The Road To Recovery

As I drove home from an unsuccessful cardiac rehabilitation session, I was reminded how many times I have been on the road to recovery. With more than 15 plus surgeries, you would think I would get used to the fact that I am never ‘normal’ and whatever is ‘normal’ when someone is recovering is probably not going to be my experience because of the many different circumstances that I’ve endured. I’m complicated and therefore my recovery requires tweaks that aren’t per the usual.

I don’t know why I would assume things would go smoothly this time around when they haven’t ever really been that way in the past. But I did, which probably explains the tears of frustration on the ride home from what should have been my first ‘workout’ since the open heart surgery to replace my deformed aortic valve.

Long story short, due to my lymph node removal from the breast cancer surgeries, taking my blood pressure requires that it’s done on my leg and not the usual arm. But the cardiac rehabilitation people weren’t used to doing it that way. I encounter this often, so I am used to teaching them how to put the cuff on my leg and taking my blood pressure. But for whatever reason, every time they took my blood pressure it was sky high – once it showed 208/117 which if you know anything about blood pressure, this is super duper high. Because during the rehab session, the nurses need to take your BP a total of 4 times, this wouldn’t work since I couldn’t even get a decent reading to begin any type of exercise.

As any breast cancer survivor who has had many (or all) lymph nodes removed in both arms, blood pressure readings can’t be done in the usual way on your arm because of the threat of lymphedema. Therefore it’s taken on your lower leg. But I’ve learned that when you take the BP on your leg, the numbers are usually higher. Cardiac rehab requires your blood pressure to be under a certain number in order to begin the workout. Mine, as you can imagine, is not within range.

I get a certain ‘white coat syndrome’ every once in awhile when I’m going for my twice yearly tumor marker check up with the oncologist and my blood pressure can spike, but after the blood draw, it usually subsides. I’m not good with blood draws or needles of any kind. I tend to almost faint which isn’t fun. Not for the clinician, nor for me. You’d think I’d be used to it by now being that it’s been part of my routine for over 20 years, but my body has her own mind and does what she wants. Now that I know it’s a heart thing, there’s not much I can do about it. Just ride the wave…stay afloat and keep going.

I was trying on fall clothes the other day with my sister. The scars on my chest are very visible as any open heart surgery survivor knows. Perhaps they’ll soften over time like the others, but in the meantime, they’re raised, angry red and obvious. Much of my clothing is v-necked which shows my latest scar. She was baffled that I would wear something that might show a bit of my scar instead of covering up to hide what’s happened to me. But it’s all a part of me. The tracks of my tears, my experiences and I don’t want to hide anymore. I want to help. I want to be comfortable being me.

Perhaps people will find it ugly to see my scar. That’s ok. Because lucky for them, they’re not me. They don’t have to live with it or the constant pain. But me, well, I’m on the road to recovery…one baby step at a time…

14 thoughts on “The Road To Recovery

  1. Gracious and graceful writing. My father used to say that to know someone we must first share a pound of salt with them. One post at a time, grains of salt at a time, we come to know your heart.

  2. In many ways, I consider my scars to be my badge of honor. However, my dermatologist (who I love) told me about these silicone scar sheets on Amazon to reduce even my old Csection scar and I got a package but ended up giving them to my DIL. Doc said they REALLY work FYI. If you want the link, message me xx

  3. Yvonne, as hard as this sounds, you have been given something very profound. Very hard to go through but it will give you something inside that words can never truly explain. But slowly you are facing you, facing death each timer you take a step, each time you have an operation, each time you just want to be you. I know it would be fantastic to just go buy a dress and never have to give it a thought, but inside you something very beautiful is raising its head and becoming a part of your heart. Scarred? Oh yes, and be proud of it. Each time you face all of this you are seeing the difference of this world and what you really are within…and then letting go so much that you realize what really has no meaning…and what does. I can even feel it growing within you in how you say exposing the scar to the sunshine is you, and an acceptance of that.
    When I collapsed on my kitchen floor from my lungs blowing up and stopped my breathing, God spoke to me and said ‘I am the giver of life’. I was stunned at first, considering the circumstances, but slowly I realized that we have already been given a time to find that love within us…so I ‘let life go’ and got on with living. Now I know under your circumstances that this takes time to reach this place within ourselves, to ‘let go’ and live. It has taken me nearly two years to be at peace within myself, but there is a lifetime of worry that I had ingrained within me to remove. A thing called life. But that is its purpose, to touch a sadness in life so that when we do touch that beauty of love and happiness we will appreciate it so much more. I have friends around me that can see I am quite ill but smiling like an idiot…because I ‘know’ what is waiting. We have been given something very powerful to go through, and yes we will scream, be angry and wish it would all finish. But beneath it all is something very profound, a love, compassion and empathy that nothing else can build but what we go through. A big, big hug dear lady, and much love, compassion and empathy that I have found I give freely to you. May each tear, each cry to the heavens build it within you too dear lady, and find that love to set you free ❤️🙏🏽

    • As always Mark, I am ever grateful for your presence in my life. Your friendship and insight always change my thinking and help me through the hard times. A big huge healing hug to you dear friend. Thank you for being you…
      for your heart full of kindness, compassion and wisdom that you freely share, connecting with all of us. Your light shines so brightly. Much love to you…🙏💝🥰

  4. I can identify with the previous comment that we must let life go and get on with living. I have survived colorectal cancer and systemic scleroderma ( an autoimmune disease). In part I am still here because I accepted that I might die and I might as well get on with living. I admire your resilience and fortitude Yvonne. I understand you do not want to hide your scars. You have earned them!

    • Anne I am sorry you have endured so much as well. I’m sending healing hugs to you! I agree, there is something within us that changes when we’ve faced and accepted the limited time we have here on earth. It’s freeing. It gives us a chance to live differently. Thank you for sharing. Big hugs to you 🙏💝🥰

  5. I like that you are willing to let your scars show. It can be an encouragement to someone facing surgery, to look forward to hope of life and health on the other side of surgery. The scarred cashier to whom I mentioned also having a scar seemed just delighted that someone else knew something of what she was going through (different scars than yours, though).
    I wish you a blessed week!

    • I wish you a blessed week Suzy! Thank you you…yes, I’m very open about my scars and what I’ve endured when I think it’s important to help someone else traverse a similar journey. Happy New Year! Sorry it has taken me so long to write back. 🥰

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