The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

23 May
Yesterday was a pretty big day.  A good day.  This will be a long post so I tried to divide it into little sections to make it easier to come back to if you want to read it, but can’t read it all now.  
Before I get into what happened yesterday I want to say that I am excited to tell all of you that I was able to get out of bed all by myself today!  It was a HUGE milestone for me.  I am 15 days Post-Op and I know Kevan is very happy too.  I hated having to ask for help every time I need to get up, use the rest room or even adjust a little.  To me…I feel like it has been a lot longer than 15 days since my surgery, but it is good that the worst parts are over and 15 days is a pretty short time.  I think they were 2 of the most painful weeks of my life.  But, necessary ones and now looking back it doesn’t seem as bad.
Also, as you read the below, “Miss L.” is what I will call the RN that is at my Plastic Surgeon office.  She is wonderful and I thank God for her.  She is always smiling, reassuring, does her job well and just has a great personality.  RN just sounds too rough for such a sweet person.
Physical Therapist
I saw my PT.  She seemed to think I was doing a great job with my range of motion so far.  I admit that I am not good at doing my exercises (I’m sorry Ann N.!) so I was actually shocked that she said I was doing great.  She showed me some exercises I will need to start on Friday now that my drains are removed to help me get back to where I was before surgery and also to prevent lymphedema.  She also gave me my prescription for my pretty compression sleeves.  I will have to wear them when I fly, when I lift weights, do exercises, lift anything pretty heavy, etc.  This is all just a precaution so I don’t develop lymphedema.  Since I’ve had 5 lymph nodes removed it is a risk.
When I saw Miss L. at the Plastic Surgeon she was not as impressed with my range of motion.  Dr. O (my plastic surgeon) is a strong supporter of immediate exercises right after surgery and that by 1 week post op I should be able to completely raise my arms above my head (with them completely straight) and touch my palms together.  I’m 15 days post op and I am not there yet.  I can do it, but my elbows are not straight.  So…..I hope/pray I get better at my exercises.
My N’s
When I undressed and Miss L. (remember my doctor is on bed rest) saw my nipples she couldn’t believe it.  The change was miraculous!  We all know why.  God healed them and supplied them with the blood flow they needed.  One of them was especially worrisome last week and now they both look just like they did pre-surgery (I get teary eyed just typing it I’m so happy).  Thank you all so much for your prayers for my “N’s”.  I am so so grateful.  I am also so thankful to my husband for his meticulous care he has taken with cleaning, medicating, bandaging my N’s as well as my other incisions.  I know it is because of his great care too.  I was so scared I might lose one, but they both now have great blood flow to them.  Anyway, Miss L. was all smiles and was so excited for me.  She took pictures so she could send them to Dr. O and show her how much they improved.  I praise God for his blessing to me!
Drains
For those of you who have never had drains I will explain a little of the removal process.  If you have a weak stomach…skip this paragraph.  They are sutured in so that they don’t get pulled while you have them in.  So, first, they remove the sutures.  This didn’t hurt at all…just a little pinch here and there.  Miss L. then asked me to take two deep breaths, then breathe out a long breath.  As I breathed out the long breath she would pull and pull and pull on the drain until it was removed.  You can feel this big “snake” being pulled through the inside of your body until it is removed.  It is VERY freaky and there is some minor pain with it.  I hated it.  One of them I actually didn’t even feel at all when she removed it.  It was awesome and then one was pretty painful and even hurt a little even after it was removed.  Kevan held my hand every time and watched them come out.  He said that the long tube for each is about 6-8 inches in the body.  Except one, it was about 12 inches.  Miss L. said it was the longest drain she had ever removed from someone.  I’m so special.  lol!  We had a lot of problems with this drain getting “clogged” too and hurting when Kevan would strip it, but it did finally start working okay.  It always burned inside my body though when he stripped it.  I hated that drain and I’m glad it is gone!  If you have to go through this and have drains it is a very annoying and uncomfortable part of the journey, but it is NECESSARY.  they don’t really hurt unless you pull on your sutures, if one gets “cloggy” and when you get them out.  Don’t be scared.  I actually will have to experience them again when I have my expander to implant exchange during my final reconstruction and although I’m really not looking forward to it I know it is necessary.  God will be with me again as he was this time.  I will be praying as I get them out (for strength) and I will be just as joyful when they are removed as I am today.  :o)
Expander Fill
Kevan took a picture of what the expander that is in my body looks like (see below).  It is sort of like an implant, that is rough feeling on the outside, with a big magnet in the middle (for the nurse to find where they need to insert the needle for each fill) and has 3 tabs on it that are used to suture it in place so it doesn’t move around.
