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13 July 2009 @ 02:03 pm
 
ADJUSTING TO THE NEW ME (13 July 2009)
 
I'm finding it weird.  It is not that I am unhappy with my results, I am pleased; or at least I know I should be.  I'm just finding it strange to know that this is me.  This is what I am going to have to live with from now on my new shape.
 
I have always known that my final result would be very different from my original breasts, I never expected otherwise.  I also never really pictured what the finished product would look like.  Sure, I looked at photos but I never really imagined what mine would look like.  I figured that way I would not be disappointed with the outcome.  They will turn out however they do and I will live with the result.  

During the whole expansion process, I really didn't care what they looked like either; I knew the expanders were there to serve a purpose -to expand my skin in order to place my permanent implants-.   Now, I need to accept that this is what I will look like.

Perhaps it will be easier once I am out of the 24/7 bra wearing stage.  Not fun having to wear one all the time, not to mention a sports bra kind of limits my choice of clothing as well.  Once I'm healed and OK to go with out, it will be fun to try on different shirts and see what my foobs really look like.

The Dr has not cleared me to exercise yet either... I'm anxious to to get going, I've gained about 10lbs since this whole thing started in January and I am looking forward to loosing that weight.  Almost like turning a new leaf.

I'm also finding it difficult to realise that I'm done.  I'm done.  My surgeries are done and I don't need to worry about breast cancer... ever.  Of course there is still a small risk but I was facing an 87% giant before this surgery; that giant is dead and I'm left with not needing to worry about it ever again.  Its a very strange thing to be faced with.  Breast cancer has been such a real threat to me and now I need to adjust that the fact is that threat is gone.  It is proving harder to do than I first thought.  I almost find myself asking "what now?".



3 WEEK POST-OP (16 July 2009)

I went to see my PS.  I went on my own, armed with a note paper with my questions.

While in the waiting room I met a lovely woman who was buying a surgical bra from the Dr's Office, I mentioned that my favourite bras were from Walmart... BESTFORM, they hook together in front and cost $10.00.  Can't beat it. In fact, in most of my pictures (with a bra) it is a BestForm bra.  I also shared my journal with her.

The Dr called me in and made a comment about me just holding a big poster board with my information on it.... (I tell anyone that will listen about my surgery, the BRCA gene and my journal)... I told her that's not a bad idea!! :)  I want to raise awareness anyway I can.

Dr took a look at my foobs and proclaimed they were healing very well, a "very good result".  I would say so!  She cut any of the stitch strings that were still visible (the ones inside will dissolve on their own).

I asked her about the bumps that I have below my left foob, tender to the touch.  She called it 'cording' and said it was very common with breast augmentation patients as well.  She compaired it to the marbleing that go through a piece of meat.  The stiches can play a factor too... with time it will go away.  I've put a 'box' around the area that has the cording.  It feels like rope under my skin.  As you can see by the next photo, it is not visible unless I am stretching up.  It doesn't hurt and thus doesn't bother me.

    

Now for my list of questions: What about exercise?  No problem.  Swimming? - Sure, but how bout waiting till the weekend (3 1/2wks).  Lifting restrictions? Nope.  Bra 24/7?  Not necessary... ever.   (hurray!)  Oh yeah, and I wanted my "Implant cards".  Information with my implant Make/Model/Serial/Lot number.   -Can't help but think of CSI and that now my body will now be identifiable by my implants!-  :)  It was just a small piece of paper with a sticker with all the information on my implants.  That way if the manufacturer ever has any information regarding their implants, I can know for sure which ones I have.

The PS office has opened a sort of 'side business' where they do laser hair removal, facials, ect.  They are in the process of getting a tattoo artist there (to do permanent makeup and nipples).  I already told my PS that I do not want to reconstruct my nipples but may consider doing a nipple tattoo.  The tattoo artist will be in contact with me once she is set up.  PS said I could do that as soon as 3-6months post-op.

So I've been given the 'all-clear'.  Its really nice to have that assurance actually... she asked me to set an appointment for ONE YEAR from now!  Wow!

