Archives for posts with tag: mastectomy

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.

It has been a few days since my last post and I apologize for falling off the task wagon.  On Sunday I continued my steady path of screwing myself up on my medications and causing myself a lot more hassle and pain.  Since I got so behind on my pain medication on Saturday, I decided that on Sunday I would try to go completely without it.  I have to say that the day (and my pain) was manageable until about nap time.  Sleeping is such a problem these days.  I am a life long stomach sleeper and trying to sleep on my back on this crazy contour pillow (to help keep my weight evenly distributed) is weird.  The contour pillow is comfortable, but it is very narrow.  So, even though I cannot yet roll over on either side, every time I do try to roll over I feel like I am falling completely off of my bed.  I have one of those jarring, falling dreams, wake up, flail my arms (as far as they will flail), and then jerk my arms back to my sides.  It doesn’t sound like much, but it is exhausting.  Anyway, Sunday, no pain medication = mistake.  I feel that there are just too many perchance things in my life to be going pain medication free.  Such as my cats still jumping on me; one (or both) of the girls discovering my drainage tube hanging and giving it a tug; and, running into stuff around my house because I’m not used to walking around hunched over and with my arms close at my sides.

The discomfort of a medication free Sunday rolled over into Monday (because I didn’t sleep well and was up about every 3 hours), and I had a bit of a breakdown at my breast oncologist follow up.  As always, my surgeon (Dr. Javid) and her surgical resident were doing their intake and asked me how I was feeling.  And, I should’ve known I would, I just started crying.  I didn’t realize how frustrated I was with my current state.  I was hearing myself tell Dr. Javid how I’m so frustrated with being unable to do simple things, like walk into our neighborhood “village” without consequences and just being so lethargic.  I don’t know that I’ve actively thought about these things, so it was a surprise that I vocalized them so quickly.  But they are true.  I don’t like just sitting around the house all day.  I feel well enough to walk a mile, or more, but if I did so my drain output would go through the roof and my back would be killing me from walking like Quasimodo.  I hate not being able to care for my girls and myself.  It’s a drag.  However, it was good to vocalize these things, realize that I needed to work on my patience, and get on with life.  Because there is so much life.  And, now I know for certain, so much BREAST CANCER FREE LIFE. Dr. Javid gave me my pathology results from my prophylactic mastectomy and all of my tissue was free and clear of cancer.  So all of this wasn’t for naught.  Our goal of going through this whole process so that I wouldn’t get breast cancer has worked.  Because I no longer have breasts, I am no longer at a ridiculously elevated risk of having breast cancer.  And it is an amazing feeling!  I’ve been thinking a lot about what an arduous process this has been, and I’m not even a full two weeks into recovery.  I can’t imagine what months (if not longer) of treatment, surgery, and recovery would do to me.  Cancer survivors are totally warriors.  They’re made of much tougher stuff than I am; that’s for certain.

Today (Tuesday) I had my follow-up at the reconstructive surgeon’s office.  It was a brief meeting, but mostly because I bombarded Dr. Javid with me being me the day prior.  Since I’d already unloaded on her and asked a lot of questions during that appointment, I didn’t have a ton of questions for Dr. Daniel Liu.  I did ask for a surgical bra since the surgical camisole wasn’t cutting the mustard, which I received.  I have to say that the surgical bra beats the camisole for me.  It doesn’t have anywhere to put the JP Drains, but since mine are out that is a non-issue.  I can close the surgical bra, wear it to bed so my “flaps” aren’t falling to the way side and causing additional  pain in my ribs and sternum.  And I can wear it under my clothes for a little bit more protection for my tenderness.  I was surprised by Dr. Liu telling me that the swelling on my left “flap” and underarm wouldn’t resolve for anywhere from 2 to 4 months.  I was thinking it would be maybe 2 weeks; but, no such luck.  It is going to take a couple of months for my surgical sites to settle and my body to reabsorb and process the excess fluid that built up in that pocket.  It hasn’t gotten worse, but the discomfort from the swelling is really bothersome and the area is still very, very tender.  Dr. Liu did remove my left abdominal JP Drain so I only have one left to go.  Dr. Liu told me to expect that since I’m down to one drain I should expect the output on the remaining drain to go up for the first few days; but he believes I’ll be ready to have that drain out within two weeks.

