Seven Weeks

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Time is FLYING. It’s really rather insane. Most days go by without thinking of my surgery much – I run into people I haven’t seen in awhile and they ask how I’m doing. I reply “great!” like I would any other time I’m asked. Not realizing they’re really asking, how are you –surgery you– doing. It seems like such a long time ago and things are so much back to normal that it’s really hard to believe it’s in the past. But it is. And that’s amazing. Such a huge relief!!

I’m doing so remarkably well overall I can’t get over it. My left expander is the only thing causing discomfort. Both are uncomfortable – I heard someone describe them feeling like you’ve had on a too tight underwire bra for 4 hours too long. That’s about right. Ladies can appreciate that. They’re oddly sorer in the morning, making me feel like an arthritic old lady when I get up! But that weird left expander has rotated even more, which pulls on my sternum. So I’m living in a sports bra 24/7 because that’s oddly more comfortable. I’m not going crazy (yet) but know I will be antsy to get these things out very soon!! The crevices where the expanders end is just weird looking. Especially laying down – pretty freaky. A good reminder that I did, in fact, have surgery!

The only thing I’m still not back to pre surgery with is lifting. It’s just uncomfortable and causes aching in my chest and back. So while the expanders are in I’m just taking it easy and taking people up on my offers for help. No reason to push it and be sore – plenty of time ahead of me to be stubborn!

I’m relieved that even though the expanders feel wildly foreign to me, there’s nothing obvious if you don’t know. It is awkward when a stranger (guy) accidentally elbows you in the boob and starts apologizing profusely and you ask why… Because you felt nothing. Yeah that happened.

Got an email that threw me for a loop – my consent forms for my next surgery! What?! Yes, they’re on top of it. But that also means it’s soon-ish!! The last 2 weeks of work are like the busiest of the whole year, and the kickoff to our busy season. So oddly enough, unlike how I was counting down to the other surgery ready to get it over with, I haven’t had much time to think about it. But simultaneously know it will be here in no time!

Anyhow, nothing too exciting to share at this point. And that’s such a relief!! But there’s a bunch of exciting stuff coming up that I can’t wait to share… Pinktober has a whole new meaning this year and it’s just around the corner! Get ready!!

Six Weeks

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Nothing profound to say tonight, just want to acknowledge that it’s already been six whole weeks. In many ways I feel like I’m already “done” since I’m certainly past the worst of it. In even more ways it seems crazy that I’m gearing up for another (albeit MUCH smaller) surgery when I feel SO good! Truly miraculous it is. The end is on sight!!

Other than the occasional awkward bump or random nerve regeneration pain, there are days that if it wasn’t for making it a point to put stuff on my scars to lessen their appearance, I probably wouldn’t even think about my surgery. Really the most obvious is when I turn on my side to sleep and it takes a second to get comfortable due to the hard plastic of the expanders. And of course the lifting. But after my one slip last week I’ve been incredibly careful not to push it. Suffice to say, I couldn’t possibly be more grateful to be where I am.

While I get frustrated occasionally with the “foreign-ness” of the expanders, I’m really not in pain (except when freak-of-nature things like having your work computer fall on your foot happen… Which I guess is even more proof I’m almost entirely back to normal! Random crap happening is back). My range of motion is so close to being back to normal, my muscles just get tight. My level of activity is arguably back to 99.9% of pre-surgery. Work is back to crazy as usual and I’m able to embrace the crazy while still being there for my friends and family. Which is awesome. And the lingering bit of fatigue is pretty much all gone.

It’s pretty crazy to think that in just over 2 months I’ll be on the final road to recovery for this journey. And a journey it has been!

