Category Archives: D-Day

Oh so close…

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An update to the D-Day saga…

Breakthroughs! Not only have I “gotten a load off” with this reduction, I’m feeling a freedom I’ve never had. I can just be. No self-consciousness about being too large, too much, too uncomfortable. I can just throw on whatever shirt I want and it fits! Some are even too big now. What a joy.

Last week I started sleeping on my stomach for part of the night.

We went to the Alabama Hills on a photo workshop and I climbed all over the place. (Yes, I’m sore, but the good kind.)

Thursday night I slept without some kind of bra.

Friday I saw the doctor for my weekly visit, and he said I don’t need to come back for three weeks!

That doesn’t mean I’m healed yet. Just getting much, much closer.

The key seems to be a high dose vitamini regimen my yogi/Sikh/chiropractor Santokh put me on three weeks ago. Santokh consulted with his associate, a homeopathic physician, about what could be done to speed up healing. Dr. Barker said Vitamin A was the key, along with E, C, fish oil, and a natural analgesic. And within days of starting a five-drop-a-day regimen of the A (about 55,000 units), 3,000 units of C and I’m not sure how much E, along with the fish oil and analgesic, an ever so slight skin began to form. Instead of being raw, the center of the wound began to heal, then more patches. I’ve cut back on the quantity now, and I feel almost normal, even though I’m still changing dressings twice a day.  The improvement is that it no longer hurts to do so. And today I got a massage and could finally lay on my stomach. My back needed some relief after nearly three months of recovery. And my legs needed relief after all that climbing!

So there is hope. I’m wearing racer back sport bras. Shelf bra tanks. Not an underwire in sight. No unsightly bra bulges. No discomfort. I’ve still got a bunch of my old bras. Maybe I’ll burn one or two–for the right of 50+ women to do so, as well as any other woman who wants to “get a load off” and feel the joy of personal freedom.

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Is Pain a Good Thing?

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I guess I’m experiencing the “good pain”—the pain of healing. Doesn’t feel good. In fact there are times I want to scream: when peeling the dried gauze from my raw, well, what is it? It’s not skin yet. It’s just exposed tissue. I guess this is why I haven’t written too much about this lately. Some days it’s just too much reality.

Update!

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So, been a while since I updated you on D-Day progress. How do you spell SLOW????

Geez, this feels like it’s going to go on forever. But there is progress. Three weeks ago I was afraid to bend too much for fear of popping another vessel. Now I’m doing yoga, Yamuna ball rolling (thanks Lupa), using Pilates bands, hiking up the foothills with my dog (and my mom-in-law’s while we’re babysitting), and doing nearly all normal things except sitting in a hot tub. Ours is broken (again) anyway, so perfect timing. Funny, I popped that vessel just as the financial tornado hit us and I feel like I’m recovering at the same pace. Want some gory details? Ok, here goes.

Actually, the worst thing is that I still have to change the dressing twice, sometimes more, a day. It doesn’t make me weep anymore, I just do it and get on with things. Some days it does stick and hurt more than other days, but the wound itself is shrinking, the gap is closing. Three weeks ago it was 9cm by 8. Last week 7×7, today 5×5.  I was surprised today because to me it looked no different than last week. It’s very strange to sit in the middle of an exam room, bare your breasts and just watch the doctor staring. Can’t get away from the boob staring. Then he’ll reach over and squeeze to see if they’re softening up. Feel like a horn in a clown routine. I just want to squeak out, “Honk! Honk!”

 Last week Doc said I would heal faster if I switched back to the wet cotton gauze, instead of the oil. Considering the pain I had been in, he didn’t want me to experience that again. But I felt strong enough to try it this week. I alternated between the two and it seemed to speed things up. But today I have been battling constant itching and stabbing pains. Apparently this is all normal (???!!!) so I’m going zen with it. Santokh (my yogi chiropractor) muscle tested me last week for Traumeel tablets, a homepathic analgesic with arnica for bruising, etc. My body said yes, so I’ve been taking three a day, plus extra vitamins. I just want to be as healed as possible by the holidays. Thanksgiving is what, 5 weeks away? maybe 6? That’s my target. I’m just cryin to wear a pretty new bra. I’ve banned the surgical ones for the time being. Doc says I don’t need to wear them so off to the rubbish with them. The miracle is I can wear those great comfy shelfbra tanks or stretchy cami’s now. What a miracle.

 

But now the really hard part: dropping 15 pounds. Sigh.

Friday Sept. 12

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Found a new blouse this morning. One that I had bought pre-D-Day and tucked away and forgot about. I was thrilled to find it today because I felt much better and wanted to look it, too, without any fuss. The top was perfect — knit, loose, swingy, a little crochet neckline. Just enough to perk me up.

