Happy Boob-A-Versay! One year after my mastectomy

Hello, did you miss me? I’m really sorry it’s been so long, but I promise, I’ve not had much to say… not on the topic of boobs anyhow.

However, today is my Boob-A-Versay! What’s that I hear you cry? One whole year since I decided to chop my boobs off, even though I don’t have cancer (please refer to previous posts for the rationale and to ensure I’m not crazy).

No news is good news

For those of us involved in online communities of high risk women making prophylactic choices, you often only read about when things go wrong with surgery. It’s not surprising really. So few people understand what you’re going through and you’re more likely to reach out and share your bad experiences, rather than the good ones. But that’s why these communities have been set up in the first place and they are an absolute God send.

However, for every bad experience shared, there’s a load of good ones that are gratefully and quietly held dear. And that’s pretty much what I have been lucky enough to go through, and why it’s been so blummin long since we talked. However, on my Boob-A-Versary I wanted to share my positive update to help reassure anyone out there thinking about, or about to embark on prophylactic surgery that it can be a relatively stress free process, and the world’s greatest gift.

One year on: How are my boobs?

In a word, they are great. I have gone from a 32B to a 32D (Mr F calls it the world’s most traumatic and expensive boob job – I promise you that it wasn’t the reason). They look good in clothes and even better in a bra. My scars are still pretty visible, but only if I lift my arms up and they could be better, if I could be bothered to massage them more; I get bored.

The artist formerly known as the total eclipse of the nipple is now only about 75% nipple and a bit wonky on top, but it doesn’t bother me in the slightest and I treasure it like a war wound.

I see my plastic and breast surgeon every 6 months, but other than that, the constant trips to the hospital have subsided.

One year on: What can I do?

Pretty much anything. 2 months after my exchange surgery, in November, I was signed off to do any exercise. After a good burst before Christmas, and an indulgent trip to the UK in between, I have been going to boot camp 3 – 4 times a week. And word up ladies with muscles for boobs, I did 100 push ups on my toes last week. Ace!

One year on: What else has happened?

I won’t bore you too much, but here’s the here and now in a snapshot. You may remember I talked about signing up to become a life-coach.  Well I did. My course is up and running and it’s awesome. And Mr F… remember him? Well the most wonderful and supportive man who was by my side every step of my boob chopping journey; he only went and proposed didn’t he!  Of course I said yes and we are busy planning two weddings for this September.

Wrapping up

So that’s it really.  I probably won’t write to you for a while. Like I said, I really don’t have much to talk about and I’m even getting to the point where I barely think about the bad boys any more. What I will say is that last year was one of the best years of my life. I’m so proud of myself, so unbelievably lucky and grateful for this precious gift my mum wasn’t lucky enough to even consider.

If you are a high risk woman and are considering prophylactic surgery, I promise it’s not all scare stories and there are women who have positive experiences with very minor, if any complications. I hope my experience can help give you the encouragement to make the bravest decision of your life.

To the rest of you, thanks so much for your support and love.  I couldn’t have done it without you x

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Stick a fork in me…. I’m done

I know it’s been ages since I last wrote to you guys and after all the support and kind words you have given me over the last year, I figure you deserve to know what the hell has been going on for the past three months.

In a nutshell, I have come to the end of my booby journey. I have said goodbye to my shot-puts of expanders and now have squishy boobs which are now mine for the foreseeable. But a few things have happened running up to this point so I will do my best to give you the abridged version to date.

The spaces in between

I last spoke to you about 2 months before my exchange. I had my last fill at the beginning of June. We over-filled my 350CC expanders to 400CC, I jumped on a plane with a couple of pain killers and a big glass of wine and recuperated in sunny Bali.

I had my exchange surgery booked in for 3rd of September and all fills were done. You’d think it would be an awesome time full of anticipation and optimism. I didn’t find that to be the case. Instead I found this time in between to be one of limbo – Catholics might call is purgatory but I’m not that dramatic…. You’re not done so everything is still on hold and all your plans are “after my next operation.” You have some idea of what size you might be, but no idea what your final bad boys will look like – the pessimist in me decided they were going to be small and shit. And nothing happens. After all the planning and the focus and the adrenaline you build up in preparing for your mastectomy…. NOTHING HAPPENS.

