Fourth of July. A holiday celebrated by Americans, to honor our country and those who protect the one thing we all take for granted, our freedom. This year, my Fourth was truly about celebrating just that, however for different reasons. This past Monday I strolled back into UCMC, this time with much less anxiety and much more confidence, to undergo my last major surgical part of this journey. They commonly call this procedure the "exchange," in which they remove the expanders in my chest, and replace them with implants. I was in surgery just about two hours and was able to come home that evening. If it sounds simple, it's because it is, when compared to the first part of this process. And if it also sounds awesome because I get a nice set of implants out of this whole ordeal, thank you, I very much agree.
Luckily on my part, I was able to have the same anesthesia staff as the first go-around, so everything went just as smoothly on that regard (which I didn't realize was so great until I was struggling to wake up in recovery and could hear the man in the room next to me puking his guts out for 30 minutes. We all know I would not have been able to deal with that, it was grossing me out just listening to it.)
So after an afternoon in the hospital, I was able to leave with the freedom of my expanders being gone forever. In a nut shell, expanders feel like rock-solid bricks. Now think about having bricks in your chest for a few months, and their sole job in your body is to physically expand your skin. Doesn't sound very pleasant, does it? Needless to say, freedom from those bad boys was enough reason to celebrate itself. And to top that, I have an even greater reason to celebrate: the freedom from this surgical stage of my life! With the exception of a planned trip to meet with a world-renowned tattoo artist in January, I am done. As I'm typing this I'm realizing I probably haven't even let that sink in yet. It's really almost done. Months of in and out of recovery, awkwardly-fitting outfits and lack of upper body workouts are finally coming to and end. What word is more fitting than freedom?
Tomorrow I go back to work, after a week of recovering and resting, and can have the peace of mind that I've successfully completed such a huge step. Now, I still have miles of recovery ahead, considering I can't lift anything over 10 pounds and am still having to use my stomach muscles to pull me out of bed, but that's all okay. The light at the end of the tunnel is very much visible at this point.
I hope you all were able to celebrate the Fourth of July with fireworks, cookouts & all things American. Freedom is an unbelievably great feeling to have, and I'm looking forward to enjoying that feeling even more now.