Sunday, 24 November 2013


Gosh, I don't quite know how to start this...I feel so guilty for leaving it for so long knowing that so many people take comfort from reading it! I have to confess, over the last 6 months, I have started, probably about 4 blog posts which ended up getting saved in my drafts and went unpublished for one reason or another. So now, as I am recovering from what will hopefully be my penultimate surgical experience thanks to BRCA, I will write...

All in all I had 3 expansions, the first one was quite painful, the second one I dosed up on painkillers prior to my appointment so was bearable, the third was ok on the day but was painful and uncomfortable for about 6 weeks after!

So 6 days ago I went into hospital for the operation to swap my expander implants to permanent ones. I thank God for my amazing surgeon and feel so lucky to have him work his magic on me! I am really pleased with the result, and although I am still sore and get tired easily I am glad it's all over and am doing so so much better than I was at this point after my mastectomy!  But I don't know what it is about having this gene and the subsequent surgeries to reduce the risk of getting these damn cancers, but even though I have put myself through all this, the worrying never stops! That, I have to say is bloody annoying! I better explain...

About 6 weeks or so ago, I noticed a tiny pea-sized lump underneath the areola, (you may recall my surgeon removed my nipple during the mastectomy but left my areola).  I called the hospital and an appointment was arranged for me to have it checked out. So I went for an ultrasound scan and was really relieved to find that they thought it was just scar tissue, however my surgeon said he would take more of a look when he performed the swap.  I reminded him on when it was op day, and woke to find he had removed it. He said that it appeared to be a stitch which had become encased in scar tissue but he has sent it off for testing anyway.  So there you have it, the worrying doesn't stop! Maybe it will eventually? I hope so!

How am I feeling now? At this particular moment in time, a bit fed up, sorry for myself, upset.  I am terrible at recovering from operations. And yes, this one is a hell of a lot easier than the last one, granted, but I still feel like shit. I think because I don't feel as bad as last time, it is even more frustrating that I can't do what I want to do without feeling it! For example, yesterday, Andy and I went out to do a spot of Christmas shopping.  We were out for most of the day, and he ended up like a packhorse by the time we made it back to the car, bless him. Then I had to go down to mums to have her change my dressing for me, (my wound seems to be doing a spot of weeping!). So while I was at mum's, Andy cooked tea. While I was eating it, I was sick, then felt bloody awful! It was obvious that it was because I had perhaps pushed myself too far during the day and done too much, even though all I actually did was walk around!...So frustrating!  

So, I am writing this from my bed as I am having a "nothing" day today. Although I really feel tempted to take a trip to Argos, (well, ask Andy to drive me there!) to treat myself to a tablet, not an oral tablet, God knows I've had enough of those this last year! You know, one of those like an iPad but not iPad price!.

Oh before I go, I must tell you about trying to change my dressings myself.  So as I said one has been weeping a bit, and I thought it would be best to try and see by how much and change them daily. The first time I went to change it, bearing in mind, I am allergic to Micropore so have been given Tegaderm, I was completely floored! As I started pulling the dressing off, I was ok, but then I got to the part of my breast where there is no sensation, (there are these patches on both sides), and the feel of the dressing being pulled and the sound did not match what my breast was feeling, because of course it was feeling nothing! This knocked me completely sick and I spent the next 20 minutes doubled over the toilet crying my eyes out! I have since managed to do it myself without completely losing it, but only this morning. And I still have to pause at the point my breast loses sensitivity, take a deep breath and try not to think about it too much!

I have probably missed so much out, but thought If I don't update now, I never will! Maybe one day I will publish my drafts...

Monday, 25 March 2013

What size ARE these babies?? (4 months 3 weeks post-op)

Well I am now 4 months and 3 weeks post-op...Where are on earth has the time gone? I have had one expansion and I'm due my second one later this week.  I think it's time to update don't you?! I am guilty of being rather lazy when it comes to updating here but, apart from things being hectic at home (Mum has had some corrective surgery, decorating my sons bedroom, being made redundant), I'm so afraid of my readers getting tired of hearing the same old thing..."It hurts", but unfortunately there is more of that to come.  I hate to think anyone thinks I'm turning this into something negative, because in the grand scheme of things it really isn't! But I think everyone should be aware that it's not always so rosy, but please remember this is my OWN experience...everyone is different!

On Valentines Day (for any overseas readers, 14th February) myself and my wonderful partner, Andy, headed down to London to see Prof. I was really hoping to be given my first expansion, but due to the problems during my recovery, I know that Prof wanted to see how I was first before agreeing to expand.  Luckily he said it was ok to go ahead. So this is what happened...

