So it has been exactly 12 days post op. and I’m starting to feel human again. Just as you should feel after surgery, I went through a totally helpless phase, leading into a sort of pathetic looking phase, to the emotional one, then to the ‘getting back on my feet’ stage, following with the (kinda) self dependent phase, to now.
Today mark the day of almost normalcy stage, the kinda part is relating to the fact that I still really kinda can’t do my laundry still. I can’t really shuffle through everything and separate my colors and whites. It’s realistically to hard to do all that with my arms and carry the wight of a full laundry basket. Besides that I got in my car went to the Paper Store to pick up a cute little wintery gift for my nurse that took care of me and dropped it off at the hospital. I made an omelet when I got back and cleaned up a little bit around the house. But let me back up a little bit……
Let me take you back to that day. As my alarm went off at 6:25 am, naturally hitting the snooze button (but only once) I rolled out of bed, hopped in the shower and scrubbed my self with Hibiclens (Chlorhexidine Gluconate), an antiseptic/antimicrobial skin cleanser, and dried off. I attempted to french braid my hair to prevent the tangles that would occur in the next 48 hours, however I ran out of time….typical.
Just a side note: two days later when I realize the dread that had formed at the nape of my neck, I was really wishing that I had done that stupid braid days earlier at the teeth of the comb bobbed through my tumbleweeds.
I checked in at the front desk of the hospital then headed up to the surgical floor front desk to finish registration. My mom and I sat in the waiting area for only a short time. After getting called in I was brought into a room, undressed and changed into a Johnny, and had vitals and blood taken. The surgeon, Dr. Beverly Shafer, came in and greeted me. She starting making marks on my neck, chest and torso. She drew lines at my half circle shapes at my collar bones with a line tracing and mimicking my esophagus stoping a little above my belly button. She continued marking and drawing, under the fold of my breast and on top, with some erasing and correcting to make sure everything was perfect to her liking. She used measuring tools and pressed my breasts together at one point to imprint the marker onto the other side for symmetry. She is truly an artist.
The got me into the bed put pressure cuff boots on my legs to ensure that my legs would get simulation to circulate the blood better to prevent clots, and then they gave me anesthesia medication. I kissed my mom and as they wheeled me out of the room, down the hallway and my next memory was waking up….
***Now, talking to my friend Jackie that had actually sat in throughout one of Dr. Shafer’s breast reduction surgeries she had given me a brief summary of what the procedure consist of…. First, the scrub the patient and rub iodine all over the steril area. Dr. Shafer then gets right into the cutting and makes the incisions following her drawings. If you had to imagine the shape it would be of an anchor. She cuts around the areola, then down in a straight line under the center point of nipple stopping at the crease, and then the entire length under the breast. Mimicking the last cut, she’ll remove the breast tissue which ends up looking like a yellow sponge substance, a little at a time (to my understanding in the shape of a banana kinda)shaving off more pieces as needed. The cauterized the area that is bleeding every so often to stop bleeding as the cut away more tissue. In some cases, like mine, she also uses a little Lipo, as a tool to remove excess fat of the breast area. She then staples the patient together before suturing and sits them up to see how everything looks…. with a little gravity. Since every person is different they might have to do this more then a few times or only a couple, it all depends on the case. Jackie and her fellow peers left after that. The next step is suturing, which involves all of the doctors time and concentration as she sews the body back up.
When awaking for the first time, I remember opening my eyes and crying…. I wasn’t sad, I wasn’t in any pain or discomfort, I wasn’t anything, but just super emotional because of the medication. It will happen. My surgeon came over as i was waking with her hair net and scrubs on and grabbed my shoulder and checked on me. I thanked her to the moon. Shortly after I was moved up stairs to an in-patient bed. My nurse, Terese, was just fabulous. I seriously felt like I had my own private nurse! So shortly after I had gotten upstairs I was told that my mother would be with me soon, but I had called her from my cell and she was told something else. In other words, miscommunication will happen- you need to be proactive about the visitors you are looking for, who you want in the room and who you don’t want in the room.
