Monday, March 02, 2009

I am home...

...and looking a bit like I've wrestled with a shark, but I'm getting used to my new self. I found that the narcotic pain meds they gave me were more trouble than they were worth (whatever happened to Tylenol #3?), making me nauseated, so I stopped taking them soon after the surgery, which was fine, as everything was numb enough from the surgery that I wasn't in much pain. Now, as the nerves are waking up a bit, I'm taking tylenol and ibuprofen. But mostly, I'm not in real pain, just some discomfort that is more annoying and distracting than anything else. The pain from the Taxol was worse - more intense and more constant. What I have now can mostly be alleviated by lying down.

You all may get to see some scar pictures in a few weeks. I'm not sure about that yet. I have this intense desire to show people, though, and I'm pretty sure flipping up my shirt at social gatherings or in public wouldn't be appropriate. I don't know if this need to share is about sharing trauma or simply thinking the scar is cool or what, but in my case, I think it's partly about normalizing not only my body but the whole experience.

I also wanted to see scar pictures before my surgery, and I had trouble finding them. Mine is, I think, more extreme than the ones I did find.

TMI follows here - turn back now:
I confess that I actually find the drains kind of cool at this point. There are long tubes that drain fluid beneath the outside of the scar (I think it's a uniscar, but can't tell for sure) into little rubber grenades that hang from a rubber ring around my neck. What comes through the drain tubes initially freaked me out, but now it fascinates me. It is like watching those images of a fetus developing in the womb, where there are all kinds of fluids and things floating around it, or like watching the bits and pieces of life under the sea.

(If you've just now lost your lunch, I apologize, but I did warn you.)


Sungold said...

As someone who has cared for a partner after surgery for prostate cancer, I didn't find this post TMI at all - even though I had a very vivid visual image of the drainage tubes! I think you're quite right that this experience needs to be normalized. It's common experience and yet it's so marginalized.

I'm not gonna call you brave, because I think you're just doing what you must, both in living this experience and writing about it. (Please correct me if you view it differently!) Sure, it takes strength and courage to get through cancer treatment - but the whole discourse of "bravery" and "positive thinking" drives me batty. It can be infantilizing and patronizing.

Instead, I'll just wish you a rapid recovery from surgery with no sign *ever* again of those rogue cells.


Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you are home. I was just thinking about you this morning. You're still in my P&PT. Take care.

Lara said...

I'm glad you are home, too. I, for one, can't wait to see your scars! (If you want to share, that is)

Green said...

So glad you're home and recovering okay. If you post pics of the scars, maybe it will help someone else who is looking for pics of them to find out what they may have to go through.

::very gentle virtual hugs to you::

belledame222 said...

I'm glad you're home, and wishing what Sungold and everyone is wishing. x

Sylvia said...

Heh, my uncle after a recent surgery and I kept joking around because he kept offering me his drainage pouch as "apple juice." Looked like one of those kiddie juice bottles with the metal cap -- hugs. :-p

I'm very glad the surgery went well and I wish you a speedy, full and easy recovery.

bint alshamsa said...

Hello darling!! I'm so glad to hear that you are back home again. If the combination of Tylenol and Ibuprophen is working for you, then I am overjoyed! Sometimes it can take a while before they can figure out what combination of drugs will be necessary to relieve your pain. I went through the same nausea when I first started taking the narcotics. It took me a few meals to figure out that when you first start taking them, you need to eat something substantial before your dose. I was trying to go with easy to swallow foods like soup and soft breads because the radiation had burned my insides from my throat to halfway down my esophagus and I was afraid that it hadn't healed enough for me to eat anything heavier than that. However, once I started eating more protein and fruit, the nausea went away. If you're not in the mood for a big meal or you aren't a meat eater, an apple is usually enough to do the job. I know you aren't on them now but if you do ever need to use them, those are just some tips that worked for me.

It took me a little while before I was able to show my scars to the world. However, I remember waking up one morning and deciding that this was going to be the day that I photograph and post pictures of them on my blog. Let me tell you, it was one of the best things I ever did to help me come to grips with my post-surgical body.

The overwhelming support that I received on my blog helped me to feel comfortable enough to stop hiding my scars. I started to see my body as a work of art, sculpted by nature and science, an ever-changing, living and breathing canvas.

I now have names for the two largest scars: The one down my back is "The Zipper" and the one that wraps around my chest is called "The Snake". You can see them here on my blog: Scar Map

I also had the drainage tubes but I think mine were a lot bigger than the ones I've heard a lot of people talk about. Each of mine were the size of a garden hose. The fluid that drained out was a strange, murky red fluid. The container it emptied into was about one foot by one foot and had wheels and one of those pull-out luggage handles on it so that I could transport it along with me as I practiced walking. I thought it was rather cool, too. I wish I had taken a picture of it.

It's really funny how even significant events like that eventually fade in my memory. I think about it sometimes and wonder how I got through it. On the other hand, knowing that I did get through it once makes me know that I'm capable of getting through it again. It has made me more confident in life. I now know that I can survive all of the surprises that life might throw at me...and so can you.

If you decide that you do want to share your scars but you're not ready to post them here, feel free to e-mail me and we can talk about body fluids and surgeries as much as your heart desires. I'm bintalshamsa [at] yahoo [dot] com

Good-pain control
(instead of good-bye)

Plain(s)feminist said...

Hey all,
Thanks, everyone, for the support - I'm sorry not to respond individually. I may be able to do that soon; right now, I'm conserving my energy. But I really appreciate the comments and support, and I will write more soon.

I will say, though, that the right drain is out (yay!), and I am feeling more comfortable now that that is gone. The left drain isn't bothering me, and will likely come out sometime next week.

Anonymous said...

nice posting