30 August 2010
I remember when I was a little girl, about 6 or 7 years old, riding with my Daddy on Capitol Avenue. There was a large sign on a whiteboard building that said, "Body Shop." I asked Daddy what that shop was all about, what did they do there. His reply, without blinking an eye: "That's where you go if you want a new body."
That memory came back to me this weekend so very clear.
Because a mastectomy means the removal of a large amount of skin and tissue, there is usually not enough volume to accommodate a prosthetic breast implant. Therefore, in order to allow for the placement of the implant, the skin and tissue must be expanded or stretched. This is done by placement of a tissue expander under the remaining skin and chest wall muscle. After the expander is surgically placed inside the chest wall, the skin is then closed without tension and allowed to heal for several weeks. This was the surgery I had on Friday.
OUCH! DOUBLE OUCH! I never realized how much we use our chest muscles until after Friday’s surgery. I don’t remember crying after the mastectomy, but Friday afternoon my dear friend Rebecca said I was not crying but actually wailing. And since that time there has been only some minor relief. This has been very painful, even more so than the double mastectomy. I’m not sure why, but it’s the truth. Maybe it’s because there is such a large foreign object inside called "silastic"; maybe it’s because it’s the second time in a month that major surgery has been performed on one part of the body. I’m inclined to call it breast “redestructive” surgery versus reconstructive, even though the former is not a word. In time, I’m sure I will feel differently. But right now, reaching for a glass in the cupboard, plugging an electrical cord into a wall socket or even trying to pump soap from a soap dispenser hurts like crazy!
Following this surgery, for approximately two to three months, there is a series of injections through the skin, into the tissue expander. This is done over a period of several weeks using a small needle through the skin until the expander is filled. The expander then can be removed and the permanent implant placed beneath your skin and behind your chest wall muscle, meaning under the pectoralis muscle.
With all of this said, let me say “thank you” to several dear friends. Rebecca who stayed with me Friday night at the hospital; Ellen and Dale who hosted Abbey in their home during my hospital stay; my dear friends Mary Lou and Jaymie who came over this morning to help me bathe (NOTE: A bath may seem like a simple thing to you, but not for me. With two drains from my chest and my upper body wrapped in gauze, this was a huge effort, one I tried on my own yesterday and I just couldn’t make it happen.) And Jordan and Angie who are bringing dinner tonight. Goodness, I must be the pitiful one right now, but it’s great to have so many good friends who are making this recuperation a little bit easier.
I apologize for taking so long to post to my blog. But the simple tasks of life have not been so simple the past several days. I will see Dr. Yuen tomorrow and I’m certain I will be feeling much better soon.
Thank you to so many dear friend for all of your love, your notes and good wishes. My love back to you!
Posted by Stacy Sells at 3:59 PM