My surgery is over, my drains are out. The surgery itself wasn’t a big deal, the recovery has been…awful. Soul-sucking, actually. In the last week or so since the surgery, I’ve routinely cried from pain. It’s the kind of pain that is always present…and isn’t localized to where I thought it should be. I’m just in almost constant pain. That fact kinda blows me away. Drugs help, obviously, but unlike my c-sections, I don’t see myself weaning off the drugs anytime soon. Trust me, I’ve tried. I’ve had to lower my own expectations to literally rock-bottom levels.
Getting the drains out really helped. I had one in each side, and they were collecting the fluid that was accumulating in the pocket the tissue expander is trying to create. The tissue expander is the first part of reconstruction, and is stuck behind the muscles in my chest.
You know those really awesome block sets that preschools have? Unit blocks? The blocks that are made of really heavy wood and come in various sizes? We have one of these block sets and the boys were playing with it and I picked up one of the flat square ones and thought, “I’ll bet this is what the tissue expander looks like.” Boob blocks. Blocks for boobs. The first step in total reconstruction.
My surgery team, by all accounts (including major nationwide publications), are top-notch. And they did a great job. Mike said they came out of the OR literally beaming with joy. “You are going to be really happy” they told him. At my post-op checkup a week later my breast surgeon took one look at my hacked-up block boobs and clasped her hands in delight: “This!” she cried. “Gorgeous! Yes….” she came closer, prodded the stitches a little, “…this is looking really quite nice. You will have a beautiful result.”
Even the home nurses – who come periodically to check on me – have gushed over the gorgeousness of my block boobs. They are all very genuine in their praise. One even took down the names of my surgeons (the others already had heard of them).
What I find so hysterically funny about this whole thing is this:
I look like freaking Frankenstein.
On nights when the drugs have kicked in, I find myself staring topless into the mirror – often crying, but sometimes giggling. “GORGEOUS!” Mike will cry. “SO supple!” I strike a pose. “Congratulations are definitely in order.” I tell him. “Not everyone gets to walk around with these.”
It’s a whole other world, this breast cancer world. I barely speak the language and I certainly don’t know how to dress.