It occurred to me that last Saturday was the one year anniversary of my bilateral mastectomy. In some ways it feels like it’s been way longer. I can barely even remember my boobs or what it felt like to have them (may they rest in peace). In a lot of ways it was not what I expected. I expected to be inconsolable. I expected to have debilitating depression. I expected to feel like a freak and get a prosthetic bra. But in truth, none of those things happened. Everyone has their own journey and mine took me to unexpected places. I did not expect to find such strength within myself or to be able to put a humorous spin on my experiences. I found unexpected love and support from people I didn’t know that well before cancer and I found avoidance from a few people I’ve known longer. Apparently talking about cancer and mastectomies makes some people twitchy. But that’s okay. There’s no roadmap for this stuff.
Here I am a year later at The Boob Whisperer on a weekly basis, in the process of reconstructing my boobs (gentleman we can rebuild them….). I recall Mastectomy Day clearly though, and waking up and wondering aloud through the morphine stupor, where might my boobs be now, and my husband writing that on my hospital room white board (he’s very literal). I’ve posted it before but it always cracks me up.
This expansion/fill up process is going to take FOREVER. I’ve only had two fills and it feels like I should have had at least five. And, they are lopsided because the flap side looks like a manboob and the right side looks like a bigger manboob. I’ve been assured all will be right in the end. I guess I’m just a generally impatient person. Take shopping for example. Shopping is like crack to me but, if after taking hours choosing items I can’t live without, there are more than three people in line, I will leave the store empty handed. Same thing with the drive through except reduce that line by two.
I think I’m feeling pretty good, all things considered. I’ve limited my narcotics intake to evenings and it’s a good thing I am taking fewer pain pills because (warning-spoiler alert-I mean graphic constipation discussion). Opioids cause constipation. We know this especially now with all the laxative and Linzesse commercials. I’ve taken laxatives in the past (like last year during chemo) without a problem, (yes, I know they are not good for you). But what happened last weekend scared me straight. I forgot to take the laxatives at night so first thing in the morning I took two. I developed pain and cramping like someone was playing cat’s cradle with my intestines. Or tying them into a double fisherman’s knot. All I could do was lay in the fetal position. I was cramping so bad I thought I would faint, and then my family would call 911 not knowing it was just my bowels trying really hard to move. And then the hot paramedics would come and find me on the bathroom floor in God knows what kind of disarray. And then my family would be all embarrassed and deny knowing me. There is a natural tea that supposedly helps move things along called Smooth Move and so if I have to wait in line it should probably be to purchase this.
Like a phantom lost limb? I swear I can sometimes feel this phantom pain and itches in my nonexistent nipples. I’m sure it has something to do with my flap and/or expanders but it’s freaky. Sometimes I can feel a brief pinchy tweak and sometimes itchiness in the area where nipples would be. Makes me kind of melancholy for my lost nipples. Be thankful for and celebrate your glorious nipples, girls.
I’m recovering well, despite my pain and discomfort. I can only raise my left arm about half as high as my right, and that’s probably not going to change. I had reduced mobility after my mastectomy anyhow. Tomas put a positive spin on it, “well it’s not like you’re dusting high shelves. Or playing tennis.” So I’m thinking now with my useless left arm I might need assistance with:
1. Grocery shopping (can’t reach heavy stuff on high shelves)
2. Unpacking groceries (arm too tired and sore from shopping)
3. Making the bed (too much arm dexterity required)
4. Folding laundry (same reason)
5. Ironing (wait-no, that’s my right arm. And I haven’t ironed in four years)
6. Landscaping chores (wait-no,Tomas does all the yard work)
This list is subject to amendment and/or supplementation.
P.S. And if you happen to fall off the edge of a cliff, don’t expect me to be able to haul your ass back up.
My first expansion/fill was Monday and I would say it was uneventful. The Boob Whisperer said that the fills will be more uncomfortable further down the road when the expanders really get stretched. So I suppose that will compound the discomfort I already have? The left (cancer) side which has the lat flap is actually starting to resemble a boob. It looks weird though because my skin is still somewhat tan from the radiation then there’s an oval of white skin from my back.
One thing about The Boob Whisperer that makes me twitchy is he won’t answer specific questions about the later stages. He’s explained the general process but I have questions, like what about the man boob on the right side? I mentioned that it doesn’t look like it will match the other one because so much skin was removed. He says “we’re not there yet.” That seems to be his stock answer when I ask questions about anything that’s further down the road. I know that we have to take things one step at a time though, but patience isn’t one of my virtues lately.
In other news, my hair is growing out quite a bit so it’s morphing into a borderline afro. Or jerrycurl. I have to use this sleek and shine gel goo to make it presentable. #curlyhairprobs