Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I've Lost My Pucketts, Meet the Foobies - Graphic Estrogen content

This was me the morning of my exchange surgery.  Well Actually I was a little more sassy than that.

The pink ribbon emblem show to the left is a place marker.  It does nothing but sit where I would have put a photo.  When finding that google was showing my reconstruction photos along with all the photos of my family, myself and friends, I took the reconstruction photos off the blog.  I don't have any problem with friends who are curious or women searching for breast cancer stories.  I have put the photos off site and every time you see the pink ribbon with a link below, click the LINK and it will take you to that photo.  I hope this clears up any confusion.  It's less convenient, but it's google.  If you right click the link, you can open the photo in a new tab and not lose your place here.  :)

My pucketts (TE) had been expanded to 750 ccs of saline but the right one kept leaking.  The decision was made to hasten to the implant exchange to July 5th.  The longer the TE was left unexpanded the pocket would begin to shrink.  Even after they took it out, I was told, "it was definately deflated but we couldn't tell why."  So because you need the pressure of the Tissue Expander to keep that pocket or capsule stretched out, they scheduled me for surgery.  So there I was.

I arrived at surgery center for my 2nd stage Breast reconstruction otherwise known as the "Exchange" surgery.

To see photo, click and use rosey2012 if asked
This was the last view of the pucketts, 
may they rest in pieces .  The cleavage was
cool while it lasted.
Took 3 sticks to start the IV.  Yeah, for lidacaine!  They believed me when I said, hard stick - shy veins.

To see photo, click and use rosey2012 if asked
This is the bilateral view of the TE on
5/3/2012  The tapes and bandaids
are from the expansion to 750 cc

To see photo, click and enter rosey2012 if asked
Dr. Puckett went a little nuts with
the black marker.  The spiderwebs?
not sure I want to know.

found out what doctors do when they have to poop during surgery.  He first said "we just do it".  And I was like "Whoooaaaa, that has to break the sterile environment!"  Before I blurted that, he continued that they run out, take care of business, have to scrub back in and pick it up where they left.  He said they try to take care of that kind of thing between surgeries because anesthesiologist get really cranky when they are left in sole charge of a patient.  The wienies.
There was a BIG hoopla because I'm supposed to be allergic to Keflex.  Because the IV took so long, they were rushing to get all the other presurgery stuff done.  Someone hung Kflex.  uh oh.  Nurse noticed it was running.  She stopped it and they were rushing around to find out what ELSE to give me.

I get to the OR and I'm surrounded by rushing women who seem more like chickens than nurses, surgical techs or nurse anesthesists.  I was given happy juice which was fun.  I made the ceiling tiles spin.  I looked at the Nurse Anesthetists and asked "What antibiotic am I getting?"  She answered "I don't know yet" and then put me to sleep.  I did find out yesterday I was given IV antibiotics in surgery.

For you who are curious about the surgery and have the scientific nature to watch, I found a very well done video that shows a reconstruction from TE to implant.  I wanted to imbed it but the opening video image was too graphic for those who cannot watch surgical procedures.  Be aware this link is actual surgery done, not simulation or computerized.  Woman's Exchange Surgery from TE to Implant

The first thing I noted upon waking up was the strange sensation of little pain.  Wasn't expecting THAT!  They buzzed around while I tried to get my eyeballs to point in the same direction.  I told them I will recover faster if you allow my husband back her to keep me focused and talking.  They rushed out to get him.

He came back and while I was uncomfortable, it was like 5 on the scale using the pain I awoke with from the Bilateral Mastectomy with 1st stage reconstruction.  THAT was my 10.  They gave me some IV medication of morphine.  Rosey was in good hands.

Yep.  That's me on Morphine.  My new foobies are under all that ace wrap.  It seemed promising under all that wrap.

I was sent home with a list of scripts on of them for Keflex as we discovered at the pharmacy by my husband.  I was given really GOOD drugs.  By 8 pm I had finished with a meal and was feeling beat and for bed.  I took a Dilaudid for sleep because I wanted to not move the new foobies.  Not one way or the other.  I never knew how Dilaudid would affect me, never having it before.  It was the first drug EVER that I felt.

I have been given fentanyl - my pain laughed at it.  One nurse told me after a different surgery that I had been given enough pain fentenayl to put down a horse.  I snarled at her, "Well this HORSE is still kicking.  Find. Something. Else"  She got me Morphine.

Morphine makes me sleepy.  A little goofy if you ask Mr. Rosey, but to tell the truth, I'm not all that impressed with it either.  I could have eaten Darvocet as a cereal and it never budged any pain.  It's taken off the market.  It was a bad drug anyway.  Tramadol makes me sleepy and throw up.  Not a good combination.  I don't know if could take pain away.  I always HAD the pain until I threw up.  Vicodin that people loooove on the black market.  Does not a thing for my pain.

