Monthly Archives: December 2011

Waiting to get better

I thought I was doing pretty good today. Not too much pain unless it was getting close to time to take pills and no nausea. I’ve even been able to eat some soup and sandwiches. But I looked down this evening after the Christmas Eve festivities and saw that I had purple fingernails and toenails. I could be wrong but I think this means I haven’t been taking deep enough breaths and I was going into mild oxygen deprivation. Out came the old spirometer. I’ve forgotten how difficult it is to take deep breaths after chest surgery. I’m going to need to watch this more closely tomorrow.

I also found a good sized seroma on my right side under my arm. I doubt the doc will want to drain it for risk of infection but I’m going to have to watch this too.

I’m waiting up now to take my pain mess and go back to sleep. It’s going to be an early morning with two excited kiddos. We brought the recliner out from the bedroom tonight for me to use int the living room with family so I’m sleeping in the living room tonight. Jeffrey is being sweet and sleeping on the couch next to me so he can help out. Of course, he over there snoring while I’m awake. This arrangement also might prevent the incident that occurred last year when Xander got up before everyone and opened most of his presents by himself. We made them promise to let us sleep until 7:00 am. We’ll see how that goes. I do need to rest though to avoid any further complications.

New boobies!

It’s the day after surgery and I’m feeling pretty good! I have some pain and soreness but nothing like the mastectomy. I have no nausea and the pain pills keep the pain at a manageable level. I’m actually considering making a quiche for Christmas Eve dinner but Jeffrey said to just sit still.

I have felt like I’ve been coming down with a cold for a couple days and I woke up yesterday morning with a full-blown sore throat and cough. We decided to go in anyway instead of rescheduling surgery.

We got to the surgery center at 8:05 in perfect timing to do health history paperwork and register even though I pre-registered and did a pre-admission health physical. The waiting around is hard because I get nervous. I was called back quickly to the presurgery area where I stripped down to socks and a gown. They gave me some disposable undies because the docs get a little crazy with the iodine. The nurse reassured how much more comfortable I will be once I get the tissue expanders out. This surgery center has a heat lamp in the ceiling and warm blankets and they try to make it as comfortable as possible. The head anesthesiologist came in next and I gave him my list of meds from the last surgery and he decided to tweak some things so I wouldn’t wake up in pain with nausea.  He did check my throat and lungs since I had the cough and sore throat but since there was no fever we were going ahead with the surgery. I got the patch and a celebrex presurgery and he told me he’d use as little gas as possible. The one problem we had was IV pain meds. I have an allergy to dilaudid so I usually get morphine. Well, it turns out that there is a shortage of morphine and they had none so I got zero IV pain meds. I was given oral Percocet before and after since I tolerate those well. In fact, I’m eating them like candy these days. Good stuff! The anesthesiologist asked me if I’d like a glass of wine for my anxiety. I said yes please. It was really just a shot of Xanax but it did the trick. At this center you have to walk into your own OR and lay down in the bed under the lights. It’s very unsettling so the Xanax helps. The nurse went to get Jeffrey but she accidentally brought in the wrong husband. This dude came in grinning but then was like, “wait, that’s not my wife!” haha. His wife was right next to me so we had some laughs about switching husbands. She was getting wrist surgery and was jealous of my breast surgery until I told her it was because of cancer. Dr. Treece came in to mark me before surgery and answer questions. He said he would move the implants closer together and give me the best look possible with as little risk.

I woke up what seems like a few minutes later with a sore chest but no nausea. I was offered IV pain meds but I took percocet instead so I wouldn’t risk getting sick. I decided I’d rather deal with pain than throwing up. After my last bag of IV fluids we got to go home.

I took a nap and then the kids came in to see me. Amira asked right away to see my new surgery boobs. She oohed and aahed and said they look nice. She asked, “did the doctor draw on them to make them look cute? How does your doctor know that your favorite color is purple?” So funny.  Xander just said hi and went back to his game.

I’m feeling well so far. I’m going to try to shower in a bit. We are having all of the family (up to 26 people) over tonight for Christmas eve but I’m not going to do any of the cooking or cleaning. I’m just going to wave from the recliner as people come in. For the first time this year I’m finally excited for Christmas!

Merry Breastmas!

