33rd Post – My Jeans Fit Me Again! 22.10.2013

Standard

For the first time since I was diagnosed 5 months ago, I am finally back to my normal weight.  YAY!

 

A few days after being diagnosed as having cancer, I began fertility treatment and soon my weight started changing and then I had a weird reaction and my belly got huge and I gained 15 pounds.  Then my weight dropped after the mastectomy. Some of the weight would have been the breasts and tumours.  (I wonder how much the tumours weighed and if they weigh more than fat and muscle), but I also lost more weight than can be attributed to that.  My weight stayed lower than usual after that, about 10 pounds less than my normal.  And losing more weight than that would have been a bad idea, especially for someone on chemo.  Being nauseous and vomiting from the chemo didn’t help.

 

After my 3rd chemo I seemed to gain a few pounds.  I wasn’t eating anything different.  I do take a steroid for the first week after the chemo dose though, and I’m wondering if the weight gain was because of that.  We used to have a dog who was often sick and the vet put him on steroids for a while.  He got kind of beefy from it. Now, after the 4th chemo (and 2nd of this chemo drug type), I have gained even more weight.  Now it is safe to say that I am back at my normal weight, but without the breasts…so I guess I’m a little over my usual.

 

I am so pleased because now my jeans finally look great on me again!  hahaha. They were looking horrible on me just 1 month ago.  I looked sunken in and yucky. Now I got a bit of a booty and my thighs are filled out.  The best.  And if I still had boobs, I bet they would have gained a little extra weight in them as well.  I’m really glad that I’m not losing weight during chemo.  I thought it would have been hard to keep weight on during chemo, and I was worried about it.

 

I started getting a rash on my chin a few days ago.  It looks like eczema.  I don’t know if it’s from the chemo or the steroid.  After a previous chemo dose, I got a rash around my neck.  The doctor said it was acne and it was from the steroid.  It didn’t last long.  It looked like I had hicky all around my neck, like the blood coming to the surface.  I didn’t know that was considered acne.  I hope this eczema doesn’t spread all over my face though.

 

My hair seems to have stopped falling out, for the time being at least.  I have about 2/3 of my eyelashes left.  And my eyebrows are a bit patchy.  I still have my arm hair.

 

After the 3rd dose, the skin on my hands peeled.  While at the hospital receiving the chemo, I wear slippers and mittens that are ice cold.  It’s to prevent burning on the skin later on.  But that day there were lots of people getting that same chemo drug as me and their mittens and slippers weren’t able to get enough time in the freezer before I used them.  So mine weren’t as cold as they were supposed to be. To compensate, the nurse put ice in them.  Yea, it’s cold wearing these for over an hour.  But it’s worth it!  But I guess they weren’t cold enough, because a week later my hands started getting red and calloused in patches.  Then they start peeling like crazy.  I’m the type of person who likes to peel dried glue, so peeling my hands was thrilling for me.

 

My feet didn’t peel, but I also didn’t check them.  Then I was scratching my toe last week and suddenly a whole layer of skin covering my toe came off.  Then things got fun and all my toes shed a layer of skin.  Ha, am I grossing you out now?  I think the mittens and slippers were icy enough last time though.  My hands seems fine so far.

 

With this chemo drug (Taxotere), it makes the bones and muscles/tissue hurt. Each time after these two doses of Taxotere, a few days later I start to feel pain in my bones.  The pain always happens suddenly and can last just a few seconds or a few days.

 

From the 3rd to 6th day it feels like I am walking through water with weights on. That’s difficult.  I wonder if that’s what it feels like when you’re old.  From the 6th-8th day, the tissue, particularly on the torso is very sensitive.  It feels like it’s a bit sunburned when anything touches it, and like the flesh has been separated from the body.  I would know, that’s what happens in the mastectomy.  But this time pain killers don’t really help it.

 

From the 5th-8th day, the mouth gets crazy!  Do not eat any type of spice.  If you do, it feels like it is ripping open your skin in your mouth.  And it basically is.  It’s difficult to eat solids for a day.  And most things feel spicy, even when they are not. The tongue gets big and swollen and beefy.  It starts to take the shape of the indents your teeth make on the sides of it.  The tongue is grey no matter how much you brush it.  You can hardly move your tongue.  The tongue won’t automatically do its thing when you try to swallow.  Nor will it be able to move around the mouth to clean food out of it.  It will also make talking feel a bit weird.  Toothpaste is suddenly way too strong to use.  On these days I use a peroxide gel I have from the dentist to brush my teeth with.  Usually this peroxide gel is used to put into bite plates. After brushing with this, I use a baking soda and water solution to rinse my mouth. I also have a prescription mouthwash from my oncologist that I use twice a day to reduce the mouth side effects.  On the sore mouth days, I rinse my mouth with the baking soda solution after every time I eat or drink something.  I also take tons and tons of B Complex vitamin on these days, taking it up to 5 per day instead of the usual 1.

