This picture made me laugh so I had to share. And the itchy eyelashes are very near and dear to my….story below.
I had a friend ask me some time ago to post an update on my cancer journey for breast cancer awareness month. At first I thought, well, I don’t have one. I simply life day-by-day with the effects of chemo and reconstruction.
But I live with something else much more sinister.
I used to joke that a mastectomy is simply nothing more than a huge skin tag removal.
Until my first episode of phantom nipple itch.
Imagine the most intense itch possible coming from multiple nerves in a blast of painful sensation. It literally jolts my body. I frantically rub anything near “it”. Unfortunately “it” was removed over 3 years ago. My itch is right where my nipple used to be.
Yes, used to be. I feel an itch that is outside of the current parameters of my body.
In exasperation, I have ripped my shirt off before my mirror as my world turns surreal. I am rubbing a breast that is not my own, that I cannot feel, attempting to quell an itch that is from a breast that is not there. I FEEL a memory from a severed nerve that just wont let well alone.
After my first experience I realized that I am an amputee. I understand the frustration of “phantom limb pain”, only mine is an intense itch. Of course, I demanded to know what to do about this horrible problem. And got a “Oh, well, yes we have heard about itching, but there isn’t anything you can do.”
Sometimes it is just a jolt or two. Other times it is minute after minute of nerve irritation. I have found the only help is to focus on the fact that I am not itching, it is a nerve that is unhappy. And pinch myself HARD somewhere near where I think the unhappy nerve lies. Now I feel the nerve, but I can’t get to it. And it still locates to a nipple that is no longer there.
One would think that once the nerves were attached to the nerves from my reconstruction they would settle down and accept the “adoption”. No, they are as stubborn as their momma.
People who get prophylactic mastectomy should know what they may experience. I don’t think this is a well-known phenomena, although I have now read that almost every woman experiences it at some point. A mastectomy is not a skin tag removal, and one’s nerves have a very long memory.
And my silver lining? Well, watching me dance around wildly rubbing my boob has to be a howler for sure……