Sunday, August 2, 2015


My first memory post-surgery was being wheeled down the hallway while in the hospital bed. I was in extreme pain and they were taking me to my room. From what I was told, this was sometime after lunch. I remember seeing my sister, my aunt and my husband in the hallway, all staring at me with wide eyes. My sister said I was crying from pain, and that they remained in the hall until I was settled in my room.

I must have fallen back asleep, thanks to the morphine pump. I remember right when they wheeled me into my room, the nurses made me do things that I thought were ridiculous for someone in my condition..sit up, move from the stretcher to this bed, stop screaming, push yourself up, rate your pain, etc..It was chaos, but I was just so relieved to be on the other side of surgery. I knew I had a long road of recovery ahead of me, but the anxiety of the surgery itself was over. I was in and out of sleep and vomiting regularly for the first 24-48 hours, but the hard part was behind me. 

The first time I glanced at my chest I was horrified. Mostly because of the drains. The whole concept of them coming out of my body just repulsed me. They weren't painful then though, just creepy. They were full of blood and the nurses were in to empty them often. I also remember being surprised at the lack of bandaging. There wasn't any. Just drains and me. (To my friends, M and L, I am SO sorry for flashing you and making you look during your visit...this modest girl blames the drugs.) My chest itself looked like it had taken the wrong end of a baseball bat, many times. My entire chest was horribly bruised. It was a mess of black, blue and red, and my right side was much worse than the left. The incisions were horizontal, and ran from the first third of my chest towards the middle of my armpit. One on each side. (My doctor believed having incisions there allowed for a more thorough and clean removal of breast tissue.) My drains were placed a few inches under each incision. There was a clear tube approximately 24 inches long, with a clear, squishy bulb at the end.

My chest looked completely lopsided, thanks to the tissue expanders. I'm sure my doctor attempted to make them appear symmetrical, but they settled into a uneven mess. One side was very high, and the other felt like it was in my armpit. I was somewhat surprised by them not being flat. For some reason I was under the impression we would be starting with a flat chest, but instead there was approximately 100-200 cc's of saline in each side. They felt like cement bricks and they looked even worse than that.

I had pretty bad nausea, but other than that I was doing just fine. I was sitting up in bed watching tv, reading, visiting, emailing and enjoying my clear liquid diet. I had packed fluffy socks, comfy pajama pants and a cozy robe (thank you, Annie C!), which the nurses helped me change into. I know getting out of the hospital gown truly gave me an added boost of recovery..

My sister stayed with me that first night. We made a little slumber party out of it. I was up and walking around by the evening, but I was moving at a snail's pace. I was scheduled to only stay two nights, but my doctor thought I should stay one more night to manage the pain. I wish I could have taken that IV home with me. Those pain meds were fabulous, but on December 16, 2012, I finally left the hospital. I was leaving my breast tissue behind, but I was armed with Percocet, my temporary cement chest and enough antibiotics for a small army.
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