It doesn’t matter that I have a reason to be anxious – major surgery in 6 days to replace tissue expanders with silicone, repair symmastia (foobs have grown too close), remove chest wall excess skin, which is essentially some body sculpting required from the 138-pound weight loss. Sure, I am excited to get this part done, and of course there is the potential for complications (29% of breast cancer patients undergoing this type of reconstruction experience repeat surgery within 3 years). Also, I have a bit of pre-op dread, although much less than usual probably due to desensitization from 3 major surgeries in the past 2 years.
No matter, my anxiety levels are creeping up quickly. I feel a combination of paralysis – straining to do my usual activities – and hyper-awareness in body sensations, emotional sensitivity, inability to self-sooth, and just plain ol’ feeling out of control. I have taken as much control of the situation (surgery) as possible by close collaboration with my surgeon, having the same anesthesiologist who understands my tolerance for meds as well as my need to feel in control while feeling totally out of control. I kept my mouth shut (mostly) during a pre-op visit when the nurse insisted on repeating unnecessary blood tests and an ECG (just done 3 months ago!) but refused another chest x-ray. HEY! I don’t want to get cancer from unnecessary radiation! 😉
My loss of coping skills are most obvious by the total abandonment of my routines. Of course my toe boo-boo got in the way of walking, but I am not back on the stationary bike. My appetite is crummy, but I feel a need to eat. EEK! That hasn’t happened in quite a while. My solution has been to eat nearly frozen grapes. The sweet crunchiness of seedless red or black grapes seems to satisfy me without providing too many calories. It’s more the out of control feeling because I eat grapes when I’m not hungry. I just want some grapes. My concern is that next I will just want some ice cream. Then suddenly I will weigh 250 pounds – like last time. WOW. That is some catastrophic thinking. I haven’t stepped on the scale, but my smallest clothes are fitting just fine. I am monitoring my food intake, well, mostly…
Let’s face it – I’m just scared. Scared of surgery. Scared I might be slipping from healthy eating to the beginning of bingeing. Don’t cut me slack because I have this Stage 0 breast cancer that is essentially “cured” and only am facing continued reconstruction. Life goes on. There will always be obstacles that I need to face (death of parents, career snafus, family disruptions) and must learn to cope. Ups and downs are to be expected, but feeling this way, this threatened over what I have accomplished so far is not anything I expected.
There… all better. Not really. But at least it’s out in the open.