Getting Back To Normal

I am now almost 13 months from my bilateral mastectomy. 4 months from my first implant swap with silicone implants. 3 1/2 months from damaging my surgery site and the falling of my left implant. 7 weeks from my second implants swap and horribly painful muscle repair. And for the first time since I found the lump in my breast I feel like I’m moving forward with my life.

No more constant reminders of my freakish body every time I move and feel the expanders under my skin. No more sadness or the gut wrenching feeling when seeing my scarred body with hard plastic deformed balls that look glued to my chest. No more trips to the doctor to have my expanders filled, causing tightness and pain for days. No more wondering when my next surgery will be, or what I will look like when this is all over. No more fear of my implant falling further down my abdomen.

I no longer feel like a freak 24 hours a day.

This is not to say that I don’t have my moments still of emotions and mental difficulties. Although I feel more comfortable and I’m not constantly reminded by pain of what my body has been through, I still see myself in the mirror every day and see my scars. I see my nipple-less breasts that almost look and feel normal. Seeing scars stretched across such a feminine area is difficult. It is a reminder of the trials of the past year.

But I am getting back to normal. Being busy helps a lot, and it’s also helpful that I’m not so obviously freakish when wearing clothes. I can lay on my stomach and wear bras and look completely normal in my clothes. My breasts feel real to the touch, which I never would have believed would be possible, especially during the expander stage.

I still have to be very careful because of my muscle damage. I can’t lift much of anything, less than 20 pounds only. I can’t run, jog, bounce, ride horses or motorcycles or in a race car. I can’t push or pull or lean forward for long periods of time. If I over-do it, I can definitely feel the left implant become a little unsettled from where it should be, and it’s a very scary and disturbing feeling. I don’t ever want to have to go through muscle repair again. And if you know me, you know I’m excitable and impulsive, and it’s been so helpful to have people that care about me around me to make sure I behave.

My breasts look ok. They almost look real. These implants are much closer together than my last ones, so I actually have cleavage instead of a huge gap between my breasts. If you really look, you can tell the cleavage is a little odd. My skin was pulled away from my breast bone and the implants actually touch there in the center of my chest. It’s a little strange because the skin doesn’t go all the way to my body like it should, and the implants are very close together. I have a tremendous fear of waking up one morning and discovering the skin has tightened up and made a little bridge between the breasts, creating a uni-boob. I seriously check every morning to make sure everything is still in place…no falling boobies or uni-boobs. So far, so good.

I’ve been fortunate to be able to work for NORRA exclusively for the last few weeks, and this will continue through May. It’s wonderful, because it’s an amazing organization and I’m surrounded by incredible people. And the craziest thing is that here I am, making my childhood dreams come true, and it all started with a lump in my breast. I never would have found NORRA, or started Team Courage, without that awful discovery. I believe there is good in every bad, you just have to look for it sometimes.

I’ve been able to put more time into Team Courage also. I hope to have my truck ready for the Mexican 1000 in May. That is a NORRA event, and I won’t be able to drive it in the event, but I hope to have it there and hope to see it cross the finish line of the 3 day, 1000 mile rally down the Baja peninsula.

Courage Is My Strength_blog postThe truck, Grace, will be moved next week to it’s new temporary home, a local shop that will be helping prep the truck. I’m excited that it will be close so that I can be a part of the prep work, which I missed so much before our last race. I’m going to Phoenix this weekend to pick up several boxes of spare parts and new body parts. I’m so excited about the body panels, they will Grace some more curves. I totally believe in the joy of big hips, and right now the only flare on the truck is over the front wheels. The new panels will flare in the rear as well, giving the truck her much needed hourglass figure.

I will have enough new panels to save my current hood and sides, and I may try to find a new door, so that I can mount an entire side and hood on my walls for decoration. I want to preserve these pieces because I have changed our logo and our sugar skull will never be seen again.

Our new logo is more feminine and friendly. The truck will be painted black to match the logo. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but I’m hopeful that it will work out. I get to do some of the welding and work on the truck, and in the end we’ll be able to race to make a difference to other women facing breast cancer and breast reconstruction. That is what makes it all worth it and wonderful at the end of the day.

Thank you so much to all of you that stay with me through this experience. I couldn’t have stayed sane without my Breast Friends, making sure I knew I was never alone for a moment. Thank you for all of the emails, the touching stories of each of you make me smile and cry, and even when I’m quiet like I have been, I’m still with you in my heart.