I realise this is life, but I’m a person that thrives on a project. Like it or not, the mastectomy was a project of sorts. I’m not proud of myself but this time between the last fill and the exchange surgery, I have not been the best version of myself. I have been a little defeatist, I have been unmotivated, and I have been a bit of a misery.  I mean on the surface I’m absolutely fine, but I have not been the motivated and optimistic person I can be quite proud of at times.

The days before the exchange

I cried a lot. This is not unusual, but in the 2 weeks and especially days before the op I was a bit of a sensitive soul. I cried one morning because my bike had a puncture – I knew it wasn’t a bit deal but clearly something was playing on my mind. I went out a lot too – clearly I was avoiding thinking about the things on my mind.

The Monday before my operation on the Tuesday, just to help me along the way, I had one of those days from work where I think Valium should be prescribed to all staff as standard. One of my team made a mistake that put our company and our client in the media (a bit like a celebrity caught sniffing coke), so I spent the day crisis managing the situation – speaking to lawyers, mitigating the issue with clients and managing the team. By the time I finished my work at about 10pm and came home, I felt I couldn’t breathe. Having kept it together all day I cried as soon as I got in the door.

This then didn’t help my mood when I woke up. I was miserable and didn’t talk much. Cried without crying, I didn’t want to go and I was convinced my new boobs would be small and shit. My F had a great time…

We get to the hospital and despite being private this time I wait for 6 hours to go into surgery. As I am being wheeled into theatre I tell my surgeon to keep my boobs as big as humanly possible. Oh, and to remember to remove the mole on my face – Two for the price of one. He makes me no promises.

I wake up disorientated but welcomed by Mr F and a burrito.

The morning after

I wake early and in a much better mood.NO MORE OPERATIONS IN 2013! Silver Fox Plastic Surgeon (remember him?) comes to see me and asks what’s up? I tell him I’d like someone to remove the catheter from my hand and then let me go home.  He says YES! YEY…..!! He also tells me he managed to insert 440CC implants.

I had a little peek in the first day and just saw a lot of bruising and what look like very normal breasts. I put my bra and my strapping back on and went about my business.

So what do they look like?

I am now four days post-surgery. I’m not on any medication anymore and my stiches don’t hurt. My cleavage is bruised, but some of the swelling seems to have settled.

Now I have had time to get used to them I am starting to like them. I’m a small C (I was a small B) and can’t wait to start buying new underwear. I’ve already spent about 3 hours on www.marksandspencer.com. They are a decent size and they feel great. I no longer have to read a book in the shape of an L inserted in-between my breasts, moving the book to a backwards L as I move to the next page. I can hug people without hurting them and me and as Mr F says, they are no longer comedy boobs. Or, if you like, Tori Spelling’s boobs in 1997.

I’m also feeling much more optimistic. I can look forward to going on holiday (and sitting by the pool in a surgical bra). I can’t wait to get my health back on track, drop a few KGs and start running again. And I’m going to sign up to do a course to train to become a life coach – hey if we can help others thanks to our own ridiculous life experiences, then why not.

Anyway – Mr F would kill me if I put my naked puppies on the open internet so here is me in my attractive surgical bra.

I promise to speak soon.  Lots of love xxxx

MyBoobs2

The Good the Bad and the Ugly: 6 Weeks on in no man’s land

Purpose

Hello. Firstly I am so sorry it has been so damn long since I have written. I promise I will try to explain.

The good

I am doing alright. I have healed well and my arm movement is good. A bit stiff but good. My strengths is coming back and for all intents and purposes, I’m great.

I’m back at spin classes, had my first run this week and can do yoga if I so please.

I’m very much back at work and it’s honestly like I never left.

My boobs are slowly growing. I’m currently at 200CC each side and have another fill this week. My nipples are looking perky and healthy and whilst one side sticks out more than the other, all is good in the hood.

The bad

For all that is well I can’t say that mentally I’m in a great head space. Bear with me.

I’ve written before that the run up to the PBM was one of my happiest times of recent years. I was focussed and efficient to superwoman proportions. I easily knew what was important, didn’t sweat the small stuff and I of course, had an enormous sense of optimism.

Right now, I’m feeling like, “Oh. What now?” Or maybe that is the wrong way to put it. I just don’t know how I feel, and herein lies the problem.

