Overcome.

January 27, 2008

The past few days have been almost surreal with the intensity of emotion and experience for my best friend and me.  In one week, between us, we have experienced a double mastectomy and the birth of a child.  We have lost breasts and, in the same week, learned firsthand how they can nourish a newborn babe.  Experienced intense pain and intense hope.  Unbelievable fear, and indescribable joy.  And through it all, you have been there with us.  You have held our hands, sent your words, said your prayers, and you have made all the difference in our lives.  In her life.  In my life.  Today, I am overwhelmed by the love and support that you have shown me this week, and throughout my illness.  Thank you.  It has really touched me, and I love you all.

I just spoke to Canape on the phone.  She sounds so great.  So tired, but so happy.  Little Bird (who now has a name!) is a beautiful, beautiful, baby who is so good already.  But of course.  And he comes into a world so welcoming, so wonderful.  I am convinced of that now. 

Are you?  Are you convinced of the power of women to make a difference in a fellow mom’s life?  Are you convinced of the power of bloggers to touch people’s lives in “real life” in general?  Perhaps you will be, after you see the list of mommies and bloggers who supported me this week, in addition to the hundreds and hundreds of supportive comments that appeared on this blog, the real-time tweets and messages, and all the email that has come in from friends and family.  Click any of the blog names below to see their love notes to me this week.  This is my love note to them.  Thank you, mamas.  I’m going to make it through this, with your love and support.

Hugs and gratitude and love this week to Canape, Mamma Loves, DC Metro Moms, Stimeyland, Lawyer Mama, Queen of Spain, Slouching Mom, Motherhood Uncensored, I Can’t Complain Anymore Than Usual, Two Is Now Three, Two Lines on a Stick, It’s Not About That Anyway, Around the Island, A Decent Bookmark, A Mother’s Musings, The Dairy WifeDirty Laundry, All Things Angela, Anderson FamilyKim at BabyCenter, Baby Makes Family, Bubba’s Sis, Bubblewench, Coming to a Nursery Near You, Crazy Bananas, Do You Not Know What Causes That?, Pretty Babies, I Can Fly, Just Not Up, The Further Adventures of SpaceMom, GoodyBlog, Harmony in Motion, Hotfessional, Jen Lemen, Useless Ramblings, Tumble Dry, House of H, Fertile Mertile, What Works for Us, Mountain Momma, Coffee, Shoes, and Ramblings, Dirty Laundry, My Five Little Monkies, My Life As It Is, My Collective Life, Crib Chronicles, Karaoke Diva, Live from the Wang of America, Mom 2 2 Teens, A Bead a Day, Blonde Mom Blog, The Estrogen Files, The Farm House Kids, The Dana Files, The Fourth k h, Growing a Pair, Her Bad MotherHormone Colored Days, Just Another Mommy Blog, Just Enjoy Him, Lead Baby, Playgroups Are No Place for Children, Petroville, Phoenix Says, Pundit Mom, Daily Verses, Little Buggas, Sarah and the Goon Squad, So D.C., Chicken and Cheese,  Zone Family, Life with Our Little Ladies, Andria and Co., “That” Psycho Family, Sassafrass, Ladybug & Lizards, Parentopia, Plans2Match, Marie MillardMiss Zoot, Mrs. Fussypants, The Magpie Files, Make Mine a Quad, Nervous Girl, Mommy Needs a Cocktail, Mom, Ma’am, Me, Mommy and the Marine, Monkey Business, Monkeys and Marbles, The Mummy Chronicles, Never Too Late, Okay, Fine, D’it, Ontario Emperor, It’s My Life, Laugh if you Must, Mommy Dance, Slacker-moms-r-us, The Blogs of Life, Midwestern Mommy, Mommy to the Snugglebunnies, PediaScribe, The Pile I’m Standing In, The Ramblings of a WomanReality Testing, The Road to Home, TechMamas, Ten Minutes to Naptime, Tiny MantrasHearts Wide Open, Baby Cubed, The Butrfly Garden, Reflecting, Sunrays and SaturdaysAmy and ChrisUseless Ramblings, Veritable Life, Mayberry Mom, The Musing Mommy, Wheels on the Bus, Working Mama 24/7, Mommy Needs Coffee writing at BlogHer … BabyMinding, Life with Hannah and Lilly, Mommy … etc., Kat and Rob, My Collective Life, ….

I am overcome.


Indignities

January 26, 2008

Does it go without saying that a cancer patient’s life is scattered with unavoidable indignities? 

