#cancersurvivor, reconstruction

Returning to work

I’m returning to work next Monday after being off for the last eight weeks to recover from my diep flap reconstruction surgery. And for some reason I find myself stressed about going back in a way that I haven’t dealt with before. After my mastectomy, I was more concerned about radiation beginning that I don’t really remember feeling nervous about going back to work. Now I have all sorts of nerves this time.

First, I’m worried about expectations being different now that I’ve had reconstruction. My work has been very understanding about when I have to leave early or come in late, now I’m worried that they are going to think everything is all done and I won’t have appointments anymore. I find that I’m so worried about this, that I feel as if I need to tell my boss that I’m still going to have appointments and possibly follow up surgeries in the reconstruction process.

Second, I’m worried about the expectations I have for myself. I find that I’m worried about not being able to handle my workload and the things that I was doing before surgery. So far I have a hard time standing for an extended period of time which is something that my job requires and I know that my coworkers are eager not do to this part of my job anymore. I’m also just worried about general fatigue being an issue.

Finally, I’m just anxious about all the little things. Will I remember passwords and pin codes? Will they have hired someone new? Well I be able to handle the long commute to and from work?

Bottom line is that I know all of this worry is useless. And that as soon as I settle back into the routine of it all everything will settle and be something that I can do. It might not be like it was before but that’s ok, it’ll be something that works.

#cancersurvivor

Recovery after surgery

One of the things that no one tells you about cancer is that surgery comes with recovery afterwards.  What I mean is that the recovery period after surgery is something you don’t realize will come with limitations on what you can do,  even further decreased energy levels, and perhaps most of all, boredom.  No where, did any of the cancer information tell me about the boredom that comes with recovery after surgery because there’s only so much HGTV you can watch before it starts to repeat itself.

In my cancer journey the first surgery I had was getting my port placed.  With that I was told to not carry things on my left side, not to sleep on my left side, and not to get my incision wet for the following week.  All pretty easy but still limiting.  The limitations following my mastectomy were by far the most difficult.  It’s incrediblily difficult to do anything when you are only allowed to move arms as far as the can go while you hold them against your side.  As my plastic surgeon calls it, I could do  anything so long as it was with T-Rex hands.  The T-Rex hands meant I couldn’t drive, I couldn’t really reach for things, and I couldn’t wash my own hair.  It meant that everyone had to essentially wait on me hand and foot.  With my most recent surgery, I couldn’t drive for a week.  It’s only when you can’t drive do you want to go everywhere.

Pretty sure this was during recovery when I just wanted to go somewhere…anywhere.

This was especially true this time around when I started feeling pretty good after only a couple days.  Always though there are a few days or many weeks after surgery that the only thing I am capapble of doing is moving from bed to the couch and then spending most of the day napping.  And once I get past the stage of napping like a cat all day, all I can manage to do is  meander about so slowly that my Fitbit doesn’t even register the movement.

Couple a lack of energy with restrictions on what you can do and eventually, reach the boredom portion of the recovery period.  After awhile you no longer want to watch movies, and tv shows begin to repeat themselves.  I’m not kidding by the end of my recovery after my mastectomy it was as if HGTV had no episode I hadn’t watched in the prior weeks.  So what I’ve done with this recovery period is take a cooking class or go for makeovers at the cancer center, both things I normally could never do because of work.  But most of the time I’ve spent battling boredom.  I’ve read, I’ve cleaned, worked on my blog and spent far too much time on social media.

Cooking class success

I feel like it’s stating the obvious that surgery requires recovery, but it’s easy to forget that it does indeed.  There will be limitations on what you can do, hopefully the dreaded T-Rex arms aren’t in place.  I will get tired and even when I start to feel better somehow, I’m still tired.  Then at some point I get bored and longing to go back to work and all of the activities I normally would be doing and I feel like that’s when I know I’ve recovered.