dna

(no subject)

10 Years Later : TLH BSO

(Total Laparoscopic Hysterectomy and Bilateral Salpingo-Oophorectomy)

Last September (2018) I went in for what I hoped would be my last BRCA related surgery. A BSO or bilateral Salpingo-oophorectory - removal of both fallopian tubes and ovaries. I initially asked the Dr to do a total Hysterectomy at the same time. My Dr convinced me it would be an unnecessary procedure as the risk with BRCA2 is only for the ovarian cancer, she discouraged the additional surgery with out cause. She said it was more invasive and there were more risks of complications as the bladder and bowel both have to be moved to access the uterus.

So we went ahead with the BSO, I was just shy of my 39th birthday; as such we decided to go ahead with Hormone Therapy (HT), so at the time of the BSO the Dr placed and IUD in my uterus in order for me to take an estrogen patch without worrying about the uterus. At the time she placed the IUD she took a biopsy of the uterine wall.

Surgery and recovery went very well; I felt very good and didn't stay on the pain meds too long. In fact the week after the surgery I felt well enough to go on road trip.

Fast forward to when the biopsy results come in - it's never good when the Dr calls and asks "is now a good time to talk".  Dr advised me the biopsy came back with complex hiperplasia without atipia.  Long name but basically it was an abnormal result with a build up of cells along the uterine wall, in some cases this can lead to uterine cancer.

So we decided then to followup with another surgery to remove the uterus; this happened last week, January 15th, 2019. I'm thankful now to have that last organ gone.

I anxiously await the pathology from this surgery.

Menopause

Menopause has been good to me so far. The day after my BSO I put on my Estrodot hormone patch. Its a low dose right now but it seems to manage most of my symptoms, my menopause Dr would like to raise the dose but was uncomfortable doing that until my uterus was removed; I see her next week so that should happen then.

After I mentioned I had a bit of dryness in my first visit post-BSO, the Dr immediately put me on an estrogen suppository called Vagifem; I put a pill in 3 times a week. That has take care of any issues at all.

I’ve had a few nights were I have a hot flush. Thankfully I don’t get night sweats, just what I describe as a hole body blush. My whole body feels warm, thankfully it passes pretty quickly.

I think that pretty much brings you up to date.

dna

(no subject)

7 Years Later & Tattoo!

Wow. It has been 7 years since my mastectomy; it is amazing to me just how quickly time passes.

First of all, I feel great.  Life has really gone back to normal for me. It's hard to believe after living from Doctors appointment to Doctors appointment for so long.

Now when someone asks 'How are you?' or 'What's new?' my foobs are not the first thing that crosses my mind - in fact they are not even thought of at all.

I have remained involved in the BRCA Community over the past few years, thanks to the Training and Support of Willow ; I now facilitate a Peer Support Group in my area. I've learned how important it is to set boundaries I was almost burned out by trying to be everything to everyone at our group. I've learned to let these women support each other; it's a powerful thing.

I have mentioned in the passed that I would consider having an art tattoo vs getting nipple tattoos done.  That what I have done.

The desire to do this has been there from the beginning however I was hesitant because I did not have an artist or exact image in mind.  I had an idea of what I wanted tattooed but had no idea how to have it come together.  That's when I saw the piece that Karen Malkin Lazarovitz had done.  There was a BuzzFeed Video made of her story and tattoo : Why I Removed My Healthy Breasts and Ovaries I fell in love with her tattoo! It was so soft and beautiful, the colours were exactly what I was looking for. I knew instinctively I could trust the artist to do something beautiful for me. I found the tattoo artist Meaghan Goeb worked at a shop about an hour and a half from my city. I made contact with her immediately and that's when we started discussing my tattoo.  She was wonderful to work with and we messaged back and forth different designs and ideas.

Session ONE was December 10, 2015.  After 5 hours, this is what we have.  I love it!




I meet with her again for Session TWO, March 10, 2016; we will be touching up the current tattoo and working on the other side.  I will post again once that is done.
dna

(no subject)

Three Years Later - They are not perfect... but they are mine  (March 2012)

I know it is hard to think as you are living this journey that there will be an "after" - there is. There comes a time where you are not obsessed with Drs appointments, procedures, implants, cc's, surgery; There is life beyond all that..... and life is 'normal' once again.

I am not completely free of reminders of my surgery... in fact I still have muscle spasms from time to time so I have to be careful. I realize I have not focused enough time on rebuilding the strength in my pectoral muscles. Most recently (about 2 months ago) my husband and I were sitting in the front row of a concert at a local church when my left foob started to spasm! (I had been doing some pretty heaving shoveling of snow earlier in the day) So there I was sitting in the front row grabbing my left foob. The muscle felt tight and sore, I was able to find some relief by pressing with my palm open firmly on my foob. -nice view for they band on stage!!- Thankfully I had a scarf and was able to hide what I was doing from those who would happen to glance my way - I hope.

They're not perfect but they're mine; as my 'old' breast were not perfect, I no longer expect these to be.

Over these years I have been blessed to meet others in my area who are facing the same choices those of us who cary this mutation are faced with. Some have chosen to have the surgery.... and I've noticed that their results seem so much nicer than mine. I'm OK with that. My foobs are not perfect but they do feel like they are my own.

I am not as quick to do a 'show and tell' in a public bathroom as I was so eager to do soon after my surgery, nor does the subject of my mastectomy come up in daily conversation nearly as much as it used to... Again I think it's simply because I am moving forward with life.

I am so happy to find there are so many more resoures out there than there were even a few years ago. One site I have found to be packed with really wonderful information including fact sheets, sample leters of how to tell ones family about the BRCA mutation as well as other usefull information: http://www.inourgenes.ca/

It is hard for me to believe it has been 3 years from my initial surgery; it seems like just yesterday and yet at the same time it feels so far away, almost another life. I know that I went through those things ... I just don't "feel" it any longer. I'm not sure if I am making myself clear, I'm just not sure how to better express it.

Before I sign off again I would like to take a moment to say thank you for those who write. Please know I value each letter.

Blessings to you all,
~Lianne

dna

(no subject)

PUBLIC POOL  (20 January 2010)
 
My foobs had their fist public appearance last night.  It went well.   My husband and I went to the local pool for public swim.  I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous to be naked in front of other women in the change room; what if they noticed my lack of nipples and my scars?  My shape is not glaringly different but the look certainly is.
 
