Part of bouncing back after major surgery is restoring the range of motion of the affected parts. This has been an interesting process. My exercises have included something called "wall walking." Do you picture me as Spider-Woman? Good. I like that. But truthfully, the only thing that's walking on the walls is my fingers. I stand about 10 inches from the wall and walk my fingers like little mountain climbers, up the wall. All that it takes to progress in this exercise is to make it further up the wall today than yesterday. I am also using a yardstick (SO high-tech!) to do some exercises recommended by the American Cancer Society for mastectomy patients. Getting in the pool has done wonders, and I actually swam REAL laps on Wednesday. It felt great. I am getting my range of motion back.
Then there's the range of emotion. This is, to be grammatically sloppy, a whole nother story. Healing from a mastectomy is a different kind of healing than say, from an appendectomy or gall-bladder surgery. In both of the above, a body part is lost, true. But few people grieve the loss of an appendix or a gall-bladder. (Do they? If you have, let me know---I'll take back what I said, I promise!) I AM grieving the loss of my breasts. They were, after all, an outward expression of my femininity. My range of emotion in any given week since surgery (4 weeks and 3 days already!) runs the gamut from "I am a cancer-free miracle!" to "I'm. So. Freaking. Ugly." At the end of the day, I gather up the fallen-leaves of emotion that have gathered and swirled and take a look. Thankfully, most days end with the positive messages winning. But it's a range, that's for sure.
I guess one of the strategies for a full-recovery that I'd recommend would be to give yourself a little more room. Just as I am having to make time in my day to work my way back up to a full range of physical motion, I need room in my day to work my way back up to expressing a full range of emotion. Life IS different, and to pretend otherwise is...well, pretending.