Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Image Recovery

Don't you just love that title? I took a little trip to the Image Recovery Center yesterday. After my 2 hour experience there, I can see why they named it that!!

Yesterday was a GREAT day! Not only did I feel really good, and I mean REALLY good, but my ego got stroked a bit too! I woke up feeling so good, the best I've felt in a really long time. It is making me dread Thursday more than ever! LOL

I have to say, the consultant that I met with yesterday was wonderful! She has a difficult task. I wish I knew how to describe how I'm beginning to feel about the changes taking place in my body. Some of them I didn't even realize were "bothering" me until yesterday. I remember when in nursing school so many years ago, we learned that a "cranky" patient is dealing with so many things while ill. First, they feel rotten and cannot control how they feel. Second, they are dealing with loss. Loss of independence, they have to rely on others, and that is difficult for some people. Loss of identity, they become one of the multitudes and lets face it, Doctors are busy people. They don't always have the time to stroke people's egos and so you just become one of the members of the large cattle call that gathers in their waiting rooms. And then there's the loss of your "image". Whenever there is surgery, or diseases that effect the way you look, you lose yourself, the way you've always looked to yourself in the mirror. This lady I dealt with yesterday knew how to discuss the tough issues and leave my dignity intact. I have to say, she has a rare gift, and I'm grateful that she made the experience much easier than it could have been. When we left, DH said to me, "She would be a perfect funeral director." Sounds morbid, and like an insult, but he meant it to be a compliment. She knew how to put you at ease while discussing difficult topics in a calm and soothing voice and unhurried manner.

"It's AMAZING what they are doing with plastics these days!!" This is a quote I will NEVER forget! This quote has bounced around in my head many times since this cancer journey has begun! Back in the late 70's when the first Star Wars movie came out, I went to see the movie with a group of kids that lived on my floor in my dormitory at college. I sat with my good friend, Miss E. There was a part in the movie when Luke Skywalker lost his hand, and they replaced it with a bionic one, that probably worked better than his original one. As Luke was flexing his new fingers, Miss E leaned over and said, "It's AMAZING what they are doing with plastics these days!!" I giggled through the rest of the movie. I don't know why that struck me so funny. I even wonder if she remembers saying that (I'll have to ask her one day). But I have to say, that quote popped into my head yesterday many times.

I had no idea when I walked in there yesterday, what exactly I was in for. I knew I was going to get a compression sleeve which was the first thing we tried on. It came in two parts, the sleeve and the glove. I had given her my measurements last week, and she had it ready for me when I got there. And (forgive the pun) if fit like a glove. I'm not sure I'm going to be able to get this on without help...it's like trying to put a girdle on with one hand! LOL My arm instantly felt more comfortable. I didn't realize how much it was bothering me until then.

She left that on my arm, shooed DH out of the room, locked the door to the shop, and began to ask questions about bras. I was a little surprised, I didn't realize I was going to be looking at THOSE types of prosthesis!! Hm...I wish I could describe what I saw yesterday without going into graphic detail. My jaw literally dropped when I realized what they can do to make you look natural after a mastectomy. If I have to have radiation, that can seriously alter what the plastic surgeon is working on now. The "alteration" doesn't just happen instantly and you're done. It can occur over an extended period of time leaving tissue to shrink more as time goes on. So my Doctor can do the best that he can, but that doesn't mean it's going to stay that way. I now understand the look on his face when I told him I would have to have more surgery, chemo and possibly radiation. All his hard work during the first operation may be altered again and again as we go through this process. Anyway, there are prostheses that they can produce that are unique to you that can make you appear natural no matter what you are wearing. What a relief to know that! And she was able to give me some prostheses that I can adjust myself as I'm going through the process of having my expanders filled and before I have the final surgery. I didn't realize this was going to happen, but I walked out of there looking like my old self, and I have to say that lifted my spirits tremendously! Getting dressed in the morning has been a frustrating experience since the first surgery. None of my clothes fit they way that they used to. I finally stopped looking in the mirror, because, to me, I looked like a cross dresser no matter what I put on, and I felt like a freak show! LOL When I walked out of the back room sporting my new "look" I saw the look on DH's face, and I could tell he approved! *wink* Sometimes I wonder what goes through his mind.

