Post-Exchange Surgery Milestones (as agreed with my surgeon)

goals

It’s two weeks out from my exchange surgery that swapped my rock hard expanders to squishy boobies so I thought it was a good time to let you know how I was getting on, as well as share with you the mini-milestones I am working towards in my recovery.

Healing wise I am pretty good. My wounds look good and I’m massaging the stiches and boobs with a good deal of cocoa butter. I have some nerve pain in my left arm and my left side feels more delicate than the right. Apart from that I feel fine and am mobile as a go cart. I’ve been walking every day and am now back on the cross trainer (minus the arms). Apparently I can drive when I feel comfortable, but I’ve tried twice and I don’t feel ready yet – I need two hands to move the gear stick in and out of reverse and parking is a bitch.

As well as this, I am eagerly working towards a few more milestones. Obviously if you are reading this at a similar stage in your pbm journey, here is the disclaimer….. I am not a medical expert (although my Dad is a Dr, apparently that doesn’t qualify me). This is the advice from my surgeon based on my circumstances. Please consult your surgeon on when you can do, what you want to do, following your surgery.

Right, back to me:

2 weeks post-surgery:

–          Walking

–          Cross trainer – MINUS ARMS

3 weeks post-surgery:

–          Running

–          Spin class

5 weeks post-surgery

–          Ride my bike – yey! (I did ask my surgeon why I could go to spin class at 3 weeks and not ride my bike until 5 weeks. He explained that I could fall off my bike. I didn’t tell him that in the week before surgery I’d fallen off my bike twice… and I’d only been drunk on one of those occasions).

–          Yoga

6 weeks post-surgery

–          Hoping to take off this massive, asexual surgical bra that I’m spending every waking and sleeping moment in since the op. I’m so excited I’ve already ordered this beautiful brassier from M&S, which may or may not be the right size http://www.marksandspencer.com/Rosie-Autograph-Padded-French-Designed/dp/B003ZKVKGU?_encoding=UTF8&mnSBrand=core

I do have a few more than this – like when can I ever do a press up again, or can I do a body pump class and get my muscles back – but they can wait.

How exciting!

xxxxxxx

Advertisements

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…

Post-Op Follow-Up with Silver-Fox Plastic Surgeon

progress

Yesterday I had my first post-op appointment with the silver fox, plastic surgeon.

I had no expectations for today and quite frankly, just expected them to look at my baps and be done with it.

We arrive and the lovely nurse cleans my stitches. We take off the plaster on the recently butchered, artist formerly known as the total eclipse of the nipple (TEOTN) and all looks well. We give that a clean too and that was pretty much it.

However, what the appointment lacked in activity, it made up for in information. So here goes:

–          I can shower! My current washing routine involves me inserting one leg in the shower, removing it, inserting the other leg in the shower, removing it and so on. The ability to have a full on shower without the aid of ‘bath in bed’ wipes is amazing news.

–          As soon as I feel comfortable, I can drive. The nurse’s quote was “as soon as you can be sure you won’t run over a child because you’re worried your boobs hurt then you can drive.” OK, kids over boobs. Got it!

–          I have been told I can go on a stationary bike. I took this to mean that I can go to a spin class. Mr F said that I have grossly misinterpreted this sign-off and there is a big difference between a stationary bike and sweating my new tits off in a spin class. I have another appointment on Monday. I can wait that long to check.

–          Oh yes, I have another appointment on Monday. Filling station number 1 (the process in which they make the new boobs get bigger). I didn’t think they’d start so soon, especially with TEOTN, but it soon begins. I already have 100 cc of saline in there so, come next week, it will be 150 cc on each side and I will be back to my 17 year old rack, once again (I was a late developer).

  • For the inquisitive among you, here is a short and pretty straightforward video about how the plastic surgeon goes about filling your expanders with saline. I’ll explain more next time. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esHztsX-uFE

So this may not seem like an exciting appointment, but for me it was ace. Oh, and silver-fox plastic surgeon has a new beard. It really suits him.

silver fox

ANSWERED: I’m not going to have any boobs – do I really need a bra?

Some of you may remember my post that asked the question, if I’m getting my boobs lopped off, do I really need a bra? http://www.imgettingmyboobsoff.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/

Despite having done quite a lot of research, at that point I did not have a definitive answer. So as I went to my last pre-op appointment with my plastic surgeon, I was keen to get the answer.

I like my plastic surgeon, as much as anyone needs to like their plastic surgeon. He’s pretty straight up, honest and seems to have my best interests at heart. As a result, I trust him and that’s what’s important for me. However, am I going to invite him and his family over for dinner? It’s unlikely. Does he laugh at any of my ‘I’m a really positive patient’ jokes? No. Not even one.

