Sunday, 22 February 2015

Keeping abreast of it

Just a quick update on the surgery situation.

On Thursday I had my last drain removed. The drain was basically a bottle on a long tube, the end of which was inserted in to my body and the operation site just at the side of my rib cage. It took a little while to get used to it not being there as I'd grown accustomed to carting the thing around with me everywhere. I'd also been watching in grim fascination as the 'tissue worms' (basically long pieces of tissue from the wound site) made their way down the tube in to the bottle at the bottom. Here is how the bottle looked the night before the drain was removed:

A bottle of blood, tissue and lymphatic fluid. Perfect for distracting zombies whilst you make your escape, if such a situation were ever to arise.

I've managed to get out and about a few times since my operation, including meeting with some of the girls from the Younger Breast Cancer Network. I've been carrying the bottle about with me in a bag like this:

However, as less blood and more fluid began draining from the op site, I realised that it did indeed look like I was carrying a bag of piss around with me. Nice.

Thursday was also when the dressings came off and was the first time that I've seen the results of my surgery. I have a large scar under my arm below my armpit from my axillary node clearance. They went through the scar that they made when they took out the few nodes for my sentinel node biopsy back in August last year. There is one huge lump of scar tissue there now, which makes me feel like I am constantly carrying a book under my arm and is pretty uncomfortable. My armpit looks like a banjo with the amount of cording underneath there, including one thick painful one that almost runs down the entire length of my arm and prevents me from fully extending it. Here is a lovely little piccy of the mess that is now my armpit:

When lymph nodes are removed, the nerves running in to the arm get a good bashing about. As a consequence of this, I've been left with a pretty sore bingo wing - the back of my arm down to my elbow constantly feels as if it's burnt and my elbow permanently feels like I've just banged my funny bone. Ironically, this is not funny. It's in fact very painful. And annoying.

Now on to what is my new breast for the time being. Its an incredibly odd feeling. When I lay down it feels as though I have a small animal sitting on my chest. Its completely numb to the touch and as the implant is only half full at present, when prodded it feels very strange. The only thing I can liken it to is when a football or tennis ball gets a puncture and it has that plasticy, empty feeling. I also have another scar of about 10 centimetres in length running across it. Regrettably however, I am not going to share this one with you!

I'm also currently not able to lift anything heavier than a quarter filled kettle or to use my right arm for anything at all strenuous so any offers of help with the housework would be much appreciated!

Visually, the outcome of the surgery is better than I expected and I often feel like I want to proudly show it off to people like some gruesome Blue Peter project - "and here is one we made earlier!". I am of course having to curb this urge as not everyone will want to be bombarded with unsolicited photos of my Frankenboob. But as happy as I am with the results so far, ultimately this is something I would never have chosen to do unless essentially my life depended on it. I'm still coming to terms with how my body is now irreversibly altered, and will be even more so when I undergo further risk reducing surgery to remove my other breast. So please, please save the 'at least you get a nice new pair of boobs out of it' comments. As it goes, I was pretty happy with the ones I had before. I'd really rather that this wasn't happening and that I could have hung on to those ones, thanks all the same!

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