First Look

It’s been a couple of days since the surgery and I can’t believe how well I am getting around. Not ready to run a marathon, but still I am walking on my own and can change my clothes. All the instructions say that I can’t use my arm on the side of the mastectomy. So, since it’s both sides I’m using more ab muscles than I remember having in the past. Oh.. I’m so sore!

Time for my first sponge bath. Until now I haven’t had the courage to remove a big heavy sweater that I put on as soon as I got home from the hospital in fear that I might see my profile. With my head upside down in the kitchen sink my sisters and I started with a shampoo. We worked our way back to my bathroom where pretty sheets were hanging over the mirrors. My daughters were so sweet to cover all the mirrors in my bathroom so I didn’t have to look until I was ready. I slowly un buttoned my sweater and started to peel of the security blanket. Then off came the shirt. Wrapped around my chest was a huge bandage that went horizontally from one arm pit to another and reached down to my last set of ribs. The shape was flat. Completely flat. I couldn’t see underneath the bandages, only the shape. None. With my bottom lip quivering one of my sisters started to soap up the wash cloth. I had to unhook the drainage tubes that were pinned to my pants. While the tubes were still attached to me I handed them to my other sister. So, the three of us that day, in my bathroom, nurtured the body that was left after surgery. With little strength I sat down on a vanity bench and allowed to tears to come and the moaning to be heard. I’ll never forget looking up at one sister and seeing her with draining tubes in her hand that were connected to my body and watching mascara run down her face as she grieved for me while the other sister stood behind me softly and gently brushed out my tangled wet hair, telling me that it’s going to be okay. Then my husband tip-toed in with a cup of hot tea, taking over the hair brush. He and I took the time we needed to reassure one another that we made a good decision and that everything was going to be alright. With clean clothes and freshly washed hair I enjoyed a day on the patio in perfect 60 degree temperatures, sun shining on a new horizon.

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