Bras are the Devil

I haven’t worn a bra in months.  My tissue expanders stayed in place even while running so I gave up wearing a bra when my expansion process finished.  

My skin under the “breast” has been hypersensitive since the mastectomy. I think this sensitivity is due to the formation of a border between connected nerves and lack of nerves where they removed the breast tissue.  

The implant surgery included a slight lowering of the left implant for balance.  I’m not sure what all this process included (and I really don’t want to know) but I can tell I’m cut and sore inside under the bust near the cleavage area.  I can tell you that having a bra band touch that area is uncomfortable and having a bra band rub that area is awful.  

I took a 3mi walk today just like I took yesterday.  Today I’ve logged over 12,000 steps where yesterday I logged over 20,000.   Today, I hurt.  Per the advice of a friend with self-proclaimed “porn star boobs” (as I said, her words and not mine), I tucked my tank top into my bra band.  It helped!  But I have to say, I’m not a happy camper.  I’m feeling sore and tired from a general lack of sleep.  

I hereby resolve that tomorrow I will be a couch potato. I will be proactive in my healing process.  Sometimes, or okay, all the time, I think I can do it all.  I want to get out, be active, and carry on with life but my body has spoken and I clearly cannot do that.  

So, if you are going through this process, be proactive in healing and don’t rush yourself.  Even if you feel better, ease up.  As my nurse said,”be caution” [sic] and “careful.”  I hear you now, Nurse Elaine.  

Reconstruction: One Week Post-op

I am one week post-op today!  Yay!  I am feeling great but I am still under limitations–doctor’s orders.  No driving.  No reaching over my head.  No lifting.  No pushing/pulling (vacuuming/sweeping).  I am allowed to walk.  So, walk I have been doing.  Yesterday I went for three (yes, three) walks.  I checked out my step count on my fancy new Garmin yesterday   at lunch time and I was already over 13,000 steps.

stepping out
…And Finished the Day at Over 20,000 Steps 

So, yes, I’m feeling pretty good.  I find it difficult to sit still, so walking is the way to go.

reconstruction visual

What does recovery look like at one week post reconstruction surgery?  My chest is still bruised (and, yes, that purple marker is still hanging on). I can tell that I am still retaining fluid; there’s some odd squish going on.  So, I’m still not sure what I’m going to look like when this swelling goes down.

Chest Bruising
Chest Bruising

My hips are still bruised but they hurt less–just don’t go poking me or anything.  Keep in mind that I bruise easily.

Liposuction Bruising
Liposuction Bruising

I cannot tell if I’m going to notice much of a difference after this swelling goes down.  Dr. Hassid indicated that I should be excited but I can’t say I share his enthusiasm; I think I still look like me.

Recovering with the support of friends and family

I am grateful for the friends and family who have been checking up on me.  They keep me sane.  I’m not one to be happy in my solitude, and not being able to drive in a town that is unfriendly to pedestrians isn’t the best.  If you are in my shoes, don’t hesitate to reach out to people; they want to help–let them!

Now, it’s time for my afternoon walk!  Ciao!

Reconstruction- Shaping Up

I’m three days post-surgery.  I haven’t done a whole lot.  In fact, my view is pretty much as it was after my mastectomy.  The good news is that I am a lot more comfortable  this time around.  I don’t have drains to contend with, so I’m a happy girl.  I can’t sleep in my bed comfortably, but I’m not miserable either.  In fact, I only took Tylenol yesterday and today I haven’t had anything for pain.  Whoohoo!

reconstruction recovery: sitting…pretty?

Sure, this is all great, right?  Yes, I’m doing okay but if you see me I look a bit like I’ve been in a car accident.

girdle
Girdle Up!

I’m wearing a support garment to keep the fat around my middle springing back into the proper position.  I’m not so pretty underneath it.  I have my two stitched and bandaged incisions where my surgeon entered through the same scarring that occurred after my hysterectomy surgery, and I have some nasty bruising along my “flanks.”  I’m nicely bloated and bruised all at once.

Liposuction Bruising
Lipo Bruising- Keeping it Real

These bruises are on each hip and about 2.5-3in in length.  In other words, my kids are sad because they can’t hug me at all.  They’re rather silly in that they sit on the floor and hug my knees!