Life is so back to normal that it really does feel as though I was making such a fuss of everything before. Because I’m visibly well, everyone else has seemingly forgotten about it too. Or at least has no reason to treat me otherwise. (or should they have to)

My social calendar is ridiculously full, both with obligatory work and personal commitments, and as there is nothing wrong with me it’s impossible for me not to go. But the thought of having to attend some of these things of makes me so anxious that I then withdraw at all other times.  I have said no to so many non obligatory invitations for coffee or drinks that I sound like a broken record and feel rotten every time I do.

The ugly

It was my birthday this week. Hurrah! 34.

Mr F asked me what I wanted. I said a ring (as in engagement) or a blender… I got a blender. I also got an amazing photo book of all my nudie photos and got spoilt rotten with flowers and a posh meal in a beautiful restaurant.

Despite having a wonderful birthday, I woke up on Thursday incredibly sad. You reach certain milestones in life and it’s OK that you haven’t done what you thought you’d do by a certain age. But this year it wasn’t. I have a good job and am accomplished in my career (with no desire to run my own PR agency thank you very much). I moved to the other side of the world and live in the most amazing country, in a fabulous house with lovely friends and an incredible boyfriend. And apart from getting my boobs chopped off, I am otherwise very fit and healthy.

But in my current state, residing in no man’s land, I felt I’d be in a different world by the age of 34 and would have a couple of sprogs and a ring or two on my finger. I do know that even if I’d done all this, life doesn’t work that simply. I am just struggling to stop asking myself the question, what next?

I’m a little ashamed I feel like this. Especially considering what an alternative life with cancer could look like, which is why I’ve struggled to metaphorically put pen to paper in the last few weeks.

Anyway, my commitment is to stop moaning, maybe look into taking out some therapy, and finding a new hobby.

p.s. It’s good to speak to you again.

At least you’ll get new tits!

used-boobs-for-sale

I read this article the other day from one of my new previvor friend’s web sites entitled ‘What Not to Say to a Previvor. http://www.mydestiny-us.com/what-not-to-say-to-a-previvor.html

Before I go on, a Previvor is essentially me. Someone who minimises their risk of getting cancer by making pretty bold choices, like getting their boobs chopped off.  In my own small bubble I may be unique, but there are loads of us and they are pretty amazing.

Anyway, I digress. I found this article and boy I wish I’d had it before my op.

Some of you reading this will have been in the situation where you heard what myself, or someone you know was about to do and…. you didn’t have a clue what to say. I get it. I like and need to fill spaces myself. Silence is an opportunity to talk.

And for those of you who have told others about your decision? It’s tough. I had a practiced monologue that accompanied my informing people about my decision to have a prophylactic mastectomy. It laid down the facts about my testing, then what BRCA meant and what my risk factors were (including statistics) and then, and only then did I tell people I was getting my boobs chopped off.

As you’ll see in the article, there are many things that people say, and you may have heard or used some yourself. The main one I got early on was what Lisa lists as ‘saying nothing at all’. I call this, ‘the face!’ It’s ‘the face’ that verbally says nothing but visibly says….”I can’t comprehend what on earth you are doing or why and wait, you don’t actually have cancer and hang on, I feel incredibly uncomfortable now, I wish you hadn’t told me this and … oh, swallow me whole.”

If this sounds familiar, I do describe this with a heap of sympathy and empathy and no judgement.

The other point from the article that most resonates with me, is ‘at least you’ll get a new pair of tits’ (or something more eloquently put).

Now I’m a glass half full person and yes, I will get a new, shiny pair of bazookas, but this statement does grate a little. And it’s not as bad for me as it might be for some women. I’ve never had boobs big enough to define me or my body image. However for some people their sense of self is very much wrapped up in their breasts. So this statement is probably the worst thing you can say for a number of reasons:

–          The other day me and Mr F were looking pictures of non-mastectomy, augmented breasts and wowsers, they are so pretty. They appear symmetrical and they are a lovely shape and I swear the nipples point up to where a guy’s eyeline will naturally be, winking like diamonds. You see, real breasts act like bubble wrap for implants. They cushion them, they keep them warm, they allow everything to jiggle a normal amount, and they make the process a whole lot easier.

–          I would pay a significantly smaller amount of money for a normal boob job.

–          I wouldn’t worry that my nipples may drop off or may not make it.

