I’m officially one week (well 1 week + 2 days) post prophylactic double mastectomy with DIEP flap reconstruction and I have 3 pieces of good news to share. First, the pathology report came back from my breast tissue and it’s all clear! Second, I had my post-op appointment with my plastic surgeon yesterday and he is very pleased with how everything is healing. Third, I GOT MY DRAINS REMOVED! Hallelujah!
As I’ve been reflecting on what my healing journey has been like so far I found that things are naturally falling into two categories: things that I expected, and things that have surprised me. So that is how I’ll structure this update.
Things that I expected:
- The drains suck as much as everyone says they do. I mean how could having rubber tubes protruding from your skin NOT suck. They’re tender, cumbersome, and downright freaky looking. “Milking” them sucks too. Twisting to milk the abdominal drains made me dizzy a few times…having help was essential.
- There is a lot of numbness. Like A LOT. Particularly on the foobs. But I’ve noticed even in the past few days that feeling has been coming back little by little, so I have faith that I may get some significant sensation back in time. But for now, they’re a little tingly, mostly numb.
- I get tired super easily.
- Sitting in one place for most of the day…and sleeping in that same spot at night (my rented recliner)…gets really old really fast.
- It’s hard for me to let myself be taken care of. But I’m really trying. My spouse has been incredible…cooking, doing laundry, getting our kiddo dressed and fed every morning, even putting lotion on my feet before I go to bed. It’s not comfortable for me to be sitting on the sidelines while he does so much, but I can live with it for now.
Things that surprised me:
- The pain has not been nearly as bad as I expected. Moving and changing positions definitely causes some quick sharp pains in my abdominal incision, particularly in those first few days, but that has decreased with time. It’s 100% manageable with Celebrex and Neurontin…no narcotics needed. I experimented with not taking the Neurontin one day (because it is “as needed”) and there was a burning sort of pain in my abdomen almost like I’d done a thousand crunches or something. So I’m back to taking it.
- The swelling is no joke.
- I like binge watching TV. So far, in the past 6 days, I’ve watched 1 season Queer Eye and 3 seasons of Mozart in the Jungle. I’m also onto my second novel. Is this what a life of leisure is like?
- Even when tired as hell, sleeping isn’t easy. It’s a bit better now that the drains are out. But I’m definitely not sleeping 16 hours a day like some people said I would be after surgery. I count 8 hours as a major victory.
- I’m excited about the way my foobs feel. They’re still pretty firm and tight on top due to the swelling, but the bottom portion is soft and smushy just like my old boobs. I also love that they are warm. These were factors that led me to choose DIEP over implants, but now that I’ve experienced the feeling of my new foobs, I think it was more important to me than I realized.
- I’m no where near as limited as I thought I would be. My range of motion isn’t great yet (especially in terms of reaching above my head), my strength is impaired for sure (opening the fridge or other heaving doors is particularly challenging), and I’m not comfortable bending over. But otherwise, it’s all good. I can wash my own hair, dress myself (including rear hooking bras!), and today I even drove to the post office! I hoping that by the start of next week I’ll be up for some light cooking. All I’ve managed so far is making my toddler a PB&J. 🙂
Overall, I am so incredibly grateful that things have gone smoothly thus far. I’m grateful for my skilled surgeons, caring nurses, amazingly helpful friends and family, and I’m grateful toward my body for being so cooperative.
Now I just wait for the swelling to reduce slowly but surely so I can get a better sense of my shape, do my range of motions exercises, and rest….letting my body heal itself.