NIPPLES or FIPPLES

It seems so strange to me that I am writting about nipples.  I could not have dreamt at just how fast I have made it to this point... wow.

Fipples is another made up word that those of us who are living this are familiar with... think Foobs.  It's the same idea.  It's a combination of two words as well. Fake and Nipples. Fipples.  Love it!

There are several ways to reconstruct a nipple, including one called 'nipple sharing' which only works if you have one nipple and need to reconstruct the other (they are my favourite ones).

This is a great website that goes through the whole nipple reconstruction process and all the different options: www.breastreconstruction.ca/nippleareola.htm  There are event different ways of creating a nipple using the FLAP reconstruction.  The FLAP procedures seem to be most popular.

Nipples seem to be a very sensitive subject when it comes to breast reconstruction.  Women feel very strongly about their nipple reconstruction.  Many see it as the finishing touch and cannot imagine not having one.  It is seems ridiculous to them NOT have nipples done... perhaps it is because once it is done it will truly give to impression of a real breast.  Here's an example to demonstrate the difference... let's say there is a group of women topless in a change room, at first glance one would not notice anything different from one woman to another if there was a breast mound with a spot of colour, however my 'naked' breast mound would most definitely stick out as different!  Something is missing.

Yes, something is missing....  my NIPPLE is missing!!! :) I'm not sure why that thought doesn't bother me...

Maybe it's because I have been so open about the surgery.... I would be more than happy to share my story with anybody who even throws a puzzled look in my direction!

Maybe it's because I don't consider these my 'breasts' anymore; they are my 'foobs' so why make them look like something they are not.  (again this is how I see it, MANY woman see things very differently - I do not mean to offend anyone)

Maybe it is that I have NO desire to ever have to wear a bra again.  My fear is that my fipples would be visible through my cloths and I would have to wear a bra to hide/cover them... You see they would not react like normal nipples; of course there would be no feeling but they also would not change, react to touch or cold... they would stick out... all the time.

I think of course naked, my foobs would DEFINITELY look more natural if I had my nipples reconstructed (I have seen some beautiful results).  For me, I am comfortable in my nakedness and frankly I wear cloths more than I don't, so that is my biggest concern.

THAT being said, I am not completely opposed to what they call a 3-D tattoo.  That is a nipple tattoo that LOOKS three dimensional.  It gives the appearance that the nipple is raised around the areola (this is done with the use of different colours and shading - much like a 3-D drawing).

Another idea I am considering is having a tattoo done... not a nipple tattoo but ART tattoo... I'm thinking a vine, with flowers and a humming bird.  Not sure how it's all going to come together but I have thought of this long before my mastectomy was even done.  For me, the hummingbird would be the most significant part of the drawing... a hummingbird in my mind, is the epitome of perfection.  Beautiful and complete.  I love the idea of putting that picture on my foob.  Perfection.  I know my foobs/breasts/chest is not perfect, it's scared and changed from what it was meant to be... but to me, it's perfect.

Now I just have to find a drawing I like and more importantly an Artist I would trust to do it.  If ever it happens, I will most definitely post pictures.



BACK IN FULL SWING!

I really feel like I am done.   I would say I feel 95-98% recovered from my exchange surgery.  I was doing a large load of groceries, lifting cases of water and boxes of food today.  No problem.  I didn't even feel like I was straining myself!  Sure I feel some tightness across my chest area when I reach my arms straight up or when I try to move them in an arch from my sides to the top of my head (like a jumping jack).  It doesn't hurt and I know if I make a conscience decision to stretch everyday it will improve faster (it did after my first surgery).

I've actually joined an exercise class that starts next week.  I am going to learn how to dance an Irish jig!  The sign read "why jog when you can jig"  PERFECT!  :)  I have put on between 10-15lbs since my surgery in January.  I must loose this weight or I'll have to buy myself a new wardrobe for work!!  Much cheaper to lose ten pounds then by new suits!

I will try to use my exercise ball to stretch my chest muscles out too... I sit on the ball and use my feet to roll my self forward until the ball is behind my shoulder blades.  GREAT stretch, then when that 'stops' stretching, reach my arms out strait to the side... wow what a stretch!  I did this after my mastectomy too.

