On the whole, I’m doing well. Some of my healing is going entirely smoothly and even ahead of schedule – my incisions, for example. Yesterday, I went to the breast surgeon who presented all of the pathology. As I said, there was no cancer, but tremendous amount of flat epithelial atypia and hyperplasia in both breasts. She took two sentinel nodes from the left side, where the LCIS was discovered. One was a simple biopsy and the other was a dissection, and both were negative. I learned that my chance of developing any breast cancer in the future is less than 5 percent. I will no longer have any kind of mammogram as, in the words of Dr. Magnant (LOVE her!), there is “no mamm to gram.” She will check me thoroughly every six months and will order any imaging or request any biopsy that she deems necessary (very unlikely). She, again, reassured me that I’d made all the right choices and was also sweet in telling us that she thought Geoff and I made a great match.
What is a bit behind schedule is my drains. Typically, the second set would have come out today when I saw Dr. Kulkarni. In her words, though, I am “juicy.” Too much drainage. One of the ways to slow down the production is to “pump me up,” or fill the expanders more. Not sure why this has that effect, but it does. So, I had 100 ccs; of saline added to each expander. This also helped to fill in some of the places that were more concave. They use magnets to do this, as there is a metal magnet in the expander itself to help guide them as to where to put the needle. They use a very large scary looking needle, but because I am nearly numb do to the nerve damage from the surgery, I felt very little. Now, I am uncomfortable, but truthfully, I’ve been quite uncomfortable since after the surgery. Expanders have been likened to wearing an iron bra around a heavy pair of coconuts. It’s a pretty good analogy. I will likely need one more fill to fully round things out and slow down the drainage. Truthfully, I’m already as large as I’d like to be, and I’m hoping that once the implants are placed, I’ll end up a cup size smaller than I originally was. In the meanwhile, if you were to see me, you’d likely not notice anything terribly different from how you’re used to seeing me as I hide my drains in my clothing in all kinds of creative ways. One of the ways is that I have a bra that has little pockets that hang down. Geoff’s “joke” is that once the drains come out, I should keep the pockets and use them to hold snacks.
A big challenge is not loading and unloading the dishwasher, cooking, bringing out trash, doing laundry, etc. It’s not so much that I like these tasks, but I like having them done, and moving my arms a lot causes drainage. So the goal is under 30 cc’s of drainage over 24 hours. As soon as that happens, they can come out. My hope is that I’ll be able to have them removed on Friday. That means, little arm movement between now and Friday. And Tuesday will be my final fill. Then I’ll need to wait 8 weeks for the exchange surgery (expanders removed and implants placed), which will happen in the hospital, but will be an out-patient procedure. There is one complicating factor, which I just discovered today. My wonderful plastic surgeon, Dr. Anita Kulkarni, is moving on to a different (nearby) practice. She will be moving on August 18th, before my exchange surgery. I am very much hoping to follow her. She has, of course, not solicited me. That is my choice. She has reapplied to be credentialed/accepted by my insurance as an in-network doctor as she has been, but there’s no guarantee she’ll be accepted or that that will happen according to my time frame. My fingers are crossed. Please cross yours too. If not, I could still use her (out of network) or one of the other docs in her current office (but they’re out of network too). We’ve fully met our in network yearly out of pocket max (by miles) this year, and so if she’s approved, my entire surgery will be paid for. If not, though, we’ve not even met our out of network deductible (not to mention out of pocket maximum) so the financial responsibility for the exchange surgery would be entirely ours. Trying not to worry. I can’t really start the research yet, as it hasn’t been announced (to me or the world) exactly where she’s moving – though she’s promised it’s local. So . . . a bump (hopefully small) in the road – smaller certainly than any health complication or than cancer for sure. Money issues are real, but we’ll find a way to manage them if need be.
So, all in all, things are moving along. I’m healing. I’m grateful. I’m also very uncomfortable and a little frustrated. All those things can be simultaneously true.
The presents, the flowers, the visits, the cards, the meals . . . I love them and I love you all more than I can say. I love your check-ins, and I’m grateful for anything you provide and any time you have to come spend with me. I so loved and appreciated having my parents here, the time that Geoff can be home with me now, and Geoff’s mom’s upcoming visit too.
My love and gratitude always!