It’s been almost five days since I underwent surgery at The James Comprehensive Cancer Center for my prophylactic bilateral mastectomy. After a nervous two hours of waiting with my dad and stepmom in the waiting room, I was finally called. The last thing I remember after being given the anesthesia was laughing to myself as they pushed my hospital bed through the hallways. I have no idea what I thought was so funny.
Upon waking up I was groggy and in and out of sleep the rest of the night. Each of my nurses was kind and attentive- they made my one-night stay at the hospital as comfortable as possible. The morning after surgery I found that my pain levels were quite low. Unfortunately, this small victory would not last. At least my 9th-floor room had a fantastic view, even if I was too out of it to really appreciate it at the time. I was discharged from the hospital around 10 am the day after my surgery.
What I’m currently struggling with the most is my lack of independence and mobility. I have two drain tubes coming out of each of my sides right by my ribcage that have to be stripped, emptied, and measured twice a day (gross right?). While I don’t really have any sharp pains where the incisions are (I’m still pretty numb) my muscles are very sore along my sides and under my arms and I’m still unable to lift more than 2 pounds. I feel as if I'm handling the whole procedure much better than I had anticipated- and of course, the muscle relaxers help.
I am grateful that I have had so much support from my family and friends. A few friends even broke into the hospital at 1 a.m. to bring me ice cream- Graters’ black raspberry chip- my favorite.
I have my first follow-up visit on Wednesday, May 20th during which two of my drains should be removed. I’m really excited to have the drains out because it will give me a little more freedom and will remove some of the discomfort I have at the entry points.
During the next several weeks following the removal of my JP drains I will have to have my expanders maintenance. Expanders are temporary implants that are put in during the initial surgery which are filled with fluid every one to two weeks until the desired breast size is reached. Their purpose is to stretch the skin, tissue, and muscle to make room for the permanent implant. Once the appropriate size is acquired, the expanders are removed and a permanent implant is put in during a second surgery.
While choosing a preventative mastectomy may not be the right decision for all mutation carriers, this procedure has definitely put my mind at ease. I'm looking forward to the future and all it will bring to me. It is my hope that, through this blog, that I will be able to spread some awareness about BRCA mutations and risk assessment to those who may be prone to cancer. At the very least, I want to start a conversation.
That’s all the information I have for today and my pain killers are making me rather sleepy as I finish this entry. Stay posted for more updates and feel free to comment with any questions or Netflix series suggestions, I’m already getting pretty bored. Until next time.