Two Weeks Post Exchange!

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Wow, how two weeks flies!! I had my post-op visit with Dr. Teotia, my wonderful plastic surgeon, today. Thankfully they were able to get us in early so we made it out before this crazy weather hits (they say it’s for real this time, and based on the speed of the temperature dropping, it’s looking unfortunately reminiscent of the infamous Super Bowl storm!)

Everything looks absolutely fantastic and we had a great visit with him and his wonderful nurse. So much so, at the end he sent in others to admire his “art!” I was happy to show off – that’s got to be the biggest proof of success right there!!

I had one stitch popping out on my right breast incision that my nurse snipped off, and she went ahead and took out the other sutures and all the tape! I didn’t think that stuff would ever come off so that was a relief – they all look awesome and I got a handful of adhesive remover to get them cleaned up before I shower tomorrow. The fat grafting sites, both where it was taken and where it was injected, look awesome. Bruising was pretty fierce, especially on my thighs and upper abdomen, but is much improved, and the soreness is getting better every day. It will be interesting to see how much of it stays, which only time will tell. Hopefully it all will – I couldn’t be happier with how they look! There’s always the option of doing it again, but I’d really rather not have to do that! We all agreed that we’re glad we did the two expansions and did 640cc implants… At one point we had kind of toyed with the idea of 580 cc’s, but I’m so glad we didn’t. This model of implant (Natrelle 410/teardrop gummy bear) is very wide so they fit my build really well, and the size is exactly what I wanted – I did a photo collage of pre and post op next to each other, and it’s incredible – they look so much like my original boobs, just fuller and with more projection, but still amazingly natural. I’m just amazed, both to be at this point, and the incredible results!

I was also cleared to wear a real bra!! It’s been months since I’ve done that! I also got the fabulous news that I should never wear an underwire again… I’m remarkably okay with that! The reasoning being that the implants are plenty perky on their own, they just need some elastic support, and the skin will always be a little more fragile, so the rubbing of the wire would be no bueno. I’ll still wear a sports bra at night to keep them on place since we had issues with that left side moving, but the Strattice/pig skin is definitely doing it’s job – no more sliding around! My nurse also mentioned to wait a couple months before buying any expensive bras, that the implants have a lot of settling to do and my bra size may very well change in the next couple months. So bras for a birthday present to myself it is!! I’ll probably get some Target ones next week just so I can wear all the shirts I have that don’t play nice with sports bra straps! And mentally for the sake of being doneeee!!! :)

I’m cleared to start slowly increasing my activity, just not to go crazy with lifting, and to listen to my body and stop if I have any pec discomfort. The New Year will be the 6 week mark when I think I’ll definitely feel confident that I’m recovered, so I’m kind of laying low till then, both to be cautious and because there’s just so much chaos with the holidays! My goal is to have total, complete range of motion back by then however… I’d say I’m about 95% there now… Just a little bit of tightness with “snow angel” movements. So that’s a great goal, I think. And lastly I was cleared to… Sleep on my stomach!! Woohoo!! Really it was “sleep however you want!” but this former belly sleeper is ecstatic! It’s the little things…

I had a few other random questions that were answered… With “old” silicone implants you used to have to have MRIs every few years to check for a silent rupture. There’s mixed opinions on the interwebs about whether this applies to the gummy bears, and I was glad to get the definitive “not needed.” I will follow up with Dr. T for awhile to monitor them, but the big thing they look for is capsular contraction. Thankfully because I did so well with the expanders, the risk of that happening is low. So really the follow up after all of this is with plastic surgery, and then yearly with my breast surgeon for an exam (no imaging with that either – woohoo!)  Other things that will be addressed in the future, once I’m all healed from this surgery, is some scar reduction from some small marks that were left from a pesky drain (I know that explanation likely makes no sense, but I can’t come up with a better way to explain it), watching for rippling (there’s a little bit on my right side when I do a lot of contorting, but really not bad – just something to watch), and perhaps we’ll discuss a bit of nipple tattooing. I don’t know that I lost pigment versus they’re just a totally different shape/projection than before and therefore it’s noticeable, but it’s something I may consider. We’ll see… It’s not a big deal, and pretty far off my radar at this point in the game, but a possibility.  Those are simply the “finishing touches” to consider over the next months.

We chatted about some other stuff, took some more pictures in the office, and then we were off! I’ll see him again in 3 months… Holy crap that’s spring!! And I’ll have been seeing him for over a year at that point. Just insane how time flies. Luckily I was able to schedule that appointment the same day I see my gyn-onc for my regular ovarian cancer screening appointment… After sooo many appointments and everything this year, I’m desperately trying to minimize my time away from work and “normal” life. But all in all, a great appointment and I left smiling, as usual!

So, in other news… I alluded to this last week but put off mentioning it more because it’s been complicated and frustrating and frankly I haven’t felt well enough to, but I promised myself I’d be totally honest when I started this blog so here goes… If you’ve been following long at all you know my VP shunt has basically been an unexpected curse since the day I started all the BRCA and mastectomy-related appointments after I turned 25. Between it apparently raising CA-125 levels, finding out from my breast MRI it went straight through my right breast tissue, and then it subsequently being “fractured” (as pretty much expected… and thus immediately fixed) during my mastectomy, you’d think I really shouldn’t be surprised it caused problems, yet again. Even with a seamless surgery experience and fantastic results.

But alas… Long story short, we’ve figured out, after I finally stopped stubbornly (or stupidly, in retrospect) denying something was wrong, an ER visit and accompanying hospital admit (with a Thanksgiving miracle – between both my amazing nurse and MY neurosurgeon being on call on the holiday they got us discharged in time to make it to dinner at Ruthie’s!), some meds, and finally an LP this morning, that the post-surgery swelling (in the unfortunate, yet necessary, overlap of location) has been messing with my shunt. CTs prove it’s all physically all connected correctly (thank goodness!!), it’s just been functioning differently than usual, causing the symptoms. Thankfully we got some answers with the procedure this morning, and that combined with the swelling from the surgery subsiding, I’m hopeful this will soon be a blur of a bump in the road and I’ll be feeling better every day. Also, for what it’s worth, all that radiation exposure in the past week? Made me grateful, yet again, I had this surgery. Take that, faulty BRCA genes!!!

So it’s been a bit of an unexpectedly bumpy recovery, but nothing we can’t handle, and I truly believe we’re now moving in the right direction – unfortunately, shunt symptoms are just something you can’t mess around with, given the potential ramifications that are too scary to even think about, let alone list. It sucks, but it’s just the reality. I’m continually grateful for the incredible people in my life who drop everything for me at a moments notice and who are understanding when plans get changed, my doctors and entire medical team, for being wonderful even when things don’t go exactly as we (and by that I mean control freak me) would like, and of course my parents for never leaving my side.

I love Christmas like a little kid and am so excited to spend the holiday season with family and friends, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’m very much so looking forward to the “light at the end of the tunnel” that is 2014. More on that soon, I’m sure. Until next time, stay safe and stay warm in this crazy weather (81* yesterday, below freezing today… Gotta love it!!)