Here Goes Something - Seattle, WA

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I probably should have joined sooner, I have been...

I probably should have joined sooner, I have been reading through the forum here for some time now and am only a few days out from surgery. I just had my pre-op 2 weeks ago and went over everything with anesthesia nurse a few days ago. The nerves are definitely starting to set in.

I am sure that this is the right choice for me. Like many other women here, I have struggled with my breast size since high school. I have tried losing weight, physical therapy, going to the chiropractor and every kind of bra under the sun. Nothing has helped and I suffer from migraines which have grown in frequency right along with my increasing bra size. I just want to be healthy, repair the structural issues all the weight of my breasts have caused as well as be able to exercise more easily.

Mostly what I am afraid of is complications. I am great at planning and preparing but I don't do so well with the unexpected, especially if it is something health related. The plan for the surgery is 750g (anchor, no drains) and I understand with reductions that large there can be a higher risk of complications. I live alone and have a lot of support for this surgery, I will have people staying with me for the whole first week, and checking in on me after that, but I can't help thinking of what could go wrong and how I would manage if something did. Getting more assistance, missing more work, etc. I am a very independent person and I am having a hard enough time accepting that I will not be totally self sufficient for a while, let alone if that time frame gets prolonged.

On the up side, I have really great insurance, all of my FMLA paperwork is taken care of, and I have people to take good care of me, so I am very lucky. Not to mention that I found this site early on where every seems to be so supportive and has already answered so many of my questions :)

I know there will be hard days ahead but I also know from so many of your stories that this is well worth it.

I did it! It was definitely a stressful night the...

I did it! It was definitely a stressful night the night before and I didn't really sleep. I left my house at 4:30 and checked into the hospital at about 5:45. Even though I had tossed and turned all night I felt surprisingly calm once I was on my way. The Pre-op team was pretty great, each one asked me my name and birthdate and the surgery that was being performed for my safety every time they introduced themselves. They all were very friendly and answered all of my questions except the anesthesiologist who torqued on my IV and was kind of condescending about it when I told her it hurt. That's when I first started having anxiety again. She may not have been very kind but it looks like she knows what she is doing since I did well coming out of the anesthesia. They started waking me up around 11am and I remember feeling conscious and alert by 11:30. My post op team was not as good. Everyone was rushing around and they accidentally got doubles of my written prescriptions, except one was signed and one wasn't and they accidentally disposed of the signed copy so I had to wait for a doctor from my team to come out of surgery to sign them. Then when I was in the recovery room with my family they started going over all the info I needed to know for when I went home and they had the wrong persons paperwork. Uhg. We got all the right paperwork and my prescriptions and left the hospital and once I was home I found out they had not included everything they were supposed to in my recovery supplies. My doctor has me using bilateral pambras under my surgical bra as opposed to a bunch of other dressing, it is great because it's all one piece and they are washable so you aren't going through a bunch of gauze and stuff and nothing shifts around. They were supposed to send me home with 2 in addition to the one I was wearing and they forgot. I was really upset. So they are sending them (my home is kind of a long way from the hospital) and luckily I had ordered some extras before surgery so that I would be okay if i couldn't do laundry for a while but those haven't arrived yet either, so hopefully one or the other does before I have to shower tomorrow. Otherwise they said I could use some kotex pads but I want the real thing. When you're not feeling well you don't really want to make do.

my pain level has mostly been good. I know that I have a harder time recovering from this kind of thing than most people so I didn't expect to feel as great as everyone else but I have been doing really well. Coming out of the anesthesia I think my pain was a 3, once the localized stuff started wearing off I started getting shooting pains but after some percocet and advil I felt pretty well. The ride home was a bit rough but thanks to this forum i knew to bring a pillow to help stabilize my chest when going over bumps and that really helped. When I got home I felt great for a couple of hours but then the nausea set in. i almost threw up but my mom rubbed my feet and it helped enough to keep me going until I could take more ant-nausea meds. i also listened to some meditation podcasts to stay calm. Then I did pretty well again until the even when I started to get really frustrated and down. I was having uncomfortable swelling around my wrists where they strapped my arms to the table (because your arms are out in a T during the surgery). No bruising or anything, fluids were just kind of building up there, so I called my surgeon and he assured me that it was okay (he's awesome). I was still having a lot of nausea and was having a hard time eating even though I was really hungry, the percocet didn't seem to be doing much for the pain, it hurt to pee from having a catheter in during surgery, I couldn't sleep because I couldn't get my neck in a good position. It just all felt overwhelming and disheartening.

