Archives for posts with tag: Twins

So…I didn’t post yesterday.  With being back at work, getting back into my “physical” routine, and being pretty far along in my healing – my days aren’t very “content rich” for the intended audience of this blog.  Which is good news for me, but this far into my recovery it isn’t really “newsworthy”.

I feel pretty good 90% of the day.  There is a lot that I can do today that I couldn’t do two weeks ago.  There was a lot that I did last week that I couldn’t do the prior month.  A lot of these things I am able to do pain free or almost pain free.  It requires something really unexpected and jarring, or something intended to challenge me, to produce a pain response.  Interacting with our daughters often produces this set of circumstances because twin toddlers are innately wild, spontaneous, rough and fun.  So, while I have had a few incidences of pain in my days lately, they’re not the norm.

Discomfort is something that is part of my nights.  Things like poor posture, really pushing myself with my PT stretches or exercises, really aggressive play (usually tossing the girls up in the air), and weight lifting cause me discomfort in the evenings.  It (discomfort) doesn’t occur anywhere new or unexpected, and it is waning.  I still also cannot sleep on my left side.  A combination of having more swelling on my left side (still) and tender spots prevent me from staying on that side of my body for any extent of time.  This doesn’t really interfere with my life.  It interferes with my desire to be the big spoon when it’s spooning time at night (but so does my husband’s pride).

The newsworthy item that I have tonight is that I rode my bike to and from the office (a/k/a my own “wheelz of steel”).  It’s been a long time since I was last on my bike because Seattle’s winter drizzle is endless and I am mostly a fair weather cyclist/runner/fan/human.  But it was mostly significant because I previously had pain in my underarms and underneath my flaps post-op whenever I put pressure or weight down on my hands for a length of time.  Being that I am not an avid cyclist and still push down on my handlebars a lot, I thought I’d be uncomfortable on this ride.  Gladly, I had no pain in my upper body.  My abdominal incision scar is a little tender tonight.  Since there are still some parts of my scar that are pretty taut, any activity that involves a lot of repetitive flexion and extension of my legs really aggravates my scar.  The flexion/extension sort of stretches out my abdominal region, then area around my scar and surrounding it becomes hyper sensitive and tender, but usually settles down after a day or two.  The scar tissue on my right side is always more tender than the left, and I think that is because that part of my scar is higher and sets right where my pants rub it whenever I move.

Tomorrow, I may have shed some tears.  I’m back at the gym with Paul tomorrow and I think we’re going to try some more strength training.  I’ve lost a lot of muscle mass, tone, definition…existence.  I’m so glad that I went into my surgery so healthy.  I can’t emphasize enough what a difference this made in my recovery.  And I can’t image doing that first 10 days of recovery, just trying to get myself out of bed and ambulate, being unhealthy.  This process asks a lot of your body and is so taxing physically, mentally, and emotionally.  So, if you plan on having this surgery I think it’d be greatly beneficial to your own recovery if you could go into surgery as healthy as you can be.

 

And now, shield your eyes or rubberneck away.  YOU DECIDE!

 

 

05/08/12 – Frontal

05/08/12 – Flaps

05/08/12 – Abdomen

05/08/12 – Right

 

05/08/12 – Left

 

 

Glorious, glorious sunshine today.  The girls and I got it together this morning and headed out, just the 3 of us, to the Mobile Food Rodeo near the Fremont Market.  It was such a great adventure filled with delicious new foods to try, a lot of interesting people watching, and herds of people (see what I did there?!).  As is often the problem on a beautiful day in Seattle, everyone pours outside – particularly to where food is offered.  We spent the better part of 20 minutes trying to find a place to park our family bus, and I finally decided that since it was such a nice day, we had the jogging stroller, and I was feeling pretty good…I’d take a bit of a jog!

