Family...the ones you live with, laugh with, and love

Family...the ones you live with, laugh with, and love
Summer 2009

Friday, July 15, 2011

Surgery #5...Phase 2

Steve and I met with Dr. Ferguson on Wed. It has been 3 months since my DIEP surgery. I cannot believe how quickly the weeks have gone by. After examining me to see how things have healed, the doctor said we can go ahead with phase 2. He was not thrilled with the way the abdomen incision has healed since it has pulled to one side and there is a lot of scar tissue that has built up. He wants to go in and revise the scar and remove the scar tissue. Also when a DIEP is done because they pull the stomach tissue so tight, there is always puckering on the sides. The doctor calls the puckering "dog ears". He will have to cut the sides a little and pull them tighter. He will also be doing a little bit of revision on the left breast because of the way it has healed as well. Fat grafting will also be done to help build the breast mounds up a little more. I guess I should be happy that I am getting a little lipo to harvest the fat, and bigger boobs. Every woman's dream right? However, I was a little disappointed because it is more cutting than I had anticipated. My surgery is scheduled for Tuesday, July 19th. The surgeon promised us it would only be 4 hours this time and it is an out patient procedure. I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will be easier than the first.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

DIEP Surgery

On April 18th I had my surgery. We had to be at the IMC hospital in Murray at 5:30 in the morning since my surgery would be starting at 7:30. Murray is a 45 minute drive from our home so it was an early start. The nice thing about being the first surgery, and the only surgery for the doctor that day, is that surgery actually started on time. Dr. Ferguson told us that the surgery would take about 8 hours. Steve was in for a long day of waiting. Every few hours the operating room would call Steve to keep him updated. But he then started to worry when it was 5 pm and the calls had stopped. After about 10 hours they then updated him but said they still were not finished. In all the surgery took 14 1/2 hours long. There were no major complications, just some minor things that occurred from my mastectomy, enough little problems that it took almost double the time.
I remember waking up in ICU and trying to focus on the clock on the wall. I finally asked the nurse what time it was and when she said it was 11:30, I said "At night?" she said, "Yes you were in surgery a lot longer than expected." It is a very strange feeling to have missed an entire day.
I was in the hospital for 5 days. The recovery was very difficult and the pain was excruciating. Because of risk for blood clots, the doctor required me up and walking the next day. It was so hard. I barely made it out into the hall and took 5 steps. I was done. My body was so weak and in so much pain. Also because I was in surgery so long and they had pumped so much fluid into my body, I gained 17lbs in water weight. My fingers were huge, my feet were swollen, my face was awful. I can look back now and laugh, but at the time it was not something I was happy about. Luckily that weight was easy to get rid of. But the extra fluid in my body made me hurt all over.
Recovery has taken a couple of months to finally feel myself again.
I now have an incision that runs from hip to hip. And major incisions across my chest. There will be a phase 2 surgery where the surgeon will go in and contour the tissue and make it look a little nicer. But that will have to wait for 3 months. I can hardly wait to be a little closer to the finish line.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Where are we at now

I have been horrible at keeping this blog up to date. I hadn't even realized my last post was in November. Wow how time does fly. I decided I should give another update as to where we are now on this journey called cancer.

I had decided to wait until after the holidays to get my port-a-cath removed. So in February I had my port taken out. Ironically it was exactly one year to the date that I had it put in. It was an easy surgery despite the fact I still had to be put under. I am not fond of anesthesia or the effects afterward. I have a definite scar on my chest near my collar bone that will always be a reminder of the device that helped me through chemotherapy.

In March I decided it was time to start thinking about reconstructive surgery. I had already researched the options that were available. Having had a bilateral(double) mastectomy, there are very few options. The first option is that I could do absolutely nothing. I had already decided that I did not want that choice.
The second option being to have implants. In speaking to several doctors, and also several women that had chosen this route I learned that because I had radiation, implants would not be a good choice for me. The radiation causes so much damage to the tissue that my body would most likely reject the implant, or infections can occur on a regular basis. I decided that I did not want to deal with more complications.
The third option was a surgery using my own tissue called a microsurgery to rebuild the breasts. The surgeon can take it from the backside toward the top of the hip, this is called an S-Gap, or they can use tissue from the abdomen called a DIEP.

I met with 2 surgeons in Salt Lake City. The first surgeon would only rebuild one breast at a time which meant 2 separate surgeries. I did not want to go through this 8 hour surgery twice so I decided to meet with another doctor. I am so happy that I did. Dr. Robert Ferguson is wonderful. We were able to come up with a surgical plan that I was very happy with.

I decided to do the DIEP surgery which stands for deep inferior epigastric perforator. This is the name of the main blood vessel that runs through the tissue is used to reconstruct the breast. In DIEP flap reconstruction, only skin, fat, and blood vessels are removed from the lower belly (the abdomen between the waist and hips). No muscle is removed. Tissue from the abdomen feels very similar to that of breast tissue. The DIEP is a called a "free" flap because the tissue is completely detached from the belly and then reattached to the chest area. Hooking up the blood vessels from the belly tissue to chest blood vessels is delicate work. The doctor has to use a microscope during surgery, therefore a DIEP is known as a microsurgery.

I was a little concerned because I was told by 2 other surgeons that I did not have enough tissue on my stomach to rebuild both breasts, but Dr. Ferguson felt confident that he could do it. So I put my trust in him and scheduled my surgery.

On April 18th I went in for surgery.