5 Week Confessions

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Holy WOW! 5 weeks already?! It’s hard to believe it’s been that long, but since I finally reached the end of my emails from when I was gone at work on Friday afternoon (yeah it took a week and half. Don’t judge), it almost feels like I haven’t been gone at all! And then there’s moments like yesterday when I was a complete idiot at Target and thought I could lift a bookshelf by myself that remind me HEY you just had a surgery last month! (Don’t worry Mom I’m fine… and also I get it, it’s statements like that why Dad won’t read the blog. And yes the roommate provided adequate shaming for all of you. And then brought it up to my office AND put it together for me… she’s awesome I’ve mentioned that yes?!) It’s an interesting transition, these weeks-out recovery days, yet simultaneously planning for the next surgery.

So I figured, what better way to mark 5 weeks, than 5 (brutally honest, yet mostly amusing) post-mastectomy confessions?

#1 That last fill? It hurt.

I said mostly amusing. Needless to say, I have a new appreciation for the statement “No pain no gain.” Literally and figuratively. I mentioned feeling a bit of tightness in my last blog post-fill, and went to sleep on Thursday not even uncomfortable, just cognizant of said tightness. And then I woke myself up around 6 am by moving my arm above my head. Actually I take that back. It was the feeling of a freaking machete in my chest that woke me up (no I’ve never been accused of over-exaggerating I don’t know what you’re talking about). But in all honestly, it was seriously the fiercest pain yet. Unlike any of the immediate post-op pain, it was unreal. Like took my breath away and made me nauseous. And caught me SO off guard! I got a shower and returned to bed seriously contemplating if I was going to be a productive member of society that day. I forced myself to get to work, and with tears (but not the crying type… just the what-the-heck-why-is-there-water-coming-out-of-my-eyes type) in my eyes answered every “are you okay?” with “I’m FINE.” I’ve also never been accused of being stubborn, if you’re wondering.

But yeah, sternums apparently really don’t like being pulled and stretched. And that’s what it was, a distinct bone pain – and I found myself feeling oddly grateful that I can’t feel my skin. Because I imagine that would have felt not awesome too. Even today there’s some residual dull aching, but it markedly improved by Friday night. I wasn’t quite getting the “fills hurt” chatter on Facebook/the blogs since my first was really just filling in versus stretching, but let me assure you. I get it now. But thankfully the chatter was also right in that in resolves in a few days. Also, wine helps. Just sayin. And they look fabulous. Fabulous I tell you!! So that makes it all worth it.

#2 I’m kind of enjoying this concept of having boobs.

So in total honesty, I had never considered a cosmetic boob job before. Like ever. Maybe it’s because I found out I was BRCA2 positive at age 20 and (I’ve now realized) subconsciously separated “me” from my breasts, but really I never thought twice about getting bigger boobs – just wasn’t interested. Didn’t really even consider myself that small – I was a B. Not a big B, but a B nonetheless. And it took me awhile after deciding to have this surgery to even come around to the idea of changing my size. My focus was 100% reducing my breast cancer risk while hoping to maintain as much normalcy as possible. I never got offended when people would say they’re jealous I was getting an insurance-covered boob job, because it was usually either joking or ignorant. And it’s so incredibly different I could never really wrap my head around comparing them anyhow.

But yeah, so I did eventually decide to go a little bigger to fit my frame. Little did I know what I was in for – my clothes fit fine before, or so I thought. Who knew THIS is how they’re supposed to fit?! That awkward gap in my armpit? Gone! And the bigger boobs make my whole body look SO much more in proportion it’s unreal, and I (and others) have already noticed my confidence is improved. My friends agree, they’re definitely bigger, but not TOO big, which is exactly what I was hoping for – like you wouldn’t be able to tell if you didn’t know. I’m so pleased with the size, and know once I have the permanent implants they will be that much more realistic looking (right now there’s an odd flatness/gapping where breast tissue used to be and now it’s just rib and then BAM! Expander). And I admit, it’s kind of fun, getting to enjoy the “plus” side to this inherently crappy situation. So darn it, I’m going to!!

#3 I’m celebrating new holidays. And I love it.

