Getting home after my surgery was awesome – I got to sleep in our new reclining love seats, which was so much more comfortable than the hospital bed, especially when you are woken up every 20 minutes. But more than anything, it was just being in my own environment again and even my kids felt more relaxed around me because it wasn’t as intimidating without all the machines and seeing me hooked up to all the wires. I get it – it can be pretty scary. Not to mention, I decorated for Christmas prior to surgery (ok, like the week or two before Thanksgiving – I don’t normally do it that early but I had a lot to get done – and I loved every minute of it). So walking into the house and seeing the Christmas tree up and having my babies crawl up beside me to watch a movie in the recliner was just such a blessing after a rough few days.
I knew the first couple of weeks would be rough but I had no clue of the reasons why. I was obviously in a lot of pain – more so from the muscles they had to clamp on the side of my neck to reach all of my lymph nodes underneath (sorry to gross anyone out). My scar didn’t hurt nearly as bad as those muscles which really surprised me – I was off the heavy pain meds after a couple days but continued to stay on the muscle relaxer for up to a couple weeks to minimize the discomfort (especially at night or anytime I would sit for long periods of time, when everything would stiffen up). I think by day 4/5 I was ready to get up and move along. My Hubby and Daddy did their best to keep me still as long as possible, but as I said before, I’m a pretty independent and can’t stand to be waited on. I was keeping track of all my meds (with help) and clearing out my drain (I won’t go into details but let me just tell you – it was disgusting and that was DEFINITELY worse than my incision). My Daddy and I would go on little field trips to get things done or run quick errands but nothing more than an hour or two knowing I would tire out easily and would need a mid-day nap. I hated them but needed them to get through the day – I always feel like I’m going to miss out on something (still like this now).
Eventually I worked myself up to staying up all day and after just shy of 2 weeks, I finally felt comfortable to try driving again. I still didn’t have 100% full range of motion in my neck but enough to where I knew I could react in the event I needed to behind the wheel. At that time my Daddy needed to fly back home and it was very sad and hard on all of us. This was the longest he’s been able to stay in a long time and got used to him being around. We were so grateful for him staying with us for those 2 1/2 weeks and managing everything (not to mention building the stands under the washer and dryer!!)!!
I thought I was going to go crazy when he left while I was still home by myself then both kids where home sick, off and on, over the next 2 weeks, so the time flew by very quickly. I ended up getting sick with the flu the weekend before going back to work (I swear this was NOT done on purpose) – by this point, I was very much ready to get back in the routine of things.
That first week of work really kicked my butt – I thought sitting at a desk wasn’t going to be a big deal at all but in fact I was more sore from sitting and my focus was worse than ever. I know I had every reason to be scatter brained but it was not the time for it – I’ve been doing my job now for almost 4 years so I’m pretty confident and feel that I can do it with my eyes closed, well not so much anymore. Since I’ve been back (which has been a month now) I’ve made more mistakes than I made in my first week starting this job. I’ve had to personally apologize to the recruiters I support for the mistakes I have made because they know this is not ok by my standards. Once again, I know they understand by I don’t want the pity party or the “oh she is going through a lot so it’s ok” – I just wanted to be able to snap back into ordinary life and it was very frustrating for me to admit that it’s ok for that not to happen.
Everyone talks about how hard it is to be diagnosed but no one talks about how hard it is to just “fit in” again. You go through days where you can’t seem to talk about anything but Cancer and what you are experiencing and thinking but other days, if someone so much as mentions it, you break down and don’t want to talk about it. It’s just such a sensitive subject sometimes. I’m thankful for the people that allow me to do both – for me to vent and for me be ordinary. It means more than you will ever know!