R.I.P. Michelle’s Boobs, 2002ish-January 11, 2013.
Short version: Surgery is over, and everything went great! No complications, pain is now under control and I’m on the road to recovery.
Longer, funnier version: Before I went to the hospital for my surgery, I made the massive mistake of Google-ing “How bad is recovering from a double mastectomy?” The first result was an article from E! personality Guiliana Rancic, and the title of it was: “It was hell.”
I guess that was a little bit of a stretch, but not much. Yes, the pain was bad and the nausea was intense. I spent the entire first day in a drug-induced haze, unable to move or even talk with clarity. I tried to send Gordie a text to let him know I was alright, but my fingers couldn’t hit any of the right buttons. I was so off, even autocorrect couldn’t help me.
But far and away the worst moment of the whole experience was when I first realized I had to pee. A nurse helped me to a little toilet in the middle of the room. It was a big effort because I had been catheterized while in surgery, and the strain of standing and shuffling made me throw up. So there I was, in the middle of a hospital recovery room surrounded by other patients and my parents, mostly naked and struggling to pee while simultaneously vomiting into a pink basin. Welcome to USC Keck Medical Center, please leave your dignity at the door. I am convinced that if there is a hell, it would just be me reliving that 15-minute stretch over and over and over again.
Then, a little bit later as I was becoming more alert, the surgeon came in to talk to me. She gave me the best news I have ever heard in my entire life. I swear that there are no sweeter words in the English language than these:
“Your lymph nodes were clear.”
I was so happy to hear that news that I instantly starting crying. The crying was strenuous, so that made me throw up again. But WHATEVER. A few rounds of chemotherapy and one more surgery to get permanent implants placed, and this nightmare will be behind me – hopefully forever.
Cosmetically, I’m pleased with the way things are looking so far. The scars are hidden on the sides of my chest, so they’re not too noticeable. They’re also a good deal smaller than I expected! The plastic surgeon said my breast volume was only 100cc to begin with, and she already filled my expanders to 80cc, so there’s actually not a massively noticeable difference in size. But there will be when she fills me up to the full 300cc volume of the expander, because that’ll put me between a B and a C cup. Ah, silver linings. I finally get to go through puberty!
Now, I’m home and resting more or less comfortably. I have about nine separate painkillers in my system, which is no doubt assisting with the comfort thing. I have disgusting surgical drains, but I’m getting used to how unsightly and awkward they are. I finally solved the problem of maintaining them, as well as my local ropivacaine drip, by stuffing them into a fanny pack.
So before I slip into another narcotics-induced nap, I leave you with the following mental image of me: I am currently sprawled out on a chaise lounge, wearing leopard print pajamas with a massive black fanny pack around my waist, drinking a glass of prune juice. If you’ve ever had narcotic pain medicine before, you’ll know that the prune juice is actually the most important part of that whole equation. Ick.