Back in the Saddle Shower

In the present, my hair is in an annoying stage of growing out. It is starting to regain its former curl, which is great except that it’s still short. So curls = crazy freak hair. The funny thing is the observation that my boyfriend made yesterday. He said, “honey, do you realize that all your hair fell out and you were bald for months, and you never complained once? And now you complain about your hair!” Strange but true.

Back in our story where I left myself – in the hospital having seen my scar for the first time and made quick friends with it – I also have to start physical therapy today. I hate it. It feels too soon and I feel panicky about hurting myself. That could be because it hurts! The guy comes in, sits me in a chair and tells me to move my arm 10 times this way and that way. When, for example, I can only raise my arms a few inches, he “helps” me out by yanking it up over my head. He’s counting gruffly, “one…two…three”. In my mind I’m whimpering, “ouch! ouch! OUCH!” I swear I can feel things creaking and ripping, even though it’s pretty numb. Well, I thought it was numb until it started hurting! I have this fear (irrational, so they say) that I m going to split open the incision under my arm. …The PT also has a trick that Dr. Awesome has: when they want me to lift my arm more than I am able because the tendon that runs along my armpit is pulled taught, they will say “here, try this…”, grab my arm and use their fingers to push up on that tendon very hard. I wince and scrunch my my face and try hard not to whimper (or punch them in the crotch). True, I can raise my arm a little higher for a few minutes after, but I really have a hard time feeling that it’s worth it.

That night my sister Jennifer asks if I want to take a shower. Oh, do I! I wish I had realized before surgery that I wouldn’t be able to take a normal shower for 6 months! Now, only 4 days into it, I felt pretty skanky. I was a little weary of the physical obstacles to this dream, but was more than happy that my sis was up to the challenge (of both encouraging me and helping me do it).

My ward had a special bathing room, with lots of room and all the helpful amenities one could think of. Jen and I had quite a time figuring out how to wash me without getting my upper torso wet, not to mention her. Eventually we gave up the idea of her staying dry and just decided she’d be getting a shower also – voluntarily or not. We locked the door tight and managed to bungle our way through carefully. I felt so very good afterwards. Clean and fresh. But I couldn’t brush my hair and my whole upper torso ached from the effort. I ended up having a good fat cry. I sat on a little stool facing her, both wet and wrapped in towels. I was so bleeping tired of being careful of every motion and unable to just relax and move naturally. I blubbered for 5 minutes as she looked on sadly. And for the first time it wasn’t just cause I hurt. I was actually mad and upset at having to go through all this. I admitted that it sucked and that it just wasn’t fair. It’s true, and I was really sad about it. Mostly, it’s very hard to get your head around the fact that one day, you feel fine and they tell you that you’re really sick. Then they make you feel really sick, and tell you that you’re better. It’s a mentally challanging concept to accept and put up with.  

I was glad to have someone who would encourage me to get that out. It was a concept that I would struggle with again. I know we weren’t the first (or last) to say it, but “There’s got to be a better way to build character.”

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Filed under breast cancer, hair, humor, life, recovery, surgery, this time LAST year, this time THIS year

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