All in all I feel great, I'm not getting tiered like I did after the first surgery either.  For weeks/months after the first surgery I found myself drained after work; not so this time.  

Yay!

CLOTHED (20 July 2009)

So now that you have seen how my foobs look naked, lets show you what they look like covered!

The photos do not due them justice.  I am very happy with the way they look and even my 93yr old Grandma told me I had a lovely shape!  How nice to hear... then I got to tell her I wasn't even wearing a bra!  

         

So there you have it.  Even in a bathing suit... not bad.


PERFECTION  (24 July 2009)

 


I’m done my surgery.  I would say I have had no complications (maybe a little something here and there to be concerned about– but nothing like what can happen).  I have very good results.

Yet here I am, looking at myself in the mirror picking out things that are not ‘right’.  I wish this…. I wish that…. I wish this wasn’t/was there…  What’s wrong with me!?

I look for things that are not perfect.  I wish my scars were not as visible. I wish I had mentioned to my PS before my exchange about the little pucker on the bottom of one of my scars (which at the time didn’t bother me because the pucker at the top was so obvious).  I wish they were bigger (they looked better right after surgery than they do now - they were swollen then).  I wish they were softer.  I wish I had more feeling.  I wish my scars were horizontal.  I wish… I wish… I wish… RIDICULOUS!!!

I caught myself and told my husband what I was thinking, he reminded me of something: My breasts (before surgery) were not perfect, why should I want these to be?

More importantly, I feel like a superficial fool for being worried about these things when I consider the ‘big picture’.   I chose to have this surgery because I wanted to reduce my risk of breast cancer.  I did no have this surgery to get great results.  I knew going in that no matter what my results were, it would have been the right choice.  Yet here I am.

What am I doing complaining about this and that when I’ve just made a decision that will (hopefully) save me from facing that horrible disease Breast Cancer!?

On the other hand, I have made these choices and I have a ‘right’ to be happy with them.  Do I?  If I had just battled and won my fight with Breast Cancer would I really be concerned about the little pucker or would I just be happy to have my life…?  I pray I will never know the answer to that question.

I made a deal with myself before going into my second surgery.  I decided that not matter what my result, I would wait 6 months before making any decisions in regards to changing what I end up with.  After 6 months of being in expanders I thought of skipping the exchange and keeping my expanders for ever (and they looked ridiculous)!   The deal was I would wait 6 months before making any change, and I will.

I am so frustrated with myself for not being happy with my results.  Let me clarify, I am happy with my results, I just want to make them better.  With a little tuck here, a pull there, they’ll be perfect.  Or so I think.

This is the reality… my reality:  Before the surgery I had a 87% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer.  I chose to have a double mastectomy knowing full well of the possible complications and setbacks that may happen.  I went in knowing that whatever happened I would chose to be happy with my results.  It’s a choice.  It’s perspective…  Given the result I have ended up with it should be easy.

I just have to keep reminding myself of the big picture and my reality.


4 WEEKS - 1 MONTH POST EXCHANGE (25 July 2009)

Here I am, 4 weeks out from my exchange surgery.  The scars are fading very well.  I plan on doing some breast massaging this week.  I was very worried about doing that before my incisions were completely healed/closed.

They appear to be now.  I am very impressed at how good my exchange scars look (under my foob)… so small and straight compared to my vertical scar.

       

You be the judge here.  I feel as though they have ‘shrunk’; must have been the swelling from surgery.


6 WEEKS - COMPLICATIONS  (10 Aug 2009)

I figured if I made past the 4 or 5 week mark with no issues I would be 'in the clear'.  I was wrong.

About 4 days ago (exactly 6 weeks post exchange) I notice something funny looking on the top of the incision on my right foob.  It looked like a small pimple with a white head (sorry for the gross description)... there was a bit of redness around but the actual white spot was not raised above the incision.  It looked internal.

So I put some Neosporin/Polysporin on it, covered it with a band-aid and let it be.  Last night after my shower I noticed that it had opened up.  There was a little bit of clear/white discharge and some blood.  We are talking a tiny amount of anything that came out but it still freaked me out.  I put polysporin on in again and kept it covered over night.

