Another roadblock in complicated path to recovery

I had my 4th Surgery in 10 days yesterday,  But it wasn’t at all the surgery I had spent the past week preparing for, counting down every uncomfortable minute to reach. Instead of taking a significant step forward to recovery, I’m literally now 2 steps backwards (attached to 4 machines on 2 IV poles, accompanied by a nurse for assistance). And I’m in disbelief about it, trying to gather the strength I need to persevere and accept this new roadblock that impedes my progress.

Surgery had been booked for 1pm yesterday and the plan was to remove the VeraFlo Foam and replace them with tissue expanders as temporary breasts for 6 months until I’d have implants inserted. These expanders would lead me to recovery, a place where I should have been back on June 6.

IMG_0578
VeraFlo Foam that is currently inside each breast cavity

I can’t really articulate the discomfort that I’ve endured this past week. The pain & pressure is relentless, and due to basically being bed bound, it’s causing problems with my neck, shoulders and back. The spasms are agonizing and seem resistant to the pain relief oxycodene that I’m on. I’m not allowed to take any other pain relief as they’re blood thinners. So I put up with it by using hot packs and bossily asking my boyfriend to try and work the knots out by massage.

The Vac Therapy sucks at my breasts pulling my nipples inwards as if about to implode. Sitting up in bed is an achievement. Going to the toilet is a mission. Having my morning “bird bath” involves the assistance of a nurse or family/visitor. I actually consider this an outing for the day and feel proud of myself for being able to sit on a chair and wash myself with cloths. Unplugging the chords of the 4 machines that I’m connected to 24/7 also involves untangling the endless tubes attached to me and the IV poles. Its a constant battle that breeds continued frustration, if you let it. This week has tested me on so many levels and it appears that for some baffling reason, that’s not enough.

 

I woke yesterday with the feeling of being at my wits end, having said to my brother “I can’t do another minute being attached to these vac machines, I’m done.” I was at the height of irritation and defeat. I was emotional and over it. I was simply looking forward to heading into what I thought would be my last surgery for a while and returning chord/tube free and having 3/4 filled expanders as breasts.

Since hanging up from him, my temperature spiked and I had an episode in the bathroom, with blood pressure dropping and body almost falling by fainting. Suffocated by oxygen, the nurses performed blood tests and a chest x-ray from bed, leaving me to sleep.

My Surgeon came to see me, by which time I had slept off my slight fever and felt ready for the operation.

She took one look at me and said there’s no way expanders are going in. I was too unwell. I couldn’t believe it. I was absolutely shocked. Gutted. I was simply devastated that after a mammoth week of enduring the most physically and mentally challenging experience, that now I was being told I couldn’t achieve what I had worked so hard to try and get. It was another massive anti climax and let down.

What was worse, was that we had to operate anyway as the foam needed to be replaced or taken out so surgery was still going ahead in half an hour.

My surgeon presented me 2 options:

  1. Remove Foam, & replace.
    This would mean that I would need to do another 3-6 days of cleansing attached to the VeraFlo Therapy machines. The next step would be surgery on Tuesday to either replace foam or put in expanders. It would be subject to my health. If I was slightly unwell again, foam would stay until Friday and expanders inserted then. But she made it clear that I need to prepare myself that expanders might not be accepted by my body and I’ll end up with nothing anyway for 3-6months until I heal and we can look at reconstruction then
  2. Remove Foam, & leave nothing.
    Keep breasts empty, loose and free from expander for 3-6 months with the intention to give my body time to heal and recover before reconstruction.

My body has been traumatized over the past 8 months with chemo and now with these 4 surgeries. It will be 6 surgeries, over 3 weeks by the time I leave the hospital. And this might just be the reason behind these fevers, its as if my body is telling me enough is enough. It’s struggling to fight off the smallest of possible bugs, which yesterday was an indicator of.

The fact my first surgery on May 22 was delayed due to low blood count, even though it was 6 weeks since I had finished my last chemo session, just goes to show the extent of the damage chemo has had on my poor body . I’m Cancer Free so putting up with this traumatic experience is worth it over and over.

So I had 2 options. Both unappealing. Both options were just the last thing I wanted or could imagine being able to handle right now. Option 1) seemed like the most impossible. The finishing line has been moved again. How could I conjure the strength to endure another week of what I’ve just overcome? I was at my wits end, irritated, frustrated, imprisoned. How could I do another 3 days of this agony, let alone possibly 6? And then at the end of the 6 days be faced with the real possibility that my body might just reject the expander and I’d end up with nothing in there anyway?

If I decided to give up on the pain and frustration of it all and just take option 2) of removing foam and cutting my losses and leaving nothing in there for 3-6 months, then I know I’d regret not trying. My partner reminded me that in a day or two, I might be free from the chords and vac machines with an empty chest and chance to be at home, but I’d be full of even more frustration for not giving it a chance. He knows how much I want these expanders and despite the discomfort I’m currently in, how much I’ll regret not pushing through. 3-6 days could prevent being breast-less for 3-6 months.

The idea of being empty and flat chested is awful. No woman wants to have that , well I’d imagine most. Of course if I need to experience this then I will have to endure it. But I really hope the next 3-6 uncomfortable days putting up with this Vacuum therapy is worth it, and not in vain.

 

 

8 thoughts on “Another roadblock in complicated path to recovery

  1. You are beautiful, strong and we are here with you, whatever decision your body chooses to make. We will get you some fabulous bras too. Keep that smile radiating (as difficult as it might be). You’re an inspiration to us all Em xxx

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    1. Beautiful Alle,
      I can’t thank you enough for your kind words and the support you’ve given me. It’s been really tough few weeks but messages like this make it so much easier. Hope you, Dave and those 2 delicious babes of yours are well. Lots of love xx

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  2. Em, I’m so sorry you’ve had to take this kicking when you’re already down. I totally get why you’re giving it another try, this just goes to show your strength of character ! You’re so brave, most people, including myself would have chosen the “easier” option.
    thinking of you & sending all my love xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your continued support Elaine, it has really been such huge help knowing the love and well wishes you’ve been sending. I had the surgery and expanders are in and everything is going well so far so there are brighter days ahead! Good luck with the big move which must be happening soon. Think of you guys often. Lots of love xx

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  3. Hi Emma, I can not even start to imagine how are you feeling or what you are going through. With your sincere writing i can only view the top of this big iceberg of pain, frustration, deception, fear.. so i am not going to tell you to be strong. I just wish i could be there to hold you and let you cry, rant, screem or whatever you need. But just let you be.
    Lots of love
    Cristina

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your message meant so much to me when I first read it. It resonated a lot. I’d love that hug from you. Things are looking up now 🙂 Hope you’re well Cris . Lots of love xx

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