I used to be one of those people who had a pretty simple routine. In fact, there wasn’t much of one at all. Get up in the morning, put on some deodorant, put on the same pair of earrings, jeans and a shirt, and roll out the door. Seriously.
I prided myself on the fact that I was unswayed by those marketing ads for skin care and cream – for hair products and serums – makeup, fashion, all outside my zone. I was above it.
Getting ready for bed was also easy – shower, jammies, bed. Oh and brush the teeth.
Maybe the fact that I didn’t do the breast self exams in the shower was part of my problem.
At some point in the last year I felt a subtle shift. Maybe it was the fact that I didn’t have hair, maybe it was the fact that I felt so alarmingly fatigued, or maybe it’s just that time of life , but I suddenly developed a fear of being seen dishabille. I felt naked if I walked out the door without a tinted moisturizer and mascara. I started wearing trendy, dangly earrings and jewelry. I paid attention to color palettes for clothes and eyes.
Part of my new routine is also to assess how I’m feeling about 40 times a day – do I need a nap yet? Am I hungry enough for food or will a mint suffice? Is that pain there normal? When did I strain that muscle? What on Earth is that thing on my leg? And, my entire day has become a choreographed dance through creams, liquids, and meds.
I wake up in the morning and put on moisturizer because apparently my skin has decided that it wants to peel off all creased portions of my body – which includes my eyebrows, hips, ankles, and knees. Then I put on BB cream because I need sunscreen since I catch a sunburn just looking at the sun through the window after radiation. And, I flush so easily from the tamoxifen I need to cover up the rosacea. Next I put on my watch which I have wrapped around my tamoxifen bottle so that I don’t forget it .
Then I decide on a relatively comfortable, fashion-neutral outfit. I strap on my ladies and get dressed. (Up to this point I still have not seen anyone in my family or gotten out of my closet).
Then I try to attempt what they taught me at Sephora with my eye makeup; pick coordinating, bangly jewelry, realize I haven’t had a pedicure in eight months, and put on flats.
I have a Diet Coke first thing downstairs as I help get kids ready for school with full backpacks and tummies. I try not to nap although some days I’m so exhausted that I literally pass out. I try to exercise 3-4 times a week but at least have Pink Ribbon Pilates on Tuesdays. And I don’t have caffeine after 2pm. I have one beer at dinnertime. The kids are asleep around 7:45 and I take my first round of meds which includes my sleep quality increaser, vitamin D (for eyesight), magnesium (for hot flashes), Omega 3 complex (for dry skin and eyes), Calcium (for osteoporosis prevention), and my anti anxiety medicine.
At 9 I start winding down – no email, no TV. I head upstairs and take off my makeup with Cetaphil because my skin is still crazy reactive. I take off my ladies, scuttle to the shower, and have a nice warm relaxing shower. I revel in the fact that my hair actually feels wet now – and that I have enough to wash.
I get into my long pants, long sleeved sweater shirt, and curl up with Cameron – who has nested on my side of the bed invariably. I then read my book – right now I am flexing the power of the Amazon Prime Lending Library.
The thermostat needs to read 71 degrees and I need two blankets. (One degree more or one blanket more and I have hot flashes). I put on a breathe right strip, take a tylenol, and try to get to sleep – lights out – at 10.15.
Of course, there never is a “normal” day – Davis is out of town, Carter is up in the night, Henry wants to feed the dog at 6am. Emmy wants to read the book she wrote. There never is a full night of sleep anymore – I am up at 3 or 4 with or without kiddo intervention.
But there is a ridiculously complex survivorship routine – physically and medically – I haven’t even gone into my follow up and doctor schedules.
Oh, and after April 1st, I won’t have to strap on the ladies anymore. My reconstruction and expansion begin. That will be a chance I will welcome.