Luckily it passed. I managed to get a little more food in me and my mom went out and got me a travel pillows, thanks to which I got 4 and a half hours of sleep. It may not sound like a lot but it made a world of difference.

This isn't exactly what I expected and since it has been less than 24 hours I am not ready to give a verdict on how I feel about the surgery but I can say that I am really happy to have the surgery part over with and be on the road to recovery. They ended up taking 3 pounds out of each breast, i haven't seen them yet and i don't know what size I am under all this but I already feel all that weight off my chest and it's good.

Oi, what a traumatic day. I wasn't feeling super...

Oi, what a traumatic day. I wasn't feeling super well this morning so I put off my first shower til about noon. I had done a pretty good job sleeping at night but I have had an upset stomach and headache from the meds. The shower did not go well to say the least. There was very little pain or drainage when I took the bra off but as soon as I was in the shower everything started to go black. It felt like I was being swallowed up and I panicked. I have a seat in the shower but sitting down didn't help. I just kept seeing dark spots that were slowly filling up my entire vision. I really thought I was going to under and i have no idea how they would have gotten me out of the shower. I honestly barely remember how they did it with me half conscious. My mom helped me dry off and get the bra back on but it was a very close call. Once i was dressed again I felt completely drained, exhausted and cold. Unfortunately I have to take one every day so i have to figure out how to do better tomorrow an I am terrified it will happen again.

On the up side I am doing slightly better on the pain so I am cutting down on my meds for the sake of my tummy. The stomach medicine they gave me and the milk of magnesia are doing very little. Hope tomorrow goes better. At least I got to see what's going on under all that padding and surgical bra, didn't look half as bad as I expected, before I almost passed out that is.

Doing so much better! Still not where I would...

Doing so much better! Still not where I would like to be; I read some of the other reviews about how little pain people have had or that they can shower or pretty much get by on their own right after surgery and I wonder why I can't be doing that well too. But I reminder myself, everyone is different and take the small victories. The most recent small victory is that yesterday was trauma free. There was no fainting, weird arm swelling, crying, or severe pain and that is just what I needed, for one day to go smoothly. I was even able to sleep in a bed! It required about a million pillows but at least I can get up and down by myself (another small victory) and it was more comfortable. Yesterday we called my surgeon to ask about the fainting while showering and he gave us the okay to skip it for a day, he said it was probably just over-stimulation that triggered a vagus nerve response and that I just needed a little more time. So yesterday I did a sponge bath for the rest of my body and then we just changed the dressing. Today, instead of going for the full shower, I sat on a stool and we had one cup filled with water and some dr bronner's soap and one cup of just water. We poured the soapy water over first and then rinsed with the other cup and did a pat dry. It was stressful but it went well! Progress. Not as much as I would like but I am doing well in comparison to the first few days.

The afternoon after my last post I went home after...

The afternoon after my last post I went home after staying with my family. My boyfriend came to stay with me to take care of me for few days. The drive home was worse than the one back from the hospital and it was hard to get set up in a new space. I couldn't get comfortable and due to all the jostling early in the day I was in a lot of pain for the rest of the day. It was a tough one, One of those days where I wondered why I was doing this and if I had made a mistake. I felt like I was stepping backwards because of all the swelling and because I had to step up my pain meds again. Luckily the next day things went better. I had another successful sort-of-shower and we managed to keep it trauma free. I haven't been sleeping well but other than that each day is getting a little better. Tomorrow I will be at a week out and my boyfriend will be going home so that I can start doing things on my own. I am a little afraid I am not ready yet, as I said, I haven't been recovering as well as most people, but I also am looking forward to having some time to myself. I guess we will find out.

The first night on my own went really well! And I...

The first night on my own went really well! And I was even able to shower that day in a real shower (with supervision in case of fainting). I still can't change my own dressings but I talked to one of the nurses and she said they have some people come in at 2 weeks who still can't do it. It was actually really reassuring because I have been feeling like my recovery is so slow compared to a lot of the other reviews here. Though I am on a really low dose of the pain meds at this pint I still can't go without the entirely, I am still not ready to be out and about, even for a short amount of time, and I am still relying on others quite a bit. It was nice to hear from a nurse that this is very common and that everyone experiences recovery differently.

