Monday, December 27, 2010

77. 3 weeks post-op and not dependent.


i can't believe it's been 3 weeks! it feels so long ago.

all of the scabs have officially come off of my incisions as of yesterday. i had to trim some of the ends off the stitches though, because they were causing irritation and redness. i had a pretty good post-op kit set up from the initial mastectomy that i received through o.h.i.p. when i was having nursing care. it came with these nifty little surgical scissors made just for the job. (i made sure to sterilize them.)

since i am still up north and snow bound i have not been able to have my post-op appointment. it will be on january 13th when i am living back in the city. i am looking forward to getting the go ahead to start working out as i have accumulated some flab and lost a whole lot of muscle definition since the mastectomy in april. i am still a skinny mini, but i am missing my muscles - particularly the abs and firm butt;)

i went apartment hunting last week in the city and found a to die for 2 bedroom apartment right in my price range. i am so excited to be moving back to Hamilton. Nursing starts in only 2 weeks.

i am completely off the percosets (oxycodone). i am not in any pain. sometimes some stiffness and the odd twinge, but nothing that warrants any analgesics. i had strong worries about coming off of the oxy's as i had been taking them daily since april (that's almost 8 months), but decided to just go cold turkey. i had some withdrawal symptoms but mostly bearable. i had some pretty crazy night sweats for a week and some pretty major panic attacks, but i have suffered panic attacks since i was a teen and know how to over come them. i decided for me, it was best to get them out of my system right away because i want to be as alert and focused as possible for school. i think it is safe to say, that after a week and a half, they are mostly out of my system.

if however, you should find it difficult or find yourself dependent, it is important that you contact your plastic surgeon/prescribing physician so that he/she can provide a tapering program. opiate dependence is a real risk with this type of surgery and i have read about some woman on FORCE who needed extra care in coming off of them.

i am totally excited for the future. i think 2011 is going to be my year! happy new year everyone and thanks for following my blog.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

76. 2 weeks post-op exchange pictures

awesome! so most of the scabbing fell off in the shower yesterday. very happy about that. there is still a little bit of scabbing but i think this will hold on for awhile because the scabs are mushed in with the dissolvable stitches. or maybe they will also fall out soon too, because one of the scabs fell off with about an 1/8 of an inch of stitching attached to it.

i will make this short and sweet so you can check out the pictures. again, i am more than 100% satisfied and in my opinion healing perfectly.

also, a shout out to my amazing plastic surgeon - dr. ronen avram. he sometimes checks my blog out. i have all the pbm/exchange pictures from my blog (plus more) on a jump drive for you. merry christmas! see you in the new year.

anterior view of both breasts #1

anterior view of both breasts #2

anterior view of both breasts #3

right anterolateral view of both breasts

lateral view: right breast

left anterolateral view of both breasts

lateral view: left breast

close-up anterior view: right nipple and incision

close-up anterior view: left nipple and incision

Sunday, December 19, 2010

75. resisting the urge to pick, but not flash!

ahhhh. i am impatiently waiting for my (ewww, yuck) scabs to fall off. the urge is strong to want to help the process along, but nature MUST run its course if i want the best results possible for my scars. any messing around could make them worse, so i am leaving them alone.

the bottom halves of my nipples all scabbed over and it looks kind of creepy. fortunately, i am not freaked out as i know for others, this is par for the course.

my family had our christmas get together today. i was surprised when my aunt requested to see the new boobs in front of everyone and i ended up flashing pretty much my whole family. not then and there, but some one on one, and then near the end of the evening as people were leaving, i flashed a whole slew. they asked permission and i reassured them all that it was not creepy.

i think part of me flashing them was to reassure them that i am not marred. also, since there are so many females in my family, some of them may encounter a similar journey with their breasts and i wanted to show them that you can come out the other end still feeling and looking whole. all their responses were positive--some of them were in awe.

it will probably be another week or so before the scabs fall off, but everything still pretty much looks the same, so i won't be posting more pics until the scabs do fall off. i will still blog though, so stay tuned:)

Monday, December 13, 2010

74. post op exchange pictures

i am so happy with my results so far. i feel like one of the lucky ones that says their outcomes from reconstruction is phenomenal. i always hoped for an amazing outcome, and i can't believe that i got it! and yet i can believe it, because i had such confidence in my plastic surgeon to do an amazing job!

you can see the potential in these photos despite the ugly drains (which are now out), scars, and bruising. i am so excited to see how the breasts will improve over the next few months as the healing and settling continues. in fact, these pics are already 4 days old, and there is already a remarkable improvement!!!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

73. drains are out!

i just had both of my drains removed! woo hoo! i feel free. it was a pain in the butt carting those things around. i should be able to shower tomorrow, but definitely by tuesday!

