Well we meet again.. scars, pain, drains, emotions and tears and more tears

9 months  since the initial surgery, some days it seems like it was yesterday and some seem like it was another lifetime ago. My life has resumed the normal routines and monotony of daily life from the outside looking in, from the inside looking in, it’s been a difficult trek with unsteady terrains and my mountain has become even taller. 

Unfortunately the physical pain did not subside and the above paragraph said 6 months and I left it unattended because quite honestly I was exhausted dealing with this and was hoping it was my ending to this physical healing part but it’s not. My implants settled nicely and I was excited, around June I noticed that would come home and just ache, and then the aches would last all day, and then the only time I got relief was if I was wearing a sports bra.. hold on, I had the luxury of not having to wear a bra what the hell! I just prayed and let it go. I then started to notice that the implants were shifting into my armpits, yes I know natural breasts do this but again I am supposed to have nice perky stable breasts.  I also had a lot  of ripplin, it  got to the point to where I had no cleavage at all, I could stick my whole hand parallel between the implants, not cool. And did I mention the pain? I didn’t sign up for this! (But who really does “sign” up ) Honestly even thou I was disappointed with the look if it wasn’t for the actual pain I would have just left alone. 

I went to the PS and he said that I needed a pocket revision(common)  and some more fat grafting but kinda dismissed the pain, I felt like an idiot. So let me backtrack to my feelings these last 6 months. People are mean. Women are brutal.We as a species should be ashamed.I have been accused of doing all this for “attention” and that it was all “fake” and many of other judgments. I don’t care really but yes I have feelings so maybe I do care?!  If you are someone reading this that may be facing this journey, you will lose support as this goes on. I don’t blame anyone in particular, it’s human nature, we get busy, we don’t want to take the time.  It just is hurtful that the help, the gestures of kindness, the respect, the support all fade away almost as if no one cares to hear anymore, because this is a process!  This surgery that I had last week has been my most painful so far and didn’t even have some of my own family check on me.. I just got my feelings hurt but again this is raw emotion and it’s my own fault for not reaching out or asking. I know I have plenty of people that love me. It’s just the notion  that people have that I have done this before I can manage, I can’t. I still need help, my family needs help and I am in pain. 

Ok.. So with the need for surgery again, I bawled.. I have to start all over. I have to take off work, recover, learn to do things again. I dreaded telling people because I kinda feel like an old book that people have no interest in no longer. The pain.. is this my life? Am I always going to feel this way? Friday before surgery my PS calls me and said “Kathy, I have thought about you all week. We need to take a new approach and swap the implants with a completely different kind, manufacturer and size.” I had to pull over from wrecking I was distraught. What if this doesn’t work? What have I done? If I get an infection or my body rejects these then I am a 36 year old with nothing. I am not a vain person in the least, I am however, a woman. 

We decide to go with what is called gummy bear implants, it’s a textured implant so will be easier to adhere to my skin and not shift, the downside they are a lot firmer than the silicone. At this point whatever to get rid of the pain. Hopefully this does the trick because If not I am not left with many options. If you are going thru this, I wrote to be honest not to scare. In the big scheme of things, I am suffering a year of my life that I hope to be 50-60yrs more. I can do this, you can do this! 

I went in September 14th for the swap and fat graphing(so painful!) it was a 10 hour surgery! I went home that night as well! The dr did say he could definitely see why I was in pain (so glad to have some validity) scar tissue was so bad and the implant wasn’t adhering to the muscle and some of the muscle was exposed. My implants are under the muscle. 

I have all these little stitches (20) from the fat graphing 
My stomach from the fat graphing (hurts like hell, I can’t sit up) 

He didn’t open my old incision instead added so I literally have a scar all the way across šŸ˜¦ and definitely feel like Frankenstein

The day before my surgery amazing how much your body can endure and change but your smile stays the same!

Much bruising all over and I did end up with 2 drains. The short end is it’s painful, there is nothing vain about it. I want to save my life and no one said it would be a walk in the park and it’s not but soon and soon is the million dollar question on what that means but this will be behind me one day just not today! 

