Isn’t it funny how we evolve as patients?
Prior to having cancer, I was meek, submissive, and never complained. I didn’t really question a diagnosis or treatment. If they were hurting me, I did my best to not show it.
Two years later, I speak up, challenge them, do my own research, and go to another doctor if necessary. I listen carefully to my doctors’ advice, but I also let them know my feelings, and what I want. I want to feel like we are making decisions together.
Oh, and just sucking it up and enduring the pain? Oh, hell no. I currently have a wound vac to stimulate blood flow to an open patch of tissue on the underside of my breast from my breast reduction surgery a few weeks ago. The bloodfow issue dates back to one of my prior surgeries when I should have spoken up about how the surgeon planned the surgery. I had concerns that I bottled up, both before and after. Now the scar tissue has permanently affected my bloodfow to that breast.
So today, I was at the plastic surgeon’s office to have the dressing on my wound vac changed, and the sponge was stuck like gorilla glue. Both my plastic surgeon and my husband were working on it (training so the hubs can do it at home), and it felt like they ripped off an inch of tissue. This is when I would normally cry quietly and suck it up.
No. I’m done. I screamed bloody murder and cried like a baby. One of the assistants ran in the room and gave me stressballs so I wouldn’t claw a hole in the chair. But there was no way that I wasn’t expressing the pain. There wasn’t anything they could do about it. They had done their best to loosen it up without pain, but at some point it had to rip. And that’s ok. But I can’t internalize it, and I have to let them know when it hurts. And I did. (Anyone who has been on a roller coaster with me knows my lung capacity. Yeah, blood-curdling).
The point is, I think too many of us associate holding in our pain as being strong. It’s not. Go watch Xena: Warrior Princess. She is a badass who screams with the best of them. We are not strong when we hide our pain. We do a disservice to ourselves and everyone with our disease. Those around us need to understand what we go through, or how they ever take our condition seriously?
So when you feel cruddy or are in pain, don’t put on a fake smile and say you are fine. Be honest about how you feel now, but say “I will get through this too”.
Because you will.
As for me, I will sit here with my pain killers today, and plan the rockstar halter top that I’m going to wear to celebrate my great new rack. Because every scream of pain is worth getting my body back to its glorious self.
The only bottle I want now is prosecco to celebrate the end of this leg of my journey. It will taste that much better as reward for the pain.