Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Surgery update...finally!

I've done my surgery update finally. It's a bit long, so hope I don't bore anyone with it!

Surgery Day ~ November 25th, 2009

My surgery wasn't scheduled until 12:30, so we headed to London the morning of surgery. My husband and I arrived at St. Joseph’s around 10:30. Dr. Temple was ahead of schedule so I was taken into Day Surgery early. At this point, the nerves hit. For my mastectomy in July, I didn't have the nerves. I should have seen this as a little foreshadowing that things weren't going to go so smoothly.

First, I changed into my sexy gown and then Dr. Temple came in to mark me up with her trusty Sharpie!

Next came the part I dread, and that didn't go so well...the lab tech arrived to put in my IV. Not such a fun experience. I have small veins and it's usually difficult to give me an IV...today was worse! My wonderful caring husband held my hand for support (and for me to squeeze). She couldn't do it and tried poking and poking and poking at both hands. After about 10 minutes of this, she gave up and was going to speak to the OR staff. At this point I'm just about in hysterics. Despite my tattoos, I HATE needles and was almost at the passing out stage. I started to cry and could not turn off the waterworks. Shortly after a medical student working with Dr. Currin, the anesthesiologist, arrived. She did her 20 questions with me regarding medical history. She said not to worry about the IV, that she'd do it down at the OR. Ok, I felt a little better now. Since the hospital staff would probably frown on me bringing my dogs and cats with me, I brought Mickey and Minnie for moral support! This picture was taken by my hubby just before they wheeled me out.

About 10 minutes later, Dr. Currin's medical student and a very handsome orderly (had to mention that...I hate seeing a good looking man when I'm looking my worst!) arrived to wheel me down to the OR. They park my gurney in the hall just outside my OR door. The student doctor says she's going to do my IV now. Nope, my body had other ideas! She tried a couple of times in my right hand and ended up blowing 2 veins. My right hand turned a lovely purple colour! She said she was sorry and was going to speak to Dr. Currin and have him take a look at me. I start crying again!

Dr. Currin comes out of the OR and starts chatting to me. He looked familiar. He took one look at the Oriental goldfish tattoo on my right arm and says "I remember you, you have the carp on your arm!" He starts to laugh. He had been my anesthesiologist for my mastectomy in July. I knew I recongized him! He's older and English and had this aire about him that just wanted you to cuddle him like a grandfather or a teddy bear. He was such a sweet man. He put a tournequet on my lower left arm (instead of the usual upper) and started to slap my wrist VERY hard! OUCH!!! Next thing you know, I had an IV needle in me. He had that sucker in there in under 15 seconds and with no freezing first. What a wonderful doctor!!! The nurse hooked up my IV and started the antibiotic drip.

A couple of minutes later, they took me into the OR. As usual, I moved myself to the table and tried to get comfortable on a table that's only about 12 inches wide! They covered me with wonderful warm blankets. Dr. Currin rubbed my shoulders and said "You've been through a rough time today, I'm going to give you a treat. I'm going to give you the best buzz you've ever had." Whatever he gave me was WOW! Can I have some of whatever that was to go please? He put something into my IV and left me buzzed for a couple of minutes while the nurses hooked up the blood pressure cuff, heart monitors, etc. With my previous surgeries they had hooked me up wide awake and then just put me under. This time was definitely different!!! :-) They finally put the oxygen mask on me and told me to take couple of deep breaths. They injected the Propofol (a.k.a. Diprivan; think Michael Jackson, may he rest in peace) and out I went.

Skip to Recovery. I wake up and with worst sore throat EVER! I could hardly speak...the worst laryngitis I've ever had. I had been previously told that I was difficult to intubate and they had to use a special type of tube on me. Apparently this time was no exception. The recovery nurse told me the sore throat was from that. Other than the throat, I felt pretty good with very little pain although I'm sure the morphine I had been given during surgery was still at work. I'm lucky and wake up very easily from anesthetic and never feel nauseous, etc. As soon as I was able to sit up, the nurse gave me some Tramacet for the pain. I had two drains in (yuck ~ I HATE the drains).

After about 30 minutes, they took me back to the Day Surgery Unit where my hubby was waiting for me. The same very handsome orderly mentioned above got me some ginger ale and a cherry popsicle to help with the throat. He was very very kind and chatted with me for a few minutes. Shortly after that, Dr. Temple came in to see me. She laughed at my throat and said Dr. Currin really had to ram my throat a few times to get the tube in. I told her how wonderful I thought he was and she said if I decide to do nipple reconstruction or if need to do a revision surgery, we can request him again. I've made a mental note of that because I have a feeling there'll be a revision in my future...but more about that further on.

About an hour after I was in back in Day Surgery, I was allowed to leave. Yes, as hard as it is to believe, my previous mastectomy and today's breast capsulatomy and implants are day surgery. I was given two cards with my implant serial numbers (one for each side) and a prescription for Tramacet as well as a heavy duty antibiotic to prevent skin infection. I joked with my hubby that if they ever find my body and can't identify it, they can use my implant serial numbers to identify me. The nurse and I talked about the serial numbers and noted a recent case where this had been done. We both wished the authorities had never released that type of information because they are a lot of sickos out there. If someone would go to the efforts of disfiguring a body so much that it can't be identified (cut of finger tips and knock out her teeth), then we said we could see women being mutilated to remove their implants as well. But I digress. I was also given the instructions for the home care nurse.

DH went to get the car and the nurse wheeled me down to the hospital entrance. I was starving so part way home we stopped at McD's to get me some chicken nuggets and fries. The drive home was uneventful. It was good to get home.

