On Monday we got GREAT news and like so many family members and friends I am super excited for that! For most people in my life hearing that they got all of the cancer and it hadn't spread is where this whole story ends. Unfortunately for me that isn't where it ended. I was torn emotionally and still am to some extent (I have my "bad" moments). Yes- I was incredibly excited that I got that great news but I still had to face the physical change that happened- all because of a stupid little dark spot on the top of my ear! I am sure this is going to be long but here goes...
In the doctor's office I was super excited for the great news! As a bonus I would be getting the dressings off- that was what I was hoping for all along going into the appointment. I wanted a shower and wanted to wash my hair so I was thrilled to learn that I was going to get to do those things. I hadn't even thought about what that all meant. I hadn't thought past hearing those words and getting the results of the pathology reports. As we walked to the car it hit me, "What does my ear look like?" Dr. Connelly said in our consult, "it would still look like an ear, just smaller". What did that mean?
As we got to the car Tim gave me a kiss and said he was so excited for the great news. I think it was at this point that I asked him how it looked and if I even wanted to look. I was so scared! He told me that it didn't matter that he was just happy to have the cancer gone and for me to still be with him. He said I was beautiful no matter what! We both started texting the good news to everyone. As Tim made a call I decided that I was going to be brave; but I wasn't as brave as I thought I could be and was only able to give myself a very quick peak- I had seen enough! My heart was breaking and I was devastated inside. I was nervous about what people would think of me! Tim was great and reassured me that it was fine and that it didn't matter what other people thought- he still loved me! But I still felt like it sucked! I just got great news and never really had to chance to enjoy it- life still felt like it sucked!
I decided to suck it up and move on. I texted the good news to family and friends that had been so caring and supportive over the past few weeks. I tried to call my parents but was only able to talk to my mom for a bit. She sounded so relieved so that made me feel a little better. I still wasn't really able to feel excited for the wonderful news that we were just given because I couldn't stop thinking about what I saw in that "quick peak" in the mirror.
It wasn't long and my step-mom called me back. I have to say that was the best thing that could have happened at that time. I don't know that she will ever understand how much I needed to hear what she had to say. She "got" it! She was excited for the good news and we talked about all of that but then she told me that it was OK to still be sad for how I had changed physically. She had ideas to help me going forward. I broke down a little on the phone with her because finally someone was validating the feelings that I was having. She wasn't making me feel like I shouldn't be feeling what I was feeling! I was beating myself up inside because I was so torn emotionally and finally someone was telling me it was OK. After talking to her I felt better; I knew that there was someone in my support system that understood!
As excited as I was to take a shower and wash my hair you would think that was the first thing that I did once we got home. Nope- I was too afraid! I was afraid it was going to hurt and mostly I was afraid of having to look at myself in the mirror again! We ate lunch together and then Tim had to head back to work. I texted a little back and forth with some friends/family and then it was time to face myself and finally take that shower that I had been longing for.
I got Aidan settled in with a movie and pretty much locked myself in the bathroom. I looked at myself in the mirror and just sobbed! I pulled my hair back into a ponytail (like I wear my hair most of the time) and the difference was so noticeable that I just cried and cried. It was so hard for me to look at myself in the mirror but I forced myself to look and take it all in and deal with the emotions that kept coming up. In the grand scheme of things it really did look good. Dr. Connelly did a great job on the reconstruction given the situation. I am very grateful that I had such a great doctor working on me!
It was so emotional to know that this is the new me! Yes, with my hair down you can't really tell. Yes, I am lucky I am a girl and that I have longer hair. Yes, I know I can hide it. I have heard all of the reassurances! Reality is- it is still hard! Part of me was thinking that all of my family and friends are going to be curious of what it looks like and now everyone is going to want to see. How do I deal with that? Am I OK with it?
I took a nice LONG shower (it probably would have been longer but I ran out of hot water) and allowed myself to cry and feel the emotions that I was feeling. At one point I wished Tim would have stayed home but then at the same time decided that maybe it was better that I had this time for myself. The shower was a good cleansing for my soul. I decided that when I got out of the shower I was going to move forward! Pity party was over and I would deal with my fears as I had to face them. This is the new me and the only thing I can do about it is stay positive and be as confident as I can (although this has never been my strength). I got dressed, did my hair and felt like a new person.
Isaac had basketball practice and Riley had swimming lessons that night so we all headed to the Y. This was my first outing without the dressings covering my ear. I left my hair down and my ear was covered but I was still nervous. Physically I was feeling so much better than the previous days. I was itching to get some kind of workout in. With the stress of the day all I could think about was running- my way of dealing with stress. I knew I didn't want to push it and cause any setback but I needed to do something to test it out. I promised Tim that I would take it easy and not push myself. I told him I would walk if it was too bad. We found treadmills next to each other and got going. I slowly increased my speed and as I got to my normal starting pace I knew this wasn't going to happen like I had hoped and had to back down on my speed a little. The moving of my neck/shoulders as I ran was a little uncomfortable. As I went back down on the speed it was OK and I was able to get in a nice slow mile run! It felt pretty good but I was frustrated that it hadn't gone as well as I had hoped it would. Really, what did I expect less than a week out from surgery?
We decided to get on the recumbent bikes for a while to make my legs happy. Here I wouldn't have to move my shoulders/neck like when I was running. I was thrilled that the bike felt great! We rode the bikes for about 35 minutes. Tim wanted to stop multiple times but it felt good and I wanted to keep going. Once I hit 7 miles I agreed to stop. We then walked the indoor track for another 35 minutes. It felt great to finally get moving again- even if the running didn't go how I had expected it to! I just need to keep doing what I can and I will be back at it before long!
Over the past few day those negative voices continue to pop into my head once in a while. Sometimes I let them get to me more than I should but I am working on that. Last night I watch the documentary "Hungry For Change" on Netflix. Someone in a Facebook Fitness Challenge Group that I am a part of recommended it so I thought I would watch it. This documentary exposes the secrets the diet, weight loss, and food industries use to keep us coming back for more. Wow! What an eye opener! I would recommend that you check it out. I sat with a notebook and took notes and plan to watch it again! There was one piece in it that really hit me. I can't even remember how it all tied in but it was about negative self-talk. The person in the interview recommended this: "I accept myself unconditionally right now!" Write it out. Say it. Post it on your mirror and repeat it (look at yourself in the mirror and repeat it out loud) 2x/day for 30 days. After doing this, when you have that negative self-talk going on in your head use this quote to fight back. Given what is going on right now this really hit home and I think I will try this for the next 30 days!
I could really keep going on but this has once again gotten very long winded! I do have one more thing- I have decided that I am feeling very brave today and I know everyone is very curious. Here are the only two pictures that I have from this past week:
|1/4/13- Removing the lower dressings and getting our first peak at the incision.|
Here you can also see the top dressing that was covering my ear.
|1/7/13- Checking it all out for the first time.|