What a day!  Today I went back to the torture chamber with Paul.  It was hard work, harder than it was when I started working out with him.  I spoke with my physical therapist the other day after leaving her a message asking if I was clear to go back to the gym.  She had to make a few additional phone calls herself, but then got back to me.  We discussed things that I could do, what I might be able to do, and things that I should avoid.  Yesterday I was super excited to get back into the gym.  When I was walking into the doors, I was excited.  When I was done working out, I was totally exhausted.

My range of motion is so much more limited than I anticipated.  I think it’s from, in part, how much I have been guarded about fully using my arms.  Even though I’ve been keeping up with  my physical therapy stretches and exercises, I didn’t think I’d struggle so much with the simple things.  Despite having a few dashes of cardio in my workout, the things that got me sweating the most involved me trying to raise my arms.  It doesn’t hurt to raise them, I just have a lot of tightness in certain areas that prohibit me moving them freely and without worry.  It’s a slow and steady work in progress, but you may have guessed I am not a creature of patience.

It was also surprising to find that doing certain motions with my legs (like raising my knees up high and attempting pistol squats) really caused a tugging, strange sensation along my abdominal scar.  We did a few things that included trunk rotations in which I expected to feel a tugging or pulling sensation along that scar, but I didn’t anticipate so much of it while doing leg exercises.  Everything was a challenge, but it’s good to be back at the gym.  I worked so hard to be in tip-top shape prior to my surgery in hopes that it would decrease my recovery time.  I don’t know if it did or had no impact at all, but I’m glad I did it.  Since I feel like the time before my next stage of surgery is quickly approaching, I’m hoping to be in better shape before I have to ease off again (albeit for a much shorter recovery).

Another surprise today:  a little unexpected oozing.  My dreams, like yours probably, are sometimes only loosely tied to my actual, awake life events.  Sometimes, they’re spot on.  This morning, before I got out of bed for the day, I kept dreaming that my abdominal scar was ripping open at different points during my workout with Paul.  In my dream my skin would split open neatly along my incision, but only little drops of blood would come out.  No doubt this had more to do with my fear about getting back into a regular workout and my limitations, but when I finally crawled out of bed I noticed a little bit of blood over my right hip.  I pulled up my pajama top and I have a very small spot (I think where my last drain was pulled) that has opened up a little bit.  There is a small bit of puss coming out of it and it is slightly tender, but it is not like a raging infection.  I was able to send a message to Dr. Liu on Twitter asking him about it.  I wasn’t overly concerned due to its small size, but I also didn’t want to risk leaving a potential hazard for the whole weekend.  Amazingly, on a Friday night after anyone’s normal office hours, he immediately responded.  It sounds like this is just an irritation from a dissolving stitch and should be watched to see if redness developes around it.  If so, then I can call for some antibiotics.  But basically “NBD”, as the young people Tweet it.

Again, totally amazing that I can communicate with one of my physicians about concerns after hours using social media.  AMAZING!  I also bumped into my breast surgeon, Dr. Sara Javid, who performed my prophylactic bilateral (skin sparing, but not nipple sparing) mastectomy.  Dr. Javid is so kind, sweet, and skilled.  We stood in a bakery and talked for a little over 5 minutes about my recovery and how I was feeling and doing really, really well.  She was and is so great to work with; it was really nice to see her again so I could tell her how thankful I am to have been her patient.  I know that this probably sets the bar pretty high for other women who may have upcoming surgery, and I apologize for that.  But all through this experience, I have found that all of my physicians and their staff really want nothing more than to be great at their professions and treat their patients well.  In reading about the experiences of other women who had bilateral mastectomy and DIEP flap breast reconstruction, it seemed like they were rarely able to get helpful communication OR information from their physicians or the physicians’ staff.  And thinking about those women now in contrast against my experience, my heart really goes out to them.  This process is very intimidating, emotional and complicated.  I can’t imagine going through all of this and feeling like my surgical team didn’t or couldn’t support my after care needs.  So, I am grateful to all of my physicians – but as of late Dr. Liu has been Man of Steel quality medical super hero.  So THANK YOU DR. LIU!

I discussed on one of my recent posts the possibility of ordering some prosthetic nipples to see if they would get me a little more solid on nipple reconstruction.  They should be here in 3 – 5 business days, so stay tuned for some false, detachable nipple excitement! My daily dose of medical wonders is below, as always.  Today I included a picture of the sometimes visible dip just below my abdominal scar.  I’m not sure what makes it more noticeable some days versus others, but I tried to get an aerial view so that you could see where the little dip is.  I am doing scar tissue release massages at home which were prescribed by my physical therapist.  Hopefully these will loosen this area up a bit.  Because it’s not as visible every single day, I will only post pictures of it when it seems like someone else would be able to see it.



04/27/12 - Frontal

04/27/12 - Flaps

04/27/12 - Abdomen (see the scar dip?)

04/27/12 - Scar dip just to your lower L of my belly button

04/27/12 - Suture abscess?

04/27/12 - Right

04/27/12 - Left