I saw my plastic surgeon again today and had another fill in my spacers. Each side got one of these syringes of saline. I’m starting to feel some uncomfortable twinges from my skin stretching, although my doctor assures me it shouldn’t cause stretch marks. Or pull apart my “seams” aka stitches. I’ve noticed the last couple of times that I could feel the pinch from the needle on my right side. Maybe my nerves are coming back. That would nice. On the left side, I still only feel pressure, which is no surprise since my whole armpit and a portion of my arm is still numb.
Because of the upcoming holidays, I won’t have another fill for a few weeks, which is fine. It will give my skin a chance to adjust and hopefully relax a bit. I’m still thankful to be moving along and tolerating this stretching well.
I’m also thankful that Patrick made it safely to Texas yesterday. He got up and left at 2 am since it was a 16-hr drive. It was supposed to be something of a surprise, so I didn’t mention it. He’s visiting his family and will drive back in a day or two. I’m sorry not to be able to visit his family, but I’ve enjoyed having all my tv shows on and complete access to the kitchen. The pups and I have been doing Christmas stuff 24/7 here. Now my countdown will be how many hours before he’s back.
I saw my plastic surgeon today. He says the way radiation shrank my skin means we will have to overfill my left breast to get it to match closer to the right. Apparently this will require overfill, removal, then more fill so the skin can stretch and relax. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?
We didn’t talk timeline this time, but we did start the fills today. He was just going to fill the left side but I asked to add some to the right as well. I was hoping it would help alleviate the uncomfortable creasing that happens when the spacer folds on itself. Since it’s now more full, it does feel better. The downside is that it’s more obvious that my breasts are uneven. Thank goodness it’s sweater weather, so it’s easy to hide.
I go next week for another fill. If it goes well, my doctor said we’ll continue weekly. I’m hoping it might mean my surgery can happen sooner, but I’m not getting my hopes up. He did mention again that he will need to do liposuction on my stomach to fill in spots during my surgery. I’m not even offended that his statement meant I had stomach fat because, yay! He’s going to remove it! Bonus. I may need to rethink the size breasts I want because I have fat elsewhere he could use, too.
I kid, of course. I just want to look proportional when all this is done. And I’m thankful to have gotten this next part started today.
Well, today I saw my plastic surgeon because it felt like my spacer had fallen on the non-radiated side, and I wanted to make sure that wasn’t abnormal. After waiting over an hour because he was in a procedure that ran overtime, he came in with a med student. I’m pretty sure she must not have seen radiated skin too often; she seemed uncomfortable seeing me. In fact, even the nurses seemed uncomfortable looking at me. One of them gave me a blanket as I was waiting because they keep it so dang cold in those offices. She tried to drape it over my shoulders but finally gingerly handed it to me instead, saying she didn’t want to hurt me. It wasn’t like I was sitting there topless either. I guess the triangle of very red skin peeking above the neckline gives it away.
At any rate, my plastic surgeon has a much different take on my skin than my radiation oncologist. He wasn’t pleased in the least. I got a lot of tips on skin health, including the urging that I drink collagen-infused protein shakes twice a day. Apparently, I can worry about losing weight later. He also said the radiation is melting the stitching across my incision, and if it pulls apart any further, I need to see him right away so he can put in another stitch or two. We then talked about a time frame. I knew that I’d need to let my skin heal for 6 weeks after radiation before seeing him again. But he said with the amount of damage I have, we will also have to do my fills slowly. He thinks it will be a full 6 months before he can do my final surgery where I have my spacers swapped out for the final, soft implants.
Friends, I cried the entire drive home. I barely made it to my car before the tears started. Six months? Another six months with these uncomfortable spacers reminding me of this stinking “journey”I never wanted to be on? UGH. Remember at the beginning of the year when I thought my timeframe had all of this completed by Christmas? Silly, naive, optimistic me. Then I readjusted my thinking to be ok with Jan, maybe Feb. Now we’re looking hopefully at April. I hope it’s not an April Fool’s joke.
So…where’s the gratitude today…Well, my ride home was only 10 mins, so the crying didn’t last that long. I also reminded myself that I have 6 more radiation treatments to get through, and they are targeted differently, so the skin across my incision will now be spared. Hopefully that part can begin healing. My doctor said not to worry about gaining weight, so I’ve been given permission to be my pudgy self. Oh! and the reason for the visit–the fallen spacer–was a non-issue. It’s just my skin on that side relaxing as expected and readjusting the spacer underneath. If I’m honest about it (what else can I be at this point?!) that side does feel better than it did a month ago. So maybe I’ll get used to things after all.
I saw my plastic surgeon again today and he filled more of the tissue expander on my left side. He says he will likely stop here and wait until after radiation to do any more filling. By next Tuesday, it will have been 5 weeks since surgery, so his office will let my radiation oncologist know I’m ready.
I mentioned how sore and heavy things still seem, especially at night. I told him it feels like things are superglued to my ribs. He wasn’t surprised at my description and says he wants everything to remain in place. The heaviness and tightness, especially at night, are normal for now. His nurse also told me that it will take quite a while for everything to stop feeling sore (and weird).
While knowing I’ll be uncomfortable for many more weeks is not what I wanted to hear, at least I know it’s normal. I’m thankful for that. I’m also thankful that I was given the ok to have a glass of legit wine. Yay!
Today I met with a new plastic surgeon. My old surgeon is leaving the area. I was pretty disappointed since I liked him and I thought we already had a plan. But the new doctor seems equally as competent and nice. She has some slight differences in what she’s suggesting for me and gave me some things to think about. However, it was a better meeting than I was expecting, so I’m thankful for that. I’m also thankful that she was given all the notes and pictures from my meeting with the previous surgeon, so I didn’t have to endure another photo shoot or body markings.
I also saw my oncologist this morning and after a discussion about side effects and low blood counts, I asked him how careful I need to continue being with quarantining. While he says I should continue working from home for now, I’m ok to go into a store when I want as long as I double mask. Obviously, I’ll still need to be careful to avoid peak times and crowded stores, but I’ll be so happy to get out periodically. Freedom!