Monday, 1 April 2013

Mastectomy part I - The Flap!

On friday 22nd March I had my first mastectomy/reconstruction.

After my treatment for cancer and the 2 years that followed I decided upon this course of action as a preventative measure due to the nature of my initial diagnosis and my family history (we do a mean line in Breast Cancer).  This hasn't always been an easy decision and I have wrestled with it over the months. 
It was decided that I would have both breasts removed and reconstructed using the muscle, tissue and blood supply from my inner thighs! I nominated my stomach for the job but unfortunately my surgeon said it wasn't big enough for two boobs!!!! Oh how I laughed....and laughed...and laughed!!
I will have two surgeries (mastectomy/reconstructions) as the operations are too long - up to ten hours for one breast!
So it was last friday that I slipped into the land of nod and let the surgeon perform his magic.

Except that, true to form, this old cheesie body didn't like it very much.
I woke in recovery to severe chest pains and breathing difficulties.  They did a chest x-ray and several ECGs, followed by blood tests.  My blood pressure dipped to 71 over 43.......isn't that kinda dead?  There was muffled talk of Intensive Care and blood transfusions.    I spent nearly SEVEN hours in recovery in and out of sleepy land and covered in wires and monitors.  My poor husband was beside himself as he didn't know what was going on.  They then told me I had had to have a rib removed too?!?!?!?!?!?

The following six days were spent on the surgical ward being wired, unwired, drained, washed and fed (yum hospital food!).  One has to get used to the term 'FLAP'.  Apparently my breast is no longer but it is now a flap.  'Hello, may I look at your flap, yes that's a beautiful flap, your flap is healing very nicely' etc etc.  My flap is very purple, sore and small. Unfortunately I was next to a lady who had clearly been engulfed by an open sewer.  I know not what her surgical issues were but the poor woman obviously had many problems.  A flimsy hospital curtain does NOT an odour barrier make.  Why did they have to deliver my meals at the same time her bags were being cleared........every single time!!!  I grew sick of the smell of lemon disinfectant and the regularity of such procedures brought on an asthma attack.

My flap and I were discharged on Thursday (not before my daughter fainted on the ward on hearing my friend and I discussing, flaps, blood and drains - I'm sorry Fluffy, I hope the medicinal creme egg helped).  I have spent the last four days in much pain, tears and in bed.  The enormity of the surgery as engulfed me and if I sit for too long thinking about it, it makes me sad.  

There will be a FLAP part II to this story but I just need to get over this one first.

NEWSFLASH - What I thought was a clotted bruise turns out to be a very well designed areola and nipple combo! He's done a cracking job there on the old flap! Every cloud.......

31 comments:

  1. My friend had the double also...as she said she only wanted to do this once. They inserted the fake balloons and the incision just would not heal and having the drain tubes and so many problems she told them to get em out. After that she healed nicely and uses the boob bras. She has been cancer free now for 7 years. I am amazed at the bravery it takes to go thru all this....I hope your recovery and subsequent treatment go smoothly and I will have you in my thoughts and prayers.

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    1. Hi Linda,
      Thank you for your kind words. It has been a long road and there's still some travelling to do but I hope the journey will be worth. Give my best regards to your friend
      x

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  2. Oh Mrs Cheese, you poor dear! My mam died of bc many years ago, and I would make the same decision as you have ... My Mam was an isolated case, not from a series of family history like you. It's just too bad that you've had complications to deal with to, but hopefully you're on the road to recovery now, and can look forward to the future with great optimism.

    Despite all this, you've still written a cheery post, and by the way, Mrs, I've missed you!

    Onwards and upwards as they say!

    Love from Claire xxx

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    1. Hi Claire,
      Thank you for your lovely message.
      I am so sorry to hear about your Mam. It skipped my mother but her sister and her daughter (my cousin) both died in their early 50's. My sister was diagnosed at the age of 40 and I was 44 when I had it. We have tested negative for the BRCA1/2 genes so I have volunteered my blood to The Royal Marsden for future screening and testing into new genetic mutations.
      I've missed Blogland too!
      Nxx

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  3. I had been wondering how you were and have been meaning to leave a message as you have been quieter than usual in the blogosphere (I always LOVE reading your posts). I'm so sorry to hear about your terrible ordeal, It's not fair that you have to go through all that (would it be bad of me to say I think only bad people should get Cancer - murderers, rapists etc?). I just want to send you best wishes and say treat yourself to nice food, nice friends and family and some eye candy (I always find Bradley Cooper helps me in a crisis - if only Hollywood stars knew what therapy they are for us commoners lol) - Steph x

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    1. Hi Steph
      How lovely to be back in Blogland.......
      Thanks for your kind thoughts and I am cheering myself with heaps of pinterest!

