Merry Christmas to me.

For Christmas, I got myself a new expander! I had surgery this morning to replace the expander that was removed in October. I wasn’t quite as nervous for this procedure as I was for the last 2. I was determined to do my recovery without narcotics (they caused nothing but problems with my first two- constipation, vomiting, dizziness…) so I started my recovery with just tylenol. It only took about an hour to change my mind, although I’m still using them lightly.
The pain is the most difficult to describe. WOW it hurts, but in a general muscle soreness that runs all the way around my back. Thank God I have no pain with the incision. I’ve been laying on a heating pad that the nurses brought me for hours. It really does help a lot. As long as I’m not moving around much the pain is beyond bearable, which is great if you ask me! But as soon as I have to move my arm (or forget and just do it) the pain is awful. However, I would take this dull general muscle soreness over the pain I felt with my first two surgeries any day. At least breathing is easy this time! The only big complaint I have is that the muscle aching is keeping me up all night. Oh well, at least I can sleep all day!
Overall this was the easiest procedure yet (knock on wood). Prayers for a smooth recovery are welcome!
Xoxo
Dayna

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Update

Wow, so it’s been a while since I posted last. A lot has changed.
I was doing really well for the first few weeks after surgery, until I had an infection that the doctors couldn’t find because it didn’t present like a normal infection (no redness, heat, or fever).
Finally I woke up one morning (October 5) feeling like I was being stabbed between the ribs. I ended up in the ER and had an emergency surgery. They took my expander out (only from the right side) and cleaned up a nasty infection and pockets of blood. I have to wait about 3 months for my body to heal before they can put it back in.
Although I feel much better physically, I’m emotionally having a really hard time. Up until only a few days ago, I couldn’t look at my body in the mirror without crying, especially since the left and right sides look so extremely different. I also felt really defeated because I was back to square one, with new drain tubes and new restrictions. Also, it turned my procedure into 4 total surgeries instead of two. It also lengthened the total timeframe by about 6 months.
However, it does feel good to be back at work finally and back to living a mostly-normal life (besides the fact that scarves have become an essential part of my daily wardrobe to cover my insecurities).

I just know this whole process will be one day at a time.

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Done!

So I had my procedure yesterday. The doctors and nurses are all great and said everything went well.

The pain is weird. It’s not sharp pain or incision pain or anything like that. But wow it hurts. It feels like there is an elephant on my chest. They have me on a few different meds. I started out only on one pain med… I pushed the button and it gave it IV. I could push the button every 10 minutes. This was great until I fell asleep for an hour (therefore wasn’t pressing the button) and woke up in terrible pain. Ever since that incident they’ve had me on oral meds too.
The nurses tell you to get lots of sleep, then come in every hour or so and wake you up lol but I know they’re helping! I bled through 3 gowns yesterday but am having a LOT less drainage today.

Well, just wanted to give a quick update. Back to breakfast for me! Thanks for all the support!

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Surgery Week

I honestly thought (and hoped) this day would never come. Today is Sunday, the first day of the week of my surgery. It came so quickly.

Last Friday we had a goodbye party for my boobs. A bunch of my girl friends came over and we drank and ate boob cupcakes and laughed. It was amazing to see how much support I have. There’s also a uh…. Cough cough… New man in my life who I couldn’t be more blessed to have by my side for this.

So my dad will fly here on Wednesday, and my surgery is Thursday. From the sounds of if, I’ll spend the first 3 days in the hospital. A few days later my mom will be here for a few weeks to take care of me. I’ve been amazed by how many people have asked me if they can come visit in the hospital. It’s incredible how much support and love and prayer I’ve received (it probably helps that I’m very open about it). But there are a few things I’m terrified of that I haven’t told many people.

I’ve never had surgery so I have no clue what to expect. I’m scared of the pain, of course, and I have an irrational fear of feeling nauseous so of course I’m afraid of that too. But I’m also very emotional about the whole thing. I’m literally losing a part of me. A part that makes me a woman, a part that would feed my future children. I’ve never had a big chest so it’s not like I’m losing much but it’s still heartbreaking to me. Part of me will be missing, even if they do reconstruct.

I also have a huge pet peeve: people telling me “at least you can go bigger!” I’ve never had a problem with my chest size. I mean, sure I joke about it, I know they’re small, but I’m a small girl. They’re me. They are how God made me. And I would not choose to alter them unless if it was for my health. This means so much more to me than that.

So today is Sunday… 3 days of work this week and then I’m off for 3 weeks to recover. Here goes nothing.

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Let’s start at the beginning…

So this post will be long. I have many years to cover… Bear with me 🙂

Ok, let’s start at the beginning. My mom comes from a big family, with 7 siblings (4 sisters, 3 brothers, and herself).
Most of my moms siblings all live in the area they grew up in in Pennsylvania, except us. Our family lived in both Maine and Minnesota. Because of that (and probably some things that happened in the family’s past that I don’t ask about) we have never been very close with her side of the family.
I always knew for as long as I can remember that breast cancer ran in the family, but I didn’t know a whole lot about it (insert reiteration about not being close to the extended family here). I remember always assuming that I would get breast cancer, but it was more of a “joke” (for extreme lack of better words) than a reality. It seemed so far away. It wasn’t until my mom sat my sister and I down when I was 21 (my sister, 22) that we realized how true that was. My mother explained that there was a gene, brca2, for breast cancer, and she had it, as did my grandmother and two aunts. She recommended we get tested for preventative measures.
My sister jumped right into the brca2 pool head first. She got tested (positive), and began her bi-annual MRI’s, mammograms, ultrasounds, blood tests, and doctors appointments.

I didn’t get tested. Instead I cried. Do I really want to know that part of my future? If I’m positive, would it be selfish to have children of my own and possibly pass a potentially deadly gene on to them? Would it change the way I see myself? Would it scare me more than help me? And how terrible would I feel for my mother and sister if I were negative and they carried this weight without me? Very irrational, I know, but I’m sure I’m not the only person to have thought like that.

Fast forward 3 years….
I’m 24. I’ve waited, thought about it, rationalized, and couldn’t come up with a single reason I’d rather be in the dark. So I scheduled an appointment with a genealogist. With my best friend in tow (I now live 1500 miles from any family), I got tested. A few weeks later I received a call at work. The voice on the other line simply said “we need to schedule a follow-up appointment.” “Does that mean it’s positive?” I asked. “Yes.”

That was it. My life fell apart within a matter of a 20 second phone call. I had to go to the break room and cry just to get it out. I pulled it together, finished my work day as a receptionist at a vet clinic, and scheduled what felt like a million doctors appointments.

I’m telling you, you forget what shy is when you have strangers looking at, touching, talking about your boobs weekly. So after appointments with a general surgeon assigned to my case (who I love), an MRI, mammogram, ultrasound (brca2 also increases the chance of ovarian cancer), a new birth control that doesn’t have estrogen which is now dangerous to me, life moved on. A year later, after my second set of billion tests and at the ripe age of I’m-25-and-still-on-my-parents-insurance-for-7-more-months, I’ve decided to have a reconstructive double mastectomy. It’s scheduled for September 11th, about 4 weeks from now.

This is my journey.

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