My bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction was October 23, 2012.
My mom went with me so my husband could stay home with our 3 young girls (twins age 6 and a 3 year old) (as she did most of my surgeries for the next 2 years)
I was told that the surgery was way longer than expected and I had issues with my heart rate and blood pressure that couldn’t be controlled and I kept asking for my mom so they brought her in and it almost immediately calmed me down to a regular rhythm. Even at 46, my mom can calm me in ways no other can. I was also told that my brother called and said he needed to talk to me himself to see how I was doing. He says I talked to him but I still do not remember that conversation!
After about 9 hours I was taken back to my room. There were no open rooms on the floor I was supposed to be on so I was put on the end of the children’s wing. I vaguely remember mom saying goodbye and that was it!
The next morning I was rudely awakened by the staff. Apparently my blood pressure had dropped dramatically and they were screaming to wake me up. A word to nurses, if this happens, please don’t tell the patient at that moment! I heard “CONNIE! CONNIE! Then when I opened my eyes, I heard ” oh thank goodness, we almost lost you”. That’s what I wanted to hear the day after a huge surgery that was to save my life!
After all was settled and they finally left the room, I vividly remember pulling up my fancy hospital gown just to make sure there was SOMETHING there. What I saw just made me cry. I saw a small cleavage (going from a DD to not even an A was hard) and bandages with drainage tubes hanging out of each of them. That moment I knew it was real. I mean, I knew in my head that I had cancer, but this made it real in my heart and soul. I was in for a long, hard life for a while and I wasn’t sure I could do it.
Yep, this is what they are. Those drainage tubes are put under your skin and let me tell you, they hurt every time you move. When those bulbs fill with blood and whatever else that drains, you remove those things, measure how much is in them, write that down, clean them out (including pressing the tubes from top to bottom to make sure all of it is drained, then put them back on. Taking showers was a new challenge. I bought a handyman’s apron and put the tubes in the pockets to keep them up against me because if they hung loose, the pain was unreal because the area where they were inserted was severely bruised. So I would use the apron to hold them up 24/7 and I would simply change them out after showering. Ever sit down and shower? It just isn’t the same and looking at my naked body made me cry every time. I looked like something out of a horror movie. Tiny breasts that were stitched from one side of my chest to the other, tubes sticking out of me. Total mess.
I hated myself but little did I know, it was about to get worse because chemo would start about a month later after I had started to heal.
Now that I am in tears with all these memories flooding me again, it’s time to sign off.
Next time…chemo’s own nightmare