Archives for category: Prophylactic mastectomy

A few days ago I received a comment from Gina on one of my posts saying that she read about my blog on a Facebook group dedicated to the DIEP flap reconstruction process.  Upon reading this, I IMMEDIATELY looked for the page on Facebook and found it.  And WHAT A GREAT RESOURCE!  There are women in so many stages, some still doing research and others (like me) at the end of the journey.  If you are looking for additional resources, support, a sisterhood of reconstructed boobs – join us!

You have to request to join the group and then be given permissions by an administrator, but I was in and scouring posts within an hour.  This group is amazing and I’m so proud of us all taking care of and looking out for each other.

I’ve inserted a slideshow with all of my progress photos from pre-op through the present.  I thought this would be a quick, helpful visual tool for everyone to see what’s in store, without having to read through everything I’ve written here (because it’s tedious to read an entire blog just for a peek).

So, if you’ve been following along, there’s nothing new in this slideshow.  And if you’re squeamish (but reading this blog for some strange reason), don’t open the slideshow!

Today I decided that since I had close to nothing newsworthy going on (just the POTUS cruising around my ‘hood), I should provide some additional photos beyond the typical 5 photos I upload.  I decided to post a few more photos of my abdominal scar because the focus here, and on most other women’s blogs on this subject, all focus on the breasts.  Or, at least the ones that I came across did.  But the abdominal incision is a pretty sizable one, and that isn’t a scar that will go unnoticed, should it ever slip out of its secret lair.  Whenever I am reaching for something and really have to extend myself, I worry that someone will see part or all of it if my shirt creeps up.  I don’t know why I worry about it.  It’s not like someone has seen or noticed it and asked me about it.  Seattle is way too passive aggressive for that.  It’s just a big, scary looking scar to anyone who didn’t see it at the beginning (for comparison purposes), but it’s healing quite nicely.  All of my scars have decreased in both size and color.  Everyday I am still so grateful to all of my surgeons, the physicians, and the other healthcare workers who have helped me so much through this process.  Again, my surgeons did such a great job with my prophylactic bilateral mastectomy and DIEP flap breast reconstruction.

So basically I just wanted to provide some visuals for how far I’ve come along now that 8 weeks into recovery from Stage 1.  Stages 2 and 3 will be combined since I only have a minor revision (to reduce my left noob and make it the same size as my right).  I’m interested in how I will feel seeing my body again after being healed from nipple reconstruction. I forget what my natural breasts looked like.  I guess I should’ve taken a lot of pre-op photos, but prior to this blog I wasn’t really one to take semi-nude photos of myself.  All of my semi-nude photos were typically of totally unsuspecting, unaware strangers.  I keed, I keed.  Maybe.





Day 3 in the hospital.

03/18/12 – Day 4 in the hospital

Right side of my body, 5 days post op.

Left side image of my body, 5 days post op.

Week 1 / Day 7


05/10/12 – Frontal

05/10/12 – Flaps

05/10/12 – Abdomen

05/10/12 – Right

05/10/12 – Left

05/10/12 – Right edge of abdominal scar

05/10/12 – Left edge of abdominal scar

05/10/12 – Belly button

05/10/12 – Nipple site




Confession:  I type my posts in Word and then cut and paste them into WordPress.  I just cut and pasted lost tonight’s post after 40 minutes of working on it.  I’m SUPREMELY annoyed with my own idiocy and out of energy.  I promise to reinvigorate my passion to blabber about reconstructed nipples, Stage 2, and scar revision.  AAAAAH!


Today was the last of beautiful days we’ll have for probably a week (or longer).  The girls had music class this morning, and then we all went to our “secret beach,” which is actually just a place with public shore access.  It has sand, instead of sharp and/or slimy rocks, it’s small, it’s close, it’s often populated with people that want to take their kids to the water.  We had a great time, came home, the girls took a great nap, and then we commenced Round 2 of sun loving fun on our roof.