Demorol together with valium finally brought my mastectomy pain within a bearable range, 5 days after the surgery. Percocet can help but not with intense pain.  Having experienced intense pain with the BMX, I was pretty pleased to be so comfortable after the exchange...and I have LONG incisions.

Thurs night.  I took the Dilaudid and before I closed the computer, everyone within my facebook family knew it was affecting me as well.  It became the topic of much humor at my expense.  What I wrote looked something like this....

hi my loves,I lo ed all the pink lips. Yrs, i am ighgh. i can't get the keyboard ro worj right. I habe no diea what the foobies, look liiiiiiiiiiiiiiik. i am wrpaped like nnlike a mimmy...mummy. In wading up i coulf tell immediatlu that thia ws mcuh easier. i did not waked up skeaming. just hurting, insision pain .........
To interpret the above, I wrote, Hi my loves.  I loved all the pink lips.  Yes, I am high.  I can't get the keyboard to work right.  I have no idea what the foobies look like.  I am wrapped like a mummy.  In waking up, I could tell immediately that this was much easier.  I did not wake up screaming.  Just hurting, incision pain...and there was a lot more but this gives you an idea.  I was NOT feeling pain at that point.  Now I finally know what I need after surgery.  I am like my father.  It was hard to get pain meds to work for him too.  We must have some kind of internal resistance.

Friday I went to the clinic and had the giant ace wrap taken off.  I looked down at the new foobies and was pretty discouraged.  Not what I was expecting.  The bottom of the photo was taken at my neck, pointing down if you need orientation.  I was expecting bodacious cleavage, and coconut shell foobies.

To see the photo, click THIS link and use rosey2012 if asked
This was my view of the cleavage looking down my chest.
To say I was discouraged by the sight would be
an understatement.  I felt as if I had gone through
all the pain for PANCAKES?

I have two big round sets of 2 stacked pancakes.  Big and round but they barely project off the chest.  In a dress, I am flat chested.  I was discouraged and felt defeated that night.  I am told by others who have gone there, that I am expecting too much too soon.  That I have to wait for the foobies to "drop and fluff".  No idea what that means,  But I know that I could find no one on the internet that ever showed me what their implants looked like the next day, or a even weekly progression.  There's always a before and an after which is well after the healing is complete.  I plan to take weekly photos.

To see the photo, click this link and use rosey2012 is asked
Nice Bilateral view of the implants from
underneath?  lol  I was nicely drugged at this point.

I took this photo and for the life of me, I can not figure out how I took it. It looks like I held the camera low and shot upward.

To see photo, click this link and use rosey2012 is asked
View of the left incision and missing chicken skin.

I was curious about the long scar on the left side.  Then I recalled him telling me he planned to remove my "chicken skin".  The long scar reached back to the chicken skin area, so he could pull up that loose skin and get rid of it.  I'll trade you a scar for chicken skin.

Sat. I had lunch in town and was looking for a baby gift at Samsclub.  I thought I could handle it as I felt pretty good.  It was hot there, crowded and people were rude.  I couldn't reach the baby clothes.  I was feeling nauseous.  I'm hunting for Mr. Rosey when a sea of breast rolled over me.  Technically, it was a group of 12 - 20 college girls. They walked toward me down the aisle and then split to walk on either side of me.  All of them wearing tube tops, spaghetti straps, halter tops with headlights pointing various directions, different sizes and shapes.  Sitting in a motor cart, my head was breast level so it felt like a sea of breasts.  All of them braless and I was overwhelmed.  Tears welled up in my eyes and I wanted to shout at them,

You don't know how lucky you are to have breasts that you don't have to think about!

Yes, I am a bit breast obsessed right now.  Now. Let me tell you there is a very powerful emotional impact to seeing your reconstructed breast.  I was not prepared for that.. I have found myself looking at breasts, wondering what the bra size for THOSE are, and what is real, padded, propped, and foobie like mine.  I found Mr. Rosey and we went home.  

I'm frustrated because Mr. Rosey doesn't understand how I am feeling and can't understand that he can't fix it. I tried to tell him, I want him to be quiet, say I understand, cluck a time or two, and feed me some chocolate! I'll try to explain this to you. You go into reconstruction, hoping when it's all over, you will feel normal, look normal and feel pretty in a dress. They take the dressings off and you are hit with a big "THAT'S NOT NORMAL!" It's a very low point. Even if what you are seeing IS normal for the day after the surgery, it's the in your face reality that you are never going to be "normal". All you can achieve is to look your best. So this takes a few days to digest and I'm still reeling from this reality.  I think all reconstructed women need to know this ahead of time.

