Thursday, March 3, 2016

one week to two months post-mastectomy

*I'm putting this all out there in the hopes that maybe somebody else who is going through this can find something useful from my experiences. One of my biggest helps during this whole mastectomy/brca experience has been finding other people who have told me something was normal, or that they understand...*

Second Post-Op, Two Week's Later: This appointment will probably go down as one of the weirdest days in my life. Since my implants were only expanded with air, that had to be taken out and replaced with saline. The nurse stuck a big needle at the top of my expander/breast (terrifying to watch, but I didn't feel a thing) and deflated the air. I got to watch my boobs deflate-exactly like a deflating ball. Crazy stuff. She then added 500cc's of saline back in to each one (that's a total of two pounds). I felt a little pressure, but this didn't hurt at all. Sitting up, I felt a little heavy, but that's about it. I also had my last two drains removed! A few hours later, the pain set in. I'm not sure how to describe it, but the first two days after my fill were agonizing. The only thing that helped was laying back. As soon as gravity did it's business-horrible pain. I was also very worried because that Monday (The fill was on Friday) my husband was going back to work, and I had to be able to get the kids to/from school, and keep a three year old alive. Much to my surprise, by the time Monday came around, I was much better. Writing this, on a Thursday, I had yet to take any pain meds (made the switch to Motrin on Sunday so I can drive). That's not to say I don't have any pain-I'm still sore, my muscles in my armpits hurt like crazy, and the skin on my chest feels like I have a horrible sunburn whenever anything touches it (yay for nerve endings regenerating!), but all things considered, I feel pretty good. Tomorrow I go in for another fill-hopefully my last, or second to last-and the pain cycle will start over, but at least now I know there's an end in sight! Another random fun fact-I'm not moving fast, but any time I gain momentum, I can feel and hear the saline sloshing around. My new normal is kind of weird, haha!

And just cause I know people are wondering, I'll add a picture of how things are looking. My expanders-which are usually not the prettiest to look at-actually look pretty good considering that. One thing though-those babies are rock hard, and the come out where my armpits are (something that will hopefully be fixed next surgery). This means that sleeping on my side is impossible, and even though I feel huge, there is no way to fit a bra on, also (not that I'm worried about this at all right now)  there is definitely no cleavage happening-it's just not physically possible to squish them together.

Weeks three-four were a bit of a strange middle. I was feeling a hundred times better compared to before, but I was still in a significant amount of pain. I also had more energy, but I became exhausted very quickly. At the end of week four, I was feeling pretty good, and decided to go to the store for a quick couple of things. Such a mistake!! By the time I was checking my groceries out I was nauseous, sweating, and shaking, and by the time I made it to the car I was crying.This is an email I wrote to a friend after she asked me how I was doing....

I never really know how to answer that, because compared with the first two weeks (which were kind of a nightmare) I'm a million times better, but compared to normal, I'm always in pain & am exhausted, but it's managed now. I actually cried last night because I broke down and took vicodin again, and for the first time in a while I didn't feel any pain. I'm not addicted or anything at all, but I hate how much I need pills (usually just motrin or tylenol). I feel guilty feeling sorry for myself, but sometimes feeling that way makes me grumpy, lol. like I was in a lot of pain driving to the doctor & feeling sorry for myself, but then I sat in a waiting room with people obviously dealing with cancer & felt like a fraud. i guess i'm super grateful, but I don't always want to be. is that awful?

Weeks 5-7- These weeks were actually pretty uneventful. My pain-while still present-is at a point where I hardly ever need medication, and when I do tylenol is enough. My range of motion is off, and eventually I'll need physical therapy but I've decided to hold off on that until all my surgeries are complete. Sleeping has probably been my biggest issue. I've never been a back sleeper so trying to get comfortable has been tough. I'm coming close to week eight, and I've noticed some hormone imbalances (thankfully I was warned about all three of these, but honestly, it's been a little traumatic, lol) right now everything makes me cry, and I've cried myself to sleep without even knowing what I'm crying about. My chest is now covered in acne and peach fuzz type hair, which believe it or not, is not awesome, and has brought about more tears. But-there is a light at the end of this tunnel! I will soon be having my exchange surgery, and these awful expanders will be replaced. I'm not nearly as impressed with them as I was before. The above picture is 1 week post pbm, and the one below is 7.5 weeks post. Now that the swelling is gone they look more wonky. (Also, just a note that because I had nipple sparing, my nips are always "on" now. It hasn't bothered me yet, but I know some women hate it.) I'm also having second doubts about whether or not this is the right size. I've heard that permanent implants have less projection, and once again getting to choose leads me to worry about making the "right" choice.

And just in case you missed it, here's the link to my first week post pbm:

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