Pool party

I was able to take my walk and do about 4 miles today with the gorgeous weather.  I decided to brave a light color tank top with the warm weather (and no areolæ to tattle).  I think that UV proof clothing will be in my future because when I got home and showered it looks like part of scar around my nipple sites are a little sunburned.   While a little worrisome, it doesn’t hurt or look too horrific – just pink-ed.  Speaking of nipples, I called my plastic surgeon’s office last week and asked them if they could send me some literature about the nipple reconstruction and areolar tattooing.  Unfortunately the paperwork I received is really no more than after care instructions.  You can click below to view the literature I received from my surgeon’s office regarding nipple reconstruction:

Nipple Reconstruction

It is safe to say that whatever information I receive about this process, it is deemed either questionable or insufficient.  I have been poking around the internet looking at all kinds of things related to these procedures since I decided to have the BPM and reconstruction.  First off, I’m not sold on the nipple reconstruction.  I was 200% positive I wanted to have the prophylactic mastectomy, but I didn’t and still don’t feel the need to have non-sensory, aesthetic nipples.  Secondly, I’m a putz.  I’m worried that I will have some sort of every day, clumsy spill just after nipple reconstruction and tear one (or both) off or do something so that it flattens out completely and negates the nipple reconstruction.  I would be fine with having just the areolar tattooing and live without the nipple itself.  In the early stages of researching, I even found prosthetic nipples that seemed like a good idea, but the colors are all wrong for me. I have read here and there about the procedure and the complications.  I have watched YouTube videos about how the nipple is constructed, read forums about the healing process and timeline, and none of them seem so horrible.  But I’m still scared of damaging the nipples, necrosis, infection, sitting around for 4 more weeks.  But, I feel like I should persevere and see it through.  Why?

I have two daughters, and the BRCA1 genetic mutation is inherited.  Each of our girls has a 50% chance of inheriting this gene and being in my position in 20 years, maybe less.  My sister, Alyssa, also has two daughters facing this same situation.  I want to see this process through in case any of them turn out to be BRCA1 positive and have to think about all of these things I am now going through.  While it is my highest of all hopes and dreams that none of them have inherited the BRCA1 gene, I want to be ready, just in case, to say, “I have done this; it was scary, but not as bad as thought.  Look at me now.  Look at my reconstructed breasts.  Look at my happy, healthy, breast cancer free life.”




04/23/12 - Frontal

04/23/12 - Flaps

04/23/12 - Abdomen

04/23/12 - Right

04/23/12 - Left

Today was another surprisingly, fortunately nice day sans precipitation…after a few hours.  The girls went out and about (in their best princess  gear) to play, and I stayed around here being gimpy.  Well, I was gimpy for a while and then I tried my best to get myself together and do something productive.  I managed a few, small chores around the house (put some laundry away, put some more laundry in the washer, straightened up the kitchen) and headed out for my exercise.  Today I decided to get back on the hills and make sure that I’m doing my part to keep what’s healthy, healthy and to get what’s healing healthy. I gathered some inspiration from Mike, my husband, after he told me he ran up this huge hill by our house TEN TIMES this morning before work.  I managed to walk up it once today, and was pretty proud of myself for that accomplishment.

04/04/12 - Up big bad Lee Street

I took Lake Washington Boulevard around our neighborhood and through the “loop” which is a popular pedestrian and cyclist path.  It was a bit chilly out, but it was a nice temperature to be walking in, and there was sunshine to make everything better.  I made it to a lookout point on Lake Washington Boulevard and decided it was time to take a breather and rest up for the long walk home.

04/04/12 - Lookout @ Lk Wa Blvd

I decided, after much consideration, that today would be a good day to try to get back into the driver’s seat.  I successfully drove myself to and from my brow waxing appointment without incident.  Not to say (write) that it wasn’t without its challenges, but I came home collision free.  First and foremost, I embarked on this journey pain medication free to ensure my safety and that of of my road warrior companions.  Secondly, I drove for probably a total of 3 miles.  I had to complete 4 turns to get to my destination and had no crazy parallel parking challenges, which would’ve certainly done me in.  My range of motion is well enough that I can keep my hands and 9 and 3 (instead of the old school 10 and 2), but it’s not well enough that I can turn the wheel round with only one hand.  I felt like a rookie driver doing the hand-over-hand turns you learn in Driver’ Ed classes, but today old school worked well for me.  So, everything with my reintroduction to driving went well.