The BRCA/mastectomy world involves a lot of terms that may seem foreign to outsiders. It’s almost a whole new language. Words like Boob Voyage, BRCA-versary, or my personal favorite as of late, Boobiversary. I make it no secret that I love holidays. All of them. And I love Pinterest for making it totally acceptable to plan Christmas decorations in March. But I also love that my phone now autocorrects “Boobiversary.” And I love even more, that I got to attend my first Boobiversary party this weekend, for the one and only Amy.

I got a Facebook message a couple weeks ago from her fabulous sister, and let’s just say, we redefined “surprise” – she had NO idea…. see??


It was so perfect, and so fitting. It’s hard to believe her surgery was already a year ago, and that we’ve known each other for 9 months – that’s insanity!! But it was SO special to be there and celebrate such a huge milestone for her. Even though Friday was admittedly rough on my end, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world! And let’s be honest – her friends know how to decorate. And she really does have some “nice tits!” Love this girl!


#4 I’ve become a borderline exhibitionist

I never considered myself an overly modest person to begin with (I DID grow up in the competitive dance world… Yes “Dance Moms” style. Minus the insane crazy) plus being a nurse, it takes a LOT to embarrass me. Especially after you’ve had your shirt off for more strangers in the hospital than you care to count over the last couple months. But lately, I have to admit. I’ve become a flasher (okay maybe THAT’S why Dad won’t read the blog…) But seriously. At the full kitchen table at the apartment. Around the outdoor patio. The bathroom at work. Heck, in the car on the side of the road! Yeah that happened *cough* Eryn *cough* (that’s right, got to see both my original BRCA girls in one weekend, even it was only for a couple minutes!). And don’t even get me started on the “tit pic” texting. You ask how the girls are doing, you get a picture. Pretty simple. Or if in person, it’s a “wanna see?!” Someone posted this on Facebook and I laughed because it’s SO darn true!!


But since the last six weeks or so have been basically entirely boob-focused, I have pretty much become immune. My Facebook feed is filled with pictures from a private group that has been SUCH a help through all of this – but the majority are, of course, boobs. And I don’t think twice about it (or even better, post something along the lines of “looking good”, or my favorite comment on my last expander fill pic “bam chicka wow wow”), until someone is looking over my shoulder and I realize oh RIGHT – boob pics are NOT normal Facebook posts (except now they are…) To that end, thank goodness for the blogosphere for assuring me that my new found exhibitionism is, in fact, totally normal post-op behavior. Otherwise I’m not even sure what I would think of myself at this point! I hesitated to explain this concept for awhile on here for the sake of not sounding like I’ve gone entirely off the deep end, but then I read a blog post by one of the women I met on Facebook (I know that sounds shady but it’s really not!!) that I’ve grown to love who’s just over a week behind me in this process, and she took the words right out of my mouth. The best way to explain it is this: I really don’t feel like I’m showing off anything of MINE. There’s certainly no sexual connotation, and I feel no attachment whatsoever to these rocks called expanders. I don’t have much feeling, and what I do feel is entirely foreign and ANYTHING but natural. So it’s seriously like showing off a piece of art instead of part of my body. People are curious, and rightly so, and it’s just so much easier to explain things (like my amazeballs incisions, or where the drains were) when you see them, and since a lot of my friends are in the medical profession, it’s really not even that weird. They’re boobs. Heck, they’re FOOBS. And my surgeon did fantastic work so I’m not ashamed to show them off, so people can see that breast reconstruction can be nothing short of amazing.

But yes, I must confess. It’s happening. And it’s oddly harder to admit that I have no shame. Hopefully in a few months my boobs will feel like mine once again and I won’t feel the need to show them off. Unless asked of course. Because again with the fantastic and amazing-ness.

#5 My behavior in public is currently questionable. Boob behavior that is.