I spoke with my PS office today, I gave the info to the woman who answered who asked me if I was running a fever, if the skin around the area was warm, if the discharge was green or yellow.  She called me back after speaking with the DR.  They said to clean it off with hydrogen peroxide and keep a thin layer of polysporin on it.  If it changes colour or starts leaking something, if I run a fever, basically if anything changes to call them again and they will set an appointment.

So far I'd say it's looking good.  I'll take a picture later today to have for my records.

The most unfortunate thing about all of this is ....  I'm wearing a BRA again!  Horrors!!

I have a real sensitivity to tape and even the band-aid glue irritates my skin.  Instead of using a band-aid I just put a clean gauze pad over the area with polysporin, to hold it in place... a bra.  Yuck!   Actually I am not finding it so bad at all.

I feel like I am holding my breath all over again.  The recovery after surgery is one thing, but I could not breath easy until my incisions had compleatly healed.  For me that was when I would no longer worry about infection,necrosis,ect,ect...  Now I have an open wound again.  Granted, it is is maybe 1mm in width as big as a pimple, but still, it's open and not healed.



I'm holding my breath again.

RELIEF  (14 Aug 2009)
 
I'm fine.  What ever it was that caused that little spot, went away.  I cleaned it with peroxide and covered it for 2-3 days with neosporin.  All redness is gone and there is a tiny little scab on it now.  Hurray!
 
I was so afraid I would have some sort of giant complication... infection or something.  After thinking I was 'out of the woods' its good to know I am once again.  This time for how long?  It's hard not to wonder if anything else will pop up... 2 weeks, 4 weeks down the road.  I try not to dwell on things like that but I suppose it is good to be aware that they can happen.



3 MONTHS  (5 Sept 2009)

I will post these pictures first then comment on them later.  I find it's been hard to keep up with my journal like I had planned.  Life has continued and I have moved on.  I have tried to sit and write and update a few times then I get distracted and never finish.  I think I have 3 saved emails in my draft folder that I have been working on!

Here are a bunch of pictures, I think my results are good. 

They are not perfect.  The last few pictures will show that...

       

Notice the flat part on the last photo. 

Now on to the others, I wanted to show how squishy they have become as well as how my incisions are healing.

         

All in all not bad.


SQUISHY SQUISHY (17 Sept 2009)

I am nearly three months out from my exchange surgery.  I am amazed at just how much 'give' my foobs seem to have now.  They were really very HARD after my exchange, with time they seem to have softened a bit; more than I ever thought they would actually.  I had prepared myself mentally to expect really firm foobs; I knew that the peace of mind I would have with the gummy bear implants would have a 'down side'.  I figured compared to the expanders these would be squishy enough!  What a pleasant surprise to see that they continue to change and soften.
 
I find the shape as changed quite a bit.  They seem to be a lot smaller than they were after surgery,  I didn't realize just how swollen I was.  There is a term that is used that says that implants 'fluff out'.  In my case, the implant itself certainly seems to have changed: softened and perhaps even 'fluffed out'.  However the whole SIZE seems to be smaller.  If you look at my most recent pictures and compare them to the ones taken just after my exchange... what a difference!!  I didn't know.  I am reminded of something my breast surgeon told me close to a year ago.  He told me I could have swelling for up to a year after the mastectomy.  Sometimes I forget just how big a surgery I had.
 

MUSCLE SPASM

I must mention that as recently yesterday, I get a sharp pain on my chest.  It is a sharp almost stabbing pain that often catches me off guard.  I would describe it as a sharp muscle spasm.  It mostly happens on my right side, on the very side of my foob, I have found that if I apply a constant firm pressure with my palm or fingers and it seems to help a little.  It passes within a few seconds (3-15seconds).  It doesn't happen often... once every couple weeks maybe.


COMING TO TERMS
 
I find I am adjusting well to the 'new' me.  I don't feel different from the way did before I had the surgery.  The best part about it all is that I am able to move on; I don't dwell on breast cancer anymore.  It was never far from my mind before I chose to have this surgery.  I find I am able to LIVE with out worry/obsessing about it.
 