Today I also decided I would try to forgo my mid afternoon nap I’ve been taking since my surgery, which hasn’t worked out so well for me.  Now I feel so overly tired that I can’t sleep (it’s currently 11 p.m.).  I’m hoping that this is just a slight hiccup in my sleep schedule, but I’ve never been a really good sleeper.

I received a return phone call today from Dr. Louie’s office trying to follow up on the physical therapy scheduling debacle from yesterday.  The nurse that I spoke with couldn’t tell me whether or not I was cleared to start PT this soon, so I am waiting to hear back from the nurse after she gets in contact with Dr. Louie, which I think is going to probably be about 48 hours since he has surgery on Thursdays. To be honest, I’m not in any rush at this point to add more discomfort and fluid build up to what I already have going on here.  I think that when I first spoke with Dr. Louie at my consultation, he said that patients typically start PT around 4 to 6 weeks.  Even though that sounds like an eternity away from right now, I can manage some patience and hope that fluid absorption on my left side comes with that as well.

As far as pain today, I’m having a lot of discomfort and a little bit of pain.  I’m trying to only take my pain medication when I go to bed for the night, and am alternating ibuprofen and Tylenol during the day for pain control.  It’s not horrible, but it’s not without its drawbacks.  I still have pain in my sternum and sound a little breathy when I talk too much or too fast (because it’s still uncomfortable to take deep breaths sequentially).  My fluid build up on my left side is very uncomfortable, tender and has me very guarded on that side.  But, I’m making it through the days.

And now, your daily dose of medical magic…

04/04/12 - Frontal

04/04/12 - Flaps

04/04/12 - Abdominal incision

04/04/12 - Left side

04/04/12 - Right side

I have ZERO drains left!  This morning I went into Dr. Louie’s office and had my finally, pain in the side, JP Drain removed.  It was quick, painless, and as freeing as I dreamt it would be.  I can pull my pants up and down without worrying about catching my drain; I can walk close to the counters and not snag the tube on something; I can sit on the floor and play with our girls and not worry that they will mistake my drain for the next item of play.  In short, HOORAY!  My drain was pulled 13 hours ago but it’s still seeping Funky Cold Medina or whatever that is, so I’m currently wearing a designer gauze pad and some surgical tape.  I was told it should close up by the morning. Other than that, Dr. Louie just told me to continue to take it easy, not over do it, and heal.

04/03/12 - Drain site

I had the chance to ask Dr. Louie about my left side still being swollen and his comments were in line with what Dr. Liu told me.  The veins on my left side are significantly smaller than those on my right (common for everyone to have larger veins on the side on which they are dominant), so my left side is just processing any excess fluid slower than my right.  He said it could take a few months for the swelling to resolve, but if my left flap continued to be larger than my right then he could liposuction some of the fatty tissue out of my left flap to make it even with my right.  While I understand that this is an option if I want my flaps to be concordant, I don’t feel strong enough about how similar (or dissimilar) they are to undergo liposuction.  I’m so focused on getting back to our everyday lives, that liposuction of the flap sounds 210% unthinkable.  I can live with asymmetry.  And, yet again, I failed to remember to ask Dr. Louie about my rash.  It hasn’t gotten any worse, but parts of it have gone from rash to molting reptile.

04/03/12 - Rash/peeling

This afternoon I received a phone call from Seattle Cancer Care Alliance to schedule my first physical therapy appointment.  This I was excited about, until the scheduler asked me if I could come in tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m.  I was taken aback by this because starting physical therapy at 2.5 weeks post surgery doesn’t seem in line with my reconstructive surgeons’ instructions.  I asked the scheduler if I was cleared by both Drs. Javid and Louie to start PT, and she didn’t know.  She said she was following Dr. Javid’s referral slip to schedule PT “sooner versus later” and called.  So the scheduler and I hung up, and I called Dr. Louie’s office to find out if it was ok for me to go to PT tomorrow.  I haven’t heard back yet (because I called at the end of the work day) but am interested to hear if it is ok for me to start PT tomorrow.

