Mobility in Recovery

Although I’ve been given the clear to resume normal activities, I’ve found myself doing so with some hesitation. I want to resume kickboxing classes but I fear I lack the mobility to engage properly. I’m not a very flexible person by nature; I have to work at it.  Throw in something debilitating (like this surgery) and I’m even worse.

arms outstretched
No Snow Angels for Me

Here I am, lying flat on my yoga mat.  A normal person could sweep their hands across the ground, snow angel style, to rest above his or her head.  This “t” shape is as outstretched as I can get.   My chest muscles won’t let me reach any further.

overhead stretch
Barely Reaching Overhead

Reaching directly overhead is not much better, as you can see. Sorry for the crappy quality of the above image, but you can get the gist of what I was trying to portray.

Breast Implant Anatomy 101

I’ve taken the image below from How Stuff Works: Science in an article entitled “How Implants Work” by Robert Valdes (2004) so you can see why I’m lacking flexibility.  As the image shows, my implant is sub muscular, placing particular stress on the pectoralis major muscle.  I don’t have the natural breast tissue shown in the image, thanks to my mastectomy, so the muscle helps hold and smooth out the look of my implant.

Image from http://science.howstuffworks.com

The muscle suffered trauma during the surgery since it had to be cut to remove the tissue expanders and get the implant in there and is still adjusting to having a large foreign object placed under it.

Physical Therapy Here I Come

I called my doctor to request physical therapy.  I’m rather surprised he did not prescribe it to begin with, but perhaps he thought, given my active nature, that I would be able to work through the issues on my own.  I am not comfortable, however, making assumptions on what exercises I should and should not  be able to do, nor do I wish to hurt myself trying to accomplish my goals.

I have my consult with the therapist at MD Anderson on Monday.  I am lucky in that I met my out of pocket max for this year (thanks to my implant surgery) so my physical therapy should be covered in full.

I’ll keep you posted on how this process goes. I anticipate lots of pain and swearing.  But, as the expression goes, no pain, no gain!

Recovery: In the Clear…Kind Of

Just a quick update today. I saw my doctor yesterday for my four-week postoperative appointment.  I’m clear to do my “normal activities,” but I was told not to sweat too much.  Hmm.  That’s hard for a runner. Power walking it is…

Cleaning My Way to Strength

Upper body strength has never been my forte.  I am easing my way back into normal activities.  What does this mean?  Well, the mop is now my intro to body building, lol.  This weekend I may even go crazy and try to vacuum.

Recovery Fun

I’ll keep you apprised of my recovery.  I have some fun with the family planned this weekend, and I can think of no better way to celebrate the clearance to resume being me.

Also, I’m plotting some projects around the house, including landscaping.  I see that as a great way to get the bod back in shape.

Until then, I’ll leave you with this fun little selfie (pardon the bad photography).  For the first time in my life, I’m ready for bathing suit season!!!  I’m digging my new cleavage.  This process has been a drain, but finding a suit that fits has been a welcome development!

swimsuit
                            Swim Season Ready

 

Recovery: Let’s Sleep On It

Sleeping during recovery is a mixed bag.  I’ve struggled with insomnia during my adult life.  My insomnia induces anxiety.  My anxiety creates more insomnia.  Repeat…

I decided to go off my anti-anxiety drugs back in November.  Even though I faced all the stress of surgery and recovery, I think this was a good choice for me.  I still experienced occasional bouts of insomnia even while on the meds, so the drawbacks of the medicine weren’t worth it.  I realize that medicine may be the correct choice for some individuals, but I am a firm believer that lifestyle choices are the better choice for me at this time.

Rest and Recovery in the Healing Process

When I’m just lazing around (typing this blog, for instance), I feel like I’m fully recovered.  I loathe the support garments and I feel like I should be able to go out for a run without a second thought.  This, however, is fiction.  I still need to rest during the day (take my endeavor into folding from yesterday) and I am still under physical restrictions.

Since I want to speed up my healing process, I know that rest is a quintessential part of my routine yet getting a good night’s sleep has proved tricky.  Sleeping in my recliner left me waking any time I needed to adjust position, which I had to do frequently because my butt cheek, and sometimes even an entire leg, would fall asleep.

With permission to finally side sleep from my doc last week, I moved to the bed with a great deal of enthusiasm only to find sleep allusive.  I decided to stop the sleepless nights and put into practice what I preach by establishing a good bedtime routine.

