The Other Side . . . Ten Days Post Surgery

It’s been ten days since my surgeries. In many ways life seems very much the same — the leaves continue to fall, my kids still refuse to nap most afternoons, and I’m always craving peanut butter cups. But every few days something happens to remind me that I’ve forever changed my body, that I’m not the same.

Today was one of those days. I went to my surgeon’s office to have one of my drains removed. If you’ve never had the pleasure of having three feet of plastic tubing snaked through your body, depositing various fluids and such into a plastic bulb that is safety pinned to your shirt, well, you aren’t really missing out! Fortunately, I only had to have two drains after my surgeries. Unfortunately, only one was ready to be removed. Nonetheless, I was excited for a little adventure downtown — my first time in a car since coming home from the hospital last week — and to take one more step toward recovery.

We decided it would be best for Curt to stay in the waiting room with the kids, so I went by myself into the exam room. Dr. Z was busy performing surgeries, so his PA came in to examine me and remove the left drain. She gently unwound the Ace bandage that was wrapped tightly around my upper body. I could see the surprise (or was it revulsion?) in her eyes as she took in my bare chest — the stitches and bruises, divots and swollen patches. I felt naked. She asked me how I’d discovered I had the BRCA1 genetic mutation, but what I heard was, “Why did you let them do this to you?”

I was grumpy the whole ride home and through lunch. What had I done? I can never have my body back. I will forever be different. Deformed.

Curt put the kids down for their naps and then came into our room where I was rewrapping the bandage around my chest for the fourth time. I kept starting over, each time pulling tighter and tighter. Curt drew me to him and I let go of the bandage, relaxing into his embrace. Then I told him what had happened and how it had made me feel. “I’m sorry,” he said to me. “I’m so sorry, but I’m so glad you did this. Today was the first time I’ve walked into that office without a sense of dread. Without it feeling like death. We’re on the other side.”