We parked a couple of miles away from the Rodeo itself along the Burke-Gilman Trail.  I got the ladies out of the car, into the stroller, tightened my “bralette” as tight as it would go, and we were off for my first post-op run!  EXCITING…but slow.  Running is one of those things that is tough on its own, so adding some sensitive areas post-op made it more challenging than the usual huffing, puffing, anaerobic duty it is.  I still haven’t been able to comfortably wear any of the sports bras I own, which has precluded me from running prior to today.  Most women would go out and try a couple of different ones on and, possibly even, buy a new one.  I haven’t had a chance to do these things though.  So, off I went, unexpectedly running with improper support.  It was uncomfortable, but not painful.  My slow pace in combination with the thankfully flat, easy trail made it tolerable.  There’s no way I’ll be doing any significant distances this week, but it felt GREAT.  Our girls LOVE being in the stroller when I run.  They constantly say, “Mommy go fast!”  To which I always respond, “Puuuuuuuuuuuh!”, followed by fainting.  But today was no exception.  I ran quickly for maybe 50 yards and decided to save the speed for another day when I wasn’t carrying 30 lbs of back pack and was actually properly dressed for it.

Again, the food rodeo was great.  If you live in the area and have a chance to go when they do something similar in September, GO!  I was so glad I took the girls.  They both tried new things, although one more eagerly than the other, and had fun being out with me.  It  made my heart so full.  The mini donuts, mini corn dogs, and sliders we ate made my arteries full, too, but that’s a different story.

Round trip, I probably ran just under 3 miles today while pushing our cutie pies in the stroller, carrying a back pack full of “just-in-case”, and all without incident.  Great news, right?  THOUGHT SO.  Tomorrow I hope to ride my bike to/from work using the Interlaken Trail.  I don’t think that riding my bike will present any issues with my arms or chest.  But I don’t know anything, really.  Wish me luck!

I just wanted to send out my Beastie Boys love.  MCA, AdRock and Mike D are so much a part of my life soundtrack.  Yesterday was a very sad day for the family, friends and fans of Adam Yauch.  Cancer is a bitch and it is pervasive.  Live a healthy life to try and protect yourself from cancer.  Take preventative measures if they’re available.  But should you find yourself diagnosed, you fight.  For your right.  Alright?

I have a lot of reasons for not posting yesterday.  #1 reason is WordPress surrounded by a litany of F bombs.  #2 reason is exhaustion.  I have just been beat this week.  One of our daughters has been having an allergic reaction to who-knows-what all week; she has had massive hives coming and going.  But I wasn’t terrified by this until Wednesday when she woke up from her nap, said her mouth hurt, and I saw that her tongue was swollen.  She’s now on an alternating regiment of anti-histamines and we’re trying to get in to see a specialist, but a couple of times a night I get up, go into the nursery, and just listen to her breathe.  So, it’s been a rough week.  And then yesterday I was tired times twelve because we all got up early, then I had to take our little lady to the pediatrician, go back home, then to the pharmacy, then to torture hour with Paul, then into the office, then back to home for dinner, baths, life as we know it.

Speaking of Paul the Torturer, I had one hell of a workout yesterday.  I’m still unable to do the exercises I was doing pre-surgery, but that will take some time and a little more physical therapy to get my ROM back to where it was.  However, we did some core work and my core hurt yesterday.  Which meant that I was unable to sit myself up in bed this morning.

I had the DIEP Flap reconstruction, not the Free TRAM Flap reconstruction.  I chose the DIEP Flap for a lot of reasons, but in large part because I was worried about having another part of my abdominal wall compromised.  During pregnancy and after I had our girls, I had Diastasis Recti (because I was the size of Delaware by my 7th month of pregnancy).  It took me until about my 18th month post partum to be able to work my core well and hard enough to close the gap, but I’m not sure if it ever went back to they way it was before I turned in to a pachyderm.  So, long story still too long, I didn’t want to do any more to compromise my abdominal muscles because it took so much work to bring them back together through a lot of exercise and ca$hmoneybling.