–          I wouldn’t have drains attached to my body for weeks trying to make sure that the empty cavity where my breast was is fully healed and unlikely to get infected.

–          There would be less chance of infection and my body rejecting an implant. I am in a good place now, but this could still happen. If that was the case I’d have to walk around with no boob/s until my body was significantly healed enough to start all over again.

–          For many women scar tissue may be an issue which means the final product will look less than perfect.

–          I would be up and running a whole lot quicker as someone probably wouldn’t have cut open my pectoral muscle and chucked some balloons underneath there, prohibiting my arm movement.

–          I might still be able to breast feed.

–          However good the result, they will look like false boobs that are so firm, no man should ever attempt moterboating them for risk of brain injury.

So what about the partner of a woman who is prophylactically getting her boobs off? Well I’m afraid the same also applies for similar reasons to the above, alongside the following:

–          This is going to be a really tough time for the bloke. I’m sure he’d be OK with his partner not having new boobs in order to avoid the worry, the stress, her moods, the upheaval to daily life etc.

–          Regardless of how shiny and new they are, emotionally his partner may struggle to accept these new boobs.

–          He may get really weirded out by the new bazookas and not find her as sexy as he used to.

So look, I think you get the picture.

However, as I was saying, I get it, you need to say something. So, here are some things you can say when someone else tells you similar news that makes you feel equally as uncomfortable (p.s. this may just be my preference so apologies if you offend someone as a result of my advice):

–          Wow, you’re actively embracing your risk of getting cancer and are and taking life by the balls, telling it to look out! (feel free to paraphrase).

–          I know you’d rather have your own boobs and not have to go through this, but I guess yours will never ever sag ever again? (For me this one’s OK. One of my boobs, small as it was, had started to look like a foot coming from my chest)

–          I have no idea what you’re going through. Good luck man, I’m here if you need me.

Or simply, ask questions.  I love questions as it’s all about me and gives me a chance to spout off all the new information about BRCA, hereditary cancer and prophylactic mastectomies that I have worked so hard to acquire.

Good luck with social minefield. Hope this helps? x

social minefield

 

 

Filling station #1: 150CCs

petrol_station_attendant_2

Before I got my boobs chopped off and no one really understood what or why we were doing this, Mr F told people that they’d make my boobs bigger via a pump inserted into my body. His plan was to secretly pump my new Foobies up whilst I slept so he could finally admit, for the first time in 3 years, that he was actually a boob man and wanted to go out with a girl with gargantuan breasts.

I’m not sure how many people actually believed him but it gave him a good laugh.

Inflatable boobs

So as we discussed last time (https://imgettingmyboobsoff.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/post-op-follow-up-with-silver-fox-plastic-surgeon/) yesterday was my filling day. I hope you watched the video I posted as this will help walk you through today’s process of pumping up the Foobs.

I woke up on filling morning and popped a couple of Panadol. I used to be someone who would only take pills under extreme circumstances. In my mind, pills = weakness. So what if I’m up all night with crippling period pains. Oh right, yes, it’s a silly approach. That’s why now, prevention is the name of the game and the trick is to take the pills BEFORE the pain.

I went for a walk and did my stretches before jumping on the bus to the hospital.

I arrive at Silver Fox Plastic Surgeon’s office and am ushered into the lovely nurse’s room. Before I sit on her dentist chair and take of my top I spy what I think is possibly the biggest syringe in the world, full of 50cc of saline. Oh, I see. That’s going into my chest? Got it!

big syringe

Nice nurse looks at my artist formerly known as total eclipse of the nipple and is pleased. It really is just a small, partial eclipse now with a tiny, tiny, flaky yet healing scab. Good news. I also ask whether it will pop out again at some point? She informs me it will. This is good because as well as being a little flaky, it also looks like it has been steam-rolled into my new Foob.

steam roller

Silver Fox Plastic Surgeon walks through his adjoining doors. His beard is slightly shorter. Still looks good.

He does his little magnet thing on my boob to line it up to the  incision site on the expander under my pec and draws a little blue, X to mark the spot. He then points an incredibly long, yet thin needle towards my chest, informing me it will sting just a little. It kinda does but it’s not too bad. I then have an odd sensation of my baps getting bigger . Again, not painful, but a little odd.