Then our attention turned to wigs. She took a look at my hair color, and the style I was wearing yesterday, and disappeared into another back room. She came out with two wigs. Now I've been stressing over this because my hair dresser wanted to take me to a place that she knew of, I had been to another one at the medical center where I had the surgery, but I learned afterward that I had to go where my insurance told me I had to go, otherwise they wouldn't pay for the wig. The image recovery center is where I would have to buy it. I don't know how I'm going to tell my hair dresser, we've been friends a long time. Hopefully she'll understand. Anyway, the first one I tried on looked the best of anything I've seen so far. She put it on, and DH said...."That's the way you used to wear your hair in college!" He's right!! It was like turning back the hands of time. LOL It's not a lot different than the way I wear it now, just a little bit longer. Then, something neat happened. The lady told me that her cosmetologist wasn't there today, but I could make an appointment and she would "fit" the wig (make some alterations to make it fit my head), cut the bangs because they are a little long, and teach me how to brush and wash the wig. Then she would teach me how to apply makeup for when my eyebrows and eyelashes fall out. She would also cut my hair off (if I still have any left), apply the makeup and I would walk out of there all dolled up!

Last, but not least, I got a lesson in how to take care of my skin to have the best chance of healthy regrowth after all this was over. I'm telling you, I felt hopeful for the first time about all the changes taking place in my body. I felt "normal" when I walked out of there yesterday when I had all but given up hope of looking natural until more than a year had passed and all the plastic surgery was done and my hair had grown back. I definitely had my image recovered. What a great day! What a great Monday! And we all know what my Mother always says..."So goes Monday, so goes the week!" Maybe this round of chemo won't be so bad after all!

Thanks to all of you who tried to help with my hydration problem. I've stocked my shelves with peppermint tea, freezer pops, and am on the hunt for some flavored water. I've also decided, that even though I'm not supposed to have caffeine, if a coke is calling my name, I'm going to answer! LOL ANY liquid is better than none! If it helps, then maybe I can drink something else to compensate. I'm also trying to hunt down a way to make snow cones here at home. I have a little blender that can chop ice, I just need to find flavoring, I have no idea where to look...but I think that might taste good.

I felt a little lost yesterday, as DS wanted to help me find my wig. We put him on a bus Sunday night for his trip to Florida so he missed all the fun. He'll be gone until next Saturday. I'll miss my cheering section! LOL I'm really glad he has this trip to take a break from the reality here at home. I can't imagine what Daytona is looking like this week, with Big Stuff going on down there! There was a huge touring bus full of kids from our church and there are kids pouring in from churches from all over the country there this week! I think I'm glad I'm in Maryland!! I know they'll all be great kids, but I also know how much they like to "Praise" very enthusiastically! LOL Will you join me in praying for their safety and growth while they're away? Thanks!

Back to bed for me. I was lying in bed thinking about this post, about my day, and thinking how tenderly the Lord is caring for me through this whole process, and I wanted to share that with you! Hope your week started as well as mine! *Hugs*


nutmegg said...

Hi DJ, I'm so glad your day was so good I dearly hope the rest of the week and for a long time to come gets even better......your always in my thoughts and prayers....take care dear friend....xoxoxo

The Pegster said...

Thanks for the insights DJ, we are all here thinking of you.

Edy said...

And even without seeing you in person, I know that you look MAHVELOUS!


Carol's Stitching said...

DJ ~ I hadn't read your blog in a long time and just got a few minutes to catch up with some of the ones I had been following. Wow ~ it sounds like you are recovering from a very hard time with much grace and fortitude which is half the battle with breast cancer. My mom was a survivor of a double masectomy and I can very well remember how she felt about her self image too. Since I live in Severn, Maryland (also in Heirloom Stitchers group too) perhaps we can meet up with some fellow stitchers in the area and get to know each other. Take care and I'm rooting for you!

Raven/Missy said...

What a great appointment! DJ I am so glad to hear that there is someone who can answer your questions without making you feel worse than you already do and in the process make you feel better!

You are a very courageous woman and I am continuing to keep you in my thoughts and prayers!