I still notice other woman's breasts, sometimes I still feel sad that mine don't look the same as theirs anymore.  I try to remind myself of the upside.  I cannot tell you how much joy it brings me not to be 'bound' by my bra (both literally and figuratively)!!!

BRAS - SHOPPING FOR BRAS (25 September 2009)
 
I have been asked over and over from all sorts of women, 'what size are you now?'.  I never had an answer for them.  I didn't know and it really didn't matter to me.  However I figured I should probably get measured so I could have an answer.
 
I also read a lot about women who after their mastectomies and reconstruction when bra shopping and bought something 'pretty'.  So I decided to go shopping and see what I could find.
 
I went to a fancy lingerie store; the first thing I did was ask for help, I explained briefly my situation and let her know I was looking to try on a few bras but had NO idea as to my current size.  She measured me through my cloths.  I'm a 38C.  I was a 38D or DD before surgery and my 'goal' after surgery was to be a C.  Success.  That was nice to hear.  I explained that because of the type of implant I had there really is not much movement.  She collected about 3-4 bras (which turned into 8-12bras) and I went into the change room.
 
To make a long story short, none of them fit.  I left the store depressed and on the verge of tears.  Up until that time, I had never felt that my foobs were ugly.  But seeing them in these bras made them dimple and ripple and they looked awful!  I was so sad that nothing fit.  I had thought that because I was a smaller size I would find something.  The bras were shaped and molded, all they did was try to shift/lift my implant that wouldn't be moved!

The sad thing is, I really didn't miss wearing a bra... I'm not sure why I went to try.  Perhaps its because I've seen/spoken with other woman and for them a bra was very important.

After we left the store my husband suggested I not go bra shopping anymore.  What's the point?  I don't really WANT a bra and the process was making me depressed.  He's right.  No more for me.


4 MONTHS  (01 November 2009)
 
It has been 4 months since my exchange surgery.
 
There are a few things I have noticed.
 
First is I really am not concerned at all with my my scars.  In other words, I don't apply any cream/oil or scar lotion of any sort.  I was rather obsessed with it after my initial surgery. I'm not sure why they don't bother me anymore.  I suppose I recognise that they will fade with time; with or without my help.  That being said when I do think about my scars I realise I probably should do more to 'help' them out.  I don't even do any massage at all.  I really think the reason I don't do any of these things is because I've already moved on.  I don't worry about my foobs anymore, I no longer obsess about the next procedure.  I'm done.  So in my mind I've pretty much dismissed them as being complete.

BRAS - round 2-

I found a bra.  After my last bra shopping experience I was somewhat hesitant to try again but I did.  I learned from my first experience what would work and what wouldn’t.  I went in, told the sales woman.  I need a bra with no underwire, no padding and no molded cups; she found one!   I bought the blue one and a white one as well.   I don't wear them often but it's nice to know I can. 



I also wanted to show you a few photo of the 'not so pretty' side of implants.  The implant is placed under part of the pectoral muscle (your big chest muscle) as a result if I flex, the implants move.   I had my husband take a picture while I was flexing... 



Funny, eh?  So when ever I strain to take the lid off a can (something a struggle with a whole lot more than I used to) my foob probably looks like that under my cloths.  Nice.

Now some more to show the squishiness as well as how they are healing.  I don't know if you can see but  I am pressing quite hard on my foobs... look at my knuckles.  

    

As always, I am not very happy with my left foob.... that flat part drives me nuts!!

         

 
SCARS
 
I don't see my scars.  I don't think they are terrible.  I've met/spoken to/read of other woman who see nothing BUT their scars; as they get in/out of the shower and they catch a glimpse of themselves in the mirror it's all they can see.  Not me.  Many of these women look forward to getting their nipples tattooed as well because it will help hide the scar.  Not me.  To me my scars are not ugly; to me, they tell a success story, one of strength, overcoming obstacles and facing fears.  They are a mark of strength, endurance.  If ever I doubt myself and what I can handle, I just need to look down at my scars and am reminded that I can do anything.  Are they beautiful?  No, I suppose they are not however I do like having them.