72. drains still in, and bored

well, i am still stuck with these blasted drains. they are starting to get on my nerves now as my body is trying to heal around them. they are becoming quite itchy. i really have my fingers crossed that they will be pulled least one of them.

since i have the drains, i am not allowed to's been 7 days since i've showered. yuck! i have been having below the belt baths to stay clean, and i got my hair washed at the salon the other day. can you believe it only costs $3.00 to get your hair washed at first choice hair salon? very awesome and they blew dried my hair and put it back up in a ponytail for me.

even though i haven't been able to shower, i have felt relatively clean this week. however, i have started sweating the last 24 hours and am getting sticky. ewww. i thought it would be a good solution to wipe my armpits down with baby wipes, but this isn't working as well as i hoped.

oh well. it will make the first shower all the more glorious...and probably blog worthy:)

i had a wonderful friend stay with me for a few day but he is gone now and i am starting to go bat crazy! I AM SO BORED. i don't really know what to do with myself. i've watched enough movies and tv shows...and i don't have an attention span to read very long. i've gone for a few walks. i guess i am really looking forward to the holiday festivities that are going to start happening next week to keep me occupied. i can only take so much of facebook. lol.

i suppose i will see if i can get out of the house in the next day or too, but i am still trying my best to stay healthy. no colds for me! maybe i will see if i can go over to my friend kim's house tomorrow and see if she can braid my hair.

signing off for now.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

71. itchy and soreness

as i've mentioned in earlier blog posts, i react to adhesives and band-aids so my surgeon had to do alternative dressings with minimal adhesives. instead, i have had non-stick dressings called bactigras over my wounds, but i have started reacting to that as well. also, the minimal type of ape that was still used yesterday ripped off another layer of skin today.

the consensus with the home care nurse and myself was to remove all the dressings and to let my wounds dry out over a few hours. i locked my kitties out of my room for a few hours and snoozed while they dried out. afterwards, i was able to put regular gauze dressings over the wounds and keep them in place with a bra. no more tapes to hold it all in place.

this has worked, but not soon enough to ward off the itchiness. my torso and back are really itchy and sort of driving me crazy.

on another note, muscles not cut during the surgery are very sore. i have been compensating with other muscle groups like the muscles in my neck and stomach to get myself into upright or reclining positions. these muscles are now very sore, adding to my discomfort.

i am able to go 8 hours between meds though. i am only doing this so i can have a bowel movement. the drugs are making me all bummed up and i feel gross. hopefully cutting down on the oxy's will help things move along. i went for a walk around the neighborhood too and took in the beautiful crisp winter air.

i think this blog post is a little disjointed and rambly. i think i have most of my bearings though. i have some easy things planned for tomorrow, like going to the salon and getting my hair washed, and running some errands.

i also have a friend staying with me till friday who is graciously cooking all my meals, taking me around town for errands, and providing entertainment and just general love and support. this recovery is so much better because of the extra care and attention compared to the initial pbm and i am so grateful.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

70. sneak peak and bleeeegh.

i was going to post the photos below earlier, but as i was uploading them to my computer, i got hit with a horrible wave of nausea. and then i yakked. blaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!! i got gravel into me shortly there after, and that cleared the nausea up, or the nausea just ran its course. i am pretty sure it was from the morphine i received yesterday, because i had a similar reaction to it during my pbm in april. i should be good to go now, and i was able to eat my dinner about 20 minutes later.

the home care nurse came by today and we changed up my dressings. much more tidier. i have a small amount of dressings held in place by a bit more tape, but the bra is doing most of the work. i am glad to be rid of the itchy stocking that was holding all the bandaging in place. i also had a small amount of tape holding it on too, and as we peeled it off, it took a layer or two of skin with it. ouch. i hate that i am so sensitive to adhesives and band-aides. hope this doesn't happen again tomorrow. so far, no water blisters are forming...which sometimes happen with the surgical tape.

