Surgery, and recovery. Part II of my mastectomy story.

Nov 8, 2018
If you read my last post, you know that a month ago I had a prophylactic double mastectomy.  For those of you who don't know what that is, don't worry, I don't have cancer.  I just have/had a high risk for it.  You can read more about it here.  That post got crazy long, so I wanted to do another about the actual surgery, and recovery.  Here is a link to my updated privacy information, and this post contains affiliate links.

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Channeling my inner ballerina to get a ball

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Pre-op



If you saw my Facebook video, you know that I had a scare during a pre op mammogram.  Seriously,  it was so stressful.  I only had about two weeks notice because it is a tough surgery to schedule for two reasons.  1.  It is done by two surgeons.  One is a surgical oncologist (even though I don't have cancer), and the other is a plastic surgeon.  And 2. because women who have cancer are the first priority, I just had to wait to fit into their schedules.  Two weeks notice was enough to freak out, but not enough planning time.  With three kids, and no family nearby, I sent out a mayday.

My aunt and cousin came from California, and one of our favorite sitters had taken a semester off of college, so thankfully we were covered.  The kids were my number one priority.

I also applied for, and got my medical marijuana card.  It has just been legalized in Maryland, and as I have had weird narcotic reactions in the past, I was searching for a pain solution.  I will tell you more about that later.

Surgery


Day of? Hot mess.  I had a hard time not crying.  I was so scared.  Scared of surgery mostly, and the risks.  I have three kids, and I want to be here for them as long as I can.  That is the freaking reason to do this crazy ass thing in the first place, amirite?  I had said goodbye to the boobs awhile ago.  It had become such a painful, and stressful thing in my life, I was ready.  Or at least I thought I was.

The docs all came in to talk to me, the plastic surgeon marked up my boobs, I took a deep breath kissed my husband, and laid down on that gurney in the hospital.  The surgery was supposed to take 3-4 hours, with a total reconstruction.  That means implants, and cadaver tissue to protect the skin.  Regular implants go under the muscle, but this type goes on top, just under the skin.  Because of the nature of the surgery, they use the cadaver tissue to help protect the surgical field and implant.  Five hours later, they wheeled me into recovery, where I discovered that things hadn't gone as planned.

Instead of the implants, and being done with this whole situation, I woke up with expanders. You should watch that Facebook video where I describe them, but they are essentially hard plastic implants.  Hard.  In a surgical wound pressing against an incision.  They hurt like a MOFO.

Aftermath


Even more than that was the psychological hit that I wasn't expecting.  Instead of what I was expecting, my boobs were flat.  Flat but weirdly shaped with this hard plastic insert.  They were bruised, swollen, and hurt terribly.  I couldn't look, I couldn't look for days.  I didn't want my husband to see me, I didn't want anyone to touch me.  Honestly, it was hard to face myself in the mirror.  Looking back, I'm ashamed of myself.  For crying at my poor husband who was trying to help me get dressed (or whatever).

It took two weeks before I started to feel human, and could get off of the recliner (that I was even sleeping in).  I was able to wean off, and stop taking the pain meds.  Still really tired, and needing a lot of rest, I had to depend on help with the kids.  I couldn't even really touch them.

Then I had an allergic reaction to some antibiotics (and some foam that they used in the OR on my incisions).  That really set me back, but at least I will be ready for next time...

NEXT TIME?!


Yes.  In mid January, I will have to go back and get the permanent implants placed.  That is, if all goes according to plan.  Every two weeks, I go into the plastic surgeons office for them to fill the expanders, until they get to the size that they need to be.  Then I wait six week, then surgery.  Because of my rash, etc, I wasn't able to get the whole fill the first time, so my timeline keeps changing.  And no the filling itself doesn't hurt.  I don't have a lot of sensation, so the needle through the port just feels like pressure.  The skin expanding itself isn't pleasant for a couple of days.  So far, NBD, but I will keep you posted.  I'm also linking some of the things that were really helpful to keep me comfortable post op.

Writing about this isn't easy, and a lot of times, I am just sharing into the void.  I would really love it if you share this with someone who needs it, or leave a comment.  It just lets me know that there are actually people out there reading this, and that it isn't a waste of time to share something this emotional, and personal.


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