Sleeping During Recovery: Adults Need Routine, Too

I realize most of this is common sense.  You don’t need a degree in psychology to understand the importance of good habits.  As adults, we often skimp on sleep due to this or that activity that it seems we can get done only at the end of the day.  Throw in a physical condition that makes falling asleep uncomfortable, and you are opening up a whole new set of issues for catching some zzz’s.

After several weeks of stressing about surgery, restlessness of sleeping in a recliner, and trying to adjust to sleeping, once again, with a new set of boobs, larger and firmer than those I was born with strapped to my chest, and I found myself awake until 2am several nights last week. Something had to change.

Here are my suggestions for getting the rest you need.

  1.  Put down your phone, damnit.
    • Set your phone aside at least an hour before bed.  I realize your phone may have “night mode” or some nonsense, but staring at a light before bed while soaking up social media or news is not good for settling the mind.  Throw politics or work into that mix, and you have a perfect recipe for staying awake for hours.

      iPhone 6+
                                Put Down Your Phone
  2. Find an activity that relaxes you that does not involve technology.
    • I love a good cup of hot tea before bed.  I found a non-caffeinated herbal tea that is touted to help induce sleep.
    • Take a hot shower or a warm bath.
    • Listen to some relaxing music.
    • Put on your favorite pajamas.
    • Snuggle with a pet or loved one.

      herbal tea
                      Find What Relaxes You
  3. Pick up a good book or keep a journal.
    • I love to read before bed.  But, if you do this, make sure you are able to put that book down when it’s time for lights out.
  4. Make sure your bedroom is a relaxing environment.
    • Dim those lights, set your thermostat to a comfortably cool temperature, and prepare a clutter-free space well before bedtime.  Rushing around to clean a space that is supposed to relax you will not help at the end of the day.
    • Avoid watching tv in bed.
  5. Try melatonin or another sleep aid after discussing your options with your doctor.
    • I’ve been taking melatonin this week and it seems to be helping.  I can’t say whether the positive changes I’ve experienced are due to the melatonin, the deliberate changes to my bedtime routine, or a placebo effect, but I’ll take them. I haven’t felt this rested since my reconstruction surgery.

I hope you find these recommendations helpful in getting a good night’s sleep during recovery.  Take control over your routine like you have taken control of your health.  Your body will thank you.

Post-Surgery Entertainment: Exploring New Frontiers

As you all know, I’ve had a lot of time on my hands.  No lifting, pushing, vigorous exercising, or reaching has put a damper on my daily activities.  Since I’m fortunate enough to be a stay at home mom of school-aged children, I’ve had a very quiet house from 8-3 each day.

I’ve extinguished most of the series I yearned to watch on Netflix and Hulu and, frankly, I’m just sick of tv.  I’m proactive, the stress being on the “active” part of that word.  Sitting in front of a tv takes more patience than what it’s worth on most days.

Behind the Times: Jumping on the Podcast Bandwagon

My husband has been listening to podcasts for years, but he spends a great deal of time in the car on his commute and doesn’t have children vying for his attention.  Up until these surgeries, I haven’t had the ability to enjoy listening to anything that requires mental attention.  Now, I find myself walking instead of running, and able to focus on listening for the first time in what seems like a decade.

Entertainment Roundup: Podcasts I’ve Enjoyed This Week

This American Life is a podcast produced by Chicago Public Media.  It’s host, Ira Glass, is an amazing storyteller.  The show is a collection of journalistic essays revolving around a themed episode.  Occasionally humorous, and sometimes heartbreaking, these stories will have you riveted.

The Minimalist Podcast is a collaboration between Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, known as The Minimalists.  I enjoy listening to their message, and each podcast has a different theme.  I recommend you pick and choose your episodes based on a topic that appeals to you. I will give them credit for having passion for their message, but there is a lot of repetition between episodes.  As even they have pointed out, you could play a dangerous drinking game with the amount of times they say the phrase “adds value to your life.”

Young House Love Has a Podcast is a spinoff of one of my favorite home decor and renovation blogs.  When home blogging became a thing back in the early 2000’s, this was one of the first blogs to which I subscribed.  Started in 2007, the Young House Love blog is a product of John and Sherry Petersik; known for their home renovation and DIY projects.  In June of 2016, they jumped on the podcast bandwagon and released their first episode. I listened to two podcasts this morning and found I really enjoy the lighthearted discussion and the simple format.

Recovery Entertainment: What’s next?

