Sunday, November 7, 2010

Patience Piglet

This Tuesday I will be two weeks out from surgery.  Most of that time has been a blur to me, the days all so similar.

Mostly it's about managing my pain and discomfort, in four hour increments.  I don't know how the pain compares with a full mastectomy vs skin sparing, but I'll tell you what it's like for me.

I have a large incision under each breast, and another incision under my left arm where my lymph nodes were removed.  My breasts are still intact in that they each have a nipple, and basically look like they were deflated or scooped out.  There is an extreme tightness and pain where the sutures are, but there is a lot of pain inside my breasts where all of the tissue was removed.

Right after surgery, Flopsy and Mopsy were very flat and leather like.  There was considerable bruising on them, a lot of it underneath, and my nipples were extremely dry, roughed up and purple.

There were a few days last week where I thought my nipples might not survive.  They got very scabby and dark, and I was afraid they would die and fall off.  This can actually happen.  Sometimes with all the tissue removed the nipples don't get enough blood supply.  I was anxious about it.

I started massaging them very gently with vaseline and removed the large wrap that was around them.  It was just too tight.  The massaging and allowing them to hang on their own has really helped.  They are softening up, the bruising is fading, and my nipples are healing.  My breasts are almost pink and rosy like a newborn piglet.

With all the laying down, and initially my breasts so stiff and immobile, they hung more towards my arm pits and were spread fairly far apart.  I wasn't sure how I'd get them into a bra eventually or out from under!  Thank goodness it's not the complete breast under my arm, but more than is comfortable.  As they soften up and are becoming more malleable, I'm able to move them gradually closer together.  I think this will get a lot better as I heal.

There is an area at the top of each breast that is fairly concave, and rather painful there.  I think allowing my breasts to hang probably added to the pain factor, but I couldn't stand anything wrapped around them, and it felt like it was making my nipples worse.

I can raise my right arm almost all the way up, only stopping because there is pain and tightness but feel like I could do it if I had to.  The left arm I can only raise a few inches away from my chest, and the pain in the underside of that arm is awful and constant, even with vicodin. 

The pain under the left arm is very prickly and tight.  It's so tight, it doesn't even feel like I could raise the arm if I wanted to.  Now I understand why you can't start radiation until you can lift your arms above your head and not be in pain, since each treatment is about twenty minutes long, five days a week.  I guess I will be starting radiation sometime after Thanksgiving.

I am taking stool softeners, but with all this Vicodin, still not on any kind of regular schedule. 

I continue to be very very tired, and spend most of each day going back and forth from bed to couch and back.

I wake up every two or three hours through the night every night; the sleep deprivation is really difficult.

Thankfully my spirits have been very good; I have accepted that my only focus right now is healing, getting rest, and doing my best to take care of me.  I still have neuropathy, although it is not as apparent on Vicodon 24/7.

While the hair on my head continues to thicken, my eyelashes are stubs now.  My eyebrows, which were gone for weeks, are starting to sprout again, as little dots of hair.

I continue to have very dry skin, and several times each day have to rub Shea butter or anti-itch moisturizer into my hands and arms, lower legs and feet.

I am also still fairly bloated, really noticing it in hands and feet.

In order to sleep, I make myself a nest of pillows.  Two behind my head, one under each arm.  I really hate sleeping on my back but have no other choice now.

Even sitting on the couch, it is difficult to find a comfortable position, and I use lots of pillows.

You don't realize how difficult the smallest movements become when you have limited arm mobility.  Something as simple as pumping the hand soap and washing my hands.  The smallest movements have discomfort, including typing!

I feel as if I have a very tight Victorian corset on, and if only I could loosen it.

My left drain is still draining between 30 to 40cc's each day.  I hope to get it out early this week.

It's been four months since I've had a period.  I don't miss it.  I continue to take the Sam-e and that has really helped my mood and menopausal symptoms I was suffering from.

I keep cotton linen under each breast to keep the sutures dry, and I have some linen around where the drain comes out at the top of my tummy.  That is taped down, and I wear two shirts to keep the tubing between the shirts.

One of the best tips I received was using a pants hanger to clip my drains to during a shower.  I used a plastic hangar, the kind with two clips, clipped each drain to a clip, and then hung the hanger from the shower towel bar.  What a great idea that worked well!

I think the first week after surgery was easier, with the morphine still in my body, and everything still so numb.  During this second week, things are waking up and HURTING!

Once I get the drain out, I will take a photo of myself in a t-shirt so you can finally meet my itty bitty's!

I'll need new names for them.

Please send in your ballots.

So far, I don't care for Husband's suggestion, Flapsy and Jacksy, as in flapjacks!

I do like Robin's though.

Itsy and Bitsy.

Itsy and Bitsy Titsy.

I think we may have a winner.


1 comment:

Beneath the Eaves said...

I have no names for you, I wish you luck there. I am just continuing to wish you the best with the recovery.As I have said, been there, done that, even bought the t-shirt. (I mean post op camisole with drain pockets)Patience is a virtue for a reason I guess.

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