Also related to the above– After living in this boob-centric world, I must remind myself that it is not, in fact, acceptable to grab ones breasts foobs in public. Even if they hurt. Or if you’re trying to explain JUST HOW HARD expanders are (shout out to Ruthie for being the only one to actually admit how awkward hugs are! And I know, I’ve been on the receiving end!!) The best is when one of my girlfriends is poking them (again with the curiosity and the JUST HOW HARD) and a well-meaning guy turns the corner and walks into that. Cracks me up. Or the size is being discussed. Or the contour. Or the explanation of answering “do you have nipples?” No topic is off the table. And since I can’t feel them… I don’t always realize how the readjusting of the expanders looks! So I publicly apologize. And appreciate that everyone so far just joins in laughing with me!

So there you go, my five week confessions. This post-mastectomy world is certainly a little bit crazy, but I sure am glad to have you all along for the ride!!


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Ever have those days when can’t stop smiling and are convinced every person driving past you must think you’re crazy? Yeah, that was definitely me this afternoon.

Things are going so very well – sometimes it’s hard to believe myself that it was just a month ago that I got home from the hospital when in so many ways it already seems like that “chapter” has closed. Despite my remarkably fond (thanks drugs!) memories of that time (*cough* Boob Voyage) I am so grateful to be moving forward.

I had another follow up with my plastic surgeon this afternoon, but first had the chance to catch up with an incredible woman who’s journey collided with mine a few months ago, and I’m so grateful that it did. Long story short, we met once and she’s been keeping up with me through the blog and we’ve exchanged many an email. I am forever grateful to Amy and Eryn for being “that girl”- the one who’s actually been there – to me and it is such an honor and blessing to pay it forward to someone else. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about how everything fell into place with our meeting and getting to this point – truly amazing, and just makes me smile. I gave her a few things that I consider surgery “must-haves,” we chatted, hugged, and it was just wonderful.

And then the smiling continued with GREAT news and progress with my plastic surgeon. Part of the greatness being that I get to brag on him by name and he no longer will be just “the awesome plastic surgeon.” Though Dr. Teotia is just that. I mean seriously, how many doctor appointments start with huge smiles and a hug? But don’t just take my word for it – take a few minutes to watch the video on the link above about his approach to breast reconstruction and you’ll see what I mean. Oh and did you see the part about going on humanitarian mission trips and doing surgery for kids who have no other resources? Yeah he does that too.

From a medical standpoint, everything looks simply fantastic. So fantastic there was a hesitation about changing anything. But that was short-lived and we decided on moving forward with one more expander fill – 50 cc on each side, bringing the total to 600 cc each which means we’re done filling. DONE!!!! In my effort to be a better “document-er,” I had the fabulous research coordinator (shout out to Jessica!) for the study I was in taking pictures and video. Dr. Teotia soon took over the filming himself, but before he did she caught this picture mid-fill. It so captures everything that makes him such a fantastic, compassionate doctor– the only thing that would make it better would be if the internet wasn’t the internet, and I could post the whole thing that has my facial expression in it too. Darn boobs messing up the picture!  But again. Just makes you smile. Who said this can’t be fun?!


The left expander weirdness is still there (you can tell it’s rotated based off of where the fill port is), but it’s bothering me far less as the expanders have settled, and he reassured me again that it will all be fixed with my next surgery. And actually this fill has made it so there’s less rippling and seemingly less pulling (on my sternum, that is). Definitely more tightness than I had with the first fill, as we’re doing some more notable stretching, but that was to be expected, so I’m taking it easy tonight. We talked about the exchange surgery again, specifically the implants, additional sutures to hold everything in place on that left side, and fat grafting. Hard to believe this was my last visit for the clinical trial I was in– seems like just yesterday I sat down with Jessica and she wrote out all the appointments. September seemed SO far away! So she took her final pictures, and then, since I’m DONE (did I mention that?!) I had professional pictures taken too. I almost have that “super girl” pose owned.

