Little By Little
This past Tuesday morning was my first day back at work in three weeks. Entering the front doors, crossing through the main office and making it to my office felt familiar and easy. What I didn’t expect, however, was that I made note of things that, in the past, went unnoticed – putting my purse in its super, secret location, setting my lunch kit down in its usual spot, turning on my lamps, powering up my computer. It was as if each of these simple actions, actions that I used to do without thinking, were no longer taken for granted. They confirmed that I am here and able to participate in life. Plus knowing where I was after surgery, unable to do much of anything without assistance, these little movements were also important signposts of my independence.
As I settled in, the warmth of my colleagues surrounded me. All the smiling eyes, the many, many arms that ever so gently wrapped around me, the laughter that bounced off the walls, added to the business of school that needed my attention, made me glad that I had returned. Within no time, the neurons in my brain popped and crackled with the excitement of being called to action once again.
Unfortunately, my body was unable to keep up with my brain, and I started fading by mid-day. In the past, I would have simply thrown back a Diet Coke and pushed on, but this fatigue was different than I’d known in the past. Now my tube and incision sites quietly whispered my body’s fatigue, and when I didn’t take notice, they protested more loudly until I could no longer concentrate. That’s when I realized that I needed to listen to my body and give it the rest it needed. So each day this week, somewhere between noon and two o’clock, I powered down my computer, turned off my lamps, picked up my lunch kit and pulled my purse from its super, secret spot.
There was one additional event to this week that should be mentioned though. Just yesterday, instead of going straight home, I made a pit stop at M.D. Anderson. According to the trend line that Kelly plotted, this was to be the week that my drainage system was to be removed.
As usual, I added up my daily output, anticipating each total with hopes of numbers closer and closer to 30ccs – the magic number. I’d call Kelly; she’d add the new total to the trend line and let me know if I was still on target. By Wednesday, I had hit the mid-30’s; Thursday, same thing. I placed a call to the clinic and shared my totals, wondering if there might a chance that I’d be able to get my tube out before the weekend. The answer was, “Yes.” So I eagerly made an appointment for Friday afternoon.
When I stripped my tube on Friday morning, however, I was disappointed to see that my overnight output had almost doubled from the last two mornings. Thoughts of, “I knew it was too good to be true,” ran through my head. But even though I wasn’t looking forward to it, I knew I would and could endure one more weekend with this contraption.
I made a call later in the morning to share my morning’s output, prepared to hear that I needed to wait until Monday to come in, but I heard nothing of the kind. Instead, the word was that I should still plan on coming to get my drain removed. My nurse felt I was too close to 30ccs to keep my tube in for the whole weekend. What a way to make my day!!!
So by mid-afternoon yesterday, I powered down my computer, turned off my lamps, picked up my lunch kit and pulled my purse from its super, secret spot with a little more energy than the previous days.
Once at the clinic, Theresa, my nurse, told me that it would only be a matter of minutes, and I would be on my tubeless way. I admit I was a little nervous as she prepared to remove my tube – scissors, gauze pads, tape, tweezers – all laid out on the table. I raised my arm to expose the spot where the tube entered my side, and just as Theresa was about to snip the two sutures, I said, “What is this going to feel like?” She said that it wouldn’t hurt, but I might feel a slight pull.
She quickly but gently snipped the sutures and began to pull and pull and pull and pull. By the time all was out, I was laughing so hard that Theresa started to laugh. I was in absolute awe and I suppose a bit of delight. Theresa and I stretched out the tube to agree that there had been at least twelve inches of tubing coiled up in the cavity that had been created during the lymph node dissection. It’s NO wonder that I have felt so “full” in that area!
Once the tube was out, nothing but the tiny hole that marked the tube entrance remained. The spot was covered with a thick gauze pad and I held pressure on the site. Granted I was leaking a significant amount of what I call “lymph node juice,” I was still happy to sop up the leakage if it meant I was a little closer to my normal self.
This morning, I’m down to a mere dribble, so a large bandage marks the spot where my tube used to hang. I’m also out of my uniform of camisole with t-shirt over top with tube trailing below to drain bulb safety pinned to trousers. Today is the FIRST day in four weeks that I can sport a more comfortable and much more supportive girl undergarment!!!
