Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Run/ Walk/ Bike/ Elliptical (Today: 2.50 miles; Running Total: 275.61 miles)
Day 298 of *Another* 100 Days of Good Karma.
Today was my final tissue expansion appointment. The plastic surgeon finished filling up the tissue expander in my right breast.
I felt some pin pricks of pain when the expander reached capacity but they were tiny. Having a mastectomy left me with some serious nerve damage in my right breast so who knows what those pin pricks might have felt like if I could feel anything.
It’s probably best that I’m numb.
My plastic surgeon’s team is happy with how everything looks right now. They say my skin and the expander look great.
I just have to take their word for it.
I’ve never been through the breast reconstruction process. I’ve never even considered having breast augmentation, so to me the expander looks like one of those “bad boob job” pictures from the internet.
It’s hard and stands straight out from my chest like someone removed my natural breast and replaced it with a softball.
Which, I suppose, is sort of what happened.
I know I won’t have the tissue expander in forever. There will be another surgery to replace the tissue expander with a more natural looking implant. But I’m in no hurry to go back under the knife.
I’ve had enough of being poked and prodded and cut into for a while.
The tissue expander will stay in place for at least six months. Maybe a year post radiation.
I’m okay with that.
The plastic surgeon said he wanted to see me back in three months to reassess. At that time they’ll start looking at dates for when I’ll have the next reconstructive surgery.
My surgical goal (and I expressed this to my plastic surgeon’s team) is still to just ‘make them match as much as possible’.
I know there will always be a marked difference between my two breasts. I don’t need perfect. I just want to be able to look in the mirror and be okay with what I see.
Between now and the next reconstruction surgery maybe I can get to ‘okay with what I see’ partly on my own.
My view of myself is, at least in part, a mental choice.
No, I don’t like how the tissue expander looks right now, but I’m working hard to keep in mind what the Body Image Therapist told me months ago.
“As best you can, just let it be what it is.”
I’m ‘okay’ to let some things ‘be what they are’.
Even though it’s big, my scar doesn’t bother me. The scar is about the length of my hand, from the bottom of my palm to the top of my middle finger. It’s probably weird, but I’m actually proud of that scar.
It means I survived.
My lack of nipple on the right side does bother me. I catch myself looking for it in the mirror before I get into the shower. I also have nasty jealousy attacks when I see women on TV or movies with two nipples. Since this does bother me, I think nipple reconstruction might be in my future. We’ll see.
What bothers me most about my post-mastectomy body is the extreme asymmetry in my breasts.
Thanks to the tissue expander, my breasts are roughly the same volume right now.
The difference is in shape.
My left side is a natural breast that hangs down in a teardrop (albeit a kid ravaged teardrop).
My right side is an eternally perky softball that will never drop.
I try and keep in mind that this is not the final result and I won’t always look this way.
I also try and keep in mind that living with asymmetrical breasts sure beats the hell out of dying from cancer.
Even so, I’m human and I struggle.
One of my struggles right now is the approaching bathing suit season. With two kids under the age of ten, there’s no avoiding the pool.
Today’s silver lining: My friend Tina may have helped me solve this problem.
She suggested going to the sportswear section of wherever I shop and buying a sports bra tank top and finding swim suit bottoms to match.
The material is about the same between sportswear and a swimsuit and the top would probably fit me better.
So I still have some mental hurdles to get over and a long way to go in the breast reconstruction arena.
But I’m on my way to healing.
What’s your silver lining today? I love comments!
Don’t want to leave a comment, but have something you want to share? Send me an email at gettingthewordswrong(at)gmail(dot)com.