Ahh, Implants!! Phase 2 of a PBM…

Monday morning, December 29th, I had surgery to swap out my rocks (expanders) for nice, squishy implants. I woke up super early and followed doctors orders – shower with this special soap and put this prescription patch right below the ear. Done!

Mom and I arrived at the hospital around 5:30 and I checked in immediately. After that, we went to the third floor to the ambulatory surgery center. The nurse assistant, Daphne, took me back to my room and I changed into the gown, walked to the bathroom for that happy dance (pee in a cup), and back to the room where I settled in. Daphne and I got to know each other pretty well after my first surgery when I had to go to the ER and spend the night. She and I caught up on Monday. She’s a breast cancer survivor herself and I got her to commit to doing Team Phoenix. I told her I’d train with her and help her get back into fitness. She hasn’t done much and was really excited when I said I’d do whatever it took to help her!!

The nurse eventually brought me two pills to help combat the nausea and an Ativan to calm my nerves. Shortly after that the anesthesia doctor came in for a visit and to confirm what he was going to do. He was already aware of what happened last time and reassured me he was going to give me a different anesthesia so I wouldn’t get sick. My favorite nurse came in and we chatted. Valerie is another sweetheart and puts me at ease every time we talk. She’s kind, compassionate, and encouraging. She’s always telling me I made the right decision and how proud she is of me.

Dr. S came in a few minutes before surgery was to start to mark my chest and my stomach for where he’d be taking the fat out. The incision would be through my belly button and he’d pull fat in the general area and transfer it to my left boob area. The left needed the most work; it sunk in badly! He also marked the right and left love handle just in case he needed to pull fat from there as well.

The nurse and anesthesia doctor wheeled me out of the room and down the hallway to the operating room. I actually remembered it this time because I hadn’t had the knock-out medicine yet. He couldn’t give it to me sooner because I needed to be marked and plus my IV needed to be flushed a few times. Speaking of that, it hurts like none other…and as a result my hand has a HUGE bruise on it. Ouch! I made it to the room, met the team, and even made it on the operating table all by myself. They moved me, hooked me up to machines, put a few patches on me…and la-la land I went…

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3 1/2 hours later, surgery was successful…AND, he even got me bigger than anticipated. Sorry, no Pamela Anderson boobs. 2 1/2 hours on the left, 1 hour on the right. The part that hurts the most, believe it or not, is the stomach where he took the fat. He had to take more than anticipated (no arguments there). Originally he was only going to have to transfer fat to the left boob, but the right needed work after the implant was put in.

My stomach from the belly button down and to the right hip is really swollen and bruised. I look like I’m 4-5 months pregnant. It hurts. I can only wear loose bottoms otherwise I’m in excruciating pain. My arms and chest don’t hurt as badly as the first surgery, but there is still pain. A lot of bruising at the fat grafting incisions. Total incisions this time were 8 – one under each boob, 1 fat grafting incision at belly button, 3 fat grafting incisions on left boob, and 2 on right boob.

I’m incredibly thankful he didn’t have to take fat  from my left love handle area. He marked it and the incision would have been right on my tattoo I got shortly after Sarah was diagnosed and I found out I was BRCA1 positive. I’m super elated I didn’t have to have drains this time around. Like I’ve said before, drains suck BIG time.

I had to leave the original bandages on for the first few days, so I didn’t get to take a look. I’ve seen them now and the foobs look good. Actually, let me clarify, I’m happy with how they turned out, but haven’t come to terms or accepted the new girls. I hope, someday, I can learn to LOVE them. Every day I have to put new gauze and tape on over the incisions and wear this Granny surgical bra to keep the girls tucked. I won’t be cleared to do things or go back to “normal” for anywhere between 2-4 weeks.

It is so awesome to no longer have rocks in my chest! I can’t even describe the feeling. This surgery was a breeze compared to the first one. There’s still a lot of pain involved and I’m taking a few steps back, but it’s completely worth it. I’ll be back to working out, eventually. My body needs to heal, considering I had two major surgeries in three months time. There’s no pressure! I’ll bounce back (literally and figuratively)! Ha!

Anyway, that’s all for now. One of the side effects of the nauseau medicine is blurred vision at night. So, with that, I’m going to take a pain pill, get comfortable in the recliner, and pass out for a little bit…hopefully…lack of sleep seems to be the story of my life again.

Sweet dreams,

Tits (aka: Firm Jugs)

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my Grinch face as my mom and sister affectionately call it. I was three sheets to the wind and had no idea they took this…funny though…

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beautiful, huh?! what the stomach looks like…

ouch. fills. need i say more.

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The fills.

I had no clue what to truly expect at these fill appointments. My doctor filled me 200cc’s at the time of surgery. I would only need two more fills unless something went wrong.

