I talked with my plastic surgeon as she and her posse entered the tiny room and mentioned that I was shocked to see how "large" my breasts were. When I woke up from surgery in my room at the hospital I half questioned that anything had been removed because I felt I was the exact same size. I was mentally prepared to see just flaps of skin with a tiny little bump where the expander sits with a little bit of air in it to hold the space. Seriously to my surprise I was almost the exact same cup size.
Dr. Sue Mi Tuttle explained to me that since I was young and had very healthy skin pretty much all of my skin was left intact from the breast surgeon Dr. Amy Fox. So when she placed the expanders into my breast cavity she was able to fill them with more air than the average breast cancer patient. Now there are many factors that go into this: my so called "young" age, the fact that I did not have invasive cancer, I did not have radiation therapy and my form of cancer was DCIS which affects and attacks the milk ducts and not the tissue itself.
The process began with the plastic surgeon, her Physician's Assistant AND her Certified Nursing Assistant. They were all so anxious to work on me since apparently this process was "new" and I was the 1st patient to have this much air to be removed and replaced with saline. Most patients will have the expansion process over the course of five to six weeks and I will likely have one to two more expansions for a total of three expansions altogether. There was a magnet to find the metal port, then my skin was prepped and marked and a 18 gauge needle was inserted and they counted how many 60 cc/ml syringes of air they removed from each breast. My right breast had five plus 15 cc/ml syringes removed which is equivalent to 315 cc/ml of air. It was replaced with 350 cc/ml of saline. My left breast barely had four syringes removed and more like 210 cc/ml of air. Its so weird because they pretty much looked like the same size, but apparently they were not by quite a bit.
I felt uncomfortable for the first 24 hours following this procedure. I kept hearing a swishing sound everywhere I walked as if I drank way too much way and I could hear it in my belly. I quickly realized it was the saline in my expanders! Since I still have space to fill them there is air in there so the saline just swishes around as I move. Its like my own little ocean sound. :)
I did not bruise nearly as much with this surgery as I did with my reduction where I looked all sorts of horrible colors! The worst part now is that I have a form of tape vertically across each breast where my surgical lines are. My incisions are vertical since I already had a vertical incision from the reduction surgery. The tape is like steri strips, but it is a little different and is meant to keep the incisions flat. I cannot remove and or really clean this tape, so I can see all the dried blood and the permanent marker from prior to surgery. I have been told by both the surgeon and plastic surgeon to leave them alone and not get them soaked or scrub at them. This is probably the worst part of the visual of it all. I will spare you the photos of that!
Tomorrow I meet with my Oncologist to go over the final lab report - which I have already read, been told over the phone about and met in-person with Sr. Amy Fox about this past Friday. I know that my right breast had a lot more DCIS and it was a chain that lead straight to my nipple. Since all of the tissue and nipple are now gone I am hoping that it is NOT recommended that I do radiation therapy. I am sure he will put Tamoxifen back on the table, but unless it is going to decrease my probability of getting breast cancer by 30% or more, there is NO WAY I will take that stuff. I have already been told that I have Stage #0 of DCIS and that is from all of the pathology that has come back and the fact that my tissue has been removed. So, I feel I have been proactive enough and I am confident that I have beat this breast cancer!!!
The one thing that has probably been the hardest for me is that because I am "young" and have had such a positive attitude about all of this, I have healed incredible well. This is hard because people see me and don't realize that I am really only two weeks into the healing process of have a major part of my body removed and replaced with synthetic materials that I never imagined would be in my body. I am not referring to implants, but the rough, uncomfortable expanders and the unnatural mesh that the placed inside my body to help keep the expanders in place. My expanders and eventually my implants were placed over my muscle. Which to me is great because I woke up and was like: "wow, I have cleavage!" :) The surgery has taken a very emotional toll on me, I tire super easy, but find it incredibly hard to sit and do nothing.
I am panicked because Mike goes back to work on Tuesday and I feel now more than I have in the last two weeks that I am actually recovering from major surgery. I think I was running on adrenaline, pain meds and still anesthesia in my body. I feel more pain today then I have in two weeks and I want to just sit around and do nothing, but the reality is that life returns to our "normal" on Tuesday - minus the fact I cannot lift Emily for weeks to come. We do have nursing help for her, but I think the reality is just now starting to set in for me. I had breast cancer and I did kick its ASS, but I am not the same physical human being I was prior to October 24, 2014. I asked when I can start working out again and my plastic surgeon said I can "walk" for the next six weeks - ugh!!!
I want to take a moment to personally thank each and every one of you who called, texted, messaged me through FB, dropped off meals, visited me in the hospital AND at home, who took Isabelle and who helped with Emily in any way they could. Mike and I could not have done it all without you all and if for some reason you do not get a personal thank you from me I apologize and blame it on the fact that I don't remember a whole lot the 1st week after surgery. :) I am and we are all grateful for such an amazing support of family and friends!!! Thank you all!!