In my first 10 days recovering from surgery, I was glad that I’d done so much work strengthening my core and legs before my surgery date.  It hurt so much to use my arms or do anything that involved engaging my chest muscles.  So I relied, as much as I could, on my core and leg strength.  Now, don’t get me wrong, the first week you don’t even want to clear your throat because it’s uncomfortable to tighten your abdominal muscles at all.  But it (abdominal pain) resolves so much faster than the other areas.  The thing that still holds me back so much is the tautness of my skin and the discomfort on and in the area surrounding my abdominal scar.  There were a few times yesterday where I felt like I may split at the seam.  But, I didn’t!  The good news is that I successfully completed 3 set of full sit ups (with an assist).  The bad news is that I completed 3 sets of sit ups and will now certainly be asked to do more.  :\

Look out below!  NOOBS!

 

 

 

 

 

05/05/12 – Frontal

05/05/12 – Flaps

05/05/12 – Abdomen

05/05/12 – Left

05/05/12 – Right

 

 

 

 

 

We were back in the pool today with the girls. This evening, again, I have a lot of tightness after swimming lessons. I’m not sure what motion(s) it is when I am in the lessons with the girls that produce the tension in my upper chest and near my shoulders, but it’s a definite indicator that I’m not ready to swim myself.

There are also these two points, one on each side at the top of the breast and just toward the inside (closer to my sternum), where it feels like I have knots under my skin. I think they might be suture points from my reconstruction, but I don’t know. I bring these points up only because whenever I do more activities that involve me moving my arms in circular motions, they seem to stand a little more proud and definitely feel more bothersome at the end of the day. If I run my fingers over them, the area is very tender.

I am just getting ready to do my physical therapy exercises and stretches at the end of the day and am hopeful that they help resolve some of this. I also have a follow up PT appointment tomorrow at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. I’m interested to see what my ROM measurements are after a couple of weeks of doing my PT homework. I definitely feel like I have some improvement, but my ROM still fluctuates with my activity level.

I haven’t gone on a long walk this week because I’ve been helping my husband at his office and have had to be up early and then am getting home late. Having had the pleasure, gift and luxury of mostly being a S@HM for the past 2 years, being back in an office setting for a full day and away from our girls is tough. It’s tough on the girls and it’s tough on me. I don’t know how working parents do it after having such a short period of time to spend with their brand new babes. I miss them and wonder how they’re doing, what they’re doing, and if they’re happy ALL DAY. Today it reminded me how much I hated being in the hospital because I couldn’t see them and missed out on whatever it was they were doing. It was nice to finally come home from the hospital on Day 5 even though I couldn’t hug and squeeze them like I can now. I know that when I have my nipple reconstruction, I’ll have to take it easy again for probably 2 weeks while they (the nipples) are healing and need to be protected. I don’t think my limitations will be anything like my BPM and DIEP flap reconstruction. But, as I’ve said before, I’m a hug junkie for my girls. Even a few hours without a squeeze is too long.

Here’s hoping PT is amazing in some way tomorrow.

Update photos below. RUN WHILE YOU CAN….

 

 

 

 

 

05/01/12 - Frontal

05/01/12 - Flaps

05/01/12 - Abdomen

05/01/12 - Left

05/01/12 - Right

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today we fully embraced the lazy Sunday as a family.  Maybe it’s more true to state that the girls and I fully embraced it and Mike didn’t put up much of a fight.  We all slept in a little bit and had a slow start to the day.  I had a tough time getting myself out of bed this morning because some time during the night I rolled completely on top of my right arm and apparently didn’t get off of it until about 7 a.m.  Everything from my shoulder to my fingertips had pins and needles for what felt like an hour but was probably less than 5 minutes.

It reminded me of those first, tough 10 days after my bilateral mastectomy and DIEP flap reconstruction.  It hurt so much then to get out of bed on my own, and whenever I would try to put either of my arms down to help push my weight up and out of bed, I would have pain shooting through me.  There were a lot of hard and tough lessons learned.  Honestly, if i had to go back I don’t know how else I would tell me (with the benefit of hindsight) to try and get up out of bed.  With the DIEP flap reconstruction, my core and skin were so sore and tight that it was hard to move anything.  Anyway, just trying to use my right arm while it was afire with pins and needles reminded me of those early days.  Compared to my abilities now, it seems like so much longer than 7 weeks ago.

