Breast Cancer at 41 – The Recovery (from another set of surgeries)
The one good thing about the reconstruction and hysterectomy recovery – it was an easier recovery than the bi-lateral mastectomy. I thought I would have to stay in the hospital at least 5 days with both surgeries – nope. They threw me out of the hospital the following day. At 2:23pm I was on my way home.
To say I was surprised was an understatement. Again, I wasn’t able to lift my arms above my head and had again lost all upper body strength, but my stomach pain was nonexistent. I was weak, but I was eating and moving around well. Within a couple of days I was off pain medication.
I surveyed the damage – one incision in the belly button with bruising and two incisions along the scars on the new boobs. The boobs looked good and were 100% better than the tissue expanders – less fake looking and feeling. The only disappointment I had with the new boobs – no nipples for another 3 months. Again, it’s surprising how much you miss your nipples.
I was healing fast, but knew that I had 3 weeks of mobility restrictions for the reconstruction and 6 weeks of mobility restrictions for the hysterectomy. I talked my nurse into lifting my restrictions to drive and walk at 12 days. I walked my first 5K at 13 days post op and followed that up with back to back 5k’s the weekend after.
At my post-op appointment with my plastic surgeon he gave me permission to run at 3 weeks. However, his approval was dependent on my OB-GYN’s approval. At my 4 week post-op with my OB-GYN she gave me the bad news. I could ride my bike as far and as long as I wanted. I would be able to swim at 8 weeks and yes, I would be able to run at 6 weeks. I would be allowed to run 1 mile/day. A mile?!!
One. Mile. One mile?!!!
This doctor knew I was a runner. She knew I had run 3 full marathons and 5 half marathons during my bi-lateral mastectomy and chemotherapy treatments. What the hell was she telling me?
I sat staring at her with my mouth gapping open for some time. Just sitting and staring. And then the tears came pouring down my face. “You said that I would be able to run.” And then she said the words I had to hear and let sink into my brain because if she hadn’t said these words, I would have been out the door running.
“If you run, you risk your vaginal cuff not healing correctly and the pounding from continuous running could cause your guts to fall out.”
Guts. To. Fall. Out.
I know I would have remembered this “guts falling out” thing had it been explained to me during my pre-op appointment. (note to self – ask better questions that are waaaaaaaaay more specific).
I can’t put into words how angry I was and have been. My anger stems from not understanding my post—op limitations. And really how could I? I was allowed to run through my other surgeries and all through chemotherapy. Now I was finished with the surgeries and the chemo and I was being treated as though I was injured and it was frustrating.
Running had kept me out of the loony bin during my cancer prognosis. It had cleared my head when I was freaking out about losing my breasts. It had kept me feeling “normal” through losing my hair and chemotherapy. It had given me strength.
Now at my rebirth it was being taken away from me and I felt betrayed. This surgery marked the end of my cancer chapter. I felt it was time to begin living again. And I resented my doctor and my coach limiting this rebirth. I was straight up pissed. And I was in full pity party mode.
Next up: Cancer at 41 – The Pity Party