Welcome! Read Me!

This blog is created to give you a central location to answer any questions you have about my current and upcoming treatments and reactions. It is also created to help me make Lemonade out of the Lemons I have been given, so I will keep this as positive as I can.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Re-Construction Zone

~~WARNING~~ The person writing this blog post is impaired by Multiple Pain Medications so rambling and or nonsense is possible and/or expected. Read at your own risk! ~~WARNING~~

Well... the big surgery is DONE!!! Last Tuesday I checked into the hospital for my DIEP Reconstruction. I was so nervous! There were things that I was better prepared for this time than I was not last time. I didn't bring so much stuff for one thing. Last time I wore Ear Rings and other Jewelry and I brought a ton of stuff in my suitcase... This time... I brought my Cell Phone and the clothes on my back. It was a lot less to worry about. While we were in the prep room I kept having Deja Vu. There was one girl there who was telling all of the allergies and issues they had that was going to make this the worst surgery ever, and then they brought in another gal who was having a total panic attack. in my Deja Vu memory one of them stood up and ran out of the room, with only the hospital gown on, screaming "I can't do this!! AAAAARRRGGGGHHHH!!!!" Thankfully this didn't happen, but it did have a way of making me feel so much more calm for myself. Since I had gotten through all of the preparations and was feeling pretty good. It was kinda funny but they actually required me to take a Pregnancy test. LOL... This really made me chuckle since I have several reasons that this is likely not even possible. But I humored them and acted very shocked when they told me it was negative. I was nervous about the PICC line but excited for it at the same time. I actually went into surgery with a basic IV so that made me feel a little bit better that I would not be 100% aware when they put it in. :)
Once I was all prepped they took me back to the OR. Back there it is just a crazy white room where the only colors were the scrubs on the nurses and the anesthesiologist. We came in and I had to get up on the operating table. The nurse and anesthesiologist start talking to me about my kids I was laughing about something and the next thing I know I was on my way to the ICU. While I was being taken from the recovery room to the ICU they drove me past the waiting room so they could pick up Alex. Well, he and all those who were sitting with him (Cindy, Suzie, and Mike and Anita (his Parents), was anyone else there? LOL) poked their head out the door to say HI and they chased the bed down the hall for a while. :) Good times! It was the fastest 13 hours of my whole life. I am not sure the exact time breakdown but a few of the highlights of the process that seem noteworthy... First thing that happened was the removal of my Expander's, then they cut my stomach from hip bone to hip bone. In order to gain access to all the veins and fat he had to also cut my belly button away from my skin. Apparently I had a small Hernia in my belly button from my previous pregnancies, so that was removed at this point as well. Somewhere in there the Doc noticed that my chest was not level because of a Rib bone. So he shaved off a small portion of the bone in order to make things sit better. Then came the fun part of pulling each "fat tree" by the Vein and disconnected it and reconnected it in my chest. I am assuming this is what took up most of the time. But once he was done with that part there was approximately 2 hours spent just giving me stitches. When I went in for my Mastectomy the stitches were not pretty, but this time you can definitely tell that more care was taken to get it so it would heal much prettier. At least as pretty as a scar that essentially cut me in half could look. Once this was completed I was in the recovery room for about 2 hours... of that time I think I remember opening my eyes once, it was too bright, so I closed them again and woke up in the ICU. Once I was in the ICU they set out to put in the PICC line. They had me hold my arm to the side while they determined where to place it. I did not look at any of the process, so don't ask me what they did or how they did it... lets just say it was done, and I barely felt any of it. It actually hurt more to get the xray to confirm that it was placed correctly than it hurt to get it in. But I can tell you right now my stay was so much easier when every time they wanted to have a blood sample they did not get a single needle near my skin. The nurse was able to collect it with a needle-less syringe and them give it to the Flebotomists. I smiled every time that happened. I know I made the right choice! One downside to the PICC line is that I have issues with some tapes and the one that they use for the PICC is one of them, so I ended up with some pretty good blisters from it. But they are already mostly healed, so I can't really complain much. I did get a few shots so that I could get my Blood thinner. It was a small light shot, so it didn't hurt when I was getting it, but it bruised every where that they poked me. All along the back of my arm and on each of my thighs. (They spread it out so that I didn't have one spot that was unbearable.) Well I can tell you that the blood thinner was doing its job because a few of the places that they stuck me with a needle was bleeding quite consistently. Once they noticed this they spent more time ensuring that they got it to clot before leaving me. So it was only an issue on a couple sites. Speaking of blood loss, I did at one point have low iron, so they needed to give me a small transfusion, but it was no big deal because of the PICC. I didn't have any ill effects from it.
