(*Not for the squeamish.)
What will they look like? I’ll know soon. I’m closing in on Phase 2 of a breast reconstruction after a double mastectomy. The implant stage. I’ve been scooped out, then temporary tissue expanders stitched in place under my pecs and gradually inflated to the desired size over the last three months. My pecs have been stretched to make room for the permanent implants and they don’t like it, twitching and jerking their disapproval.
The touchiest part was where they removed the lymph nodes. If the pecs were rebellious, the pits were downright bellicose! It was a couple weeks before I could walk like a normal person without hunching up my shoulders. And the compression corset around my chest was like a tourniquet! Not to mention the drain tubes dangling from me for ten days.
But all of that is three months behind me, with the help of post-op narcs, an angel of a daughter to smooth out the rough spots, a son to chauffeur me around, and a boyfriend to make me laugh. And some Haagen-Daz when all else fails. All that’s left now is to ditch these hard-as-rocks expanders and replace them with two brand new silicone implants.
How will the new boobs look and feel? Despite my doctor’s reassurances, the doubts keep circling. Have I made my wishes clear enough? Not too big, please.
I try not to dwell on the scary stories I’ve read on internet forums, like lymphedema-arms swelling up like the Hindenburg, which can pop up months or even years after surgery. But my worrywart gene sometimes gets the better of me and I imagine the things I don’t want to imagine, especially in the wee hours of the night.
I’m ready to get this over with. On the bright side, I won’t need to be in the hospital overnight. But, I will have to wear a one-piece, knee-to-chest compression suit, with a potty flap. In the month of August. In Florida. 24/7! For six weeks!
Did I mention fat grafting? My doctor will be taking fat from an unwanted area and filling in gaps around the implants. The bottom half of the compression suit keeps those unwanted areas nice and tight as they heal, and the upper half keeps the implants snugly in place as my body learns to tolerate them.
But this too shall pass. It’s all about attitude. The occasional griping aside (most of it in this post!), I’m trying to think positive. And I know I have it easier than lots of brave women who have to put up with chemo and radiation on top of all that I’m going through. I’m very grateful for my early diagnosis.
As my boyfriend says, “Honey, soon this will all be behind you.” Or, in this case, in front of me… Just not too big, please.