 

For the 7th-10th day, I am out of it.  I have no energy to do anything.  On the 11th day I suddenly feel all normal again.  My mouth is doing good.  My bones, muscles and tissue are all good.  And my energy is back up.

 

Today I’m on Day 11.  I still prefer all these side effects to the side effects from the first chemo drug (FEC), which caused me to puke a lot and be nauseous for days and be completely flat out in bed not even being able to go downstairs.

Advertisements

32nd Post – Please be Happy with Your Body 18.10.2013

Standard

portable 289

Here’s a photo taken 8 days after my mastectomy.  This is after I had the drains removed. That hurt like something you won’t believe!  That’s another story though.  In the photo I’m still wearing the pieces of tape for protection over the incisions.

aug15 064

The second photo is of me getting my first chemo on Aug 8 2013.  A few hours after this photo, puke was ready to fly out the car on the drive home. For my first chemo they did it through an IV.  After that they got the PICC inserted into my upper left arm. The vein in my arm still feels weird from that first chemo.  It feels kind of bruised all up my arm.  My oncologist says that that is what crack/heroine (I don’t know the difference) addicts feel because of the veins they’ve buggered up with drugs.  He says it will eventually feel normal again on me.  But man, another reason not to be an addict.  Not a pleasant feeling.

A few days before I had my double mastectomy I got together with a group of friends and we got topless to celebrate.  And then they took some photos of me with my natural boobs so that they could be fondly remembered by me.

Let’s not lie, I am a very NON photogenic person.  Whatever.  And ya, most of the photos are terribly crap because of me and my being awkward and not having any idea of how to pose or not being aware of what kind of weird look I have on my face, and also feeling awkward about being photographed topless.  But it is still nice to have the photos to look back on and I’m glad I did it.

Then the day before my surgery, I went to the beach and got topless there. And yes, strangers were around.  This is North America, topless at the beach is pretty weird. But it was my last chance and it was nice to get some sun on my boobies because they probably hadn’t seen the sun since I was a toddler. Sunscreen slathered on though because I’m a redhead. Some more topless photos were taken of me at the beach and then some technical photos later on so that I can show the plastic surgeon(s) in the future what I used to look like so they have an idea of sizing, I guess.

In 2 days it will be 4 months since the mastectomy.  Just now I pulled open the file on my computer to have a look at the old me with natural breasts. And man, I was more saggy than I realized!  HAHA. When I had my breasts I really liked the way they looked – until the massive cancer tumours started protruding.  But I didn’t really think about my breasts much until all the lumpy business began.  But I liked them.  I think I often look in the mirror and think my body looks much better than it looks in reality. It’s like I’m the opposite of someone with anorexia.  That’s fine by me.  I think that’s the way it should be for everyone, especially women.

Or maybe I’m now just really used to seeing lots of reconstructed breasts. Reconstructed breasts are usually perkier and fuller, depending on the opted surgery. Soon I’ll be like a guy and basically have no idea what real tits look like.

Since my mastectomy I do check out other women’s racks.  Before surgery I never even noticed other women’s chest sizes unless of course it was beyond obvious. But even then, not really so much.  Now I often look at other women’s chests and wonder to myself “Would boobs like that suit me?  Is that the right size for me? The right shape for me?”  Or whatever.

So women, I am sorry if you find me looking at your chests.  I am not trying to be creepy.  I am not interested in you sexually at all.  I am merely conducting research. But I am envious of your natural breasts, and I do think all your breasts are very lovely. I can now understand that about guys…their weird fascination with breasts.  If you don’t have breasts, all breasts look absolutely beautiful and perfect. So don’t change anything if you don’t have to.  You’re lucky if your body doesn’t work against you.  Be happy with what you have.  It suits you and looks great.

31st Post – How to do Boobs 15.10.13

Standard

So, my sister was visiting me a few weeks ago and we were able to compare surgery scars and annoyances that go along with them.

She had the muscle of the inner thighs removed and made into breasts less than a year ago.  Her surgery was prophylactic (preventative).  The incision on her legs cuts around in the crevice of where the leg joins the body and goes from midpoint on the thigh front and between the legs and ends midway on the backs of her upper thighs….so halfway around her thigh cut open to take the muscle out.  Then the muscle was cut out where it joins lower down in the leg and pulled through the opening at the top of her thighs.  Eeek.  Then those muscles were made into breasts.  Her new breasts look great.  They look like real breasts but with just some scars on them.  I was impressed.

