Finally, no drains and adjusting to a new normal

It has been 28 days since my surgery that removed both of my breasts.

On May 22, I finally got the last drain out. They were so uncomfortable. I’m finally able to wear something other than those white shirts with inside pockets, so I felt like all was good and well in my life. I got my hair cut and just felt good.

I’ve heard of the emotional roller coaster, but so far, I think I’ve been pretty good with keeping it together. But today, it simply didn’t make sense for me to be so down. But I was.

I tried to sleep in my bed last night, but I just couldn’t do it. I can’t lay on my sides even though the drains are out. I tried using pillows, putting our bed up and nothing worked. I could not get comfortable, so back down to the recliner I went.

Last night, when I left the bed, Rob, my husband, stayed in the bed. He has slept next to me for the last 26 days in his recliner. I’ve begged him to sleep in our bed, as it’s much more comfortable for him than our recliners, but he won’t.

I don’t need his help at night anymore. But tonight, he is back downstairs in his recliner next to me. I’m certainly blessed that he cares for me in the way he does.

Ephesians 5:25: “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church.”

The emotions can take a toll on you. And they have. Here’s how I can explain some of my emotions. It’s kind of like a death. In the beginning, you have family and friends surrounding you with their love. There’s always someone there. But after a few weeks, they all go back to work and back to their lives, but you are still in that place of mourning wondering how everything in their lives has gone back to normal but you are still stuck in that same place.

It’s not their fault I’m feeling this way. It’s just I have to find my new normal. The thing is this disease doesn’t only affect me. It affects my whole family. Their feelings and emotions are different than mine, but they are raw and real. They fight some of the same emotions as me (fear, etc.), but they can’t really share those emotions with me. But I share my emotions with them.

I have four beautiful children that gave me four grandchildren when they married their spouses. I now have 12 grandchildren. Family means everything when you’re sick. I will have to find my new normal, but so will they. I’m very grateful for my family’s support.

Today, I went for a small walk. Everything hurt on me because I’ve laid around for four weeks. And these expanders, let me tell you about these expanders. That is what the plastic surgeon put in me the day of surgery because I wasn’t a candidate for immediate implants.

A common breast reconstruction is expansion, which involves expansion of the breast skin and muscle using a temporary tissue expander. So every two weeks, I go to my plastic surgeon and he uses a magnet to find the injection port and fills my expander with air.

Some women get saline injected, but he chose air for me because it’s lighter. I received 50 ccs my first fill. He had already put air in the day of my surgery, so when the expanders get to the desired size my plastic surgeon thinks is right for me, he will do a second surgery to remove the expanders and place the implants.

These expanders are very uncomfortable. I still have feeling on the sides of my breasts, and it feels like they are way over there. I’m praying that as they get filled, the uncomfortable feelings subside some. My plastic surgeon said my exchange surgery will be the end of July or the first part of August, just in time for my husband and I to celebrate 44 years of marriage.

The other part that is not so uncomfortable but very weird is that I have no feeling in my breasts. That will take some time to get used to. I hate that feeling. When the plastic surgeon put the needle in my breast, I felt nothing. That’s another new normal I’m praying I get used to. Also, when I take a cold drink, it feels like it goes right down my left breast. It is the weirdest feeling.

I was going over some journaling I did in January, and I was asking the Lord to make me a better version of myself. I already see him answering that prayer through this journey.

I know I’m on the homestretch. I’m ready to be living my new normal life. I’m choosing not to live in fear as in 1 John 4:18, perfect love casts out all fear. I know those feelings will come up, but I also know God’s love can help me put those fears to rest.

Again, thank you for all of the prayers that have been sent up on my behalf.

We serve a great big God who loves us.

Theresa Schwartz of Seymour writes a blog about her journey with breast cancer. Send comments to [email protected].