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We all hide behind smiles and clothing but behind closed doors we all face reality… Learning to fall in love with the new “me”Ā 

5 days post with oily hair and hidden drains

Well a new chapter is upon me as I have undergone my exchange surgery on March 23,2017. What is exchange surgery you ask? It’s where the surgeon takes out the tissue expanders aka “rocks” and inserts the actual implant since the expander has done its job and created a nice stretched pocket under the muscle for the implant. To bad that’s not the ending! The implants are so soft in comparison and even upon waking up I didn’t feel like an elephant was sitting on my chest or raw muscle was exposed with knives poking through. 

This is still a process as the final look won’t reveal itself for 3-6months, always kept in suspense šŸ˜©šŸ¤—šŸ˜‚ they seem flat and not much projection right now but they have to settle and “drop and fluff” I had what was called fat graphing done at the same time, the dr lipo excess fat from my arms and sides to fill around the implant so you won’t see the outline of the implant, sounds exciting! Well it hurts like hell! But I am sure I will appreciate once swelling subsides. 

Surgery for me lasted  9hours I had quite a bit of work that had to be done due to my left expander living a life of its own for 12 weeks, ended up coming out of the pocket and the alloderm sling broke that support the breast.Ended up the 3 drains not 1, the drains are a spawn of the devil. They are gross, long and you have to be rather creative to hide them, the shirt in the pic above is my only lightweight button up long shirt (winter is ideal for drains not spring or summer )so that’s my attire for the next couple week in public! I put a drain in each pocket of my jeans and then the other one down the front of my pants! Ta da! You would have never known! At home I have a laynard that I just wear around my neck. You aren’t allowed to shower or bathe until they are out either, dry shampoo and walk in shower have been my bffs. (I lean over and wash my hair every few days) but it wears me out!  I am such a troublemaker šŸ˜‚ the last 4 months I have been under anesthesia for a total of 19 hours between the 2 surgeries, that’s a little scary! I still don’t grasp the magnitude of what I did, I don’t think I ever will. I just knew I needed to do what I had to save my life for my daughters. 

I will wrap this up and this is for anyone that is possibly going through this. There will never be perfection, there will never be complete “feeling”, there will always be scars and that’s been the hardest for me to get through. I am still struggling with anxiety and just falling in love with myself again. I do not feel Beautiful, sexy, desirable.. I am hoping that will come again because I won’t let the scars define me. I found happiness in the fact that I am cancer free and can live! I will show pics below of the bruising from the fat graphing and the implants. This again is hard and out of my zone but I want to inspire and make people fully understand what we have to go through. I still have drains, and once the dropping and fluffing happen it will create a more natural breast and cleavage. But keep in mind, implants aren’t forever. I will more than likely have to have them replaced once or twice in my lifetime. Shit as I type I am thinking boobs are overrated!! I may go flat next time! My advice for a few things to help people in either stage or reconstruction 

  • Be compassionate, now is not the time to voice your mind.. if ever 
  • Meals.. bring a meal, it helps way more than you can imagine just no lasagna! Seems to be the go to for everyone! And maybe consider sending in several smaller sized containers, we can’t lift and our range of motion is not good to lift heavy dishes. Also a life saver for us was someone gave us disposable plates,silverware, napkins. Huge relief! 
  • Just do it. I will never ask, it’s not my nature and many are like that. If you feel lead to offer a helping hand just do it! We will be grateful 
  • Pray daily, I struggle and have good days and bad and prayer had guided me through 
  • Offer support by listening or letting us cry. You don’t have to have answers and we don’t want them we just need someone to listen to us 
  • Hand written cards, I received some and that’s what go me through the day sometimes
  • Companionship, just come hang out if we feel up to it, sometimes we feel as thou the world has shut us out and 4 walls close in quickly 
  • You can look up all sorts of masectomy recovery gifts, anything helps!
  • Be supportive through ALL surgeries not just the first one, we need help and support through it all. If you are a loved one or friend you signed up for the long haul, be here for us! Believe me we know it’s a process! 
  • Never use the phrase “new boobs” they will never be boobs again, we lose all sensation and feeling. The survivors and previvors refer to them as “Foobs” 

Find your support group you will need it! Even if you are an introvert or extrovert you can’t do this alone, I beg you to find your people! 

