Reflections ~ On My Surgery Day

The morning started early at six a.m. yet everyone lagged along in an effort not to get ready. Perhaps it was dread of the day before us, anxiety or just fear but gloom definitely filled the air of my home.

Traffic to the hospital was horrendous, maybe this is GOD’s way of telling me to go back home. I pull out my cell phone and click on Twitter. I catch up on reading a few posts: @JuliaRobers1 (Firing My Pediatrician), reading about the exclusion of @JessBWatson daughter from the Soccer Team and I checked in with @addyeb about her vacation. My anxiety is starting to rise and my fear is I won’t make it on-time for my registration check-in.

***

My Mom left me at patient drop off and I made a mad dash up to the third floor for my Hysteroscopy. I’m feeling afraid and anxious as I enter the elevator and arrive at my floor. I find the registration desk and I see the clock.

I MADE IT WITH ONE MINUTE TO SPARE!

At the desk a nurse named Kathline was there and in the background softly playing I heard I HEAR THE SOUND OF VICTORY (one of my previous Song Of The Week posts). GOD is a comforter and healer I tell you. I know I’m gonna be just fine!

***

I’m all checked and dressed in my Bairpaws Hospital Gown that has a heater attachment – how cool is this! Pre-op Nurse Neila begins verify my name, birthdate, type of surgery that I having today and we go over my consent forms prior to me signing them. My Mom has joined me now and I tell her that she has been nominated and will be honored as Mother of the Year by a local sorority. She is surprised and thrilled at the same time, she deserves this honor and I am so proud of her!

My surgical nurse named Joseph comes into my room and introduces himself. He verifies my identification, goes over my consent forms and tells me we are going to walk over to the ambulatory surgery wing. I say goodbye to my Mom and I head over to the ambulatory surgery waiting room and my Mom goes over to the Surgical Waiting Room.

Once I arrive at my surgical prep pod, I meet my anesthesiologist, surgical intern, the ultrasound radiologist and of course my gynecologist to briefly discuss my surgery, answer questions, and get the party started in the operating room. I wait another two minutes or so and Joseph (my surgical nurse) walks me into the OR.

***

The room is freezing, green tiles are on the walls, the overhead lights are extremely bright and a there is a hole in the middle of the table and I am told to place my bottom above the hole so that when the table is lifted and my legs are raised the surgical team will have access to my “womanly parts.” I hop on the table and get into position. My teeth begin to chatter and Joseph hooks up the heater attachment to my Bairpaws gown and cover me with blankets. The anesthesiologist inserts my IV and we talk a little as the medicine kicks in, I am pleasantly surprised to find out that my anesthesiologist, gynecologist, and general practitioner/primary care physician were interns together at The University California San Francisco (UCSF), and that they all currently have surgical privileges at California Pacific Medical Center, which is where I am having surgery. I relax and quit fighting my drowsiness knowing that I am in excellent hands!

***

I wake and find my gynecologist standing over me giving me the thumbs up sign. I am still drowsy and in the recovery room. She proceeds to tell me lots of information about the surgery that she tells me that it is okay if I do not remember but there is one thing she wants me to know, “It appears to be a fibroid embedded deep in the ablated wall of the uterus. The mass is hard and cancer cells tend to be soft. We have to wait for the official biopsy results, but it appears not to be cancerous.” She again offers me her thumbs up and I smile and cry and offer her my thumbs up and I ask her to call my husband and tell my Mom who is waiting.

***

I have a wave of cramping come on and Jane, the Recovery Room Nurse administers additional pain medication. I begin to get drowsy again and I stay in the recovery room for another hour and a half before moving to my post-op room where my Mom is waiting for me. I am cognizant of where I am and my Mom re-explains what the doctor said. I remember it all too well and I smile! I start reading text messages and sending responses and I let my oldest son, mother-in-law, sister-in-law and “sisters” know that I am out of surgery.

***

I am home now. I have minor pain and a slight headache from the anethesia wearing off. One of the women from my Bible Study group supplied us with dinner, and I was pleasantly surprised when Waiters.com delivered Pasta Pomodoro for my family. My family is glad that I am home and celebrating my successful surgery and the preliminary news that it appears that I do not have cancer.