 

Got to the doctors without incident or speeding ticket. I’d already changed my dressing after my shower this morning just so I could check on things. I was worried about the blood from last night. All was well. Doctor said so, too. I didn’t hear “this is the worst it will be” because it is already better than Wednesday. He said in a week it’ll look completely different. Like I’ll have skin where skin’s supposed to be, I assume. And he said the pain would lessen. I only took Aleve today so I could have more energy, but I took a lot of it. It’s still uncomfortable and I get an occasional YOWEE pain.

 

I called Steve and told him the good news and we went to lunch at Taylors, the best steak house in the area. Tried to nap when I got home but the neighbor had construction going on, so every time I dozed off a drill or saw or hammer would jump into action waking me up. So now it’s time for the darvocet and sleep. I feel like I’ve turned a corner. I’ll be back to work Monday.

Second Act Continued

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Wednesday, Sept. 10

I’ve gone to the date format because it’s the only way I can keep track of all this.

After we got home from the doc Tuesday, it was time for chinese food (Egg Roll Express in Pasadena) and passing out. I took my meds and went to sleep, hardly waking til morning. All looked ok when I got up, so I just washed my hair before going to the doctor. (I can go a week without a shower if I have to, but the hair has to be washed daily or it becomes a study in oil.) I figured as long as I was washing my hair, I might as well do my roots with the 10minute root touch-up. No strain in doing it, no stretching involved. All worked out fine.

 

But I was tired after that and needed a short nap. When I woke up I got my things together and realized I didn’t have any cash for parking. I’d spent it at the Elks. Rats. Steve had left very early for work so I couldn’t get any from him. I tried calling but he didn’t answer. He’d said something about a meeting at Universal so I figured that’s where he was. But now I was running a little late if I had to stop at the bank. I got in the car (no hopping, jumping, running, etc., just getting into the car is plenty of effort) and headed out, intending to stop at the bank. Unfortunately a Highway Patrol officer had a different idea. I turned down the Casitas Ave speed trap and was had. I was just out of sorts and didn’t even realize it was a 25 mile an hour zone, and my mind was on my boob and the doctor and making sure I had money to get out of the parking lot. See how your mind can just screw you up? Not being able to do my usual yoga routine over the past few weeks has left my mind atwitter. So the motorcycle cop so cleverly hiding in the shade walks out to the middle of the street and waves me over. I think he’s going to tell me about something going on in the neighborhood and to be careful. No. He’s giving me a speeding ticket. I crack. I nearly pulled off my shirt to show him my pain, but just broke down crying instead. He didn’t care. Gave me the damn ticket as I’m on the phone with the doc’s office telling them I’ll be late. They must think all I ever do is cry. I feel like I’m 12. I want to punch the cop, but, of course, it’s physically impossible to do so.

 

So I had to pull myself together and get to Burbank, which I did, without further incident. The new gauze worked wonders and doc said all was going fine. “This is the worst it will be,” he said again. And repeated that it will heal up and look perfectly normal. Finally the nurse says, “I have some pictures that will show you what he means.” “Please, bring them, visuals are good!”  Sure enough, photos of another woman with both breasts in this condition and both turned out beautiful. That was what I really needed to see. I’m a photographer, show me the proof! You know the cliche…a picture is worth a thousand words. But I’m not showing pictures here, you have to put up with my words.

The rest of the day was incident free. Calm. Relaxing. Got a massage to unhinge my neck muscles and stimulate circulation, and saw Santokh, my chiropractor. No problems during the night.

Thursday

Today I showered and changed the dressing myself without problems but I felt irritated all day. I did some small errands, checked email, dealt with the cable company (for the third time this week) and puttered.  But just as I was preparing for bed, which I haven’t made it to yet, I checked my dressing. One of the large absorbent pads felt odd. When I tried to remove it, it stuck. I tugged ever, ever so gently, and the bleeding started again. Doesn’t seem to be like Tuesday’s incident, but very disheartening. It’s good that there’s blood and circulation, but really not happy with it leaking out.  So instead of seeing the doc at 10:30 tomorrow, I’ll probably be there at 8:30. Now I just have to relax enough to sleep.

The Worst it Will Be?

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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…

Not so fast there girl

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Ok, the latest funny. Saw a drink on a bar menu the other night: Purple Hooter. I said “I had a couple of those myself!” And right now I’ve got a healing issue that hurts like hell. The good news the hypersensitivity has calmed a bit so I don’t feel like my chest is on fire. But the problem area is following the classic, “it’s gonna get worse before it gets better stage.” I’m just not sure how graphic to get with these updates, so let’s just say lefty’s looking gorgeous and righty is still in the ugly duckling stage. The other upside, so to speak, is that my pal Lizzie asked me if i can see a scar when I lift them up. “No more lifting them up! I’ve got headlights now!” Now if I can just navigate my way to the surgeon tomorrow.