Breast Implants: the big top

purple bruising
Pretty in Purple

Since I’m swollen and bruised it’s hard to tell what I’m going to look like when I’ve healed around my midsection and on my chest.  Regarding my top section,  I can tell you that my body looks and feels very different from what it did when I had the tissue expanders.  My “breasts” feel more like breasts.   They don’t feel like I’ve shoved rocks under my chest wall any more.  They sit lower on my chest and have a natural slope instead of the half-a-grapefruit look.  This change is due to the teardrop shape of the implant.  I rather liked my porn star cleavage of the tissue expanders simply because I’d never had any real shape to me before surgery .  I have to adjust to what I look like again.  As long as the fat grafting takes around the top edge of my bust, my chest should maintain its natural look and you shouldn’t be able to see the edge of the implant.

post surgical bruising
Marked with Sharpie and Bruising

recovery look ahead

I am not one to dwell in my recovery limitations.  I asked, even before this surgery, when I’d be able to start running again.  Apparently my surgeon thinks I’m hilarious; it’s going to be a while.  In the meantime, I’m dreaming of family pictures in March.  We haven’t had professional pictures done in years and I think this is the perfect year to document how far we have come as a family.  I am in recovery, but I am so excited for each day of a healthy future!

 

Final Surgery

I had my last surgery yesterday…well, my last until I may need my implants replaced someday (they aren’t made to last forever).  As I previously wrote in “Pre-Surgery Nesting Part 2,” my nerves were not fun this time.  I have to say, my nerves were totally unfounded.  So far, this recovery isn’t bad at all.

Why the Nerves?

My mastectomy and tissue expander surgery was long and painful enough to include a spinal block.  You can read about that procedure here.  So I had a good reason to be fearful.  I dreaded recovery and what that would mean in terms of comfort during sleep and general pain.

warming blanket
Awesome Warming Blanket

When we arrived at the hospital yesterday, I was ushered back to the prep room in no time at all. My awesome plastic surgeon, Dr. Hassid, was already there when I walked into the room, so he took out his awesome surgical Sharpie and marked me up.  After that, the nurse came in to take my vitals and asked for a urine sample for a pregnancy test, which gave me a good laugh when I told her I’d had a hysterectomy so we could skip that step.  Then, they hooked me up  with a nice warming blanket.  This wasn’t just a warm blanket, but it was hooked up to a heater; it was the bomb diggity.

After a visit with the anesthesiologist I handed my glasses over to my husband and was led by the nurse into the OR.  I’ve never walked into the operating room.  For my hysterectomy, I was wheeled in and was out before I rounded the nurses’ station.  For my mastectomy, I had a spinal block and was out as the nurses held me in prep for that procedure.  This was the first time I had consciously walked into the OR, had to climb onto the table, and wait for anesthesia.  I have to say that I was shaking!  My head knew there was no reason to worry but my body had other ideas!  Luckily, it didn’t take long for the anesthesiologist to come in and get the happy juice growing.

out of surgery

I was in and out of surgery in what seemed like no time.   This was an outpatient procedure, after all.  I saw the clock in the OR at 7:25am. I was home (a half-hour drive later) by 11:45am.

Car Ride Home
Going Home

I came home wearing a granny bra of the utmost finery stuffed with gauze and wearing a girdle  help abdominal swelling from where I had liposuction along my flanks to round out the tops of my implants.  So, in short, I was back in my sexy post-surgical finery. Other than the tightness of the girdle and the bruise on my hand from the IV, I’m doing quite well.  I have to remind myself to take it easy.  I’m not in much pain at all.

stuffed bra
Stuffed Granny Bra

I’m headed to see the doc this afternoon for my post-surgery follow-up.  I’ll keep you posted on how that goes, but I’m expecting a good report!  As always, if you have any questions on what it’s like being a previvor, feel free to comment!

 

Extra-Thankful Thursday

Today is an extra-thankful Thursday; I survived another surgery.  I managed a shower with minimal discomfort.  I feel so much better than I did after my last surgery.  I have an awesome husband who has, once again, stepped up to the plate and is encouraging me to rest.  I have a friend who is bringing me a latte from my favorite local coffee shop.  Best of all, I have piece of mind that I will have a future filled with moments like this:

Logan Golfing
Little Man at Top Golf

And this:

Anna and Juno
Laughter and Puppy Love

Modern medicine is an amazing thing.  I’m thankful for a future that is so bright!

 

Pre-Surgery Nesting Part 2

I wrote how my efforts to control my environment stem from my perceived lack of control over my upcoming surgery, and while that’s true, it’s only a small sliver of the big picture.  You see, I’m a bit of a home decor junkie.  We don’t have cable, but the one thing I asked for at Christmas was a purchase of the current season of HGTV’s Fixer Upper from iTunes.  

