Wednesday, November 14, 2007

More Milestones

Today was my follow-up appointment at The Breast Center. I was supposed to be meeting with the Breast Surgeon, the Medical Oncologist and the Plastic Surgeon. Since my pathology report came back with flying colors, I didn't need to meet with the Medical Oncologist. I met with Dr. Khakpour (breast surgeon) and she was very pleased with how everything went and basically said that she was signing off on my care. I won't need mammograms in the future (since I have stomach where my breasts are supposed to be.) Essentially, I will only need to do self-breast exams to check for any necrosis of the flap, which is not likely. I have offered my services to her; well, to her patients who may be considering mastectomy with the DIEP flap (what I had done.) I will be glad to talk to them about my experience and show them my "battle scars." If I can help any woman going through this, it will have been worth it.

After meeting with Dr. Khakpour, I met with Dr. Rodriquez and his nurse practitioner Nicole. Even he was impressed with how well things look. Since the plastics team still has some work to do, he will continue to follow me. I will see him again in another month for follow-up. In about 3 months, "after things settle" I will meet with him again so we can start to contour the breasts if needed and start working on reconstructing the nipples. I think things look pretty good, but he pointed out that the right breast is slightly larger. He will be able to even things out and ensure that the contours are even as well. I am very pleased with his high standards of equality, even though, as I said, I am so amazed at the work already. Gary and I were sitting at lunch and I pulled out my top and looked down it and said, "Wow!" Gary cracked up. I just can't stop looking at them!!

After talking with Dr. Rodriquez, Nicole removed ALL (four) of my remaining drains. I HATED those things and was thrilled to get rid of them. I've been told that it can hurt having them removed, but pain was not what I felt. I have absolutely no reference to describe what it felt like. My breast and parts of my abdomen are numb, but as she removed them it felt like having a string being pulled from under my skin; not quite a tickle, just very, very strange! Then she removed the stitches. As she removed each stitch, she laid them on a gauze pad sitting on my chest. They looked like recently deceased mosquitoes; 20 in all when she was done. My breasts now look like someone carved the outline of little footballs on each one. There is minor scabbing which should wash away in a few days. The incision on my lower abdomen is thin and long from back of the left hip bone to the back of my right hip bone (they gutted me like a fish!) This is a little more red and scabbed than the breast "islands" as they call them. It will take a little longer to heal. I'm still walking hunched over, but Dr. Rodriguez said that I can start to walk more up-right as I can tolerate. It still feels like I'm stretched tight like a drum. I still have lifting restrictions; no more than 8 pounds; 5 or less is preferred.

It feels so great to have this part behind me (did I mention how happy I am to have to drains out?) But a lot more than my appointment was going on today. Aunt Nell went back home today. Her son Steve and Aunt Doris (her sister) came yesterday to fetch her to take her back home. I cried like a little girl when saying good-bye. I can't ever express my appreciation for her time, her help, her compassion and caring. On the way home from my appointment, we picked up Sandra, mom's best friend. She will be here to help with the next phase of things. We ran by to see mom very quickly. She was very drowsy. I didn't know it at the time, but she'd had physical therapy earlier and was very tired from the activity. I'm so thrilled that she is finally receiving therapy to strengthen her! Tomorrow they will be placing the Pleur-X catheter into her pleural space. Her lung is still filling with fluid; not entirely a surprise. This catheter will allow Gary and I to drain this fluid at home which will keep her MUCH more comfortable. We will also start getting training on the home vent. With all of this going on, I'm hoping we can have her home before Thanksgiving! So it was a packed day. I'm totally pooped, but did I tell ya how happy I am to have the drains removed?

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