Tag Archives: Complications

The good old days

WARNING: NSFW / graphic content below.

It has been over four months since my most recent surgery (March 1, 2016) and three and a half years since I had my prophylactic bilateral mastectomy. As I’ve said before, I have no regrets and am glad that I made the decision to undertake this journey. The last few years have not been easy, but it has all been worth it!hood

Things look great! I would even dare to say they are perfect (see photo below). Of course, there are little things here and there; we are our own worst critic. For example: I lost part of my nipple to necrosis, which resulted in loss of pigment, so I’ve been considering a 3D nipple tattoo to fill that in. In all honesty though, after the complications I’ve dealt with and how long this has taken, I am ecstatic about the outcome!

I’m in a great place in all aspects of my life:

  • This is all finally behind me and I’m happy to say I’ve had nothing but love and support from my husband, family, and all those around me (including you!).
  • On a personal level: hub and I are about to celebrate 10 years of marriage and 20 years together, we’ve traveled a bit this year and will be going to Ireland as well as the motherland to see my family in September AND the FORCE conference in Orlando in October, I chopped off some of my long hair and am slowly making my way to blonde (I love it!), and I lost the 15 pounds I gained over the last three+ years.
  • On the work front: I love my job, which allows me to work from home, and I’m about to dive into a really exciting business opportunity (more details later).

It’s easy to say things are great when they really are great, but if you’ve been reading my blog for a bit, you may know that I’m a firm believer that your attitude really is everything. My anthem has been These Are The Good Old Days by PinkEven when they were shit days, they were still good days. I had the chance to say NOPE to breast cancer

Throughout this process, I’ve remained positive and never lost sight of my “why” for doing all this, which was to greatly reduce my risk of developing breast cancer. Although we are BRCA mutation uninformed negative, cancer has been plaguing our family. My sister was just 29 when she died from the disease (I’m 35). My mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and died just a little over a year later. My aunt is in remission from colorectal cancer. I’ve been discussing a salpingectomy with my oncologist and will most likely have that procedure before 40 (stay tuned) followed by an oophorectomy after 50. At the end of the day, I am glad I made the decision to be proactive. I will continue to closely monitor my health and make decisions that best address and mitigate my personal risk.

Because “these are the good old days and I think I’d like to stay” – Pink.

The results

2016_7_12

 

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Prosthesis v2

WARNING: NSFW / graphic content below.

After I lost an implant the first time, my husband and I were planning a trip to visit his family in the Caribbean. Prior to going on that trip, I got a breast prosthesis, so that we could avoid awkward conversations about my health with distant relatives; in Spanish, nonetheless.

no pantsWell, as you already know, I’ve lost another implant. On an average day when I’m running errands or meeting friends for lunch, I go as I am and don’t even think about it. Also, I work from home. No boob? No pants? No problem! 🙂 However, I will again be traveling in the near future, but this time it will be a trip to corporate HQ to show face and meet some new team members. So I got another prosthesis. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not shy about sharing my story (hello, blogosphere) and I am not embarrassed when uniboobin’ it, but in some close-encounter situations I don’t want to be focusing on and explaining my lack of mammary.

I made an appointment for a fitting at a local boutique that specializes in “image consulting.” Since I have gone up in size by 100ccs from the last time I needed one, it wasn’t as easy as just ordering another one. After a couple of tries, we found the right form to complement my current breast. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty darn close. I also picked out three new bras. My insurance provider covers the prosthesis as well as bras. In fact, they cover up to six bras per year (this varies, so check with your provider). Most boutiques and stores like Nordstrom work with insurance and even submit the paperwork for you.

Here it is. It is lightweight and comfortable. Looks good under clothing too.

2014_11_13

 

By the way, this is working from home with cats (not my vid, but accurate):

Houston, we have a problem

WARNING: NSFW / graphic content below.

Before I tell you about what has been happening for the last few days, I just want to say to those that are considering this procedure, preparing for one, or have already started the process: women who undergo a mastectomy, whether prophylactic or not, don’t always experience complications. Actually, I’d say that most do not, based on my involvement in a few online support groups and interaction with women in my local community. Everybody’s experience is different, because of different doctors, hospitals, body condition, other health issues, activities during recovery, nutrition, etc. There are many factors. Each person should consider their scenario and discuss concerns they may have with their surgical team.

Another thing to keep in mind is that usually the people that have problems are the ones that speak up. You know – the squeaky wheel thing. There are so many women out there that have had a completely complication-free experience and have beautiful results! You can’t tell that they’ve gone through this journey unless they tell you! Those women usually don’t linger in the support groups, stop blogging about it, move on, and just leave it all behind them. They are DONE and don’t have to think about it again.

Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here

Unfortunately, I’m not one of them. Upon my return from vacation, I started working out again (cardio) and I also began using Kelocote on my hypertrophic scars, as I mentioned in a recent post. Both of these activities began on Sunday. The following Wednesday I saw Dr. M and things looked good. The next day I noticed a bit of redness around the incision on my left breast. By Saturday there was a small area in the center of the scar tissue from my bout with necrosis that had turned blue. I emailed Dr. M and got this response:

Yes, this is a significant problem. Need to see you tomorrow.

HoleBy Monday afternoon, I had a hole. By early evening I had chills, sweats, and a fever of 101.7. Panicked, I called the after-hours service to page Dr. M and he called back immediately. The plan was to continue on the antibiotics, take a couple Tylenol, and sit tight unless the temperature spiked past 103, at which point I’d hightail it to the ER. Within two hours the temperature dropped below 100, but I knew what was coming: the implant had to go.

My surgery was at 5pm on Tuesday, October 15. Dr. M cleaned up the incision and removed the implant. I am left with one breast and another drain! I really REALLY don’t like drains, but who does? What’s next? We have to let everything heal for at least three months before we being talking about restarting reconstruction on that side. I’m am so bummed by this humongous setback!

Why did this happen?

A combination of things may have caused this, but it’s hard to say exactly which was the straw. In Dr. M’s experience, implants are usually (but rarely) lost due to complications from three major things: radiation, smoking, and/or trauma. I fall into the third category. The necrosis I experienced in January produced a lot of scar tissue, which has poor circulation. My use of Kelocote on that scar tissue introduced chemicals into the equation. On top of that, I started working out again. My body protested against the combination of old and new trauma. So here I am, uniboobin’ it for at least three more months! Good thing it’ll be during winter and I can camouflage things a bit. I present a foob and a drain:

2013_10_16 closeup