It will be exactly two weeks tomorrow since I had my right breast surgically removed. I’ll actually be returning to work tomorrow. So given that, I think I’m doing pretty well.
Since some of you may be wondering, I will let you know that I indeed did not wake up during my surgery. Which is great.
As for recovering from my surgery, the first night was definitely hardest (yet manageable) and I spent it in the hospital. My nurses were amazing though and came in at regular intervals to administer pain medication which was sorely needed. My mom spent the night in the hospital with me (bless her). It was probably just as uncomfortable for her as it was for me since she had to sleep in a chair…thanks mom. <3
I sort of freaked out every time a nurse came in and viewed my “wound.” I had three different nurses throughout the time that I was in the hospital and I encouraged each one to tell me what their opinion was of the current state of my breast. Quite honestly, it didn’t look terrible, but in terms of breasts and how it looked before, it didn’t look like a normal breast, but obviously, that’s to be expected. As I discussed in my previous post, I had a tissue expander placed under my muscle after the breast tissue was removed. My plastic surgeon filled it up a bit, so I did and do have something there, it just looks a little sunken and oddly round. It’s also hard, which is something I didn’t expect. When I got home and actually felt it, I thought that perhaps I was experiencing capsular contracture and was worried until I found out that the tissue expander itself is made of hard plastic.
Anyways, my point is, even though when I look at my breast, it is a little disturbing because there’s an incision and it’s not how it looked before, it’s really not as bad as one would think it would look—and DEFINITELY not as bad as mastectomy pics that I googled online.
So, I will say that I feel a little bit better every day. My parents stayed with me for about a week after my surgery which was really helpful. I took one full week off of work and the second week, I worked from home full-time. I am now at a point where I have more energy than I did before, but I still don’t feel completely back to normal regarding energy levels and also, I still have some discomfort but have stopped taking all pain medication including even OTC stuff like Advil.
I actually think I had this weird paranoia side-effect from the Vicodin they prescribed me. The day after I got home from the hospital I randomly had it in my head that maybe the plastic surgeon performed the wrong procedure and frantically called his office and was pleasantly reassured by his nurse that indeed, everything was normal and A-OK (I even sent her pics and she confirmed). My friend Lauren had had a mastectomy a few days before. She advised I stop taking the Vicodin as soon as possible and I’d start feeling normal. She was right. Though I did need it for the pain, I didn’t like the effect it had on my mind. Once I was able to be off that I was in a much better mental state and didn’t feel so loopy.
Overall, recovery hasn’t been as bad as I thought it would be. I had two lymph nodes removed and my right arm and shoulder are pretty mobile though I have not yet driven a car, or reached, or lifted heavy objects with that arm.
The expander is uncomfortable but not unbearable. I have a feeling that as I heal, it will get better, though I don’t think it will ever be completely comfortable until I get an actual implant. The expander was especially uncomfortable at first as my muscle was being stretched and I was having muscle spasms. Those were painful and the doctor prescribed a drug called Valium to help with that—to relax the muscle. I still take a half a Valium here and there when I feel like it tenses up, but other than that at this point, I think my muscle has adjusted. Now I just have to look forward to the sessions where they add fluid to the expander…we’ll see how that goes.
Regarding surgical drains—I had one and still have it. I’m hoping to get it taken out at my two week appointment, because it’s freaking annoying. Once I have the drain out I think I’ll be at liberty to feel much more normal.
But again—if you’re reading this and about to have a mastectomy, don’t be worried about the drains, they’re annoying but not a big deal.
As it stands right now, I am currently “cancer free.” I am now conferring with an oncologist on post-op treatments to ensure that I stay cancer free. Those treatment options include chemo and hormone therapy. Neither of which I want to do.
I will likely be doing a separate post on my post-op cancer treatment decisions and associated angst…stay tuned.