The Pathology Results Are In

Puyallup Portrait Photographer | Melissa Ide Photography

I have spent many hours, days, weeks, months waiting to hear good news…. and you will have to wait just a bit longer.

I have had many days of discomfort, aches, and lots of medicine since surgery! The first week is just a blur now, I remember very little. I had a schedule of medications that I was taking and I stayed on that schedule 24 hours a day. I even set my alarm clock to wake me up in the middle of the night so I wouldn’t miss a dose. The pain was easier to control if I kept up with my schedule. I felt like most of the pain was related to having the expanders vs. having the mastectomy itself. Dr. Realica placed the expanders and even started to fill them partially during surgery.

Post Surgery Meds

I had times when I felt like my chest was going to explode, like those tiny, new breasts were going to just pop!
The expanders were placed in my chest after my breast tissue was removed, just behind the pectoral muscles. It seems that the muscles spasm on occasion and tense up. The tension is insane, like being squished in a vice. The muscle relaxers that I was prescribed seem to make a pretty, substantial difference.

Pain Meds

During surgery Dr. Realica placed 4 drains that needed tending to, like safety pinning them to my clothes, and not rolling onto them when I was sleeping. These lovely things gave lymph fluid a place to go after all of my tissue had been removed. Our goal was to get them removed pretty quickly over the first two weeks post surgery. Dr. Realica had asked me to record the amount of fluid that was in my drains twice each day. The goal was to determine which drain would be able to be removed first. So, I actually had to open them one at a time and drain them into a measuring device. After emptying all four of them I would write down the amounts and then drain lymph fluid into the toilet. It was kind of gross.

Drainage Tubes

I sat on my couch most days watching movies with Sophia and hanging out with Gizmo. We worked our way through all of the Harry Potter movies and then several other movies as well.

Recovering with Gizmo

October 22: I met with Dr. Realica’s nurse and it was determined that we were ready to remove the first two drains. She put on gloves and then removed a few stitches that were used to hold the drain tubes in, and the gauze. After that she pulled firmly on the tube and I could feel it pull around through my chest and come out of the hole. Weird and Uncomfortable! Repeat for the second one as well.

October 23: I met with Dr. Stowell and she checked my incisions to see how they were healing. It was determined that they were looking fabulous and I was referred back to Dr. Realica to follow up on my care. Oh yeah, and there was a ‘complete and total absence of cancer cells’ in my pathology. No cancer cells were found in the tissue or lymph nodes that were removed!!!!! <—- how awesome is that!

October 27: Went by Dr. Realica’s office to see how the expanders were working. He was very pleased with how everything looked and we were able to remove the last two drainage tubes. This time there was a bit more pain with the removal, I knew to expect it but it still sucked. Was thrilled to have them removed because I was hoping to be able to sleep on my side again.

November 3: Visited with Dr. Realica again to start adding more saline to the expanders. We talked about expanding just the cancer side first because we don’t want to get behind on stretching before radiation is scheduled. The fun part of all of this is that sometimes I will be ‘lopsided’ because of the process. What?! That’s right, stretching one side and leaving the other alone. And then he thinks we may need to totally drain the healthy breast side, the right one, to get it out of the way for radiation treatment. I seriously hope that radiation treatment will go by quickly so I get back to looking ‘normal.’

Check back soon for more updates… I have more appointments coming up.