I have learned that we all are different on this BRCA Journey and our post surgery struggles are not the same. Some of us take longer than others to heal. Some have complications that add to our journey. When I started this journey I mistakenly thought it would take me 3-6 months to get back to where I was. That I could then focus on really getting my health back on track. Ok it has been 493 days since my first surgery. I have had 5 surgeries with at least one more revision surgery to go.
Prior to the first surgery I did everything to get into better shape. I lost some weight, I was averaging 15,000 steps a day, and averaging between 5-7 hours of sleep a night. I had energy and focus and I felt good. Covid-19 hasn’t helped and I have had two of the surgeries during the pandemic. I am not back in the gym and walking in the neighborhood this summer has been less than ideal.
Post Surgery Struggles Are Real
My doctor told me when I started this journey that it can take up to a year after a major surgery to recover from it. I have had several and boy am I feeling the effects. I have good days and bad ones. The good are out numbering the bad so there is that. My struggle is that of fatigue and physical movement. I had a hernia that opened up just at the start of Covid-19 so I spent more time being protective of not making it worse as Covid-19 had shut down non-emergent surgeries. Today, a good day is 10 hours of sleep and when I hit 5,000 steps. When I push it in the garden or over do things, the next day I am back in the recliner. Two steps forward, one step back.
My hair and skin are a mess, dealing with the effects of all the anesthesia in my system. I am dealing with menopause full on. Hot flashes and nigh sweats are awful. I get sleep but it never seems to be enough. Each doctor I see says “give it time” or “you are doing great”. Meanwhile I see other women who go through it and it appears so easy for them. Then I see the difference, they are in their 30’s and I am in my 50’s.
Give yourself Grace
Post surgery struggles are going to be different for every woman going through these preventative surgeries. I am sure younger women have their struggles too. I can’t imagine going through this with young children and working a full time job. With all my complaints, I would do it over in a heartbeat. It means that I have beaten a ticking time bomb. Yes of course there are women that go in and have everything done in one surgery. I chose to do it in smaller steps. Some women have no complications, I had several.
It isn’t over till the end, and this is not the end. This is the beginning of a new story in my life. One that has freed me from the constant worry about breast cancer. Sure, I am physically and emotionally exhausted by the process. Yet I am struck how much worse this would have been if cancer were in the equation. That is where I find such gratitude. If you are reading this and wondering if it is worth all the struggles, only you can answer that question. For me it absolutely was worth it.