I’m on the hunt for my next podcast.  I’m intrigued by the self-help category; I’ve taken care of my body and now it’s time to take better care of my mind.  I’ve heard about the Good Life Project by Jonathan Fields.  The Good Life Project website states that the podcast includes interviews with “some of the wisest, most-accomplished teachers, creators and leaders, learning at their feet, then sharing their wisdom.”  Call me intrigued.

I’ll let you know my thoughts on that podcast in my next post.

earbuds
On the Podcast Bandwagon image via Rob_L. on Flickr

 

Reconstruction: One Week Post-op

I am one week post-op today!  Yay!  I am feeling great but I am still under limitations–doctor’s orders.  No driving.  No reaching over my head.  No lifting.  No pushing/pulling (vacuuming/sweeping).  I am allowed to walk.  So, walk I have been doing.  Yesterday I went for three (yes, three) walks.  I checked out my step count on my fancy new Garmin yesterday   at lunch time and I was already over 13,000 steps.

stepping out
…And Finished the Day at Over 20,000 Steps 

So, yes, I’m feeling pretty good.  I find it difficult to sit still, so walking is the way to go.

reconstruction visual

What does recovery look like at one week post reconstruction surgery?  My chest is still bruised (and, yes, that purple marker is still hanging on). I can tell that I am still retaining fluid; there’s some odd squish going on.  So, I’m still not sure what I’m going to look like when this swelling goes down.

Chest Bruising
Chest Bruising

My hips are still bruised but they hurt less–just don’t go poking me or anything.  Keep in mind that I bruise easily.

Liposuction Bruising
Liposuction Bruising

I cannot tell if I’m going to notice much of a difference after this swelling goes down.  Dr. Hassid indicated that I should be excited but I can’t say I share his enthusiasm; I think I still look like me.

Recovering with the support of friends and family

I am grateful for the friends and family who have been checking up on me.  They keep me sane.  I’m not one to be happy in my solitude, and not being able to drive in a town that is unfriendly to pedestrians isn’t the best.  If you are in my shoes, don’t hesitate to reach out to people; they want to help–let them!

Now, it’s time for my afternoon walk!  Ciao!

Reconstruction: Jessica Rabbit

Anyone else remember the movie “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”?  Well, Roger Rabbit’s cartoon girlfriend looked something like this:

Jessica Rabbit
from http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/File:Jessica_rabbit_art.jpg

This is what I felt like after my fill on Wednesday minus the sexy vibes.  I had muscle spasms galore.  I hurt so much that I took muscle relaxers during the day and called in a friend to bring me some lunch.  I would not have survived without one of my best friends bringing me my favorite fast food!  In truth, I didn’t stop feeling sore until yesterday (Saturday!).

Reconstruction through the week

Me Before You movie
Vegging at Its Finest

I spent Wednesday and Thursday glued to the couch.  Truly, I could’t do much else.  This has been a roller coaster ride.  One day I feel fine.  The next, I have a fill that hurts and have to spend two days recovering.  I’m taking one day at a time and learning to appreciate the time alone to indulge in chick flicks, rest, and heal.

Chilling with chili: a reconstruction meal go-to

I’ve needed to come up with some meals that are low-maintenance and lasting that the whole family for those days when I know I won’t feel up to traditional stovetop cooking.  Most importantly, these meals can’t require a lot of elbow grease in the prep department.

Recovering or not, I think meal time is a challenge for most people. When I need an easy meal for hurried dinner times, I turn to my crockpot.  I’m also into pretending it’s fall and fall means warm, hearty food.   So, here’s my recipe for my Chilling with Crockpot Chili!

crockpot chili
Chilling with Crockpot Chili
Chilling with Crokcpot Chili: Meal make-ahead
  • 4 (14.5oz) cans Diced, Roasted Tomatoes
  • 1 small (4oz) can tomato sauce
  • 14.5oz can of either red or pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 1lb ground beef
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp chili powder (or more to taste if you like spicy)
  • salt to taste
  • Fritos or chip of choice for garnish
  • shredded cheese or sour cream for topping, if desired

Brown the meet in a large skillet along with diced onion and garlic.  Once browned and onion is softened, add to a large crockpot.  Add canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, beans, and spices.  Stir ingredients and set crockpot temperature to low.  Let chili cook for several hours to blend flavors.

I like to make this in the morning and leave to cook all day.  We like to eat the chili topped with shredded cheese and serve it with Fritos Scoops.