“Mirrors should think longer before they reflect.” ― Jean Cocteau - December 20, 2012

“I've been poked and prodded in places I'd always prided myself on keeping untouched for that one special doctor who gives me a ring and a promise someday.” ― Libba Bray

I woke up in a better place today. I'm still in a lot of pain but I see ALL three of my doctors today and hopefully one will help me battle the situation. I'm up early to get showered, drain the tubes, and prepare to leave for Loyola. This will be my first time in a car and I'm pretty nervous. Still no driving for me so I have my "responsible driver" my Mom. We head to the hospital for a full day of appointments.

First off I meet with the plastic surgeon and his team. I'm happy to see Jason (Dr. Levin)...he doesn't know that I call him Jason but I do. He was so sweet while I was in the hospital and I find him comforting. The doctor removes my bra and all of the badges. I get a little flushed with the blood flowing after being compressed. I'm super excited when they also decide to remove one of the tubes. It isn't one that is producing much drainage so they take it out. AS bad as keeping a drain in is as bad as it is to take it out. They clip the stitches and then start pulling...it is the oddest feeling of something slipping through my breast. My doctor is happy with my results. He thinks that almost everything is healing well and looking good. Unfortunately I said almost everything. There is a spot on my right breast that is not healing well. In the area of the stitches there is a section that is turning black. The fear is that I have necrosis of the skin...not good.

Necrosis (from the Greek νεκρός, "dead", νέκρωσις, "death, the stage of dying, the act of killing") is a form of cell injury that results in the premature death of cells in living tissue.[1] Necrosis is caused by factors external to the cell or tissue, such as infection, toxins, or trauma that result in the unregulated digestion of cell components. In contrast, apoptosis is a naturally occurring programmed and targeted cause of cellular death.

In case you don't remember, this is my second battle with breast cancer. For me, that means that I had radiation almost 12 years ago on my right breast. Who would think that radiation that long ago would impact my life today? Well, apparently it does. So many things have come back to haunt me. Today it is my past treatment. According to my doctors, radiation causes the tissue in the body to change. In my case it caused my breast tissue to change and the skin to change for the long-term. To look at my skin before surgery you would have never known. It looked perfectly normal. I knew that the tissue changed because my right breast never grew again. It stayed perky and where it had been. Not what I can say for the other one. I had know idea that the radiation would potentially cause my skin to die (necrosis). I must have missed that in the small print. So here I am at the doctor's office sitting on the table and getting educated on the possibility of tissue death. WHAT!?!? That was NOT in my plans. He has high hopes that it will not happen but there is a 50/50 chance. Let's face it, I do not like odds...odds are now n my favor at this stage in my life. I leave the office with prescriptions for a new painkiller and Silvadene. It is a cream that is used for burn victims. Ideally this will help to heal my dying skin. Fingers crossed. I'll be back soon because they want to keep a close eye on the skin to make sure that it doesn't "breakdown"...this means that it may actually open up and I will be able to see my implant...YIKES!!!

Here's a picture of the area that is dying...don't worry I cropped out most of the breast.

Before I get dressed to move to next appointments I look in the mirror to see my new breasts for the first time. The badges have finally been removed and I get to see the work that was done. My eyes fill with tears. I don't know what I was hoping to see but I see two mounds on my chest, straight incision lines across each of them, extensive swelling, odd folds of reconstructed skin on the side, and no nipples. I've looked a hundreds of pictures but I was not prepared to see the reality of mastectomy. On the positive side, they are pretty much the same size...I have not have the same size breast for years. My right breast no longer grew after radiation and my left breast continued to grow larger and lower. I hated my breast but at least they were mine. I little over 2.5 years ago I actually did lipo on my left breast to even things out. It only worked for a few months but they were really good months. So these may not really feel like mine or seem like they are a part of my body but at least they are pretty close to the same size...little miracles that bring joy to me in the dark times.

My next stop is with Dr. Robinson so we head to the cancer center. I have not seen her since I was in recovery and in the hospital, but I had a check up since my last chemo on Oct. 25. She is as great as always. I bring her a little Christmas gift and we spend some time chatting. Once we catch up she does her exam and we discuss my pain. I tell her the drug that Dr. V suggested and she quickly said not to fill it because she would get me something stronger that has the potential of working. She things the reconstruction looks great but she is also very concerned about the area that is turning black. UGH...not good news for me. She did have some good news and it does appear that they have gotten all of the cancer. I guess we will really never know completely but at least this is a good start. All of the pathology reports came back good with clean margins...not sure where the margins come from since they took ALL of my breast tissue. Hmmmmm?????

I stay in the same room and wit for Dr. Godellas, my surgeon. Love him to death but he is not exactly prompt. The waiting goes on and on and on. My poor Mom is in the waiting room and I am sitting in an exam room bored and in pain. Finally his main nurse comes in and does a check up and then I wait again for Dr. G. At this point I am exhausted and ready to crawl back my bed. He finally arrived and did the 4th check up of the day. They are really do the same thing but I guess they are looking for differences. Like the others, Dr. G is concerned that blood is not flowing to the skin in the reconstruction area. He seems pretty confident that it will not work but Dr. V is the man in charge.

So I leave Loyola with a pit in my stomach. I will spend the days adding cream to the potentially dying skin, massage the area to increase blood flow, and come back in a week to see what type of progress is being made. Ohhhh...and I really must start looking for a radiation oncologist. I wish I felt better so that I could really do my research.
Home alone. Mom is staying at her house and I am staying alone. There's a large box of Xmas gifts from Danielle...fun things to open to keep me busy. She always gets carried away. I have great people in my life! Time to watch too much tv, maybe sleep, and work on managing the pain.

Danielle likes to overdue things!  ;)

Beautiful flowers to brighten up the house.

Sleep well!



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