i get a lot of questions about how cancer has changed me, if i’m living my life differently. the answer: yes and no, big and small. i’ve been journaling a lot on that and want to write you about it sometime soon.
when one of my nurse practitioners advised me to take medical leave, her reasoning was because one day, it would all pile up–the physical assaults and mental anguish–and i’d “lose my shit on someone…like the starbucks lady, or in a grocery store parking lot.” i had a few moments where this was nearly true last fall, so my medical leave was timely…so that i didn’t punch someone.
this week seems ideal to lose my shit, given surgeries and infections and confusion. but it turns out, i already lost my shit last week on a plane ride.
very long story somewhat shortened: a young woman sitting next to me had a severe fear of flying. while we were still on the ground, the flight crew escalated it by calling a professional psychologist in who is trained for these situations. the parents were trying to break though the daughter’s fear of flying and were committed to taking that flight. during the 45 minutes of the young woman hyperventilating, screaming at her mom and crying out things like “i hate you,” “you can’t make me fly” and so forth, the passengers around us started making snide, impatient remarks loud enough for the family to hear. my heart was breaking for this family, while my blood boiled about how uncompassionate the other passengers were. the family decided to take the daughter off the plane.
the man sitting next to me opened his mouth to complain, and i couldn’t take it anymore and yelled at the first few rows around me: “i have cancer. if this delay is the worst thing that happens to you, then consider yourselves lucky.” the man countered me by saying, “i’m 81, nearing the end of my life.” i cut him off and said, “cancer can do the same thing to you. and it can also teach you how to have compassion and patience, some things that you might still have time to work on.” i got some thumbs up and super awkward stares, and then absolutely no one spoke to me the rest of the flight.
it felt fantastic.
i need to get a couple more punches in again soon. and i confirmed: it’s never too late to lose your shit.
we got home from the hospital yesterday afternoon. i’m down a breast. during surgery, they tried to put several smaller implants in the capsule one by one, but the infected layers of skin couldn’t handle being stretched. so i’m flat chested and have a surgical drain. they also took some cultures from inside the capsule to see what bacteria might be growing, even though the capsule didn’t look infected . there are some scenarios playing out:-i could have surgery again
tomorrow monday to put another implant in and take part of my back muscle/tissue and overlay it on the radiated skin.-the cultures could show bacteria and surgery would be postponed for up to a few months for the infection to clear. because over time, even a short 5 days, the breast capsule contracts, it will be difficult to put an implant in. so, we would go backwards and put in a tissue expander with the back muscle/tissue helping to close the incision.-then eventually after slowly filling the expander (again), i’ll have another swap surgery to get the silicone implant (again).
depending upon a few things, i’ll have 1 or 2 (or more?) surgeries.
during my night in the hospital, i was super restless and listless. i wanted to be there and i wanted to be anywhere else in the world. i wanted to read and i wanted to sleep. i wanted visitors and i wanted to be left alone. it dawned on me that what this all comes down to is stamina, mental strength, or using all the tools i’ve ever been given to focus.
focus focus focus focus.
mike will keep you posted about surgery on
tomorrow monday. thank you for all the enduring support and notes and well wishes in the meantime.