I decided that I would not try to hide them.  It went very well.  My thought is this; if someone notices my foobs, it’s a good thing.  I can educate them (without words) of what a mastectomy and reconstruction looks like.  For so many of us, when we think of mastectomies, we think our butchered mothers or grandmothers.  That is not the case today.  I figure if they can take home a memory of ‘that woman at the pool’ who had reconstruction and it looked … pretty good/not bad/not scary… and noticed that I was comfortable with myself; maybe if breast cancer ever strikes close to home, they can recall ‘that woman at the pool’.  Perhaps that is giving myself too much credit.  Maybe nobody noticed; if they did, maybe they were grossed out by it.  I kept my eyes to myself and focused on getting ready.  When I went to leave, I did see one woman give me a shy smile.  Maybe she did notice after all.  :)
 
It was an ‘adult swim’ time, I considered if I would do things differently if it was a ‘family swim’.  Would I try to cover myself more in the change room?   Would it ‘traumatize’ a little one to see me?   Should I be hiding myself?  What if a little noticed I was different and asked her Mom.  “What’s wrong with that lady?”   What would I do?   I figured I will say something along these lines “it’s OK (to the mom); I’d explain that I was sick on the inside so the Dr’s took out the parts that were sick and replaced it with good stuff, that’s why I look different.”  I don’t have children, so I wonder if that would be enough or too much?   I supposed depending on the age of the child…
 
It brought up more issues for me than I thought.  It has been almost a full year since my first surgery.  I have chosen to share my story with as many people as I can through my online journal.  I would/still do a ‘show and tell’ to anyone who shows any interest in what I’ve been through.  Before showing them, I always ‘brief’ them on what they will see… “OK, I don’t have nipples, I have a 5inch scar that runs from the top to the bottom of my breast ect.”; this was different.  It was somehow more personal,  I was exposing myself to women who were not ‘ready’ to see my scars. 

I had to decide BEFORE I went, that I was not going to be embarrassed or ashamed of my body.   In my private life, I have chosen to see my scars as strength of character, proof of what I have gone through and a reminder that I can do anything.  I am not ashamed or unhappy with how I look in private, why should I let this instance be any different?


ONE YEAR  (24 January 2010)

I wonder if it is strange that I want to CELEBRATE my mastectomy date?  Perhaps it is strange; Happy anniversary to me non-the less!  One year.  It is hard to believe one year as already passed since that first surgery.

I feel good.  I still get muscle cramps across my foob; in fact I had one this morning.   They are few and far between now though, maybe once a month.  I really do feel done.  I do not plan on making any tattoo decisions in the near future.  I do plan to meet with a local tattoo artist to discuss doing 'artwork' instead of a  nipple tattoo - although I have still not completely discarded that idea yet.  I do know for sure I do not want nipple reconstruction.  I like the way I look now or perhaps I have simply gotten used to it?

I have been trying to remember to massage with oil like I did after the first surgery, I just have not been disciplined in that.  I also bought some silicone strips to put over my scars - they are supposed to help reduce their visibility; again, I have not been constant with that either.  It seems I have really moved on. 

I try to check in with the on-line group that I was so attached to but now I just seem to be frustrated by what I read.  Most of what seems to be asked or discussed is the same stuff we when through 6-7months ago.  When did I become so impatient?  I do still meet with a group of local women who are all at high risk or have had breast cancer, I do not tire of that; perhaps because it is face to face.

Once in a while I receive a 'thank you' note from someone who has read my journal.  I do appreciate those letters.  It's nice to know that my journal is doing what I really wanted it to do.  Show others what this surgery can be.  Although we may all will have different experiences with our DRs, pain management and healing; we are going through the same process.

I have included some photos too.  I have gained about 15lbs since last year, my goal is to loose that weight before my 2nd anniversary.  I am happy with the healing for the most part until I look closely at my left side....there is still a very FLAT part where I think it should be round.  I even notice it through cloths!  Perhaps when I meet with my Plastic Surgeon (for my 1 year follow up this summer) I will ask her if there is anything that can be done about it.

       

I have also come across some wonderful blogs while working on this one.  I will post them for you.  We all have a different story to tell, a different experience, sometimes its just nice to know we are not alone.

http://brca2blog.wordpress.com/
http://www.onestepscoop.com/
http://brcaismy4letterword.blogspot.com/
http://sandradginzburg.typepad.com/imamutant/
http://itsinthegenes.wordpress.com/
http://myblip.wordpress.com/
http://goodbyetoboobs.blogspot.com/
http://thebreastsonmychest.blogspot.com/
http://lisaschoice.blogspot.com/?zx=73f55d7390a298f8
http://jenn4011.livejournal.com/
http://boobnoophbrca1.blogspot.com/
http://www.bridgesgirl.com/BridgesGirl/
http://brcajourney.blogspot.com/
http://mmargsnow.blogspot.com/
http://thebrcablog.wordpress.com/

Enjoy.

The SCAR Project
   (March 2010)

A photographer has taken on the passion/responsibility of photographing women after mastectomy and breast surgery.  What an undertaking!  I wish I could remember where I first came across his website, perhaps Facebook.  As soon as I looked at his photos I was inspired!  Have a look for yourself:  http://www.thescarproject.org/  As soon as I found the site, I wanted to be part of it.  I wrote the photographer, told him a little of my story and he said he would love to photograph me!  He asked if I could join him for his photo shoot in New York City next month (that means a bit of travel for me).  Before agreeing, I discussed it with my husband.  Having a blog is one thing, exposing myself from the waist up, no face; posing topless for a photographer is another. :)  I explained to my husband just how important I felt this opportunity was for me; from the very start of this process I have always planned to have 'after' shoots taken; this is an opportunity I did not expect...  After discussing it with my husband, I agreed.

