Friday, January 13, 2012

Hi.... Remember me?

I know, slap my hand, I haven't blogged in FOREVER! I haven't had much to write about since cancer-wise I've been in limbo for so long. But, I finally have an update!

I met with my plastic surgeon, Dr Skoracki this week. The new one that I LOVE!!! He had told me to take a break till after Christmas and let my body re-coop from the gall bladder removal, and the 2 surgeries to fix what Dr Garvey did with my expander. So, we agreed to meet again after the holidays.

I am still having the TRAM flap surgery.  Short version: they take your stomach and transplant it to your breasts.
Long version: they cut me from hip to hip, from my C-section scar up to my belly button in an almond shape. They remove that piece of skin, fat and a little of the muscle, cut it in half and mold it and shape it to my breasts. But, before all that happens, my regular surgeon will remove my left breast (my choice) and then hand the OR over to the plastic surgeon. Plastic surgeon will re-open my incision on my right breast from the mastectomy and they are using most of my skin that they saved. They will use the fat and tissue from my stomach to fill in the part under my arm (my "arm-pit butt crack" as I call it) and my concave part on my chest. (Thank you Dr Garvey for leaving me with that!!! I will always remember you as the Dr who F---ed my body up) They re-attach the blood vessels, wait for it to turn pink and then I'm done......

For now....

This will be the first of a few surgeries. There will be one at a later date (probably 6 months to 1 year) to tweak anything that settled wrong, fill in any gaps, holes, etc... Since they are using my tissue, my body should adapt well, but it's always a possibility that one will be noticeably bigger than the other after the swelling goes down, or one might hang lower than the other. It's much different than just getting a regular breast enhancement without cancer. Those can be done easier, and more even looking because they have breasts to go by to begin with.  With me, they are basically taking a flat surface and creating 2 small mounds on it. Try to do it with play-dough and then you'll see how hard it is to get them exactly the same on the first try.

So, for surgery date: Waiting for a call. It will be after spring break though. (Late march, or April) They have to coordinate with my regular surgeon to both be operating on the same day, and then coordinate their schedules together, and then call me and give me a few options. He said I am looking at 2-3 months.  In the meantime, I have to get a procedure done called an Angiogram to check my blood flow through my arteries in my stomach area. Because I had an emergency C-section with Grayson, they want to be sure that nothing got snipped accidentally and that I have good blood flow through all the arteries they will be using.

He also said I had wonderfully placed fat! Yay! I guess if there is a way to get fat, you want to make sure that yours accumulates OVER your fascia and not under it. Mine is all on top of my fascia (the layer between the muscle and fat or skin) which means that he won't have to use as much muscle from my stomach during the transplant. I have enough fat for 2 breasts, (not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing... depends on how you look at it) but they will be smaller than my current size, which I've decided won't be that bad..... especially with a nice, padded Victoria's Secret bra.  :-)  Plus, I'll have a flat stomach FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE, so I'm a tad bit excited about that. I'm a visual person, and since I've NEVER had a flat stomach, I cannot even visualize it.

Recovery time: 4-5 days in the hospital and 6-8 weeks at home. It's a tough surgery. It's a long surgery. So, I'll be asking for help again with my kids. Rides to dance, pre-school, etc... maybe a play date here and there at the park. I'm not sure exactly how long before I'll be able to drive a car or lift anything, so when the time gets closer, I'll start making those phone calls to arrange child arrangements, maybe a laundry fairy, or a vacuum fairy. Chris will be most likely taking off 2 weeks of vacation to be with me, but I'm honestly not sure if I'll be able to do all my normal mommy-duties by 2 weeks post-op. It wouldn't be that bad if Grayson was in school full time, but as it is, I have to get the kids to the bus stop every morning, get Grayson to school 2 days a week, fix him breakfast & lunch on his non-school days, pick the kids up from the bus stop, and get them started on chores and homework, and get Kaylee to dance 2 days a week. I'm pretty sure I have the transportation thing covered with my awesome friends, but you don't think about simple things like having to make a PBJ for your toddler or multiple sippy

Emotionally: I am so thankful that there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel. I've felt like I've been running a never ending marathon up until this end in sight. I haven't been able to wear a V-neck shirt in almost a year. I haven't been able to wear anything with a tight sleeve in almost a year because my arm is swollen from the lymph node removal. (mild lymphedema). My chest is concave, so even some scoop neck shirts are out because you can see that I only have one boob. I've been so limited in my wardrobe to mostly high neck t-shirts, and sweat pants. Partly because I don't want to buy a whole bunch of clothes that may not fit me after surgery, partly because we are broke and partly because I'm still trying to lose my chemo weight so I'm in between sizes. My bra weighs over 5 lbs because of the prosthetic boob, and I have major muscle/scar tissue cramping going on. So, aside from all the complications I have had with the expander, just the whole "feeling deformed" and lop sided has been tough. I've been avoiding going many places, especially if it requires a dress code outside of a warm up suit or jeans and a tee. Half the clothes in my closet are not options for me because of one reason or another. I haven't been to church since around March or April, except for a Bible study during my radiation. I have basically only been to the gym, the kids schools and the grocery store. I didn't feel like it was quite as noticeable before, when I still had the expander in, but now that I am completely FLAT on one side, and concave to boot.... I feel very self-conscious about my appearance now. So, I'll be glad to have back a few wardrobe choices after this surgery! Maybe not the whole closet, but at least some of it. Ladies: think about how long it takes you to pick out something to wear...... then quadruple that time and you'll know how I feel. Yeah, this in-between stage has probably sucked more than anything else. I felt prettier even during chemo when I was bald. At least I had 2 boobs still and most of my clothes fit and weren't constricting. It's been really hard, even with things you don't think about.... like if someone pops by unexpectedly to your house.... they may catch you without a bra on, but it's not really all that noticeable. With me.... VERY noticeable. I HATE wearing my bra, but I feel like I have to keep it on all day just to feel somewhat normal in case someone drops by unexpectedly or with very short warning. Without my bra on, it is noticeable that I only have a boob on one side. VERY noticeable.... even in a baggy hoodie. It sucks. So, yeah.... I will be glad to feel more evened out!

So, I think that sums it all up.  I'll post again once I get my surgery date.

Any questions for me? Ask below and I'll do a Q&A post if needed.

It's late..... I'm not proof-reading... excuse any grammar errors that spell check didn't pick up.

Night Night
Love Y'all!