Just in the last week or so have I come to the realization of just how scary this surgery is to me. Maybe I knew all along and just didn't want to think about it, but one night Bobby and I were sitting, watching tv, and it just hit me that I knew why it makes me so nervous that it's so quickly approaching. When I started to talk about it, I got butterflies and that adrenally feeling like I do just before they roll me into the operating room. In reality, I know that things will be a lot better than my last surgery, and that I'll be in the hospital where meds will be available and I'll be able to recover well. My last surgery was the removal of all my lymph nodes in my right groin. The incision started about half way down my thigh, crossed over just above my hip, and stopped about 3 inches above the hip bone. They also removed my little pinky toe and a small part of my foot at the same time. It was, how do you say?, intensely painful, especially since I didn't have insurance at the time and had to do a "day surgery," which basically meant that after I came to, I had to get the hee-haw outta there. That meant getting out of the bed and into a wheelchair, out of the wheelchair and into a car, out of the car and walking into the house. Ouch. Yes, there were pain meds, but nothing really prepares you for walking (or should I say attempting to walk? more like dragging myself on crutches) just hours after they staple (87 staples, by the way) you shut. A full 10 on the one-to-ten pain scale. I didn't even know that pain like that could exist. Forget childbirth, if that's what it's like.
So there's something to be thankful for right there, kids- I won't be doing THAT this time around. I plan to use that to my full advantage, too, and to bask in the gratitude. But yes, I am a bummed about having to do this again. I'm also pretty bummed about the fact that I was just starting a half-marathon training program, and am running 3 miles fairly effortlessly these days, and now that's going to be shot all to hell. I really wanted this summer to be an opportunity to get back in the habit of working out 5 days a week, and I know what this surgery means for all that. My doc is hopeful that maybe I can pick up bike riding a few weeks after (I need to contact Holly about this, by the way), so that I can be up and moving and squashing the chance of a blood clot, and I'm all for that, too. But running has always been a real passion of mine and I'm sad that it's not going to be around for a while. I'm really sad, actually. And let's just say it, I'm pissed, too. I'm pissed even though I know things could be so much worse for me, and yes, I'm struggling with that, too. But since I'm being real, I'll just break it down for you.
I'm only out from Interferon 8 months, which has been about enough time for me to get things back together, to get to a place where I feel physically and emotionally like I'm finally back on track. And it's taken me all this time just to get my body used to running again, even though I do struggle with lymphadema and such, it is so much better than it was, and with the right tools, I've found it's even manageable. Now, now that I'm here, guess what? It's back.That's just so wrong. I just want to scream (at who, I'm not really sure- or what?- my body???) "Leave me alone! I just want to live my normal life!" And yes, this is the reality of life after cancer- a constant maintaining of one's self, a constant "on guard" status. In reality, there is no life after cancer, there is only life after diagnosis, which means you do scans and you check yourself and you see docs regulary and you just accept that it could one day manifest itself again. That becomes a reality of daily life, that cancer could be back any day. But until it recurrs, I guess you just fool yourself into thinking that you did your time and you can get on with your life again. And if it happens, you'll face whatever comes when you get to it. Which is what I did. But I don't want this. I want to be able to work out and have a summer vacation and spend time away from work without having to live my life around cancer. I don't want to spend 6 weeks recovering from surgery, and then another who knows how many weeks trying to build up some sort of physical endurance again. For that year on Interferon of forced coach-potatoe-hood, I just packed on the pounds, even though everyone around kept saying, "You barely eat anything. I don't understand how you're gaining weight." Alas, I am a medical marvel. Part of that was how my body reacted to Interferon, and part of that was an infamously low metabolism that picks up dramatically when I commit myself to working out regularly. Interferon pushing me into pre-menopausal world didn't help with that issue, either. And now, I am scared of weight gain happening again. I know that sounds silly in the big scope of things, but this is part of my health, too, and I am tired of having so little choice in what is going on with my body. I don't even want to think about having to start all over, trying to get back to a normal physical state. And this isn't even normal. This is the starting over. After surgery, that will be the starting over from the last starting over.
More trivial things to complain about, you say? Sure, I've got them! I don't want to give up my favorite hobby and learn another sport. I don't want all of this damn money I've worked so hard for to go to something I care so little about. Life is too damn short. I want to live each day to the fullest without being confined to a hospital room or a bed! I want life without staples, without surgery, without 6 weeks recovery time.
And yet, most of that life is gone. I still grieve for that life sometimes, though most days I've accepted this new life, and can see the benefits of it, too. Would I trade all I've learned if I had a chance at getting my old life back? Today, yes. Yet, once again I must acknowledge how lucky I am indeed, to have all that I have, to be dealing with one tiny lymph node instead of other things, to be where I am today, to have the support that surrounds me. And I've committed to living life fully, no matter my circumstances. I'll do everything I can to live as normally as possible while I'm recovering, and I'm pretty sure that won't be as bad as I'm making it out to be tonight.
That's all for now, kids. Tune in next week, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.
And please don't forget to keep Sarah and Shannon in your thoughts and prayers.