In the meantime, it's summer and every where I look I see breasts. Nearly exposed BREASTS. I found that I saw older women with boobs that obviously needed a stronger bra, and I was still jealous because I will never even experience that. You know my paternal grandmother died about 3 years ago. We used to joke about her boobs...she never wore a bra. She literally had to move the sag bag to wipe her heiney. (please note, I'm smiling in affectionate memory, not in sarcasm or criticism) To my knowledge she never had a mammogram and still did not die of breast cancer. Her old breasts served her well.

I am grateful that medical technology, Dr's skills and science has progressed to the point that women have the OPTION to reconstruct a breast. Our predecessors were hideously scarred and nothing was EVER done to even make the scars easier to look at. My 3rd grade teacher had to have a breast removed. I saw her at the city pools years later. In her suit, her right side looked as if acid had been poured on her. In those days, they removed the breast, and a good portion of muscle as well. Her body was left with a mess of twisting scars that were scary to see. A woman today can choose to remove her breasts and not reconstruct. She is left with a clean line where her breasts used to sit.

But I am still having to face that I have been treated for breast cancer. It was a HARD thing to do. Despite having a reconstructed breast, I'm not sure right now that I will ever feel normal. I'm not sure I will confident. On the street, I do not think people are going to point and me and say "she's not normal", but they will look at me and think...she sure is flat chested or she's had a mastectomy. I know. Because I did.  Maybe because mine started growing at 9 years of age, I have always been breast obsessed.   Over the years, I compared mine to ones I saw. Not in critical manners (not usually, unless they were UNCOVERED). I would note, nice pair, or she needs a different bra, a little on the saggy side and sometimes those women who have reached the age where the girls started sliding down hill, but the woman had not reached the age that she knew it was time to DRESS her age. Yeah, those woman.

I told Kel what Dr. Puckett needs and I think I'm brilliant for this...they need a "clinical care counselor." On staff, to meet with breast cancer patients....well actually ALL cancer patients. But someone to sit down with you and tell you about what to expect from the surgery.  Someone who tells you this is how you feel after this  kind of surgery.  This is what you will see when they cut off the bandages...this is a week.  What a women have to deal with is the emotional impact....and all those things that we don't know to question the doctor about.  Someone who will check in with us through the first 3 months after each surgery to make sure we still feel like we're on top if this.  I am told there is still a lot left to do that can make me feel more and more normal.  Apparently I thought it would happen all at once.  It doesn't.

The next observation.  It is hard to shiver with no nipples.  Seriously, your chest shivers and ripples.  With nipples the shivers all head to the nipples and then out the body...creating the famous headlight sensation.  Every woman knows if she shivers, first reaction is to cross her arms across the chest because those shivers much escape through the nipples.

With no nipple, the shivers just race and ripple around your chest, ricochet down the arms and back up.  It's actually fairly miserable.  They are looking for the exit and they are stuck.  So I wound up shivering a lot longer because they had no escape from the body to relieve me.

Now,  a myth buster. It is said you can tell a woman has implants because she she lies down, her boobs still are topside and not slid down to her armpits.

As snopes would say.      *FALSE

FACT: When you lie down with silicone implants, the bleeping things go where ever they want. It can slide down to your pit, one can stay up while the slides down. Regardless, my "implant pockets" are still healing so sitting up is NOT fun. This is a scientific kind of thing and some other home school mom might know the real term for it. This silicone is called "adhesive gel". It feels like cranberry jelly (think of it without the berries please, that would hurt). So I have this sack of cranberry jelly. I COULD cut the gel separate it slightly and it would slowly ooze together and become one piece again. IT would not look it does coming out of the can, but it comes one piece again. That's the kind foobies I have. There's a scientific name for the process but I'm brain fried. So when I lay down, they S l o w l y ooze to the side. And when I get up they s l o w l y ooze back down. It is not at all what I expected. And because of the surgical process and all the stuff he had to cut out, that oozing process hurts. And maybe mine are too big (the implants I mean). But that concrete bra is gone, the hard re-bar and cement baseball pucketts are gone. I'm left with marshmellow that seems to hang where it wants.  There are things to be grateful for.  I have seen the botched constructions of numerous brave and courageous women that you will never get to know.  I belong to a special club, The Cancer Warriors.  The admission cost is way too high and the steps are daunting.  But when you get to the top of that ladder, then you have the fellowship of amazing warrior women like yourself!

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