      Nxx

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  4. Oh Mrs Cheese - I am so glad to read that you are home, where I am sure the proper rest, relaxation and recuperation can occur, and so sorry to read of what you have been through recently. How you manage to write about the traumas in the way you do is a wonder! I think some health professionals need a kick up the backside - what with the 'flap' references and badly timed 'interventions' in the next cubicle... Hope that is all a distant memory very soon and that you quickly recover your strength to move onto your next adventures!
    x

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    1. Hi Alix
      Here I am (a little bit more sore than usual) but am hoping to do lots of catching up now that I have more time on my hands.
      Hope you had a lovely Easter
      Nxx

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  5. oh you poor thing...so glad that you and your flap are back at home..I've spent a lot of time at hospitals with my brother and my nan and its always such a relief to get home. I really dont know how they make the food sooo bad, there must be an art to it! Take care of yourself, rest up and be spoilt! xxx

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    1. Hi
      Thank you for your lovely message.
      I am tucking into medicinal chocolate eggs and sipping lovely tea!
      Nxx

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  6. Only Mrs Cheese could turn such a trauma into an amusing story!
    You are AMAZING! Hope you're feeling much better now you're home mrs.
    Keep smiling xxx

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    1. Hi Dawn
      Thanks for the lovely email and message.
      My flap and I are doing well.
      It's a tad smaller than the other but one day they'll hopefully match!
      It's sunny outside and that ALWAYS makes everything better
      Nxxx

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  7. Oh my god, you poor thing - you have been in the wars! I have been wondering how you are actually, so was quite shocked to read this. You really have been in the wars. I don't know what to say but I will be thinking of you. I just hope every day gets a little better for you.
    x

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    1. Hi Sarah
      My Flap and I are entering new territory now!
      I've been looking at bras.......eeek!!!!
      Hope you had a lovely Easter
      Nxx

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  8. Have missed you and was just thinking over the Easter hols that I must drop you a line to see how you are. So sorry to read about all you are going through. I really am amazed at how you still manage to make it sound comical! I do hope you recover quickly and that 'flap II' is over and done with soon. Hope you're getting lots of love and cuddles (maybe not - I guess hugs are too painful!) to ease the tears and pain - your brave decision will all be worth it in the end. Take good care of yourself hon and stay in touch. M xx

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    1. Hi
      Thank you for your lovely message.
      I have to make light of the situation otherwise it would all be too miserable and anyhow there was far too much chocolate at home waiting for me....... :-)
      I hope you had a lovely Easter
      Nxx

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  9. Mrs Cheese it is so hard to read what you have been through but as others have said the fact that you have a sense of humour about the awfulness of your experience is fantastic, inspiring, brave, wonderful... mend well x x x

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    1. Hi lady
      Thank you for your lovely message.
      I'm managing to shuffle about like an old pensioner...........OW!
      XX

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  10. Just read your post, you have been through such a lot, thinking about you and hoping you will be feeling loads better soon...x

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    1. Ah thanks for your kind words.
      It's painful and has not been without tears but everyday 'will' get better (crosses fingers!)
      xx

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  11. Oh my goodness, so shocked by what you have endured. Sending you my very best, you lovely, brave Mrs. Cheese xxxx

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    1. Hi Viv
      Thank you for your message.
      I seem to be spending far tooooooo much time in Pinterest Land!
      Pinning like a demon ;-)

      xx

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  12. Dear N. you brave woman, you rock! You have one of life's strongest weapons in your hands: humour. I'm sure you cry your eyes out every now and then, and of course you must be scared stiff at moments, but you always try to find something funny, ridiculous or positive to laugh about. I hope this great talent - and all the love around you - will help you through the bad days.

    And congratulations with your beautiful first breast!

    Love from Holland, Jurianne

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    1. Hi Jurianne
      Well here I am a week down the line and my flap & I can shuffle about a bit now.
      Am eating plenty of cake (to keep my strength up :-))
      Thank you for your lovely messages too.

      Nxx

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  13. Sending lots of love brave lady! I remember the talk of flaps and told the surgeon flaps are only for cats not women! loadsa love and a speedy recovery xxxxxxxxxx

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    1. Hello lovely Lisa
      Well of course my friend you'll know all about 'flaps'........Still find it hilarious. And I totally agree flaps are for cats not us women!

      I hope that snow has melted for you and you have a lovely rest of the Easter hols with your lovelies
      xxxxxxxxx

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  14. Hello Mrs C, just wanted to check in and say thanks for finding the strength to blog, you are amazing, and best of luck with flap part II :) xx

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    1. Hi lovely
      Thanks for your lovely message.
      At least the sun is shining outside and Spring is here......
      Hope all good with you
      xx

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  15. I've been following your blog off and on since we meet at West Dean. You've written with style, grace and humour about such a difficult experience - good on gal! Anna x

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    1. Hi Anna
      How lovely to hear from you.
      Thank you for your message.
      How I could do with a stitching session with Julie Arkell again.....
      It was fun wasn't it?
      Hope all is well with you
      Nxx

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  16. sorry for the delay in responding to your post. i have been thinking about you. I really must say you are an inspiration. I wish you well and continued good health. you really are amazing and i look forward to hearing more on your recovery and new boobs. xxxx

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