We took the girls to play at the park this morning.  When it was time to start walking home for lunch, neither one of them was ready to leave.  Before my surgery, I could wrangle both girls in full tantrum mode pretty easily because I was so strong.  These days, it’s still challenging and I HAVE to ask them to take it easy on me despite their being in the midst of a meltdown.  Thankfully, one is always a little easier than the other – but it’s never consistent who that will be.  On the way home, I got to test out my range of motion and weight bearing because Yaya wanted to ride on my shoulders part of the way home.  Getting her up there is half the battle these days because I can’t lift either of my arms up all the way very easily.  But, with a little assist from her sort of climbing up me, we did it.  It didn’t feel bad to have her up there for the distance we walked, but as we went along she felt heavier and heavier.  I tighten (or try t0) my core when I’m carrying something heavy, like a child.  Now, with my abdominal scar, it feels funny to do this.  I haven’t had 100% of the sensation return to my abdominal area, and tightening my core really causes a tugging sensation at my incision.  It’s pain free, but an awkward feeling.

I didn’t do my PT exercises or stretches today.  Instead, Mike and I took a rare nap together when the girls took theirs.  It was kind of amazing.  I will get back on my PT program tomorrow, but it was nice to have a day off.  In my photos today I included a picture of my closed suture abscess.  It’s sealed up again like nothing ever happened.  The body is so interesting…

 

DAILY DOSE!

 

04/29/12 - Frontal

04/29/12 - Flaps

04/29/12 - Abdomen

04/29/12 - Suture abscess closed

04/29/12 - Left

04/29/12 - Right

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today we had a girls’ day.  Mike and his best friend took the morning to go skiing, and the girls and I went to the zoo.  We had a FANTASTIC time.  I decided that we would use the zoo trip as a little bit of a test of endurance (and a bit of exercise) for me.  This is the first “big” solo outing I’ve had with the girls since my surgery.  I didn’t take our double stroller because I wanted to rent a wagon for them to test drive (and see if we should get them one at home).  Well with today being the only forecasted nice day for about a 10 day run, the zoo and its parking lots were packed.  This meant that I had to carry both of the girls to the zoo entrance.  From our unlucky parking spot, this was probably over 50 yards.  As other parents already know, trying to get your children into and out of a crowded parking lot is nothing short of strategic warfare and Greco-Roman wrestling combined. Although, putting toddlers in headlocks is generally frowned upon.

Our day went over pretty well.  Trying to keep both girls close by, happy, or constrained was a little challenging.  Carrying one or both is dramatically different for me right now because of my limited ROM and the sort of tugging discomfort I have at my abdominal scar when I carry one of them on my hip. As you can probably guess, I am fairly sore this evening.  My shoulders, back and abdomen are sore, but I think I would be feeling better had yesterday not been Day 1 of my gym revival.

I’m hoping that how I am feeling now is short lived because I would really like to be able to take the girls for on a run with me tomorrow.  I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do one of my usual, hill incorporated routes but am feeling crazy enough to give it a shot (weather permitting).  Since I’m in the clear to wear a sports bra again, I want to give it a shot and see if we can work this back into our weekly routine.  So, since I hope to run tomorrow I am going to cut this post short.  Hopefully, I won’t be feeling absolutely horrid tomorrow and the weather let’s us get back on the road again.

Gorilla Exhibit

I wrote that title in the voice of Mills Lane, not Marvin Gaye.  I decided to make that the title of my post tonight with one of our daughters in mind; “Yaya”.  Today she decided to really put my noobs to the surgical quality test today.

