Friday, May 25, 2012

Double Mastectomy

The long-awaited, much-feared double mastectomy surgery has come and gone. 

The night before my surgery, I was a complete wreck (and did regret that I didn't ask my surgeon to prescribe me some anti-anxiety meds).  Skydiving distracted me from actually thinking about the fact that I would be getting rid of both of my boobs.  When that was gone, I had nothing to distract me and the thoughts... oh the thoughts just crushed me.   I kept looking down at my boobs and desperately wished there was another option I could take.

A lot of my tears came from the fact that I didn't have any options.  The atypical hyperlasia was a warning shot that cancer wasn't quite done with me yet.  A double mastectomy was my only option f I didn't want to go through the hell that is a cancer treatment again. I would do (and have proved it) anything to prevent going through chemotherapy again.  We dropped Boomer off at the kennel the night before, so I didn't have my furry creature to help alleviate my anxiety.

Boyfriend and I arrived at the hospital at 6 in the morning.  We were both exhausted, physically and mentally.  I was able to keep the crying in check until the orderly came to bring me down to the surgery prep area.  I sobbed and reached out for my Sweetie, who looked devastated that he couldn't help me or save me from this surgery.  I just lost it.  Despite the fact they wanted to kill me, I didn't want to get rid of them.  (I just felt that I had to get rid of them.)

When they brought me into the cold and weirdly bright surgical room, I made a room full of strangers pray for me that I would be okay.  "Please please," I begged them.  "I don't know if I am going to be able to handle this.  Pray that I have the strength."

I woke up many hours later to a small, minor surprise.  My bottom lip was swollen.  What the hell, I thought.  I never had a fat lip before, so the sensation was new and weird.  My bottom lip was numb but yet I could still tell it was twice its normal size.  The nurses told me that they had issues intubating me, and somehow my lip got knocked hard.  Strange.  I always thought if I had a black eye or a fat lip, then I mouthed off to the wrong person.

During my first night in the hospital, I wasn't allowed to get up at all.  I hurt all over, so this was a rule I appreciated and followed.  My dad came by the hospital after getting off work, and he hung out with me and the boyfriend.  My dinner that night was grape juice and orange jello, which my dad fed to me.  "I've done this before, you know," he joked, smiling at me.

"Just don't make the same noises you did when you last did it," I joked back.

"Who wants to fly?" he said, moving the spoon of jello around like an airplane.

It's a hard pill to swallow when you're in your early 30s and someone has to feed you.  I've learned a long time ago that pride means nothing during cancer treatment.  You have to ask for help, or you are just going to suffer.  Accept the fact that you have to receive help and be thankful for the help you receive.  I'm glad my dad was there to help me (thanks, daddio!).  

The next day, my twin and my bestie best friend Amber, came by and hung out with me for most of the day. We skirted with danger there.  It hurt to laugh, and those two can make me laugh a lot.  For awhile, my twin just stayed silent and kept his snark to himself.  Ha!  The three of us had fun conversing with the coolest nurse aide ever: Charles.  It's a real joy to interact with someone who truly gives a shit about his job and wants to help you.  Charles was awesome, and he thought my twin (who, as most know, really isn't my sibling) was a pimp for having dated me and then his now wife, Amber.  "You the man!" he said to my twin.

I also got the impression that Charles was surprised that Amber and I didn't hate each other.  Friendships don't always encounter through conventional methods.  When a true friend comes along, you hold onto that person and your friendship like the gift it is.  (I imagine Amber is rolling her eyes and calling me cheesy right now, hahah.)   Charles the Great kept looking at us like we were the strangest people he had ever encountered. 

One of the major steps I took while in the hospital was looking at my new boobs (aka the Foobs).  I went into the bathroom, pulled up my stinky hospital robe and stared at my chest.  Much to my surprise, I didn't freak out when I saw my new chest.  Since I had the expanders in and 100 ccs of solution was already placed inside each breast, I had some semblance of breasts.  

Instead of nipples and areolas, I have a long line of stitches that extend across each "foob."  I thought if I saw my chest without the nipples and areolas, then I would scream, "I'm a freak!" and then run out of the room screaming.  Because of the SCAR Project, I knew what to expect post-mastectomy.  My image was not shocking to me.  After I saw my foobs, I shrugged and muttered to myself, "Not bad."   Since I knew what to expect, the whole process was a lot easier.  

However, I was surprised to see my right breast scars still there.  I still have the scar from my first breast surgery and then the scar from my biopsy from two months ago.  I thought they were going to take all my skin and then stretch out all this skin.  I can't exactly explain what I was expecting.   It was just shocking when you were thinking all evidence of your former body would be gone and then saw it in the same spot.  I found that odd and a little unsettling.

I am home.  I'm exhausted both physically and emotionally.  I'm a little high on the pain meds, which is great because I've had my share of pain and then some.  My dog is leaving me alone for the time being.  I think she can tell I'm hurt because she usually doesn't keep her distance from me.  Boomer likes to be all up in my bizness.

Finally, do I regret my decision?  Absolutely not.  Breast cancer was coming back for me.  I have no doubt about it.  This surgery quite possibly saved me from another round with this disease, allowing me to live a long and healthy life.

A life without my own boobs.


  1. You are incredible. You're brave to go through this, and especially brave to be able to share your experiences so publicly. Definitely an inspiration :)

  2. Hope you are feeling better!!! Breast cancer, all cancer, SUCKS! Well wishing your way!