Archives for posts with tag: breast reconstruction

This post is inspired by Mogatos, the author of the excellent blog, Saying Nope to Breast Cancer.  She is in her early 30’s and had a prophylatic bilateral mastectomy due to her high genetic risk of breast cancer. Mogatos is a very courageous person who is helping lots of women. She has created a photo diary of her physical transformation since her mastectomy surgery in January. If you are interested in the two stage tissue expander/implant reconstruction process, I particularly recommend the site to you. Mogatos even painstakingly lists the costs of her medical care. Once I’m done with one of my medical bills, I don’t ever want to see it again.

I have had a request or two to see my reconstruction. I’m sorry to say that I am not evolved enough to share more than a photo of my belly button to the blogisphere. However, I have put together a visual showing my surgical process. Although breast cancer isn’t funny, using humor to cope with its threat is serious business.

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The Tupperware hard plastic tissue expander is gone and so are the drains. My breast is nearly 100% human made from human materials. And the materials came from me. I am full of myself. I like it.

But in the spirit of “It’s more blessed to give than to receive,” let’s chat a bit about the donor site, which was my abdomen. I’m still swollen but literally shrinking by the day. A few days after surgery, my waistline was six inches larger than before surgery, even though a whole lotta tissue had been removed. The next day, I’d lost two inches. (Settle down, peeps, I’ve been keeping measurements to monitor any fluid build-up, which I didn’t notice after my expander surgery because I was too busy admiring the fact that I had cleavage again!) Today, I’m about two inches bigger than usual. This number will continue to drop, but it has been very clear since day 1 after surgery that my stomach is much flatter than it used to be.

Obviously, I expected this, in fact I relished the thought of having a flat abdomen. Even before becoming a mom, I’ve always had a little more than average size stomach, no matter whether I was at a healthy weight or not. I’ve had a few of those awkward, “Oh you’re pregnant, congratulations!” conversations. Ten years ago, I’d even lost 20 pounds and was greeted by my then hairstylist, “When is your baby due?” My response? “Four years ago.”

So you’d think I would be thrilled with development but I admit it looks a little foreign.

Some how, I will get over it!

I got an excellent night’s sleep in the wonder chair. Also, my tray table rental has served another purpose. I kept it over my abdomen to dissuade my cat from jumping into my lap during the night and it thwarted his 2 am attempt!

I have less pain today and better mobility. I didn’t write about it, but the descriptions I read prior to TRAM surgery about post-surgical pain were kind of scary. More than one woman wrote about “waking up feeling like I’d been run over by a truck.” Marilyn, the nurse who works for Dr. Welk had told me the week before surgery that when walking, I’d feel “like I’d had double knee and hip replacement surgery.” As you may recall, Marilyn has had TRAM surgery herself in addition to caring for many women post-surgery. So, I was feeling a mix of enthusiasm and trepidation going into surgery.

I am taking it very easy, just getting up to use the bathroom and empty my surgical drains. I took a shower this morning and boy, did that feel good. I have very sensitive skin and I am prone to eczema. John was able to get all of the adhesive residue off of my back from all of the tape and electrodes that were stuck on me. Ah, what a relief!

My husband has been the most wonderful nurse. I think we will successfully avoid dishwasher-gate this time. Our planning for this surgery really helped. I am also so happy that I got into such better physical condition prior to this surgery. Having stronger leg muscles is really helping me compensate for my abdominal weakness when I have to get in and out of chairs. I have also learned that abdominal muscles are needed for lots of actions such as to clear my throat! Another reason that I am happy to have stayed away from people with colds!

I have a follow-up appointment with Dr. Welk tomorrow. I am hopeful that it will go well and he said that I may be able to get one of my surgical drains out!

I’m checked into my hospital room.
The surgery went well. New boob is a major improvement on Tupperware boob even with the swelling.

Epidurals rule time and space. We’ll see how the switch to oral pain meds goes tomorrow.

Thanks to all of you for your kind concern, prayers, and healing thoughts my way.

Well, not exactly. My surgery on Monday will be at Swedish Hospital, founded by some Swedish-American physicians in 1908. Swedish Medical Center is pretty much a Seattle institution both literally and figuratively.

I asked John to stay with me in the hospital. He, being the wonderful hubby that he is, naturally said, “yes.” Then he added, “I’m looking forward to it. It will be like camping!”

Yes, like going on a camping trip and being mauled by a bear who rearranged my parts and hopefully supplies me with really awesome pain meds!

This post is from 7/31/12, the day of my first visit to a plastic surgery office. It was surreal.

This afternoon I met with Drew Welk, M.D. a plastic surgeon at the Polyclinic. We had a good meeting and it was interesting to shift from a physician who focuses on disease treatment to one who focuses on aesthetics. I found out that my incision is not in the best place to which I replied, “Yeah, my cancer insists on being all kinds of inconvenient.” To his credit, he laughed at my ribbing. I did learn that I have very favorable “breast geometry” with only a little post-partum loss of muscle tone. Yay, my breasts got complimented! They’ve been a little starved for positive comments lately, especially the right one, which is currently looks like a more than a  little like a dented tin can these days.

Dr. Welk is talking to Dr. Beatty tomorrow to share his input regarding the best way to make incisions for the mastectomy so that he has something reasonable to work with later after the fat has been removed from my skin, the latter of which I get to keep. He took pictures in the clinic photography booth, which was set up like the DMV, except for the fact that I was partially disrobed and he had his choice of three different expensive looking cameras. (Or maybe the other cameras belonged to other surgeons. That makes more sense.) He took the last picture after he’d drawn a little incision map with a Sharpie.

It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and I liked him. Plus it was a surgery day for him so between his energetic demeanor and the fact that he was wearing scrubs, he looked like a surgeon action figure. (Not to be confused with 1973’s surgeon Barbie and yes, she was real; click the link. Also, not to be confused with an action figure for the character, Surgeon from Hellraiser 2. Mom don’t go to that link: That surgeon doll is heinous.)

Okay, so Michelangelo is probably not the best sculptor to reference in this post. He was criticized for the way he sculpted breasts, basically that it looked like he’d thrown a couple of softballs on top of a suspiciously manly shaped torso. A better sculptor might be the 20th century artist, Lachaise. That man knew how to sculpt realistic breasts on refreshingly substantial looking women. Hmm. “The Lachaise of La Twins”? I’ll stick with Michelangelo for the alliteration. My cousin, Beth favors Bernini breasts herself. Bernini’s sculptures are absolutely breath taking but the first thing that comes to my mind is “the Rape of Persephone”–not the image I want in my head when thinking about my breast reconstruction. Beth conceded that Bernini tended to show women on the run.  But I present exhibits A, B, and C for your consideration:

One of Lachaise’s fabulous, “Standing Woman” I think this is a clear winner. Unlike “Dawn”, Lachaise’s sculptures of women actual look like a woman modeled for them. Also, Lachaise’s women look like they could fend off a Greek god or random creep in the bushes, unlike Bernini’s stunningly beautiful but nearly defenseless damsels.

Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne. This is Beth’s submission. In this case, Daphne is so desperate to get out of Apollo’s stalkeresque clutches that she turns herself into a tree!

Michelangelo. This is a sculpture I’ve seen in person. It’s from the Tomb of the Medici’s in Florence. This figure is supposed to be “Dawn” Looks like a man named “Don” with softball boobs, am I right?

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