Current Pain Level: Purple

I am finding it difficult to write.   My right arm does not want to cooperate with me after having my breast and five lymph nodes removed and my brain is in a thick fog from the pain medication.  But no matter the obstacles, I will write.  And no matter the difficulties, I am officially on the road to recovery.  And in Deanne style, my healing journey is a combination of crazy and fanatical, deliberate and measured, overwhelming and painful, and sweet and beautiful.  A bit like Mr. Toads Wild Ride, It’s a Small World and California Adventure all rolled into one.  The scary part is that this is only the beginning.   

 No one said it would be easy but the love and support I have received from all of you, especially from my mom, my dad and my husband this last week, could heal an entire village.  As Dr. Emmet Fox said:  There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer; no disease that enough love will not heal; no door that enough love will not open; no gulf that enough love will not bridge; no wall that enough love will not throw down; no sin that enough love will not redeem.

Love keeps me going.  From the moment of first being wheeled into the operating room, to waking up and finding out that my lymph nodes were clear, to getting up and attempting to walk for the very first time without passing out and the incredibly difficult unveiling of my breast or what is left of it.  Love.

It all began last Monday at 5:30 am as I checked into the hospital.  After all the pre-op procedures, paper work, blood pressure tests, meeting with the doctor, stripping down to the sexy hospital gown and an injection to get the party started, I found myself saying a dreamlike goodbye to my husband as they wheeled me through the cold blank halls and gray walls of the hospital into the operating room.  The only splash of color was the nurses and doctors in their blue scrubs.  A surreal feeling enveloped me, like it wasn’t really me.  Maybe this is what people refer to as an out of body experience.  Or maybe it was just the drugs.  At that moment, I completely let go and put my life into these doctor’s hands.  Trusting is not an easy feat for me.

The operating room was large and cold with huge blue flourecent lights hanging from above as the anesthesiologist prepared a potent cocktail for me.   I was having a nice conversation with him, although I can’t remember exactly what we talked about.  I may have said something that led him to think I’m famous.  Anyway, I do remember him saying, “Deanne, I am going to give you a bit of oxygen, it might make you sleepy.”  Next thing I remember, I was waking up in the recovery room to the sound of annoyingly loud snores, you know those drug enduced snores like on the Vicks Nyquil commercials?  I later realized that they were coming from me.   

A nurse came over to check on me.  Nurses are so beautiful.  They console you with their comforting angelic voices, make you feel safe and warm, and relieve your pain.  Kind of like mom used to do.  They are a true godsend.   And at that point in time, I needed God or someone there to represent her.  I was in a lot of pain.  They brought me a brilliant pain chart, pain by colors, to help me explain my pain.  The nurse asked me, “Deanne, which color best describes how you feel.”  I whispered, “yellow,” as I looked at the little not-so-smiley face, grimacing, moaning, shaking and nauseated.  When I think of yellow I think of bright and sunny.  The designer of the pain by color chart apparently doesn’t like the color yellow.  A few minutes later they injected what some refer to as Vitamin D directly into my IV. 

The next few hours were a fog, except I do remember the beautiful faces that came to visit me and the not so happy camper that shared my room the first night.  But what I remember the most, the news my family shared with me.  My lymph nodes are clear of cancer!  Haleluia!!!

I also remember being told I should get up and try to walk a few hours after surgery.  Ha!  That didn’t go so well.  The nurse and Kevin somehow held me up and got me back into bed before I did a face plant on the linoleum floor.   My blood pressure plummeted, my heart beat dropped, my legs felt like jelly, any color I did have immediately drained from my face, my stomach was churning and my entire right side felt like it was going to pound out of my chest.  No can do.  I tried again the next day with better luck but it was still ruthless.  Apparently, I have very low blood pressure that contributes to this reaction to pain and surgery.  Kind of ironic because they say low blood pressure is a sign of being healthy.  Well, I got to stay one more night.  Thank God, except for the bed pans.

Bed pans?  Hate them…

The doctors discharged me on Wednesday.  That’s a funny word, discharge, as if I were released, set free, liberated from my two nights at the hospital.  Honestly, they treated me well and I was a bit nervous to go home. 

The actual act of going home was a feat in itself.  Every bump, twist of the wheel, pothole, and quick stop was painful.  And that was just the trip in the wheelchair from my room to the car. 

When I finally got home, my family was waiting for me.  My bedroom was so warm and welcoming, a nice change from the cold stark hospital room.  My mom had pulled my sheets down and a beautiful inspirational note from my daughter was placed on the pillow like a chocolate.  Bouquets of pink roses, Iris, carnations and daisy’s livened up my room and replaced the color I had lost in my cheeks on the drive over.  Cards filled with personal sentiments, love and prayers as unique and beautiful as each signature that filled the blank spaces adorned my shelves.  I was wearing my new pajamas Raundi gave me covered in little red hearts.  It felt as if every one of you had tattooed your heart onto me.  I could feel the love flowing around me and through me.  And, as I slipped between the sheets, I felt all of your warms arms wrap around me, holding me tight.  What more could a girl ask for? 