I arrive at my appointment with my bra questions printed out on a piece of paper and wait for my cue…

Plastic surgeon: “So Trisha, do you have any questions?”

Me: “Yes, do I need to wear a bra after surgery?”

Plastic surgeon: “No”

Me: “Oh, I thought you might give me one?”

Plastic surgeon: “No”

Me: “Oh, I see. I read somewhere that I won’t ever need to wear a bra ever again?”

Plastic surgeon: “No, you don’t.”

Me: “I’m not sure about how I feel about that. I quite like wearing a bra.”

Plastic surgeon: “You can choose to wear a bra, but you don’t need to.”

I probably cracked a bad patient joke here and that was that. I’m not going to lie, I was a little bit disappointed. As we have discussed before, whilst I haven’t been the best lingerie buyer to date, I was keen to treat my new boobs a little better. So I left with the answers to my questions, but a little despondent.

That was until I received a call a few days later from one of the breast nurses at the hospital. She was calling to introduce herself and let me know that she’ll be getting me a bra to take home with me from the hospital.  HURRAH!

She explained that whilst you don’t need to wear a bra, lots of women want to, and so they get you a bra for when you’re ready to wear one. What’s more, as I’ll have the chest of a prepubescent girl during the beginning of the filling process, they also give you some soft foam to fill the bras with to give you some shape and confidence until the new boobs come into play.

With the encouragement to go forth and wear a bra, regardless of whether I need one or not, I am ready to go lingerie window shopping again.

Post Surgery Bra Shopping

Before you start, this article is a good checklist for what you need to bear in mind when buying a post-surgical bra. http://breastcancer.about.com/od/lifeduringtreatment/tp/bras-camis.htm. Key points are, focus on comfort and look for wide bands on the shoulders and beneath the breast.  Underwires are a no no until your surgeon says so, avoid seams and choose front fastening, especially for the months immediately following surgery.

Across the pond, the great British institution that is Marks and Spencer, has pulled together a video lingerie guide to post surgery, which is good to watch before you buy anything:  http://www.marksandspencer.com/MS-TV/b/311612031?intid=emtv_2_42_1375671779001

They have quite a good range of bras, very reasonably priced, but their post-surgery ones do look a bit like my grandma would wear. It might be worth looking at some of their non-wired options, which are much prettier, for a bit further down the track.

I like this Carefix Post-Op Bra, Alice that I found on http://www.undiewarehouse.com.au (which has loads of options BTW). It does up at the front, is wireless and recommended for post-operative stage, immediately following surgery.

alice-_front_

Another one from Carefix that I found on Westfield is also pretty cool. Again it does up at the font, holds dressings in place and says it’s great for use in the recovery stage after breast augmentation, reduction, reconstruction, mastopexy, lumpectomy or radiation. Sounds pretty comprehensive to me? http://www.westfield.com.au/au/search?sq=post+surgery+bras

CarefixWestfield

This Berlei wirefree post-surgery cotton bra looks a bit ‘surgical’ and asexual, but I like Berlei and you can trust they’ll probably be good. It has both front and back opening and cotton inner pockets to accommodate prosthesis. http://www.berlei.com.au/bras/shop-by-range/post-surgery/

Berlie

Finally, another great site for Aussies is Zodee http://www.zodee.com.au/search/?w=Post+surgery. They start from just over $25 for a basic wire free bra, and go up to around $60 for something more special.

 

It appears that I don’t know everything…

BREAST SURGEON DOWNLOAD

I used to think I was awfully clever and the reason I thought this, was because I knew everything.  I never turned to anyone for advice or asked questions because, duh, I knew everything! However a few years ago, a very clever woman told me that clever people asked questions because they know they can’t know everything, and the only way to be successful, is to ask more and more questions.

The problem with asking lots of questions is that whilst you may get the answers to your initial questions, you will also get a lot more information than you started with.  And with more information, comes MORE QUESTIONS!  So this is my roundabout way of saying I don’t have all the answers following my visit with the breast surgeon… just more information… and a couple more questions.

Iknoweverything

MORE INFORMATION

We arrive at Dr David Thomson’s office and he’s keen to see my most recent MRI, mammogram and ultrasound scans to make sure they are clear (I already know they are so there’s no suspense required). We talk about the dates for surgery and he informs us that whilst we are booked in for 21st March, we’re not ‘confirmed’ until I’m in the theatre and under aesthetic! So, I need to get comfortable with the reality that timings may still change and that needs to be OK.

OPERATION PREP?