here is how i am wrapped now. and look out for the surprise peak show below. i am already impressed with my results.

here is my mentor card with my serial numbers and size.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

69. easy peasy


exchange surgery was so easy.

i was able to have it done in Hamilton and still survive the 2 hour trip home immediately after. it was so good to get home and relax in my own bed and couch. i think i went to bed around 9:30pm, and was up and puttering around this morning at 6:30am...then a lovely nap at 8:15am...and up again at noon. such a great excuse to lounge and be lazy. in fact, doctors orders!

i am in more pain today than yesterday, but that is to be expected as the area the was flooded with marcaine is wearing off. still completely manageable. i just have to take it easy. the pain comes as little stabs through out but more so in the lower left breast.

here is a short can do/can't do list for yesterday and today:

Same Day Can Do:
  • open fridge
  • open doors (carefully, but can't hold them open for others. sorry guy at tim hortons with coffee in both hands)
  • make dinner (pre-packaged pizza from the freezer)
  • eat a normal size meal
  • do a small amount of dishes (2 plates, pans from the pizza and pizza cutter)
  • empty my own drains
  • play with my iPhone, facebook, check my gmail:) (you know you breezed through surgery when you are checking and posting on social media within 1 hour of being discharged from the hospital)
Same Day Can't Do:
  • urinate without straining (gosh i hate this one. so difficult to go pee. still is, but getting better)
  • be alone (doctors orders that i have care for the first 24 hours since i had day surgery. my awesome sister stayed with me for the night, and my Oma kept me company for a few hours too, before my sister was able to arrive from work)
  • my hair
  • scratch my back (i needed my back scratcher to reach)
  • get a good look at my foobs
  • keep my eyes open during a conversation past 9pm
Today's Can Do:
  • tie my hair up in a ponytail
  • scratch my back and shoulders without using the back scratcher
  • enjoy looking out the window at all the snow we've gotten
  • enjoy the company of my kitties
  • sleep, sleep, sleep
Today's Can't Do:
  • bowel movement (it's been 2 days.)
  • play with the kitties (they like to play fetch. no can do.)
  • stand up quickly (i am still light headed from the anesthetic)
  • bathe (i won't be able to bathe or shower until at least 24 hours after my last drain pull. i might plan a trip to the hair salon at the end of the week to get my hair washed, and i can still have shallow sitting baths. i just have to make sure i don't get the incision or drain sites wet. these instructions vary from surgeon to surgeon.)
  • put a loose t-shirt on over my head
in addition to the pain, i am really, really itchy. grrrr. i react to tapes and latex so i almost have a tape/adhesive free bandage that is held in place with a truck type sock. it is mesh and i just step into it like a tube top. however, this meshy tube top is super itchy too and i can't stop scratching my back and stomach. hopefully, it can go today when the home care nurse comes, and she can do some light bandaging that can be held into place with my post surgical bra.

i got my mentor card upon discharge. i had to go to the mentor site to see what the codes look like, but if i am correct these are the sizes of my implants:

left: 350 11,7 4,9 324-4350 RSZ-3504 (350 cc's in the left)
right: 400 12,3 5,1 324-4400 RSZ-4004 (400 cc's in the right)
This is normal to have 2 different sizes in each breast. It's about appearances. In the bigger picture, 50 cc's is not that much of a difference.

i'll share a couple of pics now of my bandaging, and some of my kitties and the snowfall we've received in the last 3 days. i feel so toasty warm in my apartment and enjoy looking out the window to see the snow blowing and collecting on the trees.

day after exchange.

really enjoying the loving company of my fur-family. this is lucy.

and this is my oliver. he's the funniest cat i've ever had.

oliver might be the funniest cat i've every had, but lucy is clearly the prettiest cat i have ever had.

oliver going in for the big stretch.

oliver sticking his tongue out at me. cute.

oliver and lucy checking out the snow falling in the backyard.

hooray for snow! i love a good snowstorm. it's been snowing since sunday.

i think i will go and lie down again for another nap. the pain killers are making me sleepy.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

68. Guest blogger: Angela from BRCAn't Stop Me from Living

Angela is a fellow blogger from New Mexico, USA. Her story is so similar to mine, that often when I am reading her blog posts, it's as if she is blogging my very own thoughts. Our journey with PBM - expansion - to exchange surgery is also timed very closely, and it has been so helpful to read her journey and know what I am experiencing is all normal.

