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January 09, 2012

Did you miss me?

Wait, don't answer that!

I know I blogged fairly soon after first major surgery nearly two years ago (it's a new year, so can't say "last year" anymore), I decided to give myself a bit more time.  Well, that and no wifi in the ICU made it a very easy decision.

As this is hopefully my final major surgery for a very long time (barring a bit of tweaking in April), I wanted to ensure that I took full advantage of the time given to me to heal.  From recovery to the step-down unit of the ICU (when I could take part in Words With Friends), when I slept, I slept and that was that.  I did not try to force myself to stay awake or push myself too much.  I only used the pain meds as needed and should not have worried about using too much.  Turns I used out only half of what is deemed average on both days!

The morning of the surgery was fairly uneventful other than three tries for the IV.  Finally, the nurse anesthetist took charge and slid it in quickly and painlessly.  Within half an hour, after being visited by anesthesiology, having markings made all over my stomach and chest and being rolled back to the ER, the surgery began.

8 hours later, I was rolled into recovery.  I was there until 8:30 p.m. or so only due to a need to get others to their rooms first.  Peter was allowed to come back and visit with me and that made the time go faster (when I wasn't having crazy, morphine-induced dreams).  The transfer to the ICU was uneventful and Peter stayed with me until I was settled, which did not take long.  I was not allowed anything by mouth until 3 a.m. the next day (and then just ice chips), so no reason to do anything other than rest...and that I did.

I was woken up frequently throughout the night to have doppler scans of my new breast (to check for arterial blood flow and ensure the flap was 'taking'), as well as my temperature and blood pressure.  There was also the daily anti-coagulant injection in my stomach (okay by me, especially if you know about my family history with blood clots during hospital stays), frequent emptying of the drains (I still have three, two on my right side, one on my left) and checks of the stitched up area of my stomach to ensure that it was healing rather than becoming infected.  

By 3 p.m. on Saturday, I had the green light to go to the step-down unit of the ICU.  Still the ICU, but much more freedom (if you will) and wifi!  I knew I would have more wakeful moments and wanted to reconnect whether through WWF, Facebook or Skyping with the kids (which Nicholas loved...the guinea pig just seemed confused when Kelsey had him participate).  I didn't actually arrive until 5 p.m. or so, with the most interesting parts of the trip being standing up (if you will) and sitting down twice with in 30 minutes.  I did very well, though, took it slow and had no issues with nausea or dizziness.  

The only sad part of the stay in the ICU was that Peter could not spend the night.  He also likely would not have slept well, since I had nearly hourly checks the first night and every 3-4 hour checks the second.  Since it seemed to be a good idea that one of us get a very good night's sleep, he drove the whopping 10 minutes home each night to sleep in our bed or on the couch.

I can't say that I have truly examined the areas that were altered.  I do very much like the look of my new breast, but won't really get a good look until tomorrow.  Size wise it seems perfect, and feels (to the best of my ability to tell) quite real.  Then again, I am being extremely cautious, so not really gung-ho to disturb too much in either area.  I thought about posting after photos of my belly, but really...not much to see, though it might be an interesting comparison when the swelling has gone down.

My days in the ICU were fairly uneventful.  We had one brief scare when a doppler acted up (indicating that the blood flow was not like it should be), but it was the machine, not me.  I lucked out and had two visitors on Saturday and was extremely happy to be able to stay awake for both of their visits!

Sunday found me with enough strength to tackle my first walk around the unit.  I managed not one, but three laps around the unit, with a visit to the upstairs lobby area.  My nurse constantly remarked (as did my surgeons and night nurse) and how quickly and well I seemed to be healing.  (I'll tell you, those comments helped as well...nothing keeps you on the right track like hearing about it!).  I had no bizarre nurse interactions, no one suggesting unnecessary support groups and the experience was as about as positive as one could get in a hospital.  Okay, the coffee needs a bit of work, but we remedied that with Peter bringing me a cup from home.