He chose to do Lefty first, (this is the one which housed the infected Seroma!). So first he had to find the port, he did using a magnet which looked like a little egg-timer. He said the maximum they can inflate at any one time is 100mls, but tried with 50mls first. I have to was bloody painful! I don't know if that's just because I have had problems with this side in the past, or whether it is just my luck! But he thought it was going ok so tried another 50, however he could only get another 15 in. I think he stopped because he could tell I was in quite a bit of discomfort.  So altogether 65mls which he said equates to about a cup size.  My first reaction when I looked down (I looked away for the needlework!) was "Wow!".  I suddenly had developed a bit of a cleavage! WOOHOO!!  He put the same amount in righty which, I have to say, didn't hurt as much!  And that, believe it or not, is all it takes!  It really is that simple.

I hate to sound "Same old, same old..." but I still get pain, twinges, aches. I don't know if I will ever be completely free from all that.  Don't get me wrong it doesn't keep me up at night, or prevent me from doing anything, and it's nothing that a couple of pain killers now and again won't sort out. 

So, I am due my second expansion later this week.  Prof said at my last appointment that he thought I may only need one more and then be ready for the swap...I'm not so sure.  I guess neither of us can be sure until we see how much I can take at this next expansion. But I can't imagine, if I only get about 50mls this time that I will be ready.  To me they look like they need a bit more shape, they look kind of...flat. Even though they are a size...erm...Gosh, I don't even know WHAT size they are! How bizarre is that?! I must change that. Isn't it funny how, (ladies who have had this procedure will probably know what I mean here...) you suddenly stop measuring your boobs by the actual size and start instead by measuring mls (I'm currently at 265mls, this much I DO know! But what that is in actual bra sizes I've no idea! ha)...or number of expansions... First Lady - "I've had 2 expansions now", Second Lady - "Oh really? I'm just waiting for my first", Third Lady - "I'm done expanding and waiting for my swap", First AND Second lady think - "I can't wait to have my swap". On this journey, you learn to be patient!

So that is currently where I'm at with the old boobies! I am growing to like them, but some days I do look at them and don't like what I see, but I'm sure I had days like that pre-op anyway!

Luckily I have fantastic support from friends and family and count my lucky stars every day to have been blessed with them! And also from National Hereditary Breast Cancer Helpline, who have helped me no-end! It is so good to be in touch with other ladies who have gone through the same surgery for the same reasons.  If you are reading this and you feel alone...PLEASE DON'T! If you would like to get in touch with me to have a chat about things please do! I run various support groups on Facebook which you can join and speak to others in the same situation. You can also find me on Twitter

Well I guess that's it for now. I will update shortly after my next expansion (I promise!).

As always, thank you for reading.  Please feel free to comment, and share.  The more people this reaches, the more people will be made aware of the options available to them regarding BRCA1!


Tuesday, 15 January 2013

10 weeks Post-op

First I must wish all my readers a Very Happy New Year, I hope you all had a marvelous Christmas!! :-)

WOW! How quick time has gone by! I can't believe it's already 10 weeks since I had my op.  It feels like only yesterday, but on the same note it feels as if it has been such a long, hard slog that's it's almost forever! So since I last blogged a bit has happened that I felt I should write about.  So, my infection was treated successfully, the swelling and redness has all but gone now.  My appointment with Prof on the Thursday went fine. He was happy with everything and said he was happy to "leave you alone for a couple of months now". So I have an appointment on 14th February at which he said he "may" expand, depending on how I'm doing.  So as it is Valentine's Day, Andy will be coming down with me, and you never know, I may get slightly bigger boobs as a Valentine's gift!!!

I am so much better than I was, mentally! I no longer find myself bursting into tears at any random moment, I don't hate myself for going through with the surgery, I am getting used to seeing and feeling my new boobs. And I can really visualise how they will look when they are complete.  Last week I found myself looking back at all the photos I have taken so far on my surgical journey (I definitely recommend doing this!) And I can't believe how far I have come! I think this should be advised as part of the counselling process. If you can't SEE how far you have progressed, it is harder to FEEL how far you have progressed, but if you SEE it you can FEEL it... I think! (I hope that makes sense!)It worked for me anyway!

I'm now driving, only shortish journeys but it's a huge step! My first outing was on 21/12/12. I just drove with Andy down to the supermarket...that was enough for me, he drove back. But I have been building myself up. It's really strange the things you take for granted...for example, I had to put the car into reverse by using both hands!  I couldn't wear my contact lenses until a couple of weeks ago as I couldn't lift my arm up to hold my eyelid open. I still can't drain and mash the potatoes. I had to have a friend come round to straighten my hair for me, and my first bath WITH bubbles was only last week! (It's slippy and difficult to get out of, you can't push or pull yourself up!) I should mention that 2 days after my infection was treated I came down with the flu and really hurt one of my left ribs from sneezing and coughing, so this also added to my recovery time.

I'm still not sleeping great, and don't know what to put this down to as I'm not in as much pain as I was, I'm not particularly worried about anything out of the ordinary, (doesn't everyone have SOME worry about work and money?!) But I'm sure that as soon as I sort my sleep pattern out I will be absolutely fine!

So what now? Well, just wait until next month to see what happens at my appointment.  In the meantime, Mum will be going in hospital next week for corrective surgery but at least I'm still off work so can help her.

Comments welcome :-)
Lots of Love,