Thursday, August 21
Way too much activity yesterday! Went out walking with Jaime again, came back and got my mini-shower, did my hair (only can blow it dry so look a bit messy but hey – that is the style now!), did my make up, took forever to decide what to wear since everything I own is pull over and I cannot raise my arms over my head yet, actually not even past my shoulders. Finally got into clothes and headed off to see the plastic surgeon, Dr. J. Now, again a visual – I get into the car and I had stuck the grenades into my waistband to try and hide them somewhat. Got no boobs so when I sat down my whole shirt front slid up under my neck – nothing to hold it down! When I went into the doctors office I sat on the very end of the chair to keep everything in place – had perfect posture, too! I left an extra button undone on my shirt because he had been very insistent on my first visit that I would have cleavage (not important to me before or after but apparantly is to a lot of women) so I told him he was right – I have no boobs but I do indeed have cleavage! He laughed and told me to put on the dreadful paper vest. Everything was fine and he took out both drains (the one on the right hurt like the devil, hardly felt the left one). I go back next Wednesday to see about my first fill. He did tell me that I was doing better than 100% of his other patients! I told him I was an overachiever! He of course cautioned me not to overdo. Moi??????? I asked him when I could drive, said I was just curious, had no intention of taking off anytime soon so he was reassured! Have to wait two more weeks and then can only go in and out the driveway, then progress to an empty parking lot. Kind of like driver’s training again! No rush hour traffic or expressway driving for a month.
Decided I felt pretty good so Jaime and I went to visit Nurse Martha. About a half four drive. Got there, felt fine and then in about a half hour I was absolutely, positively exhausted. One moment I was fine and the next I was done in. Nurse Martha reminded me I just had major surgery a week ago and that this would happen often for a while.
Saturday, August 23
Finally got a night’s sleep! Took two Tylenol PM’s and went to bed about 11:00 p.m. Woke up at 3:33 and thought very nasty thoughts but changed positions and actually went back to sleep and woke up again at 7 a.m. Lounged for 45 more minutes by changing positions to see just how far I could go. Even laid on my tummy!!!!!!! Chest feels so tight, like it is still bandaged. I know it is the expanders pushing out on my chest muscles so that is where the tightness is coming from. Did I ever explain about the expanders? They are collapsed plastic bags surrounded by a silicone ring and were inserted behind my chest muscles by the plastic surgeon right after the general surgeon finished up with the mastectomy. My theory was that I was going to hurt anyway from the mastectomy and there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted reconstruction (wanted to leave the hospital with Something!) and so avoided second surgery to insert the expanders. Nurse Martha showed me the general size of the expanders and it looked to be about 5” across by about 6” down so they cover quite a large area. They are meant to expand to create more room than the permanent implants will need so they don’t have to cram the permanent ones in place. I know I explained about the filling process already. When I am the size I want to be Dr. J will remove the expanders (general anesthetic again since he will be back under my chest muscles), insert the empty permanent implants fill them up (saline) and do the liposuction under my arms. Expect to be quite sore again after that. Then things rest for a few months before nipple reconstruction begins. This is how I look right now (close your eyes and just try to imagine what this looks like – good luck!) The expanders begin about an inch and a half below my collar bone, swell gently till the bottom of my breasts or top of the skin bags (both the same place - how’s that for graphics). Not done yet explaining – now, since I was large breasted and had a nice little roll under my arms already, when the breasts were there the weight of them pulled some of this forward and then when the breast tissue was removed – ta da!, most of it slipped back there under my arms so in reality if I could pull all that forward and stuff it in a bra I would probably be a 36B!!! The only good part of this nice graphic picture is that I know it is only temporary! Skin is sooooooooooooooo sensitive! Really would like to go naked – oh no, don’t even try to picture that one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I go next Tuesday to the general surgeon and he will explain more on the pathology reports, give me more details of the surgery and I will find out when I see the oncologist. I don’t mind saying I am not looking forward to seeing Dr. Molthrop (oncologist) as he can only tell me things I would rather not hear! I keep reminding myself that whatever he tells me will be better that I originally thought since all the tests came back negative but still cannot help being a bit down when I think of all he various things he will be talking to me about. The big kicker is the size of the tumor – that is one of the biggest criteria’s that determines further treatment even if all tests came back negative. It measured 1” x 2” on the mammogram so will be interested in what size it actually was at the time of surgery. Poor man, the only thing he could tell me that I would like is that I need no further treatment and I know that ain’t happenin’! I will get through it all though, will just need all of you to keep those prayers and caring thoughts coming my way! My nice caring bubble is still intact!
Sunday, August 24
Boo-hoo for me, Jaime left this morning to go back to her family and job in Dallas, TX. I know this is so very selfish, but I just loved having her all to myself for the eleven days she was here. Jennifer lives here in town so I get to see her often and she and my sister are the ones dragging me around to all the doctor’s appointments. Harold and I just loved having our girls here again under our roof, felt like going back in time except they didn’t argue with each other. It was great for them, too, to get to spend so much time together as Jaime left for college when Jen was 12 so they really haven’t lived together for a long time. They are six years apart so they always say they are only children but they do have a sister! Be on my own for the first time since surgery tomorrow. No problem, I have movies to watch, books to read and I am crocheting a tablecloth for my huge dining room table so I will just be still and rest.
