Good afternoon! I hope everyone in Louisville is enjoying this sunshine because I just saw on Facebook that it might snow tonight. What the heck? Who knows. Only in Kentucky.
I saw this ecard on Pinterest today…
Mine aren’t plotting against me anymore! Love it.
Anyway, I want to spend today’s post explaining another major thing I have been dealing with the last three weeks during recovery… tissue expansion.
During my initial operation three weeks ago, the surgery was done in two parts. During the first part, my general surgeon opened me up and removed all of my breast tissue. Once she finished, my plastic surgeon started the reconstruction process by inserting tissue expanders where my breast tissue used to be. A tissue expander looks like this:
To be honest, I’m not sure if this is the exact type of expander that I have right now. I just found this picture on google and it looks similar enough that you can get the point. The expander is basically an empty sac that has a metal port on top… that’s the dark spot. During the surgery, the expander was put in the place of my breast and filled with a few CCs of saline fluid (100 I think) before I was stitched back up.
Seven days after my surgery, I started going back to the plastic surgeon so he could check my progress and start the expansion process. During each appointment, my doctor added more saline to the expander so it would gradually get bigger and expand my skin and prepare it for implants.
Today, after 3 weeks, I went in for my fourth expansion. Now that Mitch is back at work, my friend Paige has been my taxi driver to and from the doctor’s office. Here I am getting ready to go to my fourth expansion today.
I always like to wear comfortable clothes because getting expanded makes you pretty sore. Today I needed a little attitude pick-me-up, so under my jacket I wore the super funny t-shirt that my friend Laura bought me.
It’s mostly funny to me because everything underneath that shirt is far from perfect… but considering that I’m only three weeks post surgery, I feel like they look amazing! Good work, Dr. Noel! =)
I am really lucky that my doctor’s office is just down the road, so we never have a long drive. I am also super lucky because my doctor’s office ALWAYS runs on time. I don’t think I’ve ever waited more than 5 minutes. Today as we waited, Paige and I asked an innocent man in the waiting room to take our picture.
Hope he didn’t think we were too crazy!! Now we’ll never get to forget those fun times when Paige drove me around town after my surgery and yelled at me for using my arms too much! Ha!
As usual, I was called back quickly and I changed into my favorite pink vest. Don’t be too jealous.
And then I waited. The wait is never long, but I always get a little nervous before the expansion. Today my doctor came in and started checking everything out. To my surprise, the first thing he did was help me remove all the crazy adhesive that was still stuck to my skin. I mentioned last night that I was contemplating using Goo Gone… not sure if that would have been a good idea or not. I guess I’ll never know because he had an “adhesive remover” that worked like a charm. He mentioned that I could have also used nail polish remover if I’d wanted. Good to know.
Once I was all cleaned up, the doctor used a port finder to find where the expander ports were located beneath my skin. The port finder uses a magnet to locate the metal port.
This is the port finder that was used today.
Once the port was located, my doctor stuck a syringe needle in the port and filled the expander up with more saline. Today I had 35 CCs put in. I’ve had up to 50 CCs during other expansions.
The fill itself didn’t really hurt. I always scrunch up my face when he sticks me which is always so ridiculous since I HAVE NO FEELING LEFT in my chest. I think I make the face because of the thought of a needle going in my skin… and it freaks me out to know that it’s happening so close to my face. I didn’t feel anything as the saline was going in the expander and before I knew it, the fill was over! Then, my amazing taxi driver took me home.
I’m not totally sure, but I think I only have a few more of these expansions left. Everyone always wants to know… “Are you going to try make them bigger???” Well, the answer is no. I just want to look like I’ve always looked. I didn’t start out with a whole lot, so surely I am getting close! I go back in two weeks for my next expansion.
So, there you have it… expansion in a nut shell.
I’m headed to a FORCE meeting at Gilda’s Club tonight where I’ll get to meet other BRCA+ people in Louisville. It’s the first time I’ll be going to anything like this… I’ll share how it goes tomorrow!
Thanks for reading!