Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Reality Settles In

I suppose it took me 5 days to really feel what had been done to my body. I started to feel my body again and notice what had really occurred after going to the surgeon yesterday. Later that afternoon, I noticed that I could feel more without the bandages and the drains. I felt very vulnerable and the image of what I saw when he took off the bandages kept going through my mind. Then last night I had a very strange dream that seemed to go on forever.

Then this morning I was going to go to acupuncture but had it in my mind to get cleaned up first. The surgeon told me I could now take a shower but that felt intense to me. I love showers but I wasn't ready to have water falling freely where I'd been cut. There was this spray stuff they gave me to take home from the hospital that I could use to hand wash myself but the thought of a shower appealed to me more.

So I took off all my clothes and looked in the mirror to see if there was something under my arms that I shouldn't get wet or should be careful of. That's when I had the melt down. I told Geoff I couldn't see an extra scar where the nodes should have been taken. I freaked and called the surgeon but he wasn't available until tomorrow morning. Then I felt nauseous.

Geoff told me he didn't want me going out today. It was raining anyway and he wanted me to stop doing things and get back in bed and rest all day. By then I was crying and got into bed naked and tried to relax. Geoff told me he remembered that the surgeon said he got nodes on both sides yesterday. And that may be what tripped me up because I thought he was only getting them from one side.

After calming down I thought that I really wanted to get cleaned up. So I washed the compression bra that I need to wear and gave it to Geoff to put in the dryer while I used the hand wash to clean my body. It's great stuff and smells like baby shampoo and you don't have to rinse it off, so it's easy.

I felt so much better all cleaned up with fresh clothes and so I just sat and watched TV all day and napped. I read through my poem again and looked at the photos and collage I made to go with it and that helped. And I read through my goodbye letter to my breasts which I decided to copy for you below.

Then about an hour ago I got messages off my office voice mail...something I'd been putting off. There was a message from a reporter from the Sentinel asking to interview me for a piece for Mother's Day. That's when I remembered she had called me the very day I went in for surgery and I forgot she'd called. It was too late for Mother's Day but she still wanted to interview me and told me to gather names of people (not clients) who know about my work with mothers. (That's when I realized this article was going to be about me and my work and not just soundbites for a Mother's Day article.) So I told her to give me a week to gather my thoughts and apologized about having an emergency situation that prevented me from calling her sooner.

So far, everyone I've told this story to (aside from myself and one friend) is telling me that I should tell her about being a breast canser survivor. I never would have even begun to think of talking with a reporter already about that. It's too soon. Maybe one day I'll be open to working with this issue, but now? So that will be occupying my mind over the next week. Am I ready to go public with this? Or am I going to simply talk about mothers. Wow, I hope I feel up to this interview by next week.

My mother-in-law asked me today if I knew what "synchronicity" meant. The Sentinel calling me on the day I get surgery is an example of synchronicity to me. Breasts are such a double edged sword. They enable us to give to others with pleasure and yet at that very same time we feed our babies, they drain our every vital nutrient. They are both nurturing and deadly at the very same time. Goodbye breasts, hello mothers' needs.

Here's the goodbye letter:

Dear Breasts,

Thank you for being there for me for so many years.
You’ve helped me be attractive.
You’ve helped me nurture my babies.
You’ve helped me enjoy sex.
You’ve helped me quiet my babies, go back to sleep after being woken up, given me pleasure.
You’re now giving me a symbol to hang my dysfunctional behavior on.
I’m sorry you are having to take the fall for that.
But I’m angry at you for giving me cancer.
And thanking you for giving me canser.

You made it hard for me to say no to Geoff and caused me lots of insomnia due to my saying no to Jason and Aimee.
You stuck out too much and I never felt like I could hide you or protect myself from your attractiveness. You grew too big and I could never lose any weight. You’ve been too weighty and heavy and took part in making me depressed & unattractive.

But still, I will miss you. You are beautiful. You are soft. You are a part of me. You represent the soft, gentle, yielding, nurturing side of me. I don’t want my kids not to feel you when I give them a hug. I don’t want them to miss your softness. I don’t want to miss the way you feel and the feelings you give me. I don’t want to let go of my gentle softness or my nurturing. I only want to have some discipline around that so I can also be hard-nosed when I need to be.

I don’t want to believe that I have had to go through this over you… I never believed I would have to lose you. I don’t want to lose you forever. It’s unimaginable how forever means the rest of my life. Will I even live long? Will I live a long time without breasts? Has this canser spread? How long do I have?

I want to get rid of you to get rid of the canser. I hope you understand. Thank you for surrendering yourselves for my sake. Thank you for sacrificing your existence for the sake of my being able to live.

I don’t ever want to endure anything negative that comes along with having you in my life. Including the heat rashes. Including the weight. Including the grabs. Including the inability to say no. And I never want to have to face this disease ever again.

So I hope you can understand. I just have to get rid of you.

Thanks for being there for me all these years,

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