Another post-op update

I’m about 4 weeks post-op, and all my wounds are finally completely healed! Both breasts and my belly are sealed and don’t look too bad.

I think I mentioned that the incision on my right breast, aka no nip, was kind of gnarly and open when the steri-strip came off about 2 weeks post-op, so I’ve been putting antibiotic ointment on it and covering it with a gauze pad ever since and it got smaller and smaller until it finally sealed. Yay! Hooray for ointment. What a funny word…ointment.

Anyway, I have an appointment Monday with Dr YB for my three month checkup. I have some questions for him regarding future checkups and scans and stuff. He’d said I don’t need to have scans and all that, but I feel like I will need to at some point? I don’t know. My brain was still a little fuzzy during my last chat with him, so I need a refresher on where all the medical stuff will come in while I’m out living my life. I’ll post an update afterwards.

And don’t forget…if you’re interested in being part of More Than Ribbons, go follow that page! You can follow the blog by email or the Facebook page by using the links below. You don’t have to spend money to be part of the team, it’s free to participate. Check out the page for more info!

http://www.morethanribbons.org

fb.me/morethanribbons

Still one drain…story of my life.

I had two drains removed yesterday, the ones in my chest, which is great because they were sore and itchy and nobody liked them. Ha. Seriously, though. I was so aware of those two. I kind of figured the belly one would stay, so I’m not surprised. I’m not even that annoyed about it, except this whole shower thing, but I’m about to bust out some plastic wrap so I can shower. Not even kidding. Shh, don’t tell.

I’ve had a BM since I last posted. I know that makes you as happy as it makes me. I’ve slowed down on my water drinking and I know that’s part of my problem, so I’ll pick that back up. Also, the anti-nausea meds can cause constipation and since I’m not taking oxycodone anymore, I’m not taking the anti-nausea meds anymore. I’m also getting a little annoyed that constipation isn’t coming up on the predictive text on my iPhone and I have to spell it out every time. It’s a long word, Apple, get with the program.

I’m working my way into my new food plan, and healthy eating is making me feel good. Yay! Should regulate some stuff as well. This time I’m doing something a little different, which I’ll talk about later, just to give it a try. So far I love it, and we’ll see if I have results. I also can’t wait to get this drain pulled so I can exercise, but for now it’s walking!!

That’s all the update I’ve got for today, so I’ll share more when I’ve got more. 💜

Nausea, constipation, gas, and insomnia, oh my!

I almost sound like a Pepto Bismal commercial. I’m still feeling pretty good. Still some soreness at my port site and on my ribs at the entry points for the drain tubes. I don’t have pain at my belly or chest incisions.

I’m backed up from the medications, which is incredibly frustrating. And, ironically, I take more medicine for the gas and constipation. Today, nothing seems to be working in that department though. It’s different from the last time because I was in the hospital for the days following the surgery and I didn’t have any bowel movements there, so I guess I’m not doing so bad in the grand scheme of things considering I have had a few BMs since this surgery, they’re just not as frequent as I’d like them to be, so I’m uncomfortable.

Also, just a note, I’ve had very little appetite today. I had a late lunch, ate some fruit, a cupcake, and that was it. I have been eating pretty regularly, but today was a blah day for food, which perhaps is related to the constipation.

Sleep is random. I was having insomnia before, and the only thing that seemed to help the last couple days were the pain meds and the muscle relaxer. But I didn’t take any of those during the day because I really didn’t feel like I needed them…which is good. I did take a pain pill around midnight because of the rib pain. It’s very uncomfortable, and I will be glad when those are pulled. I can’t even feel the one at my waist.

So it’s 2:30 and I can’t sleep. I’m watching more Buffy the Vampire Slayer and listening to Brad snore and slowly going insane…

I’ll update after my post-op appointment with Dr H on Monday.

Final Surgery Recap

And now for a more comprehensive recap of my surgery.

I had it at the same hospital where I had my mastectomy, so I had high hopes. Nothing went wrong, but being an outpatient was a different experience. My pre-surgery nurse was nice, but had no personality and a perma-frown. I tried to get her to talk or smile, no luck. She did interact with me, but she just never smiled. She took my vitals, asked all the right questions, and hooked up my IV. Just very straight and to the point, unlike many of the other nurses and techs I’d come into contact with throughout this journey.

Next I met the anesthesiologist, surgical nurse, and Dr. H. Then the anesthesiology nurse came and gave me chill out drugs, and took me away…while I still had my glasses on and before I could say goodbye to Brad! I don’t remember much else after that. I do vaguely recall moving from one gurney to another in the OR, but that’s it.