The best part of the entire experience?  I truly feel like this was a good decision for me.  I know there are some folks who might shake their heads and say, "Why have such an invasive procedure?"  Well, the first procedure I had was even MORE invasive.  It shook me to the core and robbed me of a body part that I truly appreciated, as it had nurtured three children.  As far as I was concerned, there was no reason its time should have been up or that I should be punished by having to be breast-less for 40 or 50 years.

I know there are those who choose not to have reconstruction and that is completely a decision that one has to make on their own.  If I were older, perhaps I would have chosen that route. But not yet at the big 40?  No, thank you.  I know there are also people who believe that those who choose to not have reconstruction have "a special kind of self-confidence."  Yes, someone actually had the nerve to post that on a website.  So, it does not take self-confidence to go to doctor after doctor, to ensure that you are getting exactly what you want?  It doesn't take self-confidence to strip to less than nothing for grueling before and after pictures?  It doesn't take self-confidence to want to be the person you were before and NOT feel that you need to take away some sort of lesson in personal growth from the whole event?

Can you believe that?  Someone would go out of their way to criticize those who are simply trying to get back to their old normal, simply because it was a different choice? Mind you, some of these women are using breast substitutes, just not having reconstruction.  I'm not sure in the scheme of things that the method makes a difference....it's still a substitution and every choice needs to be respected equally.  Please note that the line about self-confidence is a direct quote and I will not take credit for it, but also cannot I link to the website and give them unneeded publicity.  I feel that this site, like others, inspires some to feel that most of us only undertake reconstruction because we are forced to or because we have to do to the way breasts are perceived in today's society.  Neither one could be further from the truth for me.

As far as I am concerned, right now, I know that I truly made the best decision.  In fact, in this entire affair, this is one of the two decisions I have made that I am most happy about.  Not because I want to look perfect for bikini season or feel like flaunting Daisy Dukes come summer (not likely!), but because I did not want to look in the mirror for the next 40 years and wonder what on earth I did to deserve the punishment I had received.  So, I flipped things around and made the situation work for me in the way that was the most natural and would make me feel the best in the long run.  

Starting to tear up a bit (and I CAN'T cry, too painful), but owe a huge debt of gratitude to more than I can mention here.  Every Facebook like, every message by email, every comment on-line (and off), every dinner, oodles of childcare and cup of coffee has meant the world to me.  I'm thrilled that Peter has been able take so much time off, but we honestly would not have gotten through the past 1.5 years without all of YOU.

Thank you so much and know that I only hope I can be there as much for you if and when you need it, as you were for me (well, us)!  And now to test out the new recliner....

 

 

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Yay!!!! So happy you're doing so amazingly well!!!!

YESSSSS!

(: (: (:

So, so, SO SO SO happy that you are happy and can *even now* (just days past surgery! While still healing!) already be glad that you did it! You can't imagine how happy that makes me. SO SO glad you decided to be Nike!! :)

Smiling for you! You sound at peace - hoping 2012 continues to bring you more of that and healing, and enjoying life.

Wow, you are doing so great to even be typing all this so soon after surgery! I'm so glad you're feeling good AND that you like the feel of the new boob. I must admit, I am very curious about the technicalities of it all because I had the implant reconstruction. And I agree, I can't believe anyone would have the nerve to criticize anyone else for choosing a certain surgery. Honestly!

Keep on keeping on but not TOO much!

You sound so incredibly centered in this post - what a gift peace of mind is :-). Awesome news that surgery and recovery went so well (and continue to go well), and you made absolutely the right decision for you. Every person is different. My mother's home-care PT said to her yesterday that she wishes every total knee patient was on the same anti-coagulant regiment so HER job would be easier. I just looked at her like she was crazy. Same thing with the negative Nancys - your body, your life, your choice. Everybody needs and wants a different approach. Lucky for us, we have that freedom of choice, most of the time. Anyway, before I go too far on my rant, congrats again on getting so far in four days - it's the home stretch now!

Sadie said you sounded centered and I ditto that 100%! You sound at peace, calm and I am so proud of you!!

You're totally due another mocha my friend. I ditto the 'centered' as well! It's so important to be comfortable with your decisions, with your doctor, with your everything. No one should make those decisions for you - and you didn't let them!

YEAH!!! So glad everything went well and you are feeling satisfied in your decision! You are amazing!

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