I still have to wait for my official results but I feel a great sense of relief knowing that half the battle is done. I have my follow-up post-op appointment on April 3rd and I have schedule my surgery date for my hysterectomy. I will keep you updated. Thank you so much for your prayers, thoughts, concerns and love! I truly appreciate each and everyone of you!

Love,
Sammie

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Not only does October 1st begins Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it also begins a season of hope for cancer research and hope for a cure. I could go on and on about the importance of taking care of yourself and doing monthly self-examinations of your breast but I am going to leave you with this thought, the breast you squeeze can actually save your life! Take time to have your annual breast Mammogram after the ago of forty or younger if your Mother or Grandmother died of Breast Cancer. Yes, it’s temporarily uncomfortable but as uncomfortable as fighting for life against cancer.

This month I will be posting reflections about cancer, lots of facts about cancer and providing resources for cancer survivors. I promise it’s not a time to sulk, it’s a time to come together and celebrate cancer survivors and create opportunities to love and support those currently in the fight for there lives!

I think we all agrees that CANCER SUCKS but together we can help KICK CANCERS ASS! Join me, tell friends, show up in pink on Fridays at your office and show everyone that you are on a mission to SAVE THE TA-TA’S!!!

Love,
Sammie
XOXO

Song of the Week — OPTIMISTIC by Sounds of Blackness

Wow it’s Monday already! So many things to be grateful for. So many things to appreciate that people have done for me. So many reasons to keep my head up and be

OPTIMISTIC!

The economy has definitely taken a bite out of my livelihood, my personal finances and my daily way of living. When people lose their jobs they don’t need childcare and when people don’t need childcare — I have an employment problem.

Just two months ago, I sat in my Town & Country with airbags deployed all around me and the engine and other car parts from under the hood sitting at my right hand inside of my demolished van. I was banged up, bruised bit not broken! My van was totaled but I survived.

My job was eliminated due to low enrollment, and I was offered a lower position with much less pay. A couple of weeks later I had a panic attack as I approached my new car and was about to get in to go to my job. My employers were less than understanding and I was extremely frustrated as I finished my last days of my employment with them but I survived and I got a better, higher paying job.

Live has not gone like I planned this summer but I kept pushing harder. I kept things in perspective. I suffered with unimaginable pain, but I took each day to remind myself that I’m still here. It was my optimism and faith in the midst of sorrow, chaos, and uncertainty that ultimately prevailed and led me to a new job, a new car, and a new understanding of who I am and how much I could bare. I know on the days when I didn’t have the strength to get up, it was GOD who carried me. It was GOD who kept food on our table, and friends at my beck and call.

It’s so easy to get bogged down in sadness, but we have to hold onto our dreams and keep our vision while remembering who we are, what we are capable of, and most of all remembering WHO we belong to! We were created to live in the winner’s circle, regardless of how hard our reality seems.

You can win, as long as you keep your head to the sky. Be OPTIMISTIC!

Love,
Sammie
xoxoxo

OPTIMISTIC Lyrics
Keep, keep On…. Never Say Die….

When in the midst of sorrow
You can’t see up when looking down
A brighter day tomorrow will bring
You hear the voice of reason
Telling you this can never be done
No matter how hard reality seems
Just hold on to your dreams

Don’t give up and don’t give in
Although it seems you never win
You will always pass the test as long as you keep your head to the sky
You can win as long as you keep your head to the sky
You can win as long as you keep your head to the sky

Be optimistic

If things around you crumble
No, you don’t have to stumble and fall
Keep pushing on and don’t you look back
I know the storms and strife
Cloud up your outlook on life
Just think ahead and you’ll be inspired
To reach higher and higher.

You’ll always do your best
If you learn to never say never
You maybe down, but you’re not out.
Don’t give up and don’t give in
Although it seems you never win
You will always pass the test as long as you keep your head to the sky
You can win as long as you keep your head to the sky (you can win child!)
You can win as long as you keep your head to the sky

Be optimistic
Don’t you let nobody stop you…..
Be optimistic
You can win, Yes
Never say die….