I woke up in recovery with a very dry mouth. I was given an anti-nausea patch before the surgery and one of the side effects was dry mouth. It lasted quite some time and I drank my usual post-op cranberry juice and had some ice chips. I tried to eat some crackers so I could take the pain meds, but my mouth was too dry so I stuck with the ice chips.

The pain has been intermittent. I have a pretty high pain tolerance, so it’s hard for me to judge exactly what it all feels like.

First off, no more port! So weird. It’s the smallest incision, but it’s the one I feel the most. That’s probably because I still had a lot of numbness in my chest and abdomen from the previous surgery.

unnamed

My boobs are smaller (yay!). I’ve gained weight since the previous surgery, and since abdominal fat grows faster than other fats, my boobs gained weight. Plus, my boobs were a little too big for my liking anyway, so I’m glad they are a bit smaller. And, of course, this surgery shaped them up a bit since the flaps were removed. Remember the pic of the softball looking stitches? They are gone!

My chest is a little sore, but what’s weird is the the tube from the drains is so close to the surface. It looks totally crazy.

unnamed (1)

The incisions on my breast are just straight lines from my nipple down to my chest on each side. Pretty simple and tame looking. Right now there are steri-strips over those incisions, so once those come off, I’ll share pics. Dr. H fixed about a 10 inch stretch of my abdominal incision where the scar tissue was a little gnarly from him having to reopen it so it would heal from the inside out. That looks neat and clean, but it is also covered steri-strips.

I have three drains, one on each side of my chest and one at my waist. The ones in my chest are not producing much, but the one in my waist is. Last night was 60 ccs, this morning was 30. Each side was less than 10 this morning. I am hoping all will be pulled at my appointment on Monday, but I’ll accept whatever I can get. I certainly don’t want fountain belly again. I did not get a surgical bra or one of those tank tops that hold the drains this time, so I’ve got a sash made out of gauze that the drains are hanging from. It’s quite awkward. Last time, the drains had clips I could clip to my shirt or pants, not this time.

My appetite is fine and I have a good level of energy. I am a bit constipated from all the drugs, so I’ve been taking some kind of fiber pill to help me use the bathroom. I can’t take a shower until the drains are removed, so that’s fun. It’s a good thing I have a shower sprayer with a hose so I can clean from the waist down and wash my hair. I’ll have to use a wash cloth everywhere else. (Insert eye roll here.) I guess there has been an increase in infection related to showering with drains, so Dr. H changed his aftercare instructions. I just want to be healthy, so I’ll do whatever they say!

Not much else to report at the moment, at least nothing I can think of. I’m off work until after Thanksgiving, at which point I hope to be feeling at or close to 100%. It’s hard working with kiddos when you’re not well or don’t have full range of motion. Tomorrow, I’m going to try to go out with Brad for a little bit and do some food shopping. I’m ready to dive back into our healthy eating plan, and I figured I’d use my week off next week to get readjusted to that, even though it is the week of Thanksgiving and it seems dumb to talk about healthy eating and Thanksgiving in the same sentence. But that’s the thing about the plan he and I are following. It’s OK to take a day off or to make mistakes. It’s not going to throw us into a downward spiral of shame. It’s just one day.

So yeah, I think I’ve included everything and if you want to know more, just ask! It’s quite possible that I’ve omitted something or glazed over something else in my medicated stupor over here. You all know I’m not shy, so ask away!

Surgery is over!

All my major cancer-related crap is over! Can I get a “hell yeah?!”

Hell yeah!

My surgery was this morning, everything went well. We went a little smaller on my chest since they were a little too big before. I’m happy with the way that turned out.

Dr. H recreated a nipple on the right side, so that’s both amazing and cool. He also did the wound closure at my abdominal incision, so that looks nice and neat.

I am a bit sore and still running off the hospital anesthesia. I took a Zofran for nausea. I can’t wait to eat real food. I had a Shakeology when I woke up from my nap, it was good and full of nutrition! I think it was just what I needed at the time, chocolate with berries.

Anyway, I’m binging on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and patiently awaiting some pizza. I’ll post more about this experience when I’m less loopy.

Save the date…

My next and (hopefully!!!!) final surgery will be on Tuesday, November 13th! 🎉

It will be at East Cooper Medical Center, same as the last. Hopefully we’ll wake up on time this time since it’s 45 minutes away and we have to be there at 5:30. When I talked with the admissions nurse today, she said she usually hears that people get stuck in traffic, not that they oversleep. Glad I could be the first. Ha.