Going into this surgery I was trying to decide how it would be in comparison to my Mastectomy. I figured that the tummy would be twice as bad and that the breast would be just slightly less painful than the Mastectomy. Well, I think I hit it mostly on the head... I think that the breast is barely painful at all.It helps that with my Mastectomy most of my nerves were "killed" Most of my pain came from the JP Drains. My stomach was pretty painful. My biggest fear was that I would not be able to use my tummy muscles to sit up and that my chest and arms would be too painful to help. Thankfully that was not the case. I did find that if I sit up by holding my legs behind my knees instead of pushing up on my bed that it was a lot less painful... and pulling directly up rather than over to the side was much better as well.
Walking... is a chore. I am grateful that my Mother in law had a walker to share with me or I am pretty sure that I would not be doing well. I can do short walks without it, and I am trying to do longer ones as often as possible, but it is nice to have the ability to rest and have the support of the walker when I need it. I do need to walk hunched over in order to keep the skin and muscles tight, and not pull out my stitches. This is not great on my back, but I am surviving it. The girls absolutely LOVE the Walker. When they came home on Wednesday they spend the bulk of that day taking turns pushing it around or playing on or around it.
The girls have been really great. They are always asking why I have to walk funny and I told them that the Doc gave me some big "Owies" so that I will be able to get better. I did show them my tummy because they were so curious. they also needed to see the bruises on my arm and legs. Once they knew where all of my "Owies" were they were able to accept it a little bit more. They still ask why the Doc had to give me such a big "Owie" and when will I be able to walk normal again, and I have not had a real easy answer for these questions yet. It is hard to talk about the Cancer still with the Little ones, and it is even harder to explain an "optional" plastic surgery when I am technically "All Better".
This week I went into the Doctor and it was quite a wonderful day. When I came home from the hospital I had 3 drains (one for each breast and one in my tummy) and I also had a Pain pump that was pumping pain meds through 2 tiny tubes directly into my tummy in order to control that pain more consistently. I was also sent home from the hospital needing Oxygen. Well at my appointment The Doc removed the 2 drains in my breasts and the 2 tubes for the pain pump and also tested my oxygen levels and determined that I was free to stop using that as well. So I went from being hooked up and basically tied down with tubes to only having 1 drain remaining, and that will likely be removed this coming week. It is then that I will start to feel more normal. I will be able to wear more normal clothes and bathe easier without worrying that I am going to cause any harm to the tube.
The timing can't be better since if I am chosen for a position next week I will have to go into their office for some testing and paperwork. So it will be nice to be able to go as a person rather than a patient. :)

Before I go I just want to give a huge THANK YOU to those people who helped me to get better. First and Foremost... My Hubby Alex. Without him I likely wouldn't walk as much as I needed or breathe into the little Breathing machine as much as I should, I would completely lose track of my pills, and I could definitely not be able to handle the girls. He has been the best help through this! I love you!! Additionally I want to thank All of the Nurses and Aides in the Hospital, My parents for watching the girls until we felt more ready to have them home, and to my wonderful neighbors who have been helping out with dinners. It is so nice to have one less thing to worry about. I am hoping that by the end of next week I will be mostly recovered and I hope to be able to cook something... or at least reach the microwave.... That will be a great time!!

I love you all and I welcome any questions or comments. I know I missed something that someone may want to know about. :)  Hugs!


  1. Love ya, Mel. I am so glad that you are here to love. Joy for you and your family. --Jeff folsom

  2. You forgot that we saw you in the hallway on the way to the ICU? I was sure you would remember that- you were so alert :)

  3. Thanks Jeff!
    Suz, I updated with my memory of that part. :)