Comments

  1. Keith Boldt says:

    Hey Michele. Keep up the good work. I am proud of all that you have gone though and all that you are accomplishing. I love the new logo and am glad I have the now limited edition skull t-shirt. Will have to get the new one when it comes out. Did Chris design the new logo? I hope things go great with Norra and Grace. Take care. Love ya.

  2. Michele,
    I agree with you 100% on how good it feels to be in the post-implant stage. To finally have everything behind and begin to look forward. To me it is like a fresh start on life, full of new beginnings, new priorities & goals. I hope that your healing continues to go well.

    I also have a question. Would you mind if I referenced your Blog in mine? Its been such a tremendous help to me & I would like to pass it on to anyone who happens to read mine. Thanks.

  3. Dear Michele – I read your this latest post with a smile as I can hear the fulfillment you’ve come to and grin at the wonderful plans for LIFE ahead that you have shared. I also love the name of your truck, Grace. That’s what my name means and it’s my life story. I am so proud of you, your courage, and your tenacity to persevere through to where you can write like you did in this post, encouraging others of life yet to be lived and fulfilled. I bless you for sharing your journey with so many of us. I am off to bilateral reconstruction this next Wed 2/23. Thank you from the bottom of my heart :) Nanc

  4. So glad you are doing well. I was worried about you for a while–we hadn’t heard from you. Sounds like you have been very busy with Team Courage Racing–I LOVE the pink heart and wings design and would LOVE to have a t-shirt–and chance you will be producing those for purchase? Keep up the good work you do for the cause and take care of yourself.

  5. Nancy Rebarich says:

    Hi Michelle!
    Your update made me smile and laugh (love the uniboob comment!)Not that the fear you have is funny, just the way you said it! I am at Mayo in Rochester right now waiting to see my plastic surgeon to go over plans for the implant swap tomorrow. Perfect timing for me to read your blog- because I am not looking forward to going through surgery again. Thank you for all the encouragement. I will be thinking of you tomorrow as the wheel me into the surgery room. I hope I am happy with my new silicone implants.
    Talk to ya soon! BFF
    Nancy :)

  6. Hi Michele,
    I am glad to hear that you are getting back to normal. You sound like that things are really getting better for you. It is exciting about your Team Courage and I love the logo.
    I do relate to you in so many ways right now with things that are going on with my reconstruction recovery. I had a little scare a few days ago. After going to the doctor on Feb.16th and being taken out of the surgical bra and really feeling good and trying not to over do things which I can’t think of anything that I might have done but my right side began to feel really tight and very painful and getting worse. I worried that it might have been capsular contraction so I went yesterday and had it checked out. It could have been a pulled muscle or combination of that and wearing a razor back sports bra (go figure). My right arm and even my back area felt really tight. It reminded me a little bit like when I used to have those awful tissue expanders and after going in for a fill. I am back to doing nothing and back in my surgical bra and I hope that will fix it. I was doing good and then BAM!! I am feeling a little better tonight.
    Love ya girl and keep up the good work.
    Debra

  7. Funny how you can feel like you know somebody without ever having met them. Most impressed with the uni-boob comment as I’ve had those fears myself, and well you feel just a little bit crazy! Thanks so much for being so honest.

  8. sharon adams says:

    hi there, wow what can i say, you truly are an amazing women. i found your site as i wanted to see videos on reconstruction, im still thinking about having it done at the moment. i have alot of friends on facebook who are going through surgeries or who are thinking of having it done, could i share your link with them, i know it would be really helpful. ive read on here that youtube has taken your video off, facebook took my pictures off saying they were abusive and sexual, in the end the story went global, facebook realised they had made a mistake and apologised. you have the strength to do what you are doing, raising awareness and helping others, perhaps youtube should be made aware of what they have done by removing your video.

  9. I am still in the expander stage; very uncomfortable… so this blog gives me hope that I will feel normal again some day. I’m not sure when I will be able to get the implants in as my insurance has changed & my plastic surgeon does not accept my new insurance. Looks like I need $2500 to pay for the surgery. I go to see him Tues. See what can be done. It might as well be $25,000 to me as we are very strapped for money; basically live paycheck to paycheck & can’t even pay my previous hospital & medical bills… making little pymts on them all. Kind of depressed….

  10. New here today, have read a bit. Thanks for sharing your story! One year ago I was bald, in the middle of chemo and was having weekly expansions…now I, too, feel more ‘normal’ than I have been…sporting the “barbie” boobs as well (no nipples) and contemplating if I should have them added on or not. Curious as to what you will decide? ~C

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