Wish I could say things have been rolling along with laughter, to borrow my pal Natasha’s title of her play/movie/book to come. But not quite. Here’s a long update. Pull up a chair and a drink.
Tuesday, Sept. 2
The second act of this dramatic breast reduction doesn’t want to end. After the first “clean up” on Tuesday Sept. 2, I felt pretty damn fragile. The scab was removed and I was left with a horrifying open wound. I went to work, but couldn’t handle a full day. I was supposed to keep the dressing moist, change them periodically. But the dressing changes were crushing my spirit and making me weep. If it was a wound nearly anywhere else it wouldn’t be so emotionally wrenching, but paying all this money to do something good for myself and then fearing that it would turn out like a Phantom of the Opera breast was too much.
Friday, Sept. 5
At work the rest of the week I was uncomfortable and mildly crabby. Friday I went in for another “cleanup” before the weekend. That one was pretty invasive as the doc was using long Q-tips to make sure all was ok inside. Ugh. “This is the worst of it now,” said the doc. “It will be like this for a while and then it will dramatically improve. You’ll see.” But we made it to the Dodger game that night and finally they won while I was in attendance! Saturday we went to dinner at our friends’ house and I was in pain all night.
Sunday/Monday Sept. 7/8
By Sunday my skin turned alarmingly red and I was getting needle prick feelings all over the wound area. I called the doc first thing Monday and went in that afternoon. He found bacteria (can I tell you how much antibacterial soap I use and how many pieces of clothing I’ve been going thru to try and keep things clean?) and took a culture. He also removed a couple of leftover stitches. “This is the worst it will be,” he repeated. He gave me prescriptions for antibiotics and pain. Even my Yogi chiropractor told me on Monday that I should be taking more pain meds, that I was trying to hard to go through this stoically. (I love the line in Mad Men when Betty says she’s not sad, “It’s just that my people are Nordic.” So funny. Well, so are my people. So I went home, started my meds and hit the Elks Lodge for Monday Night Football. Yes, I know, it’s strange. I’m an Elk. But they do know how to do a good sports bar.
Tuesday, Sept. 9
Tuesday I was Miss Productive at work, blazing through all the materials for this weekend’s conference, getting calendars sorted out, emails written, flash presentations organized, and just as I was about to pack up for the day, I tried to stretch and relieve a back spasm. That’s when the blood started flyin’. I felt something warm, looked down and my white (of course) t-shirt was now a red abstract print. I ran down the hall to the bathroom, telling my co-worker the obvious, “I’m bleeding!” I stood over the sink to open my bra and see what was happening and blood was pouring out on me, the sink, the floor. I stuffed paper towels inside and tried to clean up the mess. Amanda (my coworker) came in and before you know it we had a party going in there to try and help me.
Women were streaming in and out with clean shirts, bandages, pads, first aid kits, and Amanda was on the phone with my doctor and then my husband, telling him to get there fast. We managed to bundle me up and my two buds walked me down to the parking lot. Me as I’m holding one breast. Funny, nobody seemed to notice. Steve drove up in the Porsche, and since taking a bumpy ride was NOT on my agenda, we switched to my luxury liner, the Tribeca. In the middle of all this, my pal Lizzie calls and turns out she’s in Burbank for her doctor’s appointment and said she’ll meet us at mine. By the time I walked in the door, she was already there. Talk about the perfect time to see a friendly face. Whew. It was good she was there to keep Steve company while I was in the torture chamber resolving the issue at hand.
Doc had to stitch up the offending blood vessel. Turns out, when you’re healing like this, new blood vessels form as tissue regenerates. This one was fragile and burst when I moved. Very unusual thing to happen, but does now and then. They told me if it happens again to apply pressure, and, of course, get to the office. But the real problem was just getting to the vessel through the now dried bloody gauze dressing. It was stuck to me. And it frickin hurt when they tried to remove it. Every touch was like fire and I clench now just thinking about it. They opened the office window to let in fresh air, brought me cold water, a pillow, and held my hand.
Despite repeatedly pouring on saline solution and applying numbing cream, I could still feel too much. When the doc was finally done, we all just had to take a breather and relax. I asked about the non-stick pads I’d tried at home earlier on instead of regular gauze, et voila! Mrs. Dr. O (the anestesiologist) suggested Vaseline gauze. Sounded like a miracle to me. Sure enough, she whipped out the wonder product and the doc cut it to fit and placed it on me. I’ve always hated gauze, I’m sure because of some childhood trauma. I don’t know, dry cotton on a wet wound. No thanks. He once again repeated the “this is the worst it will be” speech and at this point I couldn’t imagine anything worse. Once I was ready, I told the doc, “Better go talk to my husband. He needs some soothing and fluffing.” I then was helped into my clothes and given more instructions. They wanted me in the next day to change the dressing so that A) I didn’t have to go through the trauma of doing it myself with the new gauze, and B) doc wanted to see how well it worked. Fine with me. I had no desire to ever change a dressing again. But life isn’t that simple. I just hope it really has been the worst it will be.
More tomorrow. Second act ain’t over yet…