Oh hey there, sweet friends! I kind of feel like I need to re-introduce myself around here after my recent blogging hiatus! Actually, things may have seemed fairly normal at the front end of things-- posts still went out on the blog and social media, emails were sent, updates were made. But behind the scenes here... I've mostly been sleeping, so it feels like it's been a while to me! 🙂
If you're new around here, let me catch you up really quickly. About 12 years ago, I was tested and found to have the BRCA1 genetic mutation, which makes me very, very prone to breast and ovarian cancer. (My mom, a breast cancer survivor, and my sister both also have the gene.) A few years ago when I turned 30, I had a preventative mastectomy to reduce my risk of breast cancer. My doctors continued to monitor me, and the plan was to have a second surgery to reduce my risk of ovarian cancer when I turned 35 (2 years from now). But after some test results continued to come back less than ideal, we decided to do the surgery now rather than wait a little longer. Friday, March 31st was the big day, nearly 3 weeks ago.
To be honest, I felt very calm and at-peace going into the surgery. And since I am a major worrier and typically stress out over even the smallest things, I totally attribute my lack of stress to God carrying me through this whole process and all the prayers that were being lifted up on my behalf-- thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you who took the time to pray! I most definitely felt it!
I wasn't allowed to eat after midnight the night before my surgery, and surgery wasn't scheduled until 2:30 the next afternoon, so you better bet that I stayed up until 11:30 so I could eat until the very last second possible! 🙂 On surgery day, we took Connor (age 8) to school and dropped off Caleb (age 5) at my in-laws'. My parents arrived at our house, and I made everybody lunch (which I couldn't eat-- ugh!) before we all caravanned down to the hospital.
I got checked in, filled out some paperwork, and they took me back and got me hooked up to an IV. They also had me take some meds, one of which made me a bit woozy, so I'm glad there wasn't a video camera in the room! I can't remember what I said, but Donnie remarked several times that I was being funny, so at least I kept everyone entertained while we were waiting. 😉
They were running a little behind, but I remember them finally wheeling me into the [absolutely freezing] operating room, moving me to the operating table where bright lights were shining in my face, and then... nothing.
The next thing I remember was waking up in the recovery area. They had told me that I could only go home that night if I could totally come out of the anesthesia, so I remember trying really hard to keep my eyes open and be "with it," even though I felt like going back to sleep.
Eventually Donnie and my parents came in, and since they had spoken to my doctor, they were able to tell me that the surgery had gone as well as it could possibly go, and that the initial pathology reports came back clear-- there was no sign of cancer. This is what we had expected, but it was still a huge relief to hear it confirmed! PTL!!
After waiting a little longer to make sure I was doing fine after the anesthesia, we were released to head home that same night. The surgery was laparoscopic, so I had some soreness in my tummy area and was tired, but I was also pleasantly surprised at how much easier this seemed to be than my first surgery.
I was groggy and sore for a few days and spent my time either sleeping or sitting in a chair beside my bed. (What an exciting life I lead, right?!) The hardest day by far was Monday, 3 days after surgery. Apparently for a laparoscopic procedure, they fill up your tummy with air so there is more room to maneuver around in there. Inevitably, some of the air gets trapped, resulting in intense pain in the shoulder area. It also made it harder to breathe-- I had to take really shallow breaths or else it would hurt quite a bit. Over the next few days, this issue worked itself out though, and at that point, tiredness really became my biggest side effect. It still is.
For a person like me who likes to "go go go," the lack of energy can be sort of frustrating because since I'm not really in any pain, I feel like I should be able to be back to my normal routine. But much activity at all-- a short trip to the store, folding a load of laundry, playing a game with the boys-- seems to totally wear me out, and I am ready for a nap.
I'm slowly starting to get back into working on blog things. I really thrive on routine, so I was starting to go a little crazy without one! What I did learn from having so much down time though, is that it's important to not only take a physical break, but also a mental one sometimes. I realized that even when I'm not "working," my mind is often thinking about the next project or stressing about deadlines or email or worried that I'm not getting enough done. Giving myself permission to be 100% "off" for a while was good for my creativity, my excitement about upcoming projects, and just my mindset in general. I really need to force myself to do this more often (preferably without the surgery part next time 😉 ).
So what's next? Well now we head into the part that I was/am actually a little more nervous about than the surgery itself. (I always feel a little weird talking about this part, so feel free to skip it if this is tmi... :-/ ) Hormonal side effects. For some people, they're really minimal. For others, there are a lot of them. I've already started to notice changes in my sleep (I used to sleep like a rock, now I'm more restless and wake up more during the night.) and my temperature (I used to be constantly cold, now I seem to oscillate between way too cold and way too hot.), but I don't think my mood has been affected. (You'll have to ask Donnie about that one, lol.) I will be starting on a super low dose of hormone replacement soon to try to minimize side effects, so we'll see how that goes.
It may take a bit to see what works and what doesn't and get back to 100% "normal," BUT I love that I don't feel like a ticking time bomb anymore, just waiting to be diagnosed with cancer at any moment. I don't have to constantly worry that my boys will grow up without their mother (which of course could still happen from any number of things, but was my biggest point of anxiety when my test results were coming back less than ideal). And I don't have any looming, impending surgeries to worry about anymore. I knew they were coming for 12, almost 13 years, and now they're done and over with and I don't have to think about them. So that's a relief.
The thing that totally blew me away, both with my last surgery and with this one, was how incredible and supportive people have been, how they have rallied around us in so many different ways. Through texts. Through cards. Through emails. Through blog comments. Through comments and messages on our social channels. Through care packages. Through flowers. Through home cooked meals. Through caring for our kids. We have felt so loved and supported throughout this whole process and have been so clearly reminded of the GOOD in people.
We have also been reminded that our God is SO good! I'm a safety girl. I like to stay in my little bubble and avoid anything that has the potential to be hard or uncomfortable. I probably wouldn't have written this into my plan myself. I probably would have chosen to be "normal" and taken a path without cancer scares or surgeries. But I know that He knows better. He is bigger than all of it. I know that He has taught me so much through all of this and will continue to teach me and grow me on into the future, in ways that never would have been possible without experiencing hard things. And for that I am grateful.
Thank you all for your continued patience and support as we navigate through all of this. We're hoping that things will be getting pretty much back to normal around here, and we're excited to see what the future holds! Thanks for walking with us through this journey!
If you've missed the previous parts of my story, you can catch up in these posts:
Hope you're having a wonderful week!