeons, I could injure myself. My doctors suggest I wait one more week. A knows (and so do I) that once I’m at work, my attention is pretty much completely on the kids. I don’t really think about whether I should be lifting a stack of stuff (books…papers), standing out in the hallway where I could be run into by any number of students (which actually happens more than you’d think and nine times out of ten, it’s my fault), or any other number of things that could happen on a daily basis on a large high school campus. So…here I sit. I have to recognize I’m not healed. Not enough to be back to myself. I don’t like admitting that, but it’s the truth. I’ll be back soon enough. If I’d had the DIEP reconstruction, I wouldn’t be back at work before March 14. Since I didn’t, I’ll likely be back by February 29. It all depends on my appointments over the next week. I’m trying really hard not to think about seeing Dr. O tomorrow. I just don’t expect her to be as positive.

Physically and emotionally, I’m slowly getting back to myself. I’m just not there yet.


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