As for my next challenge in my cancer experience – All of my bandages are now removed, but mobility in my right arm is still significantly limited; therefore, I’m challenged to figure out how to shave an armpit that hasn’t been shaved in four weeks!!!
Lots of love to you! Lisa
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Good news about the tube! "Lymph node juice"...I wonder if we should have saved some of that...do you think it would attract fish? Deer? Turkeys? I'm sitting in Portland's airport and just wanted to say a quick hello. On my way home from a short consulting "gig". Oh, oh...I just saw the "Community Guidelines for Posting Messages" and it says I should be "courteous and respectful", "truthful", and "not market or solicit"...cancel my comment about the lymph node juice. I better log off before I say anything else.
Have a good weekend. Talk to you soon. Love ya. Gary
Thanks for sharing Your account of your recovery is amazing reading. Like nothing I have read before in its candor and wit. Your brain is so healthy that you make it clear it will see and think you through to full health.
An adventure It's amazing to travel on this journey with you; you, with your large spirit, raise everything to the level of beautifully described adventure. Fascinating as you make it, we will all prefer to look back on it when you, yourself, are able to put it behind you. Love to you and Nat, E.
Bonjour! Hey Lisa! You've lived in Europe, so I think you should do as the Europeans do...have a hairy armpit!!!!! Alright, it was just a suggestion! All week I kept thinking...I need to call Lisa...I need to email Lisa. As you know, it didn't happen. Somehow I knew you were in good hands! I went into work today to get caught up on the end of the year, so hopefully it will be easier to email you and call you next week! A million hugs! M.
YEAH!! I am so glad to hear that you are tube free!!! Sounds like things are progressing well. I can't believe that you are back at work already, even if it is a half day---you go girl! It must feel good to get back into the swing of things and back to some normalcy. Take care and God Bless! L.
Yeah! Goodbye tube!
What fabulous news to lose the tube. You must feel so much better to be rid of it. You are making great progress and will continue to do so. Little baby steps can mean so much. Good to know you can now shave the ole' armpit, too!! Thank you for teaching us all the importance of every single day. Because of you, I take less for granted and know more than before the beauty of everyday. Love ya, c.
:) Great news about work and the tube being gone. Really glad about both. D.
We are thinking about you guys. Just dropping a note to say hi! We are thinking about you guys and it is good news to be rid of the tube! Take care.
Keep on Getting Stronger!! Lisa, you write so well about your feelings and the details of your experience.Thank you for being so honest. Glad to read you are back at work and that the tube - all 12 inches, is finally gone. We continue to 'Hold you in the light' as we Quakers say, and we trust you will grow stronger every day. Much love to you and Nat. L. H.
Dear Tubeless What a great feeling huh? So glad it was uneventful as it goes. It is so wonderful to have you back at work; we love having you here. We never got to have our gossip session - we have to make a little time. See you later! S.
Glad you are back Hello Lisa, Glad you are back. There is something about this profession that gives us energy... I suspect that you will overdo, so be careful, take it easy. I'll keep you in my prayers and thoughts. a. l.
HI BUDDY! Hello!!! I enjoy reading your daily digests. :) What beautiful weather we are having. I think we are slowly but surely making it to summer.
I know this is short, but the last bell of the day has just released a swarm of little busy bees into the front office (I am answering phones for Alice this afternoon) so I must go for now. Continue listening to your body and caring for yourself.
BIG ((((HUGS)))) XOXO, M. :)
I love seeing you here! It is wonderful to see your bright smiling face here at Goodson! Even though we were doing fire drill duty! :) I am off crutches today, hopefully the worst is behind me. (I hope you can keep a secret!) ha
This afternoon is our girl's soccer team pizza party! The girls have worked so hard this year and they are really looking forward to unwinding and "playing" after school. Ordering 20 pizzas from Pizza Hut was fun; the manager actually called up to the school to verify the order! I guess they have been burned before.
I got GREAT news yesterday! I am a HUGE Jerry Seinfeld fan and he is coming to Houston in concert at Jones Hall on June 1. My wonderful husband and boys got me & my best friend tickets to see him as a Mother's Day present!! I am so excited; I can hardly wait. What a way to start the summer!!!
Well, I need to get busy with all these library books. Have a fantastic day! XOXO ((((HUGS))))
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