So much has happened regarding my surgery that I don't even know where to begin. Had I not taken so long to update the blog, this would be easier. But I've been hiding from my computer lately! Ok, here come the updates:
-I have a new plastic surgeon. If you asked my old surgeon what happened, they would blame me for a misunderstanding. I blame them for miscommunication. In the end, it doesn't matter. I left their office last week, upset about the likelihood of having to reschedule a surgery that'd been on the books for 2 months, and within 45 minutes I was meeting my new, beloved plastic surgeon, Dr. Rock. He's beloved because he saved me agreeing to cancel his appointments for June 27th and allow me to KEEP MY SAME SURGERY DAY! I loved him immediately! But, beyond his eagerness to help me out, he is also the most personable of surgeon's I've met with and explained the surgery in such a way that I was absolutely fascinated with the whole concept by the time I left his office!
Which brings me to the info everyone wants to know about-- My TRAM flap surgery! I opted not to have implants (an easy decision for me) because of 2 main reasons: 1.) Every doctor I spoke with said that they could guarantee that I would be back on the operating table about once a decade to re-do the implants. My goal is to get through this surgery and say goodbye to operating rooms forever, so I didn't like all the up-keep involved. 2.) The surgeons explained that 100% of women who get implants have a pocket of scar tissue that forms around the implant making the breasts hard. And due to my radiation, mine would be harder than most. Which would also make finding any tumors hiding in the chest wall (the most common place for recurrence) difficult which would possibly lead to more MRIs and scans, meaning more radiation, which is a big negative.
I am very excited about my TRAM flap surgery and I'm going to explain it in the simplest terms that I can. I know a lot of readers are in the medical profession, so I'll try to get this right: (Please don't be offended at the medical information shared below. Some of it is graphic or possibly too intimate a thing to share online. But it's my reality and because I've been asked about it so frequently, I'd like to share details.)
1. My general surgeon will immediately remove the right breast. They call this a prophylactic mastectomy since it's precautionary. This tissue will be sent off to pathology just as a formality.
2. My plastic surgeon will begin the same time as the mastectomy is being perfromed. He'll make an incision from hip bone to hip bone and pull that skin back. He'll seperate the tissue and muscle below my belly button into 2 sections. The tissue and muscle is cut-- the blood vessels are not.
3.Each of these sections of fat will be "tunneled" up through my body and placed into the chest area and molded into the shape of breasts. I can expect to be 5 cup sizes smaller than I am now. (That's a lot, right!)
4. They might have to use skin from my stomach to cover the new "mounds' as they're called. But, if you'll recall from my original post about my mastectomy, they left me with a fair amount of skin, so we'll see. There will be just skin covering this new tissue- none of the normal anatomical features associated with this body part will exist after this surgery. They can be re-created later, after surgery is healed. This is done primarily by tattooing.
5. It's also possible that they'll need to put some mesh over the wound in my stomach. This is to prevent hernias, which are the second biggest risk factor with this surgery.
6. The #1 risk factor is that the newly transplanted tissue won't live once the blood vessels are re-directed to go up, rather than down. If that happens on the operating table, they'll take the tissue back down to the stomach and see if it turns red again. If it doesn't, they close me up and I'm breast- and mound-less for a while.
7. The biggest perk of the surgery happens last- they pull the fat and skin above the belly button down to close the incision in my stomach, creating a tummy tuck effect. Yay!
8. I will get two drains below my belly button and one at each reconstruction site. They'll stay in about a week. I'm hoping for five days though, because I'd like them removed when I'm released from hospital. Don't know if y'all remember how big of a baby I was after I had my original drains removed, but I am dreading, dreading, dreading this part!
9. The average hospital stay is 4 days. I can't drive or lift more than 1 pound for 6 weeks. The Dr. says I should feel normal again after 3 months. He says that the time spent under anesthesia is directly related to how long it takes to gain energy back. My surgery should last around 8 hours.
BUT: I went to the Med Center yesterday and got some bad news. My name was no longer on the hospital's calendar for surgery on my expected surgery date, June 27th. Somehow my surgery got cancelled! Both surgeon's still have the day blocked off for me, and their staffs are, as we speak, trying to get me back on the schedule so I don't have to postpone surgery. Please pray that we can move ahead with the originally scheduled day!