Below will be images.. one day I will feel whole again! I hide behind my clothes and smiles and in no way view myself as a hero or someone who is strong enough not to feel the repercussions of this journey. I have days I can’t process and I cry alone and some days I lay in bed and can’t get out, I don’t feel sorry for myself I hate that I had to go through this but at the end of the day I am human and dealing with the cards or results rather that were laid in front of me. 

When I got home and removed all the bandages but couldn’t bring myself to look yet..
The stiches in my arm pit from liposuction
Bruise from just one fat graphing site, I had a total of 4 sites. ( come to find out I am allergic to whatever tape they used as well)
The scars will fade over time and won’t be noticed in a vneck or swimsuit 
This is my reality right now, 5 days post op.. they are still super swollen and super high. But I am proud of them even though I can’t seem to look more than a few seconds without tears

I will post one more just to show how crazy the expanders are and then how the outcome is better. They always say the expanders have no indication on how the final result will look and I want this pic to be reassuring to anyone facing this journey 

Implants on top expanders on bottom

Thank you all for allowing this as my coping mechanism and allowing me to share my personal journey! 
I feel as I should mention that there will be many steps in this surgery depending on what route you go. And no one procedure should be taken lightly but the first initial masectomy/tissue expander surgery is by far the worse to recover from and mentally prepare for(even if that’s possible) I also had a full hysterectomy and had no complications at all and if you can get done at same time I recommend it. You are looking at a 8-12 week recovery 

The Exchange surgery is a faster and easier recovery atleast for me and from research seems to be the norm. Looking at a 4-6week recovery. This surgery I only took pain pills the first 24 hours(not to say this is for everyone) but also the scariest mentally as it’s the “new” permanent. 

Also worth mentioning if you know this is in your future consider getting short term disability if you don’t have already or start planning financially if you bring in income. Save vacation/ sick days you will need them for all pre-ops and appointments leading up to surgery 

Our scars may not ever fade but the beauty of lace and a smile will always be present… preparing for exchange surgeryĀ 

I have kept my favorite bra hung up in my bathroom as a reminder that what I am going through although is life changing but also temporary. I am one day closer to being able to wear a normal bra, to be able to feel my sense of intimacy, my sense of just being a woman.(I love my lace) But I have learned more than ever that this In no way defines who I am. The last 14 weeks have been the most dark days of my life. I wanted to give up, I regretted my decision more than once, I have endured constant pain, I have had complications but just when I thought I couldn’t make another day I would remind myself why I made the decision I did.. my girls, so with that I conquered and waded through the rough cold waters. Prayer was the most important thing in my journey, again the power of prayer is memorizing. I am not the only person to do this and anyone who is facing this, you will find your inner strength and get through it! 

In 2 weeks I will undergo my exchange surgery, for those that don’t realize what that is, it’s to swap out my expanders and insert the real implants. The expanders don’t resemble natural breast at all, the purpose is to create a pocket for the implant while stretching the pectoral muscle and man has it! Muscle stretching pain is no joke! The implants are surprisingly very similar to natural breasts, they are so soft and round. There are a million different kinds to choose from and I relied on my plastic surgeon to help me, we chose Natrelle inspria high rounds. So yes they will be perky and any women especially those with kids, you can feel my excitement! But again if I had my choice I would have never had to make this decision and lose my breasts. Since this was reconstruction and not cosmetic they will not be perfect, I will have some imperfections and again the scars šŸ˜Ŗ I am learning to look past them but it’s hard. The way the surgeon made the incisions (slanted not straight across) will help hide in a bra or swimsuit top. 

Surgery is outpatient, will have drains again and swelling for about 3-4 weeks as the settle. I am nervous as this is the final product but also excited to be getting closer to moving on. As stated before I will never have feeling, I am numb in both breasts and under my arm(feels weird shaving!) I will not ever be able to use a heating pad as I have no feeling so can actually burn myself without knowing. I will have a compression or sports bra on while recovering but will eventually be able to wear a normal bra if I desire! I will be perky so won’t have to if I don’t want to, I will, I love my lace to much not to! I have chosen to not forego the 3rd surgery of reconstruction with nipple reconstruction and will just do 3D tattoos. I plan on taking a trip to New Orleans for the world renowned in the breast cancer world, the one and only Vinny Meyers so for my 37th birthday I will take a trip and get my tattoos! 