As far as accomplishments and pain today, my left side is still throbbing, stiff and sore.  My range of motion on the left side is still significantly limited compared to the right.  But last night I slept with my left arm propped up on a pillow like it was in the hospital, and when I had my usual 2 a.m. wake up my arm felt better than it had after the past couple weeks of sleeping without it supported.  So tonight I will sleep with a pillow under my arm again and see if the support overnight makes any impact tomorrow.  At this point, though, I just feel like throwing my left arm in a sling and letting it set there for a week. I didn’t hit any significant “back to me achievements” today that come to mind.  Me, our nanny, and the girls hit the mall for some retail therapy and indoor walking since Seattle weather is back to raining, pouring, boring.  Surviving taking twin toddler girls who are in the midst of a princess obsession to The Disney Store is quite an accomplishment, so I’ll post it here.

So that’s it for today!  Here’s your daily dose…

04/03/12 - Frontal

04/03/12 - Flaps

04/03/12 - Right side

04/03/12 - Left side

Am I the only person that thinks of this movie scene when I hear/say/read/write “two weeks”?

There’s really no breaking news to report when you’re blogging everyday about surgery recovery.  I’d offer to really ramp things up in the sake of maintaining interest, but that would be a complete disservice to my target audience (other women preparing for this surgery) and would probably involve some sort of self-inflicted wound.  I’m not into that kind of thing.  I’ve aged out of Emo.

Today I decided to walk as much as I wanted, which turned out to not be very much walking.  My sister, Angie, has replaced my sister, Alyssa, as my caretaker and walking companion.  Writing that sentence makes me feel about 65 years older than I am.  But taking stool softener and eating bran cereal two times a day makes me feel 70 years old.  Back to the story; Angie and I walked from my house to the pharmacy because I have a hot (temperature hot, not sexy hot) rash on my abdomen driving me crazy.  We then walked to Starbucks to meet our nanny and my two, cutie pie girls.  We hung out at Starbucks long enough for the girls to throw every rail car for the train set on the ground, have a few fights, and for the weather to get worse.  Then we walked home.  This arduous journey totaled one whole mile.  I felt fine while we were walking, but I was ready for a nap when the girls’ took their nap at 1:30 p.m.

I find that I get tired more because of my medication than anything, but still being unable to take pain free deep breaths does affect my endurance.  Even on a measly one-mile walk, I get winded because I can’t take deep breaths without my ribs and sternum hurting.   I also get tired because I’m still not standing 100% upright.  I’m almost there, but my abdomen is still tight from surgery and impeding my ability to stand erect.  Being hunched over also causes discomfort in my lower back, hamstrings and hips.  It’s a lot like that song, “the back bone’s connected to the hip bone; the hip bone’s connected to the leg bone; the leg bone’s connected to the aching bone.”

Other than these aches, pains, and hot rash I’m doing pretty well.  My range of motion on my right side is much better than my left but my surgeons told me to expect that after the onset of the swelling.  I am very much interested to see how much my ROM improves before I start physical therapy.  Also, I still am sleeping (uncomfortably) on my back.  I asked my sisters and my friend, Emma, today, “What do back sleepers do with their arms?”  I can’t figure out a comfortable arrangement.  Cross them like a vampire?  Prayer style?  Holding my own hands?  As a back sleeper, it’s awkward trying to find a comfortable place to put my hands when I’m usually just laying on top of them.

Day 14 scariness ensues below…

Day 14 frontal photo. A little increase in swelling on my left flap.

Increased swelling on left side, Day 14.

Day 14 abdominal incision (and a lot of dry skin)

As far as I can raise my left arm on Day 14.

Range of motion on my right side is far better than the left. Day 14.

Today I have implemented my “No Action” plan of action (“NAPA”) in hopes of reducing my swelling, fluid output, and pain that keeps creeping up.  I have implemented the NAPA so well that I am wearing a bathrobe, post op accoutrements, and nothing else.  Maybe flip flops when walking around the house.  Alyssa helped me shower this morning, put on my bathrobe, and I’ve been the dude ever since just rolling around the house.  I haven’t gone on my walk yet today.  I was thinking about skipping it to see if it help decrease my fluid output, but it is such a painfully gorgeous spring day to be locked in the house.  So I think after I post this blog, I’ll nap and then go for a walk with the girls when they’re up from their nap.

