The past 72 hours have been one big blur. It started Wednesday when I was limited to a clear liquid diet with the added kicker of a "cleanse" and it ends with me perched gingerly on a chair in front of the computer at my mother's house. What occurred in the hours between these two events is somewhat cloudy due to a haze of pain; the effects of pain medication and my lack of sleep except that which was administered via IV.
I arrived at NYU Medical Center at 10am on Thursday. After filling out the same exact paperwork I have filled out for the previous four surgical procedures I had there (1 lumpectomy, 1 port implantation, 1 port removal and 1 cone biopsy), I donned the ever fashionable blue hospital gown and the waiting began. When I was finally led to the operating room - I recognized both the nurses and the anesthesiologist. I have obviously spent way too much time in NYU Medical Center but at least I knew the anesthesiologist knew what he was doing as I did not feel a thing during my last procedure!
As my doctor arrived and chatted with me about my triathlon I was rude and feel asleep mid-sentence. I awoke in recovery to find that my two hour surgery had stretched into four hours leaving me with a very sore throat due to being intubated and a very sore belly but was told that everything went well. That was the last thing that went well.
I spent the night with a catheter (enough said!) and an 87 year old roommate who had a penchant for walking around without her hospital gown and tell jokes. If it did not hurt so much to laugh, I would have been roaring. Even with the lovely pain medication I was given, I did not sleep much making for a very long, very uncomfortable evening.
However as dawn broke I realized I was starting to feel better. My roommate decided to dress and sat in the chair next to me to talk. It was a sad story; she had no one to pick her up from the hospital having lost touch with her two children and having outlived her husband and best friend. She had met Greg the prior evening and told me how lucky I was to have a man who knew how to laugh. As she settled back into her bed, I pulled out the four leaf clover my friend Karen gave me along with the beautiful handmade handkerchief my friend Kathleen gave me and reflected on how fortunate I was to have so many wonderful people in my life. When Greg arrived to bring me home, I gave him an extra squeeze to let him know how grateful I am to have him in my life. Since my house is still undergoing renovation we are staying at my mom's and again I gave thanks for having a family I knew I could always count on.
So as I sit and type, I am a bit sore and a bit groggy (can you say Vicodan?) but I am fully aware of how lucky I am. I live near wonderful hospitals and have excellent doctors. I have a loving family and many friends. I have an incredible husband who stands with me through the good and bad and although I may now be down a few body parts, I feel light on my toes thanks to all who help hold me up.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Most folks know it to be a fact that I am somewhat of fan when it comes to superheros. Okay, so maybe "somewhat" downplays my fanatical obsession with all things Batman, but I am really referring to all superheros. During my crazy week, I became aware that they really do exist and that they actually walk among us.
It was a typically overbooked "let me do every last thing I can before surgery" whirlwind week . Greg and I spent last weekend out of the country - yes, we were in Peterborough Canada for the 2010 International Breast Cancer Survivor Dragonboat Races. Team SOS joined forces with the Machestic Dragons from Princeton and paddled four races. The town of Peterborough was awash in pink and the folks there were extremely gracious hosts. We had a very good time! We met women from all of the world, all of whom had breast cancer, many still going through treatment and sporting the all too familiar bandana/hat/wig over their now bald head. As I looked around and reflected, I realized the strength of the power this gathering had. I knew then I was witnessing true superheros walking next to me, paddling beside me, laughing and dancing with me. CANCER? Been there, done that honey!
On our journey home, we were able to make a short stop in Cortland NY where we had lunch with my friend David. I met David at BU and had not seen him in about, oh, 20 years... it was so wonderful to be able to just sit and talk as if I had just seen him yesterday. David himself has been facing a major health crisis but by speaking with him and seeing him, one would never know. He spoke about his profession of choice with pride: working with kids who have been in placement to get reunited with their families and integrated back into their home. As we drove south on Route 81 I realized I had just interacted with another superhero - he had sat right across from me!
We returned home to a whirlwind of activity - our new cabinets have been installed and look beautiful. I had my pre-admission testing after which Greg and I had a wonderful dinner with Peter (another BU "re-connect") and Caleb (the meeting of the husbands!) an then settled down at MSG to be amazed by James Taylor and Carole King - what a great show!
I capped the week of with one amazing Saturday: at 7:10am I started off on my 1/2 mile swim for the Franklin Lakes/Wyckoff triathlon. 2hours 36 minutes, 17 cycled miles and 5 miles ran - I was done. Triathlon complete. Being handed that medal was pretty amazing. However later that day I was handed another medal - one that was just as amazing to me - I received a survivor medal from the American Cancer Society at the Relay for Life. It was overwhelming to me to see how many in the area have been affected by cancer. It was even more overwhelming when I looked around at the survivors standing with me how many were just kids. Suddenly that triathlete title did not mean much. I thought about how it must be to go through your teen years bald from chemo and too weak to participate in the normal frenetic pace of life most teens seem to. I was looking at some of the strongest kids I would ever know. True superheros.
I ended the evening attending a "Shop for the Cure" event that my friend Linda (we met via the Army of Women) had coordinated. It was incredible - she brought so many vendors together all whom agreed to give her a percentage of their sales from the evening towards her fundraising campaign for the Avon 3day breast cancer awareness walk. Again, I was humbled. Another superhero was in my presence. I think I need to start handing out capes...
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
tran·si·tion /trænˈzɪʃən, -ˈsɪʃ-/ Show Spelled[tran-zish-uhn, -sish-] Show IPA
movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, subject, concept, etc., to another; change: the transition from adolescence to adulthood.
Transition may be a noun but it is an apt descriptor of my life right now. I am slowly getting used to my new commute, my new office, my new position. I am learning to live without a kitchen and to look forward to the improvements made daily in my home. (I say this with a smile pasted on my face - and will continue to do so, hiding my freak outs about oh, just about everything, for those private times!)
I am trying to juggle training for my first triathlon along with paddling for my dragonboat team without totally exhausting my body. The transition within the triathlon is something I am not quite sure how to practice - it just is not the same to have my gear spread out across my floor and pretend I just swam my 1/2 mile and am now running, trying to get out of my wetsuit, to jump on my bike. This should be one heck of an experience.
I am getting ready mentally to begin to live without a few internal body parts as my surgery is now just two weeks away. I will not be able to swim for a month afterwards, nor run or bike for two weeks - and this is if everything goes as planned. Transition indeed; I have to admit, it keeps life interesting.