Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Longest Week Ever

From January 25th to February 1st me and my husband lived on the sofa.  I could barely move.  Not because of pain, mind you, but because the drain out my side was so abnormal feeling.  If I moved, it pulled and it just felt awkward.  I can't explain it any better than that.  We had to drain it every few hours.  This process consisted of uncapping and draining it, as well as making sure there were no blockages in the tube that ran from my wound to the collection ball. 

That went fine for a day.  Then it ended.  I barely had any drainage.  We emptied it less and less.  A visiting nurse came to visit and helped my husband learn how to help me shower.  She checked the drain while she was there.  We all knew that something wasn't right. 

First, the shower.  My husband wasn't sure that he was ready to see my wound yet.  I mean, that made sense.  He was used to seeing a woman with two boobs, and now he was going to see a woman with one boob and a 20 centimeter gash across her chest with a hole under her armpit and a tube coming out.  Shocking is a mild term to use for that.  So, on the nurse's first visit, he asked if she could help me with my shower, because he wasn't ready.  No problem.  I hadn't been ready to see it either, but I had.  It didn't bother me nearly as much as I thought it would.  But I understood.

He followed us to the bathroom even though he'd said that he wasn't ready to look yet.  He ended up seeing the wound as the nurse helped me shower.  Fortunately, it wasn't as bad as he'd thought it would be either.  He was relieved.  I was relieved that it hadn't shocked him much.  From there, the nurse showed him what to do to help me, and he seemed comfortable with the process.  I was happy.  I would rather have my husband help me shower than a stranger.  No offense to the nurse.  She was great.

From that point on, my husband would help me shower and would drain the drain, and change the bandages.  The problem was that drain.  It didn't seem to be draining.  My breast cancer navigator talked to the nurse on the phone.  They thought that it was all right, and that it may just be ending.  Call me a pessimist, but I didn't believe that for a second.  I knew that this wouldn't be that easy.  Nothing was ever that easy with me.

It was decided that we would continue to use the tube top that they called a binder to put pressure on the drain tube and hopefully everything would be all right.  We called the surgeon's office and the consensus was to just let it be with the binder and everything would be all right.  Call me a pessimist, but it seemed too easy.

I watched Northern Exposure a lot.  In just over a week, I watched all six seasons.  It was what I wanted to do, so that was the one thing that was making me happy.  The rest was tedious.  I had trouble moving.  It didn't even hurt.  I just couldn't move much.  The body just wouldn't go.  There didn't seem to be anything I could do about it.  My husband had to help me up from and back onto the sofa.  I navigated the stairs to the bathroom and back all right, and I could get a bottle of water from the kitchen.  That was about it.

My husband had to go back to work at some point.  So, the solution was to set me up like a cat who's family was away on a trip.  I couldn't lift diddly squat, so my husband and son put 20 ounce bottles of water flavored with my Crystal Light in the refrigerator.  They left enough bottles to get me through the day so that they could go to work and school.  I also had single serving containers of soup and stuff that I could heat in the microwave for lunch.  Then when the boys came home from their day, they continued to take care of me.  It was an interesting system, but it worked.

Let me interject here what happened.  My aunt and my mother in law were supposed to help take care of me, but they both got very ill.  Best laid plans and all of that.  They both came down with similar viruses at the same time, and they couldn't be around me, because no one wanted me to catch it.  At the same time, my mother lives in Arizona and can't travel anymore.  On top of everything else, 6 days after my surgery, my mom broke her arm.  Then I felt bad because I couldn't go out there to help her.  It was just one mess after another for a while.  Fortunately, everyone survived and got better.

So, every night at bedtime, my husband would tuck me in with my blanket on the sofa and then make himself as comfortable as he could.  He falls asleep on the sofa all the time, so it was actually easier for him than it was for me.  However, he would have to get up and help me every time I woke and had to go to the bathroom or whatever.  Life was not easy for him.  He didn't complain.  He kept telling me that it was worth it, so that I would not die on him.

My husband had worried a great deal about me during this mess.  He told me that he'd taken me for granted and that he never wanted to do that again.  Cancer scared him.  In all the years I've known him, this was the only time that I recall him really being scared about what could happen. He'd been frightened during our son's birth, but that had been momentary.  This worry had continued on for months, and the pathology hadn't come back yet.  We still didn't know for sure that it was over.  There could be more and we were just waiting to see.  There could still be radiation, chemo, and maybe more surgery.  Add it all up, and it was one of the longest weeks of my life.

The week wasn't over yet.  I will stop here and talk about the rest of it soon.  I will have to say, nothing gives you the opportunity to work on a relationship more than a crisis.  Lots of couples fall apart during a crisis.  Me and my husband became closer.  We realized during that time that we had each other and with our families getting older and becoming ill themselves; we were lucky to have each other.  If I hadn't had him during that time, I don't know what I would have done.  He was a great nurse.  He was more patient than he ever was before or after that time.  It's amazing the people we can be when we reach down inside and pull out our best.  After all John Lennon said it.  "All You Need is Love."