Friday, March 7, 2014

The tastiest cherry

As I have processed down the corridor where all doors lead to breast cancer treatment I commandeered a saying from one of my favourite shows, VEEP.

If you haven't seen it, you are missing out. Then again you might watch a few minutes of it and decide that I'm the one missing out....on a few brain cells! It's about a female US Vice President and her minute by minute struggles with the Washington political machine. It is expletive-laden quick-fire dialogue and not for the faint-hearted.

One of Selena's funniest sayings comes when she's briefed on yet another crap situation coming her way and she announces "Well, isn't that just another cherry on my turd cake!!!" Insert a few F-bombs and you have the expression that I am now renowned for in the house of KATcapers!

My latest cherry was my double mastectomy with TRAM flap reconstruction. I had determined that this was the surgery that would give me the outcome I wanted - remove the remaining DCIS in left boobie, reduce chance of cancer recurring in this boob and the other boob was going to be dragged along for the ride just in case leftie got lonely!! Seriously, I don't ever want to face breast cancer again so removing and reconstructing both breasts was the risk-minimization strategy that ticked all the boxes for me.

Surgery was Feb 26th. I was beside myself with terror in the days and weeks preceding.

Surgery length was roughly 12 hours. I was at the hospital at 6am and apparently was in ICU by 9pm Wednesday night. I remained there heavily medicated until Saturday when I was transferred to the ward.

My second stint in ICU was more painful but less dramatic than the December visit. I wasn't conscious for mush of it and the KATs didn't come in to just would have been too upsetting!

I came down to the ward with 6 drains slowly ridding my body of the fluid from surgery. I was a human octopus with said drains needing to be "milked" each few hours and every 24hrs measured...each drain needs to be under 30ml before it can be removed. These drains are uncomfortable and painful when they're accidentally tugged on. Worse still, I had one in my groin that was touching a nerve and I was in agony each time the nursing staff tried to move me...grim!

During my ICU stint I had required another blood transfusion and my blood pressure had once again been cause for concern. Checks of my new breasts' blood supply were done on a 30min schedule so what sleep I could manage was in those increments! By Saturday the "flap" checks were being done 4 hourly. Leaving ICU also meant leaving behind my PCA machine which was my push-button method of getting a fast dose of pain relief. Once in the ward I went to a combination of slow release narcotic and more instant endone with a chaser of paracetamol....the pain relief version of a pat on the head!

It's been a ride that's for sure! My body is still reeling from the shock imposed on it and emotionally I am up one minute and then crashing down the next. Unfortunately what was to be a 7 night hospital stay has become 11 nights due to fluid still draining and a requirement for some additional surgery on the following Wednesday to deal with an area on the left breast flap where the skin wasn't going to survive. To the naked eye it looked just like an area of bruising, but in actuality it was dying tissue.

So here I lie typing away on Saturday night hoping that tomorrow will be the day I can go home to my gorgeous girls. They have been so brave and I want them to be able to commence the new school week with their mum finally back home...cross fingers!

It will be a long recovery (6 weeks not driving and apparently 12 weeks before I get my strength back). I can't sit up without rolling over and aside from scars and inflammation and new boobs I have a scar that extends from my rear pelvic bone all the way around the front to the other side and back to above my butt! It's a whopper! 

As with every other step in this process we have been overwhelmed by the love and support of our family and friends near and far. We are being supported every step of the way and for that I am extremely grateful.


  1. So glad you are in good spirits as always.. as I said to my Mum when she went through the same. If you wanted a boob job you could have just asked because this is a pretty shitty way to get one on the cheap. Totally insensitive but now she is on the other side with the best boobs a 70 yr old could ask for we can find the silver lining.
    As always shout out if you need a hand over the next recovery period, chin up and well you look fab :)

  2. I"m in awe of your attitude, Libby. Just so thrilled it went so well and thinking of you. You are ROCKING that hair do... you look amazing. How is that possible!?!?! x

  3. Oh Lib. You are grit personified, my friend. J x


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