...writing down final questions for both doctor teams so I can choose. I actually have two mastectomies booked, one with each team. Clearly one needs to be canceled. But I can't seem to concentrate, can't seem to focus.
I should be preparing in other ways...cleaning my bedroom for one. I'll be spending ALOT of time in here and it's a wreck. It's always the messiest room in the house. We can just close the door and forget it if someone rings the doorbell, you know? My house is a renovated cottage, kitchen, living room, dining room & two bedrooms -- 1 bathroom. Other than the basement, that's it. We're not going to talk about the basement.
I should be getting stuff ready for Meggie's 8th birthday. The timing here is awkward, with one mastectomy I'll be just out of the hospital and if I choose the other I'll be going in practically the next day. Neither is good. I don't have enough stuff for her. The older she gets the harder it is to shop for her. She's not into clothes, not into dolls, loves all things animals and adores caterpillars/butterflies. We got her a new bike -- she didn't ask for it but she's outgrown her old one. I got her some cool plush thing that turns back & forth into a butterfly/caterpillar. I'll also be ordering live caterpillars that you can raise to butterflies...but we've done it before and she needs help caring for them so she'll have to wait until I'm home from the hospital and things settle down. Other than that I'm drawing a blank -- she's not sure what she wants. Poor kid, she probably just wants her Mama back.
And that brings me to what I'm doing instead of all the things I should be doing. I'm crying, I'm panicking, I'm a deer in headlights.
I was rolling around on the bed today with Daniel (his favorite thing to do lately) and it hit me -- I may not be able to do this for a long, LONG time. Maybe so long that he'll have outgrown wanting to, maybe not ever. I'm not just having major surgery. Because of HOW they do the surgery I could be forever changed in some of my abilities. They take abdominal muscle, nerves are cut, blood vessels are rerouted. I may experience permanent changes in how I'm able to do basic things. I've heard horror stories, too.
So I started to cry and haven't really stopped. Here comes the pity party, don't say I didn't warn you...
I'm only 45, young in breast cancer circles. But I'm an older mom...that's not news to me of course. But until now it was just on paper. I never felt too old to be the mother of young children. Sure, I wish I could have had them when I first started trying...back in my early thirties. But that they are here at all is miracle enough and I never looked that gift horse in the mouth. I figured losing all that weight, quitting smoking, becomming a vegan -- all of it gave me a bit of extra insurance towards making up for the few years behind I was in terms of maternity.
Guess I was wrong.
I'm terrified of being some kind of invalid...or even if not quite that extreme, of just being limited in a way I never was before. I want to be an active, healthy mother. I'm too damn young to face this...not yet. That's what I keep thinking...not yet. I wake up with those words on my lips. Not yet to cancer. Not yet to losing a body part, most of all please...not yet to leaving my children behind because I fail to beat this. Not yet damn it. Please.
Which leads me to the last "should". I know on some level I should be happier, relieved, grateful even that I have potentially early stage cancer and a chance at a better surgery than the former mastectomy I was scheduled for. I worked hard to get this better deal. And I was happy...really, okay, I was some form of happy for a day or so. But that's worn off now and I'm just plain scared and sad. Deeply.
Suddenly keeping my nipple seems inconsequential compared to everything else. It won't feel anything anyway...I may be permanently numb in my entire breast, my armpit, part of my arm, my entire abdomen. It's hard to imagine. I think I haven't been imagining any of it -- I focused on that nipple still being there...in denial, like maybe I thought somehow I'd be different and it would be in some way magically close to the same as it was. But nothing is ever going to be the same as it was before. Nothing.
I will once again have to find a new normal. I've done it before. Believe me, more than a few times. It sucks. I'm sad to say goodbye to my old normal. It was nice. I just want it to be nice again.
I should be reassured by all the times I've found that new normal again when I thought it was impossible. But I'm not. Instead I'm wondering if this time I won't be able to do it. I think that is the real fear at the bottom of it all. That this time I've been beat. Today I feel beaten. I should be stronger -- I'm a mom, my kids need me to be strong. But instead today I'm just me, alone, and I'm not anything I should be but sad.