6 Months Post-Surgery: 6 Things I’ve Learned

This past Wednesday marked 6 months since my surgery. I could hardly believe it when I realized it. It certainly has been a crazy ride, but while having surgery isn’t exactly fun and exciting, I’ve definitely learned a lot while going through this whole experience. And since I’ve sort of chronicled my whole BRCA journey on this blog up to this point, I figured I’d share some of what I’ve learned along the way in order to continue the story and honestly, mostly to have a record of it for me or my boys to look back on one day. So here are the six biggest things having surgery has taught me in the past six months:

1. Down time is a good thing.

I may have a slight problem with sitting still. I really like to go, go, go! If I’m sitting still, I’m not accomplishing anything which means progress isn’t happening which means I’m falling behind and failing, right? NO! I was pretty much forced to sit still for a month, and do you know what happened? I felt like I came back a better mom, wife, friend, and blogger because I actually stopped to think about life and about others rather than just trying to hurry from one thing to the next all the time. Our brains and bodies need that, not only to recover from surgery, but to avoid burn-out and ultimately have a higher quality of life. I really do need to slow down every now and then.

6 Months Post-Surgery | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

2. It’s okay to let people help you.

I am kind of an “always be in control, handle everything yourself, never show any weakness” type of person. I would much rather be the help-er rather than the help-ee. After having surgery, though, I didn’t really have a choice. I wasn’t allowed to lift much. My movement was somewhat limited. And even if I tried to do something myself, I would get so exhausted that I would have to retreat to the couch and sleep for several hours in order to recover. It wasn’t just like, “Oh, it would be nice to have some help around here today.” I needed help. I physically couldn’t do it myself, which was something that I hadn’t experienced much before.

I was so incredibly blessed to have a ton of people come alongside our family and help during that time. We ate so well– our friends brought over so many delicious meals that we didn’t cook anything for ourselves for nearly four weeks. The Cs were completely spoiled. I think they were actually sad when I started to get better because it meant they had to be with boring old me rather than their grandmas and aunts who spoiled them rotten 24/7. 🙂 I was completely spoiled. I got more cards, texts, messages, blog comments, flowers, and care packages than I could even count. It was all extremely humbling, and you know what? The world didn’t end because I couldn’t do things for myself. And I got to see the true, humongous hearts of the people around me in the process– such a beautiful thing.

6 Months Post-Surgery | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

Flowers and Care Packages <3

3. My husband is a rockstar.

I already went on and on about his amazingness in this post, 🙂 but he literally carried our family through this time pretty much on his own because I was useless. There have been times in our marriage where one or the other of us has had to give more, but nothing ever like this where he was giving 200% and I was giving about 0%. He totally blew me away with his patience and strength during that time, and I’m more grateful than ever that God brought the two of us together.

6 Months Post-Surgery | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

4. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Never have the words of Philippians 4:13 rung more true to me than on the days leading up to and following surgery. Yes, I had 10 years to prepare for what was to come, but I think that no matter how long you have to think about it, it’s still scary. There are still unknowns. The one thing that never wavers, though, no matter what the outcome, is that God is in control and he loves me and wants the very best for me. I know my situation was never dire and there are so many people going through so much harder things than I ever have, but every hard situation I’ve ever been in –including surgery– has drawn me back to the fact that our God is so big, and I am so thankful for that.

5. It’s important to talk about hard things.

I think with blogging especially but also in life, we hesitate to put anything out there that isn’t picture perfect, beautifully styled, or that is messy or broken. But you know what? Life is messy and broken. It is far from picture perfect. So while my perfectionist side starts to twitch when I do it, I think it’s not only okay to talk about the hard, messy, broken side of life, it is also so incredibly important. People don’t need more perfect– we have Pinterest for that. {Which I love, don’t get me wrong! 😉 } People need real. When I’m going through a hard time or feeling down, it is so encouraging to read about others who are feeling and going through the same things. It makes me feel like I’m not in it alone. And that’s why it has always been important to me to put all of the cancer/genetic/surgery stuff out there– because if it even helps one other person in my situation, then it’s worth it for me, no matter how un-perfect it is.

6 Months Post-Surgery | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

No makeup, messy hair, wearing Donnie’s sweats– definitely un-perfect!

6. There will be “normal” again.

There were times during my recovery where it felt like I was going to be sore forever, tired forever, or self-conscious about my new body forever. I felt like I was never going to get back to the “normal” that I had before. And while everything isn’t completely the same, we have definitely found that “new normal” and are a little bit stronger and wiser because of it. There are so many things in life that are hard, but if it was easy all the time, we wouldn’t have the opportunities to learn and grow that the tough stuff tends to bring. So even though it may mean walking through situations that aren’t ideal, we really can gain so much in the process.

6 Months Post-Surgery | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

So thanks for letting me spill my heart and soul all over the pages of this blog. {Again. Who needs therapy when you can blog about it?! 😉 } And a huge THANK YOU to all of you who have been so awesome and supportive and encouraging throughout this whole process. It truly means more than you know. Hugs!!

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18 Comments

  1. So glad you are feeling better, Abby! I’ve been praying for you and your family 🙂 And thank you for being real with us – we definitely need more of that in our lives!

  2. Thank you for this post. I had a “simple” surgery that ended up going very badly last month and it suddenly became a very intense situation. You put into words everything I’ve been feeling lately. We’re all working on the getting back to normal part. I do want to add to the talking about it part. It’s ok to get professional help after something like this, because it’s hard on everyone and a professional can help you work through emotions. My husband had a hard time admitting he should go to therapy after I was getting back to normal, but it is helping a lot. Many prayers for your continued healing!

