Back in the saddle

Holly & Sarah Jan 2014

Me with our daughter, Holly

Today it is six months since my surgery, and next week it will be a year that I have been living every day with my breast removal and reconstruction on my mind. What a long, slow recovery it has been, and still is. I am so over it! As you read this I will be winging my way to the USA with my friend Louise for a trip we booked some time ago. When we booked it, I thought the breast surgery would be a distant memory for me, and this would be a nice little reward for a long finished chapter. Not so! I think this is more a pit stop on the long haul journey! However, the worst is behind me so I am certainly celebrating that.

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A touch of the miraculous …

pre & post lymphatic dr 02 14 JPEG

This is just a quick post for my breast surgery followers … I want to share the GOOD news about some treatments that seem to be working for me.

Firstly, the lymphatic drainage massage is really working! Take a look at the (v glamorous – not!) pic of me this morning, compared to just over three weeks ago – see how my distended belly  has deflated? Not so “barrel like” any more. It is still stiff – it feels like someone has embedded a small Frisbee in my lower abdomen and stitched it back up again sometimes – but that horrible stretched feeling, that I’ve had for months now, has gone in just a few short weeks. Hooray for lymphatic drainage massages, and the lovely man, Bas, who does mine. I really feel like it has made a big difference in a short space of time. I will be continuing to have this treatment every few weeks for most of this year, just to keep it all flowing. And hopefully the treatment will break up the scar tissue internally too, which will stop it feeling so stiff and uncomfortable. We are off to a good start!

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The naked truth – five months on

Me - post surgery, 5 months on

It’s now almost five months since my surgery, so this is an update for those women who want to know more about this “muscle sparing TRAM” reconstruction procedure that I’ve had, following my preventative double mastectomy. I figure this is the type of info I would have liked pre-surgery and it’s reassuring to be able to compare notes with others during recovery too, so here it is …

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Christmas … and four months post surgery update

Anna, me and Paula

Anna, me and Paula at the Christmas table

Hope this finds everyone happy with their Christmas celebrations. We had a lovely time, joined by my two sisters, Anna and Paula. And of course, Martha and Lou were watching over all of us, wherever we happened to be!

On Christmas night I was so exhausted, it felt like a wave of fatigue had hit me like a truck! Clearly I’m still not up for a lot of running around and it was another reminder post surgery that “it ain’t over yet!” I went to see James, my surgeon last Friday for a final check up, and he reinforced this too. Continue reading

From my husband’s point of view … (and mine too!)

Me in intensive care - v attractive!

Me in intensive care post surgery  – v attractive!

I read another woman’s blog the other day who had the same surgery as me, and she asked her husband how he felt about her surgery, a few months down the track. So,  sixteen weeks on, and mainly for others who are contemplating the same path, I thought I would put a few questions to my husband too, to give his viewpoint on these past few months:

TA DA! Crossing the finish line

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This time twelve weeks ago, I was still under anesthetic, part way through my L-O-N-G surgery and today officially marks the end of the recuperation period. Thank God for that! I am so bored of thinking about this topic that has been top of mind for almost all of this year.

To be honest, it’s not really “over”, there is still more healing to go. My scars have gone from red to plum and I suppose it will be a long time until they fade to match the rest of my skin. My stomach is numb from navel to scar line, and feels hard and way too tight (still) and my core strength has a long way to go. My breasts are solid mounds of numbness which is very strange, but they have softened up a bit since the surgery, so will just keep the faith that there’s LOTS more progress and healing yet to come there. I’ve also braved my first post surgery bra shop on the weekend, which was not as confronting as I’d expected (Rose at my local lingerie store was very helpful and reassuring – so I do recommend her to anyone in the same boat.) Another milestone ticked off!

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Letting go ….

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I’ve now passed the ten week mark since my surgery. I have to say I am really getting so bored of even thinking about my body. (So I am sure many of you are bored of hearing about it!) I’m hoping soon to post about things other than my bosoms! Suffice to say, I am on the right track, but for those who are reading this to know what they might expect from a similar surgery, here’s the update:

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Postscript – re my lost nipple

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I’m slowly coming to terms with this week’s development and loss. I really have been quite sad and rattled by losing my nipple. For the first time I’ve thought “enough already!” I think this is just about my tipping point, so I’m looking after myself so as I don’t go over the edge! I’ve had a number of cathartic long cries, done a bit of colourful drawing and received a few comforting hugs for good measure. I’m not happy about it but I will deal with it.

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Two steps forward and one step back

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Oh I thought my next post was going to be such a positive “YAY! I am nearly there!” one … and I AM nearly there. On the weekend I did my first “proper” walk, around Cremorne Point (my favorite and surely one of the most beautiful urban walks in the world), which took me 90 minutes, rather than the usual hour. But I did it and I loved it so hooray for that. I’ve also stopped taking any prescription pills since about 10 days ago and am only taking a few over-the-counter pain medications a couple of times a day now. I’ve finally dropped the afternoon nap too, in an effort to help me sleep better at night. That seems to be working well. Two months today since my surgery and yes, I have made so much progress since then.

That’s all the good stuff!

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Eight weeks and counting since my “NOT a boob job”!

Me at 8 weeks post surgery

Eight weeks today since my surgery so that means I’m two-thirds of the way through the official recovery period. I’m progressing well but it’s a long time to be on pain killers, have your surgery top of mind much of the time, sleep every afternoon for two to three hours, not be able to drive and just generally be house bound! However, I am looking on the plus side too, in that I’m so fortunate to have the time and space to just have the full time job of resting and healing with plenty of love and support around me. Yes, I am lucky for that and also to have been given the advance warning of my impending breast cancer threat. Things could have been MUCH worse! There are many, many women in way more challenging, painful and difficult positions than mine.

This week has also seen me pass another milestone since I have had the dressings removed from my left breast. Continue reading

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