And, saving the best for last… before I left I got to truly look forward and schedule my exchange surgery!!!! My friends and I had joked about how I would likely get new boobs for Christmas… well it’s more like new boobs for Thanksgiving! That’s right, the countdown is on – November 22 is the day!! Woohoo!!! 77 days… I’d say “but who’s counting,” but let’s be honest you all know I am!! Can’t believe I’m already at this point and the end is truly in sight. Just amazing!!

So the waiting game has begun to let everything finish healing, and soon enough I’ll be seeing this guy in pre-op…


Needless to say, I’m still smiling!!

One Month!

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This time just four short weeks ago I was only a few hours out of the OR, laying perfectly still in a hospital bed, fearful to move my arms more than the movement it took to hit the button on my Morphine PCA. Four drains hung from my sides with bright red blood pooling in them every few hours. The pain was pretty significant, the muscle spasms worse. Thankfully, few remnants of that night remain. But the relief that I felt that night, despite the physical pain? That has stayed strong.

Earlier this week I saw an interesting thing in one of the BRCA-related Facebook groups I’m in that I hadn’t really considered before. And it really made me think. When we got the pathology report back a few days after my surgery that there was no cancer, we obviously celebrated – I beat cancer before it could beat me. Before it even had a chance to start. I can now laugh at this ecard without getting a pit in my stomach because I know there’s some truth to it:


But then there’s the part that I casually mentioned about having dense breast tissue. To be specific, the pathology report reads “Right breast: Breast parenchyma with focal adenosis” and “Left Breast: Benign breast parenchyma with fibrocystic and fibroadenomatoid changes.” I didn’t think much about it, since a) I already knew it was there, b) it’s benign, and c) it’s very common, especially in women my age. However, a wise woman pointed out that hers read the same thing, and while she too, celebrated, she couldn’t help but realize what was lurking. That those densities are precursors to lumps. Benign lumps. But lumps nonetheless. And in the BRCA world, no lump is benign until proven otherwise. That what was lurking was an abnormal mammogram or MRI, that would lead to an ultrasound and a biopsy. And with inconclusive results, a surgery. And potentially over and over again. Even if it wasn’t cancer, it would be the the fear that it was. And always could be. Explaining it that way? It gives me chills. That I had precursors in my breast tissue to everything that made me hate the idea of surveillance – the false positives, the unnecessary worries, the precious time (and sleep!) wasted. The not knowing “is this it? Is this the time they find something?” And that could have been me, pursuing that lump, as benign as it may be– in 6 months, a year, who knows how long. But that would have been my future. And thinking of it like that makes me even more relieved to know I won’t find myself in that vulnerable position. I made the right choice for me, at the right time, and have absolutely no regrets. Just relief.

So now that that’s off my (saline-filled) chest, on to the one month milestones! To update my “weekly progress”:

Incisions: Still looking great! Healing beautifully all around, improving every day. Still can’t get over how small they are – they are literally just on the sides and completely covered by a bra of pretty much any kind… oddly I’m looking forward to being able to wear a real bra! But sports ones for now it is. I have already decided my Christmas present to myself will be going to Nordstrom for a formal fitting post exchange surgery… and heck I may be the easiest person ever to buy presents for this year!!

Phantom Itching/Nerves: Nerve regeneration is definitely in action. I feel random shoots of feeling. Still totally numb across the nipples and most of the surface, from my sternum to my incisions, as expected. The searing back pain has thankfully subsided (knock on wood!) ironically since the day I asked my plastic surgeon about the sliding expander. I am so grateful for that, as it would wake me up from sleeping and hit me at the most random times. Random things like putting on deodorant still cause some weird nerve pain, but these occurrences are few and far between, and noticeably improved already. Oddly enough, goose bumps are the most painful of the weird sensations – who would have thought?! Thankfully my hoodie collection is more than adequate, so I just make a conscious point to stay warm.

