Sorry I haven’t finished the last installments of my hospital narrative yet. I’ll try to finish this weekend before amnesia settles in. Though it has only been 2 days since the discharge, I already had a follow up appointment in the plastic surgery department this morning. The physician’s assistant removed my 3rd and final JP drain, checked the donor and graft sites, and monitored the blood flow through the new breast. Here’s the summary.
I’ve already mentioned this, though it bears repeating. The most gratifying result so far has been the clear pathology report for my reexcision.
Everything looks healthy, very healthy. Removal of the last drain means I am allowed to take my first shower since surgery tomorrow. I can now resume an upright posture as comfort dictates. Each day I feel more like myself and, knock on wood, I still haven’t needed any painkillers.
Sleep is a challenge. My situation is somewhat similar to when I was 9 months pregnant with each of our 3 children. For the past several days I haven’t been able to sleep flat on my back (needed legs elevated to preserve Neanderthal posture even in bed) and certainly sleeping on my stomach or on my right side is strictly verboten. So I have typically been starting off sleeping in the flat back/raised leg position for four hours until my back ached, then switching over to my left side with my back propped up with pillows until my side hurt (another 2 hours), and finally getting up and sleeping on the recliner downstairs (2 more hours).
My skin is finally reacting to 5 days in the hospital with no real showers. I have waged a battle with eczema since childhood and right now I am a dry, scaly mess. Fortunately, after using some topical cortisone, I know relief is in sight. Contrast this with my temporarily happy skin right after surgery when my body was retaining water like crazy. As you can see in the photo below, taken roughly 24 hours after surgery was completed, my skin was practically glowing. Even my kneecaps were shiny!
Yes, the sites under construction are mighty unsightly. While I’ll still have plenty of scarring for a while and I’m stuck with the large unwieldy constricting abdominal binder (like a white version of what Home Depot employees wear around their middles but over their clothes to save their backs) 24/7 for another several weeks, I can see the promise of a beautiful swan in months ahead.
The Really Ugly
Vasoconstriction is my new breast’s enemy and caffeine is a known vasoconstrictor, so I’m sure you can do the math. That’s right … no caffeine. I easily can handle 5 more weeks without coffee (don’t drink it anyway) or caffeinated tea. It’s the 5 weeks without chocolate that really get to me. No chocolate cake, no hot chocolate, no tender, flaky pain de chocolat. One of the year’s tastiest holidays is at the end of the month, and I’ll just have to pass up all of those lovely little miniature Kit-Kat, Hershey’s Special Dark, and Crunch bars. Looks like The Great Pumpkin will need to stock up on Twizzlers and Skittles this year.
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