So this is the second stage of the breast reconstruction, revision of the abdominal incision (where there’s some serious scar tissue from when I had to get cut open), and port removal! So three parts, two surgeons, about three hours. I will probably have drains, too. Two up top and one at my belly. Yay. Not.

I’m bummed because my bestie will be in town and this is interfering with our time together, but it is what it is. We’ll just have to catch up again after. We’re going to get to spend a super fun weekend together in Columbia at a book signing, and we’re staying at a lake house which will be even more fun. So this is a crappy ending to our fun trip, but whatever. At least we get our fun trip!

In other news…

Today was Halloween and I had a good day. I saw one of my kiddos, did some pre-op stuff, and went to a Halloween party. I saw my niece, Gabby, and randomly saw some good friends of ours who were trick-or-treating with their kids. It was a nice day.

I am going with a couple coworkers to the South Carolina ABA conference next week. The conference is Monday and Tuesday in Greenville. It’s my first ABA conference, and I’m looking forward to it.

So…oncologist and more pre-op Monday the 12th. Surgery on Tuesday the 13th. Post-op on Monday the 19th. Probably another post-op sometime after that. Then I’m done!! I’ll still have the Lupron shots every four weeks, and daily meds, but that’s it.

In the meantime, I’ll be living my life.

✌🏻 ❤️

Coming at you live from my LAST treatment!

I can’t believe it’s been a year already and I’m done!

All is well on the doctor front. I saw all three of my docs today and everything is great. One more month to see the plastic surgeon before we schedule surgery. Also, it looks like I’ll have drains for the flap removal. Boo! And he’ll be straightening things up around the mid-section, so I’ll probably have a drain there, too. So it’ll be a slightly bigger recovery than originally planned, but it’s all good because it’s almost over!!

I’ll have more surgical info after that appointment, and I’ll share it then. Dr JB will also be there for that appointment so she’ll translate whatever Dr H says. Haha.

So good stuff here!! I’m healing and I don’t have to see my oncologist for three months. I asked him what I’m supposed to do now, and he said “live your life.” Haha, what does that even mean anymore?!?

I guess we’ll find out!!

The ugly…

Seems like there’s been quite a bit of that lately. I had my weekly appointment with Dr. H today. He drained ten from my left and seventy from my right. It also hurt! I think I’m getting back some feeling on the sides now. And it was low on the left because…the fluid has been draining out my incision hole! Hooray for that. I mean, I can’t make this stuff up if I tried. But at least I know why there was more than usual discharge this weekend.

So it was an eventful appointment, and I’ll get to the real fun part in a minute. First, he prescribed me an antibiotic. I don’t have an infection that he saw, but he did take cultures to check. I guess it’s a proactive/preventative measure.

Because…

I am now the proud owner of a gaping hole on my belly. Yay!

Yeah, so he cut me open. Thankfully, I still don’t have any feeling in that area so I didn’t feel a thing, except a slight tenderness on the far left side.

The gaping hole, or GH, is about the size of a Kennedy half dollar. Yes, it is basically round. It’s also deep; at least an inch, maybe more. I can’t even describe what it looks like, except that it looks like guts inside. He made me look since I’ll have to pack it twice a day.

So I have this solution stuff that I need to use to wet gauze, wring out the gauze, and stuff it in the GH, one or two pieces. Then I cover it with another piece (and like 12 more on top of that if I don’t want it to leak onto my clothes) and tape it down.

I want to roll my eyes because I am so over this. And there’s nothing I can do at this point, except heal, and it’s taking forever. I wish for magic! Lots and lots of magic. Healing magic.

<<sigh>>

So the GH should heal from the inside out. I guess my incision was healing on the outside, but not on the inside, which is why he cut it open.

Seriously gross stuff. It was almost like being at the dentist, under Novocain, and being able to feel the movement and pressure, and hear stuff, but not feel it. When I saw the scissors come out, I checked out. True story. Not sure I’ll be able to unhear the snipping of my skin, but at least I didn’t feel it.

Anyway, in other news, the scab formerly known as my right nipple has fallen off, so at least my upper half is doing what it’s supposed to do. There’s a little bit of raw skin that’s still healing, but it’s doing pretty well. Nothing to complain about there.

I feel like such a whiner in recent days, but I can’t help it. I feel like this should be the good part of all this, but it’s not. I feel like I should be at least getting to the good part, but I’m not. I’d almost rather be back in the chemo phase because at least then I knew I’d have crap days. And what’s really mind-blowing is that I have a GH in my belly and I feel no pain. It’s just weird. This has all been so weird.

