Home sweet home

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.

4 thoughts on “Home sweet home

  1. Gordie says:

    Woo Hoo!!

  2. Fire Penguin says:

    Leopard print = glammoury mammaries. Subset of sequins: Animal print/faux fur/pleather of any kind?

  3. Linda Hooks says:

    Home feels so much better than the hospital, doesn’t it? Had my BMX the day before you and joyful to say that the oral pain meds never crossed my threshold. I hope you will not need them too long. I went straight to implant recon without expanders. You write beautifully and your blog will be a great comfort to all who find it. The voice of experience can soothe so many new to this journey of ours. All the best for a great recovery. Growl on leopard lady!


  4. Jenny says:

    Please tell me that when you said leopard print pajamas you actually meant a leopard print gown with marabou feather and sequin trim…with a fanny pack tied to the side for some added sexiness.

    In other news, YAY!!!!

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