Less than 10 minutes later I’m done and I actually have visibly bigger boobs. They say that more than a handful is a waste, and yes my hands are abnormally tiny, like a carnie, but I now have more than one of my handfuls. Mr F made a good point; imagine you could have done this as a teenager!

Silver Fox is off on holiday next week so my next appointment for expansion is in two weeks’ time. Just enough time to get used to these new bad boys. A new rack every two weeks. I could get used to this…

Establishing Routine In Recovery

Routine

Those who know me, and those of you who don’t will probably have guessed, I’m not a person who finds it easy to sit still.

Before I left London I had a pretty full on job, with a decent commute, a busy social life, I taught seven fitness classes a week and trained for a marathon. I left the country to try to chill-out, which relatively, I think I’ve achieved. Even so, I still have a decent social life, I exercise 5-6 times a week and I have a pretty full-on job, in PR.

For those of you who are not familiar with PR, it is a job that has no completion. Your to do list will never be done, many outcomes you desire are out of your control and it was recently voted one of the most stressful jobs in the world.  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2256652/Want-easy-life-Dont-firefighter-PR-exec-enlist-military-reveals-new-ranking-stressful-jobs.html

I do urge some caution as this story was probably developed by people who work in PR. However, with this reputation it successfully attracts stress junkies like me, who may moan about being busy, but don’t know what to do if they’re not.

It is in this context I present myself to you as a patient in recovery. It’s probably obvious that I don’t like to sit still and left to my own devices and my mind will run riot. This is why, now I’m home, it’s important for me to set some sort of loose routine. Each day I have committed to do 3 things to help focus my mind, give my day some sort of purpose, and to help track my progress; Meditate, walk, and stretch / exercise.

Meditate

meditate

I talk about meditation a lot on here, but I’m not a person who finds it easy – and generally I will cry it off if I can. I know lots of people say ‘I physically can’t meditate’. This is essentially bollocks. I find it difficult, but I taught myself how to do it and the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

I first started mediating during my testing  for the cancer gene: BRCA. Combined with being made redundant, looking for a new job, moving house and temporarily breaking up with the love of my life, I thought I might have a nervous breakdown. I swear meditation saved me from this and I emerged from this period stronger and more cantered than I think I’d ever been.

So now, it’s more about keeping me balanced. I have a lot of time to think, so softening that for a bit helps me keep focus. And by that I mean, not looking at my boobs and imagining loads of stuff is going wrong with them, or convincing myself that my nipple is still going to fall off, or that a sneeze = infection.

I am using these meditations from Oprah and Deepak at the moment – because for a short time they are free, but they are pretty good, and not too long!

Walk

Walk

As a self-confessed exercise junkie, I have been surprisingly OK with not going to the gym. Being perpetually tired and stuck in hospital helps. However, since I have been home I have committed to going for a walk each day. There’s a park round the corner and if I go first thing I can reward my return with a cup of coffee.

The commitment helps my day have some kind of purpose, and going just a little further every couple of days gives me the feeling of progress.

What’s more, early autumn in Sydney is my FAVOURITE time of the year. It’s sunny but not too hot and, touch wood, it doesn’t rain as much as it does in Jan and Feb.

Stretching / Exercise

I call this stretching  / exercise as it’s really not exercise, but ‘exercises’ to help me get the strength and range of movement back in my arms.

My prophylactic, nipple sparing mastectomy with expanders involved the surgeon inserting the expanders underneath my pectoral or chest muscle, which protects the expanders, and in turn, will need to stretch as they expand, ready for the implants.

If you can imagine, the pain feels as though you have done 100,000 press ups, morning and night. This then means you use your arms less and so your range of movement invariably becomes a little more limited.

So doing the exercises each day is important. Again, it provides purpose, but they also stretch out my very bruised and tight Foobs and as the exercises become a little easier each day, I have another way of measuring my progress. The hospital gave me some exercises while I was there as well as a DVD called‘Strengthen Your Recovery: Pilates program following breast cancer surgery’. It’s really very good. And whilst I can’t wait to get back to the spin studio, it is a great resource for aiding my recovery.

 

This Week’s Most Amusing Search Terms to My Blog

Smashy and Nicey

My blogging friend’s will know, it’s amazing what search terms drive people to your blog. As someone who works in marketing of sorts, it’s interesting to know that for all the effort you put into SEO etc. the strangest and most random terms will deliver new friends to your door-step.