At this point, I hadn't been sleeping very well, not more than 2 hours consecutively but I was getting enough half hour naps in to still feel pretty solid. Last night, my second night on my own, I was sure it was going to be a good night of sleep, I had some chamomile tea, settled in with my book, and just as I dozed off the smoke detector when off. Well really it is a 2 in 1 CO2 monitor and smoke detector, so instead of annoying beeping it yells "alert alert, there is a fire, please exit the building" none of the regular smoke detectors (including the one right next to it) were going off so I new the odds of a fire were slim but the sound of that thing is a million times worse than a regular smoke detector and set me off into a panic. I checked the whole apartment and there was no smoke, nothing plugged in or on that shouldn't be. I called the building handy man and let him know and he said it was probably defective and he will bring me a new one today. I had my mom come and take the batteries out and she ended up staying over since I was really stressed out at that point. Strangely I ended up sleeping really well after that actually, almost 9 hours, so all is well that ends well.

Something I have been coming to at this point in my recovery is who to tell and who not to tell. I have been looking at having this surgery for so long that I am sure a lot of people know I was interested in having a BR, however, when I decided to do it I kept the circle pretty small: my immediate family, my boyfriend, and 2 friends. I have told each of them that, while this is not a secret, it is private and I would appreciate that they respect that. Not everyone seems to get why but I don't like being the center of attention, I don't like people talking about me, commenting on my body, or constantly asking me how I am doing. I see so many women on here who are ready to shout it from the rooftops and that's awesome but it does make me wonder if I am a bit odd for regarding this as a private experience. Is anyone else so inclined? And if so, how did you handle that with the people you did tell?

I went to the store today for half an hour! I...

I went to the store today for half an hour! I know a lot of women are out and about on day 5 so I was a little bummed it took me until day 10 but I will take what I can get. I am a little worried about going back to work on Thursday since a short time in public tuckered me out but I try to remind myself that I was barely up and around 4 days ago and now I can cook for myself, refill my own water bottle, and shower in an actual shower, so who knows what kind of progress I can make in the next 4 days. I am also trying to figure out the medication factor because I am on a quarter of the full dose during the day and half at night but I am still in a fair amount of pain (everyone in my family heals really slowly) but I need to be able to do at least 8 hours on Advil alone by Thursday. But again, I was in a lot more pain 4 days ago so things might be great by the end of the week. I hope so!

Post op check up is a week from Tuesday. I wish it would just get here already, I am ready to be done with this initial phase of recovery.

Today was my 2 week mark as well as my first day...

Today was my 2 week mark as well as my first day back at work. I had been having a bit of a tough time because of the recovery process going so slowly and just when I thought the pain was getting better it suddenly got worse again. Once my period started 2 days later I realized why, the hormones were making the swelling worse. So any of you out there who an arrange to have your surgery right after your period ends, I highly recommend it. I am sure dealing with more swelling in week 3 would be easier than week 2. Things have improved since then but then I had the dreaded first day back at work. My boyfriend and my mom wanted me to wait until next week to go back, but I don't really have the vacation hours and since I am not really telling anyone at work, I felt like it would be tough to explain.

I really worked to plan ahead. I bought some foam cup inserts for my bra for a little added padding in case someone should run into me (I've been having nightmares about that), I bought bigger jeans at the thrift store because all the fluid from my chest has caused my stomach to be a bit bloated, and packed plenty of snacks. Still, it was really really hard. I had only been out of the house for only 2 half hour periods before this and I was surprised at just how much it hurt to walk on concrete because of the bounce factor. I am sure it was only the tiniest bounce but it felt like how my old boobs used to feel running on a treadmill. Also the bathroom door at work is very heavy, I could barely get it open and I knew I shouldn't be pulling that much weight. It's just one of those weird things I never thought about before. I finally found that the bathroom across the courtyard had a lighter door but it's just another annoying thing that takes me longer. Everyone could tell that I was not 100% but I just told them I was under the weather. I was constantly getting migraines before the surgery so everyone is used to me .not feeling that well. I went home after 6 hours and took a 2 hour nap. In a lot more pain again tonight and worried tomorrow will be worse. At least I will have the weekend to recover I guess.

I will try to stay 8 hours tomorrow and then go back to my regular 10 hour days next week but I am feeling really down. I guess I just thought that if I could get through the first 2 weeks I would a little more back to normal than this. It's frustrating and it makes me wonder if this was worth it.

The second day of work was almost as rough but I...

