One thing I cannot get over is how much easier getting over this surgery is than my mastectomy was. Obviously not counting the first 48 hours, this recovery has been much less daily hassle.
What I mean is…after my mastectomy (and lymph node dissection) I couldn’t use my left arm at all for quite a while. It was all I could do to brush my teeth with that arm. Forget the simple things we take for granted like, say, schooching myself upright on the bed when slid down from sitting. I had to have months and months of physiotherapy. I couldn’t begin to sleep on my side for a month. Plus I wore that armpit-to-waist bandage in the summer heat for what seemed like ages. With my skin healing problems it was 8 months that I went without a full-on carefree shower. Those are the types of things I expected this surgery to irritate me with, x 10.
But with this monster surgery, I’ve had some use of my arms since day 1. My main limitations in that area are instructional, not physical. And the big ‘ol bandage? Nothing. Nothing! I’ve been able to get the wounds wet since day 1, too. I first found this out when I spilled water on my stomach in the middle of the night at the hospital. I called the nurse and he wasn’t concerned at all. “Did you get sprayed today or yesterday?” He was referring to the little aerosol can of smelly, cold liquid that gets swept over my wounds after cleaning. I answered affirmatively. “Well then, no problem. I’ll change your bed if you’d like though.”
I’d been told that this human schlack was in the place of bandages, but that was hard for me to grasp and really trust to be true. But apparently, that stuff is amazing as they say. The doctors began enticing me with the promises of showers as soon as I got released. I find all this nothing short of amazing. (Of course, after 8 months of carefully not getting my mastectomy wound wet, I found it hard to break the habit. I have now gleefully done so.)
Now that I don’t even need the wound cleaning and such, the care routine is mostly to “tidy me up”. Much of the incisions are looking like nothing more than a regular anonymous cut, so the stubborn remains of glue from the miscellaneous medical stuff taped all over me looks more alarming than the wounds do. The doctors use something called Ethol to remove the stubborn sticky. I have finally identified Ethol as that mysterious “smell of chemo” however, so I refuse to bring any into the house. I must’ve smelled the strong chemical in the halls of the day clinic during my drips. Regardless, it’ll have to be resolved with good old soap, water and patience. As for the schlack stuff? Well, remember being in pre-school and putting Elmer’s glue on your finger tips to dry, just so you could peel it off? (Or am I the only one?) This stuff works just like that, albeit a bit more stubborn. So not having had to use it in a week, I can now entertain myself for quite a while peeling it off from here and there.
A few days ago I began lying on the sofa for little bits of time. Last night I tried my bed (my bed!) and while I woke up often and was a bit uncomfortable, I stayed there all night. Milestone!
Ahh. Beds and showers. I’ve got everything a person really needs in life to feel spoiled.