So as we round of the week, in true chart count-down fashion, I present to you, my favourite search terms…

  1. ‘Send your friend boobs’ (if only it were that simple?)
  2. ‘Tasteful woman sitting topless, legs crossed’ (I’m not sharing my nudie shots, sorry)
  3. Intimacy hot boob play (Ha ha ha. How disappointed he/she must have been on arrival to my blog)
  4. Girls with more than two boobs (Again, this may have made life a little easier)
  5. Meditate on breasts (to help them grow?)
  6. I chopped off a girls breast (A little dark, but thought I’d include)
  7. Rate my chest (not just yet thanks, they’re really not looking their best…)
  8. I will show my boobs on Facebook (I can safely say I won’t. Ever!

 

Day 8: What Happens After Drain Removal?

Yesterday was Good Friday, 8 days after my operation and 8 days in the wonderful Royal Hospital for Women.

The day started well as I accepted the ward breakfast for the first time since I’ve been here. This featured a very hard, yet tasty, hot cross bun. The reason for it being my first ward breakfast is partly because I’m an incredible food snob and also, I have started to combine my morning walk with a lush Campos coffee and nice sourdough toast and Vegemite – as opposed to processed white bread and instant coffee. Please don’t judge me.

Campos

I was still on a high from the removal of my right-side drain the day before. And despite the drain levels on my left side doubling from the previous night, the left-side fluid had turned very pale so I was confident that it was doing its thing.

Riding on my wave of positivity, I was about to embark on my first half-shower in 8 days, when I took a peek at my blossoming foobs (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Foobs).  After a slow start I’m pretty good with them now and have become increasingly familiar with them over the last few days. So imagine my surprise when my right boob looks like it’s got a blister on the side of it and feels like a water balloon to touch.

red_water_balloon

For the past week the many surgeons who come to visit me, breast and plastic, have stressed how bad it is if my smeggy bodily fluid collects in my breast cavity. The unwavering message I have taken from multiple conversations is fluid (or smeg), in breast cavity = bad!

So the only natural reaction from someone who’s still on a quite strong meds, has been cooped up in a hospital for 8 days, and has a dramatic disposition at the best of time is to FREAK OUT!

I ask my lovely nurse, who is a small women in her 60’s with an Australian accent like someone from 80’s soap opera, Sons and Daughters, seems a little concerned. However, when I ask her to call a Dr she nervously says we should wait until they come round this morning. Hmm, I have already mentioned how Australia officially closes on Good Friday and I imagine that applies to surgeons too, so waiting is not really an option I want to entertain.

Next step, call Mr F crying, saying my boob looks like a water balloon. He’s just woken up. Is not a Dr and is not really sure how to help me.

Destination number 3, go to ballsy, 20-something Irish nurse who’s been saying I should be allowed to go home since day 3. This is a good stop. She looks at it and says, don’t panic, I’ll call the Dr. Great response.

I sit and wait, cry a bit more, and eventually a plastic surgeon, who I have never met and looks around 23, arrives. My relief is minimal. My plastic’s team aren’t the warmest bunch, but at least I know them.

Child plastic surgeon (CPS) looks at my boob. I am holding my breath and waiting for the worst until he shrugs his shoulders and says… well, it’s quite normal for a bit of fluid to collect after your drain is removed. It will disperse over time.

WHAT?

This clearly wasn’t the answer I was expecting and I hate to say it, but work Trisha comes out to play. (Brief summary; work Trisha can be very nice, but she’s also quite pushy, doesn’t like to be taken for a ride and generally wants to know that people aren’t taking the piss. Sounds like a dream, right?) So I begin to quiz CPS on his diagnosis. I use words such as ‘with all due respect’, ‘please try to appreciate where my concern lies’ and ‘I’m sure you know what you know what you’re talking about, but please understand, I’ve never met you before.’

He clearly thinks I’m a bit of a dick, but reassures me that it’s not a lot of fluid. They could drain it out but that involves sticking a needle in my boob, which involves sticking a foreign object in there, which increases the risk of infection = the pinnacle of  this is a bad thing and something you don’t want to happen. OK. He leaves and the ballsy Irish nurse tells me that he is good and he’s older than he looks. She also makes a valid point that if he gives me bad advice and gets it wrong, his boss, my main silver-fox plastic surgeon, will be pretty peeved.

