I hit the four-week mark today, so I guess I should write something.
After the first two weeks of near-daily noticeable progress, the most recent two weeks has been more of a plateau, one that has at times been rather frustrating.
I started physical therapy exercises, designed to restore strength and flexibility after this type of surgery. It took awhile to find the sweet spot of doing them, yet not ending up hurting. It was kinda rough for a week and a half! I was in more pain any time since the first two days after surgery. I feel like I finally turned a corner now though. The middle of my chest and sides/underarms feel almost neutral, which is a huge improvement just since the past couple days, when I had frequent sharp, burning pain in those areas.
It’s just been weird, feeling like I’m kind of floating along on my own with all this, not really knowing what is on the spectrum of normal and what is cause for concern. I called the surgeon’s office once, hoping to get some guidance about the PT stuff and just generally how much pain is typical, fully acknowledging that everyone is different etc. I was transferred to a Nurse Navigator, an expert in all things breast cancer. It was not a good phone call. Not helpful in the slightest.
I decided that talking to other women would probably be best, so I went to a breast cancer support group yesterday. It was pretty awesome. Lots of veteran survivors, a couple Nurse Navigators, and another woman who is just slightly further along in recover than me (her surgery was in April and she has already started tamoxifen). And I realized that the reason that there has been so little follow up from the surgeon is that typically at this point, a woman is under the care of the plastic surgeon, not the surgical oncologist. This doesn’t apply to me. So I decided that I would call the breast surgeon’s office back and explain that I didn’t have another surgeon to release me to lift more weight and go swimming and that type of stuff. But then today, I felt really good, best in days (weeks!) so we’ll see. I guess I should at least call and ask at what point I can carry a vacuum around the house and can start buying full gallons of milk instead of the less-heavy half gallons.
My range of motion is definitely getting better! I can wash my hair without having to hang my head down. I went today to a u-pick farm and picked ten pounds of blueberries, with lots of reaching and up-and-down motions. Somewhat concerned that I would be back in Pain City this afternoon, but I feel okay. And this is after getting up at 5am with Stuart to get the dogs some exercise before the sun came up.* We did a two-and-a-half mile brisk walk, probably longest and briskest in four weeks. It felt good (other than being fucking hot) and I think I’m probably ready to resume my daily morning 5-6 miler. I probably will start solo and work up to bringing the dogs with me. As I believe I’ve mentioned before, Kira is a puller.** I think I’ll be able to handle her after not too long. What we really should do is spend serious time training her not to pull. Ugh. That is a topic for a much longer post though.
*Y’all it’s so fucking hot hot-as-balls-hot 80-degrees-at-7am-hot
**She, at 35ish pounds, pulls harder than either of my untrained, 150-lb Irish Wolfhounds ever did
So pain easing, range of motion improving, energy level good. The surgical glue that covers my wounds is finally starting to peel off. Unfortunately I’m one of THOSE people who like to pick at and fuss with things like that. AND IT IS SO ITCHY. I read somewhere online that you can smear neosporin on the surgical glue to encourage it to come off. I might do that; then I can put some cortizone-10 on there and hopefully get some relief from this crazy itching.