CaringBridge Journal-Before Surgery

IMG_7404March 11, 2018

Journal entry by Gina Grosso —

Today has been a good day. As good of a day as it can be when every hour or so I remember what is about to happen in just over a week. Waking up and drinking decaf (blah) in order to avoid a post-surgery caffeine withdrawal (morning coffee is basically why life is worth living), straightening my house, writing one of the many reports/IEPs for when I’m on disability, a great OTF work out, grocery shopping–these things make me feel like myself. I’ve been shopping to buy things that will hopefully make me feel more comfortable after the surgery. Comfy shirts with buttons in the front, leggings that aren’t too tight, everything with pockets in case I need to stash my drains somewhere other than the belt, new sheets for my sisters guest bed because, well, drains. Each time I buy something I worry the cashier will ask me what its for and I’ll have to awkwardly lie or awkwardly tell the truth. But then I realize I can’t remember the last time a cashier asked me why I was buying an item and calm down. All in all, today was a day that felt like I was moving forward. I couldn’t ask for more.

What do you mean I still have to go to work?

Journal entry by Gina Grosso —

Today was the day at work where I looked around and thought to myself, “Why am I here right now?” Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed every minute I was with my students. I laughed so hard at one point because of a student’s dry delivery of a punch line I had to wipe the tears from my eyes. And one of my preschooler’s raised his hand for the first time with a smile on his face wanting to stand up in front of the class at circle time (hey, its intimidating). And I met with some lovely parents and delivered a darn good assessment report if I do say so myself. Professionally, I acted the part today. But in between meetings and sessions, on the walks from one wing of the building to the other, or up yet another set of stairs (my school is huge), my mind kept thinking about the surgery. I kept thinking about my breasts and feeling bad for them, as if they didn’t know what was coming. As if I had done something to them personally which resulted in me choosing to say goodbye to them forever instead of a decade of MRIs and mammograms, years of freaking out each time I felt something different, a forever of thinking every pain was breast cancer again. In those solo moments, usually on my phone checking emails  to avoid making eye contact with anyone I passed just in case they tried to stop and talk to me about everything and fearing that would cause the facade to crack and all the tears that usually come at night would come in that hallway passing with some well-meaning coworker who only knows about my story because I wanted them too so they would go home and feel their bodies too. In those moments I thought about the absurdity of going to work every day and pretending like I’m ok. But knowing I’m ok. But also knowing I’m not ok and knowing that that is, well, ok.

Plastic Surgery (f)or bust

Journal entry by Gina Grosso —

This week I met with the plastic surgeon who will be performing the reconstruction. I had to brace myself going into this appointment more than any others. When the nurse took my blood pressure it was almost 20 points (points?) higher than usual. I was scared. Plan ol’ scared. The doctor was incredible and answered all of my questions professionally and respectfully. He specializes in breast reconstruction and hand surgery. Hand’s seem pretty complex to me so I’m glad Dr. Camberos is on my team. Once I felt the implant, I calmed down. It felt good. That’s the only adjective I can use because its true. Not scary, not frightening, just kind of good.

This whole thing gives you so much perspective and one thing I’ve learned is to not pass judgement if you see a woman whose had breast implants. For whatever the reason, cosmetic or medical or both, the decision and process isn’t easy. Neither is the recovery. We never know someone’s story (well, unless the put it in a journal on a website…) 🙂

All Too Real

Journal entry by Gina Grosso —

I’m a total morning person. Give me hot coffee, a cozy blanket, a good book and the cold, calm morning hours and I’m a happy camper. Even on work days I tend to wake up earlier than I need to so I can have some time for myself whether thats watching a show or going to the gym. I love the mornings. Mornings with cancer? Not so much.

There is something unexplainably strange about that realization each time I open my eyes that I have a double mastectomy with reconstruction scheduled on Tuesday because I have breast cancer. I might as well wake up and say to myself I’m a hippopotamus who traveled here from an alien planet to learn human ways, thats how unreal it feels. That feelings lasts until it feels all too real and thats when the weight of the last month feels unbearably heavy on my chest. It comforts me to find the jokes, make the signs, and share the details in the daytime hours, but in those morning hours its as if every ounce of armor was stripped away over night and my life as I knew it is no longer the same.

But to be honest, this vulnerable feeling also happens in public restrooms. Not sure what that connection is, but I’d guess it has something to do with closing a door to the outside world, turning the lock, and realizing in that moment of solitude that again, my life as I knew it is no longer there. I guess its a good thing I’m not a guy because those heaving breaths and sudden tears would be pretty alarming at a urinal stall.

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