Defying Gravity


(Glee Version featuring Chris Coffer and Leah Michelle)

Last week seemed to have a recurring theme for me and those around me online and offline. Many of us dealt with FAITH! We either tempted it, my online friend @SharonDV did the CN Tower Walk in Ontario, Canada and survived. Alex @L8enough struggled with faith, My friend/Sister @MOMmagRocks as we begin to challenge ourselves to get out of our comfort zone and do something DARING! Finally, I literally verbally fought with someone I love because of my faith (I assure you it wasn’t my finest Christian moment).

This week has been an incredible week for each of us, but when I look back at it I hope Sharon, Alex, Tamara and J know that they are loved beyond anything they can humanly measure. I hope that they continue to challenge themselves and continue defying gravity and press forward with the courage and questioning that inspires so many people. We are each evolving, growing, clinging to and testing our FAITH. Life can be a bumpy journey but I’m so glad to have met each of you as I have traveled along my path.

Defying Gravity Lyrics ~ from the Musical WICKED
(Melody Sung by Idina Menzel the first wife of MY HUSBAND Taye Diggs — LOL)

Something has changed within me,
Something is not the same.
I’m through with playing by the rules
Of someone else’s game.

Too late for second-guessing,
Too late to go back to sleep.
It’s time to trust my instincts,
Close my eyes and leap.

It’s time to try
Defying gravity
I think I’ll try
Defying gravity
Kiss me goodbye
I’m Defying Gravity
And you won’t bring me down…

I’m through accepting limits
‘Cause someone says they’re so.
Some things I cannot change,
But till I try, I’ll never know.

Too long I’ve been afraid of
Losing love I guess I’ve lost.
Well, if that’s love,
It comes at much too high a cost!

I’d sooner buy
Defying gravity.
Kiss me goodbye,
I’m defying gravity.
I think I’ll try
Defying Gravity
And you won’t bring me down.

I’d sooner buy
Defying gravity.
Kiss me goodbye,
I’m defying gravity.
I think I’ll try
Defying Gravity

And you won’t bring me down.
Bring me down!
Ahhahhoahh

As featured in MomMagazine.ca

After forty-two years I am finally comfortable enough with my life’s experiences to embrace all of my scars. Scars that hurt me to the core of my being to remind me of what has happened or what could have been.

There are two types of scars. Those that are visible and those intangible scars that live within me but are hidden from public view. It is these type of scars that could have mentally crippled me for my lifetime or help me to form who I have become.

My life has been tragic to some or triumphant to those who know my story. It has not been easy but no one ever said it would be! I battle with my feelings and emotions everyday but at the end of each day I know that my scars are my testimony that I am a cancer and rape survivor.

At the age of forty-one, my left breast waged war against me. The same breast that nurtured and nourished my three children planned a coup d’etat to overtake me. An irregular mammogram required me to take a second mammogram, which revealed a calcification and a suspicious mass that required me to have a surgical biopsy. Upon selecting my surgeon and meeting with him, I informed him that I wanted any and all suspected masses removed from my body. On the date of my surgical biopsy, I awoke to discover that a lumpectomy had been performed. I was relieved to have the surgery completed but I truly was not mentally prepared for what that actually meant. I had gone into surgery prepared to have a small circular scar from a needle aspiration and awoke with swelling and a four-inch scar across my breast. Three days later when my test results came in my surgeon called my home at 9 PM to inform me that all of my Stage One cancer had been completely removed. “Whew” I thought, “I’m glad that’s over.” But as I removed my bandages the following morning I realized that healing from this scar had not yet begun.

The visible scar on my breast was unsettling to me, and I couldn’t even imagine if I were to have lost one or both of my breasts. While I was thankful that I was okay, I cried each morning as I put on my bra. I had always loved my rack. It had been my favorite body part and my most treasured asset and now it was scarred. I became self-conscious about my clothing. I avoided all of the v-neck t-shirts and blouses I had with low plunging necklines. My husband being the amazing man that he is, looked at me no differently and loved me even more than before but I became sad and withdrawn as I suffered silently becoming angrier and angrier at my scar.