Tuesday, August 26
Feeling pretty chipper today. Nurse Martha and daughter Jennifer arrived to take me to see the general surgeon, Dr.P. Managed to do my hair with the curling iron so looked not quite so windswept as last week! Hurt a bit to lift my left arm but not too terribly bad. Martha brought me some satin camisoles and oh my, didn’t they feel wonderful against my poor skin (feel like I have a really, really bad sunburn)! Donned a red satin one, white pants and sparkly jacket, matching red earrings and shoes and off we went. He said I am doing great, need to see him every three months for a year to check to see if the nasty stuff had returned. He said unlikely but possible. Her2-nue determination came back negative, means I do not have the gene that makes the cancer aggressive and so could not pass it on to my daughters. They (daughters) were quite pleased too! The actual tumor measured 1 x 2 x 1.5 cm. which is roughly ½” x ¾” x 5/8” so not as large as it appeared on the mammogram so I am hoping that drops me down a bit as to size factor for the oncologist’s purposes. The receptor tests came back negative for both estrogen and progesterone which actually is mixed reactions on my part. Means they cannot treat me with a hormone blocker which is the easiest method, even from reading cannot quite figure what the treatment will be since I am negative so will have to wait until I see the oncologist on September 11 – now isn’t that just the good day for any bad news!!!!!!!!! However, I gather from reading that I may not have to have the preventative measure drug that makes you gain weight (just what I need!!!!!!) and that would be a good thing! Am pleased to announce that I have lost seven pounds so far – figure I might as well get on with it just in case I do end up having to take the drug! If not, well………….wouldn’t mind being a bit smaller to go along with my new smaller, perky boobs! Went out to lunch with Martha and Jen – first time out of the house in two weeks that wasn’t the hospital or doctor’s office – felt great. Spent the afternoon weeping – I guess I have to do that once in a while, too, everything I read made me cry today but met Harold at the door when he came home from work in a leopard skin satin camisole and black leggings – whoo hoo! Tried sleeping without the Tylenol PM – 6 hours only and up with a backache. Oh well, it is not like I have to be somewhere now, is it! worked on this update since I was up anyway.
Wednesday, August 27
Plastic surgeon today – got my first fill. Jen got gas for her car on the way to the doctor’s office and I got saline! Dr. Jankauskas is great – has such a droll sense of humor! A note here – he is taking his 80 year old mother back to Lithuania today for a visit, he speaks fluent Lithuanian, and while he is there he does free consulting with other surgeons there on treating burn victims wounds – nice man! He noted that I had swelling on my right upper chest area by my arm, told me I was using my right arm way too much and to slow down. Reminded me I only had surgery two weeks ago! I had my list of questions ready and told him he had already answered the first couple such as very light gardening and very light housework. He just laughed. I then said, “How about tummy crunches?”…… “Woman! Give yourself a break and rest for another week with your arms down” was his response to that! Okay, on to next question – remember Jen was still in the room – I asked him if the four boobs I had now would eventually become two – he said “What?”, so I showed him 1,2,3,and 4 and then asked also if the extra nipple that was facing towards my elbow would straighten out, too (odd pinch of skin on the side of my left boob that indeed, does resemble a nipple, at least from my viewpoint!) and his response was – “Well, I kind of like that !” We all cracked up! He assured me that all will be well and that if there are any “little extras” when we are done, he would ( and here I interjected “Whack it off?”) and he said “do a revision” so I am all set on those items. The fill process was odd feeling. Another note here – my daughter Jen is extremely modest but does not seem to mind being in the room with her mother and her bare chest – she says it is scientific and she loves stuff like that. Anyway, he brings in all the paraphernalia, hands me the saline solution bag and tells me I have to be my own IV post! Jen says, “Excuse me, I know this is rather odd, but do you mind if I watch?” He says, “Come on over.” So, she is on one side and he is on the other. He uses a magnet to find the metal port that is under my skin (in roughly the area where my nipple would have been 20 years ago!), makes marks on my skin to find the exact center and Jennifer is saying “Cool!”) He then pops a needle into the port on the left side, didn’t really hurt, more like someone thumped you on your chest bone, tells me to let him know when I feel pressure and then he stops. Then did the right side, didn’t even feel that one. He says I am an odd woman (of course, we all know that anyway!) because it should be the other way around, I should be numb on the left since that is where they took more tissue and nerves and not so much on the right which was for future prevention so less nerves and no lymph nodes. What can I say! I have been very bad apparantly about keeping my right arm down so there was a fluid buildup on the right side so after my “fill” he took the needle out of the port but left it under my skin and siphoned off the excess fluid. Mind you, Jennifer was watching all this. Not me! I am now to determine tonight or possible tomorrow the degree of pain/uncomfortable that the 50cc he used today causes. If it is negligible than the next fill in two weeks will be more, if I have too much pain or am just too uncomfortable it will be less. My skin and the muscles have to stretch to accommodate the additional liquid. At the hospital he put in 60cc in each expander after he put them in so I am now a whopping 110cc in each boob! As of right now, 5 p.m., I feel bigger, feel like I have boobs, can actually feel the sensation of two, (still looks like four to me though!) although don’t look it yet. I am rounded enough, though, that when I am dressed and out in public I just look very small breasted.
Now it is 8 p.m. and I can definitely feel the tightness, took a couple of Tylenol but do not feel the need for anything stronger at this point. Just takin’ it easy and keeping my arms to my sides! Harold is taking me out to a quick dinner and then to coffee at Starbuck’s – hot date!
Again, I want to offer you the option of asking me any question you choose. I am amazed at the amount of questions I have answered so far, I mean who can you really ask? I’m telling you, I have no modesty left about the area from my collarbone to my waist so ask away, even if it is for a friend or a friend of a friend!
I am still just overwhelmed at the cards and emails I have received, even got a huge card from the HOOT convention I had to miss this month and it was crammed full of signatures and well wishes. I feel very humble through all of this and most grateful to everyone.
Okay, I am off to dinner with my darling hubby!
Margot (not quite so itty bitty but still definitely a member of the ITBC club!)
After reading through the updates,
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