The second day of work was almost as rough but I wore more shock absorbent shoes and at least could get through the day knowing that I would have 2 full days to rest once I was done. I stayed the full 8 hours but it was definitely a struggle. My boyfriend came over after work and got me dinner and while I didn't take a nap right after like I did the first day I fell asleep really early. With the exception of 2 trips to the store I have been resting most of the weekend but have just found myself getting more and more frustrated. With all the dressings and swelling I am currently a 36F, I am sure if you subtract the dressing then I would be a 36E, and hopefully once the swelling goes down I will be a 36D. But there are no guarantees and right now trying to find a cheap zip front sports bra in a 36F seems to be impossible so I am stuck still trying to get in and out of my surgical bra at shower time which I can't do on my own. If the swelling doesn't go down significantly I could still end up with and E cup which makes me wonder what I did all of this for. That is still an improvement on and H cup but I am not sure if it's enough to warrant all this. Like I said, still can't put the surgical bra back on by myself after a shower, still waking up in the middle of the night in pain every few hours, still sleeping on the couch because it's too painful to sleep laying down. It feels like everyone else is doing so much better by this point in their recovery and that I just can't seem to make very much headway. Just can't help but feel down. All of my tricks to stay positive aren't working and I am back to a 10 hour day at work tomorrow and I just know it is going to be a huge struggle. I know a lot of ladies go through this at this point in the recovery so I am trying to ride it out by setting up little prizes for myself for getting through tough stuff. Like on Friday, I got to eat a burger after work for not going home early, I have been eating really healthy so it was a treat. Trying to figure out what to do for myself on Tuesday. I have to go to my post-op, which I really want to go to but it's very difficult to get to my surgeon's office and I am afraid they will poke and prod and then I have to go back to work afterwards, so I am kind of afraid. Anyone out there going through similar stuff?

It was a big week but since I was having such a...

It was a big week but since I was having such a hard time I decided to wait a while to update so it wasn't all doom and gloom. I can't say much has changed physically but I am feeling like I have a better attitude about it all.

I went to my post op on Tuesday and it was definitely a scary day for me and by the time I got to the office I felt awful. In pain, felt like I was in a sauna and just nervously going over my list of questions hoping I wouldn't forget to ask anything. My temp was 99, a little elevated but nothing really to worry about, my blood pressure on the other hand was really high. They were a little concerned but said that when you're in pain that can definitely happen. I talked to them about the level of pain I am still feeling and whether that was very abnormal and they assured me that though it isn't the norm, that there are some outliers who feel this level of discomfort this late in the game and that while I am healing slowly my incisions look really good and healthy. I also let them know that I was having issues being comfortable in any other bra than my surgical bra (Jobst surgical vest), even for the time it takes to wash it, so they gave me a ClearPoint Compression bra to try which doesn't seem to lend enough support for wearing out and about but definitely if comfortable to wear while washing my other one. I felt a lot better after the appointment. They said they don't need to see me again until the 6 month point, which I thought seemed odd, but they said to call them if anything comes up so I feel as though I am covered.

I am still on the pain meds for now, but only at night and my PS gave me a prescription with a higher acetaminophen content which he said is perfectly fine to combine with 600mg of Ibuprofen every 8 hours as long as I follow the max daily dosage recommendations. So once I am off the prescription pain meds (hopefully sooner than later) he said I can still combine acetaminophen and ibuprofen when needed which was reassuring because I am pretty sure that's the combination that is really helping anyway.

Probably my biggest win for my third week, other than getting through my first full week of work, was how much improvement I have seen in my range of motion with my first set of physical therapy exercises. That has really helped.

I hit some setbacks over this weekend, I tried showering on my own and couldn't get the surgical bra back on by myself ): I was supposed to start my second set of physical therapy exercises but found them to be too hard for now and ended up feeling nauseous and dizzy so those may have to wait a little longer, and after all of the movement for the exercises there was a bit of drainage on the Pambra which was a bit of a bummer because I haven't had any drainage since my first week. But like I said, I am feeling a lot more positive about it all which I think I owe to my being over the halfway point to that 6 week mark. There is a light at the end of the tunnel!

On my way to the month mark!

Things are going so much better, for a while there...

Things are going so much better, for a while there it was really tough but on Monday I managed to get the surgical bra back on by myself which means I can shower without anyone at my house to help me! Such a relief. I also woke up Monday and I no longer felt stiff and achey under my right arm where it used to be the worst. The pain was back by 5pm but that was almost a full day of work that I got through without feeling super crummy. Progress at last.

It also turns out that the bit of drainage I was seeing was because I was "spitting a stitch" which I guess is what they call it when your body pushes a dissolvable stitch to the surface. It was causing more pain and irritation so I called my PS and the nurse said that's not that unusual and that I could use a warm compress if I want (I didn't) but that it would probably work itself out and if it didn't they would take a look at it and pull it out. By that evening it felt a lot better and when I checked at shower time there was no drainage and what had started out as an annoying little 2 centimeter long piece of fishing line had turned into a piece the length of my finger. So I guess my body worked it out to the point where it was no longer irritating me. Both ends are out now but the middle is trapped under a thin layer of skin. Since it no longer hurts I am just going to let it do it's own things for now.