I was starving! I was also dying of thirst…. so all at once within the hour or two after I ate 20 packets of saltines and drank enough water for the whole week in one sitting, of course this was all after passing the ice chip test. The first time I took a sip of water however, I didn’t feel like it was easy enough so I wanted to sit up. All of a sudden I was breaking into a sweat, panicking and asking my mom to remove all of my blankets from me. I became pale and diaphoretic, and very nauseous. It was the kind of nausea though that I knew that I wouldn’t vomit from. Terese and my mom laid me back down into the previous position and the color came back into my lips and face. That feeling never happened again, thankfully.
Now, in the most rarest of case, me being one of lucky chosen… it was hours later that we all started to realize a spot of blood on my johnny. That little spot lead to the discover of the massive coverage of blood that had bi-passed the drain and gaze and leaked onto my medical bra. With this new knowlege, we waited and watched to see if the bleeding continued. As it had been proven to continue, the surgeon and PA were page and rushed to my bedside to examine the area. Over the course of an hour, my right side was visually larger as the swelling had increase due to the hematomia bled under the surface of the skin. I was rushed back into surgery, where they open everything back up, cleaned out the area and stopped the bleed. Surprisingly I was not scared, I wasn’t even mad. I know my mom was nervous that I had a semi full stomach, and feared the chance of me vomiting while intabated… thankfully that did not happen. Two hours later I woke up and my parents were being escorted to my bed side with chairs being carried by the staff behind them. They both sat their as I was waking.
As transport moved me back up stairs my parents followed. They got me settled and stayed for a few minutes before leaving. My brother showed up right as they were exiting the room. He was so awesome and stayed with me for an hour or so before I went to sleep. I was woken up hourly until 3am to have my vital and drains checked. At 3am I stayed up talking to the overnight nurse for a few minutes and then stayed up reading magazines that my friend Robyn had brought me earlier when she visited in between surgeries. I finished the magazines around 430 and watch a 30 minute show and went back to sleep around 5. Waking at 7 to another visitor with breakfast, I was ready to get out of there. We sat on the bed across from each other eating bagels, fruit, and OJ. I called my mom to head in around 830 and I was discharged after the PA had examined me and removed my drains. That was actually very painful, and probably the most throughout the whole process.
For the first 3-4 days after the surgery, the pain can most be described as the worse sunburn that you’ve ever had. Your chest feels like its burning and tight. You fear that if your stretch your skin to much that it will crack. After a few days I was super itchy and still am. mostly from dry skin, but also on the incisions in the center of my chest and the very edges under my arms. I was instructed that I was able to shower and changed the dressings on Saturday, but that I would need help.
If there is any sort of usefull advice that I could give someone going through this process it would be this: Have someone with you! Someone that you are completly comfortable and feel safe with to help you shower for the first time. My mom was unable to help me that day because due to the second surgery they pushed back my “shower day”. Showering was exhausting, nauseating, emotional and super painful. I had to sit down in the tub as Jackie lathered the shampoo and conditioner through my hair. As she super carefully and gently cleaned the area with soap, I remember the pain, I remember the feeling of regret, I wanted to cry. I was scared that I made the wrong decision. It hurt so bad. I couldn’t do anything for myself and I felt pathetic as I sat there with the soapy water running over parts of my face and body. After Jackie dried me off and I stood there still shivering, she recommend that I look at myself in the mirror. That was the first step.
Standing there naked, I looked at a refection that I didn’t recognise. It was the strangest feeling. I felt like I looked like a guy with a sculpted chest. As Jackie remained positive, just as she always does, I remembered why I chose her. She’s the kind of friend that would and did encourage me to take the first step in front of the mirror, and the friend that would only point light at the positives… I knew it would be what I needed in that moment and reality set in. I became acquainted with my new self and as I do every day now, it’s starting to become something more familiar. Day 12, and I still surprised when I catch a glimpse, yet I am happy now.
I had a moment a few days ago. I looked in the mirror and saw myself normally, I mean I thought to myself ‘this is what I was meant to look like’. I feel like my new self is just right on me; proportional, and perfect.
I had my sutures… all 4 of them removed last thursday. Ya, I was expecting to look like Frankenstein, but all of the sutures were inside! After they wiped my skin with alcohol pads, they re-taped to areas. I can wear real bras now, actually she prefers it because it helps shape the area while the swelling continues to decrease.
(insert recovery pics later)
I am so happy I did this, and I do not regret it at all. My back feels so much better, and my posture is improving daily. I can’t wait to get out there and start running and exercising again, but most of all I can’t wait to hit the slopes!