One thing I discussed with both Drs. Javid and Liu was my fluid output.  I was frustrated by it this entire week.  My goal was to get all of my drains out as soon as possible; they’re an uncomfortable hassle.  However, I know that they serve an important function.  So, as discussed, I was trying to decrease my physical activity in order to keep my fluid output low; but it didn’t work.  Both doctors agreed that any fluid produced is fluid that should come out via the drains.  So even if my activity created a large upswing in my output, that was a good thing.  Dr. Javid (I think) equated it to wringing out a sponge.  Sometimes you have to move the sponge around in every direction to get all of the liquid out of it.  So I’m going to just deal with the hassle of this lone drain, walk as much as I feel is healthy for me, and see how long it takes for my excess fluid to work its way out and, eventually, for me to get this bad boy out.

Before posting my update photos I wanted to post about trying to mother our girls while going through this process.  It is hard; every second of not being able to pick up our girls, hold them, play with them is just as challenging (if not more so) than I thought it would be.  I cannot wait for that part of this to be over.  I can’t even do so much as change a diaper (because I can’t lift their legs/bottoms up) or walk them down the stairs.  Heaven forbid the girls were to slip on the stairs but, if they did, I don’t have the strength right now to effectively hold on to them and stop them from falling further.  I have been cheating a bit and sitting down on the floor cross legged so they can sit on my lap and we can cuddle.  But this comes at a price.  We’re used to big, cozy, bear hugs and snuggling.  We try to remind the girls that they need to be gentle with me and that I have an “owie”, but it is just the nature of having a child in your lap that they will want to rest their head on your chest.  I will take the hit and let them do it; it hurts my sternum and my ribs quite a bit.  But I’m like a cuddle junkie getting a fix.  It’s totally worth it.  It hurts.  But it’s totally worth it.  I can still do story time, sing nursery rhymes, help out a little with meals, but I truly am limited in my ability to mother.  It’s been great having my sisters and our nanny to help care for the girls and keep them happy.  But I can’t wait for the day when me and the little ladies fly solo.

Finally, I found a good bedtime workaround for my abdominal JP Drains.  Figures that it would occur to me when I’m down to 1 drain.  I’m sleeping with my bathrobe on (instead of pajamas because they’re another complication) and decided to turn my pockets inside out.  I then put my drains in my out turned pockets so that they stay inside the robe with me and tucked away.  I have also put a little pill case in my robe pocket for my middle of the night medication dosages.  I set my phone alarm for every 6 hours for my pain medication.  If it goes off when I’m in bed, I just reach in my robe pocket and take out a pill.  They’re small enough that I don’t even need a sip of water to take it.  I was just feeling smart for thinking of these things and thought I would share them with anyone that may find it useful in the future.

Scary stuff below…

Abdominal incision day 13

Left side, day 13

Right side, day 13, last remaining JP Drain!

Full frontal, Black Dahlia-esque

Nifty bathrobe drain pocket

Close up of tissue transfer for future nipple reconstruction

Today I am short on patience.  Yesterday I discussed instituting my “NAPA” to try and get both my fluid out put down and the swelling on my left flap to decrease.  After, literally, a day+ of doing as close to nothing as it gets (some indifferent teenagers have me beat, I’m sure), my output is still over 20cc on my left side drain and my left flap is so swollen that it’s completely enveloped my suture (photos below).  I took an extended nap, earlier in the day than usual, and screwed myself up on my medication schedule because I slept through my alarms to take them.  So, I think that sleeping through my ibuprofen dosage hasn’t helped my swelling decrease, and sleeping through my pain medication has me trying to dial it down even more so that I’m not any more uncomfortable than need be.