MEDS!!!  It felt as if I were wearing a bra several sizes too small.  I could not lift my arm, it didn’t seem to work any more.  And just the simple act of getting up to go pee was like climbing Mt. Everest.  OUCH!!! I asked my surgeon, Dr. Deck, “How long will I feel like this?  He looked at me sweetly and said, “Deanne, give it 3 or 4 days.”  In other words, be patient, healing takes time.       

The next day was the unveiling of my breast.  I was so scared.  I was scared of the car ride over, taking off the bandages, removing the pain pump and looking at the place where my breast used to be only 3 days earlier.  My pain level was at yellow again, although this time it was more emotionally induced.  At first, I could not look.  I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and let the doctor do his magic.  As he unwrapped the last bandage, Dr. Smith said, “Looks good, real good.”  Ok.  This is my cue, “Go ahead Deanne,” I told myself, “open your eyes girl,” “you can do this.”   

Yes, you can do this.  The doctors can cut the cancer from my body, the stitches can stop the bleeding, the Vicodin can help ease the pain, Macrobiotics can boost the immune system, implants can give me some sense of womanhood but the real healing comes from deep within, knowing that I am loved and that I love.  I can do this!

The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.
— Hubert H. Humphrey

I am now at pain level purple, sore but with the ability to smile, a big improvement from yellow.  I know I have some very difficult days ahead of me, but I also know that yellow will turn to purple again.  My frown will turn upside down especially with love.

Next week chemo starts.

 To be continued…

23 Responses to “Current Pain Level: Purple”

  1. Jill Schlanser Says:

    You just amaze me. I am moved and sad and happy.. and hope with all my heart that you kick this things ass!

  2. Lynda Toraya Says:

    You are totally awesome, girl!!! Praying.

  3. Colleen Says:

    Keep rockin’, Deanne! Ditto what Jill said!!

  4. Sonya Joseph Says:

    I’m continually thinking of you and your family. God bless.

  5. Raundi Says:

    Ok, so I started tearing up some where around paragraph 3. I was full blown crying by paragraph 10. And the,n I burst out laughing at the first word of paragraph 11. “Meds!”

    Dear sweet Deanne. I want to hug you so bad, right now… love you girl <3 <3 <3

  6. Stefano Says:

    Just wanted to tell you I’m thinking of you. ;-) Can’t wait to rock with you again! Big hugs and love!

  7. Paige Says:

    Deanne, you are amazing–an inspiration. I admire you so much–I always have. You are so brave, so amazing, such a hero and such a ray of light in all of our lives. My heart is over the moon proud of you and full of care and well wishes for you during this time. I have not stopped thinking of you, sending love and healing your way. I am so grateful for the updates you’re giving through your blog. Thank you very much for being you. YOU are such an amazing, loving human being–you are getting all the love back that you give!!! XOXO

  8. Cyndi Says:

    How do you do it, lady! You are fabulous! As with Raundi, I’m laughing and crying all at the same time! <3

  9. Robbie Says:

    You are awesome…………..
    Keep that frown upside down.
    Love and prayers from Cathy and I.

  10. Stacy Says:

    I have been thinking of you constantly! I am so glad to see you putting pen to paper or fingers to keys or however you are getting your thoughts and memories down! I had to laugh when you mentioned the doctor saying give it 3 or 4 days…As I have shared with many a girlfriend, my general rule of thumb is whatever the doctor says – double it! When the doctor gave me “in about 6 wks you can resume sexual activity after childbirth”, I rounded that up to a nice even 12 weeks. What do THEY know? They never pushed a watermelon out of a peapod right?

    And as my parents and family can attest – my rule of thumb is whenever asked by a medical professional if you need more pain med scrips – JUST SAY YES! God knows, it is always a good thing to have a FULL medicine cabinet!

    Well anyway that is how I roll…so take what you will from my advice! Thinking of you always…

  11. Charlotte Brooks Says:

    Hi Deanne, We’ve been thinking about you and so happy to read your blog. Spunky, savvy and sensational….that’s you, girl! Love, Charlotte & Mack

  12. Maureen McAndrews Says:

    Dear Deanne,
    I have been thinking about you and saw Riley at Golden Spoon on Sunday night where I learned you had had your surgery. I am so thrilled the cancer was not in your lymph nodes-thank God! btw: you look great in the pic in your darling pjs! Please know you are in our thoughts and prayers. You are so brave, Deanne and I so appreciate you sharing this on your blog. Take care and hang in there!
    xo Maureen & John McAndrews & Family

  13. Jenny Meyerson Says:

    You are doing fabulously. Your words are honest and raw. I’ve been in remission for 6 years. I’m a friend of Joanie Leblanc. If you need anything, Joanie knows how to reach me anytime day or night. As far as what is under the bandages-a fighter who writes eloquently and is obviously blessed with family and friends. As far as scars, the other things blur those images out. Stay strong, allow others to love on you, and fight like hell. Many blessings!

