I had another massage today. My masseur spent the entire hour on my shoulders and back. There are So Many Knots. Several times I had to hold my breath from the intense burn. But I can tell that the tightness in my left armpit and side is finally starting to loosen up.
Laying on my implants is beyond awkward, especially with the pressure of a massage. Even after propping myself up a little with rolled up towels, it kinda hurt on occasion. I found myself trying to hold myself up a bit, which isn’t as effective, I know. Especially since I really enjoy a deep tissue massage.
At one point, my masseur asked if the pressure he was using was too much. It wasn’t and I told him I had a fairly high pain tolerance. He laughed and said that he used to do massage at a gym, and the big, buff guys would brag that they had a high pain tolerance, too. He said the pressure he was using on me today was probably 3 times what those guys could tolerate. Haha.
I’m thankful today that massage is helping me, and I’m grateful I can afford to go.
I had a follow up visit with my plastic surgeon today. I fully expected to schedule my next fat grafting procedure. Not so.
I had been feeling lately like my left side implant was higher than it started out, but I figured it was just my imagination. Turns out it’s not. My doctor says that the late effects of radiation are causing my skin to continue tightening, which in turn is pulling up my implant. He figures it is about 2 centimeters higher than after my surgery. It’s probably why I keep feeling aches and shooting pains along my side again. The implant is pressing more on my nerves since there is no more give in my skin.
The biggest problem, however, is that the movement is taking away the inframammary fold my doctor created by pulling up skin from my stomach. If he must recreate it again at some point, he will need to take skin from my back. The alternative is removing the implant on the right and reducing the size. That will require moving the nipple we tried so hard to save.
For now, we just wait to see if the skin continues to tighten and I’ll see my doctor again in December. I asked about the muscle tightness I have under my arm still, and he thinks the radiation has impacted the muscle as well. I’m going to start massage therapy to see if it makes any difference with the tight muscles. Maybe it will at least give me a little more range of motion.
It was a disappointing visit, but my doctor reminded me that I’m now fully healed from my surgery. Plus I have no more restrictions, aside from waiting one more week before soaking in a tub since he finally removed the scab from the scrape on my incision. I’m thankful that all is not lost yet. It sounds like I’ll have options. And even if the skin shrinks more, my doctor assured me the implant won’t rupture. Thank goodness.
I’m calling a moratorium on white shirts. The last few I tried on had very faint stains on them, most likely coffee. I threw one out today. Then just before I left for my doctor’s appointment, I changed into a cute one in an attempt to feel cooler. Thankfully, it was stain-free. After my exam, I put my shirt back on and noticed—in the exam room mirror—a spot on my shirt. Somehow, I got a stain without eating or drinking or doing anything other then sitting. What the actual heck. I’m a mess.
To be fair, I did have to wait almost an hour and 45 mins for my plastic surgeon who was running behind. Maybe I fell asleep and someone spilled something on me. But the big news is I no longer need to put silicone tape over my incisions. Apparently, it’s breaking down my skin a little in spots. And the sore (my doctor called it an ulcer) isn’t too bad yet, even though it’s bigger than it was. I now need to cover it with gauze and leave it be. I can’t even tape the gauze. If it’s not healed by next week when I go back in to have stitches removed, then I’ll need weekly checks on it. I’m hopeful it will heal.
I got most of my other questions answered. The hard spots I’m beginning to feel are from the fat grafting; I can massage them to help soften them up. The tight muscle in my neck is from the implant pulling on it; eventually it should feel better. The pain along my side is most likely from nerves damaged from radiation, not from the surgery. That should also get better. Once my ulcer is healed, I can stop wearing compression bras, but I can’t swim or soak in a tub for several more weeks.
I’ll probably need more fat grafting in a few months to the area that was too thin for him to work in much before. I mentioned that the skin felt so fragile there that I was worried I would damage it if I scratched too hard. He said I probably would. EEK! He suggested going back to using Vitamin C/E serum on my skin to help with the healing. Man, that radiation may have helped save my life, but it did no favors to my skin.
However, I’m really thankful that things are healing well overall, and I’m so close to being completely done. In a couple weeks I can wear a bra that won’t squeeze my ribs. Each week I’m feeling more like my old self. That’s a good thing.
Well, it’s less than 2 days to my surgery, and I’m starting to think about it. I’m always nervous before surgery (who isn’t??) but this time I’m also excited about it. So long, rocks! I cannot wait for my chest to feel normal again. Or as normal as it can be considering it will still be implants.
Things I’m looking forward to after a year:
Laying on my stomach. Getting a good massage because I can lay on my stomach. Breathing normally. Maybe getting a full stretch out of my left arm. Wearing shirts that fit properly. Wearing shirts with stripes that don’t zigzag weirdly across my uneven breasts. Sleeping on my side. Holding something against my chest. Giving really tight hugs. Bending over without pain. Jumping jacks.
Just kidding on that last one. I don’t care if I can do jumping jacks again.
I’m trying to focus on the positives with this surgery and not on what makes me nervous about it. But today I was talking to someone who asked if I was going to be ok on Friday. Um, yes. I’d better be. And don’t jinx me like that. I told Patrick that if something crazy happened and I died on the table, my plastic surgeon better finish up. I’m not going out without great boobs. I’ve waited too long.
Probably the biggest thing that makes me nervous is not knowing what to expect afterwards. Since I’ll also be getting fat grafting, I’ll have some pain/discomfort from the liposuction to my stomach, but who knows how much. Or what my stomach will eventually look like. And although my plastic surgeon discussed how he would pull up some of my stomach skin to help create the missing inframammary fold on my left side, I just can’t visualize the outcome.
There are still a lot of “what ifs” rolling around in my head, yet my gratitude for finally being at the end of this long path is going to win out. It’s going to be fine. Maybe even good. Or great. After all, I have a lot of things I’m looking forward to.
On Mondays I see my radiation oncologist after my radiation treatment. He asks how I think radiation is going and check for any side effects. Usually he does a visual check of my skin for reactions. Today I told him I thought it was going fine; I said I had a rash but it wasn’t bothering me too much and my skin was red but not too awful. He said my skin would get redder. Well, dang.
I asked if he thought my incision was looking ok since it’s now getting a bit stretched as my skin is tightening. He said it wasn’t worrying him at this point. Then he proceeded to tell me about a prior patient whose skin tightened so much around her implant spacers that her skin started breaking down and the metal piece started coming coming through. Apparently when radiation hits metal, it reflects so it’s like double radiation. I should have put up my hand and said, “nope, stop right there,” when he started by saying he probably shouldn’t tell me this. UGH. Now I’m going to struggle not to worry about my freaking implant spacers. My only saving grace is that apparently hers had been filled too much prior to treatment, and I remember my plastic surgeon saying he was purposely not filling mine more than he did so they wouldn’t pull too much during treatment. I am praying mine is fine, but seriously, I’m going to have to scrub my mind of that visual or I’ll worry too much.
Despite my doctor’s penchant to be blunt and overshare, I appreciate that going to treatment every day hasn’t been awful. Because I see the same staff all the time, they like to chat and share what they’ve done on the weekend and stuff. It makes it easy and I’m thankful for that.