I was just noticing the last post I wrote on my heath was Dec 9th and I was a mess. My right side expander was infected, my skin was so fragile and thin around the incision that it was opening and…I will spare you the details. It was not pretty. If you are dealing with reconstruction and have questions or want more details, please email me.
I was told 90% of ‘exposed’ expanders fail, but my Doc decided to take a gamble on me. He stitched up the opening, put me on antibiotics, and sent me home.
It was a tough week. I could tell my body was fighting infection. I did all I could on my part. I made sure I got lots of sleep and did all kinds of crazy things to help my immunity through nutrition.
~juiced everyday, using beets and greens (recipes below–both delicious)
~drank green smoothies
~ate chia oatmeal to keep my digestion system moving
~made sure I got lots of plant protein
~took elderberry syrup all throughout the day (yum!)
~drank Amazing Grass Supergreens each day…a powder mix of kelp, chlorella etc.
~drank Emergen-C every day (high vit C powder)
~kept up on my Shaklee Vita-Strips (which is multi-vitamin, vitamin B, probiotic & fish oil)
~took large does Vit D (6,000 i.u.)
~took my antibiotic regularly and on time
I did notice my skin glowed with all those greens in my system. I was tired, but my skin glowed!
I went back to the doctor, and although I had not run a fever and infection seemed to be staying under control, the area of thin skin was coming open again and looked angry at us.
Doc looked at me and said “time for surgery.” My heart sank, thinking he meant take the expander out, heal up the infection, and start all over. Every situation like mine that I read about online did just this. It was protocol, one that my doctor had prepared me for.
Then he was thoughtful for a bit, looked at me and said, “we are going to give you a fill today in the left, (which would even the 2 sides out, as the right had looked bigger from the start of expansions) and take another risk with you and put your implants right in. You are expanded enough, lets just do this.”
I LOVED that idea. I was planning on swapping the expanders for implants right after Christmas, so moving it up instead of starting all over sounded like a great plan. I was nervous about the infection, I knew that if there is infection and you add a foreign object to the body (an implant) that it is very hard to control infection. But, I trusted my Doctor completely, and he felt comfortable with his plan, so I was all in.
If you have been following New Nostalgia’s Facebook updates, you know that my first surgery was cancelled. We were on our way to Omaha (an hour long drive), got halfway there, and a nurse called. It was Monday. We had decided to go ahead with surgery just the Friday before. The type of implants he was going to use on me were not usual, he only used them for reconstructive purposes, and had to have them flown in.
Nurse “Amy, are you on your way? If so you need to turn around. Your implants didn’t make it. They are stuck on a grounded plane in Texas, delayed due to the ice storm.”
I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry. I pictured my poor implants freezing to death in TEXAS of all places. The comments on facebook were so funny and lifted my spirits that day. My fav? “Well, better check the size of those implants when they arrive because everything is bigger in Texas!” Ha!!
There is some truth to that. Doc ordered a few different sizes, wanting to make sure we get implants that fit perfectly. I was hoping for the bigger size but since surgery was happening sooner than we expected I was not expanded as much as I thought I would be. Would those ‘bigger’ ones fit?
Surgery was put off for 2 days. I will have to write another post about how God’s timing is always perfect. So many wonderful things happened those 2 days. God just rained down the blessings and multiplied my time and energy, constantly showing me it was ok to wait for surgery, and that He’s got this! I did all my Christmas shopping in 5 hours at Target, my sister-in -law helped me wrap it all, and I was able to completely heal in those 2 days of a chest cold. That was huge as the thought of surgery with a chest cold freaked me out.
I showed up for surgery on Wednesday a blubbering mess. Oh the poor lady that had to check me in! The tears were falling like a flood and I could not see where to sign my name “in case they have to do a blood transfusion…permission to resuscitate” — all those fun things that require a signature before surgery. Todd had to deal with me in the car, so it was my Dad who I collapsed on in waiting area, making a mess on his shoulder. My Mom then showed up and got an earful, too. I was an emotional mess.
I had my 2nd Zoladex shot the day before, the one that shuts all estrogen down. I think that added to my inability to control my tears, but I was also worn out, and very worried about the infection. The site had become so ugly-looking and it scared me. I was convinced that I would lose the expander and that infection would keep Doc from putting a new implant in.
The nurses kept saying it was ok to be nervous about surgery. I tried to tell them it was not surgery that I was scared about, but waking up to the reality that we would be starting all over. I’ve done surgery so many times that it is very familiar to me and I really was not nervous about all the things that happen before drifting off to sleep for surgery. It was what I would wake up to.
When Mr. Anesthesiologist come in, I was so tired of being emotional and fighting tears that I asked him for the happy meds right then and there. He obliged, and I don’t remember a thing after that, although my Todd said I was talking and answering questions. So odd to have no memory of that.
I woke up pretty comfortable, but too afraid to ask the nurse how it went. I did look down and it looked like I still had 2 lumps on my chest, but I was all wrapped up so I couldn’t tell.
She took me into recovery and brought my family in. It was only then that I learned the best news! I still picture my Dad standing there, looking handsome in his newly grown beard, telling me that Doc said it went so very well.
Doctor cultured the area and it came back NO INFECTION. And… he was able to fit the larger size (335 cc high profile for those of you who care to know) in and all looked great. I could not believe my ears!
My pain started getting worse as I was sitting there drinking my apple juice and eating my crackers. I was pretty uncomfortable for the ride home but I didn’t care. I had new boobs! There was no infection! What I had been freaking out over was thin, inflamed, dying skin, and all of that was removed. All turned out better than Doc had hoped!!
It has been a little over a week since surgery. I got my drains out 2 days ago which was such a relief…they were very uncomfortable this time. This was my Instagram picture and status the night before they removed them, one of my low moments:
“Rough evening. I’m over these drains and want them out. The tubing comes out at my sides and it feels so uncomfortable this time. I’ve had at least 20 intense hotflashes today and between them , these tubes, stitches, being wrapped in tape and gauze, and painful breathing, I’m wanting to run away from my body. I hope tomorrow is better! I know this is the end of my reconstruction but tonight I feel emotionally weak. I want my spunk back. #CallTheWaa-Bulance #bodyclaustrophobia #TomorrowsANewDay”
I can now sleep on my side (SO NICE!) and I’m so very happy with the results. Not too big, not too small. Nice and soft already. Great shape. My Doctor is amazingly talented and my God is so good.
After 6 surgeries, including my mastectomy with immediate reconstruction, I think we are done. I still have stitches in that will stay until January 2. Doctor is not taking any chances with taking them out too soon. He used only external stitches, since what caused infection and the mess in the first place was my sensitivity to internal, dis solvable stitches. Yep, he is genius to be able to do this with minimal external stitches only.
I am looking forward to getting these stitches out. There is no pain where they are at the incision, but I am eager to visit Finkle Cosmetic Surgery Center. I am treated like a princess there. Never before have I had nurses who are so very caring and genuine, and I’ve had a lot of nurses in my life! I will miss seeing them every week. Dr. Finkle and his team are the place to go if you are ever in need of any type of cosmetic surgery. They often have patients fly in from out of town and their website gives great information for those patients. They have even seen a few famous faces, as you will see by visiting their site.
Thank you for coming along with me on this reconstructive road. You all have been so amazing with your comments and prayers.