Today marks two weeks since surgery. A lot has happened in the past fourteen days. I’ve experienced pain like no other, the kind that makes you want to permanently close your eyes in hopes that it will all go away. When I breathe it’s like an elephant has made it’s home on top of my chest. I’ve experienced healing like never before… the kind that leaves me speechless. Though the pain is harsh, I awake and find more of it missing day after day. Apart from the most popular observations I could make, like how everything from the neck down looks a little bit different these days, I’ve observed many other spectacular things in these crazy days. I’ve seen the hands and feet of Jesus come in and out of our little apartment on a daily basis. I’ve seen his eyes, I’ve felt his protection, I’ve heard his heart, and so much more. All of these Jesus moments are because of the amazing community filled of various family and friends. I am experiencing gratefulness from the deepest parts of my heart, the kind you can’t put into words. But I’ll try. So here I am friends, offering my full hearted thanks, and thanks again. It is simply not enough.
Friday was d-day. I showed up in my “Get Your Brave On” shirt… compliments of my husband and Hillsong merchandise. My parents, my aunt, and my new family (a là marriage) all came to town. We waited, we paid, and then we prayed. One nurse asked me why I was getting this surgery, within minutes of us sharing our family’s story I had gathered a crowd. The sweetest of confirmations was from those nurses, they affirmed and encouraged my decision over and over. It was an amazing moment. My main nurse was pregnant with her first child, and just looking at her reminded me of why I was doing this. Not only for my future.. but also for OUR future together as a family. After everyone cleared out and Tyler and I were alone, I looked over at him and told him I was scared. That was the first time I actually was scared. As I choked back tears they put my first round of anesthesia in my iv and wheeled me away.
I then underwent a 5 hour procedure where my oncologist, Dr.B, removed all tissues from my chest, followed by my plastic surgeon.. who inserted tissue expanders BEHIND my muscle. The expanders are there anywhere between 6-12 weeks and they hurt like hell. These expanders will be filled every week to stretch my muscle and push it forward, forming a cavity for an eventual gummy bear implant to go. No, not a gummy bear shaped implant but rather, an implant with the consistency of a gummy bear. Today’s implants are much safer because if you cut them in half…nothing spills out. They do as the gummy bears do, you see. But in the mean time these tissue expanders, that have the texture of sand paper I might add, are all I’ve got.
Day one in the hospital was overwhelming. I wanted to talk to all my visitors but my body wanted to take a nap and throw up. So, I alternated between the two. The first 10 days I had drains that had to be emptied every 8 hours. This was what kept me from moving around a lot, and what made me rely heavily on others around me. What a concept, relying and trusting others to tend to you. For me, it’s a hard thing to let happen. Tyler would wake up to me attempting to empty my own drains because.. well because I’m not sure why. Maybe to regain a little control of my life? To attempt not to be such a burden to everyone around me? In the end, needing help all the time was a humbling and hard experience all in one. I am so grateful for a mother who practically moved to Dallas for the last two weeks, a best friend who is weathering this storm by my side, and a new husband who loves, cares, and sacrifices more than most.
I didn’t want to leave the hospital - because it was the safest place I could ask to be!! Wait, what do you mean my mom, Tyler and Allison will be emptying my drains, changing my bandages, and bathing me instead of these trained nurses!? Not to mention, day 3 was the most painful day (also known as the “no mo’ morphine day”) so why are they making me leave this safe place! After a few naps I was up for the move and settled into my own bed. I was awoken every 4 hours for meds, every 6 hours for a different kind of med, and then I would wake Tyler up when I had to pee because God knows I couldn’t sit up without dying. I was comforted by the prayer shawl given to me at the breast specialist’s office… made by the knitting club of a local baptist church. This laid atop the patchwork blanket the Bates’ gave me for my first Christmas as their son’s girlfriend. The hospital also gave me “armpit pillows” that were sewn into the shape of hearts, that are now near and dear to my heart, since they shielded me from many painful nights. I posted a photo of my couch pillows… but the cow shaped one is the one that stayed by my side when I pulled my back from a day without muscle relaxers. That’s right, back spasms included in this grand adventure! Tyler installed a shelf just for the flowers my supporters sent. He then purchased a ginormous “recovery sized” TV for our bedroom. He couldn’t bare for me to watch netflix via iMac all month long…he later informed me it would be moved to the living room as soon as I felt better. How romantic:) He and the other “nurses” also made charts and hung them on the wall to track all my meds and fluid output - seriously the nicest.
But about the things that leave me with a full heart as I write this. We moved a chair into the bedroom dubbed “the visitors chair”, it has seated many, heard much conversation, and seen many tears. Thank you to those of you who provided meals, you have blessed Tyler and I more than you know. Thank you to those who visited me at home and at the hospital, your company kept me hopeful and our talks kept me sane. Thank you if you texted or called, your consideration of me went further than you will ever know. With a surgery like this, an optional surgery, and a surgery where the words boob, breast, and implant are used often… it’s easy to want to ignore it because it can be awkward. I am so overwhelmed by the amount of people who have stayed by our sides through this. So today, two weeks from the day, hear me when I say thank you. Thank you and thank you again sweet friends and family. The journey continues and won’t end until mid August, but if these months ahead are anything like these past two weeks.. it makes it all a little easier to bear. We are giving thanks to the Lord for his steadfast love endures and endures.