Next month I will be making the trip to New York with a friend who has agreed to come with me.  This friend has been a great support to me during this process, I am looking forward to sharing this with with her.  I am anxious to take this next step although nervous at the same time.   I have shown the photos from the website to several different people and have received quite mix reviews from people, some find the photos "hard to look at", someone even mentioned the word "butchered" .... ouch.... It hurts me to hear that.  Maybe because I have lived through it, I don't see it that way at all.   Although it may not be mainstream beauty, I think these women are stunning.  What I like the most is the photographer's style, I find he really captures the woman he is photographing; each one is so different; strength, sadness, victorious...

 Before I go for the shoot the photographer asked me to write a bit of an intro about me, here's what I wrote:

"I am not a breast cancer survivor; I have never had cancer and yet I chose to have a bilateral mastectomy.
 
Here's why: I have one of the two known "breast cancer genes|", otherwise known as the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations.  Everyone has the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes; however some people inherit an abnormal (mutated) one.  The women who inherit this abnormal gene have up to an 87% risk of developing breast cancer by age 70; they are also at increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.  It is important to note that most breast cancers are not genetic; the BRCA mutations only account for 5-10% of all diagnosis.
 
Instead of living with the risk and waiting for cancer to strike; I decided to be pro-active and remove both my healthy breasts in order to reduce my risk by over 90%.  No, I am not a survivor but I do consider myself something else; a previvor (pree.VY.vur), someone who is not diagnosed with cancer, but has a higher risk of cancer due to a certain genetic mutation [blend of pre and survivor].
 
When I was researching my options for surgery, I found it very hard to find good, clear, useful information about mastectomies.  It was then I decided to be very open with others about my surgery.  I even kept an online journal documenting my progress in words and pictures with the hope that my experience may help others have an idea of what to expect; http://lianne-brca2.livejournal.com/ 
 
I want women to know that this surgery is not as scary as we imagine it, nor are we left looking terrible when it is done;  that is why I feel so blessed to be part of The SCAR Project.  I share my story to raise awareness of the BRCA mutations but more importantly to show that women can still feel beautiful, even after this surgery."

JUNE  2010

First of all I must apologize for not updating my blog sooner.  I have been meeting to write the following entries for some weeks,  I just find that I have moved on so much from my surgery it is hard for me to get back into blog/breast mode, to focus on really expressing myself when it comes to my foobs.  It's hard for me to 'go back' because I feel like I have come so far. 
 
LAST DR'S APPOINTMENT (March 8, 2010)
 
I wanted to meet with Dr T again to speak about a couple issues that I was not happy with.  I still struggle with seeking perfection/ the endless debate of shouldn't I just be happy to have shape? why am I seeking perfection? On the flip side, I've chosen to have this surgery, I have a right to be happy with the results.  Will I ever be really happy, they will never move like they should?
 
Back to my appointment.  I wanted to ask her about two things specifically.  First is the flat part on my left foob, it is still there and I still don't like it.  Dr T basically said there was nothing she could do about it, it has to do about the shape of the implant. Strange because the other side is just fine.  Then she suggested a procedure she has not preformed before.  She would take some fat from my belly (liposuction) and inject it under the skin where the flat part is on my foob.  The injected fat would fill out that flat spot.  She has not done it before, however I am more than happy to let her try this new procedure on me!  
 
She said she would order the equipment she needs and will get in touch with me.  No news yet.
 
MY BODY IS MY OWN
 
I was sitting down watching TV with my husband one night a few weeks back and rubbed my hands over my foobs and I realized something... my foobs feel like PART of me.   I will try to explain what I mean by that statement...  My foobs they feel like they always have, in other words, I don't remember what touching my 'real' breasts felt like.  What I was touching/feeling.... was me.   Some time ago (3 weeks after my first surgery) I announced that I was feeling normal - I no longer felt like I had foreign objects in my body.  Now, not only to I feel normal but my hands and mind are telling me that this is normal - its me.   I hope that I am making myself understood.  It is harder to put into words than I had imagined.  
 
Basically I feel whole.  My body is my own and I am complete.  It's a pretty good feeling.  I hope you understand what I am trying to explain. 
 
NIPPLES
 
I still do not feel the need or desire for nipples.  BUT.  A friend of mine, who I met through this whole experience was sent nipples as a GIFT for her birthday!  That's right nipples, in fact she was sent 2 sets of nipples.  Silicone, stick on nipples.  They are available online in the US at www.sears.com  you can buy them individually or as a set http://www.sears.com/shc/s/search_10153_12605?vName=Health+%26+Wellness&keyword=nipples 
 
This friend of mine offered me her spare set!  Truely one of the coolest things I've seen. (Thank you Laura!!)  Stick on, reusable nipples. They come in a small plastic case, reminds me of my contact case.  Take them out and try to place them, the first time I put them on I did not like them at all.   I have been so used to seeing no colour on my chest even the small circle of light pink/brown was disterbing to me.  Then I got used to the idea a little.  I now take them out on special occations!  Once in a while I'll even wear them to work!!  I haven't been flashing my foobs in quite a few months, but when I have these nipples on... I want to show them off again!  The toughest part is the placement of them... I'm sure I have them on crooked most times, I don't mind. 
 
I find this has solved something I had be struggling with.  I think my husband would like me to have nipples tattoos, I still really do not want them.  Do you see how this has solved my issue?!  I can put temporary nipples on!   No lifetime commitment of colour/shape.  I am a very happy camper and am suprised at just how much fun I think these nipples are!

     
             
THE END  (01 June 2010)
 
Tomorrow I am flying to New York City to be photographed by David Jay, a photographer that has been working on something called The SCAR Project.  He is photographing young women who have had mastectomies in order to raise awareness of this terrible disease Breast Cancer.
 
When I first decided to go ahead with this surgery, about 3 years ago, I met with a friend of mine (locally) who was a photographer.  I wanted to take pictures of my breasts, I wanted to make sure that I could look back (I haven't, btw) and see what I had given up.  That is also when I decided I would document my journey in words and pictures; for me that also meant taking the 'before' photos.  Even when I met with this friend for the photo shoot, I knew I would be posing at some point for the 'after' photos.  Now, this opportunity to be part of The SCAR Project has come along and I have come to see it as the completion of my mission.  The last thing left to do.  I am truly excited to be given the opportunity to be photographed by a professional and to be part of such a Project. 
 
I do feel it does in some way mark the end.  It all started with my posing for before photos, then surgery, more photos, more surgery, more photos.... now this. 
 
