Yesterday I had another surgery. This time around with cancer, it would be my second surgery. Overall, it's my seventh. I had my port inserted for chemo and I must say, it was definitely the worst one. I was awake for it. It only took about an hour but it was pretty terrible. Let me backtrack for a second though. I am about to go into my third round of chemo tomorrow.
The first round of chemo was pretty much a breeze. While I was having the steroids injected, I felt like my chest became a little bit tight, but that didn't last for too long. The first night after chemo I had trouble sleeping and my stomach was a little bit irritated, but besides that I was fine. Fast forward to two days before the second round and I woke up with some sort of rash breakout on my face and chest. I was freaking out! The first day wasn't too terrible, but the next day it became worse, and the day after that even worse. I was absolutely miserable. I didn't want to go outside! I didn't want anyone to see me. I had prepared for all the side effects for chemo except this one. I didn't even know this was a possibility, it had never happened to me before and you know what's worse? The fact that I was going to a wedding to meet the rest of my boyfriend's family in a couple of days. We asked the doctors what to do and they said to use cetaphil face wash and try not to bother it. My mom's friend that also went through chemo suggested herbal aloe vera and try not to bother it. That was much easier said than done. I couldn't stop staring in the mirror hoping it would go away. My mom and boyfriend told me I was still beautiful but obviously I didn't believe them. There was this terrible red bumpy rash taking over my skin! Hair loss I can handle, even nausea I can handle- because no one can see my nausea! But I could absolutely not handle this weird rash. To many, this might seem vain and shallow and maybe it shouldn't have bothered me so much, but it did. I tried to put on makeup to cover it up, and it only made it more angry. I went to the acupuncturist, and I even went to get my intestines cleaned out in hopes of flushing out all of the toxins from chemo.
The next day I wake up, and much to my surprise, my face looks the slightest bit better. I am so incredibly happy because it's the day before we leave for the wedding. I wash my face with cetaphil and cold water and leave it alone. My boyfriend and I wake up at 4 am that night to go to the airport. I wake up, re-wash my face and look in the mirror. It looks a bit angry but still better than it had looked days before. I ask him if he still thinks I'm pretty and he reassures me. I put a cap on to try to hide my face and then we leave. In the airport I feel extremely self conscious, I had been trying to hide in bed since this rash appeared and now I have to be out in public with it. Finally we arrive in Austin (after a whole bunch of delays.) His family picks us up. I was trying so hard to hide my face because I was so incredibly embarrassed. He assured me that they wouldn't care and that they knew what I was going through. My mom told me to try to get as much sun as I possibly could on my face, so when we arrived at his grandma's house, I tried to spend a lot of time outside. My mom was right! The sun was working!
It is now Friday, the day of the rehearsal dinner. Up to this point, I hadn't been putting makeup on my face. I was trying to save it for when I would need it for the wedding festivities. Now, before we leave for the hotel I go outside to get as much sun as I can before everyone gets in the car. I end up sitting outside for an hour and my face looks a million times better. Fast forward to the hotel getting ready for the dinner. I put makeup on my face for the first time, and you can't see the rash! I'm practically crying out of joy at this point because for the past week I've had this horrible thing on my face and I didn't even want my mom or boyfriend to see me. I finally felt beautiful again. We went to the rehearsal dinner, ate amazing food with great company and had a good time. I washed off the makeup before bed and put some herbal aloe vera on my face in hopes that I wouldn't wake up with my skin looking worse.
I wake up the next morning (saturday-morning of the wedding) and my skin looks a bit better than the day before! I am so relieved, I was worried that the makeup would make it worse again. I get ready for the wedding and go to the church. I meet the rest of his family and I love them (and I'm pretty sure they liked me to lol!) The wedding was beautiful and the reception was a lot of fun. I feel normal again, and I am so thankful that my skin was almost back to normal, just in time for the wedding :)
Every morning after that, my skin looked better and better and then yesterday when I woke up, I feel like it finally completely healed and I look like myself again.
Now, aside from yesterday being the day that I feel I finally looked normal again, yesterday was also the day of my port insertion surgery. As I have already mentioned, I definitely feel like it was the worst one. I was awake the entire time! They had told me that they weren't giving me anesthesia, but they were going to sedate me and use a local anesthetic. They set up this little tent around my head for sanitary reasons (bad move already because now I'm feeling claustrophobic.) Then she injected the sedation medicine, and I felt loopy for maybe two minutes. At this point, they were sticking needles into my chest with the local anesthetic. It burned so much! I was tearing up. I asked for more sedation, and she said she was only able to give me a little bit more because my blood pressure was extremely low. (Her name is Val, she was so sweet.) Apparently, since I already had a port, there was a lot of scar tissue under my skin, which made it more difficult for them to place it. There was a lot more pressure and pushing than there would've been if I had never had one. I was crying pretty much the whole time. It was a really painful experience for me. The doctor that did the procedure came out and apologized to me so many times, he was was so sweet and felt terrible that I had been in pain and couldn't do anything about it.
I was in the recovery room for maybe half an hour, and they told me I could be discharged (totally fine with me, I just wanted to go home and lie down.) They told me I would feel really sore like I had been lifting weights, but in reality I felt like I had just been cut open and had a tube shoved down my neck (haha!!!) My parents drove my boyfriend and I to his apartment in Brooklyn. I had work the next day (today) and I was determined to go (leaving in a little while lol.) For the rest of the day I laid in bed and relaxed.
Today is Thursday, I have work in two hours (I teach kids voice and piano) and my third round of chemo tomorrow. I have started losing my hair, but since it's so curly and thick, it's not noticeable yet. I am going to shave my head soon, but I think I still have a little more time.
Looking back, I suppose the rash really wan't all that terrible, but at the time, I felt miserable. I didn't feel like myself at all, I couldn't even bring myself to write a blog post about it. That's how awful I felt. I know it's okay and that at times I will have side effects, whatever they may be, I just have to remind myself how strong I am- but it's okay to not be okay sometimes. It's okay to just want to lie in bed and cry sometimes. It's also okay to lean on people and ask for support when you need it. I am so thankful for parents, my sisters, my boyfriend, my best friends, and my puppy- Bella! Without them, this would be a lot more difficult. They make things manageable for me and I am forever grateful. Thank you for dealing with my extreme insecurity and mood swings the past couple of weeks. I know it hasn't been easy. <3 I love you all so much