On Friday I had my last big (haha, no, just regular size!) breast reconstruction surgery and it went well. I was more nervous than about the previous surgeries, mostly because of the complications I’d had, I guess. I talked my wonderful plastic surgeon down to just cutting open my right boob to exchange the temporary saline-filled expander for a permanent silicone implant. Okay, that was a little dramatic. There’s actually just an incision under my boob. I’m back to wearing the surgical bra and have a drainage tube in, but only one this time. A little achy and sore, but not terrible pain.
But what he also planned to do was suction some fat from my abdominal area and insert it above the implant to further soften the look. And do what’s called a mastopexy to the left breast to perk it up a bit. Or a lot, as the case may be. But I stayed firm (haha, cracking myself up, may just be the pain pills!) and nixed all that because I couldn’t face the thought of developing clots or unnecessary bleeding like before. But he did explain that I could choose to do the mastopexy at a later date if needed and it would still be covered as reconstructive surgery. I checked with insurance and that’s true.
So then he asked me to sit up (we were in the little curtained off room where you wait before outpatient surgery), me in my paper gown, so that he could draw the incision mark under my boob with that lovely indelible marker. And with totally detached clinical appreciation he said to me and hubby, “These are probably the best match I’ve seen with a one-sided surgery!”
I completely chose to believe that he meant my unaided boob was unbelievably perky all on its own and rather closely matched the surgically enhanced one. So I awkwardly said, “Thank you?” and we parted to meet up later in surgery.
Then a nurse started my IV, pushed me and my gurney to an operating room where they slid me onto a table exactly the width of my hips and had me breathe into an oxygen mask a few times. And that’s all I really remember…
I saw my plastic surgeon earlier this week and scheduled what will hopefully be the final step in my breast cancer reconstruction surgeries. He agreed that he would do as little as possible to minimize the chance of any bleeding/clotting complications.
The normal procedure would be to make an incision under the breast, remove the saline filled expander and replace it with a silicone implant. Not so much chance of bleeding with this.
Then he would perform a “lift” on the unaffected breast to make it perkier so that it better matched the side with the implant. (Not a lot of natural perkiness going on if you know what I mean!) Some risk of bleeding, but I said if he decided it was necessary to keep me from tipping to one side to just go ahead. He didn’t even crack a smile…
The last step would be to liposuction fat from the abdominal area (I know, how could that be a bad thing, right?) and insert said fat into both breasts to create a more natural, rounded appearance. Still no bounce, but softer. But I told him I just can’t do this. Disappointing, but it just seems too risky with the bleeding to take the chance. I think he was relieved I didn’t want to try 🙂
So I’m scheduled for surgery on March 10. I’ll almost certainly have to stop the Coumadin five days before, do the injections in my stomach twice a a day up till the day of surgery, then the hematologist and surgeon will decide how soon to resume the shots and Coumadin afterwards. It’s a crapshoot with me because of the Factor V Leiden clotting disorder I have but hopefully there won’t be any complications this time. I really want to be finished already!
Apparently chemo affects your hair, nails and skin for the longest amount of time. My nails are pretty good, just tiny black marks on some. My skin has been drier and I’m using moisturizer and body lotion every day. Most of my bottom eyelashes have fallen out now. My top lashes are mostly still there as are my eyebrows. Thank goodness for make up.
My hair on my head is finally growing back. Right now it’s this soft, down-like fuzz that’s pure white. From what I’ve read, it may stay like that or get darker or curlier. The doctors really don’t seem to have any idea why this happens. Waiting for it to grow back has been about as exciting as watching paint dry. I still am startled when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror — like a big-eyed alien with a glowing white halo! I’ll show you a picture soon, promise…
So, there, more than you ever wanted to know about me, right?
Yay, I made it! Had my last chemo today and in exactly two weeks I will take my bald head and one saggy boob and one sloshy boob (nope, I don’t mean hubby 😉 although he’s going, too) to the beautiful Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort for a week of sitting at the pool and just enjoying the warmth of the sun on Maui!
There was a lovely little ceremony at the Cancer Center where all the nurses, techs and volunteers congratulated me on completing my journey and beating cancer, I rang a bell to send me on my way, there were hugs and yes, some tears, and I got a chance to thank all the lovely people who were always fun and supportive and kind. So, to Derrick, Kelly, Kari, Heather, Shannon, Juliet, today’s nurse, Tiffany, and everyone else at the Cancer Center, I love you all and really hope not to see you again! ❤
You know how sometimes things just happen when you need them? Well, I was getting ready to write an update and I came across this meme that I think was meant to send me a little message. Wednesday’s doctor’s visit was fine, but things aren’t moving fast enough for me and I was feeling sorry for myself. Until I saw this gentle reminder on Facebook.
The swelling after the second breast cancer surgery is not going down as fast as the plastic surgeon would like and they decided to keep the drainage tube in longer. Not bed rest, but definitely limited activities particularly with my right arm. And simple walking around. So even though they could tape off the tube and I could take a backwards facing shower so water doesn’t spray hard on my chest, I still am not supposed to raise my arms up to wash my hair myself. Boo hoo, poor me, right?
So I did the sensible thing. Called my hairdresser to get me in next week to wash and trim and touch up my hair. No investment in highlights or straightening treatment till I find out if I will need chemo and lose my hair, though. Best to be sensible here 😀
We had a trip to Southern California planned for the beginning of November that doctors thought would be possible unless there were complications. And there were. So we will do it another time, no big deal.
The docs were able to restart my blood thinners (Lovenox and Coumadin) and I’m doing what they call bridging to get back to the right levels, so all is going well there. So, you know, my hair doesn’t look great. Neither do my boobs right now. I’m tired a lot and haven’t been bothering to put on mascara or other make up. But today I’ll start. And I will sit my impatient butt back in the recliner and rest in between gentle walking until I get the okay to exercise more while remembering how grateful I am to be at this place in my life and back on the road to health!
I am relieved and just a little apprehensive that surgery has been scheduled for Tuesday, September 20. It has taken a little time to coordinate the doctors’ schedules and OR availability. It will be a right sided skin saving mastectomy followed by immediate reconstruction. I know, who looks forward to that? But I need to get this taken care of and I feel good about my choice.
I had another venous duplex ultrasound of the lower extremities yesterday and it’s clear of any clots. So I may not need the filter placed after all. The interventional radiologist will discuss the results with my hemotologist and they will come to a decision. There’s time to do an outpatient surgery before the 20th if they decide I need to have the filter.
And just an aside, both my breast surgeon and plastic surgeon are gorgeous! A little eye candy never hurts, right? 😉