Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Update - 9 days post-surgery

Just a quick update on how surgery went. My surgery was scheduled for 7:30am and they got me into the OR around 8. The surgery itself took about 12 hours and I didn't wake back up and become coherent again until about 9pm. I spent the night in ICU with them monitering my incisions and checking the flaps every hour. ICU was not a fun time! They had me on oxygen (little tubes in my nose) and the smell made me want to puke! That was one of the worst parts, I had to be on the oxygen all week and it also dried out my nose. By the third day I was having nose bleeds and the saline spray they gave me didn't really help.

I was moved out of ICU to a private room Tuesday night and Tuesday was also my first time out of bed. They moved me to a chair and I sat there for about 20 minutes before feeling like I was going to pass out. Wednesday the Physical Therapist came back and wanted to get me walking. We went for a little walk out of my room and down the hall and then got me back into a chair where they started some deep breathing exercises with me. At that time all started to go black and I got wicked lightheaded and again almost passed out. They quickly got me back into bed, I had aparently pushed it too far. The next few days got easier and I was looking forward to being released on Friday. Every day the plastics team would come by and see how I was progressing. They were very happy with the result thus far, always commenting that the incisions looked great and that it was going to produce a great result. Even one of the nurses made a comment that the incision on my belly looked better than her c-section scar.

I was completely shocked the first time I saw my body. It wasn't at all what I had expected. The incisions were huge and not symmetrical at all. It kinda got me down. I had expected the worst after the mastectomy and was extremely happy with that result. My scars from that surgery were about the size of a dime. This . . . just picture the stitching on a baseball and transfer that to both breasts! I know that it's too soon to judge, there's surgical glue and ink from being marked up before the procedure and blood under the glue, but it was shocking! I know that there will be revisions to make them more symetrical and that the scars will fade, but it's been such a long road that I'm more than ready to be at the end.

I left the hospital on Friday with 4 drains in place and planned on spending the week with a friend to be closer to Boston and my surgeon. Being close to the city proved to be a good idea, one of the drains became quite red and painful by Sunday night and when I called the office on Monday, they agreed that it should come out early. So Tuesday, my surgeon's nurse pulled that one and now I have 3 left. My first post-op visit with the surgeon is tomorrow. I was hoping that all 3 drains would come out, but yesterday the nurse told me not to be surprised if I went back home to Western Mass with at least 1 of the drains still in place.

This surgery was so much more difficult than I had originally anticipated! I thought that I would be able to do things on my own once I left the hospital . . . not so! I needed help with the drains, getting up, getting in the shower, putting on my sweats, everything! Thank god for my friend and her husband! They made my first week out of the hospital so much easier, I don't know what I would have done without them! Each day is getting a bit easier and I can now do simple things by myself, and am finally walking upright without pain and can get myself out of bed. It's still a long road ahead!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Night before surgery

It's the night before my surgery for breast reconstruction (DIEP flap) and I'm feeling a bit anxious. I packed up my bags today to head to a friends house who is bringing me to the hospital in the morning. I'll be in the hospital for a week and then staying with my friend for another week to be closer to the hospital in case anything happens, since I live about 2 hours away. As I was packing up my things, the dog must have somehow known that I was leaving for two weeks because normally when my brother comes over he runs to see him and follows him around the house. Not today. He was shoved right up my butt and wouldn't leave my side. He was so cute today.

As the hours tick down to the surgery time - 7:30 am tomorrow - I'm getting more excited. I can't wait for these tissue expanders to be out of me and to have squishy boobs again. And to top it all off, I get a tummy tuck as well! That's the icing on the cake right there! But it's going to be a long, tough recovery. One that I'm NOT looking forward to. But I have a great support system behind me . . . great friends that have done so much for me already and a family that will do anything as well . . . what more could a person ask for!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Getting the word out

I've found that being back out on the mountain is where I feel most like myself these days. All geared up . . . riding down the slopes . . . people don't give the "poor you" look. It's like cancer never even happened!

And, just when I'm back to feeling like myself again . . . the season comes to an abrupt end! I was able to get in some good spring riding, and even met a few new riding buddies, who of course asked about my condition but I didn't mind sharing my story. They all have women in their lives and I hoped that my story would make them realize that breast cancer is NOT an old woman's cancer. Young women do and are dying from this, and early detection is so very important!

So to all the men out there . . . save a life, grope your wife/girlfriend/fiancée!