Hi, everyone! Just wanted to let you know we arrived home safely around 1:00 yesterday. The staff at the hospital - everyone we met from the preop waiting area, the OR, the RR, and the women's ward where I spent the night - were absolutely wonderful, but it still feels great to be back home.
I am doing great. The biggest discomfort comes from the drains they put in under the skin. I have two on the left and one on the right. Fluid naturally accumulates under the skin as a result of the surgery. The drains remove that fluid so I can heal. When each drain drains less than 30ml of fluid in a day, they will be ready to come out. I am taking my Vicodin regularly so that I can do slow, easy stretching exercises. I am very pleased so far with my mobility and am trying to avoid stiffening up. Dr. Lang will be referring me to a physical therapist that specializes in working with mastectomy patients to help me build up my muscle strength again after I've had a chance to heal some.
I am able to take a shower and did so last night. It was heavenly! The warm water relaxed all of my muscles and I felt clean and fresh afterwards.
The incisions aren't so bad. I had thought I was pretty prepared for what to expect, but I don't think you can really know how you're going to react until you're faced with the real thing. I had thought I would be bandaged up and there would be this big unveiling at the doctor's office when it was time for the drains to come out. Instead, I came out of surgery with a bra on that fastens in the front and it was packed with lots of soft gauze (remember those junior high years girls?). That night in my room, the nurse asked Joe and I if we were ready to learn how to clean the drain sites and put on new dressings. We said yes and that was it. No big deal. No tears. The nurse was very matter of fact about it and Joe and I felt very comfortable. I'm pretty lumpy right now. You can see the drainage tubes under the skin and there are steristrips along the incision, but I can already tell it's going to look ok when everything heals.
I guess my blood pressure was pretty low during the surgery and so they ended up giving me five and a half liters of fluid. I looked a little bit like the Michellin Man the first night after surgery, but the swelling is starting to slowly go down.
Pam, Joe, and Janaya have been wonderful. My girlfriend, Carol, has arranged for friends to bring meals for us for the next week. I have recieved the nicest notes and words of encouragement. It is amazing how technology has enabled us to keep in touch with and be there for each other in ways we weren't in the past. Over and over throughout this journey, I've witnessed people dealing with similar or more difficult situations with little or no support system. I will be forever grateful for all of you and the love you've shown me.
I am going to close this post with a saying someone posted on a breast cancer support site. I read it a couple of weeks ago and it really helped me have the right frame of mind going into this surgery. Here it is:
"Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn-out, shouting "Holy Sh*t, what a ride!"
Isn't that great!
Love you all!