Today is the two year anniversary of my mastectomies and start of my reconstruction. It’s been quite a journey and while I had many complications and it took awhile to be completely done, it’s only a distant memory now. While going through that spring with constant pain and multiple surgeries it seemed too much to handle but looking back, it’s now just a blur.

So what is it like now? Pros and Cons:

Cons:

  • I have little pec strength.
  • My chest still feels tight most times, especially when I get cold.
  • There is no feeling in the skin under my arms and on parts of my back so when I get an itch, I can’t scratch it!
  • Small, repetitive muscle movements, (like scrubbing a pan) make my pecs twitch and feel funny.
  • My chest muscles contract and feel tight.
  • I miss the feeling of natural breasts when sleeping on my sides.

PROS:

  •  I don’t think about BRCA+ hardly at all anymore.
  • I never have to wear a bra but choose to wear a camisole with blouses and certain shirts. T-shirts=never!
  • My surveillance is minimal (yearly exam and continued self exams)
  • I no longer have periods. (due to ooph) Now that I no longer have breast tissue I was allowed to go on HRT….
  • I cut my cancer risk down to almost nothing.
  • It’s in the rear view mirror… No regrets!!!

So, if you’re reading this and are just beginning your journey, hang in there!  There is a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s so very worth it!

I missed blogging on the one year anniversary of my exchange (12/21) because I was busy and my BRCA+ life has pretty much been put on the back burner (yippee!.. it’s amazing how that happens….)  Something that was such a huge part of my life for two years has now taken a back seat. That’s a good thing as it means that real life is what I’m focusing on now.

My tats have faded a bit but still look good and I’m in no rush to do anything to touch them up, if I even bother. They still look very 3D so I think they look fine. I am having an annoying itch in my ribs that I can’t scratch though and it’s driving me nuts. It’s under my right implant mostly and scratching the surface of the skin does nothing. I still have little feeling in the skin there so it wouldn’t work anyway. It could be that the nerves are regenerating in that area and that’s what I’m feeling but I’m not sure. I do know, it’s driving me crazy and has been for the past week, though.

A year later, I can’t say that I don’t notice that my body is different because it definitely is. My pec strength has been reduced and small repetitive motions are difficult.  When I’m cold, the chest muscles tense up so I feel like I’m being squeezed with a tight bra so it’s a bit uncomfortable but still, I have ZERO regrets! Peace of mind is worth all that I’ve been through and all that I feel now.

Stay strong ladies…

OMG!!  I’m done.🙂  It’s been 7 months since my exchange and I decided it was time to finish up with areola tattoos. I was firm in my decision that I didn’t want to have nipple reconstruction because I definitely didn’t want to have “headlights” that were always on. One of the positive aspects of having the surgery is the fact that I don’t need to wear a bra. I certainly don’t want to have to wear one just to cover nipple erections! So.. my plan was to just get 3D tattoos.  I wasn’t really in a hurry and was getting used to just seeing a bare, Barbie boobed chest so I thought I could just take or leave them…

I decided to go ahead and schedule the tattoos now because my PS said I was free to do it. An impending insurance coverage change spurred my call to the tattoo artist. I also wanted to have them healed by the time I go on vacation in a few weeks because I don’t want to be restricted from swimming in a lake if they weren’t healed yet.

Well, I went for my appointment and I must say, I was completely flawed at what an emotional thing it was for me. I didn’t think I missed seeing a “normal looking” chest but apparently I did more than I knew. I broke down and cried quite a few times and was overwhelmed with emotion. She did such a wonderful job and was completely caring and understanding. Her work is so good that I still can’t believe that this is nothing but ink!

When I opened the shower curtain the other day and caught a glimpse in the mirror I broke out in a huge smile seeing what I look like right now. It almost makes it easy to forget what this journey has been like and what I’ve been through… complications and all!

I’ve still got some visible scars and have ongoing muscle spasms but omg… I feel so beautiful and normal! I keep peeking at my chest and am totally amazed.  What do you think?!

3D Nipple Tattoos ROCK!!

It’s been a year and couple of weeks since my PBM / TE surgery and exactly a year since I went in for a revision due to skin necrosis. I clicked on the archive and read some of those posts and was suddenly transported back to that time. I was in agony for most of the spring and when I think of it now, it’s just a distant memory. It just goes to show that you can go through hell but the memories do fade over time… I feel fantastic right now and other than being fatter than I’m comfortable with and living life as a post-menopausal woman, I’m almost back to being ME! As I’ve said… while it was tough, in the whole scheme of things, it was just one year of my life!🙂

Here we are, one year out from my PBM surgery and while I’m not completely done with the reconstruction process I’m becoming more like me each day. Had I not run into so many complications along the way, I would have been done months and months ago but in the whole scheme of things, it’s only been one year of my life. I’m back to working out and moving forward. It’s been quite a bumpy road to get to this point but I still have absolutely no regrets about my decision.  For me, eliminating that 87% chance of developing breast cancer, and the quality of life that I’m enjoying with peace of mind has been the right choice for me.

