The New Girls in Town

Scan 15

For 3 days after my surgery, my new “breasts” (it still feels weird to call them that because they aren’t real breasts, so from here on out I’ll refer to them as “The Girls”) were wrapped up like mummies. Friday was the big “unveiling.”

For the past year, our daughter, a/k/a Sweetly Six has been asking to meet my doctors.  My plastic surgeon is a super guy and the timing was finally right to take her to an appointment. No, she didn’t watch the reveal. More on that shortly.

She was THRILLED to be included. Absolutely thrilled. As I’ve been saying since the time of my diagnosis, including children in as much of the process as possible is a gift not only to the children but to the whole family!

Prior to the appointment, I suggested that Sweetly Six write down her list of questions. As I’ve mentioned, it’s always good to go into a doctor’s appointment with your list of questions because it’s so easy to forget things even at the forefront of your mind. Yes, even for a six year-old!

Sweetly Six’s questions included:

  1. How did you become a doctor?
  2. What tools do you normally use?
  3. When did you become a doctor?
  4. How often do you get breaks?
  5. Do you stay at the doctor’s office for dinner?
  6. And the creme de la creme is below:

We had a great conversation with my doctor. After which, the HOTY and Sweetly Six went to the waiting room so that we could get down to the unraveling.

I was kind of hoping that the experience would be a little like the scene in Shakespeare in Love when Will Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) unraveled the tightly bound clothes of male-disguised Viola De Lesseps as Master Tom Kent (Gwyneth Paltrow).

Too aspirational? Uh, YEAH, just a tad.

Instead my doctor said, “I need for you to recline in the chair.”  Why, I asked? “Well, because people have a tendency to hit the floor when I take off the bandages and move the new breast in the cavity.”  Really?  REALLY?

I didn’t faint, but I did see stars. HOLY MOLY, did it ever HURT. Why you ask? Well, because capsular contracture (scar tissue that forms around foreign materials inserted in the body) had already begun forming. So, my doctor demonstrated (an understatement!) the way to displace the implants to prevent firmness, and to create softer more natural looking breasts. (Side note: That last sentence reads so much more nicely than it actually played out!)

He assured me that I would be able to do this displacement everyday. Not only would I be able to do it, but that I needed to do it because stretching the scar tissue not only keeps The Girls soft, but also breaks up small binding constrictions and creates space to give the implants movement.

After the stars stopped dancing before my eyes, I was shocked by how HUGE The Girls are. At first it looked as if the wrong size implants were inserted, but what I realized was that the (big!) size is swelling related. Apparently it can take up to several months for the swelling to do gown. Between the size and the itching (another predictable post-op side effect), I have really been wondering WTF I’ve done to myself!

Apparently I am in the process of creating a new normal – again. I sure would love for normal to be just that – normal for a consistent period of time.  A girl (or Girls!) can hope, right? I’m just so happy to have this procedure DONE (Silver Lining) so that the real stretch of healing, physically and emotionally, can begin!

 

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Comments

  1. Joy says

    Cher Hollye –
    I just want to say thank you for your beautiful website. I was diagnosed in June of 2010 with breast cancer and have had a new journey – bilateral as well, chemo, radiation, expanders all the way throughout and had reconstruction in Sept 2011 and finished all of the reconstruction in Dec. 2011. I am have been fortunate to have walked throughout this period with a sincere appreciation of being alive and not to sweat the small stuff (like I use to do). I love your website and find myself tapping into the beauty and insight you share. I receive so much positive energy from your writing and postings. A sincere thank you! Can I ask a question, with my reconstruction I feel such a tightness, while the "girls" look good but I am conscious of the feeling of having the implants, do you?

    Hugs – Joy

    • says

      Thanks so much for your incredibly kind words, Joy. I'm so glad to hear that you are doing well. I have a little tightness but not too much. Part of eliminating tightness comes from moving them in their pockets. Hope this makes sense. Yu may want to talk with your doctor about it. Take good care! Thanks, again!

  2. Gail Hunter says

    I love reading you posts:) I had a bilateral mastectomy and opted at the time not to have reconstruction because of the extent of my cancer. But now 10 years later and at the age of 45, I wonder if I should take the step and have reconstruction. I never regretted my decision and to some extent I still don't "regret" it. I just wonder "what if". My husband is very supportive and I am so blessed to be a survivor but I am very self conscious at times about my appearance without my prosthetics. I just know that reconstruction is a huge procedure and in my case it would take a lot to reconstruct both breasts.

    I guess what I am getting to is I am glad to follow your experience and I appreciate your honesty in your process. Maybe some day I will know for sure what I want to do and your experience may help me with my decision. Bless you and your recovery!

    • says

      Thanks very much for your note, Gail. I really appreciate your sharing your thoughts. I have a feeling that you'll know when/if you are supposed to do the reconstruction. Trust your heart. All my very best wishes to you!

  3. says

    dear hollye, I'm glad to know that you made it through surgery. I didn't doubt that for a minute. but now you have me worried about what happens when I exchange the expanders for actual implants. did you have expanders? So far I have been able to endure quite a bit of pain. I just had a hysterectomy. I tested positive for the BRCA-2 gene. To pre-empt, more cancer, I opted for a complete hysterectomy. I didn't want to do more chemo and radiation. once was enough. Let me know, when you get a chance. Thanks, and stay healthy.

    • says

      Hi Patti,
      First of all, let me just say that Murphy's Law is absolute with me. I have tougher procedures and longer recoveries. It's just how I seem to roll. I did indeed have expanders. In fact, I had mine in for over a year. It was time for the change. And, as you may have read, I chose to go with Saline. Most people have a relatively easy time of it all. I'm just an odd duck, I guess.
      The Silver Lining is that I saw my surgeon and he is thrilled with the outcome.
      Sounds like a super decision to prevent any more cancer. I agree that one chemo and radiation in a lifetime is PLENTY!
      All my best wishes to you. Please stay in touch!
      Hollye

  4. says

    Hollye, you continue to inspire…wishing you the speediest healing process, I love this post and including the note by SS made me smile (the upside of the downside). Be well…

  5. Adriane says

    Thank you so much for posting this. I go in at the end of summer for my girls to be reconstructed. It is nice to know what I am in for. Please keep posting, I love this website.

    • says

      Thanks so much for your comment, Adriane. I'll definitely keep posting…as long as you keep reading! :) Please stay in touch and let me know how your surgery goes.

  6. Patricia Dougherty says

    TA DA!! Congrats ! My friend calls hers "Perkies"……..Now you will have to get some hot new tops and remember, stand tall! Best to you, Trish

  7. Regan Ryan Hunt says

    Congrats Hollye – you made it through a hard week! You are the first survivor that I have heard say that her new girls were bigger than expected…most of my survivor friends had to reassure one another that we didn't make a big mistake by choosing too small of a size. I know exactly what you are referring to when you are describing the adjusting done by the doctor…it was the moment I officially found out what a titty twister is!!! It took me a full year to feel like my girls were really MINE – that is that I could sleep on my stomach without stressing that they would pop, etc. Good job – you are on your way!

  8. LGB says

    My best wishes for a quick recovery and that your new normal stays just like that (forever, maybe?). Your little girl is incredible and as sweet as can be.