Category Archives: Surgery

Surgery Recovery update: 2/3/2015

Drain came out yesterday! Woohoo! Nurse Amanda explained that it wasn’t necessary for the drain to be in as long as when I had the mastectomy because less tissue was removed/manipulated this time. So glad to have that thing gone. Still having to sleep on my back stinks, but it’s for the best not to mess up my doc’s work, or risk the incisions coming open. We all know how I hate that!!

Yesterday was a good day. I was able to venture out for the first time since surgery. First to see Amanda and have her check out my incisions/take the drain out. Later was an in-store performance by my favorite, Butch Walker. He released his album today but wanted to do a free, 40 minute set of a few songs the day before. I didn’t know until yesterday morning that I was definitely going to be able to go. Asked the nurse if I could drive, and she said as long as I’m not on the pain meds and felt like I could, then yes. I really only drove to Abbe’s house and then she did the rest of the driving. The short amount of standing that I did there was enough. I’m tired today, but it was SO worth it. If he had played on Friday, I would have had to miss and that would have bummed me out so hard.

Today and the rest of my time off, I’m lying low, doing some online training for work, and generally trying to rest. Healing is happening! Fingers crossed this is the last time I have to do this. Sucks that I have to be off work but I’m trying to make the most of it. Usually being home like this brings back memories of those awful 6 months when I was home all the time and depressed. To some it might seem like a nice “staycation” but for me it’s not so much.
XOXO,
Jen

Revision surgery 1/29/2015

jenMy check in time was 11:30 and surgery not until 1:30, so I stayed up til around 1am the day of surgery. I ate dinner around 10:30 and took my last drink just before midnight. Then I passed out. I slept so hard that I didn’t get up for the normal 6am alarm. I woke at 8 in somewhat of a panic because my middle son sometimes needs to be woken up, mostly this year he doesn’t, but I always check. I looked to see where he was (Love Find My Friends app for my kids!) and saw that he had made it to school. Whew! I went back to sleep…this time Mike had to wake me, because it was 10:30 and we needed to leave at 11. He said I had been snoring…a sign of how deeply I was sleeping!

We got to the surgery center at Vanderbilt to check in, then sat and waited. It wasn’t too terribly long, maybe 30 minutes or so until they called my name & took me back to get my vitals, ask all the important questions and get my IV started. One of my favorite parts of the pre-op stuff is putting on this purple paper people cover up (OK, OK, a gown) that hooks up to the most glorious air warming device on the wall. I could sleep at this point because I’m so cozy. Also got a swanky head covering and blue hospital grippy socks. Man, is that attractive or what? 😛

I met with everyone from the surgery team and Dr. Braun came in last.. when he came in it was around 2:30. We discussed all that he was going to do, and he marked all over me with sharpie. Then the nurse that had taken care of me was curious and had all kinds of questions 🙂 I feel good knowing I educated her on the process.

3pm they came in and got my sedation meds going, then wheeled me into the OR. I moved myself onto the table and then they started the process of putting me under. I remember everything (I usually don’t) up until they put the anesthesia into my IV. It was kind of neat… the OR is smaller than I’d imagined. When I woke up, I was very groggy & in pain, but no nausea. I’ve not been sick one time!! They gave me a patch behind my ear, and not having an excess of pain meds has done the trick. My pain level was about a 5-6 when I woke up but once they gave me some more meds, I was down to a 3, and since my vitals were good, they let me go home.

I feel after being through breast surgery 3x now that I’m getting pretty good with making sure I have all the pillows I need either on the couch or in bed. I slept fairly well last night, propped up etc. I usually sleep on my stomach or side, and even though I wasn’t able to last night, I was still comfortable.

I did have to have a drain placed on the left side where he did most of the work…they’re THE WORST, but much-needed. I can deal with a drain if I don’t develop a Seroma.

I see Dr. Braun a week from Tuesday and can hopefully get the drain out, and stitches. Oh right, I forgot to tell y’all that I have external stitches this time, to help suspend the work he did. I feel like he really knocked it out of the park this time. It’s so hard to get everything right in the first or second surgery. We got the big stuff out-of-the-way, and this is just fine tuning. He gave a great report post-op to Mike which he recorded so I could hear it later. I’m so thankful he did that! He also said that the scarring on my right side would be fixed pretty well if I opted to have nipple reconstruction. Depending on how this revision heals, I may change my mind on not doing nipples. The last 2 times I had surgery, I had wounds for months…so if nothing goes wrong this time then I’ll consider it. You never know how much you’ll miss seeing something as simple as nipples in the mirror until you don’t. I still plan on doing a chest tattoo piece in the future too
I feel like I’m rambling so if you’ve made it this far and my run-on sentences aren’t annoying to you, THANK YOU 🙂 Going to eat my delicious breakfast that Mike made for me. He’s such a good caregiver & husband to me. He makes sure I get my meds on time & writes everything down. He’s keeping the drain log for me as well. I am a lucky woman to have him as my partner in life. I know not everyone has that, so I’m forever grateful!!!

Post Surgery Update!

So I had the much anticipated implant surgery on Friday morning. Got up early to take a shower, and make sure the boys were getting up and around so they would catch the bus for school after we left. We had to be at the Surgery Center at 6:15 for my 8:15 procedure. As I was to undergo general anesthesia, I had been fasting since midnight. No food, water, candy, gum, nada since midnight. My mom & John flew in late on Thursday night so they could be here for us. Friday morning they met us here at home, then we left for the Outpatient Surgery Center. We all got there and got passes for parking since the Valet wasn’t open until 8am. There was one other patient there having surgery when I was (different surgeon, obviously) and her daughter looked older than me. She looked at me and asked if I was having surgery. I think she was thrown for a loop because of my age. (Yes, I know I look younger than my age, but I’m still too young to have this!)

