Saturday, May 26, 2012

12 week update

It's been 12 weeks since surgery. This is a big milestone!  At this point, it is safe to say that all the skin survived the surgery and has a sufficient blood supply to remain healthy for a long time.  I've made it through the point where infection was major a concern.  If my body was going to reject the alloderm patch they used, it would have already by now.  I'm showing zero signs of capsular contracture, which would be my body rejecting the implant.  AND my hospital bills have been paid by insurance!  I made the transition back to work just fine.  I'm back to running.  I ran on a relay team for the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon. Thanks to the race being cancelled part way through due to the hot weather, all I have to show for it is a bad sun burn (photo courtesy of Aila).  I'm really back to a new version of normal.

There have been a few side effects that have taken some getting used to.  I knew these things going into it thanks to the women of FORCE sharing so openly about what life would be like after surgery.  But like with pregnancy, reading about labor and actually being in labor is incredibly different.  So...things you may not have known happen after mastectomy:
  1. I have no feeling over a large portion of my upper body.  I knew going into it that I'd lose feeling in my chest area, but I was surprised by having no feeling in my underarms, on my sides, and even a small area on my back by my shoulder blades.  It's strange, but if I'm nervous or uncomfortable I will itch that area on my side even though I cannot feel it and do not feel an itch there at all.  There is a small area right in the center of my chest that I can feel.  I discovered it one day while working out because I could feel some drops of sweat! Never been that excited about sweat before.  There's a small chance feeling will come back eventually, but it will likely not be the entire area effected, just small portions of it.
  2. I get really cold or really hot easily.  I have 3 pounds of semi-liquid in me that takes the temperature of the air around me.  I haven't had major problems with it yet just a noticeable temperature difference, but I'm concerned about what winter will be like. From the outside the layers go: skin, muscle, implant, chest wall.  The implant gets cold, making the muscle on top of it cold.  The muscle only has a thin layer of skin to keep it warm when usually it would have a layer of fat as well.  I've heard that if if gets really cold the muscle will then start spasming. 
  3. Swimming was interesting. There's the temperature issue from above.  It's also a very different sensation having something that floats stuffed inside you. 
  4. I occasionally squeak. Picture the sound of an old rocking chair.  Hopefully this is done now and no longer comes back.
  5. It is amazing how much better things are looking since those first few weeks!  I see why people sometimes post pictures.  While I will not be posting any, I did take photos along the way for my own personal use (that are securely buried and locked away in hidden files on my computer).  It was something a friend who had been through it already recommended.  I took one weekly in the same place, from the same angle.   On days when I felt like nothing was getting any better, I'd just look through those and I could really see the progress.  It is honestly amazing was plastic surgeons can do with reconstruction.  When I first considered this surgery, I google for pictures of mastectomy/reconstruction examples and ended up in tears thinking of how I did not want to look like that.  I did this same google the other day so that I could see again for a comparison.  I'm so thankful that my doctors were able to everything they could make me look good! 

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