Day 200 - "200 Days of Breast Cancer"

Yesterday was day 200 of this whole ordeal. It was my first day back to work after my exchange surgery. I felt good. I'm feeling like me again -- that didn't take long. The exchange surgery was a quick one. We got there at 5:45 am. They took us back to the pre-op room around 6:30. My nurse, bless her heart ... tried to numb my arm before she put in the IV. She numbed it ... but she didn't get the IV in. She ended up blowing out my vein. 6 days later, the bruise is fading. The anesthesiologist wasn't very happy with her. I didn't help the situation. I was crying and anxious - my usual demeanor when they're about to poke me. He must have had a soft spot for tears. He gave the nurse a stern look and told her to just use my port to start the IV so they could get me under, then once I'm under they'd put in the IV. I understand why she didn't use it to begin with - they were taking it out that day - but the anesthesiologist was a softie. Thank goodness for that.

He was really nice. He put in the mind eraser drug closer to when I was wheeled into the operating room - so I vaguely remember the room, seeing the OR nurses in their blue scrubs scurrying around as I came in. I remember scooting myself onto the table and the anesthesiologist cautioning me that the table is narrow so not to move too far. I remember the gas mask going over my face - that's when the visual part of my memory gets fuzzy. I remember the voice of the anesthesiologist, and his accent, and his instructions to take some deep breaths ... the sound of my breath as I inhaled ... and then he tells me this is the part where you pick out a nice dream.

Mike told me it took 2.5 hours for them to finish - the maximum amount of time they said it would take. He joked it was just like me - taking a long time. I woke up in what they called "Phase I" - the initial room where they monitor you very closely as you wake up. Again, they came out to tell Mike they were just waiting for me to come out of the anesthesia - evidently I like to take my time. When I did wake up, my mouth was bone dry and my left underarm hurt tremendously -- as if someone were pushing up in there, pinching the nerves. Evidently, my plastic surgeon had to separate my muscle to get to my port in order to take it out. It hurt. But that was all. Nothing else was hurting.

When I came around fully and could keep some apple juice down, they moved me into "Phase II" - the you're doing great, let's get you ready to get dressed and go home room. Much better than last surgery's "Phase II" - which meant a hospital stay. Mike and Julia sat with me in there as I kept some graham crackers down and more liquids. The nurse took out my IV, Mike helped me get dressed, Julia grabbed my things and they wheeled me out. We were home by 2:30 pm.

I stayed up and talked with Julia for about an hour until she went to pick up her little boy. After she left, Mike and I ate, and I checked out. I evidently checked out for 3 days. I woke up - I just mean I checked out emotionally for 3 days. Thursday was mostly spent sleeping ... and peeking. Friday, when I was allowed to finally shower, I did - and then I came downstairs and laid all my worries on Mike. I broke down - and my poor husband didn't see it coming. I had a good old fashioned pity party. I was sad things were "uneven" - that things were smaller than the expanders were - that I didn't want to have to go back into surgery if for some reason they put in two different sized implants -- did he think they put in two different size implants? He just kept reassuring me that I'm 2 days out of surgery, things are swollen, especially the left side since they had to do some work to get the port out. I just kept weeping. I was tired of being in Recovery again. I was so happy that I was feeling like myself again before surgery, that my spirit really took a beating after surgery.

Saturday was much better. I needed to get out of the house - a sign I started feeling like me again - so I dragged Mike out Christmas shopping. Sunday was better than Saturday, and Monday was better than Sunday. Today, I'm feeling close to where I was before I went into surgery. The only thing that is somewhat of a bother, is my left side. It doesn't hurt very much at all - but my range of motion is limited right now, and so it only hurts a little when I really try to stretch for things or push that limit. (Or push myself up or try to turn the steering wheel.) But other than that, I don't have pain at all from the implants. I'm truly surprised. Every day I feel more like me. I like the final product more and more. Each day there is a little more pep in my step, and a little more hair on my head.


  1. Melissa, You have an easy yet elegant style of writing, and your story really touches my heart. If only noone had to go through the psychological trauma and emotional rollercoaster you're riding. I think your story would be helpful for other women facing this horrible disease. You might think about publishing your story at some point.

    As for your new breasts, they will be beautiful. It will take some time for them to soften up, so try not to think too much about them. Do any massaging your doctor recommended (I remember massaging to shape them).

    Thank you again for sharing your story. I only hope that if this ever happens to me that I can be as brave and beautiful as you have been through it, tears and all.



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