So it is Sunday night and my surgery is first thing tomorrow. In fact, I have to be up by 5 am to get to the hospital by 6. Personally I think this is adding insult to injury but what can I do? At this point I will be staying just over night in the hospital and will be back in my own comfy bed on Tuesday before noon. Just in the nick of time for some serious and quality napping.
I have realized that I have been talking about expanders and such like you all know what it is all about. You probably don’t and why should you? So here is an explanation, to the best of my knowledge, of what is happening tomorrow and in the near future.
Tomorrow general surgeon will be removing both my breasts and a lot of skin as well as my nipples saving as much skin as she can. It was medically advised that I have my right breast removed as they did not have clear margins when they did the lumpectomy. That means some cancer was left behind or not enough clean tissue was left between the cancerous sample they removed and the tissue left behind. The good part about this is that they got all the invasive cancer and the stuff left behind was in situ stuff. Just cells that are not spreading rapidly. Basically just sitting there. I decided to have my left breast removed as well as I had a 30% chance of cancer showing up there in my lifetime. Since Invasive Lobular Carcinoma quite often does not show up in a mammogram and presents itself as a thickening of the skin opposed to an actual tumor I thought a preventive approach was best for me. Even though I reacted very quickly as soon as I felt the lump in my breast the cancer had been there for quite some time and was very sneaky. That is why both breasts are being removed. Peace of mind.
After my general surgeon does her bit my plastic surgeon will be placing two tissue expanders underneath the muscle on my chest wall. Over the next 6-8 months I will be having saline injected into these expanders through a valve right beneath my skin. This doesn’t hurt as the skin is quite numb. As the saline is increased these expanding bags create room for an implant to be placed there at my next surgery.
At some point, and I am not sure exactly when, my plastic surgeon will create new nipples for me and they will be tattooed with colour to make them look as natural as possible. Hee hee! I said nipples.
Our hope is that I will be able to have two matching saline implants placed in these pockets created by the expanders but that might not be the case. Radiated skin does not stretch as well as pure virgin skin. It may more work out that my radiated right side will not stretch enough for implants. If that happens my plastic surgeon will do a procedure called a TRAM flap. With this he will take skin and fat from my stomach and scooch it up to make a new breast. This will mean I will have a scar at my bikini line on my tummy and, in effect, a tummy tuck of sorts. Then they will match that TRAM flap breast with an implant on the left side that was not radiated and will stretch normally.
The other potential problem I may have is encapsulation. This is a common problem with all breast implants. That is where hard scar tissue forms around the pocket where the implant is placed. It makes the breast hard and possibly sore. It happens in about 50% of breast implant surgeries no matter whether it is reconstruction after a mastectomy or for cosmetic reasons. It that case the plastic surgeon has to go back in and remove that scar tissue in another surgery. I really hope that doesn’t happen.
When I come home I will have two drains, one in each incision. This is a suction type thingy that removes excess fluid from the wound site. They are the only reason I have to stay overnight at the hospital so they can make sure they are draining properly. I have to clean these out a couple times every day. This is a little gross. The good part is that a nurse will remove then in about 5-7 days and it totally doesn’t hurt. It feels creepy-weird but not at all painful. Only after they are gone I can have a proper shower. That is the best part.
So there you go. That is what is happening tomorrow and the months ahead.
I am pretty nervous but I am going to ask for some relaxation drugs ASAP!!! I think getting up at 5 am will make me very dozy and out of it for the most part.
And, of course, with all of your healing vibes and well wishes I will just float through this whole thing. You guys are so awesome sending me so much blove. I really want you all to know your support over these last few days as well as through the rest of my treatment is what has kept me going. I never get a chance to get too nervous as a fabulous comment pops up and I feel cared for and loved and I then forget my troubles. You guys are the best!
I’ll post something as soon as I get home Tuesday afternoon!