Monday, October 25, 2010

Depression makes me busy...

Well, I had Dr. B put me on Effexor for my hot-flashes. After 4 days (nights) of taking it, I started noticing that I felt like I had ants crawling under my skin. I decided that was a bad thing (allergic reaction), so I quit taking them. I also wasn't noticing any signs of the hot-flashes abating.

After I quit taking the Effexor, I took the time to re-assess myself. I was feeling pretty depressed, but I was sub-consciously keeping myself busy to not dwell on it. However, I found that when I was honest with myself I just didn't care about anything. I'm not sure if the depression was due to the Effexor or just to the overwhelming sense of disquietude in my life right now.

To those of you who haven't had any of this kind of thing done to you, it may sound like I'm being petty, vain, and/or sensitive. However, I've noticed that its bothering me more & more how my body looks. **I may get a little TMI here, so if that turns you off - click away from this page now.**

Let's put it this way. In July 2009, I was a 28 year old woman with 2 kids. I had a pretty realistic idea of how my body would look after 2 children. Before this cancer diagnosis I was coming to terms with my body as God made me. I had things I didn't like, but I was mostly comfortable with my body. I'm a typical girl in that I've always felt a bit insecure about certain aspects of my body, but in general I had the attitude that if you didn't like it - don't look. I also knew deep down that my body was probably better than average. I was large breasted and after nursing Simon, my breasts had begun their downward descent. However, they had a normal tear-drop shape and were delightfully sensitive (sometimes over-sensitive, but hey). I had a fairly flat stomach with just enough cushion to not look anorexic - even at 20 weeks pregnant. My waist tucked in nicely well above my bubble butt and bodacious hips. I was a *happy* 34DD-29-38!

Now, in October 2010, I'm a 29 year old woman with 2 kids. I have unnatural breasts that look like someone put coconuts under my skin. The tendons & muscles that connect my pectoral muscles to my shoulders/arms stand out in significant relief instead of smoothly being hidden by extra breast and/or fat tissue. For some reason this *REALLY* bothers me because it reminds me of how my Nana looked after she had her mastectomy (unilateral on her left). While the implants are there, they don't fill in the space properly AT ALL. They look totally foreign & feel even worse. They also are slowly, but surely, working their way under my arms. I have to wear some sort of bra at all times or else the movement of the implants rasps against my chest wall. The pain is significantly worse when they're pushed into my chest by holding Rachel or Simon or laying on my stomach.

Another issue is that I have absolutely no feeling in the skin on my breasts what-so-ever. I can feel the skin along my breast-bone. However, from my breast bone to under my arm - about the middle of my arm-pit - the only sensation I have is pressure on my chest wall. One of my nipples is permanently semi-raised, while the other one is missing (it died off after my mastectomy).

Then as I look further down, instead of the mostly flat tummy I once had, I have a misshapen ridge from my open laparotomy. For some reason, the internal stitches bunched up on my right side, so it makes a rather large (to me) lump. I'm also apparently still retaining fluid and/or swelling upon activity, so instead of being mostly flat or at most slightly convex, (to me) I have a quite convex profile. Not only that, I also can't feel (except for pins & needles and/or pain) the majority of my lower abdomen.

On top of all that I'm dealing with 20+ hot flashes a day. Since my mastectomy I've had either an altered sense of smell or my sweat glands under my arms put out a slightly different odor. So now I'm paranoid that I'm going to have BO as well as looking like a freak. Not to mention that I'm not 100% sure how this whole surgical menopause is going to effect me in the long run... Its still early yet, but I could become a stark raving b*tch at almost any time.

Basically, my gripe with my body is that it betrayed me & I am going to have to go the rest of my life this way. A 29 year old shouldn't (IMO) already have so much going against her. Now I've got fake boobs & a bulgy abdomen - neither of which have sensation. I could go stark raving crazy at any time and most likely if you're with me for an hour or so I'll have at least one hot flash, so I'll be sweating even if the ambient temperature is a chilly 60 degrees. I now have the semi-fake body of a 60 year old woman instead of an honestly God-given flawed body of an almost 30 year old.

I can't stand to see myself naked. I can't stand to think about what I look like. Its much worse than having lost my hair b/c I know that at least my breasts are NEVER going to look like they did or even natural. I can go for a LONG time without remembering chemo and losing my hair, but I can't go more than a few minutes before realizing that my breasts are artificial and have no sensation. I don't know what's going to happen to me if my lack of hormones causes me to be evil either. I can't go for more than an hour it seems (awake) without having a hot flash to remind me of what I've lost.

Of course, I keep trying to tell myself that I lost my breasts, ovaries, tubes, uterus, & sensation of all of the above in order to *keep* my life. Sometimes I know the trade-off is worth it, but other times it just seems like the cost is so high. I mean, quality of life vs quantity of life is important. How do you decide which is worth more? I really didn't have much choice on my breasts since I had cancer. I don't feel like I had much choice on the ovaries, tubes, & uterus either - especially once I talked to Dr. B about the various cysts I had in my ovaries. So if I look at it logically, I know I am where I am because I needed to get here. However, my mind isn't working logically. Emotionally, I'm exceptionally depressed about my situation. At this moment I can't see it getting much better. Again, logically I know it probably will. When you're deep in a pit its hard to see how to climb out. Logically you know the only way out is up, but finding the hand-holds & foot-holds is difficult. Even then once you get 1/2 way to the top at any time you can fall back to the lowest level. I'm praying that God will give me the strength to get out of this pit.

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My Chemo-Jane hair-style

My Chemo-Jane hair-style
I just had to have my mom buzz my hair because it was falling out so badly.

Pre-op wearing my hand-crocheted cap with my prayer shawl.

Pre-op wearing my hand-crocheted cap with my prayer shawl.
My loving husband is watching me distract myself with a game on his iPhone.

2 days after my BMX w/ 100ccs in the TEs

2 days after my BMX w/ 100ccs in the TEs
I even have a fashionable belt to hold up my drains.

3 weeks post-op w/ 400ccs in each TE

3 weeks post-op w/ 400ccs in each TE
The smile is fake because the TEs were irritating!