Now that it is here, I am surprised at the significance of this moment.  Not only being part of The SCAR Project but this trip to New York as well.  I am flying down with my sister and a friend.  Two of the strongest supports to me though-out this whole experience.  My sister, who slept on a love seat for a week after my surgery, who set her alarm every 4 rs to give me my pain meds, empty my drains and document it all, who wouldn't let me get up to walk to the bathroom on my own, who helped pull my shorts up because I couldn't do it myself, I could go on and on.  My friend, who has always been there to support me, who never once doubted or questioned any of my choices, even when I brought the idea up for the fist time, who has truly always 'had my back' through this and everything I have faced, one of the strongest women I know.  In addition, both of these women where with me when I went for my MRI biopsy, the event that was really the trigger for my doing this surgery.  That MRI biopsy meant a 4 hr road trip with an overnight stay at a hotel.  This time, a 2 day trip with over night stay.  I feel like I've come full circle in some way.  It all started with these two women and now, it ends.
 
Perhaps I am being overly dramatic about this.... maybe I am.  Maybe not. 

SURPRISING PAIN  (21 December 2010)

It is winter here again.  I have been doing very well.  So well in fact, that I have not felt the need to write.  I will however add a couple things that have been on my mind lately after this post.... more on  nipples and tattoos.

Back to the snow.  We moved this summer, now we have a large back patio deck and our driveway is quite a bit larger too.   We  haven't had a crazy amount of snow fall, but enough that it should be cleared off the patio and driveway.  There was about 6 inches of snow, it was quite light though so off I went; I grabbed my shovel and started shoving the snow off the balcony, shoveling the snow off the steps and throwing it off the sides.  Once I was done with that, I took out the snow blower and did a bit of work with that out front on the driveway.  All in all I must have been out for maybe an hour or so.  Not much more than that;  the sun was shining it was a beautiful day and I felt great.  Until Midnight.

My husband and I had gone for dinner and decided to stay at a hotel for the evening.  The pain woke me about midnight.  I was in so much pain, I could not tell were it hurt; from my waist to my shoulders front and back.  I thought maybe it was food poisoning or the flu.  I lay on my stomach and felt that all too familiar pain across my foobs to my shoulders.   I took two pain killers and tried to get comfortable; I could not.  I decided I would try a bath, maybe that would relax my muscles.  (a luxury we are are not afforded after a mastectomy)  As soon as I got in it did give me some relief, we put a towel in the tub and covered my chest with it while I was lying down and when I sat up, we put the hot towel on my back.  I was on the verge of telling my husband we had to go home because I needed something stronger for the pain that Advil, thankfully the warm bath did relax me some, I was able to fall asleep.

For the following 2 days I have been taking 2 Advil every 4hrs.  If I forget, the pain returns.  I tried taking only one pill; it was not sufficient.  It is Tuesday and the pain it Saturday.  I was able to go without any pain medication till about 11am today; then back to the 2 Advil.

This is the most pain I have experienced since the mastectomy itself.   The biggest difference is my arms were not sore, nor did it hurt to take a deep breath; just a deep, dull muscle ache.  Monday, it hurt to put any pressure at all on my foobs; I took a warm bath with Epsom Salts before going to bed and that was wonderful.

I would like to be able to describe the pain for you, all I can say is it was 'mastectomy pain'.   A soreness unlike any other, one I was familiar with and did not like at all.

What now?  Does this mean I never shovel again?  I'm not going to lie, the idea scares me a bit now;  I do NOT want to go through this again!  This has thought me that although I did not realize I was doing it; I have been 'babying' my chest muscles, going easy on them.  I must not do that!  I must use them!!  I know women who go back to kayaking, body building, push-ups after their mastectomies.  I need to do more.  I do not consider myself to be all that out of shape, however I need to do more.  Maybe some light weights, push-ups?  I must figure something out.

I will keep shoveling, however I will set myself a time limit 20minutes at a time; maybe that will help to build up those muscles again.

TO NIPPLE OR NOT TO NIPPLE

Yes, that is still the question.   I have good news, there are more options available to us than I first thought! 

There is of course having nipple reconstruction; that normally consists of a tattoo for colour and a small surgery under local anesthetic to recreate the nipple.

Next of course, is the silicone nipple.  The one I mentioned in a previous post; sadly it appears that SEARS is no longer carrying them.  I will try to find another place were we can get them.

Most recently I received an email from a woman who came across my blog from the FORCE website.  This woman told me of a new product.... RUB-ON Nipples!!!!    That's right _temporary_ 3D nipple tattoos!   For people like me who have no desire to commit to a nipple tattoo; this will be a very nice option!  I have ordered a set and when I get them, will post pictures for you all to see.  In the mean time, the website were I got them is:  http://tattooednipples.com/?page_id=333




Now for the last and very exciting option, not having to do with nipples at all really.  A henna tattoo.  For those of you who are not familiar you can google henna tattoo, you will see many images.  I have a colleague where I work that is an artist, she paints.  She has been a wonderful support to me throughout my process.  Always supportive and interested to be part of my 'show and tell' in the ladies bathroom.  It escapes me exactly how the subject came up, however she mentioned she would like to paint me.    We spoke of it again recently; I have purchased some henna and we hope to meet up soon to give it a try.  I had mentioned to her how much I like hummingbirds and I would like to have that incorporated somehow in my tattoo.

I am very much looking forward to meeting with her and getting this done!  The most wonderful thing about it, it will be temporary!  We can try a design and it will wash off in a few weeks!  Then we try again.  Here are the photos.

         

Pretty cool.


TWO YEARS   (23 January 2011)

I can hardly believe it has been two years since my surgery.

I had my husband take pictures to really see how things have progressed... I think that they have.

I feel as though my foobs are really a part of my body now, it appears as well that the scars have faded quite a bit;  You be the judge.

       


dna

(no subject)

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.
dna

(no subject)

DAY 2 (28 June 2009)

Good news is I slept a full 10 hours!  Even with being woken up every 4hrs for my pill I slept 10 hours!  Wonderful!

However, when I got up I was sorer than I was on Day 1.  I think that is odd, and yet when  I consider the way muscle pain seems to work, it always does seem to hurt more the second day after your big exercises.

