The surgery was a long 7 hours. When I woke up I was groggy, nauseous and sore. The nurse was cranky. I had to wait nearly five hours for my room. But my doctors and husband came by and I was able to comprehend the good news through the narcotic fog: no cancer in my lymph nodes, and both nipples saved! No implants, though. I will have to go through the long, usual expansion process. And, chemo still hasn't been ruled out.
The first 24 hours after surgery were awful. The anesthesia kicked my butt and I couldn't shake the nausea. Every hour someone came in to take my vitals, give me pills, or poke me. My arm ached. My skin was itchy.
Once I ate solid food, got some Valium and a little sleep, i started to feel better. The second night I convinced a doctor to do something about the tape and itching and the nurse scrubbed off the iodine that was making my skin crawl. A little more human. On the last day I switched from a morphine drip to Percocet and I felt even better. Ready to go home!
My parents were able to visit, my husband, my sister, my mother in law, and my best friend. Having them near was so important. The nurses were amazing. I hated being helpless, needing to ask for help to stand, to wash, to eat. So much I used to take for granted.
When I came home I cried when I hugged my kids. I slept a full night. I opened an assortment of gifts and read emails that reminded me I am loved. I watched the most recent episode of "Parenthood" and had a good, long, cathartic cry. All of the pent up emotions, the overwhelming feelings, released.
It took me a few days to look at myself in the mirror. To face my stitches. My breasts are mostly gone, but I look okay. And with a few days behind me, I know I will be okay. If chemo is next, so be it. It used to be the thing I feared most. But I'm a survivor. I just keep keeping on.
So many people have stepped up to help. The village is strong! I am so grateful. Food, kid care, books, treats, socks, flowers, and more. So much beauty in the village. So much love. I am spoiled.
Tonight H, my little guy, sleeps beside me. He may not return to his bed for a few days yet. We are needing each other right now and it's more than ok. M, my big guy, is processing the changes. He is smart and sensitive and kind. He leans on his father and his grandmother, but he comes to tell me he loves me. He needs me in different ways, and in time we will get back to where we were. For now I remind them both I am not leaving. I am here.