I’m having these very weird phantom nipple pains and/or sensations.  It started happening the other day when I caught a chill getting out of the shower.  I felt all of my skin start to pimple as I was drying off and thought that I felt my left nipple constrict, like when I would get cold before (and had nipples).  It was so real that I had to look down and stare at my flaps to make sure it wasn’t happening.  But, alas, no goose pimpled skin on either flap and certainly no constricted nipples.  At least not on me.  The sensation is also starting to come back on my abdominal skin.  They told me I would have some numbness for a while but that it would gradually work it’s way back.  This sensation is not a welcomed one.  It goes from pins and needles, to mosquito bite like itching, to shooting, sharp pains.  Unfortunately, my pain medication, ibuprofen, nor the Tylenol is helping reduce these sensations.  I guess it’s a mixed blessing.  I can feel something, but that something does not feel good.

Wearing my abdominal binder has provided considerable relief for my back pain.  I wish that my nursing staff would’ve remembered to discharge me with it.  The downsides to wearing the binder are that it goes over my abdominal drains and moves up or down whenever I sit or stand.  This, in turn, tugs on my drainage tubes and sends me into a slight panic (that I’ve caught myself on something) and then just a few seconds of pain.

I also cannot handle this narcotic related constipation.  I remember being young and listening to adults talk about how important it was to be regular, particularly on bran cereal commercials.  As a child, bowel movements are something that you pay no mind.  Into adolescence and adulthood, it occasionally provides some very low brow humor but you start to appreciate that regularly having bowel movements is a sign of good health.  Not being able to go for days on end is an obscure curse I would wish on my enemies, but it is unfortunately my own problem at the moment.  I have started to try to space out my pain medication for longer stretches, giving my body some more time to process things without narcotics slowing it down.  I’ve also been taking a stool softener, eating a lot of dried fruit, and drinking as much water as I can remember to consume.  Last night my stool softener decided to finally work, but at 2 a.m.  There is nothing more terrifying than being woken from a dead sleep with the urgent need to poop.  Pre-surgery, no problem making it to the bathroom on time.  Now?  It takes me a good 2 minutes to get myself rolled out of bed, probably another 30 seconds to walk to the bathroom.  Luckily, there was no Trainspotting-esque incident.  Unfortunately, this is an everyday battle I’m facing while on pain medication.  It’s a short lived problem, though, since I was only prescribed pain medication through next week.

Below are my progress photos.  Once again, I’m giving you an out if you’re not into looking at the wreckage.



Frontal shot of healing progress. 2 drains remain in.


little to no swelling


Still swollen. Extra gauze for seepage from drain site.


Abdominal binder over my abdominal incision. Marsupial Pouch (by Turner Health Products) to hold my abdominal drains around my waist.

***Scary post-op photos below; view at your own risk***

I just wanted to announce that I was discharged from the hospital at about 11:30 a.m. today and am typing this from the discomfort of my very own home office chair.  It felt like they were in dire need of vacant beds because the attending plastic surgeon, Dr. Louie (who did my DIEP flap reconstruction), the charge nurse and then the various other attendings all came to see me within a 2 hour window, all asking, “How do you feel about going home today?”  I knew my recovery was going well enough to leave, but a lot felt safe about staying in the hospital for one more day.  Plus, I was hoping that they’d take 3 out of 4 drains if I stayed 1 more day (but they only took 2/4).

I finally did get a chance to have someone from OT help me shower and “teach me” how to get dressed with my limitations.  After both of those experiences, I am pretty confident that any literate child over the age of 10 would’ve done just as good of a job “helping” me with these things.  My OT basically helped me get undressed, sat me on the shower chair and reminded me of all the various ways I couldn’t move my arms.  This would be helpful if I actually had the ABILITY to move my arms (or torso) in any of those directions and I really needed to back off of doing so.  But, at the moment, I look a lot like a Johnny 5 getting around anywhere.  My arms are so close to my sides (because of the discomfort and inflammation) that I can barely lift either one more than 10 degrees from my side or in front of me.  “Teaching me to get dressed” was much of the same.  She laid my clothes out on the bed for me and said, “Remember your limitations; now go ahead and try to get dressed.”  I brought my surgical camisole (which is a zip front and has drain pockets), a button down shirt (because I can’t lift my arms), sweat pants, and a pair of TOMS.  I thought all of these would be pretty easy for me to get into/out of during my recovery.  But I didn’t think about how much my limited range of motion would effect me. I was only successful in getting my shoes on unassisted.  The rest was just a short lived disaster.

