4 years on – progress

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My art practise continues. I’ve taken up ceramics now too, and I love it!

I’ve hesitated about writing this post, because I think it might be boring for some long time readers. But then I think that maybe by reading it, it will help someone to make a decision about their options, or help someone to be better informed about what to expect in the healing process, so I’m writing this with them in mind.

4 years on from the first major surgery, here’s how my body is faring…. in a word, it is doing well! The pressure I’ve felt on my abdomen is way less, my torso no longer has that twisted feeling. It is much, much better! It does still feel slightly tight. I don’t have feeling on a good portion of my stomach or any part of my breasts. I can’t feel anything that touches those areas, but I can feel pressure. Maybe the healing happens from the inside out, so you can’t feel anything on the surface, but inside, new nerves are growing and mending. That’s what I hope anyway!

Appearance wise, the scars are well faded. You can still see them, but they are fine white lines. There are a few ridges around the scars but nothing too worrying. I still can’t wear a proper bra, as they feel too uncomfortable, so I stick to light crop tops or a maternity bra, which is softer than a regular bra. You can find some nice ones nowadays!

Other than that, my breasts look great, probably better than pre surgery. They are fuller and rounder than before, my stomach is flatter. I have helped the healing process along with regular exersize sessions with a personal trainer a couple of times a week this past 12 months. That has helped strengthen my core, regain flexibility and take off any excess weight. So, appearance wise, I am very happy with the outcome. My surgeon, James, did a fantastic job.

Would I make this choice again? Definitely. It’s hard but it’s worth it. I read on the weekend that some implants (perhaps only ones used for cosmetic breast surgery?) are causing cancer. I am relieved I don’t have to worry about any of those sorts of complications or future surgery. It always felt right for me to go with the option where I used my own tissue to rebuild my breasts. Others will make the decision that feels right to them. I am fortunate to have been able to afford the more invasive surgery too.

In an emotional sense, I am still coming to terms with all the other unexpected changes in my life. I don’t think I have any lingering or unresolved emotion about the surgery. If I ever start a new relationship, I am sure there will be a few “issues” in trusting someone, physically and emotionally again, but I’ll deal with that if and when it happens. It just takes time, and a willingness to deal with it all I suppose.

I love the new place where I live in Queensland. Every morning I wake up and say, “thank you God” for the peaceful, beautiful place I live. I love being able to hear the sounds of the waves outside my window. (Who knew it was so soothing?!) I miss seeing my children every day but they are well settled in new homes in Sydney with their friends (and loving it!). We see each other often with flights back and forth. I love having them to stay. It is great to spend good quality time with them and we stay well connected in between visits (hooray for the iphone!).

I am reading a book about a man who loses his girlfriend at the same time their first child is born, “In every moment we are still alive”. It speaks of another man who is asked, following the death of his son, “The grief you are feeling now, would you exchange it for never having known Johannes at all?” It is a good question to ask yourself after a loss I think. Would you take the pain away, if it meant never having had the experience of love in the first place? Better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all. True. The gain is worth the pain. I think that about my surgery too – very hard to do but WAY better than having cancer or living with the fear of it. Way better.

Sending love to all readers – those I know and those I don’t. If you are considering this surgery I send you special love. If you know someone about to go through it, or who has been through it, thank you for taking the time to learn about it. I hope it helps inform your decisions and expectations.

Time heals

black daisiesTwo years today since my double mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgery, so this is just a quick post on how my body is feeling now.

Overall, I have to say, I feel progress is being made. Very slowly, but very surely! My breasts feel much better. Fewer twinges, not so heavy and feel much softer – almost like the real deal! From the outside, you can barely see any breast scars and I am really pleased with the shape (thank you James!) The internal scarring and stiffness in my abdominal area is also improving. Continue reading

The body beautiful – 18 months on

FullSizeRender[1]I said I’d update on where I’m at with my healing progress six months ago, so here’s the latest on my post surgery body, 18 months after my double mastectomy and muscle sparing TRAM reconstruction surgery.

Overall, I’d say I’m progressing well. I’m still really conscious of my tight stomach and numb torso each day, but it is WAY better than it was. The stiffness is less, the discomfort is reduced, my general feeling of well being has much improved. Still a way to go, but I definitely feel like I am “getting there”.

I had my final check up with James, my plastic surgeon last week. He is really pleased with my physical progress. I didn’t expect to, but I cried when he asked me, sincerely and kindly, how I feel about the breast surgery now. It just brings up so much sadness for me. As James says, I’m healing well on the outside, but have a way to go on the inside.

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Life goes on …

life goes on frangipani JPEGTwelve 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!).

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Eleven months on – lessons learned

photo[9]For those of you wondering, here’s how I’m faring 11 months after the first surgery, and six weeks after the second….

Mainly, I am just so relieved to have the surgeries behind me now, and, best of all, no more ahead of me. I am so grateful that, while this whole experience has not been a pleasant one, at least I’m not unwell, or suffering a progressive, debilitating illness. I am done with surgery! The last of my bandages were removed this week, so that was a great milestone to pass. My breast shape looks really good (thank you James!) although, of course, they are still totally numb to me. But they look good, so that’s a plus! It really is a miracle of modern science and James’ talents to think that I have had every one of my original breast cells removed, and now have my abdominal tissue transplanted to look pretty much like the real deal! I have scars circling each nipple (or where my right nipple used to be anyway) and vertical ones from nipple to under bust, as well as along the base of both breasts. They are fairly clean, fine lines and I know they will fade. All good there. Continue reading

Slowly and steadily – we can rebuild!

butterfly w quote JPEGEight months today and counting since my surgery. Progress continues, slow and steady.

 

There have been no radical changes in the past month, but I do feel like I am inching along in the right direction. As well as taking the Gotu Kola capsules daily, Bas, the lovely man who does my lymphatic drainage massages, is also a naturopath and has made me up an ointment with Gotu Kola, Vitamin E, zinc and primrose oil in it. It seems like my scars are slowly fading with twice daily applications of that. While I am still very conscious every day of my uncomfortable stiff, numb stomach and sensationless but softening breasts, it feels like my old body is becoming accustomed to the new bits. The old is accepting and integrating with the new!

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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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Letting go ….

photo[53]

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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Me and my stitches

images-1This post is not for the squeamish – but I thought I’d just explain the background to my fearful mindset around my scars. And it’s not to do with vanity!

As you would expect, my surgery has involved a lot of stitches, both inside and out, to transplant one portion of my body to another. I know most people are not that thrilled about having, or looking at stitches and scars on their body, but I think I am hyper sensitive about them. This is because I had an accident when I was a child, and almost severed my foot in half! Continue reading

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