Friday, March 1, 2013

My First Breast Cancer Surgery

I am home!  And, according to my surgeons, my surgery went really well.  Thank you for your thoughts and prayers!  What I am left with doesn't quite look like breasts yet, but at least my old breast tissue is gone. 

According to my breast surgeon, when she removed my left breast and a few sentinel nodes (the lymph nodes closest to the breast tissue), a quick pathological look at the sentinel nodes showed some cancer cells.  Therefore, she was generous with the number of axillary nodes she removed. We should find out my pathology results of the breast tissue and axillary nodes by Tuesday.  Since there was cancer in the sentinel nodes, there will likely be in the breast as well.  But, I am still hoping for good results.  Based on these pathological results, we will move forward with more chemo and then radiation, or just go straight into radiation. 

My plastic surgeon followed my breast surgeon and finished the surgery by placing my expanders and closing the incision.  He also placed 4 drain tubes and coiled a tiny catheter (pain pump) which feeds pain meds to the breast area.  The pain pump catheter looks very similar to a soaker hose, in that it has tiny holes throughout which feed the numbing meds to the chest area.  The pump of meds last for about 5 days.  The pain pump's purpose is to keep the area under my chest muscle numb, which helps with some of the discomfort.  He filled my expanders with 100cc of fluid.  This is equivalent to 3 oz of fluid. So, currently, what I have does not really look like breasts, but bumpy, rippled ridges.  When he can expand them a little more they will look a little more normal.  He will begin the expansion in a few weeks.  But, he is only expanding them another 100 ccs or so prior to radiation, so they are not going to look that different.

Currently, I am on many different medications to help with various issues.  I also have to empty my drain tubes every 12 hours.  So, I feel like keeping up with all of these instructions and following my restrictions is a bit of a full time job.  I was able to come home from the hospital yesterday afternoon.  It was my choice, because they were going to keep me another night.  But, I would much rather be at home.  I go stir crazy in hospitals and I really missed Luke and Abbey. I got a great night sleep last night also, which I likely wouldn't have gotten in the hospital with the staff coming to check on me every hour. 

The photo above was taken shortly after I arrived home from the hospital.   You can see my four lovely drain bulbs, and the pain pump (the bag I am carrying). I have accidentally walked away from that bag (which has a catheter attached to me). That was no fun.  It has to come with me wherever I go since the catheter feeds into my sternum area. 

Next Steps:
I will call the plastic surgeon's office on Monday and let them know what my drain output has been.  This should let them know approximately when I will need my drains removed.  So, I will schedule that appointment on Monday.  Then on Tuesday, March 5, I have a post-op visit with my breast surgeon.  That is when I will review my pathology results.  I am guessing that after that point I can discuss my next steps with the oncologist (as far as chemo or no chemo goes). 

After 3 weeks of healing, I will begin the expansion process over 2-3 weeks and then shortly after that hopefully start radiation. 

The most difficult part of this for me so far has been the restrictions.  It is amazing to me just how much we use our arms to push and pull things.  For example, we use our arms to pull the fridge door open.  Getting out of bed requires pushing action with arms.  I am learning new ways to do everyday activities differently.  Or, I just ask for help.  Luke is not sure what he thinks about my drain bulbs.  He has asked about them a couple of times already.

I am so glad to have this surgery behind me!  It is another step in the process that I can check off.  I will continue to keep everyone updated.  Thanks again for your continued prayers!

No comments:

Post a Comment