I was thinking that I wanted to have this type of surgery, but now I’m not so sure.  Usually they take the fat/muscle from the lower part of the stomach and pull it up to the chest to make boobs, but my sister and I don’t have that stomach pouch area.  That’s why they used her thighs instead, and why the stomach option won’t be available to me.
 
While comparing scars, my sister told me about the things that she now has to deal with because of having surgery on her thighs.
 
A few months after her main surgery to have breasts made, she had some liposuction from her outer hip/thigh area and that fat went into the upper chest to fill her out a bit more.  I always thought that people who had liposuction then had a smoother area where the fat was sucked out.  But it turns out to be the opposite.  Who knew?  So my sister’s outer thighs look more cellulitey than normal… And yes, all us females have cellulite, so get over it.  Her outer thighs also have an overall different shape to them as a result.
 
She has trouble finding clothing that fits and stays comfortably in place because now there are incision lines and different shapes around her legs than what she used to have.
 
And as it turns out, that inner thigh muscle is important for balance.  So now my sister is a bit more wobbly than usual.  She notices it when she does yoga and so on.
 
All these things are smallish on their own, but when combined with one another plus the adjustments to new boobs made of a different material, it’s just an annoying amount to have to deal with on a regular basis, I think.  And I would like to not have to deal with the extra things if that is possible.  All the issues that my sister has with her thighs now will always be there.  Of course one adjusts to things like that.  But I’d rather have just one area to deal with instead of 2 areas.
 
So maybe I’ll go for implants instead.  It’s either that or remaining flat.  I don’t mind the way I look with a mastectomy.  I feel comfortable with the way I appear when naked.  And I’m not aware of the physical change of my body unless I look at my chest.  It doesn’t feel any different.  If anything, it feels like I still have breasts.  I think that’s a combination of phantom feelings and the numbness of where a bra would be anyways.
 
But I am bothered by the dressing.  I want to wear what I want to wear.  I don’t want to have to constantly think about how to make it look good (and so that I feel comfortable out in public) every time I go clothes shopping or get dressed.  I don’t want strangers to immediately notice that I’ve had a mastectomy.  If they notice eventually, then fine.  But I don’t want it to be the thing to stand out as soon as someone sees me walking by.  I want to be able to wear strapless things, things showing cleavage, even to be able to wrap a towel around me without it falling down constantly.
 
It would be nice to know for sure exactly how I would look after different surgery options, but obviously that isn’t possible.  I can only have an idea of what it would look like.
 
I was in the US a few months ago for a visit.  It definitely feels different than Canada.  I don’t really know how to describe it, but I could feel the pull to look the way everyone else looks.  You get that a lot here too, but it felt different there.  I could understand how a woman in the States would feel pressured to have perfect looking, bigger or rounder breasts and not consider a mastectomy as the final result.  So I am glad that I don’t feel pressured here living in Canada to have new boobs.  I want boobs for me and clothing.  I would not be able to get boobs purely to please other peoples’ expectations or breast fascinations.
 
There’s something called Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day, and it is this week.  So at a hospital in the city here this week they are having an evening about it.  I’m going to it. There will be local plastic surgeons speaking, as well as a “show-and-tell” so that prospective reconstruction patients can view different reconstruction options first-hand.  I’m hoping that after going to the event I will have a better idea of what options are available and what pros and cons comes with each.
 
I’ve been looking online lately at photos posted of breast reconstruction jobs.  Some are good, some are bad, some are okay.  A lot are of older woman.  So they have different skin and fatty areas to consider.  Maybe the scarring heals slower in older patients as well?  What I was really surprised by was how fantastic the tattooed nipples were.  I’ve been told by many people that the nipple tattooing is pretty good, but I didn’t quite believe it.  But holy cow, now I do.  I had thought that the entire nipple gets tattooed and so that it’s completely flat.  But it’s not like that.  They make a bump for the centre of the nipple area…I’m sure there’s a word for that area, but I don’t know all the nipple facts.  So there’s the bump in the middle and it is the same colour as the patient’s regular skin.  Then they tattoo that flatter outer nipple area, as well as the bumped up centre nipple part.  And it looks so real.  Now I think I’m sold on the nipple tattooing.  I don’t have feeling in the skin of where the nipples would go, although I do have feeling in the deeper tissue underneath. So I don’t think the tattooing would hurt nearly as much as it would if I had normal feelings on the skin.
 
I don’t have to decide about what to do yet.  I’ll go to the Breast Reconstruction Day event this week and hopefully it will give me a better idea as to what I’d like to do.  And if I do nipple tattooing, that will spare me on another surgery.