****WARNING! Graphic content, NSFW****
Well, I did it. I made it through and am convalescing in style at home. Amazon Prime is my new bestie, by the way. I realized pretty quickly that even holding my little tablet or a book was making my chest muscles sore, so I ordered the most perfect (and reasonably priced) lap desk. It’s the little things like that that have surprised me the most.
It’s realizing that you got the right, easy to put on clothes but hung them in the closet and can’t reach them, that putting a lid on a cup take too much pressure, or that a bowl of soup is too heavy that have really caught me by surprise. Opening the refrigerator was tough, as was pushing the button on the toilet. You don’t realize that so many things require a bit of force and that you use your pectoral muscles all of the time. So, yeah, the learning curves are like a roller coaster full of loop-de-loops.
You know what? Let’s get down to the nitty gritty, and it will all make a shit-ton more sense.
Remember, it was a double (or bi-lateral) mastectomy, nipple sparring, with immediate reconstruction.
The breast tissue was completely removed from each breast. That means all of the soft, squishy, fatty part that you feel on your chest is gone, and I also had 4 lymph nodes removed. That, just so you know, is FANTASTIC! 3 of the nodes, according to my surgeon, definitely had cancerous fluid, and the fourth was swollen and needed to be removed as a precaution. Had more nodes been removed, I’d have definitely been considered in Stage 3, but as it stands, all indications are pointing to Stage 2 as my final diagnosis. We’ll find out soon. My plastic surgeon then came in and placed implants under the pectoral muscle. So, where a normal augmentation still looks somewhat soft and squishy, mine have no fat to soften it up. The implants were 580 ccs, which would normally sound like OMFG! huge, but in my case are smaller than what was removed. Remember, all women have different shapes. Part of what you try to do is attempt to recreate the same dimensions with your reconstruction. At this point, it looks like I’ll need some fat grafting to fill in some areas and possibly a revision, meaning I’ll have larger implants put in in a year or so, after I’ve healed from all of my treatments. By then, my muscles will be able to accommodate the larger implants, where they weren’t able to now. Because I don’t have to go in to the doctor’s office every few days to gradually fill expanders and then have implants put in, I feel more comfortable that I’ll look alright if the revision is put off. The final implants will be somewhere in the 640-680 range. Again, it’s is based on my dimensions and I have a large skeletal frame. That means large implants. It’s weird because it isn’t anything I’d ever really put any thought into before.
So, if you’re not squeamish, I’m going to show you my progress. It was something I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do: look at my breasts now. But as I take photos of the incisions, clean and put nitroglycerin cream on my nipples, empty my drains, and generally recover, I’ve found that it is better for me to see exactly what it looks like. Most of us are afraid of the unknown. I am. I didn’t think I’d be able to look at it without crying, without pain. But the reality is that I don’t have the luxury of wallowing in grief. And that’s a damn good thing! Three times a day, I lay back, open my surgical bra, clean my nipples off, and apply nitroglycerin cream to increase the blood supply and hopefully keep my nipples healthy. When you cut out all of the breast tissue, you also, unfortunately, cut out most of the blood supply. And as the horrid troll of a plastic surgeon I first consulted with pointed out, my large, “pendulous” breasts weren’t optimal candidates because the blood supply may have been compromised by time. (She is a troll as far as I’m concerned! What an asshole! Dr. S is far superior in his bedside manner and his work speaks for itself.) But I have to look at them. And it’s a good thing. Seeing the bruising, where it is swelling, and how that is decreasing, seeing the drainage tubes, these are all good things. It isn’t unknown and scary any longer, and I don’t have to brace myself to see it.
What you’re going to see isn’t pretty, but it’s real. I’m still bloated from surgery, have no makeup, and am not allowed to shave for awhile, so please forgive that part. All in all, I’m thrilled with my progress and how things are turning out. I didn’t expect miracles, so seeing that I’m recovering well and my incisions are doing well feels amazing.
Many thanks to my husband and children for their love, help, and support.