I used to watch HGTV religiously.  I was addicted to the idea of having a stylish and perfect home.  In truth, I’m still like that. In my “maturtity,” I’ve realized, though, that the amount of things I once thought I needed I really didn’t need at all. I’ve become a fan of the minimalist movement. I have to say, there’s nothing like spending too much time at home (and preparing to spend more time at home and unable to drive even if I wanted to leave) to drive that point home even further. 

Having a decluttered home isn’t the ultimate goal here.  My goal is to have a decluttered life–the home is just a portion of that. I’m parting with things with the idea that fewer things in my life will open new doors and time for things that are more important like family, travel, and exercise.

I’m going through surgery and I’ll be suffering again in the short term so that I can live my life to the fullest.  I have big plans and none of those plans involve filling my house with crap.  I want to travel with my kids, enjoy good food, and be a stay at home mom.  If I’m going to make those dreams a reality, I need to stay focused and not get swallowed by my stuff.  

Interested in joining me?  The journey is a long one.  I started simplifying this fall and I’m still not done. The time is worth it.  That, I guarantee.  

I read part of this book today at Barnes and Noble after seeing her blog online yesterday. Interested in minimalism?  Check it out!  

Here Comes the Surgery…

My surgery is less than a week away.  I’ve had a mixture of emotions approaching this one.  I oscillate between excited (no more tissue expanders!!! Whoohoo!) and anxiety.  In my research for this blog I may have stumbled on some surgical pictures that definitely churn the average stomach; I find myself thinking of these pictures and fighting my nerves.  For all of my elation at being “done,” the reality is that this is still major surgery.  While I trust my surgeon wholeheartedly, something about being cut open again is not sitting well.  

So How Do I Handle The Surgery Worry?

Honestly, I am handling the nerves almost identically as I did last time.  I’m in full-on project mode.  I may feel like life around me is somehow out of my control, so I seek to control my environment in an attempt to soothe my fears. I paint, I clean, and I may or may not eat more chocolate than I possibly should (damn chocolate PB ice cream…).  

My project list is dwindling but I still have four more days of waiting.  The weekend will be full of distractions with the kids around, thank goodness.  I really just have tomorrow and Monday to deal with.  So, I’ll proceed to the weekend with paintbrush in one hand and dessert in the other.  

Awaiting the Next Surgery

Happy New Year!  Yes, I know we are well into January, but I haven’t written a post in quite some time so wishing you a blessed New Year seems appropriate.  I’ve started this year with a focus on accomplishing a to-do list a mile long in preparation for my implant surgery.  First on this list: run my half marathon on Sunday!  I’ve been training for this race since my plastic surgeon gave me the “go” after my mastectomy/tissue expander surgery at the very end of October.  I’m ready.  I’m not going to be fast, but I’m going to do it! In fact, my friend Fern and I picked up our race packets today.  We are stoked!

Happy Home Life: Productivity at its finest

In addition to running and recovery, I have taken advantage of my time off work this year to make the most of family time.  The past few months have looked something like this: 

December and early January were full of cookie decorating, acting as party mom for my son’s holiday party, attempting to organize my son’s Lego collection (note the “attempt”…it’s still not done), and even endeavoring to paint furniture and finish painting my master bedroom.  Heck, I even did a little research on YouTube and learned how to caulk baseboards!  We also enjoyed a trip back home for Christmas (note the snow and the pic with my BFF in the bottom right–we had a great trip!) and took my daughter to the symphony for a Christmas present!

I’m really excited to have crossed off so many of my goals for this time.  Sometimes just sitting back and making the most of a less-than-ideal situation is the best you can do.  I’ve taken my recovery and used it to gain a happy home life.

mastectomy implant surgery: 11 days away

I’m nervous about my surgery.  I’m sure I’ll have great results, but I would be crazy not to feel some apprehension about going under the knife again.  I’m looking at an outpatient surgery followed by a minimum six week recovery.  For four of those six weeks I have to wear a post-surgical compression bra and a girdle!  The doc will be performing some liposuction to add a bit of cushion and a more natural feel to my implants.  The girdle is to help prevent water retention and support the loose skin.  I hope I can move.  Life will not be pleasant, but like this first round, I’ll get through it.

I’m a previvor and I see my glass half-full!