Just a quick update from me. After what seems like FOREVER (OK - seven months) I'm finally due to have my expander implants exchanged for permanent, ones on Thursday, provided no trifling elements like antibiotic resistant superbugs get in the way.
The last appointment I had with my plastic surgeon was a few weeks ago when I discovered that my left expander had this time managed to completely flip over. Not content with doing a full 360 turn, it had now decided it preferred facing my rib cage than my pectoral muscle. Because it was also uncomfortable due to the metal port banging on my ribs, I was pushed up the waiting list. Every cloud and all that.
Although in theory this operation is more straightforward than previous ones, it's still major surgery and my surgeon has a bit of work to do to try and make me look like less of a car crash. They have been honest with me that it's very likely I'm going to need lipomodelling in future to try and even out the result and make it look more natural, so it won't be the last of the procedures I have. Lipomodelling is where they essentially remove the fat from one area of your body and inject it in to the breast/s to fill in any irregularities and improve the look of the reconstruction. If they can take it from my menopause belly, I'm definitely down for that.
The implants I have in at the moment are expanders - temporary implants that are filled with saline over a period of time to stretch the skin and muscle in preparation for the insertion of permanent implants, which look and feel more natural than expanders. The expanders look and feel pretty 'fake' and have magnetic metal ports on the top of them through which saline is injected:
My plastic surgeon has her work cut out a little bit to try and make my Frakentits look - well, less like Frankentits and more like something a bit more aesthetically pleasing. Boobs that kind of sit on my chest in the same place, rather than one up under my chin and the other round my waist (yes, I'm exaggerating) would be a good start.
The mis-match between my foobs has nothing to do with my plastic surgeon's skills (she's ace) but to do with with a number of other factors that couldn't really be avoided. One is that I have had radiotherapy on the right side - the cancer side - after my mastectomy and reconstruction. This has meant that the skin and muscle has contracted and become very tight. It literally does not move, no matter how much I jump up and down. Also, there was a large discrepancy between the volume of my right and left breast. When the tissue was weighed after each mastectomy, the left side (non-cancer side) weighed almost twice that of the right side. I guess I was already a little bit of a freak of nature before all this cancer business! The difference in the volume and also the fact that more skin had to be removed on the right side to get rid of the tumour means that the skin pockets that are holding my implants at the moment are very different sizes. There is a lot more room in the left side, which probably accounts for the implant's predilection for spinning and flipping over.
There is basically very little they can do to fix the skin on the right hand side. The radiotherapy has created irreversible changes in the muscle and skin. The implant has literally been filled to almost breaking point. So the left side will have to be modelled as much as possible on the right hand side, which means removing some of the skin flap there to create a smaller pocket for the implant to go in.
It means I will potentially be left with tennis ball tits but on the flip side, I may save money on bras. That silver lining again right? One down side however is no matter how much weight I put on my boobs are not going to change size. Therefore, I'm going to have to keep a very strict eye on my diet and level of exercise. Marilyn Monroe may have been a size 16, as I get told very often (I'm not a size 16 by the way. Yet) but she didn't have scarred, wonky boobs and a crap hair cut either. Diet and exercise is my way of trying to control the collateral damage, as futile an attempt as it may be.
I am quite nervous about what the result is going to be. I've been
waiting for this for so long - one of the final steps towards reclaiming
and rebuilding my life. I'm worried that they are going to be too uneven or small or scarred. As I said, earlier they have been honest with me that the result after this op may still need more work and further procedures. I'm trying to prepare myself and limit my expectations, but it's hard. This whole cancer malarky just feels like it's never ending. It's like running a race and seeing the finish line in the distance, but every time you start to near it, someone moves it further away.
Anyway, this didn't turn out to be as short an update as I had imagined! Fingers crossed there are no hitches between now and Thursday and that it is a step towards looking less like a motorway pile up and more like a minor fender-bender instead.
'it was the best of times, it was the worst of times...'
Ain't that the truth, Charlie!