Pre-surgery, Yaya had a habit of shoving her hand down my shirt if she was upset, scared, mad, bored, or awake.  She would pinch my boobs or give them a whack with the side of her hand when she was at a loss for something else to do.  After my surgery, our girls couldn’t even give me a normal hug.  I resorted to asking them to wrap their sweet little arms around my legs instead of the traditional embrace.  It was difficult for all of us.  We’re big, juicy huggers.  It was sweet relief when we were back to bear hugging it out.  It seemed that today Yaya realized that my noobs were no longer being given the eggshell treatment.  It started this morning when we were getting dressed for tumbling.  She didn’t want to get off of the changing table, so I picked her up, and she in turn went to pinch me and grabbed two-tiny-pinchers worth of noob.  When I didn’t immediately cry out in pain (like I did during early recovery when a drain was pulled, a noob bumped, or I was just awake), the realization struck her:  Mommy is no longer made of glass.

I scolded her and firmly said, “No pinching!”  But she’d already decided to move on to grabbing.  I picked her up again to head out of the nursery a few minutes later, and she put her hand down my shirt and squeezed my left noob.  No pain; just a weird moment because it didn’t hurt.  It didn’t feel like anything.  In the tissue closer to my chest wall, I can feel pressure.  But at the fattier parts of my noob, nothing.  I don’t have any sensation.  So for the rest of the day, it was like she was the quality control tester at the Reconstructed Breast Factory.  She poked, prodded, pushed, squeezed, smacked and, for the grand finale, head butted my noobs.  And you know what?  They’re still here, in tact and show no sign of falling off.

To get a little Marvin Gaye on everyone for a moment, they haven’t been put to the husband test yet.  I’m still a little timid about touching them myself.  Dr. Louie told me at my last appointment I could start gentle massages to break up the scar tissue in them.  But the amount of pressure I apply is maybe a third of the pressure Dr. Louie used when he was showing me how to do this. I also wonder if there’s much of a point to having them touched since I don’t have any sensation.  I know it makes perfect sense for Mike, the poor guy, but I mean for me.  I do feel the need to give him the green light, though, since my nipple reconstruction is not very far away.  When that time comes, it’s back to no man’s land during recovery.  What can I say?  I feel like a peach, but in all reality am probably closer to an apple.

In late breaking news, tomorrow has the potential for being either a monumental or disastrous day.  I’m going to try to workout with Paul again!  I have to do it.  I had so much rich, delicious food prepared and delivered to our house when I was recovering.  And then when I got the green light to get back on chocolate I did my best to make up for that 6 week gap without it.  Now with a good portion of the fat being nipped off of my belly (and made into noobs), everything I eat is sitting high on my hips.  And I WANT to work out.  I’ve missed it.  I made such big strides in my physical fitness leading up to my surgery, and it’s going to be a long road back.  So, now is the time.  Well, tomorrow is the time for that.  Right now is the time for music, and then sleep.

I’ll post pictures tomorrow!

 

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!

UPDATED:

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.”

 

 

DAILY DOSE:

04/23/12 - Frontal

04/23/12 - Flaps

04/23/12 - Abdomen

04/23/12 - Right

04/23/12 - Left

I am totally guilty of being a prime example of our generation of immediate satisfaction.  We are all (mostly) spoiled rotten with access to (just about) a litany of information and an entire world (“www”) of potential connections.  So it may seem odd that I was totally floored today when one of my surgeons (Dr. Liu) sent me a message in regard to my concerns about my swelling.  Sweet, right?!  AMAZING!  I exchanged messages with Dr. Liu and have some clarity about my swelling.

I know now that my swelling probably isn’t due to fluid on my left side, which was what I was thinking.  Since Dr. Liu drained some fluid from my left side not long after I was discharged from the hospital, I thought that my left side might have more fluid hanging around there.  But it sounds like my swelling is tissue related and not due to fluid.  Dr. Liu let me know that the swelling will improve when new veins grow into my flap, and that process takes several weeks.  So, game on!  Not that I was giving up on or anything, but feedback and information is so helpful, comforting, and solid.  Nice guy, right?  Again, AMAZING!  And you thought doctors didn’t listen.  Pfffffffft.

