Week 4 Post Mastectomy: Flashbacks, Dr. Evil Returns and Back in the O.R. Again


Post Mastecomy 4 Jammy Sisters

Last night I was scrolling through the pictures on my phone and came upon this one of my sister Pamela and I outside the front of my house in our bathrobes. I wracked my still anesthesia-fogged brain trying to remember when this photo was taken and only by looking at the sequence of photos taken before and after this one did a vague recollection dawn.

It was my first full day home from the hospital (three days post-op) and we actually walked around the block (or probably just to the corner and back). In our pajamas. And our bathrobes. I can’t even begin to imagine what the neighbors thought. Well, at least we looked cute.


Dr. Evil Returns

Dr. Evil. Photo courtesy of Google Images.
Dr. Evil. Photo courtesy of Google Images.

On day 6 post-surgery, I was awakened by the barking of my neighbor’s dog at around 8:00 in the morning. Not a big deal except that the dog would not stop barking. It barked and barked and barked, and by 3:00 in the afternoon I could stand it no more.

Exhausted and weary from the frayed nerves (did I mention that the neighbor’s dog barking made my own two dogs bark non-stop?) I stomped out of bed, jotted a quick and not so nice note threatening to report the dog to animal control if they couldn’t control it’s barking, and marched myself over there (wearing god only knows what). When nobody answered I slapped the note (with tape I had already applied) on the door and strode home, collapsing back into bed.

The next morning, completely devoid of any memory from the previous day’s escapade, my husband strolls into the bedroom and hands me a piece of paper. I eyed him suspiciously and slowly opened the note. It began like this:

Dear Neighbor:

First, let me wish you a speedy and healthy recovery from your surgery (apparently I mentioned this in my note). Second, I understand how difficult it can be to rest with a barking dog nearby. Please do not call animal control. We want to work to resolve this. I will keep Brodie in his crate inside all day today so he will not disturb you. Here is my phone number if Brodie’s barking ever becomes a problem.

Ridiculously Nice Neighbor

When I finished reading it, a crushing blow of guilt and remorse struck me in the solar plexis. The first thing I did was to send off a quick email to my friend Susie Lindau who had her mastectomy a couple of months before me, and asked her how long I could blame my bad behavior on the narcotics and anesthesia. She quickly replied, “At least three weeks–and milk it, honey.”

I thanked her profusely, but strangely I didn’t feel the relief I expected to because the note was something that the Real Me would never do. It was then that I realized that, despite the fact that I had just slayed the Zombie’s that had invaded my dreams since surgery, the Evil Me (See Who Are You and What Have You Done with the Real Me) had returned.

Determined to not let Dr. Evil stake his claim on me, I sent off an email to my neighbor (she left her email address in her note) and explained to her that I had been momentarily possessed by an evil force and begged for her forgiveness.

I waited on pins and needles for two days for her reply and was pleased when the first line read that I had nothing to apologize for. I can’t remember what she said after that, but I made my husband promise not to let me stomp out of the house in anger ever again.


Back in the Saddle O.R. Again

Affected breast tissue
Affected breast tissue

In my last Post-Mastectomy blog (click here), I reported that Dr. Kind discovered a patch of skin that looked as though it might be dying. Despite our best efforts to encourage it to live, it did in fact die, and now it has to be removed. This Thursday I will return to the operating room to have the offensive tissue excised. Unfortunately, this will set my reconstruction back a couple of months, but Dr. Kind still promises me a pair of perfectly matched sisters when it’s all said and done.

What about you? What helps you through the challenges in your life?

Repost from August 27, 2013

13 comments on… “Week 4 Post Mastectomy: Flashbacks, Dr. Evil Returns and Back in the O.R. Again”

  1. Hugs, Suzanne. It was so good to see you at the meeting on Saturday. Sorry you had the barking dogs to deal with. I think most everyone has a breaking point with barking dogs so don’t be too hard on yoursel. I am glad you have a kind and understanding neighbor.

    Hope you have an easy time with the snippet of dying skin. It seems there is always something. I am sure I’ve been tested many times with annoying sounds but at this moment none comes to mind. I suppose that’s a good thing, isn’t it? Luckily we don’t have too close of neighbors so can’t complain about them.

