Twelve months today since my first, 12 hour surgery and I have to say I am quite pleased with myself to be crossing this “finishing line”! It’s not really the finish – I’d say I’m about 85% healed. It’s a long slow recovery, but I’m getting there.
So, just to mark the occasion, and for reference by others contemplating or comparing surgery results a year down the track, here’s how it feels for me. (I really am quite bored of this topic by now, so apologies to those who are totally over it too!).
Most of the time I’m not thinking about it now, but for the vast majority of the past 18 months, the surgery has been on my mind. So it’s good to feel like I am moving on, slowly and surely. If I’m sitting still, I don’t really feel anything much different, but anything that stretches my torso (like standing up from sitting, or turning over in bed) is still quite uncomfortable. If I eat a decent meal, my belly feels quite strained and distended, like someone has pumped it up with air, for a few hours afterwards. It is still quite stiff, but I feel like the scar tissue underneath has broken up a lot, thank goodness. Most of my stomach area and breasts are still totally numb. At the chest wall, it feels like tiny clamps are attaching my ‘new’ breasts to my body, but it is much less noticeable than before. I am really pleased with the breast shape, they look nice and natural, so that is a big plus!
I think, if I was told that the healing was complete now (which it is not), and I had my chance to decide over again, I would definitely still go ahead with the mastectomies to avoid cancer, but I would probably go with implant reconstruction rather than the tissue reconstruction. Because the most uncomfortable thing the whole way through has definitely been my stomach area. However, I know there is still more healing to go, and ongoing exersizes and massages will help. In the end (whenever I get to the ‘end’ of this process), I know I will be glad to have nothing synthetic in my body, and not have any replacement surgeries for the implants ahead of me down that track. With the tissue transplant, all of my body will always be ‘me’, so I’m glad about that, albeit it a mixed up version of where some parts originally were! But I totally get now why some women DO decide to go with implants, especially when they have had cancer treatment. Each person will make the right decision for them and their situation.
So it’s still uncomfortable, but it will get better. And it is WAY better than this time 12 months ago, when it was all a bloody mess. It really was hard, especially in those initial weeks and months. I know there are many worse life challenges than the series that I have faced in recent years but some (many?!) days, I have really struggled to keep my head above water. But I’ve hung on! And I am glad I did the surgery and have it behind me now. I’m looking forward to the day when the scars have faded and I can say I am comfortable in my own skin again.
I am deeply grateful for all of the love and support I have received throughout my surgery and recovery. THANK YOU to each and every one of you who thought of me, sent good vibes and kind messages me throughout. It all helps! We all have our challenges. I’m hoping most of mine have been delivered to me in this past few years so as I can just get on with life again.
Yes, life goes on. It is certainly with a new perspective and some valuable life lessons. I probably won’t update on the breast surgery recovery so often going forward, as there’s not much change from month to month. It’s getting a bit better all of the time, but it is slow, so maybe in six months there will be some decent changes to report. And hopefully there will be other, more interesting topics to write about in the meantime – let’s just see!