I laid back and he brought a magnet and place it over my breast right above the nipple. Once it lined up, he marked the spot with a special pen and brought over a needle connected to an IV. He poked the needle into the spot, which was where the port is, and let the IV hang. From there, he attached this large syringe and started filling the expander with saline. Because I don’t have much feeling in my boobs, I didn’t feel him poke the one breast, but sort of felt the other. It’s really weird.

In my research leading up to surgery, I read online and talked to various women about the fills. Some ladies said it was awful and painful, while others said it wasn’t bad at all. The majority of them said it got more painful as you went along. Yep, they were right.

My friend Jen took me to my third follow-up appointment on September 26th, which was to get the rest of my grenades (drains) out. They took one out the week before. The doctor and his assistant looked at how I was healing, took the remaining 3 drains out, and hemmed and hawed as to whether or not they were going to fill me also. Most of the time they’ll take the drains out and have you come back at another time to get a fill. I was lucky. They determined my skin and body could handle the fill…only two and a half weeks post-op?! Perfect. I’ll take it.

85cc’s later, I developed the training bra boobs. I walked into the waiting area, laughed, and said to Jen, “Look, I have something”, while pulling my top tight against my chest. I laughed, she chuckled. I think I may have embarrassed her…I’m not so sure the rest of the people in the waiting room thought it was funny. We left and grabbed lunch at this place I’ve never been to before. The ride home didn’t go so well. I didn’t feel well and all of the sudden she’s pulling over on the side of the freeway and I’m outside the car hurling.

I was so sick the next 24 hours. I couldn’t keep anything down nor could I sleep at all. I was extremely uncomfortable. I called the doctor and let him know, and he said it was really odd I was puking. If I didn’t stop vomiting over the weekend, I’d have to come back on Monday for him to take some saline out.

Thank goodness I didn’t have to go in that Monday! I had some overall tightness in my chest but it only lasted a few days. The pressure and pulling did me in, but thank goodness the puking stopped. Who wants to take a few steps back in the recovery/fill process?!

This leads to October 17th – my  FINAL fill. He filled me 115cc’s!! Yay!!! This one sucked big time. My rocks are completely under the muscle, are miles apart, and bulge out a bit under my armpit. By making the rocks bigger, it’s pushing on the muscle as well. The muscle wants to retract back to where it was which causes the terrible pains. My total rock size is 400CC. At the time of surgery, the doctor filled me to 200cc because he knew my body could handle it. Mom said he came out of surgery super ecstatic. He doesn’t get to fill them that “full” like that that often.

My rocks are hard, uncomfortable, and sore. Before my rocks had some give and take. They’re hard because the shells are thicker and less flexible as they fill. Two days later and I’m in the most pain I’ve had in a while. I cannot get comfortable when I sleep and the rocks put pressure on my sternum as well as pull on the sternum/chest wall.

Please don’t take this as me complaining. Many of you have asked how I’m doing and this is me being completely honest. I knew going into this surgery that it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. This is the worst I have felt since coming out of surgery. My chest and upper body hurts. I cried Friday night. I’m sore. My chest is unbelievably tight. Things are being pulled in every direction possible. My skin is even more super sensitive than it was. My armpit pain came back with a vengeance. It’s been something I’ve been dealing with since the surgery, but Friday night I could barely move my right arm without a shooting pain or it going numb. Despite all of this, I’m staying positive, cracking jokes, laughing, and taking it one day at a time. On the bright side – I have some boxy boobs now.

I’m living my life and keeping myself busy to be distracted from the pain. My physical therapist told me to keep active and moving. This is my new norm right now and I have to cope and accept it. I’m going to continue doing my therapy exercises, walking 3-4 miles on the treadmill, and “killing my legs” as PT called it. I’m cleared to ride my bike on the trainer, walk/jog, lift my 2 pound weights, and do any kind of leg routine I want. I’m just not allowed to swim (aww, shucks!) and do a whole lot of ab things. Everything is done in moderation. I’m given an inch and will NOT take a mile. Promise!

Things will get better…eventually. For now, I’m going to thank my lucky starts to be alive, breathing and healthy. I’m going to enjoy my firm jugs and lack of having to wear a sports bra…well, actually, I can’t wear them anyway due to the super-sensitive skin. Darn.

If you were to ask me if I’d do this all over again, I would say yes in a heartbeat. If you were to ask me if I could have changed and gone with smaller fills, I’d say no. Go big or go home. I trust my doctor and am completely happy he felt I could handle those amount of fills. All of this pain is completely worth it. I don’t have to worry about the 87% chance of getting breast cancer in my lifetime.

What’s next?

I’m done with my fills and now it’s a waiting game. Everything needs to settle. The reconstructive doctor and I haven’t decided what size boob we’re going to go with. I’m totally comfortable with him making the final call. I have some more follow-up appointments down the road and from there he’ll decide when we can move forward with the exchange surgery. This second surgery seems like a lifetime away. It’s typically an outpatient surgery where they exchange the expanders for saline or silicone implants.

Yay!