We waited until it was my turn to get registered and then I got called back for the pre-op tests. Small urine sample (good thing, I hadn’t had much to drink and used the bathroom before going to the Center!), BP and vitals taken, all the questions asked that needed answering. Undress and get into the lovely paper gown with the hole for the warm air tube to keep me warm 😀 They call it “Bair Paws”.. lovely invention, I tell ya! After I was all prepped and IV inserted, Mike, Mom & John were allowed to join me in the pre-op room. Hard not to have flashbacks to the first surgery. Somewhat emotional but kept those in check mostly. Had visits from the anesthesiology team, nurses and finally my Plastic Surgeon made his arrival and was able to mark me up (right after John took that as his cue to leave :p) and get me ready to go.

Said bye to Mike and Mom, then they wheeled me across the hall to the operating room. This time I do remember entering the OR (I fell asleep before this time last time because it was a much longer distance at the other surgery center) I remember getting into the room and getting some instruction but before they could move me to the Operating Table, I must have gone to sleep because before I knew it, I was waking up to people talking to me and it was all over with. The surgery took about 90 minutes as they expected it would, and I woke up with a surgical camisole in place to support my new implants. The new implants are much more comfortable as promised. Doctor Braun was able to get rid of the wound scar but he had to cut what looks like a smiley face on that side (Happy boobie!) and used the same vertical incision on my right to access that one.

I experienced some nausea post op due to anesthesia, which is never fun, but by Monday morning was feeling good enough to come off the pain pills and just take Ibuprofen. My soreness is very minimal, if any. I’m on restrictions not to use my arms excessively in the first week, not to lift more than 5 lbs (a bag of sugar), not to lay on my stomach for 4 weeks, not to have direct contact with my breasts for 4 weeks. No excessive exercise for 4-6 weeks. Had to wait 72 hours before I took my first shower. But the best part? No drains this time, and no steri-strips. The incisions seem to be healing normally which is a relief. I see Dr. Braun again on the 22nd, and look forward to hearing what he has to say about my recovery and what to do next. He did have to do some scar tissue removal and “sculpting” on my left side, and hopefully in time the implants will settle in and be symmetrical. I’m trying to be patient. I don’t expect perfection, but I do want to feel as normal — It’s such a tricky word anymore–as much like my old self as possible. There, that’s more like it.

I was able to come home by 12:30 that day and spent the rest of the time relaxing and being waited on.

Saturday afternoon was Tyler’s prom and I was able to get out to the park and take pictures of he and his date before they went. That was nice to be able to do that at least. I got some good shots and the fresh air on a beautiful day did wonders. I even wore one of my new dresses!

The biggest part of surgery recovery that’s hard for me is not being active. Especially after being home for 6 months after my last surgery and going through chemo, I like to get out of the house. I need to take this time to let myself be lazy, not overdo anything, and to enjoy the time “off” so that when it’s time to return to work, I’m really good & ready.

Thank you for all the good thoughts, vibes, prayers, love and light you all have sent me. I feel and appreciate it ALL.

XOXO,
Jen

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Surgery, Work, Anxiety and all the things.

In less than a week I will be having my surgery to get implants in, tissue expanders OUT! Can I have an AMEN? I’ve appreciated the look of the tissue expanders under the clothes to make me feel “normal” again (what ever does that mean anymore?)

To say I’m nervous would be an understatement though. I have anxiety about surgery. I had a bilateral mastectomy last July, and after that had some edge necrosis that needed debridement, creating a wound that didn’t fully close up until just a couple of weeks ago. Chemo not only slowed that process down, it completely stopped it…even reversed the healing of that wound. This surgery is happening not a minute too soon, although I am still anxious about it because my first one was 7 1/2 hours with everything they had to do, and the recovery slow and painful. The tissue expanders are HARD. They are uncomfortable. I’ve forgotten what it feels like to have “real” boobs. I mourn the loss of my nipples. I want to feel normal again.

I don’t want any more healing issues. I’m sick of bacitracin ointment and gauze and tape. I’m sick of skin irritation due to bandages and tape. To say I have PCSD (Post Cancer Stress Disorder) would be accurate. I’ve since returned to work and work stress has sent me into anxiety overload. The stress was rare though and I’ve since relocated to a better fitting salon for me. I’ve had feelings of wondering if I jumped back into work too quickly, trying to gain some sense of normalcy in my life again. Then being expected to be “normal” all the time when I’m clearly still recouping from a stressful 6-9 months? It’s all just too much sometimes and tears want to spring up just typing this. I should seek therapy. Bless my husband…he’s heard it all and even felt it directed at him although it’s never intentional. He’s still madly in love with me and not running for the hills. Yay for patient loving men! I’ve felt like a raving lunatic at times. Pretty sure I’m blaming Tamoxifen for that one. Oh yeah, and the fact that I’m a cancer patient but I “Look so good.. handling it so well…taking it like a champ…am an inspiration…staying so positive…” Sure I am upbeat and happy but I am not perfect and I lose my cool sometimes, especially when people act like nothing should be wrong with me and why are you acting so strange? Please be patient with me, y’all. Cancer is hell and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. In fact, if my worst enemy had cancer I’d cry with her too because I know what she’d be facing. (Just kidding, I don’t have enemies!)

I do have an appointment on the 10th to see my Primary Care doc, and I will be talking to her about all the feelings and the anxiety. She knows about some of it though. I was supposed to see her last month but that appointment got canceled due to weather. My surgery is the very next day, at 6am. It should be a 90 minute procedure, in and out. Wham, bam thank you ma’am and I should be good as new (not really) and ready to go home that day.

Let’s hope and pray for no surprises this time around, shall we?
XOXO,
Jen