Yowza.... Never Felt a Stretch Like This Before

  1. 1.
    (of something soft or elastic) be made or be capable of being made longer or wider without tearing or breaking.

  2. 2.
    straighten or extend one's body or a part of one's body to its full length, typically so as to tighten one's muscles or in order to reach something.

I have always enjoyed a good stretch- who doesn't?  Actually, a good, deep stretch is usually one of the first things that I do when I get out of bed in the morning.  It always feels good to wake my muscles and the rest of my body up.  I haven't always done this, but after a few years of living with boxers, and noticing that this is the first thing that they do every morning when they get up, I thought maybe I should be doing it too!  After all, if the boxers have deemed it a necessary part of a morning ritual, shouldn't it be a part of mine too?  (I'm starting to realize that a lot of times, boxers know best!)

Nothing feels better after a great workout than a really deep stretch.  However, over the course of the last few days, stretching has taken on a whole new meaning to me.  When I saw the breast surgeon on Thursday, she gave me a book of stretching exercises that I am supposed to be doing to regain my mobility and prepare my body for the next steps in this journey.  She encouraged me to push myself if I thought that I could, and said that there is no reason why I can't regain full mobility, and quickly too.  That was music to my ears.  What do I need to do? How soon can I start?  I will attack this problem with a vengeance- in true Superwoman form- I will get past this and as quickly as possible.

Who would have thought that after only a few weeks, there could be so much loss of movement?  Who would have thought that I would feel such agony when trying to raise my arms above my head? (Hey, doc, you forgot to mention this part...) You cannot imagine the impact that removing ones breasts and lymph nodes has on the ability to move your arms. (Actually, there is a rumor going around that a lot of my muscle had to be cut in the whole process, which certainly isn't helping the situation!)  Who would have thunk it?   It really frustrates me that I can't get a coffee cup out of the cabinet without assistance, and the only way to close the hatch on the SUV is to grab a shoe and hit the button (my hubby caught me doing this yesterday, and he couldn't help but laugh at me!  But, it's just not funny!)- I can't reach the button.   I've never had a particularly itchy back, but it would figure that this would be the one time in my life when I would find myself with a persistently itchy back- because I most certainly cannot reach it!

I wasn't given a lot of guidance (okay, I really wasn't given any- other than no shower for 48 hours, and empty the drains 2x every day) as to what I could and could not do post-op. There was no mention of stretching exercises, elevating my arms or weight restrictions on what I could pick up.   So, for the first 10 days after surgery, if something hurt or pulled, I stopped doing it.  I wasn't reaching for things because it felt so darn weird, and you guessed it, it hurt.  I didn't lift much of anything, and I spent no time with my arms elevated. Turns out, stretching to get to things probably would have been okay, and I should have been elevating my arms.  At one point, I called the plastic surgeons office and asked if there were exercises that I should be doing, and I was told "no", not until I had seen the surgeon...

So, I find myself a tad bit behind the curve... but I will get back on track!  Every day, going through the exercises just one more time, holding the stretches just a tad longer, reaching just a little further.  I don't hate these stretches because I know they're the key to my freedom and ability to move, but these stretches do not feel like the stretches that I have grown to love for their therapeutic properties.  These stretches feel wicked; they burn, they pull, and they scream! They make me want to cuss like a drunken sailor (which incidentally, I am very good at!)  It's not that they hurt, they don't, but they sure as hell pull in ways that I have never felt before.  My arms, underarms, and chest do not feel the slightest bit normal (I guess this is going to be another one of the "new normal" situations), and I really miss them.  If you really think about it, your arms and your chest probably don't have a lot of feeling to them in a normal situation.  They're just there, functioning, doing their job without a whole lot of fanfare.  Now try to imagine them with all kinds of pulling feelings, burning sensations, and tingling...  That would be what I am pushing to get rid of...

Every day, things get a little easier.  There are still challenges, but I know that every day, something that was challenging the day before, will become less so, so I will push on!  Besides, in just 3 days, hopefully, I will be saying good-bye to my last 2 drain tubes, and getting filled up for the first time... (What has my life come to?  I'm looking forward to being filled up?  What am I, a balloon?)


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