Gaylord Focker and I met with the plastics team today, to see behind the bandages and get the low-down on the next steps. Dr. K sent everything to pathology – all came back clean – including the expander. He likened my situation to a giant blister. My skin was so irritated by the radiation and so reactive with fluid, that the expander was floating in serum. Clean serum, but serum none-the-less. He feels confident we made the right decision to remove the expander and allow my chest to heal. I’m producing about 30 cc of fluid a day – a small shot glass full – and we’ll likely have the drain taken out next week.
Essentially I am in a waiting game. I will have drains and stitches for up to 2 weeks. There are 3 layers of stitches. Inside layers will dissolve on their own. It will take 6 weeks for the site to heal. Where I once had an expander, I am now concave, and my chest disappears into my arm pit. No right boob, for now. I will be able to have a prosthetic to put in a bra, at least for the interim, so I look balanced. My pain level now is consistently a 6/7. Sadly, when this was “just” an infection, I had NO pain at all, just tightness. As Liz said, it’s hard to see the silver lining.
Long term plan is to build a breast mound from skin and muscle from another area of my body, my back most likely. They’ll migrate that tissue under my skin and make a smiley / semi circle shaped addition to my chest wall to be able to put an expander back in. Then my two sides will match again, and we can restart the “fill” process if my skin is forgiving enough. That’s about 6 months out. The ultimate goal being dropping actual implants into these breast mounds when the time and space is right. Also, depends on how I heal and how the rest of my actual cancer treatment goes. I still need to finish infusion, suffer through having my ovaries taken out and start taking Tamoxifin, which I’ll be on for basically ever.
How am I?
Weepy. Tired. Disappointed. Drugged. I wanted immediate reconstruction to help with the emotional impact of all of this. I thought walking out of the hospital with a bit of cleavage would help my mindset. And it did. Though I know this is only temporary, and I’m far better off without all that fluid in me/on me/around me, I am saddened by this set back. When you start treatment, you are really looking forward to crossing milestones. When calendar dates shift by 6 months or more its disheartening to say the least. I do have lots to look forward to this fall and next spring. Lots of trips with my cousins, sister, best friend and Ocho. Lots to celebrate. Lots left to conquer. And this, too, shall pass.
Many thanks to all who have signed up to bring us food and help shuffle the kids around. We are very fortunate to live in such a generous community, surrounded by so many kind souls. I am never alone in this. That’s the silver lining.