Breast Reconstruction Scheduled

Since my first attempt at my breast reconstruction failed after my bilateral mastectomy with partial reconstruction last year I’ve been terrified to have a 5th surgery on my chest. But now that I’ve completed chemo and my first 3-month cancer screening came up clean, I really want to get on with my life and put all this behind me. But I can’t. Not while I still have to look in the mirror and see scars across my chest and not while I have my chemo port implanted in my chest.

After going back and forth in my own mind about when I’d build the courage to have another surgery, when my oncologist would sign off, when I could make time to be down and out for a few weeks (possibly longer), when my surgeon could get me, and a whole bunch of other things – driving myself completely crazy, I made an appointment with my plastic surgeon. I purposely scheduled it for today – the day after meeting with my oncologist – and didn’t really tell anyone about it – until now. I decided instead of me trying to figure out what my oncologist and plastic surgeon would say, I’d just ask them.

I didn’t want to get my hopes up about being able to get it done if I was going to have to wait longer.

I’m happy to report, yesterday my oncologist signed off and my plastic surgeon agreed that we could do it. I have to see my primary care for one more physical just to make sure I can get through the surgery, but that should be fine, so my breast reconstruction is scheduled for March 7.

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After talking with my plastic surgeon at length, discussing everything that happened last time,  how pain pills don’t really seem to work for me and how I’m very, very sensitive to pain, he didn’t think I’d be able to handle the more invasive breast reconstruction. He told me to “hear him out” because he knew I didn’t want the tissue expanders, but given my history and the facts they’re really the best option. So, reluctantly I agreed and we’re going to try the breast tissue expanders again – except this time he’s going to put them over the chest muscle instead of under it. He thinks this will work better in my case and even be less painful.

I’m nervous to get those freaking expanders put back in after what happened with them last time. But when he started talking about what the other surgery would entail I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle it. I’ll admit it – I’m weak! I’m very sensitive to pain, and like I said, pain killers don’t really work for me.

This surgery will take about 3 hours and … I think it’s outpatient … Wow. I asked so many questions, I can’t believe I forgot to ask that one. I’ll call Monday and check – I’m still fighting the “chemo brain.”I’ll also have those damn drains again for 7-10 days and it should only be about a 2 week recovery. So, if all goes according to plan, it doesn’t seem that bad at all.

Then, after I heal from the surgery I’ll go back in weekly to begin the breast expansion process. They’ll stick a needle filled with saline in each of my breasts and slowly “fill me up” – about 100 CC’s per week, if I can handle it. Once my breasts are expanded to the size I want (or what the FDA regulates it at – whichever comes first), then I’ll have another surgery to have the expanders removed and my silicone implants will be inserted. He’s hopeful that we’ll be all done with everything by June/July – but that is going to depend on me and my body. I’m really prayerful that my body won’t reject the expanders  again and I won’t have all that pain again.

Then, I will eventually have nipples 3D tattooed on. That parts not covered by insurance, but I am trying to get myself back to as normal as possible. Prices vary, but it appears – at least in my area – to average about $400 per breast.

I’ve got lots to do to prepare for surgery, but I’m getting another step closer to being healthy and “normal” again.

My mom will be coming back out for a few weeks to help me out; hopefully she can come a few days early so we can have a little fun before the surgery.

After this, I’ll only have my hysterectomy left and then I’ll truly be able to put my breast cancer behind me for good.

7 thoughts on “Breast Reconstruction Scheduled

  1. This is a sound plan Dana, I had the expanders over the pectoral muscles not under and it was quite tolerable. I had low tech nipple tattooes(ten yrs ago), but my friend recently had the 3D and there is no comparison! So glad your Mom can come out to be with you. Praying that all will go smoothly.
    Carmen

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Carmen! I really hope the expanders work this time. Last time honestly is what nightmares are made of! I have such a low tolerance for pain, so I’m not looking forward to the first few days after the surgery, but prayerfully it’ll be a much smoother process this time. I’m glad my mom will be coming out because I’ll definitely need help and Aiden’s birthday is the following week, so she can help with that plus she’s only spent one birthday with him his whole life – and that was his first birthday – so it’ll be cool to have her here for his 12th birthday!

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  2. Hi Dana! I am planning on having reconstruction one fine day. My plastic surgeon has me convinced that the tummy flap is the best choice, because although it involves an extra surgical site at present, it’s a once and for all surgery. With the implants he said you are committing yourself to a lifetime of surgery, as they have to be replaced every ten years or so. I did get an expander put in under the muscle at the time of my mastectomy, but the other thing my doctor does is give you a shot of botulism into the chest wall muscle, which keeps it from spasoming as much, and lowers the pain.

    I have been blessed since my mastectomy with a lot of numbness. I am kind of hoping it lasts forever.

    I just discovered your blog, and I am looking forward to going back through your experiences. I will be starting chemo in three or four weeks, for twenty weeks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sharon. Thanks for following my blog! Good luck with chemo (I have some blogs about random things that happened to me during my chemo and some remedies I found that KIND OF helped). Chemo sucked and as you get further along you’ll be more fatigued and feel pretty crappy … but do not give up! You can do it!
      I also have a facebook page (www.facebook.com/battlingbreastcancerandbeyond – it’s linked on the homepage of this blog) where I encourage dialogue and try to provide inspiration and motivational quotes. I went through everything almost entirely alone and I don’t want anyone to have to do that!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m almost afraid to read about the chemo experience! I have my chemo teach on Monday and might have to pull my head out of the sand. Can I ask how far in the hair loss occurred? I pulled all my hair back and tied a tee shirt around my head yesterday and I looked horrid! Had my first 50 cc injected in my expander yesterday. That at least was painless.

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  3. Every chemo treatment is different, I had TAC, which is one of the more aggressive treatments, and my hair came out 2 weeks and three days after my first treatment. 😦 I wrote about it: https://battlingbreastcancerandbeyond.com/2016/06/25/i-lost-my-hair-today/
    I tried to be as transparent as I could throughout the process, just so others who may be going through, or getting ready to go through it, have some sort of information. I read some blogs and articles, but I didn’t expect half the stuff that happened to actually happen to me, or I didn’t find information so it was like every day I woke up: SUPRISE! Now chemo did *this* to you. I wish I would have written more than I did when I was going through chemo, but I was just so sick. But I did work some days and I still was the Team Mom of my son’s football team and I didn’t miss a game! I was actually at most of the practices, too. I was miserable, but I wanted my son to see me as the same ‘ol mom. 🙂

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