The world is going by. Summer is starting. Kids are off to camp. Vacations are underway. And I am sitting in this chair. The same chair that felt so comforting in the early stages of my recovery is starting to feel like a prison.
We just got back from 5 days in the hospital fighting another infection. Another infection in my abdominal cavity. I never would have dreamed my biggest complications from breast cancer would be in my abdomen. But this is the second time I have had surgery to reopen the abdominal incision and clean infection from the wound. This time the wound is left open and packed to hopefully heal better. I am awaiting home health and the placement of a “wound vac” (doesn’t that sound sexy) that I will wear around with my open wound until the infection is sufficiently cleared. And then – even though the infection (please, God) will be healed, I will continue to sport an open wound until the end of my chemo treatments because my body will be unable to heal itself until that poison is out of my system.
Since you probably aren’t keeping track of my chemo treatments with the same vigilance I am, I will go ahead and tell you that I have nine left. (I had to skip last week because of the infection and it remains to be seen if I will be ready for this week’s treatment or not.) That means I have at least nine weeks to look forward to having an open wound on my abdomen (not to mention however long I will also be carrying around a canister creating a negative suction into the wound). Nine more weeks of light duty. Nine more weeks of needing help taking care of my own children. Nine more weeks of sporadic and modified intimacy with a husband I miss. Nine more weeks of feeling broken. And that nine weeks just gets me to the time of sufficient healing that I’ll be able to undergo a surgery to close my wound – which will mean additional recovery time.
I’m so sad about it. It seems like recovery has been an interminably long time already. I can’t bear this chair anymore. Even though I know I must. I miss my classes. I miss my job and my workouts. I miss feeling like I’m taking care of my husband as much as he is taking care of me. I miss playing with my grandkids. And the friends who so sweetly surrounded me during the early days of my diagnosis – I miss them too. So I just made my husband leave the house. Because I needed to cry. Not just let a few tears flow. I needed to really CRY about everything that has changed in my life since CANCER. My body has this subconscious response to tears. It fights against them if anyone else is around. My negative emotions limit themselves to make others feel better. Even in front of my husband – my person. I know that the only way to get a good, cleansing, let it all out cry to is to be by myself. And I need that today. I need to mourn for yet another set back. I need to mourn for different “normals”, for the wife I can’t be, for the mothering that is being delegated to others, and frankly for just not getting my way.
It’s a relief to let the tears flow for whatever and however long they want. They had built up to an uncomfortably constricting level. Tomorrow I will feel better. Lighter. And I will figure out how to move meaningfully forward.