Today my sternum and ribs are all tremendously sore and bother some.  Just like when I first came out of surgery, it hurts to take deep breaths.  I’m not sure if I did something in my sleep or if this is something that will wax and wane, but it truly is jarring to try to inhale and be confronted with shooting pains.

I am over these drains.  I feel like a gun slinger, but with JP Drains in my holsters.  I’ve been trying to figure out the most ergonomic way to wear them and deal with them throughout the day, but they get caught on everything or I have to wear my pants too low so that they don’t catch and, in turn, end up trying to keep my pants on all day.  My surgical camisole, I think, was more meant for women who have JP Drains up top longer than I had.  Trying to store my abdominal drains in my surgical camisole has been a headache.  I also cannot zip the camisole over my super swollen left side, so I’m going without it today.  I’m hoping that my hanging “flaps” don’t invite more inflammation.

My follow up appointments are next week.  On Monday I have my appointment with my breast oncologist/surgeon (Dr. Javid) to get my pathology results.  On Tuesday I meet with someone from Dr. Louie’s team to check my reconstruction.  I need to poke around the I N T E R N E T S for additional questions to ask them other than, “when will the swelling go away?  when will you take these leaches out of me?”.

I’m a negative Nancy today.  (Nancy must’ve been one hell of a pessimist to get pegged with that.)

Aforementioned swelling

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The better behaved, much envied right side.

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Visible difference due to continued swelling.

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Used to be a gun slinger. Now this.

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!!!

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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.

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I’m feeling a little less like all of my internal organs were removed, put in a cocktail shaker, vigorously tumbled, and put back into me without my knowledge. The first 48 hours were pretty brutal. I had to stay in bed, with only positional adjustments, up through today. That felt a lot like getting beaten with a baseball bat and told to lie down so the pain could really set in.

My JP Drains are as awful as I’ve read they were. I rolled over on them yesterday and my physical therapist almost completely yanked my two left drains out of me when trying to toss my menagerie of blankets off of me. She failed to appreciate that those “pesky blankets” were actually my drains she kept pulling on and trying to throw over the opposite the edge of the bed. It was horrific and both times I had a ton of pain both radiating from and almost down into my incisions.  I have a pain medication push button that I hit every time I see a doctor, nurse, janitor, or anyone (really) head my way.  If they’re not here to poke or prod me, they’re here to empty my drains, which is uncomfortable or worse when someone careless is doing it.  I also have to have blood drawn for labs every day – at least it seems like every day.  A phlebotomist is not called in to do this every time; I wish they were.  Some of these nurses couldn’t find a vein if I were split open on an operating table.

I’ve been felt up a out 200 different times by 200 different surgeons, residents, attendings, and my ICU nurse. They come into my room about every 2 hours to do checks on my flaps.  I have doppler wires inserted into the bottom of each flap, and they come in, turn on the audio speaker and press against my flaps so they can hear the “whoosh whoosh whoosh” of blood flowing into and out of them.  This is to ensure that the transplanted blood vessels and tissue are still up and running smoothly.  I’m told my mini muffins (because they were born from the muffin top) are looking good and healing fantastically. But they feel like hell.

It is hard to sit or lie down with my arms to the side, it hurts to take deep breaths but I have to so that my lungs clear, and I also cannot use my arms for much of anything. This is life for the next 4 weeks and no me gusta.  The ICU nurses are kind enough to come in every now and again and try to adjust my pillows to help me.  The time spent adjusting hurts; the ability to rest in a different position is nice.

They’ve been trying to get me out of ICU and into a regular patient room since last night. I’ve already had one roommate nearly die since I’ve been in the ICU, which was sad and scary but also very intriguing to see the entire ICU staff working on that lady. My roommate now has been sedated almost the entire time because she is physically combative whenever they take her out of twilight. Word on the ward is that she has been waiting for a liver transplant for several years, has hepatitis c and was still drinking until she was admitted the other day. Some sad things going on around here. But I lived through my surgery and get to have pain medication pretty soon here. I’m not stoked that they’re already talking about taking me off of dilaudid and giving me just Tylenol. I feel like that warrants me peeing on this floor a few times until they get the hint (I’d yell but my voice is still hoarse from intubation). In the interim I’m just taking pain induced naps, watching videos of our girls, and trying to stream Netflix in this shitty wi-fi.