    I hope you are feeling much more like yoursel soon. More hugs!!

  2. Challenges seem to come up when we least expect them and when we are least ready to cope. It’s often easier to feel like the world is punishing us, even when we know intellectually that’s not the case. Or we feel like we should NOT feel – like we have no right to those emotions.

    When I sense those walls closing in, I practice a two step process:

    – I give myself 5 minutes to be pissed/grieving/angry/depressed. I set the kitchen timer and have my little pity party. Something’s happening, it’s not good, and I have a right to feel my feelings, damn it.

    – When the timer goes off, I practice gratitude. I’m not being bombed by chemicals in Syria. Smoke is so dense that I can’t see past my property line, but my loved ones and my home are safe. I have 5 cubic yards of topsoil that needs to be hauled in my line of sight, but my body is strong and I can do it, something my two best friends in chronic debilitating pain will never be able to say again. I fight my weight daily, but I am muscular and agile and it doesn’t limit my life.

    It’s hard to do at times. The pity party is WAY easier! But there’s always someone else who has it worse than me, who can’t enjoy what I know I can, and while that makes me sad, it reminds me that I need to enjoy each day, each hour, each minute for the joys I can take from them.

    Hugs, my dear – and best of everything on Thursday!


  3. I hate barking dogs, too. I would have done the same thing even under “normal” circumstances. Good for you for voicing your frustration. Perhaps you’ll have a new BFF in your neighbor.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you again this week. I know the waiting is the worst part, but in the long run, it’ll all be worth it. Hang in there.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  4. So sorry to hear about the setback, but it will all be worth it in the end. And people on prescribed narcotics should never be held responsible for momentary lapses in sanity! Glad that your neighbour was understanding.

  5. Dearest Suzanne,

    We must try to remember that even though we want to be perfect at all times, we’re just not. We are human, having human “challenges,” sometimes on a daily basis, and all.

    “I place this day, my life, my loved ones, my work in the Lord’s hands. There is no harm in the Lord’s hands, only good. Whatever happens, whatever results, if I am in the Lord’s hands it is the Lord’s will and it is good.”
    ~ Norman Vincent Peale, The Power Of Positive Thinking

    To me, what’s happening to you now is just part of your further “education,” to help who knows how many women in the future through your books and your blog posts. How exciting is that? I could not be more excited for you, my dear friend!

    Hugs and love always . . .

    • I love that saying, Jean. Through all of this, I’ve never asked, “why me?” I know better than to ask that. Why not me? I know that this ordeal is part of my path and if writing about it can help or inspire even one person, then it was worth it. And if not, it was still worth it because I believe it it saved my life.xoxo

  6. I have to confess, I’m a total escapist. I read. Wait, scratch that. I read, eat chocolate and drink wine (not enough for a hangover or headache) for at least one night. Then I let my drill sergeant out of the closet, remove his duct tape, and let him get me back in line.

    So proud of you for the way you’re dealing with all this. You are on my mind and in my prayers!

  7. First of all: dang, girl. Your toughness is inspirational. I know I’ve said it before, but it’s still true so I’m saying it again. Second of all: I had an almost identical dog-story with my neighbor from 20 years ago, except that it was a phone message, not a note, AND I had no medical excuses for my nasty tone. But her tone on the return phonecall made mine sound like Mr. Rogers. Next day I went over w/ flowers to apologize. She wasn’t home, but her husband was, and I got a return apology from him that made me feel like a much better person than I am. All these years later, I still feel like I learned something.

    • You hit the nail on the head, Gretchen. I’m so used to the neighbor confrontations that go like this: “excuse me, but would you mind turning your music down just a little? I’m recovering from brain surgery and I really need to get some rest. Thank you so much.” I go downstairs and crawl back in bed and the music gets LOUDER and suddenly the floor begins to vibrate. But now I no longer live in an apartment, I live in a nice suburb with nice neighbors and I went about it all wrong. Yes, I was justified, but it doesn’t excuse the behavior because it’s just not The Real Me.

  8. Sometimes you just have to be crabby – you are so entitled! I usually just try to lose myself in a good book – “Wish I could live in a book.”

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