Monday, February 22, 2010

Interesting Read - One Year Later

Daria, over at Living with Cancer, recently had a post in which she looked at her posts from a year ago to see what her state of mind was. I've done that before with this blog. I just did it tonight.

It's interesting. A year ago, I was just returning to work, after taking two weeks off to recover from breast reconstruction surgery. I seemed like I was in good spirits and I wasn't in a lot of pain.

I should say that post-reconstruction, I still feel some tightness (not sure how else to describe it) in my abdomen from the TRAM flap (where they released the TRAM muscle and brought up my tummy fat to the breast area).

Also, parts of the skin around the TRAM does feel numb.

I have a corner of flesh (literally, a corner) on the left end of the scar where they took my tummy fat - someday, I'll ask my plastic surgeon Dr. H to take it off. However, there's a month recovery afterwards . . . and I just haven't been motivated enough to do it and wait for a month.

My boobs are lopsided - the left side has dropped a little bit, but I don't think it'll ever drop to the level of the right side.

I have a big scar around my belt line and also the whole way around the (now) right breast. Someday, I may at least get areolas tattooed and also design some kind of tattoo to cover the scar that would show with lower necklines.

So, am I glad I had reconstruction surgery? Absolutely. Especially on the right side, where I now have a boob made of tummy fat. It used to be an open skin wound - and I had to change the dressings, sometimes a couple of times a day and toward the end, about once every three days.

I am also glad that I have breasts now. I don't feel self-conscious, like I did when I was absolutely flat on one side. Well, I feel a little self-conscious because they're lopsided, but most days, it's not that noticeable. They are smaller than they were before. But that's partly due to the fact that I didn't have ENOUGH tummy fat. I do wish they looked more normal than they do. My right side looks just like a blob of flesh, not really breast-shaped. The left side (with the implant) has a little fold of skin under it, I think because the tissue expander on the left was expanded a little bigger than what I received for a permanent implant - necessary in order to try to match left and right side more.

But all in all, I'm glad I did it. I am so happy I don't have to worry about the open skin wound. I'm also happy that, with clothes, I have almost normal boobs. Better than the alternative!

So, what's happened in the last year? A lot of good things (travel to Norway - twice; England - once; trips with family; meeting new friends and keeping old ones; some spiritual growth; living in the moment). Some bad things (cancer spreading to the lungs; trying new treatments; more fatigue; physical limitations - swollen lymph nodes and occasionally rib pain). But I'm here. I'm happy. I'm still working, doing things I [mostly] like to do. Overall, I couldn't ask for a better support system: my family, my friends, my colleagues. Thank you all!

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