I still had that really sore muscle feeling right across the top of my chest.  It took a few minutes of being up and standing for that to pass.  Then I would feel fine.

I lay on the couch and watched movies in the AM, when it was time to get up I would always hold my breath, and stand very still till the pain passed, not long, just a few seconds.

I took short walk down our street and all of a sudden was exhausted.  Not sure if it was the walk (it was SHORT 1/2 block) or what it was but I was tired.

I went to bed around noon and slept the rest of the afternoon away.  My girlfriend came over to take me out in the evening, a 'girls night' BBQ and swimming (no swimming for me of course).  She came a braided my hair (I think I will go to a salon to have it washed Day 3), and drove me to our friends place.  I took my pillow in the car to have across my chest, but the ride was surprisingly easy.

A good night out too.  Of course I was not the life of the party but I was able to sit and enjoy good company and good conversation.  It really was good to get out.  I remember after my first surgery at DAY 7 I was going crazy having not left the house.  This was very good for me.  I was very careful not to overdue anything.   It was hard for me not to help with the setup / clearing of the table, but I think my friends understood! :)

I did leave earlier than the others I got pretty tired all of a sudden.  My husband came and picked me up, took me home.  

We decided after my pill at 11pm if I could try sleeping through the night without waking up for my 3am dose.   Sure, we'll try.  I slept until 6am!  Then I asked for a pill.  Not bad!



DAY 3 (29 June 2009)

I woke feeling quite rested.  Getting up this morning from my bed hurt about 50% LESS than it did yesterday.  That's nice.

My hair is dirty so I may get my husband to drive me to a local salon to have it washed.  I have been doing pretty well with my baby wipes on the rest of my body.

I am really looking forward to be in 'unwrapped' tomorrow!!  Hurray!

I chose not to take any of my presription drugs during the day.  Down to 2 regular strength Tylenol.  (= just over 1 extra strength).   After waking up at 6am and taking the Percocet I was able to wait until 12:00 noon, before taking Tylenol again, then I waited till 5pm for the next dose of Tylenol then about 10pm for my Percocet (I will continue that at night for a couple days I think, it helps me sleep)

The day was long, puttered around the house, I would still have the pain across my chest when I stood up, on a scale of 1-10 it only every got up to about 5 or 6.  

My incisions are starting to itch; I lifted my bra and peeked!  They look good and I suppose itchy means healing, of course I must resist to the itch even with freshly washed hands, fingernails are gross. :)

My husband did take me out for an hour or so in the afternoon, I was looking for a salon to have my hair washed.  We went to 4 different places, not a SINGLE one was open!!  I guess hair shops are closed in my city on Sundays; I never knew.

When we got home I was tired so lay on the couch.
I rested but never really slept throughout the day.  

Took it easy for the evening.  Went to bed around 10pm.


DAY 4 (29 June 2009)

I slept through the night.  I woke up at 6am (my normal wake-up time) and took two Tylenol.  When I stood up to go to the bathroom, I waited to for the pain to hit me.  I would say on a pain scale of 0-10 it peaked at around 2 or 3 when I got up this morning.  What a great improvement!  Not bad at all, not only did it not hurt to stand up like it used to but I do not feel as stiff either.  Good way to start the day.

I actually drove myself to the local mall to get my hair washed.  The lady charged me $5.00!  Not a bad, she even added a bit of product and used the dryer to take some of the dampness away.  I was only on Tylenol, and I felt good enough to drive.  I still kept a small pillow between me and the seat-belt.   There was absolutely no pain or even discomfort when driving.  Not when turning not when shoulder checking (that's the two things that hurt the first time).  I even went to a friend's house for a visit before going home and leaving for my PS appointment.

My husband and I arrived a little early but did not have to wait long before going in and seeing the Dr.  She cut open my bandages and said it looked quite good.  I said can I peek?  She has a floor length mirror and I had a look.  I think they look AMAZING!    Just imagine, I think they look this good now...  wait till I give it some time!!

She said bra every day 24/7 for 3 weeks, showering is ok.  However no direct water on the front, so water on my back, dripping over my front is ok.

I asked about risk of infection and necrosis, she said it probably would have presented itself if it was going to.  Good news.
Next appointment in 2 weeks.

Now for the pictures!  I took a bunch; I want to document how they change over time.

         

I think they look awesome!  I am so happy with them.  The next few are just more detailed pictures.  I'm sure with time they will look a little different.  I am SO happy she was able to fix the 'pucker' on both of my foobs!  If you look closely on the left side near the top of the foob you can see the long string that is the stitch; it looks like fishing line.

       

The left side seems to have a bit more 'loose' skin, Dr said the healing should correct that.

One more photo to include today.  This is me in a bra.  I have the little gauze pads between my bottom incisions and my bra. 



The look is very different from the 'old me'.  I knew it would be, I just need to adjust to seeing the new me.

I finished the day without a nap. By the second half of the day I was taking regular strength Tylenol every 4hrs.  My body tells me when the time is up for sure, but nothing really bad.

I decided to wait until day 5 to shower, I don't feel gross and I like to give my wounds an extra days healing before wetting them again!

I decided to take a Percocet to help me sleep during the night.  I won't do that again, I woke several times and had a couple really bad/sad dreams.  No Thanks.


DAY 5   (01 July 2009)

After my night of sad dreams I did not feel rested, after I woke at 6 or 7, I took a Tylenol and went back to bed.  I slept till 10am!  

I took a shower today too!  It was wonderful!  I feel so clean and fresh now.

 Made it through the day without a nap or even wanting one.

Still on regular strength Tylenol every 4 hrs.

Still feel the stiffness in the muscles across my chest.


DAY 6

I woke this morning feeling rested despite the fact I took only 1 regular strength Tylenol before going to bed.  I am very happy about that.

I'm trying to do some of my post-mastectomy stretches to help be rid of the tight feeling and improve my range of motion.  Still no lifting for me.  I carry my purse but that's it.  I'm afraid to overexert myself... This is my last surgery...  I don't want to do anything to mess things up.  I want things to HEAL in the right places.  :)


DAY 7 - 10 (05 July 2009)

Feeling good and strong.... still trying not to do too much with my arms.  Off all pain medications but take a Tylenol when I happen to feel any discomfort.

