Thursday, January 31, 2013

BC Reminders

A friend just asked a group of us for recovery gift ideas for someone who's had a double mastectomy.

A couple of weeks ago, I needed to do some three-hole punching of a stack of papers.  I'm right-handed, so I slid the whole stack in with my right hand and pushed down with my left. 

OMG.  It was as if I had been electrocuted under my left arm.  (I'm so glad no one else was around to see me pacing the office, clutching my chest.)

After about three days the pain wore off and . .  you guessed it, some more papers to be punched.

This time I slid only a couple of sheets into the puncher so I could push down very gently.  Same result.

I have now learned that I can accomplish this task awkwardly by reaching around with my right arm.  (I simply do not have the kinetic acuity to do it upside down and backward.)

It's been nearly a year since my last surgery.

I presume this means that one side effect of a double mastectomy is no more hole-punching, ever.
As far as the gifts were concerned, I came late to the conversation, after the meal deliveries and jammies had been suggested.  So here were my ideas:
Gift cards to Target and/or whatever else is near. There are lots of little expenses during recovery.  An Amazon gift card; a Kindle if she doesn't have one. 
A beautiful pair of earrings.  (NOT a necklace!) 
A yoga session for someone who will come to her house.
A telephone call every few days.  Let her tell you how brave and on top of it all she is.  Let her tell you how chickenshit and sad she is.  Let her tell you, "They're only breasts; I'm fine."  Let her tell you, "I can't bear to look at myself; I want to die."  Listen to her, and listen some more. The best gift of all.


  1. There might not be enough for a whole book on this topic, but it sounds like at least a pamphlet is in order. Great wisdom here, born of experience...the best kind.

  2. Great reminder of the importance of the ministry of presence.

  3. I burst into tears reading your last paragraph. Amen to all of it.

  4. Listen to her. And listen some more.


  5. Your posts are often eloquent and moving. This is why I feel ridiculous responding to the bit about the hole punching. I was once in a situation where hole punching seemed impossible for me. A colleague informed me that they actually sell reams of paper that come pre-punched. Just in case it helps . . .

    And thank you for your beautiful writing over the years.

    1. You're welcome, and thanks for the reminder about the paper!

  6. Robin, this really speaks to me because I have a young friend who has just turned forty and has been told she needs a mastectomy. She came straight to me from the doctor yesterday and fell into my arms. We wept together and I reminded her of how much she is loved and that I will be there for her along with all the other people who love her. BUT I really have no words. I can only be there. Your post reminds me of that.