Preventive Mastectomy: Week 3

Posted May 25, 2016 by Prairie Wife - 7 comments

Note: I decided to include real pictures of my body in this post because I know that it will help to prepare other women as they begin this journey, as well as help educate family members and friends. I hope that you my readers, will be respectful of that choice, and if you are offended at the thought it’s best for you to stop reading here.

This week started out full of many victories!

Three days after my fill I started to feel much more comfortable. I still had occasionally uncomfortable tightening around my chest when I was doing too much but, overall I’ve felt so much better.

I’m down to only napping once a day and as I’m sure you’ve noticed, starting to have enough mental capacity to begin posting new blog posts again. Hopefully, I’ll be back up to our regular three a week soon!

I can open doors on my own, even heavy car doors…and those crazily heavy public restroom doors.

I binge-watched season 4 of Downton Abbey and am almost done with season 5.

I found a new show called Poldark and absolutely fell in love with it…I’m hoping Season 2 is out when I have one of my other surgeries so I can watch it.

Ma went home (which wasn’t a victory) and still wants to come back and visit us again soon (which IS a victory).

CowGranny and Mary Poppins have been holding down the fort this week, and I am so thankful that the Cowkids seem to still be doing great with all of these changes.

I’ve been a bit more active in parenting the last few days, and as TallGirlJ aptly said, “Mama’s back!” The Cowkids aren’t exactly thrilled about this but I can tell they are a bit more relaxed now that they see me participating again in more of our normal activities like going to church and running errands.

For this week’s fill, CowGranny drove me down to Denver, and it was great to have a few hours chatting together about life in general. Over the years, I’ve really come to respect her not only as a mother but a woman as well. She truly cares about her family and is willing to go the extra mile (or in our case 350 miles) to help out.

This week’s fill was the only part of this week that was sadly, not a victory.

I had prepared myself for the fill on “old righty” to be painful, and I wasn’t wrong.

week three front shotWe put 100cc in my left breast and while there was definitely pressure and pushing on my ribs when we did it, after a few deep breaths it was bearable.

When it was time for “old righty” I took deep breaths and prepared myself. As more and more saline was put in, I felt that same piercing pain in between my ribs. I held on as long as I could but finally had to tap out. It felt like my ribs were being ripped apart by the weight of the expander. We only made it to 80cc, but it’s still one step closer to being done.

My amazing plastic surgeon stopped in to take a look at my “play dough boobs”. He apologized for their less-than-great appearance and assured me the implants would still look fine…and asked me not to judge his work by how they look. I told him I wasn’t worried a bit and that I knew it was just from my amazingly strong yoga pectoral muscles 😉

week three sideAfter spending some time looking at my “play dough boobs” my plastic surgeon mentioned that because of their shape they weren’t stretching my skin out the way he wanted. He commented that we would try one more fill and then decide if we should keep going or just chalk it up to not working the way we want and stop fills. It would mean a few extra modifications during my implant surgery, but nothing that he couldn’t handle.

Not so secretly, I’m hoping that we do one more fill and call it a draw. Not only was the pain on my right side ridiculously terrible after this fill but, the three-month countdown to the next surgery doesn’t start until the last fill. That means the sooner we finish with fills, the sooner I can have surgery and reach the finish line of this journey.

After I had this fill CowGranny and I drove 2 1/2 hours to her home, where I spent the night. The nurse insisted on calling in a pain med prescription for me after this fill. I haven’t been taking any pain meds other than the occasional Ibuprofen and Tylenol, but man am I thankful she called those in! I hung in there for the ride to CowGranny’s house, where she dropped me off and ran to get some dinner.

Based on my rapidly rising pain level, I decided to change into sweats and a comfy top before things got worse. As I was trying to remove my shirt, I found myself using every technique in my natural birth arsenal. I concentrated on breathing and waiting for the waves of pain in my right ribs to pass so I could make another move before I was hit with another stabbing pain again. As I stood frozen, doubled over, with my shirt half on, I found myself thinking, “I’d like an epidural now.” I focused on my breathing and the thought that this was only going to get better over the next few days.