Every day I get stronger, every day I fall in love with myself more , every day I am able to look past my scars , every day I have more smiles and less tears, every day I am more thankful for my life and knowledge that I had to be in control. Every day is a new day to embrace. 

“Happiness is in the heart, not in the circumstances” 

The expanders are temporary…The scars are permanent. Learning to cope

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Well this may(may blog helpful advice to anyone facing this or helpful ways for people to help) be my last blog post until my exchange surgery scheduled for March 23rd,2017. I am hanging in there mentally and physically and hoping to return to work part-time this coming week. This last week I have been in a funk, like complete funk. I haven’t wanted to get out of the house, I haven’t done one load of laundry (I am a neat freak) and just didn’t care for a while. I had another hard cry the other day and I think it helped, its been hard for me to look at the scars not only across my breasts but on the side where the drains were and on the side of my breasts, they are forever a reminder. I do have complete peace with my decision but still makes its hard to adjust and never anticipated this much emotional repair.

My tissue expanders have a mind all of their own. I am told this is normal but as of right now  I have a hate relationship with them. I am in constant discomfort, they are lopsided which is noticeable in a t-shirt and this really messes with my mind. I can layer clothing but this is Oklahoma one day its freezing and the next its 75 degrees and I am a hot natured person! I am even more self-conscious around people I know because I feel like its human nature and naturally people  will look. Maybe I should just wear a sign that says “Yes, they are lopsided and I am aware!” haha. Again, maybe it’s all in my head and people truly look past my breasts? I don’t know all I know is how I feel.

I am  filled at 800ccs which is the biggest expander and implants available. I am done with fills!! Yeah!! Those suck, the nerves start to regenerate and wake up and it made me fatigued and nauseated. I still every now and then get nerve pain that feels like you are getting electrocuted. I am numb as mentioned before but hurts like heck and feel like my skin is raw, I am told this won’t go away as long as I have the expanders. The first month is the worse so that part is behind me. I was cleared to wear a bra to help push more to center, I am wearing a sports bra which helps with making more even, but I am a lacy girl and ready for my pretty lacy bras again (if I choose to wear one! Perks of implants I can go bra less!) Anything on my skin is sensitive so it hurts and will take some time to adjust yet again. Again, minus the chemo and radiation I had a full head on double mastectomy just because I didn’t have cancer doesn’t mean I escaped the pain. 

I was cleared at 6 weeks from my hysterectomy to  well dr words “make whoopee.” Glad that’s all healed and all but yeah “no thanks.”  We did switch hormones and that has helped tremendously, no more nausea and headaches, I noticed a difference in 2 days. I still am emotional and cry all the time, but I am told it takes at least 3 months to level.Fatigue and insomnia also  have to level out, so again we wait. I am so glad that I had both surgeries done at the same time, it is a relief not to have another major surgery ahead of me. I had great doctors! Did you know that when you have a complete hysterectomy  you have what is called a “cuff?” (don’t worry i didn’t know either)  the cervix is attached to the upper part of the vagina so when they remove that there is a hole so they have to make a “cuff” to hold all your intestines in place, so I will have yearly checks to see if that is all still tight and in tact. See how remarkable the human body is?! But man my poor poor body! 

I will see PS again in March and we will discuss what size he believes we can achieve and what type of implant and get all the details sorted out. I was so upset and devastated that when I met him the first time that he said he couldn’t promise me that I could be a full C cup, honestly at this point I don’t care! (I am not trying to be vain I am broad shouldered so that cup size fits my body type naturally )I just want it all to be done and these things out. Insurance said we could do surgery at the beginning of March but do to a trip to NYC we had already planned we are waiting until we come back, 2 days after in fact! So yeah me I get to go to NYC rocking the expanders! The exchange surgery is outpatient with a possibly 2-3 week recovery and drains againšŸ˜Ŗ but am told a walk in the park compared to what I have endured thus far. 