Pain/Muscle spasms: No more muscle spasms at all! If only I could have assured myself they would be GONE a few weeks ago – ha! So glad they left with the drains! The expanders remain a tad uncomfortable, but really have gotten so much more tolerable. That, or I’m getting used to them. I’ll call it 80/20 on that! I had to laugh when my roommate was taking “tit pics” this evening to document my progress, and she was pointing something out and accidentally touched my boob (of course I can’t feel it). And she says “WHOA those are HARD!” I just had to laugh – it’s so true. They are totally rocks, boulder boobs, whatever you prefer to call them, just like everyone said they would be. Totally unnatural, that’s for sure! Especially the ports – they are ridiculously hard. I seriously can’t wait for the “squishiness” of gummy bears (final implants) in a few months! As for the discomfort, I still take Advil and Tylenol a couple times a day, more for the dull ache pulling on my sternum than anything. Sometimes I’ll feel muscle/tissue pulling when I’m reaching or trying to lift more than I should, but I generally know my limits. Range of motion is pretty much amazing at this point, and stretching out the soreness hurts so good.

Size: Ready to grow again! 50 cc made a decent difference, so I’m excited to get the show on the road later this week. Mainly because the rippling of the expanders is weird looking and contributing to the pulling sensation, I think. Thankfully, they’ll be filled on Thursday and that should mostly go away.

Sleep: HUGE relief here… sleep is So. Much. Better. It’s attributable to a variety of things… being back in my own bed, wearing myself out more every day, and the drain sites being healed/expanders getting less bothersome that I can comfortably sleep on my side now! I was an “everything” sleeper before… not dedicated to one position, though I’d often end up on my stomach. I’m oddly grateful for the months I had to sleep sitting up last year after my septoplasty/rhinoplasty, as I never had been a back sleeper before, but now it doesn’t bother me. But being able to move around is a HUGE help. And restful sleep just makes everything better!!!

Stir crazy: Oh so very gone! It’s hard to believe when I think back to just a week ago when I was updating this, and the progress I have made – like WHOA! I’d say I’m probably 90% (if not more) of the way back to my normal self already. This weekend I went to the first football game of the season for my college alma mater (which was legitimately a 12 hour affair between pre-game festivities and a late kickoff) on Saturday and to a matinee of Book of Morman (amazing. By the way) with my parents and Ruthie on Sunday. Monday I took it mostly easy, but attempted the first of my infamous “hurricanes” or as Amy and I have dubbed it “Sunday Prep Day” (except it was Monday). You know when have laundry going while you’re cooking while you’re cleaning while you’re… yeah. I don’t do well without all my ducks in a row before the work week starts! Ironically that stuff is harder than the trips out– you really use a lot of pec muscles to hang up laundry and reach for high kitchen shelves! But really, my weekend was no different than it would have been pre-mastectomy, and I wasn’t overly exhausted like I anticipated. And for just 4 weeks out? I call that a win!

Work: Ended up working a full day last Friday (there was stuff to do and not stuff to do at home!), and did fine, so it’s truly back in full swing now, and with good timing. So I ended up using 3.5 weeks of my 6 weeks approved FMLA – not too shabby! It’s great to be back. And good to be missed. Just would like to get caught up and ahead of things to my normal pace, which is a slow but steady process.

So that’s where I’m at! I continue to be so very grateful for everyone involved in my journey thus far – I wasn’t quite sure where I would be at one month out, but I truly couldn’t be happier. I don’t take my quick recovery for granted for a moment, and know I’m so fortunate to be where I’m at — in a place where I met people for the first time today that truly had no idea why I had been out, and would have never known if it hadn’t come up in conversation. That’s part great recovery, part amazing reconstructive surgery!! So going forward from here– oddly enough I’m actually looking forward to my plastic surgery appointment Thursday– he’s great, and more than anything it means PROGRESS! Ready for these next steps so by my 26th birthday this will hopefully all be a thing of the past! Craziness. But awesomeness! More to come then– enjoy the short week!!