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A year and a day

Updated on May 13, 2010

It's hard to believe it's been a year since the big surgery

A year ago, it was the day after my surgery and I was blogging when I wasn't falling asleep from all the pain medication.
A year ago, it was the day after my surgery and I was blogging when I wasn't falling asleep from all the pain medication.
The day of the surgery, my husband took his last feel of my natural breasts before I was rolled away to have them cut off and reconstructed.
The day of the surgery, my husband took his last feel of my natural breasts before I was rolled away to have them cut off and reconstructed.

Would you do this surgery?

After reading my stories this past year, has it changed/influenced your decision to have TRAM Flap reconstruction?

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I was working on the computer late last night (of course), my husband walked into the kitchen, started looking at the calendar and asked, "Isn't there an anniversary coming up?"

Crap! Did I forget our anniversary? My parents' anniversary? After all, I'm the keeper of the dates in my family. I'm the one who calls my sister and mother to remind them of upcoming birthdays and important dates; I tell my sister to call our dad on Father's Day (she actually remembered the recent Mother's Day on her own) and my mom to call her sister when it's her birthday.

"Don't you remember?" asked Mark.

"Remember what?" Should I sneak into the other room and fill out a greeting card to my hubby for something?

"Don't you remember where you were a year ago?" he asked.

Pause. "Oh, surgery." How time flies.

So, here it is, a year and a day after my prophylactic bilateral mastectomy and TRAM Flap reconstruction surgery and I'm doing pretty well. Most of the time I feel okay. Of course, as soon as I write that, there's a stabbing pain shooting through my newish right breast.

Newish? Yes, it's sort of like real estate...not quite new enough to call the roof new, so they call it newish. Furthermore, what do I call these mounds that were taken from my belly and moved up to my chest? They're not really breasts; not even "breast implants." Rather, they're more like mounds of flesh, but saying that to people just grosses them out, so I must call them "breasts."

If you already read my 11-month update, I don't need to repeat all the recent health information. Although, I did forget one thing. I've noticed, when I get up from sitting for a while, the muscles that were moved from my stomach and stretch up to my breasts to offer blood flow to keep the flesh alive, tighten up and need to stretch out every time I rise up.

This especially occurs at night when I finally surgically remove myself from the computer and try to catch a show on television to get my mind off writing stories for my blog with the Press Democrat Town Hub. I feel the pain most when I get up from that comfy lounge chair that came in so handy when I returned from the hospital nearly a year ago.

I've never felt more like an elderly person (I'm only 44) than when I get up out of a chair. Prior to standing, I cringe in anticipation of the pain. I stand up and it takes a few moments for the muscles to stretch out enough so I can stand up straight. I take the first few steps and look like my 80-year-old father when he rises out of a chair. Actually, he doesn't cringe.

I've gotten to the point where I don't want to get out of that chair and I stay there later and later into the wee hours of the morning so I can avoid the pain of getting up. Changing the chair won't matter, it's just one of those things I've become accustomed to experiencing at the end of a long day. I wonder if that pain will eventually go away or get worse? I'll let you know.

I spoke today with my best friend (best friends since high school) who called for a chat. Just like myself, she couldn't believe a year has already gone by since that horrible surgery that seems more like it happened only a few months ago.

Yes, a year has gone by and I still catch myself questioning my choice to have the surgery. And yes, those moments of weakness retreat into the dark shadows of my self-doubting/self-loathing mind when I look into the faces of my children and know I have a better chance of being around for them as they grow into adults and on with their own lives.

But it's a new year on the Joey calendar and I'm hoping that means bigger changes in my life. I know, with my luck, the two lottery tickets I purchased in the past few days (I haven't purchased those in years, but my children talked me into buying the tickets) aren't the going to change anything. So, that means this has to be the year I finally get one of my books published. At least, that's the plan.

In the interim, I'm writing stories for our county's New York Times daily newspaper (I'm quite proud of that and anyone who knows me also knows I don't normally say good things about myself). I love what I do and even got a little bit of a raise today from my boss!

Now, on to the next post-surgical year!


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      Laura Alexander 7 years ago

      Congratulations on your recovery Joelle. No doubt about it you made the right decision!