DDD to a C (I hope!) - Saint Louis, MO

My BR surgery is in just one week, so I thought...

My BR surgery is in just one week, so I thought that I should get on here and see about chronicling it. I'm still trying to get my head around the fact that it is happening, and until a couple of days ago I was still unsure about having it done. What changed my mind was a five day stretch where I didn't go to yoga class. Vinyasa yoga has done such a good job at reducing my pain that I forgot how awful it can be without it. Needless to say, the pain that I am currently in (am unable to support my own head as I'm writing this) is a good reminder of why I'm having this surgery done.

My biggest concerns are post-surgical pain and the healing process, taking care of myself, and going back to school shortly after surgery. I'm sure that all of you ladies can relate to the worries over the unknowns of how your breasts are going to look after the surgery and how well you will deal with the pain. My concern over that has started to subside, but now I'm more concerned over having my sister leave only three days after my surgery and the fact that I have to return to classes only 11 days after the procedure has been done. After reading about how many of you have been in significant pain for weeks after has me a little concerned. I am a graduate student and am taking a couple of classes and will be starting as a teaching assistant in my first class on the 29th. I have a feeling that I may have to come into campus only for those classes and then head home. Hopefully I'll be able to do that well enough.

I'd really appreciate any advice or comments on these concerns if you all have them!

Also, I'll be uploading better pictures before the surgery.

Photo Update: Day One

Here's an image of the current state of my breasts. There's some definite stinging at the bottom of my breasts where all of the incisions come together, but only when I'm walking and trying to reach down to wipe after urinating. Doc said that the drainage tubes will be coming out in the morning before I go home. I'm so glad. The worst moment that I have had so far was the first time that I got out of bed to go to the bathroom. I made it there okay, but my nausea worsened as I sat on the toilet and by the time I got out of the bathroom I was shaking and hot and covered in sweat. I nearly vomited, but thankfully the urge wore off as I sat on the edge of my bed for a couple of minutes. Since then I have been up twice more, and it gets easier each time and no urge to vomit anymore.

As for my breasts, I am wondering what size I will end up with. I'm thinking that I'll have a C of some sort. I really really really hope so. They're definitely swollen, so only time will tell. :)

Day Three: First Shower & Photos

Hey all!

Today has been a bit tougher than the last two days. That may be because I'm finally at home and everything is hitting me. I have been sleeping SO MUCH. I think that it's the pain meds mostly. I made the mistake of eating some rich, cheap Chinese food, and ended up throwing it back up. :/ Thankfully the force of it didn't hurt my incisions. I've definitely learned my lesson on eating lighter foods for the next few days.

I have just settled back down onto my couch after taking my first shower and getting to fully see my boobs for the first time out of the surgical bra. They are really swollen, and I have a bit of aching pain on my right one where the drain came out yesterday. My sis says that it looks more swollen there than on the other side. The shower wasn't very difficult. We used dial soap to wash my hair and other parts of my body and then a fresh wash cloth and soap to pat down the surgical area and clean it as best we could. There's no way that the blood is going to come off anytime soon. My sis is awesome. She not only helped me bathe, but helped wrap my breasts back up in their gauze and a fresh bra and got me into my new nightgown. <3 Now to sleep some more.

Feeling Down

I've had a headache and been nauseous off an on for the past day. :( I also don't feel like my breasts are much smaller when I look at my before and after pictures and it really has me bummed out. I should probably sleep some more.

