Bad Right Breast

I've Always Hated My Right Breast!

Surgery & Recovery September 26, 2011

Filed under: cancer,mastectomy — Bad Right Breast @ 9:50 pm

It’s been total of 5 days since my surgery and it’s crazy to think that it hasn’t been longer. Becca, Amber and then Graham’s parents took care of the girls until yesterday which was a huge relief. We left for the hospital Thursday morning, I, along with all of the other cattle called surgeries corralled into the elevators to the same floor to prep for our various operations at 6am. I was too freaked out by that that we went up in our own elevator.

We waited til they called my name, then I went back to, once again, answer all of the normal questions – allergic to anything, heart problems, asthma, anesthesia affects, etc. Then I dressed into a paper gown, NOTHING underneath, and Graham was allowed to come and wait with me. Dr. Samsun, my plastic surgeon, came in to ‘mark me up’, you know those stereotypical shots of a surgeon marking a tummy tuck/thigh lift patient. He was very sincere, talking me through the entire operation step by step, one last time. He allowed me one last glance before he covered me up and i walked right into the OR. I kissed Graham, who returned to the waiting room and would stay there for 5-6 hours.

As I entered the OR, the staff and anesthesiologist were giving crap to my Breast Surgeon for ‘being late’ once again. I knew she was dressing, knew there was no reason for her to wait around for the hour of prep. So, as I literally jumped up onto the operating table, I told them to get this thing started, that I didn’t need to see her before the surgery to know she was going to do it. (The next morning she came to see me and laughed at all that I told her. I don’t remember a thing, even seeing her, but apparently, I told her, in front of all in the OR, how none of them appreciated her masterful work, and that she deserved to show up for her operations when she was good and ready. I guess you don’t talk crap in front of a patient who adores her doctor that happens to be the chief of surgery. Again, no memory of any of this.)

I came to, somewhat around 7pm. They moved me into a shared room, I remember moving myself, with some assistance into my own bed, given my drip meds button, and Graham sitting there patiently. I tried to keep water and bread down, but threw it all up. I remember one of the doctor assistants coming in to check on me and to look at the stitches, so with my assistance we unvelcroed the backwards bra and I could barely see any stitches. By the look on Graham’s face, he was more than pleased! Grant it, these are just the tissue extenders, and there is still some swelling.

He had to leave around 10pm. The nurse then said if I couldn’t pee in the bed pan, that I’d have to have a straight catheder (sp?). I tried, man, did I try. But I remembered how painless the catheder was during my c-section, I decided not to stress. Thirty minutes later she came in, and in went the pee plug. No pain actually, a little pressure, but effortless urination. That night I was up and down. Pressing the pain button, dealing with a neurotic suite mate, being woken to check vitals. But all in all, I could move around. I was sore, but could move.

The plastic surgeon came at 7am (whom I was now dubbing as Doctor Picasso), and said that all looked great and the surgery went amazingly well. The chest soreness is because they actually lift the pectoral muscle and place the top part of the tissue extender underneath, then take the lower part of what would be the discarded skin/tissue and fold it in to use it as a pocket to hold the underside of the tissue extender. Then he folds over the top tissue. The scarring is like an upside down T – 1/2 moon under the breast, and small vertical where the center of the new breast will be, minus any areola and nipple (to be constructed and tattooed on later when I get the implants inserted). He said that if I could get off of the drip meds and be ok on the oral meds, I’d be able to go home, where I knew I’d get more rest.

So that was my goal. I called the nurse to add anti-nausea meds to my drips. The drip meds were causing me to vomit anything I put into my system. If I couldn’t keep anything down, they wouldn’t let me go home. Then I insisted on help walking to the bathroom. I knew I wouldn’t be able to pee in a bedpan no matter what, so slowly but surely walked, scooted, snail trailed my way to the toilet where I peed. YAY! One down!!!! With the anti-nausea, I was able to keep down the bread and water, so I had to be adament about them removing the drip meds and giving me percocet. (The one doc was trying to convince me that vicodine & Tylenol 3 were the same as percocet, but I’m no fool. For my C-section, percocet was what allowed me to get up and walk almost miles a week afterwards.) My breast surgeon came in and confirmed the percocet, and then also prescribed valium for the muscle soreness. She then admitted that they removed more lymph nodes than what she was planning because she immediately saw the cancer presence, but that we knew it was there and were already planning for the chemo. Now, we just have a better way of analyzing the treatment process.

So by noon – I held down red pepper ravioli, vegetable medley, orange juice, hot tea, wheat bread and a chocolate twinkie. Aw yeah. So then I just needed to learn how to empty my drainage tubes. Very cyborg, and honestly the most painful part. I have 2 coming out of the my right and one coming out of my left. I have to empty them each night and keep the measurements for the doctors’ office. The fluid is like that that builds up when you have a sprained ankle, or swollen limb. Because they don’t want the fluid to have the possibility of causing infection, they want it to be drained out of the body.

I got home Friday afternoon. Ordered Trufa pasta – fussili pesto chicken with sundried tomatoes. Took my meds, and then passed out. Saturday, I had my best friends here to just sit with me. I do try to be a good patient, but I can wipe my own ass. I mean, I’m gonna be reasonable. And then food started to be delivered, which I never thought what a godsent that would be but thank you all. Sunday, my mom arrived, and knows me best, and knows me so well that lets me boss her around when I need to.

The girls came home yesterday afternoon. They know to be gentle with mommy. It’s a little harder for Penelope than Sophia, but we’ll take it one day at a time. They’ll be busy with pre-school and tap/ballet class during the week, so it’s just the time at home. I was able to take a full shower tonight, thanks to my mom, buying me a shower mastectomy shirt – you’ve no idea the paraphenalia they have. But I’ve made the decision to remove the torture backwards bra that squeezes you all in, mostly to help push out all of those fluids. They were just bothering my stiches where the tubes insert into my body, and at any other time I’ve had stitches that started to irritate me, I’ve removed them myself. But this time, I think it’s best to just put it all on ice and let the doc do it tomorrow.

It’s really all about keeping up with the meds. Perkocet & Antibiotic every 4 hours, Valium every 6 hours, Tamoxifen once a day. And then there’s the stool softener which I took immediately 3 times a day, and am proud to say that I had my first bowel movement yesterday. Boy howdy, I’d have them cut off a 3rd breast to never feel that again.
So now, it’s been about 30 minutes and the meds are soaking in. I do thank all of you for your well wishes. I know this was a bit easier for me, mentally, because I always knew that I’d have a breast reduction at some point in my life, just not like this. So the actual removal of the breast wasn’t as traumatic for me as I think some people thought. I’m actually looking forward to probably fitting into to my clothes better than I ever did before, and then to go bra shopping all over again. And for Graham? I mean, what man can say that he has one woman in his life, that can go through a variety of breast sizes before she chooses which one she likes.

Then again, this is the easiest part. I get the tubes out tomorrow, then the following Monday, get all of the pathology reports back about – the stage of cancer, start of chemo, type of chemo, length of chemo, and all of the next step.

in good news? I’M NEGATIVE FOR THE CANCER GENE! So all in all, this was just a total fluke, and caught early because I did a self-exam. Life is a bitch. But then again, this same life as brought me so much joy, laughter and love. I wouldn’t exchange it for anything else. Just another challenge.

much love to you all.
Laurie

 

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