Thursday, March 8, 2012

15 Days Post-Op - Home Sweet Home

"Home, where my thought’s escaping,
Home, where my music’s playing;
Home, where my love lies waiting,
Silently for me."

-- Simon and Garfunkel, Homeward Bound
Just after my last post, we went in to get the packing and catheter removed. Happy day!

The trip back in to the office was exhausting, and even the cushy couch in the waiting room was stupidly uncomfortable. We didn't actually see Dr. Bowers, but saw an assistant I'd worked with a little before, Melissa. After calling me back, she had me undress from the waist down and get in to a gynecology-type chair.

First, she drained the balloon holding the catheter in place, then counted to three and tugged it out. There was a terrible sensation for all of five seconds or so, but it quickly faded. Next, she reeled out the packing, which was apparently a very long single strip of gauze, wound back and forth. Fortunately, this made it pretty easy (if time consuming) to remove without any pain. Once both were out, I immediately felt a lot better.

Next, Melissa showed me how to dilate. I had forgotten my dilators at the room, so she showed us with one she had in the office. She applied lubricant and anti-bacterial gel, then slowly and carefully inserted it. It was strange and uncomfortable, but not exactly painful. Then she removed it and had me try. It was a little tough getting the angle right, but Melissa was patient, and after a slight struggle I managed. Normally, I'll have to keep the dilator in place for 15 minutes at a time, but this time she had me remove it right away, told me to swap lower nakedness for upper nakedness, and left the room to get Dr. Beck (my breast augmentation surgeon).

I forgot to mention in my last post, but we've actually been a little nervous and frustrated with regards to Dr. Beck, because he didn't visit at all while we were in the hospital. When he came in to the room, right away he started explaining that he'd had a personal emergency come up, something very major, and apologized profusely for not being able to see me sooner. Him bringing it up first made me feel loads better, and no harm, no foul, I suppose, since Dr. Bowers was keeping an eye on me.

Dr. Beck talked to me about maintenance and about having my stitches removed by a doc back home, then showed me some exercises to help keep the scar tissue around the implant from contracting. I'm really happy with the size, which is in the large B to small C range (just a little bigger than I was padding them to before), and they get softer and more shapely by the day. The stitches will hopefully be removed by the local doc that I'm seeing next week.

On Wednesday, the day after my follow-up, a friend who I game with online (but who I'd never met in person) offered to come visit! He and his fiancée offered to drive down from Berkeley, almost an hour away. I felt a little guilty, having them drive that far to hang out with people they'd never met, but he was very sweet and encouraging.

That morning, I managed to take a shower and wash my hair without feeling like I was going to pass out by the end, which was good progress. They arrived in the afternoon, and the four of us sat around in the hotel room chatting randomly for a couple of hours. It was surprisingly not awkward, thanks to both of them being very sociable and generally awesome people. As evening rolled around, we decided to go out to eat, and they suggested BJ's, a California-based chain with a location just 10 minutes away.

Erin has celiac disease, and can't eat wheat. Though we can usually find something for her to eat just about anywhere, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that BJ's has specific gluten-free options. The friends graciously drove, the restaurant service was good, and the food was delicious. Admittedly, I may have pushed myself a little too hard, which was compounded by our dessert taking far too long to arrive. Expending energy seems to turn my body in to a furnace right now, and by the end I was hot, sore, and exhausted. Still, it was worthwhile for me to get in some social interaction with such great people, and for Erin to relax with a couple of drinks and some yummy gluten-free pizza. It was also beneficial as a test-run for having to fly home just a few days later.

Around that time, I received a couple of Facebook messages from friends-of-friends saying that they'd read and appreciated this blog, which means a lot to me. Thanks to Google Analytics, I've always known that I have readers scattered around the world, but it was very heartening to hear such wonderful unsolicited encouragement. To anyone out there reading, please know that I keep this blog completely public on purpose, and that even if what I post seems somewhat personal, you are welcome to read and comment as long as it's not TMI for you. =)

On Saturday, we packed up and checked out of the hotel, then drove to the San Francisco airport. We'd called ahead and asked for wheelchair assistance, but I still had to walk and wheel a bag from the rental car drop-off to the luggage check. Thankfully, SFO has a cool tram system, and it wasn't that far, but I was still pretty tired by the time we got to the Delta desk.

