Month: May 2017

Mind over mammory: Mastectomy

Second verse, different from the first! Another post to help those who are going through a mastectomy but this one is more focused on what your mind might be going through and a couple of tips.  This is just my experience and everyone is different.

My surgery was unexpected, as I said in my Bye Bye Boobie post, I was always told it was too late for surgery so in my mind a mastectomy was never in my future. As always with this disease, it is wise to always keep your mind open because anything can happen. It is so unpredictable and always ongoing and growing. Remember nothing works forever but also remember to enjoy the “pauses”! As the disease progresses treatments get harder and harder. I think that was a part of my sadness with this surgery, new treatment because of progression. Every time this happens I am reminded at how little control I have and my mortality is put in check.

Psychologically this is a hard surgery, no one looks forward to losing a breast and I found that the time before surgery was the hardest, I thank God that I only had a week to think about it. Honestly, it was a very long week. I also highly recommend you stay away from googling pictures, trust me from experience. Two days before my surgery I was trying to find pics of women that had their surgeons manipulate “fake” cleavage from breast tissue but was only horrified and scared to death of what I was going to look like. I swear they only post the most distressful pics out there!! DO NOT look to the internet pics for reassurance!!  Try not to think about what will happen or what it will look like after, it will just add unneeded stress to your recovery!  The reality is you are losing a breast and your chest will look different, accept it and it will make the before and after easier. Focus mostly on your health, there is a reason for this removal, it will bring you life! My biggest advice, be brave and stay strong, you will get through it!

As I said before the waiting is the hardest. In my opinion  do whatever makes you feel better, fuck it, this is hard, so hard.  Get a pedicure before you go in, go out for a great dinner with friends and anything else that brings you happiness.   My wonderful friends helped me get a boudoir photo shoot. This was so amazing and I highly recommend it. It was such a great way to have some beautiful photos taken before your body changes. I decided to go tits out and give my husband some shots to remember my awesome boobs! I also decided after 3 years of fighting this bitch, to take the time to relax and recover at my own pace! No guilt just recover in peace!!

Getting out and about was a problem I didn’t think about beforehand. I couldn’t drive, I have a manual car and my mastectomy happened to be on my gear shift side. This was a big challenge for me, not being able to even leave the house if I wanted to, at the mercy of others but not wanting to bother anyone to take me anywhere, I already feel like a giant burden and I didn’t want to be a bigger one. I did feel a little isolated and lonely but sadly that already comes with the disease.

I also found it was difficult to look at my chest, avoiding a direct long look, not wanting to see it but slowly trying to accept the unavoidable reality.  I would take quick peeks every now and then, and still every time I was surprised by what I saw, that’s not me is it, FUCK! When I put my hand to my chest, so familiar it used to feel. As it went closer and closer with anxious curiosity, expecting to feel my breast, it hesitated as the unfamiliar empty space was entered. This empty space… it means again cancer is winning, for now! it means I feel less than a woman, again! it means forever I will have this emptiness.

So because I only had one boob removed, my remaining boob still needs a bra… I left the house on a couple of occasions feeling awkward. I did not buy anything to wear post surgical because I really was not able to think about the after and partly because I didn’t know what the hell to buy. My surgical site was so tender and I couldn’t wear anything I had at home so off into the world au naturel it was! My one side obviously empty and the other boob flapping in the wind. I felt obvious and vulnerable, again cancer announcing to the world, this body is my bitch! Now here is where planning ahead would have really come in handy. There is a website for knitted knockers! It takes a little while to get them so I suggest ordering before you go in for surgery. These things are amazing and free!!!! Check out the website for these awesome confidence building boobies!!!  http://www.knittedknockerscanada.com/

It has been 3 weeks now and my physical healing is going great! My mental one is still in the works but it is a lot easier to accept now than it was, like anything in life change needs time and time heals! I bought a bra and have stuffed it with socks lol! I am still waiting for my knitted knocker. I have also looked into prosthesis. I have heard they can be uncomfortable to wear and are quite expensive but do whatever you need to do to feel better!  Ontario does have a grant for a chunk of the cost if you are interested here is the link  https://www.ontario.ca/page/breast-prostheses-and-artificial-limbs

I am irritated about future clothes shopping! Trying to figure out how to camouflage my cockeyed chest for the rest of my life. I have already had a lifetime of trying to conceal my fat and now I have to fabricate the illusion of “normal” breasts!