For some women, surveillance is the right choice and I respect that. For me, however, I know that I’m a “what if” type of person and I would never have forgiven myself for gambling and losing. Also, the stress of the mammograms and MRIs would make me insane. Granted, it hasn’t been easy, especially from a physical standpoint, and just because I have no regrets about my choice doesn’t mean that I didn’t shed many tears over the past year and a half. I was devastated when I learned of my BRCA+ status and went through all of the stages of grief during that process. (My siblings and children have still not been tested yet, so while it’s not something I think about daily in terms of my own health at this point, it will certainly be brought to the forefront again when they are going through it. My biggest prayer is that my children and two brothers are all negative, then none of them will be placed in the situation to make the decisions that I had to.)

As I stand right now, I see my plastic surgeon again in June, then I will talk to him about 3D nipple tattooing. I have no desire to have protruding nipples as I am quite enjoying not having to wear a bra if I choose not to. My favorite undergarments these days are Daisy Fuentes Seamless Camisoles from Kohl’s. They have just the right amount of stretch and are very comfortable. I’ve also gained quite a bit of weight during my 6 surgeries in 14 month stretch so right now, priority number one in my life is to get back in shape. Summer will be here before I know it and unlike last summer when I had one expander and one flat side and needed to stuff, I can actually wear a bathing suit this year. But.. there is no way I’m doing it at this weight!  It’s time to really live my best life!

It’s exactly two weeks since my exchange surgery and I went back to work yesterday. I’m so thankful that I traded in coconut shells for marshmallows but I’m still sore and have that pins and needles squeezing feeling.  I saw the PS yesterday and he said that I’m still very swollen and that I’ll be more comfortable as it goes down. I’m scheduled to see him in 4 weeks.  H0pefully, I lose some of this fluid soon.  I’m actually more uncomfortable today than I have been in the past week. I think being back to work, carrying things, and being on the go has done it.  Also, I’m tired!  After being home for Christmas break, recovering from surgery and getting over being sick, it’s exhausting getting up and 5:30 and getting back into the routine. I’m so happy that this journey is almost over!

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,900 times in 2010. That’s about 5 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 70 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 22 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 2mb. That’s about 2 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was October 12th with 57 views. The most popular post that day was Bump in the Road.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facingourrisk.org, losingtheboobs.blogspot.com, byebyehooters.blogspot.com, cutthebtchesoff.blogspot.com, and sandradginzburg.typepad.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for brca positive, 800cc breast implants, brca+, breast exchange surgery swollen, and uniboob.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Bump in the Road March 2010

2

Drain Free but still Scratching! April 2010

3

The Scoop February 2010
2 comments

4

Detour in the Road April 2010
1 comment

5

Boo-Boo Boobs August 2010
7 comments

I made it!! I’m on the other side. I’m 3 days post-op but unfortunately, I’m sick.  I had a fever of 102, chills, wheezing, and coughing so I visited the doctor yesterday. He took a chest xray and so far has ruled out pneumonia but they’re waiting for bloodwork results to check for flu. I was a wreck when I developed the fever as I got nervous about post-op infection. Cellulitus is one word that I’m terrified of!  So far, things look good. I’m sore and although I don’t have drains, I’m leaking from my incisions in the inter-mammary fold. Dr. M said it’s ok though and is nothing to worry about.

I’m wearing a sports bra 24/7 for now to keep things towards the front and it’s a bit irritating on the incisions but it’s do-able. Right now, I’m just soooo thankful to have marshmallows on my chest instead of coconut shells!!  Below are some initial pictures. I’m still swollen and don’t have any cleavage because of the swelling but it looks good. More importantly for me though, is that it FEELS good!  I’ve been dying for this relief for months!

Immediately after surgery 12/21/10

post op 12/21

Showing Implant exchange scar across chest with revision in inter-mammary fold to remove excess mastectomy skin. (Yes, I had very large breasts!) Also, slight revisions in front to remove puckers from prior necrosis surgery.

I’m in my final weekend with expanders!!!  Tomorrow, I have errands to run and last minute Christmas prep things to do, then… Tuesday morning, I report to the hospital for 6:00 AM.  I’m so anxious to put this phase behind me!  I’ve honestly not been really thinking much about it though for the past week because my dad took a fall, has some broken bones and has been staying with me so that I can care for him. I’m a bit worried about what will happen after my surgery because I won’t be able to help him get up for awhile. Once again… one day at a time! I’m just so thankful that the date that has been circled on my calendar for months is finally here!!

Cold and stress kill me!  When I’m cold or tense the coconuts seize up and it feels like I’m wearing a barbed-wire bra.  Thankfully, the surgery date is right on the horizon and I’m very anxious for the exchange to be over. I’m thinking that it will always be a weird feeling having the implants under the muscle, especially when I flex,  but at least it will be soft and I will no longer have this contraption digging into my armpit. The right side has especially been uncomfortable right from day one and is the one that I had removed and replaced due to the infection. The left has been in place since February and is sitting more in the front while the right is under the armpit more.

I go for my final consult and bloodwork this week then it’s final preparations for Christmas and surgery on the 21st!

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