It appears that I don’t know everything…


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.



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.


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)


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.


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.


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.


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


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?