Skip to next day. Good thing I had experience emptying drains. When I called the homecare people, I was advised someone wouldn't be here until Friday (my surgery was on a Wednesday), but I could call if there was an emergency or I had any problems they would send someone over. I saw my first homecare nurse on Friday. She's a neighbour of mine and she had visited me back in July after the mastectomy.

My tubes were removed on Monday. Dr. Temple had ordered that they had to come out on Day 5 regardless of home much drainage I still had. Removal was virtually painless and it felt good to have them removed. Sleeping with them in is next to impossible! I was pretty sleep deprived at this point. The nurse showed me the tubing and explained how much was actually in my breast (nearly faints)...I didn't need to know that!!! LOL I did enjoy many naps with my fur-nurses. Cats are the BEST fur-nurses. Raven (the little black cat) never left my side. Animals definitely have an instinct for when you're not feeling well. Both of my dogs who can be pretty rambunctious didn't jump on me once during the healing process.

Skip to next week. I'm so depressed and hate my new foobs. I have this horrible arm pit cleavage (for want of a better term) and to me my foobs look like flat hamburger buns. I spent about a week crying. Everytime someone would ask how I was doing, I'd start crying. I was miserable. I had moments where I had wished I hadn't done reconstruction at all and had opted to remain a no-boober.

I had my follow-up appointment with Dr. Temple on December 7th. My sister came along as driver and moral support. Margo was there too (my angel Margo). Dr. Temple said I was healing nicely. When she asked what I thought, I started to cry. I told her I didn't like how I looked and had been afraid to tell her for not wanting to hurt her feelings (silly I know). She said I still had a lot of swelling in my chest muscles and that it will take quite some time for things to settle down. She said not to be silly about hurting her feelings. 10 - 15% or reconstruction patients require some sort of revision surgery. I'm to go back to see her on June 21st, 2010, the day she returns from her maternity leave. If I'm still not happy then, we'll schedule a revision to place them differently, or perhaps change the profile and/or size. I currently have medium profile implants. Dr. Temple showed me some massages to do on my foobs. I'm to push them up, push them down and push them together to create cleavage. This is done because there's scar tissuing forming and this is to help put the implants where I want them. She said to do them everytime I sit on the toilet, or whenever. I told her "hell, I'll do those at work! LOL" They joked about the guys looking at their watches wondering what time Shari starts work! LOL I almost obsess about the massages. I'm constantly doing them. Anyone who doesn't know I've had reconstruction surgery could see me and think I was constantly playing with myself! :-) The only down side is the massages to cause some discomfort. That's probably from breaking up the scar tissue.

Once Dr. Temple left the office, Margo sat next to me and we had a good chat with me and my sister. If you recall from my first blog entry, my sister tested negative to this nasty mutation. Please read here from an old blog of hers for an account of our genetic testing and my positive result. Margo said she understood my emotions and that I'd been through so much in the past year (3 surgerys virtually removing every female part I had). She was going to have a psycologist friend of hers, Colleen, give me a call to talk. Margo is so wonderful!

After my appointment I felt so much better. I can wait six months. I'm hoping with the constant playing with my new foobs, that things will settle down and I'll start to like the way I look.

For your viewing pleasure, this is how my foobs look today. I have to say the incisions are healing very well. Dr. Temple definitely is a talented plastic surgeon. Her incisions are very fine.

I finish my sick leave tomorrow, and start Christmas vacation on December 24th. I'll be back to work on January 4th, 2010. It will be good to get back. I have certainly missed everyone and my work (yes, I love my job and the work I do!).

I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone for all your support in 2009. I couldn't have done this without you. I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and best wishes for a happy and healthy 2010.



Lyn said...

Shari - thank you for your update post. I can't tell you how often I have thought of you and checked in to make sure I didn't miss any news. You are a brave woman and I respect your courage in sharing. Many will no doubt be helped and encouraged by your posts. I love those tatoos as well... works of art! Please enjoy the last little bit of downtime before return to work. Merry Christmas Shari!

Shari said...

Thank you Lyn! Merry Christmas to you too!

Anonymous said...

Shari........I think you are going to have fabulous Foobs!!! I think once you are healed you will love them. I see cleavage and ohhhhhhhh no sagging......sigh!

Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and see you at work in 2010!!!
Luv MJ xo

Anonymous said...

I don't care what your foobs look like as long as we are together

Anonymous said...


You are amazing and so are your foobs!! LOL

Enjoy the holidays.....you deserve it! Hope you get lots of cuddles from those sweet nieces and hubby of course!

If you're over at B10 when you get back to work, stop by for a coffee and visit.

Miss our daily chats!


Teri S. said...

Hi there. Just finished reading through this. Thanks for such a good account of what you've gone through. Since I will be having my surgery soon (different type though) I'm always curious to hear how it's gone for everyone else. I have the same problem with small viens. I had a breast MRI this week, with contrast and I tried to explain, as I always do, that infant needles work best on me. They never believe me and always have to find out the hard way. It's frustrating, and makes me cry too! You are not alone there.
I'm so glad to hear that you like your doctor so much. Maybe next time, you can straight away ask for him to put your IV in! :)
Also glad that you talked to your PS about revision surgery. There's no need to be unhappy with how your foobs look, when they can do something about it.
Thanks again for writing about all of this, you help others too, when you share.

p said...

Just a note to say I found your blog looking for creative teal and pink ribbon tattoos. I am BRCA2 also, and my breast cancer was found in October 2008 when I was 9 months pregnant. I just had the expanders removed last September and I am not happy either. I think yours look terrific though; nice smooth incisions, good shape, not lumpy or bumpy. Hang in there, lady. You're looking terrific!