Yesterday was quiet, more sleeping and watching movies all day long. I have several discs from CSI:Miami, Season 1 (which I never watched on TV) to keep me company. It’s a bit gory, but I like the bright sunshine and the plot lines are nicely simple. One thing: my sister arrived. She promptly cooked dinner and helped J. do some housework. We needed the help and she is a blessing.
Today I left the house! We went to see my plastic surgeon. It was very exciting getting dressed in ‘real’ clothes and making sure we had lots of time to get there and back. (I move a lot slower now that I’m hooked up to a couple of plastic tubes and bags and have a mile and a half of bandages around my chest.)
Off with the bandages and the verdict is . . . . The plastic surgeon *loved* how good the scar looked and how well I am healing.
His MA, the hideous H removed one of my drains because it was only pulling about 5 cc/day. As she was preparing to remove it (basically, pulling a long plastic tube from 6 inches in my body) we discovered a wonderful thing: I have sensation! A lot of sensation, as it turns out. Which is great for future enjoyment, but in the moment, most post-mastectomy procedures are predicated on a near-total loss of sensation.
Which is why she is the hideous H. I said “I can feel that” she said, “oh, it’ll be over in just a second.” I said, “um, that is REALLY uncomfortable.” She just pulled the drain out and I said, “OW!!!” and nearly passed out from the wave of pain that rolled over me. (And I was only about 45 mins from my last pain med.) Literally, I was nauseous from the pain, throbbing and unhappy.
I lost the next several minutes as the plastic surgeon examined the incisions more carefully and (apparently) admired the work in great detail. (J. tells me they did so, I was listening to the ringing in my ears.) They put steristrips across the mastectomy scar (imagine a flattened breast with a black-purple-red sharpie mark drawn across it by someone whose hand shakes. And no, I am not going to post a picture.) and gauze ‘band aids’ across the 1st drain hole and the biopsy incision.
I came to consciousness enough that I mentioned the ‘tearing’ feeling when lying down, and he recommended that I get in and out on my side and try bending my knees to further support the core muscles. We talked about pain meds and he felt that I was doing well with my current program (1mg Dilaudid every 2 hours) and told me to start adding in Tylenol, which would
definitely help with any inflammation. He is hopeful the other might come out on Friday, but defeinitely wants to see me next week, and mentioned 12/4 as the date for more saline to be inserted (making my breast larger).
Here’s an interesting thing: I could not look at my chest. Not at all. Here they were, admiring the work, even J is looking right at my breast-like-object (known going forward as BLO) and I can’t look down, nor can I look at my reflection in the mirror. I can’t face it. I don’t have any emotion about that, I just cannot make my eyes shift to see it. My denial takes on such interesting tactics.
At home, later that day, I looked at myself in the mirror, and wondered why I’d been so afraid. It’s not pretty, but it certainly isn’t grotesque. It’s just . . . weird looking. (Now you see why I don’t write fiction.) It is not, and never will be, a breast. Oh, the implant will make it more like a breast, but it will not look like MY breast. And so I come face to face with the thoughts that plagued me pre-surgery: is the reconstruction ‘worth’ it?
I still don’t know.
That night, I tried a new way of getting into bed. I put my right arm down, tighten my core muscles, stiffen my torso, and let J. help me lie on my right side while pulling my legs up and onto the bed. I straighten my legs and roll over onto my back. The tearing feeling is greatly reduced, just a slight pull. Such a relief.