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All Filled up!

5 Aug
I had a plastic surgeon appointment earlier this week.  I was able to get my last fill of 50cc’s.  Due to the size of my frame my doctor had to use a small tissue expander in each breast and they only hold 300cc.  So, I am now all “filled up”.  Each tissue expander has 300cc’s of saline.   This doesn’t mean I can’t go bigger if my hubby and I choose to, but for now, while I finish chemo there will be no more fills.  I guess they can add a little more to each expander, but my doctor will not be back from maternity leave until October so we are going to discuss it more then.  Also, the actual implant can be bigger than the size of the tissue expander.  It is pretty hard to decide what “size” I want to end up with.  Since tissue expanders have no give to them and they are so hard I cannot really try on swimsuits or similar attire and get an idea of what size I am now.  They just don’t cooperate.  Also, I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before, but when I had the mastectomy the surgeon needed to get clear margins so I have a lot of flesh removed above my breast, which will be added back using fat from my stomach (yay!).  But, since this flesh is missing there is no way to imagine what it will look like after my final surgery.
We also discussed the surgery time frame with them.  I would like to have my final surgery by the end of the year since I have met all of my insurance deductibles and if it is any later we will have to pay even more out-of-pocket.  They are going to work with us to schedule a December surgery date ahead of time.  Kevan has researched the different implant options and we are going to go with an implant that is still waiting to be approved by the FDA.  The implants are 410’s or “gummy bear implants”.  They look more natural.  I don’t want to look like I have big implants in my chest.  They have been in clinical trials for 12 years (I think) and are VERY close to being approved this year, but might not be approved in time for my surgery.  Due to this, my plastic surgeon will not be able to do the final surgery.  Her partner, who is using them in a clinical trial will be, but he is only allowed to do so many per month.  So, I need to get on his schedule now.  At the end of this post I have added a few links regarding the type of implant we are wanting in case you are interested.  We still need to find out if I’m a candidate for them.  We are praying I am.  I’ve read a lot of the breast reconstruction forums regarding the 410’s and a lot of women are happy with them and can even sleep on their stomach’s once again!  I can’t wait until that day!
While we were in their office they took a 4D picture of my chest.  It was pretty cool.  The software actually detected different “issues” that can be fixed during the final surgery.  We were able to see what I currently look like from all different angles and the software was able to be manipulated so that we could see what different implant types would look like and size.  Also, my rib cage is different on each side of my chest so we could see that one breast appears smaller than the other when we look from a certain angle even though they have the same amount of saline right now.  Since the surgeon can see this prior to surgery (using the software) he can fix this in surgery by adding a little more to the one breast than the other.  One thing that they have told us OVER AND OVER is that no women’s breasts are the same on each side.  Even before my mastectomy they were not equal (they have pictures to prove it to me.  HaHa!)…so they will not be perfect afterwards, but they try their best to help them look as similar as possible.  I’m just happy that I can have reconstruction and that I can have somewhat normal breasts in the end.
I talked to them about my scars and how I can help them fade faster.  They recommend a 100% silicone product called, ScarAway.  It is sold at many local stores without a prescription.  This product can be used on any scar.  Whether it is a surgical scar (C-section, mastectomy, etc), burn, cut, etc.  I started using it yesterday.  I’ll let you know how it works.
I have 2 more days until my next chemo treatment.  Ugh!  My parents are going to come down from Michigan to help this time so Kevan isn’t having to help me all by himself.  I’m really looking forward to them coming.  It is always nice to have your mom with you when you are sick or need some extra love.   Also, wanted to mention that we were at Walmart Thursday night and I kept complaining about how bad my feet hurt.  I told Kev we needed to hurry because I didn’t think I was going to be able to walk on them much longer.  I didn’t know what was causing it.  Then, Kevan said he remembered that I had this problem after my 1st treatment.  I looked back in my journal and he is right.  There were a few days (starting at Day 15 both times) where I was begging him to give me foot massages.  He gives great foot massages.  So, apparently this is another chemo side effect.  But, it will subside I’m sure before my treatment in a few days.  Saturday night it was a lot better.
Gummy Bear Implant links:

Drains, Expanders and the "N" Word

16 May

Today started out as a really good day.  Kevan helped me get ready so we could head to Nashville for my first post-op visit with the plastic surgeon.  It is amazing how long it takes to get me ready.  The shower alone took us almost an hour because we have to work around the drains and I can’t wash my own hair.  Kevan does a great job though.  I am so blessed to have him.  I went almost 6.5 hours without having to take a pain pill.  It felt great to not be dizzy, to feel normal, but to also not be in pain.

The good news is that I had 2 of my drains removed!  Praise God!  I only have 2 left.  I have to say that this was VERY weird and a little painful when she removed them.  I can’t wait to have the other two out, but at the same time I’m not looking forward to the way it is done.  Kevan held my hand and they really are removed in about 20 seconds, but it is something I hope I will never have to experience again once I’m done with the remaining two.

Each week I will go into the plastic surgeon and she will add saline to each tissue expander until we reach the desired size.  Think Reese Witherspoon….NOT Pamela Anderson!  There is a little magnetic area in the expander that helps her find the area where she needs to insert the needle and inject the saline.  It is all a pretty cool invention for women like me who have to have a mastectomy but still want to look normal. Although, the explander is really uncomfortable and un-natural looking.  Unfortunately, today, she said I was healing well, but not healed enough to have my first “fill”.  I was disappointed that she didn’t do a fill, but I don’t want to rush it if she doesn’t feel I’m ready yet.  

Now, there are two areas that are a little concerning that I need prayer specifically for.  I feel guilty asking for prayer since I know so many are already praying for me and there is no way I can make up for all the prayers that have already been prayed over me and here I am asking for more prayers.  First, my nipple.  Yes, I said the “N” word.  When I had my mastectomy last week I was a candidate for a skin and “nipple-sparing” mastectomy…this means I get to keep my own nipples and will not have to have them made surgically.  One of them is looking really good.  The other one does not have good color.  I think my grandma in heaven cannot believe I am talking about nipples right now, but God asks us to pray about all things.  So, please pray for this nipple to start responding well, receive the blood flow that it needs and that the color will start looking better.  PLEASE!!!  I know God can do a miracle and I could wake up tomorrow and it be just the way it needs to be.

Second, there is a place on my left breast where my skin is very thin.  The expander, since it isn’t full yet, is “rippling” and causing a place to form that could have potential to be worse.  Please pray that the skin here will start to thicken and/or the expander would stop pressing so much in this area.  We have to continue to watch this area to make sure it doesn’t get worse.

Lastly, due to all of the antibiotics I’m taking, I’ve developed thrush.  The doctor has given me a pill and a rinse that should help it go away.  It doesn’t hurt very much unless I drink something too cold or if I brush my teeth.  

Jeremiah 17:14 – Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved,  for you are the one I praise.