grateful amazement

finding wonder…everywhere.

July 20101 – July 2015 :: A Cancer Survivor’s Retrospective :: Day TwentyOne

on July 21, 2015

Places of Expansion.

I’ve experienced them in the physical (carrying four BIG babies and going from mastectomied-chest to reconstructed chest), in the emotional (meeting and loving a new baby every two years and parenting four girls through elementary, middle, and high school), and in the spiritual (working to forgive myself and others and learning to find God in things like a difficult marriage and cancer).

When I think about it, I have to admit not all of those expansions were super-comfortable to go through…even when the end results (babies, boobies, graduations, anniversaries, etc) were ultimately positive.
And redemptive.

Growing pains.

I remember the summer between my sixth grade and seventh grade years.
I grew SEVEN INCHES in those three months.
And, let me tell you, those pains in my bones were crazy-awful.
I can still remember them.
Almost like it was yesterday.
But I’m glad I went through them.
They are the reason I’m 5’11” today.
And even though it hurt, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
I like being tall.

So here’s what I’ve come to…
I’m not sure we can get to Places of Expansion without going through Growing Pains.
Whether physical, emotional, or spiritual, though, when we can lean into the pain, there’s a good chance we’ll come out on the other side stretched, sculpted, shaped in ways that honor the incredible, miraculous genius with which we were created.

Doesn’t that sound wonderfully expansive?


February 2, 2013
‘My Cups Runneth Over’
{Ok, so I cracked myself up when I thought of the perfect title for this update. I mean, for real.}

In all the Not-So-Clear PET Scan / Questionable Ultrasound / Necessary Follow-Up CT Scan Business of the past several weeks, the Reconstruction Process and all its hilarity and travails kind of took a backseat here in my Journal the last few months. Understandably so, if I must say. From my vantage point, anyway.

But, now that the Happy News Phone Call is a brilliant, shiny, magnificent part of my history, it’s time to get back to the FrankenBooby Saga, don’t you think? There must be some Inquiring Minds among you, right? *For those squeamish souls who would rather not read on, suffice it to say that all is proceeding well in the reVamping of my Chestal Area. Don’t worry. It won’t hurt my feelings a bit if you choose to stop reading. Just know that you will miss out on some pretty funny-as-long-as-they’re-happening-to-someone-else happenings I’m going to share in the next paragraphs. *wink

Over the past few months, I’ve had weekly get-togethers with Cyndy (the plastic surgeon’s nurse practitioner), gi-normous needles, huge saline-filled syringes, ‘stud-finders’, and really attractive (note the sarcasm here) hospital-ish gowns that ‘open in the front.’ (For the record, in my case, that’s not much better than the ones that ‘open in the back’…I am not a fan of meeting myself coming OR going in those darn things!) After each appointment, I have had to pop some ibuprofen to manage the bit of discomfort that apparently comes with the territory when one is sprouting new TaTas. And I have alternately felt like one of those laboratory mice used to grow human ears (on their backs! Really! Google it!) and a pubescent girl in fast forward. Oh, and a Barbie Doll. (I’ll get into that in just a second…) My arms, having not had a chest to contend with these last 2 years, are slowly becoming accustomed to these ‘growths’ that can sometimes get in the way. It really is quite an experience.

This week, I got to see the plastic surgeon as it was time for him to assess how many more fills I would need before getting to the Holding Pattern stage of this whole deal. (That stage lasts 2-4 months, so that the skin and pectoral muscles that are being stretched by the expanders have time to achieve their stretchiest stretch.) Cyndy thought he’d say three more would be needed, but he surprised us both and set the Number of Fills Remaining at two. Cyndy got to use the ‘stud-finder’ before I left the office that day to administer the second-to-last one. Next week will be my final meeting with those gi-normous syringes. I have to say that I am going to miss chatting with Cyndy, but I will NOT miss those Weapons of Mass Inflation!

Here are some fascinating things related to all this Getting A Matched Set stuff:

~The expanders themselves are made of a silicone shell.They are 550cc expanders.
~I currently have 700cc in each expander. *This is where feeling like a Barbie Doll comes in. Would that I could claim her more shapely figure, her cute wardrobe, her seemingly endless list of successful careers, her fab homes, cars, motor coaches…alas, it is her hard plastic chest that I find myself possessing. I guess when you over-fill expanders, they get kinda solid. Youch.
~I will spend almost four months with a total of 750cc’s in each of these 550cc expanders. My surgery date is set for June 6, just after Dina’s graduation and a special trip to South Dakota with my mom’s side of the family.
~It is super odd to get ‘charlie horses’ near one’s sternum from the stretching of areas that maybe weren’t originally designed to be stretched like so much Silly Putty.
~I am starting to understand the brave souls who’ve walked this Reconstruction Path before me who told me that it can get pretty uncomfortable. Let’s just say that trying to get comfortable while sleeping with a couple mini boulders perched on one’s chest isn’t the dreamiest challenge.
~I’m told the implants themselves are worlds apart from the expanders as far as comfort, feeling more natural, etc. I sure hope that’s the case!

So you see, my cups really DO runneth over! Presently 150cc’s over, to be exact. And, all joking aside, I am grateful to be in this place. This Place of Expansion. There are deep metaphors that rumble about when I put it like that. Someday, I will explore them here.

For now, I’m going to find the bottle of ibuprofen and warm up my heat pack. The ‘Girls’ are getting a little achy.

Life finds its purpose and fulfillment in the expansion of happiness. ~Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

…thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. ~Psalm 23:5b

(Pictured are the Gi-Normous Syringes, Stud-Finder, and Purple Marker.)
(from my CaringBridge journal)


One response to “July 20101 – July 2015 :: A Cancer Survivor’s Retrospective :: Day TwentyOne

  1. I just love your sense of humour in all of that you went through. 🙂

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