Thanks Angela, for allowing me to share your thoughts on my blog!

On to her guest post:

What Foobs Have Done for Me

Since having my breasts removed, and having what I term "foobs" upon my chest, a lot of things have changed in my life...There are the obvious, and then there are the weird......Let me explain....

1.First and foremost, no longer having boobs has literally saved my life...Who knows.....If I still had my god-given breasts right now, those cysts and "benign" densities that I had in my breasts could be forming into cancer...Considering that my mom was only 32 when she discovered her breast cancer, who is not to say that it could have happened to me as well? My boobs are gone, and I don't have to worry about breast cancer any longer.....Take THAT, breast cancer!

1. How many people, without going through this type of situation, make a blog completely devoted to their boobs? Uh, like none....I started this blog to vent, to be able to educate others, and to make light of the situation, but still...It is all pretty much about my boobs/foobs....I think that is kind of weird. But it works, and it helps others, so whatever...

2. Before going through surgery to have my breasts removed and crap, there is no way in hell that I would have ever posted pictures of my boobs on the internet for all to look at and stare at and share with their friends.......But because I have no breasts now, and I want people to see what the whole process of mastectomies to expanders to filling looks like, I post pictures.....Weird....I guess I've no real attachment to these foobs like I did to my real breasts of the past, and that's why I can post pictures of them all over the internet for people to look at....(And probably laugh at...) And yes, there will be lots more with my next surgery coming up in a week...STAY TUNED!!! (I'm advertising pictures of my foobs....I'm a freak.)

3. I have flashed my new boobs to so many people, I can't even remember who all has seen them.....People I work with, friends, friends of friends, friends boyfriends (with their approval, and because they asked....), family, etc......Now don't misunderstand me, I don't go around in a drunken state of mind flashing my weird looking boobs....NO.......That would be beyond weird....But like at work......You've got to understand...I'm a nurse...I work with other nurses.....Seeing things like funky looking foobs is nothing for us.. And for a lot of them, they've never seen reconstructed breasts with tissue expanders, so I am totally open to showing them, and explaining the whole process of surgery/the fills, etc.....I think just about all of my close friends have seen my foobs....By request..(And for crying out loud, I'm not shy, I post pics of them on the internet!)
I know I don't flash my butt, but I saw this, and thought it was hilarious...

4. Along with letting people oogle over my new foobs visually, to let them get the whole experience, I'll let them feel me up....You know how I'm always saying "These damn tissue expanders are like rocks, blah, blah, blah..." Well, you don't really understand (and even then, you don't completely), until you feel them with your own two hands..So in order to do that, I will allow you to touch my boob or boobs.....I don' t feel any of it, so it's not like you are violating me, and I give you permission to do so.....And even if I didn't give you permission and you touched them without me looking, I wouldn't be able to feel it, so I probably would never know....But yea....So many random people have touched my foobs and then say, "OH MY GOD! THOSE ARE LIKE SOLID STEEL!" Yeah.....Told ya. I am not lying...Not in the least bit.

5. My hands are always on my foobs....Always....It's either because they hurt and I am trying to manipulate one of the expanders to get out of my ribcage, or trying to push my left expander down to be even with the other side (orders from my plastic surgeon) or something......Or it's because the nerves are trying to regenerate and they itch and burn internally, but I can do absolutely nothing about it.....So I feel myself up....(Or it looks like that)...I'm sure my friends at work are used to seeing me always fondling my foobs, but at other places....Yea...Not so much.....And I need to be a little bit more aware of when I am fondling my breast area....

I guess what it boils down to is that I have completely disconnected myself with my breasts.How could I not..Breast cancer killed my mom...Killed her aunt....Has killed so many other great women..And when I found out that I was BRCA2+ and that I already had shit going on in my breasts, I hated my breasts so much ..I had them removed....And now, I have fake breasts upon my chest....And they may not be real, but my experiences are real and my past is real, and that is what makes us continue to grow in our journeys...As weird as it may be to you, but to me, it is real, just as real fake as these breasts are on my chest.