Post mastectomy – 3 months on

The road so far……

The Chest

I don’t think there’s any need for an updated chest pic, as just about any google search for post mastectomy photos will produce a bazillion ones at this stage of reconstruction.

But as for my chest, the bruising, shown at day 5, went away within the first couple of weeks, and, I’m happy to say, that weird crease that was going on there also disappeared the more the expanders were filled.
For the first few fills I started to get (in clothing) the illusion I had regular boobs. That did quite a bit for my self esteem at the time.
But unfortunately it was short lived. The more the expanders were filled, the weirder my ‘boobs’ became.
My hubby affectionately calls me ‘Sponge Trace Square Boobs’.

Nowadays, I have what I can only describe as, the Andes mountains in my chest.
And noooo, it’s not because they are huge, in fact, they’re not big at all.
But they are full of lumps n bumps n valleys n crevices….just like the Andes mountains! Not to mention that spare tire thing they have going on.

I know most of this is due to the fact my Plastic Surgeon decided to leave excess skin on my chest.
Why would he do such a thing? you may ask.
Well….I’m bad….I smoke!
I know, I know, I’m terrible…insane even. I mean how can I possibly still smoke after finding out I had Cancer!! Right???
But honestly, having to deal with a diagnosis of breast cancer, the possibility of a disfiguring surgery and the following reconstruction and then to give up an addiction on top of all that…cold turkey to boot! …well, it just wasn’t going to happen.

But, smoking (actually nicotine itself) restricts the blood vessels and increases the risk of developing necrosis of the skin around the incision.  So excess skin was left incase that happened and they had to re operate.

Fortunately though, I healed perfectly. Apparently even better than most non smokers. And I swear it choked my surgeon to admit that one.
But Im not being too blasé about it. I know I dodged a bullet on that one, and I’m not out of the woods yet, so I do plan to quit two weeks before my next surgery, with at first, the help of patches, and with the I give the heck up blessing of my plastic surgeon.

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Sleeping

I’d read about people having to sleep in chairs for comfort, but I managed to get my side of the bed all pillowed out and slept fine there, although I did sleep on top of the comforter and had separate blankets. That way hubby didn’t accidentally knock me in his sleep.
At around the one month mark, and after the last drain was out, I finally started to reduce the amount of pillows I was sleeping with. Up until that point I’d slept almost upright with the mass of pillows. It took a few more days before I could sleep laying down, on my side. And a few more days before it was actually comfortable.

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Pain

The first few days following the mastectomy were the most painful, obviously. But within the week the pain had subsided quite a lot and I’d managed to reduce the amount of pain meds I would take.
After a couple of weeks I was hardly taking anything.
But after the expanders had been filled a couple of times, I started to get a terrible burning pain in my left side. 
It wasn’t constant, but when it was there, it was, at times, agonizing.
It would start a couple of hours after a fill, go away again, then be back around day three following a fill.
Luckily, that is gone now, for the most part.
The fills were cut down to half, and I was advised to take ibuprofen the day of the fill and for a few days after, even if there was no pain.
That did the trick.

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Numbness

Now I’m not sure if I’ve even mentioned this before in a previous post, but because of the extensive nerve damage caused by mastectomy, the skin on the chest is left with no feeling, none at all, it’s completely numb.
Lately I have had some feeling coming back in the skin of my outer chest, but still none around the incision or most of the, what would be considered, breast area.
It’s a really weird thing. If I put my hand on my chest, I think I can feel something, but then something else can touch that area, like catching the edge of a table,  and I don’t feel a anything.

I’ve been told that I may regain some feeling back into the skin over time, but also warned that some people never do.

Oh and we will not talk about the phantom nipple itch, because that was downright freaky.
All I will say is, I now understand what amputees mean when they say they can ‘feel’ the amputated limb.

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Restrictions


Although all restrictions have been lifted and I’m allowed to do pretty much anything, I still find some things are hard, if not impossible to do without suffering that left sided pain.
eg; vacuuming the rug, pushing a full cart at the grocery store or reaching a high shelf.

Have you ever noticed how ridiculous a person looks reaching up with one hand while trying to avoid moving the other side of your body? Yeah, pretty weird!

Oh, and when we hit the 4 week post drain date, the one when I was finally allowed to soak in the tub, I had THE most relaxing bubble bath in THE history of bubble baths.

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Emotions

I have to admit, emotionally, I have even surprised myself.
And I know having a majorly supportive husband with a crazy sense of humor has helped tremendously. (<3 you honey)
But yeah, there’s been a few tears here and there, after all, I’m only human.
But for the most part,  I have tried to focus on the positive ……..

silicone lasts forever

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2 Responses to Post mastectomy – 3 months on

  1. Sarah says:

    OMG, Tracey! Have you ever heard of the cliche, “if I can just help one person” ? Well, you did it. I am so appreciative of the time you take to write on your blog. I too am a smoker, while my surgeon suggested I cut down, she also mentioned this wasn’t a good time for me to quit due to stress. I hoping that I will quit while I’m laid up. While being a smoker, I am not sickly. I never get sick, never get a flu shot, I just NEVER get sick. Makes me think, why change something that is working???

    I just appreciate your upbeat attitude through this whole thing. And appreciate all the inside info you have given.

    Thank you for sharing!
    Sarah

    Like

    • Tracey says:

      LOL! I think I’ll save any pics until after the next surgery. I’m back to being a closet flasher 😉
      I was so happy with your comment the other day. I always hoped that someone would get a little something from this blog, even the teeniest thing would be enough. So when you said my one post made you feel better…I was on cloud 9 🙂 Thanks again for taking the time to tell me that 🙂
      I’m really glad you enjoy the blog 🙂
      As for smoking….well, I actually went online last night and bought a heap load of the nicotine transdermal patches. I intend to quit as soon as they are delivered. Hopefully this time I can stick to it. (third time’s a charm)
      Although, with the surgery, its the nicotine that causes the post op healing problem. But at least I won’t be having the other nasties that go along with cigarettes.
      I’m only doing it because its starting to take its toll on me a bit, and Im terrified one day I’ll end up with COPD or worse.
      My breast surgeon was the same, he knew it was too much to ask, but my PS insisted I quit, cold turkey. He now realizes thats not going to happen, so reluctantly he’s ok’d the patches.
      I knew I’d wear him down 😉

      Like

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