It has been exactly 1 whole week since I have been boobless.
Yes, that's right, I had a double mastectomy! I've been trying to wrap my mind around what it means to be without natural breasts anymore, but before I get too existential, I am going to just sit back, enjoy the heck out of these pain meds and tell you what has happened in the last week.
Monday, October 12th, the day before my surgery, I had to go in to the hospital to receive an injection of blue dye in to my right breast. The blue dye is picked up by the lymphatic vessels and travels to the sentinel nodes. The day of the surgery, the surgeons use a probe that highlights the dye, enabling them to find the main sentinel nodes, which are considered the "gatekeepers" to the other lymph nodes. From there, they remove 1 to 2 sentinel nodes and dissect them to make sure my cancer hadn't spread to the nodes. I haven't gotten the news on this part of the surgery but I am pretty confident there wasn't any cancer in there. Below is the diagram of the shot I received, which to me, is a terrifying photo. I was more nervous for this shot than the actual surgery - Look at that needle and how deep it goes! Before the shot, I made my sister hold my hand while I looked in to her eyes with the fear of God. The nurse giving the shot was really stumped as to why I was so nervous because, first of all, considering everything I've already been through, this should be a walk in the park, secondly, turns out the size of the needle was nothing more than a bee's stinger (exaggerating, but it really was nothin'). So one procedure, down!
From the hospital, my dad took my sister and me shopping. I felt like it was the grown up version of getting a lollipop after a doctor's visit. One beautiful Zara trench coat later, and we were off to dinner. Tom met us for a really special meal at Kulletto's downtown. We ate our hearts out and did one one last cheers to my boobies. Dad rented a hotel room for all of us because we had to be at the hospital at 6am, and who doesn't love staying in hotels? By 9PM we were all passed out, dreaming of lovely things. (By we, I mean they; I didn't fall asleep until 5:00 am, and we had to be awake by 5:15 am.
Arriving at the hospital at 6AM with the crew was surprisingly calm. I was put in to a prep room, hooked up to an IV and rolled in to the operating room all by 7:30. As I was being put on the operating table, a nurse said she was going to give me something to calm my nerves, and that's the last thing I remember. When I finally woke up, 6 whole hours later, Tom was right there by my side, Dad, Jess and Sam following closely behind. We had the best dinner in the hospital room, compliments of the Ramen Shop and Sam - I felt so spoiled.
I spent the night in the hospital so they could keep an eye on me and the drains coming out of the incisions. The nurse rolled in a sweet bed for Tom and we had a peaceful night sleep in the hospital together.
The next morning, Tom drove me home to my dad's house in the East bay. We only had one issue on the way home - my dinner from the night before decided it didn't want to stay in my stomach any longer and I was honking out of the car door down Van ness Avenue, and that's the only thing I remember from that day!
The last week has been a bit difficult - It's been very painful with the drains and the stitches and the dressing and only being able to sleep on my back. Just like with my port, I can actually feel the expanders moving around in my chest, which is very weird. I'm also not really sure what's going on under what seems to be a billion layers of padding on my chest, but I do know that I look like some sort of line backer who's gotten her shoulder padding placement confused and wound up putting it on her chest. It looks like I am a 34 double F and I keep wondering if they got confused on the size that I originally wanted to go with? It's also been a bit boring being stuck on the couch because most movement causes a lot of pain.... but I couldn't be happier about my decision to do a bilateral mastectomy. Right now I have the temporary expanders in that will stretch the skin and muscle, and in about a month and a half I will have permanent implants put in. After that surgery, I am hoping I will be able to say goodbye to all things cancer, for good.