Like after my first surgery, I get these stabbing pains in my incision sites.  Very strange, just one quick pang and it passes.  I flinch and it's gone; ever any warning as to when it will hit.  I could almost point at the exact location on my incision where it came from though.  I remember I had this after my first surgery too.


ITCHY

Oh, am I itchy!  Only at my incision site, perhaps it's because I am healing, perhaps because it summer and I am sweating more or maybe it is a reaction to the tape that is there.  I have skin issues with different kinds of tape before.   It seems to bother me when the tape gets wet (after shower, sweating etc).  I'll give it some time, if it doesn't get better I will go see Dr T.


DAY 10

I do not expect to see a major difference between day 4 and day 10.  The bruising I had on my left foob is gone...  maybe the shape is a bit better too, by shape I mean the skin around the implant looks better.

         

Still another week till my next follow-up with Dr T.  I will try to take pictures every week. 



Day 12  (07 July 2009)

The day the tape came off!  I called my PS office to check to see what could be done about the tape that was making me so itchy.  I realise it is normal to be itchy were the incision is, you know what they say, it means it's healing.  My itching was around the sides of the incision, under the tape... it was driving me crazy.

I got a call back from the PS office saying to go ahead and remove the tape.  Do it while in the shower so the glue is wet.  Pull gently and not quickly.

DONE.  No problem at all.  I waited until the end of my shower, brought a mirror and pulled slowly and gently.  I was expecting to remove all the scabs but next to nothing came off with the tape.  Now of course I have this sticky residue all over, I tried to wipe some off with a clean swab.... AROUND my incision not across.

Of course me and my picture taking, I couldn't resist taking one to share. 



I am really impressed at just how small the incision is!!  The best part is, when I look at myself 'straight on', I can hardly see it at all.  I know with time, this scar will be barely noticeable at all!

There is still a bit of wrinkling/puckering going on near the sides of my foobs.  I am convinced that will correct itself with time; if it doesn't, I am willing to live with them the way they are.

dna

(no subject)

DAY 1

I woke up feeling a little stiff this morning.  Once I was up and moved around a bit I felt better.

Despite being up for a couple hours in the night I feel very well rested.  I bushed my teeth, washed my face and wiped myself down with baby wipes.  FRESH!

Then I hurried downstairs to get my husband to take my Day 1 pictures.  Here they are:

         

I think they look pretty good!  I really understand what is said when they say they 'look' flat.  So far I am very pleased with them.  

Dr T said if I wanted to I could shower on Sunday or Monday (surgery was Thursday).  Again, no direct water flow on the chest and I must be sure to dry off well, we have a VERY warm weekend forecasted.  Maybe I'll just sit in the tub, water to my waist.

The plan today is to stay in, watch movies, make a few phone calls.  I feel well enough that I could go out, but then I reason with myself and think how foolish that idea is.

REST... REST... REST... how many times are we told this?  Too many, and yet when we feel good, it's one of the hardest things to do.

When I take a deep breath I feel soreness across to 'top' of my chest.  Dr T said this would happen because she had to create space for the implant up there, remember how low my dented expanders were?

I feel soreness across the muscle going to my arm pit, especially on the right side.  My range of motion is good I can lift my arms straight in front of me 90* easily, the side too, although I feel a bit of pulling to the side.

All in all, very encouraging.

*****

Day 1 for me ended badly.  OK, perhaps not badly but worse than I thought.  I seem to be having a lot of muscle pain across the top of my chest.  Dr T mentioned I may feel this because she had to create room for the top of the implant.  I feel a tightness from shoulder to shoulder.  

As long as I am moving everything seems to be okay.  After an hour or so of lying down or sitting in one position;  it HURTS to get up, I feel gravity pulling at my foobs and a tightness all across my chest.  The good news is it lasts for only for 5-10 seconds, then once I start moving again, the pain goes away.

I want to describe it like the day after you have done WAY too much exercise and all your muscles are stiff;  you wake up in the morning and it HURTS, then you get up, get moving and it works itself out.  That  seems to be how it i
s.

So I want to keep moving so I don't feel sore, but I know my body needs me to rest to heal.  So I must.  One thing is for sure, I am staying on my 4hr/pain med schedule.

dna

(no subject)

6 MONTHS POST OP - DAY BEFORE EXCHANGE  (24 June 2009)

Here we are.
 
I went to the Hospital Monday morning to get some blood work done and of course the requisite urine sample.  Things have been so busy at work recently I haven't been able to think (or worry) too much about this surgery.  In fact I just realised last week that I had not filled my new prescription for my pain meds.  I picked them up this weekend.
 
I have also compiled a list of things to buy/prepare/bring for my surgery.  Since it is only a 'day surgery'.  I do not need to pack overnight stuff.
 
To bring:
  • front closing bra (as requested by Dr. T for after surgery)
  • lip balm
  • eye drops (I get dry eyes)
  • hair band
  • crocs (non-slip at hospital and comfy)
  • pillow (for the ride home)
  • front closing light shirt (it's supposed to be warm)
  • comfy pants
  • socks (incase I get cold feet)
  • iPod
  • camera (have a photo taken before exchange)
  • bike shorts (for under hospital gown)
 To Buy:
  • unscented/all natural soap (for when I am able to bathe)
  • baby wipes (for UNTIL I am able to bathe)
 
Prepare:
  • put fresh sheets on the bed
  • make sure my button front shirts are within easy reach
  • pull out my favourite movies
  • start taking stool softener a couple days in advance (anesthesia & pain meds will constipate)

So I think I'm ready.  I need to get my house in order today; get some laundry done, change sheets and set up a 'comfy spot' for me in the living room.

Of course I must include photos with my last post before my exchange. :)  Over-all I am very happy with the way they look.  I think my scars have faded nicely.

         

I have a few things to ask/mention to Dr. T before my surgery...  I seem to have some 'loose' skin on my left side.  This next photo shows what I am referring to.  I have also included one with my arms raised... the 'dents' of my horseshoe expanders are very clear...

    

Aside from the extra skin on the left there is a small pucker at the top of my current scars.   I do not like them.   So, I will ask Dr. T to remove any extra skin on the left and also to deal with the little pucker.  Not a huge deal, but something I would really like to see gone.