Around this time my intangible post-rape scars began to resurface. The thing about being raped is all though you learn to cope with the trauma certain things can trigger an emotional response and within seconds the mind can take you right back to that terrible experience. All of the insecurities from my past, my distorted body image, emotional eating, Post-Traumatic Stress, sexual expression and sexual repression resurfaced with a vengeance. I silently grieved my scars and suddenly I mourned for the nineteen year-old girl that I’d lost when I was raped. I mourned for my lost innocence, for my lost security and for my uninhibited desire to truly love someone with my entire being. I’d never known or felt that I lost so much until I stared at the scar on my breast, so I did what I had always been good at — I pressed on.

Faking it until I was making it.

I looked so put together. My work life was successful. My family life was doing well, but inside my scars had reopened into gigantic craters that engulfed me, and the sense of happiness and pride that I had established with therapy over 15 years ago was completely gone. I never looked in the mirror. I pulled back from hugs. Compliments all felt insincere. I couldn’t sleep. I was completely broken by my deep-seeded scars. I became mechanical. Going through the motions functioning on 2 to 3 hours of sleep and the rest of the day I ran on autopilot.

Determined to snap out of my Post Traumatic Stress funk, I pulled my copies of The Courage to Heal by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis and One Day My Soul Just Opened Up by Iyanla Vanzant back off of my bookcase and re-read them. I started journaling about my feelings, writing out my dreams, and creating short stories, blogged about my walking journey to better health and then one night when I was writing I wrote an erotic story that inspired me to reclaim my sexual power. A dear friend read it and said, “This is good.” He submitted the story to a website and within an hour, it was accepted and published as an online story. Talk about being shocked! I went to the site and set up a profile and joined a writer’s community within that site. I met an amazing group of friends. I read stories that were posted and I decided it was time to heal.

How my online life helped me heal

Accepting my scars began with a conversation with a new online friend. There’s something about the anonymity of speaking to someone online that allowed me to voice my deepest fears without self-imposed judgments. He asked me, “What do you like?” Sadly enough, I couldn’t answer! I’d become so disconnected from my own thoughts and desires.

I couldn’t answer that simple question. It wasn’t just about my hobbies; it dawned on me that wasn’t even in touch with what I wanted from my own husband in bed. I had never thought about what I WANTED! I know this sounds strange but most of my sexual “firsts” occurred during my rape. The involuntary nature and violation of it all left me in a less than adventurous state of being. There were and are things that I still do not enjoy, things that still freak me out completely and things that I have learned to love. I had discovered yet another area of my life that needed to heal and I began writing erotica to explore my desires and I began to finally connect with myself sexually.

My husbands love and support helped me to put my desires into physical actions and we made a pledge to make love everyday for ninety days. It might sound crazy but the intimacy and connections that we shared during that time is something that I will always cherish! The unconditional love that I’ve received from my husband and online friends during this difficult reawakening process has been phenomenal and so much more than I could have ever expected! My sexual re-awakening has been both a blessing in my relationship with my husband and at times a curse that required us to look long and hard at our relationship and our expectations of each other. But with the encouragement of close friends and my family, I returned to therapy to help me process some of my unspoken needs and to help mend some of my reopened wounds.

There was only one thing left for me to deal with and that was my scarred breast. So I took a shower and took a long look at myself in the mirror. I didn’t just look at my face as I had done for the last fourteen months. I looked at all of me! I sat in my bathroom and looked at my scar and reminded myself, that I am scarred but not dead and right then and there I embraced my scar! Not just that one, I decided to embrace them all! I cried and celebrated my scars as I looked at the mark on my breast.

Later that week I called my dear friend Chloe Jackman, a professional photographer (www.chloejackman.com) and I decided to reclaim my feminine power, embrace my scars, and celebrate my life by having a professional naughty girl set of portraits done for my husband. The highlight of that shoot was the photo in this article where I am embracing my scar.

I am not healed from my past but I am embarking on a new path towards a happier future, embracing my scars and enjoying who I am right now. Tomorrow is not promised and I have been given the chance to start over again! I acknowledge that everyone does not survive all that I have been through. But whether you have or have not experienced my life circumstances, I ask you to embrace your scars because they are what make you uniquely you. Reach out for help if you feel like you are sinking. You might be surprised at who is ready to help you heal.

For more exciting news about Mom’s check out MOMmagazine (www.MOMmagazine.ca)

Be brave and be well,

Sammie Love