It’s been such a long time since I’ve been able to write an update on my life. I have not blogged for AWHILE but trust me it was not intentional. When returned to work in the fall of 2017 everything changed because I had to completely immerse myself back into the frame of mind of working 5 days a week. On top of that, I honestly felt compelled to take a break. Chemo and surgery are extremely taxing on the body. I just needed time for myself and with my family. I wrote a blog about finding your new normal on my website so check that out if you are feeling anxious or stressed about easing your way back into things after going through treatment.
BUT with all that said I wanted to take time to talk about my surgeries. I’ve also been asked on multiple occasions, “Why did you need to have two surgeries?” Hopefully, this blog will answer that question! Here’s what you need to know…..
My first surgery was a double mastectomy. A mastectomy is the removal of the breast tissue but the skin remains intact. There are different types of mastectomies and you may have a single or a double mastectomy. Here are some details about the surgery!
I HAD TO GO UNDER ANESTHESIA
When I arrived at the hospital I was placed in a pre-operative room. Some hospitals may allow you to have family members or loved ones with you. I had my parents, uncle, sister, and husband there. I’m so thankful for their presence. My husband was definitely my rock. Words cannot express how grateful I am for family! The surgeon marked me at this time and I was able to meet my anesthesiologist. My family and I were able to ask my doctors questions concerning the procedure. They made sure that I had not eaten since the night before. The doctors and anesthesiologist were very confident. My family and I said a prayer and thanked God for my victory. Then off to surgery I went!
The mastectomy was performed by my Breast Surgeon. I was told that it could take up to 3 hours. I chose to go forward with reconstructive surgery. This was performed by my plastic surgeon. This portion of surgery took an additional 1-2 hours. Along with the reconstruction I received expanders. Expanders were placed to help stretch the remaining skin in my chest area until I reached my desired size.
Immediately after surgery I was moved to recovery. I was monitored and then relocated to a hospital room. You may stay at the hospital anywhere from 1-3 days depending on the surgical outcome. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask to stay longer if you need more time!
After you return home the recovery period is about 4-6 weeks. Restrictions, such as lifting, driving, and exercising, and working are put in place. Go at your own pace. Don’t put too much on yourself too fast!
Drains are inserted at the same time as the surgery. I had 4 drains (2 on each side). The drains consist of long tubes inserted into the area around your breast. They are there to help remove access blood and body fluids that may build up in the space where the tissue or tumor once were. The drains are held in place by stitches.
I had to empty the drains at least 3 times a day and keep a daily intake of the amount of fluid removed each time. Make sure to keep them clean, apply the proper ointments or antibiotics prescribed, and take your pain medication.
THE DRAINS ARE ANNOYING!!!! J Be patient. Yes they are frustrating but remember this is only temporary.
The drains were removed within a month or so, but once again this can depend on a person’s individual situation. It did hurt a little bit when they cut the stitches out to remove the drains but the actual removal of the tubes did not hurt.
Once they are removed I had small scars. I also had scars near the mastectomy sight. These scars took longer to heal since I did not have nipple sparing surgery.
It was very weird after the surgery because everything seemed very numb. This may take some getting used to.
Remember those expanders I spoke of earlier. They are basically like balloons. They were inserted to give me some shape when I first woke up from the mastectomy. Every couple of weeks or so, I had to return to the plastic surgeon’s office to have them filled with a silicone like solution. A needle was used to inject the solution into a port right above the expander. The “fills” typically did not take long and are measured in CC’s. They continued until I reached my desired size.
Once everything was clear, and I was happy with my size, I scheduled my second surgery. The second surgery occurred to have the expanders removed. The expanders were exchanged for actual silicone implants. There are many types of implants. They are just like the ones you would choose from if you were having cosmetic plastic surgery (except these are obviously for medical reason and no one would choose to go about it this way).
The second surgery was much easier than the first. The recovery time is still 1-2 weeks. Restrictions are still in place up to 6 weeks after the surgery but there are no drains (insert happy dance)!
Overall, I’d say the first surgery was very hard. It was difficult emotionally and I had a challenging recovery. My body is now changed forever! I’m thankful that I had a remarkable breast surgeon and plastic surgeon. They did an incredible job. To this day I am very happy with my results. Everything’s healing nicely and I’m glad this part is over!
Once again, I’m sorry this took so long to write but I hope this gives more depth and understanding through the process of a mastectomy. Feel free to share your stories below. You can also visit my YouTube Channel where I share tips on how to prepare for before and after a mastectomy!
As always, I love you guys keep fighting, and I’ll see you soon.