When I put on a button down shirt, I basically get one arm through a sleeve, and then reach behind me to get my other arm through.  Because I can’t reach anywhere even close to behind me, I had to sort of pull my shirt up way too far on one side, and try to toss the excess over my other shoulder.  It was and is a total bullshit.  She was quick to add a lot of “No, no.  You’re going to hurt yourself!”, but nothing much else in the way of successful, pain free (or even pain light) techniques.

I feel like I hit a lot of milestones today for a lot of “can do” items.  I walked  a pretty significant distance from my hospital room, to the hospital pharmacy, and then to the car with Cate.  I didn’t wear my seat belt home (naughty, I know) because just the thought of that kind of pressure across my abdomen and my chest made me curl my face up.  When we got home I was able to walk up our entry way stairs, and up all of our stairs, unassisted.  I’m standing almost completely upright, but my skin across my abdomen is still pretty taught.  Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be standing up straight.  It hurts my lower back to be hunched over all the time, so the faster I’m upright the less I have to deal with back pain. I also stripped my drains by myself (which took me a surprising 15 minutes/side), was able to feed myself, put together a medication chart, go outside for a short walk with the girls while they rode their bikes, and got into and out of bed only 1 time unassisted.

I hurt myself trying to get out of bed alone after my nap today.  Those hospital beds being set at a pretty big incline make it so much easier to bring my knees up to my chest, sort of roll half onto my side, and then put one leg down, sit up a little more, put the other led down, then sit up straight.  Our bed is pretty low and even with the menagerie of pillows, I used my core too much and felt like my dermabond was going to split wide open.  Mike had to come in and help me up by pulling forward on my shoulders.  Other than that, I really felt tremendous pain two other times today at home.  The first time our cat, Kameha, jumped up on my back.  He has done this since he was a kitten.  It was cute when he was 6 months old and weighed 2 pounds.  But now that he’s 6 years old, weighs 9 pounds, and I can’t use my arms to get him off of my back (and the instant weight on me was killer, too), it was truly horrific.  I yelled for help until Cate was able to come and get him off me.  But, instinctively, I put my hands behind my back to pull him off.  This caused a searing pain across my chest, into my sternum, and throughout my abdomen.  I was sure I was going to start seeping blood from somewhere.  I had to just stand there for a few minutes and cry and then collect myself.  I have never had this experience with pain before.  Another complicating factor is that it hurts to cry, cough, breathe deeply, or even yell.  This is because the surgeons had to remove a small part of my ribs to reconnect the veins in my chest to my DIEP flap.  So my ribs (and sternum) are going to be pretty tender and very delicate for at least 4 weeks.  The second time I was in a lot of pain was unfortunately not too long after Kameha jumped on me.  I came downstairs to sit at the kitchen table and to have a glass of water.  I asked Mike to help me by putting his arms underneath my armpits and lifting straight up.  Either I didn’t explain well enough how his had to happen, or Mike missed the point.  He put his hands under my armpits and started to squeeze my ribs together as he was lifting up, and I immediately started crying and asked him to put me down.  I think I still hurt from this one, or it’s just a build up of both incidences.  I’m hopeful that I’ll feel better tomorrow and have zero occurrences like either of these.  Tomorrow is already looking much better than today.  My sister, Alyssa, arrives in the morning for a week to help me out during my recovery.  I can’t wait to see her.

As far as taking care of the girls, I still very much need assistance.  I can’t even hug them right now, which was pretty devastating to Olivia when I first came home.  We told them to be gentle because I have an “owie”, and I just showed her my bandage on my abdomen and nothing else.  She forgot a couple of times later in the afternoon that I was still out of commission and would cry that I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) pick her up or hold her.  Cate, my friend and our nanny, has been doing such a tremendous job with the girls.  It really is hard to express the depth of my gratitude for taking such good care of the girls and making the time pass so quickly with fun and outings when I was in the hospital.