  14. Marci McDonald Says:

    Hi Deanne!

    I am Stacy Vivas’ neighbor/friend and she shared your blog with us. Amazing job. I have a friend who went through the same thing and has a non profit called “Don’t be a Chump, Check for a Lump”. She has lots of amazing insight and information. I recently sent her some information on a company that will come in and clean for you while you are recovering. Check out her facebook and website. I have also included the link for the house cleaning service.

    You are an inspiration. Sending you prayers and good energy for healing.
    Marci McDonald

    Don’t Be a Chump, Check for a Lump!/checkforalump

    Cleaning for a Reason

    If you know any woman currently undergoing chemotherapy for any type of cancer, please pass the word to her that there is a cleaning service that provides FREE housecleaning – once per month for 4 months while she is in treatment. All she has to do is sign up and have her doctor fax a note confirming the treatment. Cleaning for a Reason will have a participating maid service in her zip code area arrange for the service. This organization serves the entire USA and currently has 547 partners to help these women. It’s our job to pass the word and let them know that there are people out there that care. Be a blessing to someone and pass this information along.

  15. Linda Meeks Says:

    Deanne – They say the first sign of healing is when you put on makeup. For you, I think the healing process will come from your writing. Uncle Warren and I are thinking & wishing you well daily. Take care and keep up the positive thoughts. Love Aunt Linda

  16. Deanne Says:

    Today I woke up in anticipation to get rid of my drains. I was so excited. Unfortunatley, I found out they are not ready to be removed. I have to wait until Monday. I was pretty frustrated. They are sore, they itch and they are simply downright gross. My mom said, Deanne, you must be feeling better, you are angry.” Then I read your reply Aunt Linda, the first sign of healing is putting make-up on. Guess what? Today was the first day I put make-up on. Every day, another sign of healing.

    I am so happy to be an inspiration to so many of you. Of course, it goes both ways. You are all an inspiration to me. Your kind words, support and suggestions help me get through this healing process every minute of every day. Please keep it coming.



  17. Pete Brown Says:

    Hi Deanne — Michele and I were so glad to hear there’s some blue sky and that you’ve scored a body blow in the kick cancer in the ass campaign. It doesn’t sound like a fair fight, but we’re proud of you giving it the ol’ John Wayne effort! Hoo-ya! I also am bummed to hear about yellow’s bum rap status on the pain scale–it’s Michele’s favorite color, too. Well, know that we’re there with you in spirit and hope you can feel the love we’re sending your way! –Tio Pedro and Michele

  18. RosaMaria Cordova Says:

    I am glad that you are back writing! I am keeping you in thoughts and prayers. I know you are going to beat this thing. Love,

  19. Hollea Says:

    Hi Beautiful,
    I was feeding the baby and in tears reading your post. You are such an amazing person. I am not surprised at your will and strength, that’s just you. Sending you the warmest hug I can through your computer. Thinking of you, praying for you, and hoping you can feel our love.


  20. Danielle Says:

    Mrs. Brown,
    Im Danielle, Some call me Dani. I briefly met you on thursday night. I am one of Rileys friends. When I became friends with him this year I did something typical, and added him on facebook. I couldn’t help but notice that he had said, “Hey guys! Check out my moms blog.” Curiosity took over and I started from the bottom and read up. I have read your blog and frequently do check ups to see if you have writen more. Since then you have been in the prayers of me and my family almost every night. Occasionaly I read your blogs aloud to my mom. She says your in her prayers as well. You have been such an inspiration to me in more than one way. Writing has always been a passion of mine. I’ve written songs and poems and letters. I stopped doing these things about a year ago. I lost inspiration and I havnt found anyway to get it back. Through your touching posts and courage throughout your journey I have found inspiration. Thank you. You have also shown me what its like to have courage and faith. I enjoy reading your blogs and I will continue to check up on them. Thank you for everything. As silly as it sounds, your blogs have given me hope for things important to me. Thank you. Keep ‘em comin! :)

  21. Deanne Says:

    Dear Dani,

    You are exactly the reason I continue to write. If I can reach out to people, help inspire and give hope in this topsy turvy world of ours, I will. I have had many experiences in my 44 years on this planet, and feel that sharing what I have learned is the best way to connect to people and remind everyone that we are not alone on this journey. Remember, everyone you meet, has a story.

    I am also a people person. I need all of you. Reaching out to you through my writing feeds my soul like the sun a flower. I learned that I like to write when I was 16 years old, and only in the last few years have I pursued it. Don’t let that happen to you Dani. Like the Nike adds say, Just Do It. And the best way to find inspiration and material to write about is to live your life to the fullest. You will never run out of things to write about when your life is full.

    I wish you the best of luck. Keep on writing!!!!



  22. sam horsman Says:

    You’re an inspiration Deanne! Rock on!! And feel better soon!

  23. Delena Sinclair Says:

    Thinking about you and praying for your strength and healing. It was nice to touch base with your mom after the surgery and hear about those clear lymph nodes!!! Hope you are holding up well :)

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