Day Four Picture Update

Tired and Ready to Get Moving

Things have been going pretty well here. Today is Day Seven and I'm hoping that my friend will help me take a picture later. I'm curious to see the difference (I don't own a smart phone). The headache from day four brought on more nausea and vomiting, but thankfully since then I haven't felt that sick. I finished up my antibiotics this morning and am trying to ween myself off of my pain killers (norco) slowly. Last night I moved myself from sleeping on my couch back to my bed and it was really hard to get comfortable. My mattress pad is really soft and my legs were feeling restless from not getting much exercise. I woke up feeling absolutely awful and rushed myself onto my couch with some breakfast, pills, and fluids and watched 'The Dresden Files' until the ickiness wore off. My main issue is that I only have energy for a few minutes at a time when I'm on my feet and then I start getting tired and hot and icky and have to sit down again. I'm going for my first walk in the park around six p.m. tonight to try and help my legs out and get used to moving again. I also have my book club meeting with other grad students. This is going to be my first time out of the apartment and interacting with people other than close friends who came to visit me. Wish me luck!

I have to say that this entire experience has been a lesson in slowing down, giving up control, and allowing others to help me out. I've learned that I'm really awful at all three, and that's something to consider even after I have healed. My sister was here for three days during and after the surgery and then I had a friend stay the night for a couple of nights and others have been bringing food by and stopping in to help with laundry and dishes and spend some time with me. This would not have been possible without a lot of help from friends, and I am super grateful to have them in my life. My cats have also been incredible. :D They are ecstatic about the amount of snuggles they have been getting and are definitely not going to like it when school starts back up on Monday. ;)

My big concern about the state of my breasts is how much more swollen my right breast is than the left. You can see it in the last photograph, and it's very evident even when just looking down my bra. My right one is significantly more full than the left AND is in a good deal more pain than the left. If I move my right arm in a certain way when getting up or leaning down to get stuff, I get this rending sort of pain that travels up my breast in an area w/o stitches and it feels like I've torn something but there's no evident damage. I've been favoring my left arm since last night, and haven't felt that since. I just think it's strange how I feel virtually no pain on the left side and so much more on the right. :/ My followup exam is on Friday afternoon, so hopefully I'll have some good news from my PS.

Days Six & Seven Photo Update

Here are photos from yesterday and today. My breasts were feeling very stiff and hard yesterday and that is slightly starting to lessen today. I noticed that I have a lack of sensation in my skin on the sides closest to my arms of both breasts and around the nipple and areola area. I hope that this is a temporary occurrence, and don't mind it now as it is probably helping to lessen any pain that I might be under. I don't really feel excited about my breasts being different mainly because they don't feel majorly different. I'm sure that once the swelling has gone down and I can get back to yoga and running and wearing regular bras I will feel much different about it. I am very happy to report that I haven't had any neck, shoulder, or back pain since the surgery even though I let the pain meds wear off quite often. Most of my pain was related to my breasts making the straps of my bra weigh down upon my shoulders. I feel like the true test of whether the surgery has helped with this will be when I am back wearing normal bras as I was in before. I'm seriously looking forward to not having to be super careful about how I move and able to sleep on my side again.

Two Weeks Out - Glue is OFF! :D

Well, things are definitely improving, and I seem to be healing faster than expected. My glue started peeling off less than two weeks out and it really freaked me out so I had my surgeon's nurse look at it. She said that everything looks good, and it really depends on how quickly a person is healing (it could stay on up to six weeks). Two nights ago I was patting my incisions down with a warm, wet cloth, and more glue started coming up, so I gently pulled it off. It was so obvious that the glue was ready to come off, that I took about 20 minutes testing different areas to see if they were loose and healed enough for the glue to come up. I was so surprised by how healed everything was underneath. The glue had been all scabby and bloody looking, so it gave me the impression that everything was still super raw. I know that I still need to be really careful about how I move and take care of my incisions, but I feel a lot better about the surgery now that I can see how things are healing. The one site of concern for me is the T-junction under my right breast. It's quite red, but it has all of the signs of healing. From what I have seen on the internet, the white tissue is slough (necrotic tissue) that should come away as new, healthy tissue forms underneath it. I wasn't quite sure what it was, but it is very stringy tissue, so that definitely fits the description of slough. I have this slough tissue directly underneath each nipple and at the T-junction of each breast.