  3. Dear Abby,

    I found you blog some days ago via pinterest beacause I was looking for some pretty to do-lists. 🙂 It took me just a few sentences to save your amazing blog in my feed reader!

    I wish my English would be good enough to share all the thoughts I have about this post in an appropriate way… (but I am afraid I would fail :p). But let me say this: reading these open and honest words was amazing. God has given you so much strenghth and wisdom and I am sure these thoughts will be a blessing and inspiration for a lot of people. For me they truly are!

    Carolin

  4. JaneEllen says:

    HI Abby, no wonder so many of us love you and your blog. Right from beginning I loved your blog, reading your posts, seeing photos of your family, fell in love with your boys and seeing you/your hubby together. Your honest humility is so refreshing.
    So glad your hubby has been so supportive during/after your surgery, very important for your recovery and peace of mind. Recovery requires much for the right kind of recovery, one that will help you pass into the phase of being ok and not exhausted all the time. Your recovery required mental/emotional healing as a woman as well as physical for your body. Not easy at all. A lot can be said for your marriage and your husband during that recovery and it’s outcome, so very happy for you. Some husbands just can’t handle some things.
    Our daughter told me the first knee I had replaced was quite a shocker for her Dad. She said when he called her to let her know I was ok after surgery he was crying hard.
    I’m not one to slow down too much no matter what life hands me but having knee replaced did slow me down, for while at least. Having second knee done (thank heavens we only have two knees) was little worse since the lymphedema reared it’s ugly head and leg blew up at least twice it’s size, was very close to cellulitis, not good. Got past it and still walking around.
    Before I left hospital doc came in to see me, gave strict orders, no house cleaning, laundry, none of that stuff, he knew me too well. Told me I didn’t need to worry about rest of world for while. He left instructions for hubs in same tone as what he’d told me. Hubs is from different generation than your hubs, not always as helpful as he might be.
    I am so happy you had the support and back up you needed. Love that photo of your boys by your bed in hospital, you look pretty darned good for gal with no makeup in hospital. Keep on recovering Abby, sometimes it’ll sneak up on you and you need a rest/nap. That’s our body telling us life goes on and we need to rest.
    Love this post as always and looks like others did too. Honesty is always good and welcomed.
    At some point this year I’ll be having my right shoulder replaced, residue left over from rollover accident in 98. My arm and shoulder were pulled as Bronco rolled over on my arm, broke arm all way across just above elbow, only skin holding arm on, ouch. That one took me while, I do have nerve damage but still have my arm, lucky according to orthopedist.
    God bless you and your wonderful family. Happy weekend.

  5. Denise Ross Australia says:

    Hi Abby, I just would like to say thankyou for being so real, Honest and humble. It is refreshing to read. Posts that reflect our deep feelings, the struggles of life and the messy crazy days are refreshing and inspiring. They make me feel normal. Thankyou and I’m so glad you are feeling better. It’s lovely to read of families sticking it out Together and working together to do what needs to be done at the time. Take care and be kind to yourself. Love and hugs from down under xo

  6. I just bought your Building A Framework E-book and am trying to set up my blog. When I get to completing my WordPress install and click on my Admin URL it says “Safari Cant Find The Server”. What am I doing wrong?

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Ahh! So sorry I missed this, Lisa! I am eons behind on comments! Did you get it up and working? If not, shoot me an email at justagirlandherblog {at} gmail {dot} com and I can try to help!

      ~Abby =)

  7. Meaghan | Cook. Craft. Love. says:

    Your bravery inspires me every day! I’m so happy to hear you’re doing so well 🙂

  8. Hannie Blaise says:

    I’m glad you’re feeling better! I wish you all the best for everything! You’re so strong 🙂

  9. Jean Johnson Beck says:

    I happened upon your blog in the middle of the night tonight when having trouble sleeping, and I am sure glad I did. I started reading it for the organizational tips and ended up with a post I could truly relate to. Thank you for sharing your journey. The week my youngest son turned 3, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My other son was 5. I was 33 years old and very frightened at what the future may hold. I had bilateral mastectomies and will never forget the feeling of peace I had as I awoke from surgery. I felt uplifted and carried by all the prayers being said on my behalf throughout my cancer journey. This summer I will be celebrating my 16th year of being cancer-free, praise God! Praying that you are blessed with a very long, happy life with your husband and beautiful boys. ♥ Thank you for your blog and for sharing not only your God-given talents but also your personal story with us. It reminded me of a very important lesson to “be still and know that I am God.”

  10. Abby, Will you do a post on how to apply makeup? Your’s is so pretty! It is enough to be noticsble without being overdone. Also, how do you get your eyeliner line so straight and how do you get it to stay on?

  11. I had seen the banner on your blog, but I have to admit that I did not dare reading. Mom went through breast cancer surgery and I myself had a brain tumor removed last April. I am still recovering. There are a lot of things I can already do, while others are still in the wait-mode.
    Life changes, our vision of things change.
    Thank you for sharing about it. My respect and admiration for you only grows, Abby.

  12. denada laurenc says:

    I will pray for your health and your family. may always be happy 🙂

  13. Candy Cadle says:

    Abby,
    You are amazing and so strong. You trust in the only true hope we have and that is God. Though I have never had breast cancer(thank God) I have fought a life threatening sickness and thank him every day for his blessings. You have a beautiful family and a wonderful blog. Prayers for your continued health and happiness.

    Many blessings,
    Candy Cadle

    1. justagirlabby says:

      You are the sweetest! Thanks so much, Candy! Hugs and prayers to you, as well!

      ~Abby =)

  14. Great story and great person Abby!
    Thank you so much!
    Melanie

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Aw, thanks so much, Melanie! Happy Friday! <3

      ~Abby =)

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