  • The bucket tucked away under the bed, close at hand for post-chemo nausea;
  • The array of hats floating around the bedroom, all warm, but none quite in style or what would normally be chosen;
  • The baby shampoo, so gentle on the scalp;
  • The scars on my arms from the weekly IVs and blood tests;
  • The difficulty that a blood draw becomes after chemo collapses the veins;
  • The awkward moments when an old friend approaches, each not quite sure what to say;
  • The post-surgical drains, leaks, and the physical awkwardness that ensues;
  • Hospital stays, middle-of-the-night blood pressure checks, input/output charts;
  • The clothes.  Yoga pants, tank tops, and big white shirts to cover the drains from prying little eyes;
  • The food.  With no sense of taste and little hunger, the balancing act of eating becomes ever more important as a source of nutrients but not fat;
  • Trouble lifting my right arm or doing anything with it.  Widget has had to pick up CDs and books and move them across the room for me twice today; and
  • Mirrors.  I walk around them like a vampire, fearful yet curious whether I will see myself in them or simply a body that I don’t recognize.

My sense of self is pockmarked with these little indignities today.  My mind is alert, my soul is strong, but these little indignities pop up anyway, when I least expect them.  When I try to get comfortable on the couch and bump my tubing or a drain.  When I feel a draft and go to cover my head — or my feet, requiring help to put on my own socks.  When I showered this morning, with WonderDaddy’s assistance and support.  When he had to help me dress afterwards.

But for each moment of awkwardness, there is a moment of strength — mine, WD’s, my father’s, my mother’s, Widget’s, or a friend calling out through email, blogs, or comments to support me.  Each voice, each strong arm lifting me up, each little hand in mine, and each word coming over the internet to me, saying, you can do it, Susan.  I believe in you. 

And those words soothe me and fill in the pockmarks, brushing away the indignities that cancer has brought.  One day soon, I will be strong and well again, and these indignities will be only a memory.


Little Bird has arrived!

January 26, 2008

Can you hear it?  Can you hear the birdsong in the air and the laughing on the breeze?  The beautiful music of a baby’s first cry?

I’m thrilled to announce that Canape’s Little Bird arrived at 3:56 this morning and mommy and baby are doing great!

This is such wonderful, wonderful news.  I can hear the cheers around the blogosphere … Canape is holding her baby at last.

Join me in a big HURRAH!

Edited to add: I talked to her tonight, and she sounds wonderful.  Tired, but wonderful nonetheless.  She’ll be back home and blogging again soon, but until then, feel free to stop by Guy’s blog to wish them the very best!


The aftermast

January 25, 2008

Warning: Slightly ooky post follows, to explain the nuts-and-bolts and set up the dialogue with Widget that follows.  But this is my reality today.  And maybe it will help another mom explain it to her kid someday.  I wish it weren’t necessary.  I wish no one else had to go through this.

So the aftermath of a mastectomy is not nearly as gory as I expected.  It’s hard, sure, but the aftermath of any surgery or hospital stay is, right?  The hardest part about this I think is managing my drains.  After the bulk of the surgery, as they were closing me up, the surgeons inserted drains at the end of each suture.  So I have one under my left armpit (simple mastectomy), and two under my right armpit (modified radical mastectomy, which means they took the lymph nodes out as well).  Each is basically three feet of tubing attached to a little bulb, which I pin to my shirt.  The bulb is squeezed a bit so that the fluid on my chest flows down the drains and into the bulb instead of building up on/in my chest where it shouldn’t be.  Then we (and by we, I mean WonderDaddy) empty the drains every few hours.  When they’re almost empty for a whole day, the surgeon will take them out.  But this might take a while.  So this is the hardest part.  It just feels uncomfortable and makes dressing awkward.

I’ve tried to hide the tubing and the drains from my little ones.  Widget in particular is a sharp and empathetic 3 year old, and I have been telling him “Mommy’s just tired,” since I returned, but he knows better.  Yesterday he hopped up on the bed and wanted to hear a story about what happened when “Mommy, Daddy go to the hospital.”  So I told him, relating it to the story of Huckle and Dr. Lion in one of his Richard Scarrey books. 

Today he peeked under the blanket and saw some of the tubing hanging out while I was asleep.  He woke me up and asked about it, matter-of-factly, so I answered him, hoping that if I just gently told him the truth it wouldn’t be a big deal for him, and he wouldn’t get scared.

Widget: Mommy, what’s that?
Me: It’s a tube.
Widget: What’s it go to?
Me: It goes to this little bulb right here.  (He had already seen that by the time I woke up fully and realized what was going on.)
Widget: What’s it do?
Me: It takes away some stuff Mommy doesn’t need anymore.
Widget: – silence –
Me: Like ear wax.  You know how ear wax comes out of your ear and you don’t need it anymore, so we take it away?  Well, Mommy has some stuff coming off her that she doesn’t need anymore, so this takes it away.
Widget: Like ear wax?
Me: Yup.

Kind of.  I mean, if ear wax were bloody and full of fluids that I don’t even recognize.  But it was a good enough answer for him, and he settled in to watch a little Arthur with me, thumb in mouth and hand on mine. 

I love this kid.