I tried to be strong that evening, but it was exhausting to talk…or even think about getting up to pee. It was taking every ounce of energy I had to deal with the pain and not cry.

I took the pain meds at bedtime, and it took the edge off. I woke up four hours later (the second it started to wear off) took another one, and dozed again. I woke up with the sun and took a third pill…which resulted in my being incredibly nauseous and gave me a terrible headache. This seems to be the pain med pattern with me…I can take a few doses, but then it seems to build up in my system and cause more harm than good.

When my friend RedHeadK stopped by with breakfast and asked how I was doing, I promptly burst into tears. It’s the first time I’ve done more than shed a few tears through this whole journey, and I was mortified. Not only did I feel ridiculous crying on her shoulder, but when CowGranny came in and saw me crying, I felt like she would think that I was ungrateful for all her help.

I just wanted to feel better, I wanted The Cowboy who has been my strength through this all…and I wanted to be home.

The Cowboy came and got me, and we headed home. Just like before, each day after the fill was easier and easier.

ribs week 3I also learned why the right side is hurting so much. If you look at this picture you can see my ribs on the left side sticking out. While they are sticking out half as much as they did before the expanders (I have always had a huge rib cage), it’s still pretty comfortable. If you look at the right side, you can see that my ribs are completely pushed in and a bit concave. It turns out that the pain is from the compression and twisting of my rib cage. I know it’s silly but knowing why I’m in pain has gone a long way towards helping me work through it…and sorry about the quality of the pic. Mary Poppins commented that it doesn’t really do the difference justice.

Oh, two more victories…the plastic surgeon cleared me to drive AND wash my own hair…I hear angels singing!

Next week I get to start physical therapy, and I’m really excited to talk to her and learn how many of my normal activities I can start doing again!

Thanks again for all the love, support, and prayers…you have no idea how much it means to me.

Click here to read about weeks 4 and 5

Note: You may notice the shiny appearance, peeling skin, and stretch marks in the first pic. I just wanted to comment that the shiny and peeling skin is a result of the skin being stretched with the expanders. If my skin is still shiny next week, I will need to skip a fill that week because the skin is too stressed. The stretch marks are from going from a small B to a DD when nursing the Cowkids, not this surgery.


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7 thoughts on "Preventive Mastectomy: Week 3"

  1. Bennie says:

    Yikes! That looks painful, I’m almost in pain just looking at the photos. Hang in there and thanks for sharing. It’s a real eye-opener of how this is one extensive and and preventive procedure.. BTW – you are allowed to cry once in awhile. I’m sure the pain and just the stress of it all is/took a toll on you that day.

    1. Prairie Wife says:

      Thanks Bennie, I know it was silly to be so upset about crying (oh the irony) but it’s how I felt. Here’s hoping that next week will be smoother 🙂

  2. Eliza says:

    You are beautiful. In every way. I hope the pain subsides to a tolerable level and you can get to the finish line when it’s right for you!

    1. Prairie Wife says:

      Thanks Eliza, I need to probably remind myself of that a bit more…that the finish line might not be when I want, but when it’s right!

  3. Hannah says:

    You are one tough cookie!! Those pictures made me hurt for you! Praying that the process continues to go smoothly and that the next full could be less painful!! I’m so proud of you and respect you so much for what you are doing! Keep pressing on! You’re amazing!!

    1. Prairie Wife says:

      Thank you! It helped this time to know that it would only be yucky for three days 🙂

  4. Allie Oop says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! I stumbled across this post and will have to go back and read more. My mom and doctor have been encouraging me to have preventive surgery (like my mom did) instead of doing it slowly through limpectomies like I have been. I’m absolutely terrified! My mom had a rough go and not so great plastic surgeon. Reading this helps so much, although still terrifying, it helps to read what to expect and the pictures are great. Hang in there tough lady and thank you for sharing your journey!

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