I’ve had a couple post op appointments this week and saw the new therapist. It’s been a busy few days. I’m still staying at my folks and my mother in law went home on Wednesday so the second half of the week has been pretty crazy for me. Definitely a lot more activity and the easy days are over. It’s got me pretty torn because I do love to see the kids but I tire out so easily it’s just hard. I do think that it will help me recover though and I know each day is one day closer to getting back to “normal” so I’m just trying to suck it up.
Wednesday I went back to the general surgeon for my post op. It was a good appointment and I still love my surgeon. She seemed so happy to see me – very touchy-feely and enthusiastic about my progress. She was very happy that I am not throwing up anymore and did say that I broke all kinds of records with how poorly I did after the surgery – not the kind of records I wanted to break. Some memories of the hospital have been coming back to me. It’s amazing how much I’ve forgotten in the past two weeks. I was in quite a fog in the hospital, I’m sure it was self preservation. Most of my memories don’t have pictures with them – like I kept my eyes closed a lot which I guess I may have. My mom reminded me what a hard time I had typing or concentrating on anything. And I’m just starting to remember how I would fall asleep in the middle of things. I can’t remember who was visiting me (maybe my mother in law?) who told me I was talking and fell asleep in the middle of a word – not a sentence but a single word.
Anyway, I have come a long way in two weeks which is good. My incisions have been healing nicely – I’ve really not had any bruising or anything. The tissue looks great and the drains are drying up. My 24 hour outputs are all under 20cc’s, two have been under 10cc’s. The swelling has all gone down and I can tell I’m moving around better – although I am still very stiff and can’t twist very well. The drains make my skin stick out about an inch where they lay which is vertically towards my underarms and horizontally along the crease under where my breast should be. The drains need to be emptied every 12 hours and will be taken out when they are “dry” or consistently under 10cc’s in a 24 hour period.
This morning I went to see the therapist for the first time. I’m happy to say I really liked her. We talked easily and it felt more like a conversation than any kind of interrogation or anything. I am going to see her again next week. I do think that I’m dealing with things pretty well so far, which she said as well, but I know that I have been and continue to be numb to a lot of what is going on. For example, I have not really been able to rejoice in negative lymph nodes like those around me. I think this is because I am still really trying to process having cancer in the first place. It definitely doesn’t feel like I can sit back or relax at all, I feel like I am still fighting it. I think it’s hard to wrap my head around something being inside me like this – something I can’t see but feel like I’m being attacked by. The enormity of having part of my body surgically removed and with it the cancer – I know logically it is gone, but it’s hard to really process that. I feel like I’m having a hard time processing all of the complications I’ve had as well. My cancer was stage 2. Stage 2 is really “fixable”. Treatable. Manageable. None of these are words that I feel like describe my cancer. It didn’t respond to chemo, it literally multiplied so that every time I had a scan or ultrasound there were more tumors. I’ve had 11 chemo treatments with no remission and am signed up for 12 more. It’s hard for me to talk to people because so many of those I talk to haven’t been through nearly the treatments that I’ve already been through, and I’m only half way there. Not to mention the pre-cancerous tissue that they found in both breasts to indicate how much worse it would have gotten. On one hand, I am so thankful that it was so treatable – surgery did remove it all and I am SO thankful for that. But I also find it hard to qualify how different it has been from what I thought it would be and what it’s been like for those I know. And then I have guilt about those feelings because I certainly am not trying to take anything away from anyone else and what they have been through. See why I need therapy? It’s a lot. Anyway, I was really happy that I liked the therapist and will be going back to see her.
Lastly, I went to see the plastic surgeon for my first post-op visit with him. He is the only male doctor on my team which I find surprising. Anyway, he thought my tissue looks great and two of the drains could come out. However, I’ve taken such good care of the area where the drains come out of the skin he decided it was better to not disturb the packing and leave all four in until we can take them all out. He thought this would be early next week but in a classic bait-and-switch move he didn’t want me to make the appointment until next Friday. So, it looks like I will get all the drains out on Friday. He did however want to do the first fill since we are two weeks out. So, this was an adventure. I will be getting another one next Friday and will have pictures taken – my mom was wrangling Evelyn while he did the fill this week so it wasn’t really possible to be my personal photographer too. He did the fills right there in the exam room – he just had me lay back and he could feel the port on the implants. They are in the top outside corner on each side closest to my armpit. It felt BIZARRE when he was touching my chest. I asked him if I would get feeling back or if it was permanent and he said I wouldn’t ever get it back. I had compared it to the c-sections and he said in that case the nerves are cut so they do grow back, but in this case the nerves have actually been removed. That makes it pretty clear to understand how feeling won’t come back. But apparently it does get better – less uncomfortable at least. I really didn’t open my eyes very much after laying back so I can’t explain the fill process completely. But from what I saw, there was a large syringe attached to a catheter with a needle. He applied alcohol to my chest on both sides and told me when the needle was going in. Since the nerves aren’t there he didn’t numb me or anything. When he put in the needle, it felt a bit like an electric shock and he said the muscle did spasm from it so I guess the nerves somewhere in there had a reaction. It was similar on both sides and really there was so much discomfort just from being touched, the needle wasn’t a big difference. I could feel the pressure from the saline being injected but mostly it was just a numb, uncomfortable feeling throughout. When I sat up I could immediately tell that under my left arm was rather painful. It seems to go along the line where the drain is and I’m guessing is about where the nerves start back up. I also have the steel plate across the chest feeling like I had after surgery. Very uncomfortable and I’m making sure I don’t miss a dose of pain pills. I am in full T-Rex mode with very little movement in my torso and my elbows locked to my sides so just my little forearms are moving. Hopefully it won’t last more than a day or so and I’ll be back to normal. I have small boobs now – like I would need a training bra if they weren’t fake. The doctor said it normally takes 6 fills to get to the right place so we will have this one and one next Friday and then we’ll have to start doing the off week of chemo so I’ll have something each week of the 3 week cycles. Two chemo treatments and a fill. Rinse and repeat. Once the expanders are filled all the way I’ll have to wait for the scar tissue to form before doing the exchange surgery. The doctor said the expanders are most uncomfortable when they are empty and when they are full so that gives me something to look forward to (sarcasm).
For now, me and my baby arms are going to get some rest and hope for the pain to go away. Good night.