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This is the progress from the fills. I had fills at 2 weeks post (top pic) 3 weeks (middle) and 4 weeks (bottom) so you can tell cleavage wise the difference.
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side view… not to shabby.. again its harder for me to look at I think..
 

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Week one.. to week 6.. see how uneven they are?  But what an improvement! This is 800cc filled.. The left one actually needs to come down some and need to massage  daily to help break up some scar tissue. But those scars, man it will take some time. I remind myself this is nothing what the final product will look like. I am amazed at the human body and that we can reconstruct. He will nip and tuck all the extra skin, I have stretched well and he has faith I can be a C or possibly D cup.
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Normal looking in a sports bra but oh so painful against my skin!
 

Never in million years did I ever think I would have to battle something like this. It has taken all my courage, all my strength, all my dignity, all my faith and being this honest and transparent in my blog has been out of my comfort zone. I have learned that I am not defined by my breasts, no one is. I am not defined by my appearance  I am still working through this internal struggle and learned we hide behind clothes and smiles,  my friends and family still love me the same, and I love myself just taking some time to adjust. Once I get the implants it’s still a process, it won’t stop March 23rd. They will have “settle” we  possibly have to do some nips and ticks and some fat grafting (since I don’t have any tissue of my own you can sometimes see the outline of the implant so they will inject with your own body fat to fill in the gaps) so that’s a process and painful I have heard. Implants aren’t even permanent, they will need to be replaced probably atleast once in my lifetime, still debates on how long they last. I lost all feeling and won’t gain that back, so it’s my own skin but completely numb. Luckily my scars will be slanted enough that when I wear a swimsuit or Vneck shirt they won’t show. If you are reading and facing this journey please talk to your PS about this, don’t let them cut straight across. 

The third surgery is the nipple reconstruction but honestly I think I am going to say screw it and go to New Orleans and have Vinney Meyers do the 3D tattoos (they look freaking amazing!). I mean if I have perky boobs that I won’t have to wear a bra if I choose then why add headlights? Ha! And FYI nipple reconstruction includes taking some of your vajayjay….Hmmm yeah I think that has been through enough!! In the meantime as it takes a year to get in to see him and have to wait 5 months after implants anyways I will use some temporary tattoos, that way I can play with colors, shapes and sizes.. hmmm.. wonder if I can like add jewels or something šŸ˜‚šŸ˜‚ sense of a humor… A MUST! 

Some of my immediate family has been tested since my diagnosis and we have one confirmed positive and waiting more results,so they will start their own journeys and I cried, I don’t want anyone to have to endure this! I will be here and that was one thing that I cried more about was I wished I has known someone personally that has this battle in front of them. This is why I started this blog in hopes to give insight , did you really know what all a mastectomy entailed? I sure didn’t! Also, to help even if it was one person and  my girls, I will print this off and will have it for them if they have to go down this road. They have 50/50 chance of having it themselves, as a mom that is heart wrenching to think about, but I will not force anything or even the testing on them just knowledge and honesty until they make their own choices. I leave with this insight, all this is temporary.. the expanders, the implants, the physical  pain, the recovery, tattoos, sports bras and  life it self. What is permanent is my scars, my faith, my love, my family, my true friends and my emotions and my decision. Don’t take life for granted and be thankful everyday for what you have!  Thank you all for the support by reading and following!

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“The secret to change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but building the new.”  Socrates

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Insomnia, Emotional outbursts, weekly dr visits, constant pain, bloating, regrets, anger.. All = Par for the Course

img_0025We had our first snow day in Oklahoma today! I know all the northerners are making fun of us as we speak but it prompted me to get out of the house to enjoy with the girls andĀ  I had to run an errand to get my phone fixed, priorities! If you have been following from the beginning thank you for support as I ramble on some of these blogs as I stated from the start..raw emotions. If you are new to the blog, thank you for taking the time to read and I hope you gain some insight to this journey.

