Beginning the Recovery Process..

Well, we have determined that cancer sucks.  But, I haven’t heard anyone talk about recovery.  This has been a trial.  It has now been two weeks since my surgery.  On a positive note, the pain has been very manageable.  I went to my first follow up on Wednesday, January 19, five days post-op.  I have two areas to heal – the donor site for my skin graft, which is located on my upper left thigh, and the excision site, which is on my lower left calf.  I have seen the donor site since the day after surgery Plastic first changed the dressing.  According to The Hubs, it looks like road rash.  It kind of feels like that too.  It’s never been terribly shocking to look at the donor site.  However, at my first follow-up, I also got my first look at the excision site.

It was awful.  It looked angry.  It was black and purple and shriveled.  You could easily fit a ping-pong ball inside of it.  Sorry if the description is too graphic, but I think it’s important to know the shock of seeing it for the first time.  Plastic’s nurse, named after a fruit, so from here on out she will be called Fruit, left the room and I lost it.  The Hubs has been fantastic through everything.  I can’t imagine how he deals with all of this.  He has never once let me see him sweat, so to speak.  He calmly got up from his chair in the exam room and came and put his arms around me.  He said, “I don’t like it either, but it beats the alternative.  It will get better.  It’s ok.”  And then he just held me.

Plastic came back into the room and tried to reassure me as well.  By this time, I had calmed myself down a bit, even though it was still ugly and still a shock.  “I’m hoping it’s like a bad haircut,” I said, “and that I will get used to it and it will grow out.”  Plastic laughed.  That’s me.  Trying to make a terrible situation something I can laugh at so it’s not so terrible.

After the first follow up, The Hubs continued to change the dressing on the donor site daily and had to add the excision site every other day.  The first day, I still cried when I looked at it.  I told The Hubs it wasn’t fair that he had to deal with this and that this isn’t what he signed up for.  He just looked at me and smiled and said, “It’s ok.  We’ll do what we have to do.  It’s better than the alternative.”  I think this has become his mantra.

The Hubs is a mechanic and he brought home a rolling mechanics chair for me the following day.  At first, I was slightly offended, but after using it for several days, I have found it is a lifesaver.  I can move quickly across the hard wood floors without the risk of falling or tripping with my crutches, and I definitely have more freedom.  Besides, our house is too small for a wheel chair.

The second excision dressing change was better.  I was still uneasy, but no tears.  The third change, well…the third change didn’t happen.  We ran out of “sticks” to apply the ointment.  Now, we are not hillbillies, but it never occurred to us to call the “sticks” by their appropriate name “swabs.”  I don’t know why the word escaped us, but it did.  So, we called The Nurse.  My mom is an outpatient, surgery nurse, thus her moniker in this blog.  She said, “ Well, duh, you’re seeing Plastic in 12 hours, just let him do it in the morning.”  The Hubs and I giggled and went on our way.

The second follow-up was odd.  I felt like Plastic rushed through his visit and I had to really work to get my questions answered.  The good news, I could shower starting the following day and I could start putting a little weight on my foot.  But, could I go back to school on February 7th (the three weeks I had already scheduled)?

“Oh, well, huh…let’s try at least another week,” he said.  Well, crap!

So, Plastic left the room.  Wait!  Was the pathology back?  Did the surgery get it all?  Wait!  Don’t leave yet!

Fruit came in and proceeded to give instructions for how to change the lower dressings every day now, explained the new sock I got to wear, how to shower, but no one said anything about my pathology.

“Any questions?” Fruit asked.

“Yeah, has my pathology come back yet?” I asked nervously.

“Oh, well, I don’t know, let me see,” she stammered as she opened my chart.  Really?  No one thought to look in my chart yet today?

“No residual melanoma discovered.”

“What does that mean?” The Hubs asked, “Is the cancer gone?”

“Well, yeah, for now,” Fruit replied.

I’m not sure who was more excited – or why – me or The Hubs.  I mean we were both thrilled that I am now officially cancer free.  But, for the first time in two weeks, I was going to be able to shower!  WAHOO!  I know that it sounds really stupid to be more excited over the shower than the prognosis, but I am kind of obsessive about showering and have rarely gone more than a day or two without a shower.  Aside from the loneliness of missing my friends, the showering has been the most difficult thing to deal with.

Maybe I should explain further, cancer sucks, but once I had the diagnosis I was determined to fight and win.  All I was focused on was doing whatever it took to beat this disease.  I have always had a positive attitude towards my prognosis.  Even if it came to chemo, I was going to win.  So, finding out I was cancer free wasn’t really a surprise and was only a bit of a relief.  Some people may perceive that as cocky, I prefer to call it determination.

So, anyway, it was a good day.  I’m not scheduled to see him again for two weeks this time.  Hopefully, some progress will be made.



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Van
    Jan 31, 2011 @ 15:05:12

    Just keep on laughing.


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