My lovely 2IC breast surgeon then comes shortly after that and confirms that he is not worried by the fluid. He then recommends I start applying Betadine to my bruised looking nipples, once a day. It makes them look more bruised in the short-term but I trust this is an effective way of keeping them infection free!

So everyone leaves and I’m reassured (I’ve also triple and quadruple checked with my friend from Pink Hope http://pinkhope.org.au/and my step mum, who is also a breast surgeon), but still a little teary. It’s at this point the nurses urge me to escape from hospital for a few hours. They can clearly see I’m going slightly mental and losing the plot. So with more information and less tears I call Mr F and ask him to break me out!

And here I am, patient on the run, complete with name tag and smegggy drain bag at the beautiful Bronte Beach, Australia. One large skimmed latte, poached eggs and avocado on sourdough please. And order is restored.

Breakout

 

 

The Patience of Being a Patient


Patience1
I went for a walk today and felt something smeg-like on my arm. I looked at my arm pit and I had a mini freak out that my right drain – the previously well behaved one – had fallen out.

I pegged it back to the ward and no, it hadn’t fallen out, but it had come out a bit from where it should be and has stopped sucking the smeg out of my right breast cavity.

The Dr tried to plug this up but it didn’t seem to work. This would be OK if my drain amounts were low enough not to worry. They weren’t. There are several potential outcomes as a result of smeg-gate:

a)      My body fixes itself and gets rid of this waste by itself and all is well with the world

b)      The fluid builds up in my cavity and they have to drain it with a needle

c)       The fluid builds up in my cavity and they have to go in and drain it with an operation

How will I know which one will happen? I can’t. I simply have to be patient.

None of these things sound too bad, until you get to the potential sub-outcomes of b and c. You see, both b and c increase the risk of infection and if I get and infection, the likely sub outcome is, they have to remove my expanders, I am fully boobless (even more so than now) for some time and I have to come back in and have another, stage 1 operation, and new boobs are quite a way off.

How will I know if this will happen? I don’t. I just have to be patient.

So that’s smeg-gate. Combine this with drain-gate on my left side, which doesn’t seem to be abating…

Me: Hi plastic surgeon. If after 10 days, if my left drain is still going, what happens?

Plastic Surgeon: Nothing

Me: I’m not getting out of here for ages am I?

Plastic Surgeon: I’ll get you out of here within a month

INSERT > EMPTY SILENCE

Tumbleweed_rolling_2

The Power of Patience

DalaiLama

For me, the boobs were the easy part, something in my control that involved action. This part however, that I have no control over and as an otherwise healthy and able person, just have to let it take its course, is taking me to limits of my puny patience.

With even more time on my hands I decided to look at the definitions of what it means to be ‘patient’, versus what it means to be ‘a patient’, to see if I can pick up any pointers on how to be better at both.

Patient

Definition 1. Bearing or enduring pain, difficulty, provocation, or annoyance with calmness.

Trisha’s Patient Barometer: Trisha is enduring pain, difficulty, provocation from her annoying drains and smeg and the annoyance of being in hospital with limited calmness.

Patient Verdict: Fail.

Definition 2. Tolerant; understanding: 

Trisha’s Patient Barometer: Trisha is tolerant to pain but shows very little understanding for the fact that the body will do what the body will do.

Patient Verdict: Fail.

Definition 3. Persevering; constant.

Trisha’s Patient Barometer: Trisha is constantly persevering (to try and go home).

Patient Verdict: Pass (questionable).

Definition 4. Capable of calmly awaiting an outcome or result; not hasty or impulsive.

Trisha’s Patient Barometer: Trisha is incapable of calmly awaiting the outcome of drain and smeg-gate. She is hastily trying to behave like a normal person and impulsively crying.

Patient Verdict: Fail.

Being A Patient

Definition 1. One who receives medical attention, care, or treatment.

Trisha’s Patient Barometer: Trisha is definitely receiving medical attention, care and treatment.

Being a Patient Verdict: Pass.

Definition 2. One who suffers.