Yesterday I had my first fill.  Miss L. brought in two huge syringes with 60cc’s of saline in both.  To give you an idea of 60cc’s that is the amount that is in a shot glass.  Not much.  She finds the magnet and then takes a butterfly needle and inserts it into where it needs to be.  Then, uses the syringe to inject the saline.  At the same time she pushes around on the expander/breast to feel how full the skin is feeling.  When she did the left one I didn’t feel anything at all.  Since they removed everything during the mastectomy it is normal to not have feeling.  When she did the right side I did feel a little pinch and she said it was probably the muscle that I was feeling.  It wasn’t bad at all.  The sad part is.  I am so small framed and have such thin skin that she could only fill 30cc’s in both.  :o(  This is going to be a long road getting to the final size.  But, I am grateful to have this option and that it is pretty much pain-free when I have the fill.  Now, the expander itself is NOT pain-free.  It feels like I have metal armor in my body under the skin and every time I move I can feel it.  Sometimes it is pretty painful and Miss L. said it was because of the tabs sutures.  
Also, if you see the picture on the right…that is what it looks like now, but on the inside.  Flat and ripply.  So, you can only imagine what it looks like on the outside.  :o(  Expanders are not made to help you look pretty.  They are only made to help expand the skin in order to do the final reconstruction of placing the implant.  So, it will always look ugly until the final exchange.  But, I’m thankful that it is possible and I will try my best to deal with the ugliness until then and pray that the final result will be pretty.  If everything goes well and looks good my next fill will be next Friday.
The fill makes me feel “full” and pretty achy.  I have 2 more days that my chest will have to continue to be “wrapped” once we do our normal care of the “wounds”.  Then, on Friday I will be able to start wearing a bra for the first time since surgery (using gauze/medication still on the incisions).  I’m pretty excited to feel normal again and that I can wear a bra.  They let me pick out 3 cute ones that I will use from now on.  I love polka dots so I was pretty happy that one was available.  lol!  I know….TMI, but I was just so excited about the polka dots I had to share.  lol!  Now…..this is really hard on me.  I just had a double mastectomy and am going through the expander process…..so…..I am so embarrassed that I am “FLAT”.  :o(  In a shirt….I look like a boy.  The bras are not the cute push-up ones you buy from Victoria Secret. So, I am a little sad about that and I will feel bad for Kevan that his wife looks like a boy in clothes, but I just keep telling myself it is only temporary. 
Pain
I now have to start weaning myself off of the great and wonderful pain medication.  This is good, but H-A-R-D.  I started last night.  Also, last night was the first night that Kevan and I slept in our bed together since my surgery.  It was nice to have him next to me again.  He said he would wake up to hear me moaning so he could tell I was in a lot of pain.  Which I was, but I don’t remember moaning so I must have been asleep.  I am still in A LOT of pain this morning.  So much so that I don’t even want to take my morning shower.  I just want to sit here in my robe and hold the stuffed kitty my dad bought me.  My chest is achy and where they removed the drains is hurting too.  I tend to walk around a little hunched over and clutch my chest as I’m walking.  I know I need to stop doing this.  It isn’t good.  
Specific Prayer
I have a certain side affect from taking antibiotics 3 times a day for about 20 days.  A secondary infection of a particular type (that I won’t name here) has developed and is causing me a great deal of discomfort.  Please pray this will go away quickly.  I’m not having such a good day today.  Also, the “glue” from my left biopsy incision has fallen off and looks really red and the incision looks like it is opening a little.  Miss L. seemed concerned so she wants us to watch it.
Conclusion
I am not allowed to do much of ANYTHING the next two days as my body gets used to not having the drains.  They don’t want me to produce too much fluid yet.  My house is a wreck and I’m having a REALLY hard time with it, but I’m not allowed to clean it.  This morning, Kevan said, “It looks like a tornado hit our house last night and it only hit a few rooms.  We better call the weather service.”  lol! He has to work so he won’t be much help.  He said when he got up to go to the bathroom last night he could even see the mess in the dark and had to maze through it.  :o(  My poor house.  My MIL is going to try to come from Nashville tomorrow to help me.  I’m so thankful for her, but sad that she will have to drive so far just to help me clean my house.  She also let me bring her my laundry yesterday (Kevan carried it for me since I can’t) and she washed it all for me (even folded and ironed it for me!) before we returned last night.  Thank you Judy.  I love you and am grateful for you.
Okay.  I don’t think I can take type any longer.  I hope this helps someone that goes through this in the future and I know many of you just want to know how I’m doing.  I’m thankful for each of you.

In about 90 seconds…..I will be asleep.  I keep almost falling asleep typing this and Kevan keeps laughing at me.  lol!

2 Responses to “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”

  1. Nancy Farrell May 23, 2012 at 10:01 pm #

    Thankful for the good report in spite of a few "blips"…Happy you were able to get out of bed by yourself, honestly, the things we take for granted! You are a warrior with God as your Commander In Chief. Go forth sweet thing and conquer this beast (small 'B" mind you).As much as I dislike housecleaning, I wish I were able to bring my dust cloths and do some cleaning for you and Kevin. Don't sweat those piles, dust,messes as they are not worth your worries. xoxonancy

  2. Jayde May 24, 2012 at 2:10 am #

    Thank you Nancy. That is sweet of you. Thanks for posting to me. :o_

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