So there you have it.  I'm ready.


EXCHANGE SURGERY  (26 June 2009)

I made it through.  It is the day after my exchange and I cannot believe how good I feel.  I wonder how much of it has to do with feeling good emotionally as well.  It is such a relief to be DONE!

This is NOTHING compared to the first surgery.  Even without the block the pain is VERY manageable.   My husband has been giving me my pain killers every 4 hours; we will continue that for a good 24hrs post surgery.  I am a big believe in not trying to 'push' through the pain; I think I will heal better if I am not suffering.

This is how my day went down.

Hospital called to ask me to come in for 8:30, surgery was scheduled for 10:00 (or 10:30).  I was too fast from midnight the day before.  We leave the house in plenty of time and there at 8:00am.

The nurse very kindly brought us to a semi-private room (which we had to ourselves all day).  Gave me a gown and told me to strip and put the gown on.  She came back, took my vitals and temp (all is well).  She asked me if there was any change in my health and did I have any jewelry/piercings or any other metal on me?  (In case something goes wrong during surgery and I need any other care -MRI- they do not want to have to worry about those things)

She advised me when the time came; someone would bring me down to the OR.  I would meet briefly with my surgeon before going in and they would put the IV in when I was brought into the OR.

We waited and waited.  They didn’t' even come to GET me until about 1100am.  I left my husband with a kiss and a prayer and off I go.

They wheel me to a waiting area with about 4 other beds.  We were pretty tightly packed.   The pre-op nurse came out to go over my information: confirm my DR and my surgery.  Asked me if I had any questions, I didn't.  I waited some more.  I actually rolled to my side and fell asleep for a bit.  I woke up around 12:15.  My 'roommates' were coming and going during this time (there were 4 OR rooms in operating order).

Dr. T came to see me and I showed her my expanders for the last time.  She had her blue marker and the first thing she went to mark was the pucker on both sides of my expander.  She had a look at the shape and marked the incision line for this time.  UNDER my 'breast', I will have what is commonly known as an anchor scar or breast reduction scar.

She asked me if we wanted to create my nipple at this time as well.  I said no.  I would like to wait (I'm still not sure if I will do anything at all in the way of nipples... maybe simply a 3-D tattoo)

We discussed using the largest implant we had ordered and she mentioned to me, that because of the way they are shaped they may seem flatter than my expanders.  I understand (more than she realizes I think).

The anesthesiologist came out to introduce himself as well.  I mentioned about the block that I received last time (at a different hospital).  He was familiar with it was but has not done many and would prefer not to do it.  I think if I had insisted he would have.  He asked if I had any reactions to any of the sedatives the last time and how I was feeling over all.  Very good.

Then someone came to get me and wheeled me into the OR.  Big room with about 4-5 masked individuals.  I transferred myself from the gurney to the table, I met a nurse, and a second anesthesiologist who started the IV (she actually numbed the area before inserting the IV - nice) I can't remember who else...

I started feeling a little dizzy, like the room was spinning.  I mentioned this to whoever was listening and the anesthesiologist mentioned he had given me something to help me relax...  sure enough, the dizzy feeling went away and I felt very peaceful.  The nurse put an oxygen mask on my face and told me to breathe deeply, it was just oxygen she said, the other meds would be administered via IV.   I breathed then I guess I fell asleep.

When I woke up I felt really sleepy.  I thought about falling back to sleep but I had pain...  I felt a very strong pressure on my chest.  The nurse was by my side and asked how I felt. I told 'I hurt' she immediately gave me something via IV.   I suppose a couple minutes passed the nurse never left my side; I mentioned I was still having pain.  She gave me another shot of something.  Almost immediately I felt relief; almost as though all my body muscles were able to relax.  (I didn't realize I had been tense)

The very next thing I asked was if the nurse could pull my gown down so I could have a peek at the new me.   As soon as I looked down, I smiled.  Yup, I have foobs!  They looked HUGE to me!   No more dents!

I asked when I could go to my room; she could tell I was anxious to get out.  She asked if I had people waiting for me... I said my husband, my sister and my Mama.

I noticed right away that I had quite a bit of range of motion in my arms.  Not that DEEP tissue stiffness I had after the first surgery.   The first surgery although I did not have much pain, I was STIFF and my muscles were sore.  I remember walking to the bathroom all hunched over and unable to press the soap dispenser.  NOT this TIME!!!
It wasn't long before someone took me back upstairs to my room.  My family was in the hall; as soon as I saw them I reached up and pulled my gown down... "Not bad, eh?" is what I ask.   Smiling, they agree.

The nurse came to get take my vitals and told me I could try to get up (with help) in a half hour.  They were concerned that I would be dizzy.  I chatted with my family and called a friend.   My husband took this picture for me in the hospital.  First impressions...  not bad!  :)



I was told I would not be allowed to leave until I had urinated.  After the nurse came back to take my vitals again, she said I could get up and go to the bathroom.  I have to say at this point just HOW DIFFERENT it was standing up for the first time when I compare to my hospital stay post mastectomy!   INCREDIBLE!  I made it to the bathroom with support (just in case) and had gone to the bathroom without difficulty.

So I am ready to leave, I want to leave.  I wanted to go home.  Under ONE condition... VERY important, I wanted to make sure my pain meds were CURRENT.   I did not want it to be time to take another pill in the middle of my drive home.... what if we hit traffic?  The nurse came back in to check how things were going, I said we were ready to go but wanted to check on when I could take my next pain medication.  As it turns out I was due.  I took my pills, we waited 30-40min to make sure they had 'kicked-in' then off we go.

I had a pillow with me for the drive home, between my body and the seatbelt.  I couldn't help compare the drive home to the first surgery, I remember feeling every bump and jostle after my mastectomy.  I felt NOTHING this time.  Nice.

I got home and settled onto the couch.  I was starving.  My hubby gave me toast.  Those were the tastiest pieces of toasts I have ever had!  Then I snacked on veggies, then dinner, spaghetti.  I was hungry.  Of course I drank, drank and drank more water.  I want to get the anesthesia flushed out of me.