……

According to the above I am rubbish at being patient but really good at being a patient. So, with my prognosis unclear and my exit date, within this month, I have decided to seek guidance and motivation from the Dali Lama. He says:

“The practice of patience guards us against losing our presence of mind. It enables us to remain undisturbed, even when the situation is really difficult. It gives us a certain amount of inner peace, which allows us some self-control, so that we can choose to respond to situations in an appropriate and compassionate manner, rather than being driven by our disturbing emotions.”

Roger that, Dali. What’s another week between friends, eh?

Patience2

Oops, much better now: Day 4 Day and Day 5 Morning

Right, so you’ll be pleased to know, I am in much better spirits today. As I also was yesterday afternoon so apologies for that little dent in my spirits as I hit the wall of the Macquarie ward.

crazy

After pouring out my soul yesterday I had a nice visit from my two, no frills friends. This is not an insult to them or anything to do with their appearance. It’s due to the fact that they are two of my friends I know I don’t even have to speak to when they come or make any effort, so in short, no frills. They took me for breaky on the grass and we watched patients, hooked up to their IVs, puffing away on their cigarettes in the hospital amphitheater.

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I am not one to judge, especially as when life throws you a hundred curve balls, sometimes a cigarette is the least of your worries. However, I am glad I knocked my once social habit on its head years ago. Especially as smokers have more chance of their nipples failing post-surgery due to poor blood circulation. (you may pick up that as well as bowel watch, I am also on my own private-ish nipple watch)

I then slept for a couple of hour’s yesterday afternoon.  The first time in the day, since surgery.  Bliss! Even on waking, with eyes full of smeg, I felt a heap better than I had that morning.

My two friends, northern K and German K came to visit in the afternoon. They brought with them a lovely zebra plant with the famous last words ‘you can’t kill this plant’… I have killed every plant that has been introduced to me in this way. Then more importantly, German K washed my hair and plaited it. This is important because:

I smell;

Wash

It’s been a good few days and I’ve only been able to wash with these wonderful, Bed in Bath wipes. They are essentially like baby wipes on speed. Massive! The packaging says, ‘for a complete bath’, which is a ‘complete lie’. Until the drains come out I can’t shower, so I have been festival washing any skin that hits the air. I still have the surgeon’s marker pen on my chest, as well as the black sticky marks where plasters have been. I have been wearing the same surgical socks for days, and whilst, as you know, I have been changing my pants daily (yesterday was luminous orange, today, turquoise) I am starting to hum. Thanks to the pesky drains coming out of my pits I can’t use deodorant and I’m too scared to try and shave them in case I catch something (small mercies that this is definitely wouldn’t be one of my breasts.)

Before the op I worried about how attractive my boyfriend would find me sans boobs. I hadn’t taken into consideration this might be mainly because I’m gross. A fact, which Mr F confirmed last night.

Bowel watch:

Day 5 and there is still no sign. This is now, the main question anyone is asking me. My pain is well under control, and so it seems, are my bowels.  Victorian control! Despite laxatives, multiple walks round the car park, stomach massages and a couple of squats, there is no movement. My stomach is so swollen it is now more prominent than my deflated chest. However, whilst I’m still able to breathe and not in pain, I’ll resist the urge to double dose on the laxatives.  Do not fear – I’ll keep you updated.

Drain gate:

Whilst it’s a bit minging, I fear it’s difficult for anyone to really understand what I mean when I say I have drains coming out of my armpit, so see below for a graphic visual. These lead into the cavity of my chest, where all the potentially cancerous tissue and fat has been removed and where my expanders are currently sitting behind my pectoral wall.

drain1

Blood coming out of the drains is a good thing because if blood collects in the cavity I have to go back under to open up my wounds again and the risk of infection is high. Also, as the Dr’s keep saying, it’s better out than in. However, before I can go home, and essentially before they can start filling up my expanders and giving me new boobs again, the drains need to run dry.

drain2

It is this area that is causing the delay. My right side is doing OK and the volume of blood and serum that collects in the bag each night (that they change at 12am) is decreasing. My left side on the other hand remains pretty heavy and the blood is darker. There is nothing wrong per se, as long as it’s draining out, but it does have to do its course before I can continue with mine.

Infection = bad! Especially with expanders as if this happens, they have to remove them and it could be a while before the reconstruction process can begin.

Day 5

So a day 5 begins my aims are as follows:

  • Walk
  • Read – I usually love reading, but have been too hyper until now to settle down with a good book
  • Meditate
  • Keep on an even keel…