Four days after surgery, I’m finally starting to feel like myself and I can honestly say that this has been the worst experience out of all the surgeries. This is a pretty big statement to make considering that one surgery was a bilateral mastectomy. I would do that 100 times over before reliving May 27th.
This is the first surgery where I woke up in PACU (the post-anesthesia care unit) and immediately knew I was in pain. I hate when the nurses ask me to number my pain because I know that 10 should be real, unworldly, probably-severed-a-limb-with-an-unclean-hacksaw pain and it wasn’t like that, but I definitely, definitely knew that I had been cut open. What number does that fall under? So, I tried to convey that to the nurse, who responded by giving me dilaudid and when that didn’t have an immediate impact, they gave me another dose before sending me out to the recovery area where family can come and sit with patients.
I wasn’t in recovery for very long (at least it didn’t seem very long) before the nurse got me up to use the bathroom. I’ve never had an issue with anesthesia, usually it doesn’t take much time before I feel coherent (though whether I am is probably another story altogether). This time, I felt like I was in a fog and everything was spinning. After going to the bathroom and getting back to my bed, I told the nurse that I was dizzy and it was essentially brushed off, she told me that was normal and that I could get dressed and go. She asked how my pain was and I told her that the dilaudid hadn’t really touched it, so she gave me a Norco, which is similar to hydrocodone, and off I went. I was in the operating room at 8:24am and home in bed by 2pm.
The worst pain wasn’t even necessarily surgical, but muscular and joint pain that ran from my shoulder-blade down to my wrist. I know they have to twist your arm up out-of-the-way during surgery and this side has been operated on enough that I’m used to that ache but it’s only ever been just that: an ache. I have never felt pain quite like this. That took a couple of days and a PT trick to go away.
The two drains they stuck me with are unpleasant mostly because they’re placed so high along my side, but they seem to be slowing down. I’ve been pretty vigilant about not doing much more than laying in bed since Wednesday afternoon. Aside from going outside for fresh air and to run a couple errands I haven’t really done anything that required a lot of upper body movement – no lifting, no pushing, no holding, lots of cradling my arm like it’s useless. In a way, it’s kind of been an experiment in how to not keep drains for ten weeks. I think it’s working. I’m hopeful that by the time I go for my check-up on 6/4 that both drains will come out. One definitely will, but the second one is questionable for the moment.
The incision itself looks great, but it’s so strange to look at myself and not see a crater. Even an empty expander makes my breast look filled out. I don’t want to get excited or too hopeful that this will go well because I don’t want to be disappointed if something goes wrong. But I’m a little excited, and after almost 9 months of this, I think I have to allow myself a little excitement. However, a little excitement might escalate if the drains can come out sooner than later.
Updated pictures after the jump.