Yesterday marked another significant milestone in my journey with DCIS. Stage 2 reconstruction was performed by my PS Dr. Ferlmann and everything, ok almost everything, went textbook. Stage 2 is taking out the breast expander filled with saline and replacing it with the permanent implant (on my left side where I had my mastectomy) and then augmenting my right side to match my new left side. The end result is both of my breasts are finally the same size (after 9 months of being lopsided). I opted for saline implants for a number of reasons, but mostly for safety. My right side this morning is mighty tender with a new incision, and stretching of my pectoral muscle, but that is what pain meds are for (and naps).
Day surgery has a different feeling to it and Fridays before holidays are particularly busy at a hospital. Despite the volume of patients, my UN group of caring nurses checked and double checked on me to make sure “you are you” were reassuring. Also having my loving husband, Steven sitting next to me all during pre-op ‘stuff’ always makes me feel better.
The new twist to this surgery was the hospital gown I wore. I had counted on the hospital PJ bottoms and gown top as before so didn’t bother shaving my legs….bad planning there. This gown didn’t fit very well and wasn’t comfortable, but did have access to critical areas, pockets for medical gadgets and a vacuum tube connector. Once I was dressed in this space age gown, the nurse hooked up the vacuum hose and blew in warm air. Intrigued, I asked about this suit versus warm blankets and the costs with each. She explained each blanket was about $3 as they outsourced the cleaning. If you figure in a number of blankets in pre-op, during surgery and post-op, plus the time for someone to fetch the blankets and change them out I guess it is also cost effective. Most of the stops along the way though, other folks didn’t bother ‘plugging me in.’ So much for progress.
The pre-op visit by the anesthesiologist was particularly helpful. She explained every step in detail more than any other anesthesiologist had in prior surgeries and was particularly reassuring. She didn’t like the fact that the vein in my hand had collapsed with first attempt to insert the IV and the nurse inserted a pediatric needle in another vein, but she said she’d replace that after I was asleep. Good thing, cause the worst part of any hospital stay for me is putting in the IV. You can see in the photo that my left arm was covered with a sleeve to prevent any trauma. Having lymph nodes removed during my mastectomy on my left side makes me a candidate for lymphodema in that arm, so measures are always taken to minimize risk.
Enter Dr. Ferlmann. After doing some math and angular measurement on my chest with a ruler tool and blue Sharpe market, he declared me ready to go and off we rolled into the operating room. Two hours later I awoke in recovery and felt the typical groggy, but thankfully not nauseous. A few hours in recovery and sitting up in a chair and then it was out the door and home the same afternoon. Yes, there is no place like home to relax, so I’ll be laying low for the next week and following doctor’s orders. Am I done? Not quite, I need to contemplate if I want a nipple and tattoo on my left breast to further put me in symmetry. But those decisions are for a later day.
If you have DCIS and are wanting more insight or are a caregiver, I’ll encourage you to read my Stage 2 Reconstruction page for more detailed information about the surgery.