It’s been four weeks since my surgery. Honestly, I would not have predicted that I’d feel this good now based on how I felt the first two weeks. Here are my thoughts on the last four weeks:
One thing that’s really helped is the type of surgery I chose. Even though DIEP is a hard recovery early on, once you start to feel better, you’re better! It doesn’t go on and on for months of discomfort and pain like implants (my mother-in-law was in pain for eight months until her implant exchange surgery!). It’s just over once you’re healed. And, skin-saving is definitely the way to go, if you can. I have not once yet had an emotional reaction to ‘losing’ my breasts. When I look down, I see my own skin – the same freckles, the same marks, the same one little spot on the right where every now and then a rogue hair grows. Even though they’re shaped differently, they still seem like my breasts.
I’ve pretty much resumed all of my around the house activities except laundry (I fold and put away, but I don’t go down to the machines or carry any baskets), vacuuming, and anything that requires picking up my son. I will be allowed to resume those activities in six more weeks. Otherwise, I walk around, reach things, bend over, and take care of the house as normal.
I finally let my husband feel my breasts. They’re a bit sore still, so he was very gentle. But even he was surprised by how natural they feel. And, he has agreed that it’s fine if I forgo stage two surgery. At this point, I am still not excited about the idea of more surgery. So, if he agrees that nipples are not important, then I might just forgo that entire process. I will need a hysterectomy in the near future, and that might be all the surgery I have energy for.
I’ve been able to sleep a bit on my side the last few nights. I don’t know if I’m allowed to be doing this (blood flow to the flap could be compromised, I guess, although I don’t know how long I have to be concerned about that), but I think comfort is important and it felt great! I’m not completely on my side. More like on my back with my knees and shoulders pointed to the side. Even this little bit has helped.
I only have to wear the binder until Thursday. On the one hand, it will be a relief to have that tightness gone, the itchiness, the little bites from the velcro on my skin. On the other hand, I do feel like it protects me by keeping everything together, keeping my clothes off the skin that’s still delicate (in particular, my belly button). I think it will be a good thing though overall – with all the tape and glue gone, it’s really the last reminder that I’ve even had surgery.
I’m still not back at work, but I think I could be if I had an easy office job that was close to my house. Unfortunately, I have a fast-paced high-energy job that is over an hour commute from where I live. I’ve been granted paid leave through March 25, and I think I will just plan to use that time to my advantage and work ahead a bit for my return to work. I don’t think I have the stamina anyway to have a full eight hour day of teaching and meetings, bookended by a 75 minute drive.
Today I drove for the first time. Some things I did not anticipate: lifting/pulling the garage door open/closed (I am rather certain the garage door is beyond my 10lb lifting/pulling limit). Also, closing the hatchback on my car – I could only reach it with my left arm (although this is typical for me, since my right arm is where I had the SNB and I still can’t extend it all the way) and I’m also sure it’s beyond my 10lb pulling allowance. It was a bit difficult to turn to check my blind spots while driving – not impossible though. Really, I just felt a bit of a strain in my breasts when I turned – nothing painful, just a small twinge. Otherwise, I felt perfectly confident and capable driving, especially now that getting in and out of the car is as easy as it was pre-surgery.
While out, I purchased a belt. I don’t think I’ve worn a belt since middle school when it was fashionable to wear one around an oversized sweatshirt. I can’t stand belts, and I’m sure many overweight women would agree – they feel constraining, dig into any extra skin or flab that’s coming over the pants waistline. But, now that all of that flab is gone, my pants are not staying up. I do still have flab, but it’s flatter and is more in the area below my breasts and above my navel. Over the weekend, I wore a pair of cords and a pair of jeans. Both were completely falling off. The problem is that I don’t think a smaller size pants will actually fit over my ass and thighs. So I think a belt is my only real solution, at least for now until maybe I can lose some weight. I get to start swimming again next week, so that might also help to make things a bit smoother all around.