I am just about 5 weeks post (will be Monday Jan.9th) this has been my most emotional and hardest week so far, I know seems like I am traveling backwards and it should get easier as time goes on.Ā  I know that my hormones are off and that will take time to adjust, but I think I am in the grieving process and as I come to my last fill of the tissue expanders and my date for the implant swap is set for March 23rd I now realize this is “Me” the new “Me”and quite frankly it sucks and I want to just be my normal Kathy. This week emotionally has been hard toĀ  look in the mirror, to get out of bed, to look at anything positive, I feel as though everything is out of control, out of balance and I am drowning. I stress about everything and am stressed about my recovery, the unknown, finances as things are tight now. I am the caretaker of everyone! That is my personality and I just can’t do it, I can’t stand that I have to rely on other people.

Let me back up a few weeks. I went to the dr on Dec.12th for a 2 week check up with the GYNO and everything was looking great and I was healing from the hysterectomy well, I was amazed howĀ  little pain I was in from that procedure, but it does take a toll.. Insomnia, fatigue, cramping, random swelly belly yep I just lost my breasts and I also look like I am 6 months pregnant…Ummm not fair! If you remember, I had a very hard time making the decision to have the total hysterectomy and this dr convinced me that it was my best option and I would be ok so on his advice and prayer and leap of faith I consented. My pathology report all came back benign EXCEPT my cervix which showed stage 0-1 cancer that had started at the back of my cervix. I had just had a clear pap smear 9/1 of this year! Holy Hell! This isn’t even related to the gene, they estimated with how aggressive this was that I would have only lived to be about 37-39 years old. I am 19 days short of turning 36. Well if this wasn’t a God thing I don’t know what is! Since I had the cervix removed during and nothing had spread I was good and cancer free.

Now onto the constant pain… These expanders that are on my chest are bricks and are constantly stretching my muscle and hurts! It hurts when I breath, it hurts when I walk when I move, the skin is raw feeling and itches but yet I have no feeling on the outside of my skin. They are oblong and so awkard looking in a tshirt, this is where I hate going in public I just want normal boobs! But this is temporary.. I go to get weekly fills to help expand and make room for the implant, I am broad shouldered so we did the biggest at 800cc in hopes to achive a full C cup, which was my orginal size. My skin is stretching well and looks like I will be able to get my desired size so there is some light!

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This is what the expander looks like that is under the muscle and has the magnetic port where a needle is inserted and they fill with saline

So as you can imagine as they fill more saline, the harder it gets and tighter anf heavier on my chest. Nerves start to wake up and I will just be honest it hurts like hell. I have to take it easy the rest of the day and the day after and take valium at night

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This is the needle that is used, they use a magnetic device that finds the port and will stick the needle in , its huge! But I feel the prick but that is all because the outside of my skin is numb

I have been getting 100cc each fill each week after the initial 200 and that was painful and do not recommend to anyone! No matter how high your pain tolerance is. I have one more fill left and that will put me at 800 and then I will let settle until the exchange surgery, per insurance guidelines have to wait at least 90 days . I keep reminding myself..Nice soft round implants are in store. This is at 600cc (pic below)Ā and can finally see some cleavage, but keep in mind no projection and they expand high and wideimg_0027

 

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This is at 700 so you can see a bigger difference in just one week.. But again..constant pain!

 

This has more far more emotional than I could have ever expected, I have restrictions and limitations asĀ these are “bubbled wrapped” per say if anything happens then I lose the chance of implants and may have to start over and there is a wholeĀ host of problems that can go wrong. I am ready to go back to work, ready to be Me. As I said I realized tonight that I need to take the time for myself, my whole body changedĀ forever and I deserve some time to grieve and accept. I feel like IĀ let everyoneĀ down becauseĀ IĀ haven’t been as strong as I thought I could be, because I just didn’t “bounce” back, most important I am losing the “Kathy” that I have learned to love. I know it will all work out, I know that I will be ok, but I also have accepted that I am not ok at this moment. I am tear filled as I write this because anyone that personally knows me, knows that this is not me. I will say that I am proudĀ for Ā being transparent and sticking to my promise to be honest throughout this whole ordeal even though I am a private person and it is way out of my comfort zone, but if it helps one person or my kids later on, it’s all worth it.

