I woke up from surgery in the most amount of pain I could ever imagine. Like ever. I vividly remember thinking that I’d give anything to give birth to a basketball because at least it would take my attention off the pain I was feeling in my chest. Something had to be wrong, why was I feeling all this, why weren’t they giving me more painkillers! It was next level.
I am a bit fuzzy on details, at least I’ll assume I am, but all I know is that I was PISSED. Someone, more drugs now. I explained how much pain I was in and I remember a doctor or nurse or someone asking me what kind of pain killer I wanted – like I cared – anythinnnnnnng! I was snappy, and angry… I couldn’t help it. I remember telling them I’m not normally an asshole, but that is just how much I was hurting. They get it, right? I definitely felt like I was being reasonable, good thing there is no video footage to show just how ridiculous I probably was…
After some of the pain subsided a little more, and I was in post op recovery long enough it was time to head to my room and recover there. I felt like it was forever, and I’m pretty sure it was. I asked for my husband a million times, and I knew I had a couple friends waiting too – I just needed to see someone I knew. But man, it was over. I was ok. It was over.
The DL on the surgery:
The general surgeon successfully removed all of the cancerous tumours and cells, and both breasts were removed entirely. I knew that some lymph nodes ended up being removed entirely – but it wasn’t until two days later that I learned it was 6 lymph nodes, which seemed like a lot. They hadn’t been biopsied yet so it would be almost 14 days before I learned if there were cancer cells or not. (Spoiler alert, all lymph nodes were considered negative for cancer, phew. However isolated tumour cells were found in one of the lymph nodes, which is one of the reasons why I’m doing chemo… that’s another story.)
My reconstruction plan had evolved over the few weeks leading up to surgery, and I’m thankful for that. My HER2 status meant I’d be doing radiation, which can permanently alter any immediate reconstruction effort. At first I was told that no reconstruction was possible – which was upsetting for obvious reasons – so I was happy when my plastic surgeon told me he wanted to try it a different way.
I have a permanent and final gel implant in my left side – which will not be affected by radiation. On my right side I have an expander. It’s basically a temporary fluid filled bag with a port in it – which means a needle can be inserted into the implant through the port to add liquid or have liquid removed during the course of radiation, in anticipation of the skin retracting. This means that leading up to radiation the fluid will be added to make the left side bigger than the right – expanding the skin, and then during the course of radiation the fluid will be removed as needed, in order to save the skin from getting too thin as it retracts (and risking the implant becoming exposed, or failing in another way), and the expander, in theory, will end up the same size as the left.
Science. It’s cool.
The skin can continue to change and be affected by radiation for months and months after it’s complete, so my next surgery to replace the expander with a final implant won’t be until the very end of the year, at the earliest. So, fingers crossed the expander process goes well and surgery won’t have to be a huge complicated thing! But, I will definitely have to do the whole surgery thing again.
I’ll look forward to the operating room playlist.