The morning of my surgery, I woke up and immediately noticed how hungry and thirsty I was from the required fast. I savored my long, hot shower, thinking it might be my last enjoyable one for awhile. Nicole (my college roommate and bff) and my mom were in town so I made them my favorite oatmeal and an almond milk matcha? latte! On one hand, I felt like I was ready for the surgery and knew that it was the best decision. Alternatively, I was avoiding thinking about the surgery by staying busy and even drove to the hospital!
Upon arrival, I felt quite anxious and thought about leaving. I started formulating an exit strategy even though I knew deep down I wasn't going to leave. After checking in, I found my family talking to a few amazing volunteers. They were to there to comfort people and inform families about the process! It gave everyone great peace of mind. Soon after, they called my name…cue rapid heart beat.
After getting prepped, getting an IV, and getting marked by my surgeons, my mom, dad and step mom were allowed in. We chatted and took selfies because…2017. I had kept it together until my dad and step mom lost it. They bolted out pretty fast due to the emotions and since they were going to get last minute things out of my home (I moved the week before). Right after, my mom looked at me and said, “I’m not crying”. …way to go mom ;). A few minutes later my best friend came in the room and we soon sent out my mom. I really tried to make the entire situation less dramatic because that’s what I felt like I needed. We talked and chatted on the phone with Chris to make time pass.
A little later, the anesthesiologist came in and injected liquids in my IV. woahhh! I felt like I was floating on clouds! I don’t even remember saying bye to Nicole! I do remember the operating room though, which was quite intimidating. Then, I was out.
After four hours, my surgery was complete and I was waking up. According to Nicole, I woke up looking very blue. They tried to get me to eat some crackers, but my mouth was too dry. The doctor entered and suggested that I stay overnight (which would be helpful for pain management) but ultimately it was my decision. I told him I wanted to go home, so home we went! My dad went out to find Ezekiel bread, avocado and eggs. Not your typical meal request after surgery, but that’s what I was craving! Thanks Dad!!
The rest of the night was pretty much a blur, but with the help of Nicole, I was able to connect some things. Once my dad finally got there, he was pretty pumped about his findings…Halo Top, Ezekiel bread, avocado, and other golden items. He went to put away the Halo Top, but saw there was some other Halo Top already in there. He took it upon himself to eat that and serve everyone else some…hahaha that’s my dad for you! While my food was being made, my mom suggested we take some photos ——> LOL
The next morning, I went out to the couch because I couldn’t get comfortable. I tried to look at my phone, but everything was blurry. I then pulled away my surgical bra and looked down. The tears started flowing and I felt so incredibly sad. “What did I just do?” “Everything is blurry.” “That was such an irrational decision.” “I’m so flat.”(They only put a little bit of saline in my expanders.) I’ve never felt so down. I’ve never dealt with depression, but at that given moment, I was able to relate to so many people (thankful for this new insight). It was a feeling I never want to come back. I called my boyfriend who was living in London for work and continued to just cry. He knew exactly what to say to bring me out of it. Soon after, I fell fast asleep thanks to my snuggly neck and husband pillows….lifesavers!
Nicole came out about an hour later to check on me. She’s a nurse so she started trying to figure out why my vision was blurred. We decided that I would quit taking all narcotics, hoping that it would bring my vision back, to no avail. Later that evening, I managed to write in a Facebook mastectomy group about this. Others wrote how they had experienced blurry vision due to their nausea patch. Nicole got up so fast and ripped that bad boy off….she couldn’t believe she didn’t think of it. I didn’t even know I had a patch on! It took a few days to regain my vision, but I will never take clear vision for granted!
Two days after surgery, Nicole and I went about running errands…my family was not happy about this, but I had to get out of the house! Plus, it was Nicole’s last day in town and we had to make the most of it! When we returned, Nicole helped me bathe. This was such a humbling experience. I literally sat in the bathtub as Nicole washed my hair. What a beautiful act of service that I will be eternally grateful for.
Three days after surgery, Nicole left early in the morning to go back to Seattle. Her departure allowed for the return of my down feelings and mental struggles with my decisions. My dad called and within minutes, tears were streaming. It’s such a funny topic to talk about with your dad, but he’s my best friend. Not only that, but he had prostate cancer ten years ago so he can relate in some ways. Thanks for being the best and always knowing what to say, Dad!
The next day, my sweet sister friend , Aimee, came over to help me shower. This time, I was able to stand in the shower and hold my drains. I felt like a new woman and cannot thank Aimee enough for this…such a blessing!
Over the next couple of days, I had so many visitors, which was so kind. The amount of cards, car rides, kombuchas, sweet messages and crazy thoughtful gifts I received blew me away. I’m not a cryer, but I cried quite often…my heart was so full by all the thoughtfulness. Thank you to everyone that showered me in love in so many ways…you have no idea how much it meant to me.
The days after my surgery, I couldn’t believe how manageable the pain was, nor could anyone else. One of the most annoying parts of the process was the drains. They came out of my sides and were very uncomfortable (Shoutout to Cole for helping me with these). I couldn’t wait to get those suckers out. The surgeon was supposed to remove the tubes at my one week follow up, however, they told me they were not taking them out yet. It was such a disappointing moment because I had been hoping to return to some normalcy. After ten longs days, they finally took them out!!
Somewhere in the middle of all this, my breast surgeon called to tell me the final pathology results were in. These calls are the worst. I’ve received them three too many times. The doctor told me immediately they didn’t find more cancer… Cue the happy dance and prayers upstairs…with limited movement of course! She then went to explain everything else they found….bilateral Atypical Ductal Hyperplasia and a bunch of other conditions that they usually scoop up when they go in to remove cancer. This information reaffirmed every decision I made! You have no idea how relieved and thankful I felt!!!
This entire process has been a journey, but I truly believe I had the best of the situation. I no longer question or doubt my decision. I didn’t have cancer anymore and was able to make a proactive decision with the doctor. I wish I could show you what I look like….you can hardly see the scars! I’m so blessed and thank God for watching out for me. I'm thankful for these new scars, everything they represent and all that I've learned from them.
Well, this got a little long winded! I’ll be working on my next post about the reconstruction process, my final surgery in March, flashing people and how the big boob life is not for me! ; )
Love you all…so so so much!!