Two Years Post-Surgery, I Was All Smiles At The Playground… Until I Made This Mistake

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With this beautiful Spring weather we have been having in the Pacific Northwest, a picnic in the park with friends was definitely in the cards for our family. This past weekend the temperature was in the low to mid 70’s and not a cloud in the sky. Not too hot. Not too cold. It was a perfect day!

It is not very often I step outside of my comfort zone. When I order a meal at a restaurant, I typically stick with the same menu items I know I like. When I am in a group of people I do not know, I will be that shy person in the corner sitting back and taking it all in. Physically? I know the limits my body can take and I dislike going to the threshold of pain. It is uncomfortable and will often leave days of spasms in my chest. I’m not talking about sore muscle pain due to exercising, this is different.

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That day at the park, I took a risk. I have not attempted many upper body workouts for fear of what might happen. I am unable to feel approximately 85% of my chest, so if something happened there, I wouldn’t have any idea. As my daughter played on the toy structure, I followed suit. When she started to cross the monkey bars – rightfully named that while Emma crosses them (she’ll tell us she was a monkey in another life) – I just had to try myself. That was my mistake.

I let my whole body hang on the monkey bars. I was able to move only a couple of rungs and then I was done. With my arms stretched out, my biceps pulled the shoulder muscles which pulled the pectoral muscles which pulled even the upper abdominal muscles. The worst was the pull in the arm pits. I have full range of motion after my mastectomy surgery, but the tightness in my arm pits when I stretched them past that range of motion was too much for me. I know if I never had a mastectomy and reconstruction surgery, I would not be as concerned as I was.

My plastic surgeon flashed in my head at that point. It’s been two years since I saw him last, but he was there in my head like it was just yesterday. He reminded me of that one patient he had that made her implant burst through her pectoral muscles while doing push-ups. As I felt those muscles squeeze the top of my implants, I knew I couldn’t go any further. I wasn’t about to rupture through muscles that I can’t feel in a park full of friends and strangers. So, what did I do? I let go, of course.

A couple days later, the side effects reduced. My arm pits no longer ached. The soreness around my implants vanished. The small spasms decided to go back into hiding. Two years after all was said and done from my last surgery and there are still issues I have to get past. I came to the realization that this will be a lifelong problem. Sure, I can start stretching and exercising these muscles again, but with all honesty, I will not be able to feel my real limits. After all, I can’t even feel when my husband “accidently” grazes my chest.

Learn more about Angela’s battle against breast cancer.
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