I mentioned the wheelchair as soon as we got there, and I'm sure they could see that I was sweating and having a tough time, but for some reason they didn't offer any sort of extra assistance, or even seem empathetic at all, which made me kind of mad. They also didn't call for the wheelchair until we were done with everything, and then the lady who made the call disappeared, forcing the wheelchair assistant to search all over for her while we waited. >_<

After that, however, it was pretty smooth sailing. The wheelchair assistants and TSA people were very nice. The Delta agent at the gate let us board first, and even moved us to seats near the front of the plane, so we would be able to deplane much easier and faster. As we taxied out to the runway, I took two percocets and quickly zonked out. After sleeping most of the way to SLC, there was a wheelchair waiting for us on the jet bridge. Erin's oldest brother offered to pick us up, and even met us at the baggage claim, so I didn't have to drag the luggage any farther.

Being home has been nice, if nothing else because it's comforting and familiar. I was most excited about being able to play games on my nice computer, instead of the crappy lappy we brought. Sadly, sitting up at the keys for very long seems to put odd pressure on certain sutures, and has even caused a little extra bleeding, so I've been keeping the computer sessions short until I'm a little more secure in my healing progress.

The bruising is almost completely gone, and the swelling has gone down considerably. The sutures are healing nicely, but I'm still careful to baby them and apply Neosporin religiously. Most of the pain is going down slowly but steadily, and I'm taking about half the pain pills that I was when I first left the hospital. My breasts, on the other hand, seem to be getting a little more sore as time goes on and they realize what's been done to them. =P

For the past few days I've also been trying to get up and move around the house a little more, and my energy levels are much better than they were last week. Tomorrow, we're going to hang out with some friends and play DnD, which I'm excited about both because I've missed them, and because it's a comfortable atmosphere where I know I can relax.

Dilating is still strange, but getting less uncomfortable. Being unused to it at first made it tough to relax, and my muscles tensing up was causing a lot of the discomfort. It's also a little difficult getting the dilator under the pubic bone, since I wasn't blessed with the higher pelvis pubic arch that comes with teenage female puberty, but that's also getting easier as the tissues learn to accommodate.

For now, I have to dilate three times a day for 15 minutes at a time. After three months, I can go down to twice a day. After six months, once daily, and so on. I can picture myself getting really lazy about it in the future, but so far, I've managed to stay pretty regimented. Within the next few days I'm supposed to move up to the medium-sized dilator though, which is somewhat intimidating.

Dilators in three sizes: small, medium, and scary. Melissa actually had yet one larger size in the office, which thankfully wasn't provided to me.
Next week, I have a post-op checkup. As I mentioned a while back, my primary doctor wasn't sure if she would be comfortable checking out the healing, but I did manage to make an appointment with Dr. Luikenaar for Friday the 16th, and I'm sure she'll do just fine.

I've still had very few doubts or major concerns, which is especially unusual for me and my overly analytical mind. Really, I'm just happy to feel like my body looks normal. I wouldn't mind losing a few pounds, but I think once things heal, I may even be semi-comfortable in a swimsuit for the first time in my life, which is incredibly exciting. Most of all, I'm grateful to finally look in the mirror and be able to say with confidence that I see me looking back. =)


  1. I'm glad to hear you're doing so well! Miss you! I'm excited to see you tomorrow and hear more about this!

  2. Thanks for sharing all of your experiences! The perspective is so very different from what i'm familiar with, and reading your posts makes me see the world differently.

  3. Mr. Green is a lot more gentlemanly than you think. Just stick to your schedule and you'll be fine. I was scared too, the first time I had to use Mr. Green, but he wasn't bad at all. Does Bowers not give patients the orange one? The orange one really isn't all that bad either, once you get used to it, which took me 4-5 days.

    Hope your recovery goes well!!

    1. "Mr. Green", hah! From what I gathered from Melissa, the orange one is given to some people, but just wasn't given to me. I wonder if it depends on the patient's anatomy and potential needs? Being a lesbian, I'm ok with not having the orange one. ;)

      Thank you tons!

  4. It was great to finally meet you in person, and we wouldn't have missed it for the world! Glad to hear the flight back was relatively painless and that things are going well!

  5. congratz =) Those dilators definitely look familiar =) It'll be 1 year post-op for me tomorrow....crazy to think about it....time flies!

  6. FINALLY just got caught up on your blog and wanted to send a huge CONGRATS your way. :]