Yesterday was another milestone moment in the process of my breast reconstruction. It was an interesting experience I was both glad to have and hope never to duplicate because it was followed by a heck of a lot of pain. Pain like I'd never experienced before. Wow. Pain.
My plastic surgeon inflated the expanders in my breasts with saline yesterday. She effectively doubled their size right before my eyes. I could literally see them rise as she pushed the saline from the syringe, through the tube, and into me. Freaky. That amazement was quickly followed by a tremendous sense of pressure. Standing up, I felt like Pamela Anderson. I felt huge and rock solid. Bullets could have bounced off my chest.
Half an hour later, after I'd walked verrrrrry sloooooowly home (slosh, ow, slosh, whoa, slosh, owwww) I was experiencing extreme pain on the right side. The right breast had a more extensive removal (as it was the breast with the cancer present) and that side has the added ouch factor where the single lymph node was removed. There's more swelling in general on that side, so pumping 180 cc's of saline in there was no picnic. Just lightly touching the breast was on-fire painful. Before long, I was feeling a sharp searing pain, like a hot poker in the middle of my right breast that made me long for the warm, prickly pain I'd been feeling in the hospital.
Now I knew exactly what the pain pump that had been surgically inserted under the implants was sparing me during my days in the hospital, when they were automatically administering a localized pain killer. Thank god, this was the first time I was experiencing anything like this level of pain.
I'd thought I was done with the Killer Pain Meds, but by the evening I was back on the Darvocet times two, the first time I'd had to resort to a double dose. For a while, I couldn't find any position that was comfortable as the muscle and tissue around the expander stretched to accommodate the new size. (Did I mention that the implant is under the muscle, so yeah, there was a fair bit of stretching going on.)
Every time I moved, it would grab and I'd suck in air or utter an "ahhh"–when I wasn't cursing. After I took the second Darvoset, things improved. I was able to get to sleep but woke up around 4:30 a.m. with the hot poker of pain reminding me this wasn't over yet.
My doctor wasn't kidding when she said this would be uncomfortable and warned that this is the part women most often complain about. I just kept focusing on the fact that in three days, this stage would pass and I'd be feeling much better.
Right now, outside of the pain, I look and feel a bit like a freak show. I feel like the Jan Hooks character on 30 Rock last week, who'd
only had half a boob job done. One side is definitely bigger than the other and these saline-filled expanders are hard. (Reaffirming my choice of the gel implants.) This will all be corrected as things proceed, but during the two months of healing before the second operation (where the expanders are swapped out for the implants) I'm going to feel like I'm carrying a couple of snow globes in my chest.
Apologies, probably more than you wanted to know, but it's all part of the process and I wanted to document it all. On the flip side, I have breasts and considering where I was just ten days ago, that's pretty damn awesome. I'm healing up well and fast. I'm getting plenty of rest, moving slow, but (before this latest expansion) twinges of needle-like pain were telling me that the nerves are healing and the scar tissue is breaking up. All good.
This latest step is just a reminder that as well as I might feel, I need to slow it down. I've got a ways to go yet. I'm glad I got to this stage as quickly as I did and look forward to feeling even better with each coming day. I have visits from friends to look forward to and later in the week I'm hoping to finally see wee-JD! Now that's something to look forward to.