Finally, I am posting more photos of how my body looks during this recovery time.  I’ll probably try to make a Flip video of myself getting around the house and out on walks just so other women can see how the range of motion is limited (hard to pick up your feet when your core is so sore).  I have very little to almost no bruising, which I was told I can thank my breast surgeon, Sara Javid, for using her delicate touch during the bilateral mastectomy.  My abdominal scar incision is a little off kilter.  I’m not sure why, but will ask Dr. Louie at my follow up visit in a week.

Other than that, the pictures just look a lot like I feel.  Uncomfortable.  Now would be the time to leave the blog unless you’re into looking at post op photos, seeping wounds, swelling, and all.

Frontal view of incisions, dermabond, DIEP flaps.

Right side of my body, 5 days post op.

Right side image of my body, 5 days post op.

I’m not sure if I should be counting the days the way that I am. I started my day counting with the date of my surgery as day one, because I was alert and “lucid” post op, or if I should have had the number one be the day after my surgery.

Regardless, today is a big day. I am being sent home! Dr. Daniel Z. Liu is the attending surgical resident. He and two other surgeons came in about 7:45 am and said that I could go home today. They then took out both JP drains in my breasts, removed my Doppler wires (which allowed them to listen to the blood flowing in and out of my veins in my reconstructed breasts), and took out my pain pump from my abdomen.

Having my drains pulled wasn’t as bad as I anticipated. I was expecting to feel them being tugged through my skin, but it seemed more like how I imagine it to feel when people do that trick of sending a spaghetti noodle through their nostrils.

I’m a little worried about going home. We have a lot of stairs I have to climb to get into bed. We also have cats and toddlers that typically want to climb all over me. I know I’ll be sad about being sidelined during the rest of my recovery but I really couldn’t be more thankful for getting this far free of complications and with an excellent surgical outcome.

Now I just wait and see how sore I get with having my drains pulled, wires pulled, some staples out, and my medication tapered.

So excited to go home though!!!


Just throwing this out there that you should preemptively cover your eyes for photos of the new belly boobs. If you are not interested in seeing how I am feeling and how my surgical sites are progressing, change the channel now!

Today was sort of a big day. I finally got moved out of the ICU and into a private patient recovery room. I wish that I could say I was getting more sleep now that I am in my own room, but they have started tapering down my drugs so I am left with more pain through out today. I understand that it is a necessary evil, but it still sucks.

Today I was able to get myself into and out of bed unassisted three times. When I was in ICU, I had a bedside commode after my catheter was pulled (because there are no in-room bathrooms in most of the ICU rooms).  I could get myself into/out of bed to use, but not really to ambulate or anything more than peeing and returning to bed.  I went for two hospital hallway walks with assistance. But I am incredibly sore and having a hard time feeling comfortable when back in bed.

I am also hopeful that two of my JP drains can be removed tomorrow. They’re all having a little bit of production, but not enough to just all four remaining in.

I also have this little pump thing from that is inserted into my abdomen to help alleviate the pain from my surgical site there. However, the pump has not been working at all since they implanted it. Despite me telling every nurses and healthcare provider here that has checked on me that this pump does not work, it still remains in place and not helping me at all. All it is really good for is me almost tripping on it when I get out of bed. Or for getting caught on things and tugging at my stitches. Not my favorite way to spend time with something.

Otherwise, I’m just hoping for some decent sleep tonight, and some JP drain removal tomorrow. I’ve been told that my reconstructed boobs are looking very good, but they’re very, very warm to the touch, and probably a bit crooked (which is normal and corrected at a later date). My pain today was probably at 5/10, with some fluctuation to higher numbers whenever I had to move around or had a drainage tube snag on something.

Cate has done a terrific job of keeping me updated about our girls, and also sending me pictures and videos of their daily activities. I miss them so much and cannot wait to get home to them. It will be a little confusing for them at first that I cannot provide care for them on my own, but I think that they’re having so much fun with Cate and all the different things they are doing with her, my husband, and mother in law.

In a few more days I will be home free, left somewhat on my own to heal at home, but also completely enjoying the fact that my sister Alyssa will be here in Seattle with me.

Until then, today’s scary pics are brought to you by dilaudid and being too sore to care.