I set my alarm for an hour and a half before having to be at the hospital, but I was able to get ready so quickly that were able to get to the hospital early, and plus, I got tons of cuddles from my puppy in before leaving home.
Ps: being prepared helped so much and it kept my nerves at bay.
I got to the hospital and got my bed, at first, I was very anxious as I was in a room with 4 people in the oncology surgery unit and it made me feel strange as I don’t have cancer and my surgery was for preventative reasons. I had quite a wait before I went up to the surgeons office for markings and then as soon as he was done, the nurses were calling for me already because I had to go into theatre.
Now I have to say that I know that I am not the smartest person in the world, nor am I the most stupid.
We spent 2 hours with the general surgeon over 2 appointments and 2 hours with the plastic surgeon over 2 appointments discussing all the options and the surgery in detail. (we specifically asked them to give us as much detail as possible aka: talk to us like we were stupid)
From the first appointment with the general surgeon, he said they could do the entire surgery through a half-moon incision underneath the nipple, which was what we both wanted ideally.
Then after our second appointment with the GS, we met with the plastic surgeon who said that might not be the case as he might need more space to work and he said he might need to cut downward from the half-moon incision. The second appointment with PS we spoke a lot about expanders vs. implants and how big to go and how the reconstruction process works for both options etc etc, as you all know I definitely went there with a notebook and pen to ask my 100 questions…
I came to terms with all of that, however 30mins before going into theatre, during the marking process he marked out something very different to what we discussed after 4 hours with both of them because they needed to cut away a lot of skin in order to create the shape the plastic surgeon was opting for. He also marked out that they were to move and cut away at some of my nipple and give me a scar around the nipple, a long cut downwards and a cut underneath the entire breast…
I will add in pictures below of the scars I thought I was going to have… to those that I have now:
When Russel saw the markings before the surgery, he knew what was about to happen scar wise and assumed I did to, but 30mins before this huge surgery and all that was going through my mind, I wasn’t in a space to truly realise what was going on, and that’s why it was such a big shock to me.
If I could back to the 4 hours we spent with my surgeons, I would have taken a picture of a breast with and said, mark here where my scars are going to be in order to mentally prepare.
I went into theatre very scared and very emotional, but the nurses were very sweet, and the anaesthesiologist was nice, and he made me calm and made a few corny jokes and put me at ease before going under.
When I woke up in recovery, I couldn’t breathe well, and it felt as though someone was sitting on my chest. My breathing was very shallow, and they had to put me on oxygen to assist.
But it is normal to feel this way because there is something on top on your chest that was not there before, and your body has just gone through a crazy huge surgery!!
The recovery room was one of the worst times for me, because you’re “alone”, no loved ones and they need to make sure all your vitals are ok before letting you go back to the ward. I had to get an injection in the bum for my nausea (think about it, turning on my side only seconds after waking up from a HUGE breast surgery — OUCH)
I was wheeled back to my room and as soon as they opened the doors of the recovery, my hubby was there waiting for me! It was the most relieving moment ever. Back in my room, all of a sudden, I got very nauseous and started vomiting a lot, my poor nurse and husband were cleaning up after me and taking such good care of me. (sorry for the graphic imagery)
I had a pain pump filled with morphine and they gave me a drain into my breasts in surgery that pumped general anaesthetic into them for a day or 2. Which helped A LOT with the pain management.
2 days later, the hospital moved me into a private room as the general ward was filling up and I had to still be there for a few days, so I got the lucky straw with the upgrade.
That same day the nurses has to remove the anaesthesia pump and then had to redo the dressings on the 1 breast…. I looked down and could only see my nipple (started crying) and then asked Russel to please take a photo so that I could see more… and that was NOTHING that I prepared for mentally to see… I knew that because of the change in approach 30mins before my surgery that things weren’t going to be the same, but it only hit me when I saw what I looked like afterwards… it took me a long time to stop crying and come to terms with the amount of scarring and just the feeling of not being told what to expect before actually seeing the big change…
That was hard!
Russel and I both spoke to my surgeons and we understand 100% why they made the change, but I spent numerous hours with my psychologist to prepare me for this surgery and then it all changed with no communication.
There were misunderstandings on our side due to the fact that 2 surgeons said 2 different things on the reconstruction part and I don’t think that they were not on the same page about the incisions or just didn’t convey this to us. We focused on the options between expanders and direct to implant so much that scars weren’t covered like they should have been…
But after ALL that drama, I still trust my plastic surgeon on how he decided to go in terms of reconstruction and I know he will give me the best results with the final product.
I am still grateful to both my surgeons for what they did for me by taking my chances of getting cancer from 87% to 5%!!!! They are both extremely kind men and I appreciate them tremendously.
I am telling you this not to scare any of you! But to prepare you and to beg you to please ask about these things and be 100% prepared.
I spent a week in hospital, I was only allowed to go home once I got both drains removed, they redid my dressings before sending me home and gave me all my medication for pain management.
I saw the plastic surgeon 3 days later to change the dressings to Comfeel, which is transparent dressings that assist with scar healing and are a lot more comfortable than normal dressings.
I have made my appointment for my first expander fill in 2 week’s time as he wants me scars to be healed nicely before starting.
This is one heck of a journey!!!!
It’s painful, it’s emotional, it’s crazy but it is all WORTH IT!