I go in tomorrow morning for the surgery to exchange my tissue expanders for the permanent silicone implants. These are the same implants that some women choose to get for purely cosmetic purposes. After what I’ve been through I can’t imagine making that choice. This should be a relatively simple surgery and it is outpatient. Jeffrey has the list of the magic cocktail from the anesthesiologist that successfully kept me from puking at the last surgery but had the effect of knocking me out for hours. But if the choice is sleep or puke I think we’d all go for sleep. I remember the nurse had to come wake me up and put me in a chair in an attempt to get me out of the recovery room. I don’t remember anything on the way home. Apparently we stopped at Wendy’s for Jeffrey’s lunch. I asked him for a sprite but didn’t drink it. I think I talked on the phone to someone too.

The pain from the tissue expanders has prevented me from getting massive amounts of fill. My final breast size will be smaller than my natural breasts were but I think I’ll be okay with that. I trust the plastic surgeon to give me the best look possible. He’s just giving me normal breasts not stripper breasts. I took Amira to see the Nutcracker put on by Ballet Met and I was surprised to see a full page ad by my plastic surgeon in the program. Apparently he is the shit around town. I’m glad I found the best.

This surgery feels very different from the others. The first three were such a whirlwind and we barely had time to plan or question the outcome. We were on auto-pilot and just doing the next thing. The past several months though have been leading up to and prepping for this surgery. Its given me way too much time to think about it and I’m nervous. I want a good a outcome and a fast recovery but it’s too much pressure. I also feel like I’ve only begun to process emotionally all that has taken place in the past few months. I look okay and therefore everyone thinks I’m okay but am I? This surgery will bring me closer to feeling like I can move on and not think about the cancer all the time. It’s not over for me yet. I usually avoid thinking about it but it catches me at times when I’m alone. I’m hit with the reality and I’m paralyzed for a moment before I can move on. I get a lot of comments from people about how they don’t know how I do it or they wouldn’t be able to handle what I’ve been through but the fact is that I never had a choice. You do what you have to do. And I know that my case is an “easy cancer” so far. One of the breast cancer bloggers that I read wrote today about her treatment for metastatic breast cancer. She said, “The human capacity for putting up with what we thought we couldn’t knows no end.”

So, off I go for new boobies. I hope I can continue to conquer cancerland.

Planning for surgery #4

Next surgery is December 23rd. This time I’m looking forward to it. I’ve had enough of a break that it doesn’t feel like I just had surgery. I actually have had a chance to feel like a normal person again. At least when I’m at work I can avoid the reality of it all. I’ve only had to think about it when I need to lift something heavy and feel like a dork for needing to ask for help. As the surgery gets closer I’ve had to start preparing. I’ve had paper work and consent forms for the surgeon and hospital. I have to take off work to go to a pre surgery physical at the hospital next week. I called and explained that I had 3 surgeries in August and I was able to do everything over the phone instead of going in but they want me to go in for this. I’m dreading it of course. Who wants to go to the hospital to see a random doctor for a physical? I’m thinking its some kind of liability for the plastic surgeon. I’ve also had to sign all sorts of papers about my implants. Im essentially agreeing to them implanting a foreign object into my body with all sorts of risk factors. I will have to have a MRI every 2-3 years to check for silent rupture of the implant. They are also not considered a lifetime device and I will likely have to have them replaced every 10-15 years.

But the reason I’m looking forward to this surgery is because the tissue expanders that I have been painful at night and are now painful in the day too. I currently have 550 CC’s of saline in each side. The TEs are hard and heavy since they are designed to stretch the tissue. They are also spaced far apart and high in the chest. The plastic surgeon says this is by design also since this area is the least flexible. The result is that I have as much “breast” in my underarms as I do in the front and my arms and chest are sore a lot. Just normal activity like cleaning the playroom or dragging the screaming 4 year old to her room and slamming the door leaves me in pain. I was old that the activity caused the implant to shift and it’s now hitting a nerve. I wake up at least once a night in pain. Ive always been a stomach sleeper but I can’t sleep on my stomach or even side without lots of pillows for support. Ive been taking the narcotics again The permanent implants will be soft and more comfortable. They will also be a normal shape and placed in a more natural position.

The plastic surgeon says we will do one more fill on the TEs for a total of 650 CC’s of saline. He will aim to use a 650 to 700 CC moderate profile implant. It is difficult to determine cup size so I’ll likely have to wait until swelling goes down to know my bra size.