One down, one to go

It has been 18 days since my double mastectomy, and that means I’ve had these drains for 18 days.

The first week, they didn’t bother me too much, mostly because I had a pain pump and was on pain meds. Even before I went off of pain meds, they were getting the best of me. I finally got one out today. Getting one out was huge for me.

I want to talk about these drains for a minute. When you have drains, you start out emptying them twice a day and measure all fluids that come out. You pour the fluid into little containers, and then you measure and write down your amounts. You have to be under 20 mils before they will even consider removing them. It has to be under that for at least a few days.

My right one had been under 20 mils for a few days, so I was able to get it removed. The nurse cut the stitch, told me to take a deep breath and before I exhaled, it was out. Yes, it did burn a little, but it was out. It was about 8 inches across my breast and then comes out of my side a little under my armpits and fills into a tube that gets tucked into pockets in my shirt.

The reason I have drains is in order to prevent the buildup of fluid and help speed up the healing process. Without drains, fluid will collect in the space where my breast had been and can cause pressure and pain.

So I’ve worn the same shirt (I have three) for the last 18 days. My husband keeps them washed for me. I can’t wear any of my own clothes because of these drains, so it’s not fun to get dressed.

My left breast, which was healthy and didn’t have cancer, has caused me the most pain and trouble. It hasn’t healed as well as the right one where the stitches were. Maybe because it was healthy tissue, just not sure.

I have certainly not felt strong this past week. I’m not proud to say that I have cried every morning for the last week. It has been a hard time for me (and my husband), and as much as I love Jesus, I have cursed these drains.

I also had heard that it was an emotional roller coaster, but I had no idea. My left drain still is not at 20 mils, but I feel like one out has given me a new life.

I have also felt like the biggest baby ever. I have prayed for God to help me change my attitude because it has not been something I’ve been proud of this last week. Then I go through the emotions of knowing others have it so much worse, and then I cry about that. It’s a never-ending cycle, but I do feel like I’ve got a better attitude and am thankful for so much.

This isn’t the most positive blog I’ve written, but it’s my real life right now. I saw my surgeon May 15, and I got my first fill May 20. I have expanders behind my muscles, and the plan is to fill those every two weeks with saline solution to help stretch my skin so I can get ready for implants. This is what I have chosen for myself. It should take about three months.

The best news I got this week was I did not have any cancer in my lymph nodes or behind my nipples. So as far as I know, I will not have to have radiation or chemo. And my nipples survived. For all of you prayer warriors out there, a big thank you. I sometimes wonder what the good Lord was thinking when those prayers were going up, but I know he cares about the smallest things in our lives.

Luke 12:7: “Indeed the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

From here, things are only going to get better for me, and I’m so thankful for that. I’ve slept in the same recliner for 17 days now because I can’t sleep in bed yet, but I do get good rest.

I want to end with this. God blessed me with a really, really good friend. I didn’t know how close we would walk together as friends. Our lives have been intertwined in ways I never thought possible. Her breast cancer journey started in December and mine three months later, so she has always been a few steps ahead of me in the process, which has been a true gift from God for me.

She has cried with me, held me, prayed for me, loved me and answered all my questions whenever I asked — sometimes, the same questions multiple times. She has made me laugh, made me cry, shared the same emotions that I am now feeling, sat with me for hours just talking and hanging out.

She has truly been a gift from God. As you lift up prayers for me, will you please include my angel from God, Beth Gerth Schultz? She is still walking through some hard days. She may not look like it, but she still is on her journey. I pray that someday I can help someone like she has helped me.

Proverbs 18:24: “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

Thank you for all your prayers, love, food, gifts, cards and kindness. God is so good.

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