After I’ve been sick, I always know I’m better when I feel like taking a shower. And while I’m feeling marginally better when I hop into the shower, I always feel much better when I get out. There is something so wonderful about that first shower.
After surgery, it’s much the same. I’m not saying I’ve never skipped a day (or two, even!), but few things make me want a shower so desperately as someone telling me I can’t have one. Needless to say, last Sunday, I was counting down the minutes until I got to the 48 hours post-surgery mark so that I could get into the shower. But the first shower after surgery isn’t quite as wonderful as the one after a sinus infection.
First of all, with my crazy independent streak, even after my mastectomy, I did the whole shower by myself, drains and all. But I had to have Clay on call, standing by should I need help or have any problems. It was slow going, but I managed. The really tough part of the first shower is that it’s also the first look. It’s the first time that you get to see the scars, the bruises… After my mastectomy, all that was kind of tough. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I have to say that I found the drains more upsetting that the scars that time around. This time, he used the same incision site, so no new scars, but where I had no bruising at all the last time, this time I looked pretty beat up. We’re talking yellow, green, purple. Clay said he could even see finger prints. Thankfully, that’s all fading pretty nicely in just a week, and my plastic surgeon suggested that I take Arnica (a natural product with virtually no side effects) to help the bruising heal even more quickly. I expected to see some pretty significant bruising on my thighs from the liposuction there, but there are only two teeny little spots of bruising there to go along with all the marker circles he drew. The marker that he uses pre-surgery is pretty tough stuff and he didn’t scrub it off my legs, so I’m still waiting for that to fade (even alcohol won’t scrub it off).
This go-round, I was a lot better in the shower. I was still a little taken aback, though. I struggled with how to explain this surgery to the kids– they knew that the first surgery took out all of the cancer. I just explained that it was the last step to make sure I was all “back to normal.” Whatever that is. Finishing up after that first shower, getting assistance back into my compression garb (my pecs were still too sore to pull the hooks closed), I struggled with whether I looked normal. I’d kind of forgotten what normal looked like. And of course, I couldn’t expect to look completely normal– crazy bruising and swelling aren’t normal. This was the last step in the process, though, and if I wasn’t happy, I’d have a long time to be not happy about it. I worried if I’d made the right decision. And of course, I had. I just needed a little time to work it out. Somehow I just wasn’t expecting it when I got ready to head into that first shower.