I have random shooting pains in my breasts at times, which I have attributed to the healing process and nerve endings reforming, etc. The upper part of my breasts (an inch or so above the nipples) are extremely sensitive lately to touch. The rubbing of my surgical bra against my skin actually hurts there. My doc said that I can switch to sports bras now, so today I am going on a bra quest! Looking forward to being out of these itchy contraptions. Whoever thought that velcro between the boobs was a good idea?!?!?!?! I am actually thankful that I don't have complete sensation in a large part of my breasts. I imagine that this whole process would have been a lot more painful if those nerve connections had not been severed during surgery. I am surprisingly apathetic about the possibility of never regaining complete feeling in my breasts.

My breasts feel much more natural now. They no longer feel like stiff bowling balls and move naturally when I do things like lean over, etc. Very glad that has passed as I feel much more like these are actually my breasts and not some abstract alien things on my chest.

My three week follow-up is in four days, and I'm looking forward to hearing what my PS thinks about how I'm healing. Hopefully he'll take out the black stitches under my right breast and some of the clear dissolvable ones that are causing me some irritation around the nipple, between my breasts, and under my arms. Tylenol Extra Strength has been my friend over the past few days to help minimize some of that sensitivity that I have been feeling. I am being careful with it though, because it is important to listen to what the body is trying to tell you. If it has had too much movement, then perhaps I should just sit my butt down and read a book or something. :)

Oh! I had my first full week of school this past week and I rocked it! Very minimal pain, and it feels SO GOOD to be back to work at things and to have more structure. My boobs are no longer the supreme focus of my life at this point, which is a relief. Thinking and talking about them all of the time has definitely gotten old quick. :)

I BOUGHT NEW BRAS!!!!!!!! :D

I'm so excited! I got the go ahead to wear sports bras over a week ago, but I put it off to give my breasts a little more time to recover. The itchy surgical bra was too much, so I went to Old Navy today and picked up three bras. The lacy one is a size large, and the two sports bras are mediums. I am blown away. Even if the swelling doesn't go down (which I know it will), I would be satisfied with this size. The pink one was only $4.99 on sale! I don't know about you ladies, but I've never been able to purchase a bra for less than $30 (normally closer to $50!)! :D :D :D These give me a lot more support/compression than those awful surgical bras, so I have less pain/tenderness when wearing them. Have I mentioned that I'm excited?!

I Went Braless for 24 Hours and it Was Incredible

I was worried about having a possible infection under my right breast, so the nurse at my PS's office told me to go without a bra for 24 hours to let it breathe and then to come in the next day if it was still really inflamed. I was pretty uncomfortable about it at first. I can't remember the last time that I left the house and spent the entire day at school interacting with my colleagues without a bra on. It must have been before I was ten or eleven years old (of course, I didn't have colleagues then. Haha). That's nearly two decades. Well, guess what ladies? I expect that this might be the case for you all as well. You cannot tell that I wasn't wearing a bra. Even though I'm definitely larger than a C right now, the way that they have been sculpted means that they are perky enough in pretty much every outfit that I own. You know what that means? Strapless tops and dresses. Backless dresses that we never would have been able to wear before. Tops and dresses that give a tiny amount of support. So many freaking options! I know that the reason that everyone wants to hear for getting a BR is that it is to reduce back pain (and of course, that IS a reason), but my main joy that I am taking out of this so far is being so much more FREE. I had an argument with a friend the other day about why people get plastic surgery. She disagrees with people getting PS if it isn't medically necessary and I disagree with her. We all have a right to feel happy and comfortable in our own bodies. If a person has never experienced the burden that someone experiences from having breasts that are HUGE or a nose that everyone stares at or being so overweight that people do not take them seriously, then they have no right to say that PS is a wrong choice for them. My biggest wish for the world is that everyone would teach their child how to empathize with others. If people were more understanding of the often invisible burdens that we all carry, then imagine how much nicer this world would be.
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