On November 24 when I received my date for surgery (coming up on Monday, December 7th) I was told to go home immediately and begin self-isolation! Well, I took a detour by the school so I could leave things set up for my replacement teacher, but since then I’ve been hanging out chez moi. (I don’t think driving with members of my household breaks the rules, so I have been physically out of the house a handful of times.)
As an introvert and homebody, it actually hasn’t been that painful for me – and easier in some ways than the quarantine period in the spring as I have the house all to myself!
Here’s how I’ve been filling the time:
Ideally I have my house clutter-free and organized all the time, but right now I feel that “nesting” instinct (just like pre-babies) which has me washing baseboards, doing windows (everyone’s typical November/December chore, right?), cleaning out the deep freezer and organizing the sock drawer as if I will never have the chance again. (From what I hear, lumpectomy patients are back to normal low-intensity activities within days so it’s a bit irrational, but whatever, my house is extra-clean.)
Lack of physical activity is a risk factor for breast cancer, but I’ve walked (either outside or on the treadmill) about six days a week for the past 15 years. When it’s really nice out (May to September) I’ve learned to enjoy walking outdoors while listening to podcasts, but I much prefer the treadmill because it faces the TV and I have the handy treadmill desk my Dad made for me – I am currently writing this post as I walk! Before going on medical leave I had also started walking laps of my room at lunch (again, podcasts help) if I knew our evening was going to be full of extracurriculars or other commitments, but generally I do 30 minutes on the treadmill on weekdays and 60 on weekends – or, apparently, medical leaves. During COVID I got into a great routine with strength-training but once school started that fizzled out. I just can’t motivate myself for that type of exercise.
Communicating with the class
My classroom partner Sarah and I have been in regular contact, though I am trying to let go bit by bit. (It’s harder now when I’m at home feeling perfectly healthy and sad not to be in my classroom. Once surgery and treatment hit, my focus will naturally shift.)
I prepared the first dayplans and a bunch of notes and resources which I’ve shared with my long term occasional (LTO) teacher – who thankfully seems really great! (And his mom taught me OAC Law. Such a small world/board.)
Last week I also recorded a video for the kids which Sarah played on the Smartboard, letting them know why I’m away (I explained it as needing an operation before Christmas, and getting some special medicine after Christmas) and told them I will return as soon as I’m all better. (I had sent the parents a more detailed email in advance, and of course all information is available right here on my site so there are no secrets.)
One-on-one time with the girls
I let each girl have a day at home for some one-on-one time. As a teacher, I didn’t do this lightly – they already miss more school than I’d like for monthly orthodontist appointments and they’ve had time off for illness, flu shots and regular dentist appointments already this year – but when I ran it by Eva’s teacher he sent a perfect reply: “The day spent with you is more important for Eva than anything that we are doing here at school.”
We called our day (you need the voice of Janice from Friends here) “Mommy and Eva’s Day of Fun” and it was! (Before she reads this I should note that she is 12 and no longer calls me Mommy, we just needed the extra syllable.) I chauffeured her around to run in stores and do Christmas shopping for her friends, we brought home some drive-thru for lunch, watched the perfectly cheesy holiday movie Broadcasting Christmas on Netflix (it’s about hosts at a morning show!) and made our own beaver tails with pizza dough (and lots of sweet toppings) using a recipe from The Girl on Bloor.
Liv had similar ideas: we started with her running a couple of Christmas errands, going into Chapters to pick up a book I had ordered (It’s Never Too Late by Kathie Lee Gifford – if I have to be alone waiting for surgery on Monday I might as well have Kathie Lee for company), then fast food drive-thru and home to watch a classic she had never seen: Dirty Dancing. And yes, it’s just as good the 47th time.
I’ve been shopping online of course (and not with as much of a small-business focus as I would like) but I’m trying to work my way through the list prior to surgery. The last few years we’ve used a great system: the girls type their wish lists in a Google Doc which they share with me, including LINKS to the items where possible, and providing size, colour, etc. This has been such a huge help for me, but also ensures they’re receiving exactly what they want. Of course I try to have a couple of surprises up my sleeve too! Before the surgery date was set my goal was to have everything wrapped and under the tree in advance, but since I’m going in on the 7th (and will have two more weeks at home without the kids prior to Christmas) I feel confident that I’ll have time to get that part done afterwards once all parcels have arrived.
On a shopping note, I actually ordered these pre-diagnosis and they just arrived – love them.
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Yes, Netflix, I am still watching.
My husband and I have finished The Crown and have moved on to Greenleaf which is really good.
With the girls I’m rewatching Modern Family as they enjoy it for the first time, and Eva and I are watching the new season of Virgin River together.
On my own, I’m halfway through The Office (i binged for hours the weekend after I was diagnosed and it really did keep my mind off things) and next up for me is The Queen’s Gambit since it comes so highly recommended.
When it comes to researching my diagnosis, I’m finding it healthier for me to go one step at a time, so I’ve been focusing on what to expect at and after lumpectomy surgery, but I know radiation is a certainty so have dabbled a bit in that, but really want to wait until I have my plan in place before I dig in too far
On that note, thanks to the radiation therapist I know who reached out to make herself available for questions and concerns – you never know when your area of expertise might make you a comfort or support for someone else!
Well of course the nurse I met with was someone I know from the community (and I taught her children) but it wasn’t awkward at all, and she was excellent at going over everything I need to know for surgery day. One thing I’m really glad she told me was that the blue dye being used to identify the lymph nodes may give my skin a temporary tinge. I had read about that, but was picturing a discoloured breast, when actually it can be everywhere (and more noticeable on pale skin like mine), and she told me to warn my family members that I may look much more sickly than I feel because of that!
I also found out that while my arrival time is 7 a.m., my surgery isn’t scheduled until 12:30 so there will be LOTS of waiting…just me and Kathie Lee!
I am a huge book lover (I’ve gone through four suspense novels since self-isolation began), and whenever I finish a good one I share in my Instagram stories. I usually talk about my favourites on my podcast too, but since I’m taking a break from that I’ll be posting booklists here on the blog every once in a while to keep you all caught up!
It was exactly like everyone had told me: not painful, just weird.
Now that I’ve had the test, I need to lock it down further (mask-wearing around the house, etc.). I’ll be quiet here on the blog until I’m ready to share a post-op update, but I will still be posting little things on Facebook and Instagram (particularly Instagram stories) so be sure you’re following and you can keep an eye out there!
And on to surgery…