I also got the go ahead to put A&D ointment on my remaining scabs, the nurse said this will keep them moisturized so they heal instead of falling off. It was a little nerve racking touching my incisions but I did it!

I am almost done with my third week and am just really happy to be seeing some progress. Now if I can just get that second set of physical therapy exercises going.

Week 4 to 5 and it was definitely full of ups and...

Week 4 to 5 and it was definitely full of ups and downs. I had felt super great during the week only to be sore and achey all weekend, I guess it kind of all built up and spent the whole weekend sleeping and recovering. By Sunday the T area on the bottom of lefty started looking really gross, a bunch of layers of skin coming off (more than just peeling) and there was an inch long spot that looked almost like a red sore. I stopped using the A&D and took extra time airing everything out with the blow dryer after my shower but it ended up looking worse the next day. I felt really down that night, I just kept thinking "what did I do to myself?" and that this isn't worth it. I called my PS and the nurse said it sounded like there was some drainage that had made things a bit damp and my skin was getting macerated, she suggested airing things out more. So I have been leaving my bra off for an hour and a half after I shower every day and only using A&D on my nipples and things are looking better. It's tough because you can't really do much with your boobs out for an hour and a half at this stage so it's a bit chilly and boring but it's worth it because I am feeling better about everything. I think things are just at an odd stage right now, kind of scabby and very new skin.

I have been rather anxious at this stage as well because I know a lot of people run into complications like wound opening between week 3 and 5 so I have been terrified that something is going to happen to prolong the whole healing process, which would just make me lose my marbles. I need to make it through 5 more days and then my odds of complications drop.

I have bought a couple of bras but haven't felt comfortable trying anything on yet. Especially since my second period since the surgery will start in a couple of days and they say only the first one is extra painful on the new boobs but OUCH! That is not at all true for me, things are noticeably more painful w/ the PMS again. I am hoping that once it's over the swelling goes down considerably because it currently looks like I am still a DD. And while I understand that as a former DDDDD (H cup) that is still a considerable difference, it is hard to think that I went through this to still be in the doubles.

Onward, I can do this. See you guys at week 6.

I made it to 6 weeks without any wound opening! ...

I made it to 6 weeks without any wound opening! Hurray! It is a huge relief to have passed the six week mark. Unfortunately my incisions are only 2/3 closed, which seems like a lot of scab to still have at 6 weeks but I feel like I will be all the way there by next week so I am hopeful. I also still have not ventured away from the surgical bra, however, I am way more comfortable in the bra I wear while I wash it then I used to be and tried on some other bras today. Only half the bras I got will work, but I was hardly surprised given that I couldn't really try them on before and this is a whole new size. The most luck I am having is with the Bali bras and the Underscore zip front sports bras from JCPenney. By the looks of the forum these are what are working for a lot of other people as well. The Genie bras I got definitely aren't working, the sizing is way smaller than what it says on the box and the shaping is a bit weird. I also got a Glamorise wire-free bra but that doesn't really work because of how pointy the cups are. Once my incisions are all the way closed I will go bra shopping for real.

The only setbacks I am really dealing with is the possibility that I am forming an abscess on one of my incisions and an irregular period. The possible abscess started out looking like a stitch trying to come out but now it looks like a bump the width of a pencil eraser. I am just going to keep an eye on it and will call my PS if it gets any bigger or red around the edges. And I had my second period since the surgery, and though my first one was shortly after the surgery and normal (with the exception of the extra terrible boob pain) this one only lasted 2 days (it usually lasts 5 like clockwork), anyone else having strange menstrual cycle post-op?

A year and half later

I have been meaning to update this review for forever. I suddenly stopped updating once things got back to normal because I was too busy enjoying things being normal to revisit the hard part, but so many stories on this site helped me through the hard times so I felt I should at least wrap up my own story.

This surgery was the best decision I could have made. Even with all the rough times while healing and even though I still ended up a large DD, it has changed my life in such a positive way. I feel like it freed me up to be who I am instead of feeling like I was defined by my bra size. Shortly after my last post I was able to go shopping and buy normal tops without worrying about how far the chest would stretch or if miles of cleavage were showing. My scars are practically invisible and I have been able to run pain free. I looked at a photo I took before the surgery and couldn't believe I ever lived with that kind of weight on my chest.

Not that it made everything perfect, I am still a rather large size and though finding bras got infinitely easier it is still a challenge when you are anything over a D cup. I also still have a lot of work to do to correct all that damage to my back/posture that carrying around a large chest for so many years caused. But things are good and I am really happy with the decision I made.

I hope for the same result for all of you :)
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