 

“Every storm runs out of rain” and I am ready for mine to have the rainbow at the end.

Recovery and Reality

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This is the most intimate and most nervous post to date as the somewhat unknowns are over and well it is indeed reality. It’s the beginning of the new me.

I was so nervous the morning of surgery , we arrived right at 5:30am. In fact Nick got there early and I made him wait in the parking lot right up until the time. I prayed and walked in and checked in..OK this was it! This is real! We get called back into the pre op room, I get my gown and asked to change and give a urine sample, anyone else have a hard time making it in the cup? You would think as a woman and mother of 3 I would be a pro but nope I miss every time and pee all down the cup ha!

I changed into my gown and took off my bra for the last time, why did I even wear one? Ha! IVs were started and surgeons started coming in..I was amazingly pretty calm, the plastic surgeon came in to mark me and that’s when it hit ! I said goodbye to my entourage and held back the tears, they gave me some oral anxiety meds but I don’t think in time to take effect. Promptly at 7:03 they came to wheel me off to the OR I said goodbye to Nick and still held back the tears.

The OR is cold and so overwhelming, everyone keep asking me how I was and was very friendly I get transferred to the operating table and I remember seeing my name and all my info on a whiteboard and thats all she wrote…I was out!

Woke up in recovery and was confused and in pain! Oh the pain! I remember thinking the recovery nurse was handsome, hope I kept that comment to myself! They had a hard time managing my pain, I was in and out of it for 3 hours before I was moved. When I was moved to my room it was an 8 hr surgery and 3 hour recovery, long day for those that had to wait , it went fast for me! I am a hot natured person as it is and then my body was thrown into straight menopause, not a good combination. My room was so overwhelming hot! It pissed me off and I immediately let everyone know about it, the poor nurses and maintenance man! I HAD awesome friends that went to Home Depot and bought me a fan!! Life saviors and I needed my hormonesĀ Ā which there was a mix up and I didn’t receive the hormones until about 24 hours later.

I don’t remember much the first 48 hours, I was bandaged up and didn’t want to look. I was in so much pain! It took them a good day to manage the pain, I would have rather give birth without an epidural then go the pain again! I was released 2 days later and was so ready to go home, well I thought…

I could not get comfortable at all, the pain was unmanageable and these drains are such a pain! My sis was in town for the first 4 days and I don’t remember much at all! The first night I had woken up and went to the restroom, this process to even get up took a good 20 minutes, I couldn’t move at all! Nick was passed out as he hadn’t slept in about 48 hours. I needed his help and he wouldn’t wake up! I wallowed on the bathroom floor for 2 hours in pain and self pity, I decided for the first time to look and I bawled so hard. The reality was indeed reality and I looked disfigured and in my state of mind could not seeĀ  the light of the tunnel at all. The grieving process officially begun as the pain meds wore off.

Nick woke up and helped me off the bathroom floor, gave me some meds and held me and let me cry. You have to have so much support to go through something like this, and it affected him. There was no way in hell he found me attractive and I told him this to which he replied “I am in love with this woman named Kathy not her breasts” so I cried some more.

I had more range of motion than I thought and the drs thought I would have but I could notĀ move, my whole body couldn’t move, I stayed in bed for the first 9 days. I spent 2 days in self wallow and pity and depression. One day at a time and I am sure I was entitled to a few dark days, after all I felt like a monster and in constant pain. And again if you still think this was or is a “boob” job you are wrong.

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These are the drains that I had on each side to collect fluid from swelling. I got one on each side removed last week and hoping to get the rest gone tomorrow!

The drains are a complete nightmare, you can’t slept in any position other than your back and they pull and they hang well below your kneesĀ and well don’t get me started on fashion. They are drained daily and bandaged at the stich.Ā  And well here is my reality below.

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I had a skin sparing so I got to keep my own skin but not nipples. Skin was pulled from my side to help with the reconstruction. This is about 1 week post so bruising and swelling was down.

These are the expanders that are under my muscle and I have fills every week to recreate the breast, the expanders are oblong to help stretch the skin to make room for the permanent implant which I will get in March, yes another surgery.

