Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Mastectomy Update

Yesterday marked a week since my bilateral mastectomy.  Time to recap the surgery and recovery so far.

We arrived bright and early Monday morning at 5:30 AM.  I got a good night sleep the night before, and I was calm and surprisingly at peace throughout the entire morning.  I met with the anesthesiologists, surgeons, nurses, and signed several consent forms.  I walked into the OR at 7:30 AM.  Kind of strange being in the room fully awake.  I must have looked a little fearful, because shortly after I laid down and the nurses were all busy hooking me up to stuff, my Surgical Oncologist came over and held my hand until I fell asleep.  Before I knew it, I was waking up in recovery.  I was extremely sleepy and felt no pain.  Not long after, Steve came in.  I was in recovery for a few hours.  Steve was in and out between the waiting room and the recovery.  I think I slept for most of the time.  I had to go potty, and the nurses gave me the options of trying to get up or the bedpan.  Of course I said enthusiastically, I think I can get up.  Yeah, not the best idea.  I made it to the foot of the bed before I saw the passing out oras.  I had Steve and three other nurses holding me up until I could sit back on the bed.  I broke out in a sweat, and I was back in bed with ice packets in a few seconds.  Guess the bedpan would have been the better choice.  Because of this instance and the fact I have passing out in my medical history, I had a sign on my door that said Risk of Falling, and in case that was not clear, there was picture of a person falling.

It didn't take long for the pain to set in, and I will say it was pretty intense.  Feels like a burning, stabbing feeling in my chest.  It was so hard to get into a comfortable position.  I was pretty much always propped up with tons of pillows.  It hurt when I moved, breathed, pretty much all the time.  The expanders are hard and very uncomfortable.  The first thing I did once I was awake and in recovery, was take a peek under my hospital gown.  Steve was there and said, "Are you sure you want to do that now?"  I figured, let's just get it over with.  They were all bandaged up, but I could see the results.  They look nothing like breasts, more like saucers.  They are flat lumps, swollen and bruised.  I know it's going to be awhile before they look and feel like breasts, so aside from the pain I feel, I am a bit detached from them.  I don't feel sad about losing them, but it is hard to look at them.  I have become very open to sharing them, however.  Pretty much everyone who visits are offered a peek at them.  I have tried to be open and honest throughout all of this, and hiding it just makes it worse for me.  They were able to put 100  250 cc's in the left and 50 175 cc's in the right.  Eventually, they will match up, and at this point, they don't even look like breasts so it does not really matter.

The drains are pretty scary looking.  They come out from under my armpits.  I feel like a science project.  I will be so excited to get these out (hopefully tomorrow).  Steve learned how to clean and dump them, a task he has been handling quite well.  I will spare more details on the drains.  They are gross, uncomfortable, and you can google them.

I was only in the hospital for one night.  I was given the option to stay an extra day, which I should have done since I was back in the ER the next day (see previous post).  I decided to go home.  It was actually harder to get pain meds when I needed them in the hospital.  The nurses were busy, and I would buzz when I was at the 4 hour mark.  Sometimes it would take another 30min before they made it in.  I figured it would be easier at home.

I am extremely limited in everything I do.  Steve pretty much did every little thing for me aside from feeding me and wiping me after the bathroom.  I said it's like he had another kid to take care of.  Instead of feedings every 4 hours, we had pain medicine administered every 4 hours.  I think showering together might become a routine for us until my arms are more reaching, although not the showers most couples have.  Steve is a trooper through it all.  I get frustrated, he gets frustrated back, but we are making it work.  This part of my treatment journey might get him husband of the year.

The first week went by and I have a hard time remembering the day-to-day.  That's what being in a pain killer induced stupor 24/7 will do.  It's pretty much a blur, and the days run together.  We have slowly cut back on the meds so it's not as bad but still fuzzy during peek med time.

A week later, I am able to do most things, but it sometimes takes me a long time.  I am still very limited since I can't raise my arm high, but slowly and surely it is getting better.  I am still in a lot of pain, and I take meds pretty regularly.  I pretty much have no energy and am really not up and about much.  I have lots of care from my family.  We came to my parents last Friday.  Charlotte and I are being well cared for.  With my sister and her three kids visiting, Charlotte is getting lots and lots of attention and endless playtime.     

I have lots of doctors appointments lined up for this week and next.  I will keep the blog as updated as I can.  Thanks for everything!!!!!

Here are a few pics to help show what's happening. 


1 comment:

  1. It's great to read this post - that your stint in the ER was quick and they were able to help you immediately. That must've been scary! Had to chuckle when I read about you "being able to" pull up your pants. It's the small things, isn't it?! I clearly remember the same and how accomplished I felt being able to pull my pants up. When I could zip and button - wow! Major progress. :) So glad you are surrounded by great support and kudos to Steve for draining them - that is truly an act of LOVE. Go easy on recovery, okay? Cheering you on from afar.