Beware. Scary pics attached.
May I introduce to you the newest members of the GM cereal line: BooBerry, Count Chocula, and Frankenboobies.

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Awake. Lots of pain. No voice. Thanks for all the sweetness.

Tonight’s the night babies! Look at me getting ready to be filleted tomorrow morning! I’ve been meaning to sit down and write, at great length, about what a complete shit show I’ve been the past two days. But I’ve been busy being a shit show. Monday was the last day of my “regular” eating because today I needed to eat only light foods that are easily digestible so I don’t have to have a super sexy enema first thing tomorrow. HOT! So on Monday I really got wild and had the mini tacos from Rancho Bravo on Capital Hill. Today I’ve had bran muffins, bran cereal, fruit salad, a baked chicken breast and some couscous. I feel like a geriatric on death row. I also had a chance this morning to work off some of this anxious energy this morning with Paul, my trainer. He took it easy on me, but it was good to work some of this crazy out before I continued on with my day. I spent the rest of the day trying, mostly, to feel really prepared to leave our girls for 5 days and have someone else care for them. Sad. We hung out at home, my friend Haydn braided my hair for me so it’s out of my face for surgery, and then I spent as much time with our girls as I could before their bedtime. I tried not to be too anxious or weepy around them because they already know something else has turned me into a crazy ass this week. And that’s not what I want. I want them to be happy, carry on with their days, and miss me a little bit…but not miss me like I’m going to miss them.

I check in at the UWMC Surgery Pavilion tomorrow morning at 5:30 a.m. Before that time, I need to finish packing my surgery stay bag, find something to put on my Kindle, figure out a way to smuggle my phone and charger in with me, as well as lozenges (for the sore throat post intubation), a toothbrush, a red velvet cupcake from Trophy, and some lip balm! Apparently I can’t take any of these things with me because they’ll “get lost” while I’m in ICU for the first 48 hours. I take this to really mean, “Someone here is a kleptomaniac and will steal your breath from your sweet lips while you sleep if they can. We don’t care to find out who that someone is. Also, no pictures.” I can’t remember the last time I’ve gone more than an hour without my lip balm. Do you think I can pay someone to apply it for me whilst I’m under? I’m less than 8 hours away from my check in time and I’ve obsessed over the many other things in my life so much that I’ve now narrowed it down to worrying about lip balm and smuggling electronics. Let this be a good thing.

I feel like I’ve dedicated enough time to mourn the boobs, worry about this being my first surgery, and worry about my family’s well being while I’m in the hospital. Will I feel like this in the morning? I don’t know, but it’s where I am right now and I’m just trying to go with it.

Please ask the universe not to let any freak accident, Grey’s Anatomy season finale type shit go down during my surgery. I am full of life and doing this to live a LONGER and HEALTHIER life. Smooth sailing only. Quick recovery included.

I won’t have my phone while I’m in the ICU, so I won’t be able to easily contact or communicate with anyone until I’m moved into the regular recovery unit. So, until that time, thank you so much to my friends, family, and everyone for your kind words of support and encouragement. Thank you to everyone who has brought us food, volunteered to help with our girls, offered to come over and take care of me, or anything else that I’m forgetting. Thank you to everyone who didn’t notice me giving you creepy “goodbye boob hugs” and squeezing a little too hard and too long. Or thank you for noticing and not caring, or being kind of into it and just letting it happen.

I wanted to say something meaningful here before this part of my life (natural boobs) was over and the next part of my life (no more than 7% risk of breast cancer!!!! + reconstructed boobs) begins. Hopefully I’ve achieved that much with my whopping 6 (or 7?) posts. If not, stay tuned. I’ll come up with something. And if you come see my husband and my girls while I’m still in the hospital, tell them “Shera/Mommy loves you!”