I wonder if my golf swing will improve! 😉
Today I will own it! Battle wounds and battle scars, we all have them let us not give them the power to define us or rule our lives! Whatever life throws at us remember just carry on my soul sisters and brothers we are alive to fight for another day!!!

Laughter, life and love to all xox

 

 

Just the facts Mammory: Mastectomy

I decided to split my mastectomy posts into two. This one is focusing on the mastectomy without the emotional of psychological stuff. Also I have included some pics post op, so beware if your squeamish although I think I look great and they are not gross or anything.

In my opinion I would say all in all the experience was not that bad. Pain was really bad on the bad days but mostly I felt really good. I really did not get much after care instructions or any lead on what to buy or expect, I have basically figured it all out on my own. As with any advice, please check with your doc ok  😉

I wont get into details about my horrible hospital stay, I was disgusted and really disappointed in the “care” I was given, but here are my recommendations to help make your hospital stay it’s best: Lipbalm, COMFY COMFY COMFY pants you are able to pull up with one hand (my best friends were a size too big for me track pants, they were the best, I had 2 pairs) or a nightie you can step into, stretchy tank top (loved the tanks, another bestie) or zip up sweaters but the hospital gown and pj pants are just fine too while you are there, wet wipes to help you feel fresher (no shower), an airplane pillow or mastectomy heart pillow to help prop your arm (I found my underarm was too tender for these but most other people find it useful)  but a really well placed pillow works great, your favorite blanket that brings you coziness,  step in slippers or flip flops. Oh yeah, my throat hurt badly so maybe some throat lozenges or spray to help with that.

Watch the seat belt on your way home, oh and you prob wont be able to close the car door depending on what side your mastectomy was on.

At Home:  you will need lots of pillows to prop you up, baby wipes to help keep you fresh (yes, still no shower babe!), lipbalm, dry shampoo, airplane pillow helps with keeping your neck comfortable as you can’t sleep in any position except for on your back propped up! It has been 3 weeks and I still have trouble on both sides. Be prepared to feel gravity when you stand up, I was not expecting that, especially since there is no boob there, I still don’t get it but it feels weird nonetheless.

One week out of surgery and I had not yet worn a bra, the area was still so tender but I plan on wearing a front closure non underwire.

During my recovery I did daily movements and stretches to help keep my arm from seizing and my muscles getting too tight.

After a mastectomy a drain (sometimes more than 1) will be put in place. I found this somewhat annoying but it really helps getting all the blood and gunk out and is important for the healing process. Some women buy a post surgical mastectomy camisole/bra to wear after, these have little pockets to hold your drains, this I defo recommend for anyone with 2 or more drains. Don’t be alarmed if you see clots or tissue of sorts in your drain bulb, it is totally normal! Learn to “milk” your drain. You will have to empty and measure your drain for about a week, so easy but very important as your measurements will determine when the drain(s) can be removed. This is most important because when the drain is removed, you can finally SHOWER!!!! One of the best showers of my life, just sayin’!

When my drain finally was removed it felt so much easier to move and much more comfortable also, I felt so free! The removal was wicked painful, I suggest taking your meds before you go, I did not and ended up crying like a baby and muttering profanities between taking my deep breaths lol

I will be honest, this surgery hurt like a bitch! But we all do what we have to because there is no choice, the pain is there so just take a deep breath and go with it.

A description of my breast before surgery:  there was a dent on the side and my nipple used to be pulled to one side and because of the tumor growth it had been pulled right in so the nipple had basically disappeared. (I forgot to take a pic, too late now lol)

So here are a couple of pics after my surgery. I still have quite a bit of swelling but all in all my healing is going well.

After:

18191171_10158595237560223_658155445_n
2 days after surgery I call this my footlong lol
18424894_10158651042615223_470393775_n.jpg
2 weeks post surgery  

So there we go, my mastectomy in a nut shell. I hope I was able to ease anyone’s fears and wish well to all my brave ladies out there who will end up having this surgery. The mental part of this will be in a post that follows.