Speaking of amazing, today was it for Seattle; such a sunny, gorgeous, fun day today.  We started our morning off with family breakfast at home (just like everyday), and then we headed over to our friends’ house for a play date and brunch.  Our friends, Heather and Jonathan, have an amazing house in Magnolia with an unbeatable view of Puget Sound.  They also have a specimen of a cutie pie son whom our girls had a good time playing with.  These are newer friends to us but we really, genuinely enjoy their company.

We coordinated this play date before I had my surgery.  We put it tentatively on the books because 1) we wanted to get together again and needed it scheduled, and 2) I had no idea what I would feel like at this point when we set the date.  I told our friends that I was having surgery, but I didn’t tell them what kind of surgery.  I am a fairly extroverted and open person, but I feel like discussing and taking people with me through this process isn’t for everyone.  It is very personal and some people are put off by the gory details of surgery and recovery.  Being that we’re all just getting to know each other, I didn’t want to unload this on them.  So when we were getting ready for our play date today, I found myself slightly anxious.  I tried on a couple of things and was thinking, “Does this outfit say post-op, nipple-less, reconstructed noobs?  Do I look like myself when I’m wearing this?  Do I look like I feel well and frisky and not patched together in this?”  I ended up wearing a jumper that kind of matched the girls’ outfits, which wasn’t at all embarrassing until I typed that just now.  In short, we had a great time together.  We didn’t talk about my surgery, because we (Mike and I) are helicopter-ish parents and our kids were being normal kids and we were trying hard not to freak out.  (This all has a point that I will get to when I’m done blabbering.)

When the girls awoke from their afternoon nap at home, we went back outside and took them to play with our neighbors’ two sons.  The husband, Allen, was in a skiing accident about a month before my surgery and his Achilles was ruptured.  So we’ve both been in some stage of recovery for at least 5 weeks, but him much longer than me.  Betsy (the wife) and I got a chance to briefly talk about my surgery and recovery.  She didn’t know which type of reconstruction I decided to do, and I told her about the DIEP flap and showed her my abdominal scar.  We discussed the sweet, sweet benefit of having my “marsupial pouch” surgically removed and turned into noobs.  She was also kind enough to tell me that my noobs looked “fantastic”.  Being that I was wearing a probably-too-tight-for-31-tshirt without a bra, I took this as the highest of compliments.  The conversation went on for a bit about the steps I have left to complete and the decisions to be made, but it was a nice chat between women.

When we came home, I knew that I wanted to really emphasize something in my post tonight.  Pre-surgery, I was so sad and anxious about what my reconstructed breasts were going to be like.  I went through a period of mourning for my natural breasts (and nipples) and was terrified that no one would ever say a nice thing about my boobs.  Actually, I was more worried that they would notice that these are not my natural breasts.  Not like I planned on walking around topless or anything, but I was seriously worried that everyday, in my clothes, people would be able to see and tell that I have reconstructed breasts.

And now that I am on the other side of it, I feel so excited about not having to worry about WHEN I will have breast cancer and the fact that my surgeons did such an amazing job with my mastectomy and reconstruction.  Other than a few extra pounds, some nipples and sensation, and an elevated risk for breast cancer – I don’t feel like I’ve lost much.  I certainly don’t feel any less feminine or sexy, which were big concerns of mine pre-surgery.  I feel I’ve gotten a lot of benefits out of this process.  Again, I no longer have a frighteningly high lifetime risk for breast cancer.  I no longer have the pocket of twin skin on my abdomen, and my previously full – then flat – and now full again – boobs look good.  Or, as Betsy said, “fantastic”.  Or, as I like to point out, smaller; firmer.  While I do have a large scar on my abdomen, I don’t mind it.  I have a sufficient amount of stretch marks to keep me in a one piece.  So, in closing tonight’s post, I just wanted to follow up on my first few, fear riddled posts and let women know that this is not as scary, freaky, alienating, un-sexy, or ugly as I thought it was going to be.  Day 3 in the hospital was a little bit of all of those things; but Day 39 is pretty damn good.

P.S.  I am still undecided about my nipple reconstruction.  I will touch on that tomorrow.

“I’ll take the Daily Double (dose), Alex.”