The surgery is in the afternoon so I can’t have any food after 8am . Already I’m thinking whether I’ll be able to go to the 6.30am Body Attack class, followed by toast and coffee at 7.30?  I don’t know how Mr F will feel about this, but it sounds like a plan to me! I am also given a list of things I can’t take for 10 days before the op. It’s mostly pain-killers and anti-inflammatory drugs that that will thin the blood and prevent it from clotting. There’s about 50 items on the list, and even if they’re not, I’m supposed to avoid all things medicinal regardless, including  Berocca?! (Please note, former question ‘What will I need to stop doing before the op?’ ANSWERED)

THIS IS BRAND NEW INFORMATION

Then come a few bits of information that freak me out.  We are sparing the nipple and in some cases the nerves behind the nipple might die and some, or maybe all, of my nipple will fall off. OK, this is pretty rare, but he said something about maybe a corner peeling off – I don’t know.  It all sounded very dramatic. Feeling in the boob is going to disappear, maybe for a year. Over time this may feel strange, like little creatures, tingles or phantom pains in my boob. Oh, well, good to know these things in advance.

CHECKED IN

I will be in hospital between 8 – 10 days, which is longer than I had expected, to allow the drains to run clear, reduce the risk of infection, and allow my now empty boob to lie flat against the wound – again, information that freaks me out.

Day two is the potential danger day for depression.  He says it’s quite common for the emotions to come crashing down after the adrenaline of the operation – note to self, choose a ridiculously upbeat, self-help book to load onto my kindle.

ANY ANSWERS TO ANY QUESTIONS?

We do finally get round to some of our questions. It’s 6 weeks before I can do any proper exercise and after this I thought the questions about the bike and resistance bands were a bit futile.  Apparently I will be able to do everything I could before  – the problem is the pain, not the ability.  So as long as I am hard as nails, I should be fine.

What Mr F and I are gathering is, as far as the breast surgeon is concerned, his job is pretty much done when everything is removed. It’s the plastic surgeon who’s going to be concerned about my levels of movement to avoid knocking the expanders out of whack and giving myself one boob that sits under my arm pit and the other in the middle of my chest – so we’ll save the vanity inspired questions for him.

MORE QUESTIONS

After we leave, the questions we now have center around how much time Mr F needs to spend with me at hospital and the best times to visit. My spoilt side has requested every morning before work and every evening during visiting hours.  I would also like a couple of hours on the weekend. I realise I may not be the best or most riveting company during this time, but there have been a lot of occasions during our relationship where I am also not great company, and he’s still had to spend time with me so this can’t be that different. Surely?

Questions for the Dr

Questions

On Thursday, three weeks away from the operation, me and Mr F are going to see my breast surgeon, Dr John Thomson at Randwick.  This is our chance to get more prepared for what’s about to come.

This is the first time Mr F has come to one of my appointments.  Not that he wouldn’t have if I’d asked, but to be honest, I’ve not wanted to waste his time with A LOT of appointments. So I went and updated him afterwards. But as this next next chapter effects us both hugely, hopefully, going to the remaining appointments together will ensure we’re on the same page and that we’re doing this as a team (for which, I thank my lucky stars, every day).

Now the hard questions have already been asked and answered along the way;  Do I think this is a good idea? Do I need to remove fat from my belly or back as part of the reconstruction? Do I want one operation or two? And do I want to keep my nipples?  Just a couple of small considerations… But with those out the way,  we need to ask the seemingly, simple questions.

Me and Mr F are pretty different people and we have incredibly different ways of thinking about things, so we’ve each both pulled together our checklist of questions to ensure we have as few surprises as possible in about 4 weeks time. Some are a bit frank, for which I apologise in advance.They also are pretty reflective of our personalities. I realise that some of mine may seem a bit futile in the grand scheme of things, but those who know me will understand I’ll be keen to be up and running ASAP.  I’ll report back in a couple of days to let you know the answers.

My Questions

  • What do I need to stop doing before the surgery?
  • How long will it be before I can exercise?
  • When can I walk? And then when can I ride a bike?
  • If I can’t use my upper body, could I do squats / use resistance bands?
  • What can I do early on to get movement back in my arm?
  • What do you suggest I do if I get my period in the first two weeks following surgery?
  • Am I able to go to the toilet alone?

Mr F’s Questions

  • What levels of bruising should we expect and what is too much?
  • What are the potential injuries that might happen during healing process i.e. minor tears or over stretching?
  • How best to stop any post op infections?
  • What things will she realistically be able to do and what won’t she?
  • What things will I have to help with?
  • What’s a realistic distance to travel and how soon after?