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This is my breast that had the lumps removed, so ugly looking! The scar will always be there but will fade in the years come. Nipple reconstruction will happen 5 months after the implant surgery

The ugly ducklings that will become the swan, this is what I am living with for the next 3 months. My Plastic surgeon said that once the ROUND soft implants are put in they will look and feel natural and will not look like this at all!Ā The expanders hurt like hell! No way around it, they are hard as a rock and sometimes its hard for me to catch a deep breath. had my first fill and there is no feeling, there is a port that they insert a huge needle in and fill so many CCs each week and they do start looking more normal everyday. I have no projection as they are oblong so I still look flat. I am ok with my new reality, in fact I will show anyone that wants to see, I have no personal attachment to them right now.

 

I am doing good, I am still 3 weeks post and I get so tired easy and I over do it and boy do I pay for it! I am doing good mentally as well. It is hard and still the hardest thing to date but looking forward to all this to become a memory. I got a necklace that said “choose courage” I love it because it did take courage and I understand just how strongĀ I am now! I also understand that women are more than boobs, I am still me, I still have the same personality, the same sense of humor, the same heart and soul. I will admit I am looking forward to perky boobs and would be ok if I am considered a “MILF” šŸ™‚

I chose courage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Chapter in Life

When just a phone call changes everything

brcaSept.28th,2016 is when my life changed forever. I will start from the beginning leading up to this day. March of 2016 I had discovered a lump in my right breast, I was a little concerned but kinda played it off and was going to wait until my yearly exam in September but decided to call my gyno anyways. They wanted me to come in within that week and have an exam, so I thought to myself “maybe this is a big deal..maybe I should worry?..what if?” I was sent for a mammogram in April 2016. Ball of nerves, I, by far was the youngest lady in the waiting room. I had several women ask if IĀ had accompanied my grandma! Of course, IĀ consider myself pretty modest for having 3 children so really do not feel comfortable. Ā IĀ get calledĀ back and get prepared and am topless forĀ about 20 minutes.. Joy!Ā Joy!Ā Ā A sense of relief as they tell you your results while you are there and I was cleared! Hallelujah! I got dressed, put on deodorant (you aren’t supposed to wear any for a mammogram) went to work with a smile and didn’t look back!

Fast forward to September 1,2016. I had my annual well woman exam and the lump had not gone away but in fact gotten bigger! But my mammogram come back good, so no worries, well that’s not the way that works. Doctor was very concerned and sent me to see a breast specialist and told me to really dig into my family history and that I should consider that this in fact could be cancer. Great! Freaking Great! Oh and I needed a laparoscopic surgery for possible endometriosis the following week, this appointment was a dousey!

I met with Dr.Frame (breast specialist) on September 8th,2016. He did a biopsy and ultrasound and consulted with me, again uncomfortable asĀ I am sitting topless. I Feel like I should be on parade and waving my Miss America wave. We discussed family history, which I do have strong family history for breast cancer and my dad passed away at the age of 48 from pancreatic cancer, he suggested that I get tested forĀ the BRCA gene. I consented with the notion of “sure why not, I mean I possibly can’t have this gene.” While I am filling a vial full of spit he is educating me on my options, I will admit that I truly was not concerned. I mean again I don’t have the same thing that Angelina Jolie has.

If the test is positive here are the options

Option 1: Do nothing and bury your head in the sand

Option 2: High Risk Screenings, if cancer develops (ovarian and/or breast cancer) hopefully we will catch early stages

Option 3: Prophylatic double Ā mastectomyĀ  and either radical hysterectomy or oophorectomy

But again…no worries! I have a 2 percent chance for testing for this mutation!

I leave with a sense of relief. They said they will call with the results but not to worry in the meantime since I have no immediate family testing positive for the gene (yet).

September 28th,2016 4:14pm phone rings and I answer which for some reason I had the ringer on that day. My phone is always on silent.

“Ms.Williamson this is Bobbi from Dr.Frame’s office and I am needing to schedule you an appointment as soon as possible, are you available next Tuesday?”

I am sure I set on the phone in silence for a good 10 seconds before my reply “Yes”

“Your test results are positive, we need to discuss a game plan.”

SHIT………….