04/22/12 - T-shirt time!

04/22/12 - Frontal

04/22/12 - Flaps

04/22/12 - Abdomen

04/22/12 - Right side

04/22/12 - Left side

Today was great!  Since all of my incisions are completely healed I was able to go with the girls and Cate back to our parent & tot swimming lessons.  The girls hadn’t been in weeks because the class requires 1 adult for every child in the water, and we simply couldn’t find anyone free on Tuesday mornings to take the girls with Cate.  It was phenomenal in so many ways.

Everyone knows about the joys of buoyancy.  I didn’t know that being back in a pool with my kids would buoy my spirits so much.  It felt great (emotionally) doing another “normal” again together with the girls; it felt awkward (physically) trying to get used to the feeling of so much movement from me and our munchkins.  I felt the pool was a safe re-entry into physicality with the kids because I didn’t have to rely on my own physical strength 100% because we were in the water.  I swam with Olivia; she typically refuses to swim with anyone else.  She always wrestles me a little bit when she is bored with the swimming practice drills and wants only to play with the pool toys; today was no different in that regard.  It was different to try and manage her (physically) while still not having my full range of motion in my arms.  We do a drill where we (the parent) prop one leg up on top of the knee of the other under water.  We make a table top this way to lay the child upon.  They rest their belly on the parent’s thigh, so they’re partially immersed in position like they’re swimming but your leg is just below them to support them in the water.  It sounds easy enough, but trying to get a toddler that is learning to swim used to this posture and relaxed is a challenge.  Limbs are flailing, water is splashing everywhere, and you’re trying to control midget chaos while keeping your kid afloat.  It’s a workout, usually, and today even more so.  I still cannot raise my arms straight up, move them behind me, or too far out from my sides.  So trying to control Olivia’s cyclone was super difficult but we all survived.  I also took several body blows, punches to the noobs, and am happy to report that I’m not in any more discomfort that I have been since my recovery got easier.  The middle of my back hurts constantly these days, but I think that has a lot to do with how my posture has changed since surgery.

All morning I was entirely grateful for how strong my legs are.  Paul and I worked really hard on building leg strength before my surgery since we figured they’d be working overtime while my arms were out of commission.  I can’t tell you how well this has served me.  You probably don’t think about how much you use your arms to get up from the bed, a chair, the floor, out of the car, etc.  I have either been using my arms on a very limited basis to do these things or not at all.  I’ve also been using my legs to complete the motion of opening a heavy door (by way of the inner thigh against the door frame), to close heavy doors (kung fu style), and I use my simian toes to pick things up off of the floor and kick them up to my hands.  (Handy trick you can also learn in Vegas between the rush hours of 10 p.m. – 4 a.m. in some places ;).)  Since I’ve been trying to pick up or carry the girls as of yesterday, I ask them to put their arms around my neck and hold on tight to me while I’m in a squat position.  I then make sure I have a good grip on them, and vice versa, and use my legs to propel our weight up instead of lifting with my back.  It makes a huge difference in how my arms and chest feel when I do this correctly.  In short, if you’re getting ready to go through this process, work on your leg strength prior to the big day.  You’ll need it and be glad that you did.

Tomorrow is my first day of physical therapy.  I’m excited to learn why I’m having pain in different areas, the muscle groups involved and implicated in my surgery/recovery, improving my ROM and strength, and how soon I can get back to my usual self (and working out!).  I am terribly nervous about how much pain and/or discomfort is going to come with PT.  I have my appointment in the early morning, which I planned just in case I need to call my doctor’s office about pain issues later in the day.

I keep trying to upload my daily photos but am getting an “internal error” message during the upload process.  I have been at this for 41 minutes now and am giving up in the name of sleep!  If I can resolve it tomorrow morning, I’ll update this post with tonight’s photos.  Wish me luck in PT!!!!

04/17/12 - Frontal

04/17/12 - Flaps

04/17/12 - Abdomen

04/17/12 - Nipple site

04/17/12 - Left Side

04/17/12 - Right Side