About this blog

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on June 11, 2010. As a result of my treatment, I have lymphedema in my left arm. I draw my strength from the Lord, as well as my family's Scots-Irish heritage. Our Graham's were a tough and scrappy bunch of fighters on the Scottish/English border. They came to America and continued to fight when necessary: in the American Revolution; the Civil War; and my brother is a Captain in the U.S. Army. My ancestors settled this country against all odds. My great-grandmothers on both sides of the family were pioneer women who settled the West. Along with that heritage, and the full armor of God, I am walking the walk and fighting the good fight.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Recovery can be draining!

I'm now 3 days post-op. I still haven't completely looked at what I look like. I'm on some pretty heavy pain medication, although I am taking a little less today than I did the first two days. The pain meds make me dizzy. It also makes it very difficult for me to communicate with Eric's mom. It's hard enough to concentrate and communicate in French when I'm sober. But to do it on heavy pain meds is impossible. She wants confirmation from me about what she is doing with the kids, what she is feeding them, etc. It is impossible for me to do. I understand her not wanting to overstep any boundaries. But right now, I just need her to take the initiative and do it. I do feel better today in that department since I'm taking a little less. But I am a tad bit more uncomfortable. I'm not sure if its a good trade off! Go crazy, or feel a little more pain?

The pain is there, but the meds are doing their job. When I do feel pain, it is a dull ache in my chest. It is kind of like the feeling when you get punched in your gut, just in the chest. It also aches on my sides where the drains are inserted.

Ah, the drains. They are by far the most uncomfortable thing about this right now. Three times a day, we have to measure their output, log it, dump them and get them ready for more work. It grosses me out, but luckily Eric and mom deal with it better. The drains also force me to sleep on my back. Thankfully, I've been able to sleep for the past 2 nights without moving. Today I've been itching around the drain sites and under the camisole. I think I may need to take it all off tomorrow and shower.

But that is a scary prospect. To actually take a look at what is left underneath all of this.

I've seen it in bits and pieces yesterday. I was lying down trying to rest and felt some moisture on my left side. I started freaking out that maybe the drain was leaking around its insertion site. I jumped up, unbuttoned my shirt and saw a little bit of staining on the white camisole. Oh no. I called Eric up and showed him. We had to know if that was what was happening. If it was leaking, I needed to get some medical attention. Eric thought it would be a good idea to change the dressings while we were at it.

But that would mean taking off the camisole and looking. I couldn't help but cry. I just was not ready for that yet. He called my mom up to help us. We decided to do it in increments, not all at once. So I took off the camisole, but held the gauze pads on my chest on. There was some rolled up gauze that fell to the floor from my left side. No wonder it felt like I was wearing a life vest. They looked at each drain, cleaned around the insertion site with a hydrogen peroxide pad. There wasn't any leaking there, no redness or swelling. They both said it looked very good. Well, as good as a rubber tube coming out of your body can look. Eric taped some gauze pads around the insertion sites and then we considered the chest scars.

Since we were there, it made sense to check those stitches too. One by one, we pulled the gauze away and looked. I just looked down, not in the mirror. So I didn't get the full effect. What I did see was a row of stitches, closer to the top than I had imagined. It didn't look that bad, but it was flat. I couldn't look too long. We put the gauze back and I put on one of the new camisoles that I had picked up at the Women's Health Store. It is thinner than the post-surgical one.

Hopefully seeing myself in these instances will help it when I actually see it all at once. Today while we were working on the drains, I put my hand up to my upper chest just under my collarbone and it was indeed concave. Pam, the volunteer from the American Cancer Society said I very likely would be concave. Yikes.

I take hope in knowing that each day will get better. It will be much better when these drains are out. I have a post-op appointment with my surgeon on Wednesday. There is the chance that they could come out then.

All in all, I'm doing okay. I'm mobile, just not moving very quickly or very far.

My prayer requests:
  • That my body heal quickly. That these drains do their job efficiently so they can be taken out soon. That scar tissue does not develop around the tubing that would make their removal painful.
  • That Jean-Marc be content without the normal level of cuddles from mom. My mother in law is doing a good job of taking care of him and entertaining him. But at the end of the day, he wants mommy to bathe him and get him ready for bed. It was very sad last night when all I could do was rub his arm and kiss his cheek. He looked confused, then his little mouth turned upside down as he began to cry. It was heartbreaking. I hope he does not feel abandoned by me.
  • That Olivier and Isabelle would not fight. The typical sibling competition and rivalry over screen time is exhausting. I want them to have fun with their games, but I'm pretty close to pulling the plug tonight.
  • That Eric's health stay good. When he gets stressed, he gets sick. He has developed a toothache over the past 2 days, and I'm certain it is stress related.


  1. You have all my prayers. Following you from Canada and amazed at your strength and courage

  2. Still here, listening, praying...this, too, shall pass.