I'm not sure what time, but I fell asleep on the couch.  I woke up around 8:50 and my husband helped me get to bed.  I brushed my teeth and off to bed.   One thing that has not changed since the first surgery is the need to sleep on my BACK.  Wasn't a fan then, still not a fan now.

Good news is that I can actually get in and out of bed without my husband's help!  Again, BIG change from the first time.

dna

(no subject)

IMPLANTS  (09 June 2009)
 
So how did I pick my implants??   I didn't want to get into this too early in my journal but I have known what kind of implant I am going to have since almost the very beginning.

First, I should say there is one BASIC choice when choosing permanent implants.  Saline or Silicone.  Within both saline and silicone categories there are MANY different shapes, sizes and consistencies.

Here is a quick run-down of the two:

Saline.  Many people chose saline implants because they are afraid of using silicone.  I want to mention here that even saline implants have a shell made of silicone.  A real benefit of using saline implants is that if ever they rupture (leak) it is completely harmless;  your implant will deflate and the saline (salt water solution) will be absorbed by your body.  Obviously it is very easy to tell if a saline implant has ruptured.  The flip side of the saline implant is that they can be hard (especially when compared to a silicone implant), also they come in a variety of sizes and their shape is generally round.   Also, the incision to place the saline implant can be quite small because the Dr can "place" it when it is empty and then FILL it once it's in the pocket.

Silicone.  People still fear silicone implants due to the experiences with them back in the 80/90's and rumours that they caused different auto-immune diseases.  As far that goes, 'they' say there is no proof to link the two.  Either way - it really isn't an issue for me today.  The silicone used back then and today's silicone are completely different.  Ruptures can occur with silicone implants as well and in years past that would mean a slow 'seeping' out of silicone, people would have migrating lumps of silicone in their body.  Often seen on their chest and arms.  That does not happen anymore.  Even in the case of a rupture, the 'new' silicone what they call 'highly cohesive silicone' does not migrate, in fact it doesn't move at all.  The fact that the 'gel' does not shift will also help prevent 'rippling' which can happen with saline or some less cohesive silicone.
 
The two big breast implant companies carry this new silicone; Allergan (Inamed-formerly McGhan) calls them the "Style 410."  Mentor calls theirs the "Contour Profile Gel or CPG." www.mentorcorp.com/global/breast-augmentation/contour-profile-gel.htm  The style 410 and the CPG are widely known as 'Gummy Bear' implants (I'll go into that in a bit).  Currently the Gummy Bear implants are only available in the US through Clinical Trials but are widely available in Canada, Europe and other Countries as well.
 

The implants I will be getting are by Allergan Style 410. Their official name is Natrelle Highly Cohesive Silicone-Filled Breast Implant (Highly Cohisive Shaped).  Allergan's breast implant is made by Natrelle.  They make different 'kinds' or styles of implants, the 410 is just one option available: www.natrelle.ca/options.asp  For a complete list and size of Allergan products (including these implants) check out their catalog: www.allergan.com/assets/pdf/natrelle_catalog.pdf


NATRELLE STYLE 410 ( ALLERGAN 410)
 
The 410s (as I will refer to them) were developed with the industry’s highest level of cohesivity.  When it comes to Silicone Implants.... it all comes down to how cohesive they are.  This is how any silicone implants are different.  Cohesive is a word used to describe how well the silicone 'sticks' together.  This style (the 410 as well as the Mentor CPG) is also being called the 'gummy bear' implant.  When you have a gummy bear and you cut it in two... does it leak?  No.  Such is the case with these implants.  They are so cohesive that when the are cut there is no movement or leaking of the silicone gel.
 
These are a couple of pictures to show the difference...

   

As you can see the first photo 410 vs. standard round gel - both look fine lying on their sides.  The second photo: 410 vs. standard round gel - cohesitivity is about maintenance of shape and freedom from folds.

   

As you can see, even when the implant is cut... the 'semi-solid' gel goes nowhere.


MORE ON IMPLANTS - STYLE 410
 (20 June 2009)

The 410 implants that I am getting sometimes get bad reviews, people do not seem to like the way the LOOK when they have them; a common complaint is that they look flatter or smaller than other implants or even our expanders.  This is because of the SHAPE of them.  

First you must understand how an implant is sized or measured: All implants have 3 sets of measurements which determine the size of the implant.  Height (that is the bottom of the implant to the top - vertical); Width (from one side to the other - horizontal) and Projection (back to front - how far it sticks OUT from the chest wall).

A combination of these measurements determines the size.   For example: my expanders are
14 cm WIDE,
8.5 cm HIGH and
6.0 cm PROJECTION. 
This expander holds 350cc's of saline solution.  Imagine if they were round?  That would mean the HIGHT would be 14 cm too... Do you think that with 350cc/s of saline it would have the same projection?  Of course not.

The same goes for implants.  If my implant is 14 cm WIDE and someone else's is 12 cm wide, the same 'amount' of fill will lead to VERY different results.  I am a fairly large person; a 12cm WIDE implant would look tiny on me.  Our chest size (diameter really determines what size we can fit)

The plan is to change my current expander to an implant that measures
14.5 cm wide (that means a little wider than I have now - I will ask her to place them a bit closer together)
13.2 cm high (that will fill the 'dent' that I have now) and
6.7 cm projection. 
That will be 550cc/s of silicone.

The REASON the 410 have developed the reputation of being 'flat or smaller is because their PROJECTION is at a different spot on the implant.  I have created a drawing to demonstrate what I mean. 

We will assume first of all that BOTH of these implants are
14 cm wide,
13 cm high and
6.0 cm projection. 

Can you see how DIFFERENT they will look?  Their sizing is the SAME and yet will look very different.  Their PROJECTION happens/occurs in very different places.

I have to realise that my implant will be slopped and as such may give the impression of being 'flat'.  I am aware they will look different and I am ready for that.



STYLE 410MX = MODERATE HEIGHT / EXTRA FULL PROJECTION
(11 Sept 2009)

These are the ones I had placed.  The 550g size.  At the time of surgery Dr T said she ordered several different sizes, I asked her to place the largest one she could.  I would rather end up "too big" than feel too small.  As it turns out the implants I have are .5cm wider than my expanders.

I think it worked out quite well.

www.allergan.com/assets/pdf/natrelle_catalog.pdf