I recently underwent a double mastectomy and found a way, though morbid, to ease my anxiety during the recovery process.
My sister informed me earlier this year that she’d been diagnosed with breast cancer, so my double mastectomy was elective.
So even though my 3D mammograms and ultrasounds (I had dense breasts) had always been normal, and doctors never found any palpable lumps, I still suffered from anxiety after I returned home (Friday) the day after surgery.
I had anxiety over the gross (naked eye) examination of my breast tissue, which is standard procedure by the pathology department following a preventive double mastectomy.
I was told that the “path results” would be back in two to four days.
However, what really tripped me up was that on Saturday night, after I removed the outer bandage, I saw a lump under my skin about the size of a peanut.
It was quite palpable; I was able to feel it, seemingly the size of a plump cashew.
There was nothing like this anywhere else. It seemed like a standalone lump, suddenly beginning and ending.
WTF WAS THIS?!
And being Saturday night, there was nobody to call for medical feedback.
So between waiting for the pathology results and for Monday morning to arrive to call about getting in ASAP to find out what the lump was, I was a bundle of nerves.
Being barred from upper body gym workouts for six weeks, I spent as much time as possible walking on my treadmill desk whenever I was using my computer.
Morbid Way to Get through Double Mastectomy Recovery
I took to watching YouTube videos of “caught on video” pedestrian-auto collision fatalities. And it didn’t end there.
When I’d had my fill of watching scores of actual footage of pedestrians getting killed by motorists, I then moved on to fatal industrial accidents – caught on tape.
While watching these I’d be walking on my treadmill desk, getting in many steps in an anything-but-boring way.
I also watched sudden unexpected deaths caught on video plus elevator and escalator fatalities.
Call me morbid, call me twisted, but by watching these videos, they made me realize what a safe state I was in: walking on a treadmill inside my home.
Thoughts of the pending path results and what that lump could possibly be kept barging into my mind, but watching a college student enter an elevator, and then seconds later get crushed by it and die – all on the elevator’s video surveillance – took my anxiety away, making me think:
“That is SO awful. Thank God I am HERE, safe, in my home, functioning.”
That college student did nothing wrong. He could have never seen what was coming. Same with many of the other victims of elevator accidents caught on tape.
And then there’s the video of the woman who’s on her cell phone at the base of an escalator while her preschool son is playing around on the other side just feet from her.
The store’s camera clearly shows him grabbing onto the rubber rail that’s moving up, getting pulled up with it.
His mother notices, leaps to him and just as she reaches out to him (both are ascending), he topples over the railing, dangling, arm in her hand.
You can clearly see that below him is a lot of air; the floor is nowhere in sight.
She loses her grip and he falls to his death.
And meanwhile, jangled with anxiety over my double mastectomy, I am safe and sound, walking on my treadmill, breathing, seeing, functioning.
That woman will be ravaged by guilt every single day for the rest of her life. double mastectomy recovery
So call me sick and morbid, but watching these videos has helped me get through recovery from my double mastectomy.
Do you realize how slow the hours pass between Saturday evening and Monday morning when you’ve discovered a lump in your chest?
Those hours crawl, but watching people die only seconds after being full of life and movement helped me get through those hours.
Even when the decedent died as a result of doing something stupid, it had the same effect.
Such was the case of the teen boy playing the “choking game,” recording it. He went too far.
If you decide to pursue this “morbid” route to aid in your recovery from a double mastectomy – whether it was elective or required – keep in mind that sometimes, in YouTube compilations of deaths, the death scene is staged.
But the uploader doesn’t know that in most cases. Simple research on snopes.com verifies authenticity.
So the video of the bungee jumper bouncing down on a river head-first and getting decapitated by a crocodile is part of a “sudden death” compilation, but snopes.com reports that it’s a clip from a TV commercial.
And if you come across “Rachel” who gets scared by a prankster in her home, runs into the street and gets run over by a car – FAKE – “Rachel” is actress Cindy Vela. double mastectomy recovery
Whatever the source of your double mastectomy anxiety, you need all the help you can get for recovery.
If the long soaks in bathtubs, meditation, chocolate binges and cuddling your dog aren’t quite doing the trick, try my approach and see if it doesn’t make you feel more hopeful. As for the lump…here’s what it was.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained clients of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.