Caution: Incision Photo Ahead

Yeah, so I’m just warning you, it’s a little bit gross. I’m including this adorable picture of Daisy from the Fourth of July so that it will be the preview picture, rather than my busted gut, in case anyone doesn’t want to see it. I don’t want to just toss it in your face (unless you’re my sister, Tracy, in which case I live to gross you out!). Actually, before I show my busted gut, I’ll share a modest image of my flap.

It kind of looks like a baseball from this angle, which is sort of appropriate considering baseball is on nearly 24/7 in my house.

Ok, so the flap (my belly skin) is the part in the middle, inside the circle of stitches. The far left and far right (other sides of the stitch scars) is my actual breast skin. The next surgery I have, the one in September-ish, will take that flap out and re-join the breast skin. There will be a cleaner scar line there once that is complete, right down the middle.

Just to reiterate, that flap is there because it’s connected to the fat tissue they transplanted from my belly. When they transplant the fat and flap, they connect blood vessels and hope it takes. If it doesn’t, the tissue will not survive. It’s done that way so that, through the flap, they can monitor whether the fat tissue underneath is still alive. If the flap begins to show signs of necrosis, then it’s likely the fat tissue inside is dying as well.

Enough about that! On to the nasty…

So here it goes…keep in mind that even though it looks nasty, it is healing well and actually looks “good” in the eyes of the surgeons, and my live-in nurse, aka Mom. Often these types of incisions can’t handle the pressure of being pulled so tightly together, so they pop open, hence the gaping holes. Then they’ll heal from the inside out. So inside the holes, they are healing, and the yellowish stuff that’s there is sort of like a scab, it’s just moist because it’s inside and not drying out like a scab would do on the outside.

Also, pardon the irritation above and below. My skin is super sensitive as it is, and me swapping out bandaids every so often isn’t helping it one bit. I’m actually supposed to leave it uncovered, or covered with Vaseline on it, but Vaseline gets on everything and leaving it uncovered just feels like I’m asking for an infection.

So that’s what I’ve been dealing with for the last two months. Ignore the blood on the left side…I thought I was pulling off a piece of dead skin and clearly I was not. I’m such a picker, and I can’t leave well enough alone.

Anyway, it’s not as bad as it looks. Truly. It’s healing quite well, and hopefully will be completely closed very soon! I’m kind of glad the scab fell off because, believe it or not, it looked worse with the scab! Yuck.

And, for the record, it does not hurt. It looks like it should, but it doesn’t. Not one bit. The nerves in that area were knocked out of commission during the surgery and have yet to fully heal back. I am slowly regaining feelings around the surgical areas (breast and tummy), but it’ll probably be a while before it’s 100%. Which is fine by me, because I don’t want to know what that feels like!

Draining, draining, draining…

Dr H took out about 90 CCs on Monday (took me long enough to post, sorry!). It was less than before, which is good, and not as uncomfortable, which is great! He is probably going to have to keep draining me, but we’ll just take it one week at a time. I asked it there was anything I could do aside from thinking dry thoughts (I need to stop making jokes there, they don’t know what to do with me), and he said there was nothing, he just should have left a drain in, but he knew I was going on vacation…ehh, I would have kept it if I had to, but this (needle draining) is getting easier.

Everything else is looking good. My tummy incision is moving right along. Two parts are slightly gaping open, so I hold them together with butterfly bandaids. It is healing from the inside out, which is weird, but whatever. The scab finally came off, which is actually kind of nice because the incision site looks cleaner, despite the fact it’s an open hole. My right nipple is scabbed and slowly healing (aka preparing to fall off), but it’s doing what it’s supposed to do as well.

I asked about my next surgery (removal of the flaps and nipple reconstruction) and Dr H is thinking roughly September. I lost some skin around the right nipple area, so he wants to make sure it’s fully healed first. So it’ll be a little longer than the original three month wait. This is a good thing though, because I should be able to have the port removed at the same time, since my infusions will definitely be done by September. That’ll knock one surgery off my list! Yay. It’s hard to believe I’ve had three surgeries in the past year. It’s hard to believe a lot of the past year!!

Non-medical update…Brad and I had a nice Fourth of July with his family and some friends. I had too many Lime-A-Ritas, but I think their effects finally wore off after I had McDonalds for lunch. I needed the grease! Well, I probably needed water more…but whatever. Lime-A-Ritas! Yum.