In terms of duration, pain and bodily torture, the order is;
- Stage 1 – Double mastectomy, addition of tissue expanders
- Stage 3 – Nipple reconstruction, skin graft and fat transplant
- Stage 2 – Tissue expanders removed and replaced with implants
My stage 3 surgery was on Good Friday, and it was, I woke up from general anesthesia. It was our 3rd rodeo, so it was a tedious run-up to the day. I didn’t prepare at home as much, no precooked meals, no massive clean-up. I was busy at work and just did the minimum pre-surgery requirements; no supplements and alcohol for 2 weeks.
We arrived at the hospital at 10 am, 2 hours before surgery for checkin and to give them a big chunk of money. After a short wait in the main entrance holding room we were taken to a private prep. room.
My clothes were stuffed into a bag and I put on the stylish backless gown and compression socks. I had to pee for a ridiculously unnecessary pregnancy test (again) and was hooked up to an IV in the dorsum (back) of my hand. Why do they do that, it is silly painful? I got nausea drugs and an EKG , my 4th in 10 months, and got to talk briefly with the anesthesiologist.
The hubs was reading a book by Joe Jackson to escape the situation, but he still looked thoroughly over “the waiting game.” Eventually it was time, the surgeon came in, said hello, commented on the hubs geeky watch and then we were off on our way to the operating room.
This time I don’t remember going under, or even when it was about to happen. The next thing I heard was a female voice saying, “Are you ready to wake up?” Unlike the first surgery I could open my eyes easily, but unlike the second surgery, I had problems keeping them open.
I was cold and unhappy and shivering in my pectoral muscles. The anesthesiologist came out to see me. He told me I had coughed a lot. Then he said it again, I coughed a lot, and walked off. I thought he would come back but he didn’t. I wondered if the surgeon would come by, but he didn’t either. Apparently he had talked to the hubs at 2:30pm after the surgery.
I was still shivering and wondered why it was taking so long for the warm blankets. This was my 3rd surgery in 10 months, I knew there should be warm blankets. I started to worry about the shivering in my pectoral muscles. Those are the muscles that my implants are under, they have been pushed away from my ribcage close to the skin where the new skin grafts are. I had been told specifically not to lift anything heavy and reduce my arm movement for 3 weeks; I need to reduce movement of my pectoral muscles so they don’t dislodge my newly constructed fake nipples. I told the nurse about my concern. I’m sure sees a lot of patients a day and probably didn’t know exactly what procedure I had. She told me my shivering pectorals was nothing to worry about. I didn’t like that answer and stopped talking.
I was alone and a little panicked in recovery, I wanted to clear the fog in my brain so I could concentrate on telling my pectorals to relax. It could have been stress or drug after-effects, but for the first time after surgery I felt very nauseous. After asking for a blanket for a second time I got some warm relief but now needed something to stop me puking. I really think they thought I was over reacting, but I know myself, I’m a puker; planes, trains, cars and busses, I have left my mark everywhere.
I wanted the hubs so come in and help me get dressed, but the nurse insisted she dress me. Cold and queazy she somehow got me dressed. I didn’t quite have my balance back and I kept listing to the left, she’d be putting my foot in a sock or shoe and I’d start to lean back onto the gurney. I’d right myself and she’d try again. She tried to get my yoga pants on, I stood up and started to lean forward and stepped forward out of the hole she’d made for my foot…it was really not a pleasant experience and took way longer than it would have if Chris had helped or I had been able to sit in a lower chair.
Back on the gurney I eventually got an infusion of nausea medication and they eventually let the hubs in. I instantly felt better when he arrived. I think I had been in recovery an hour. They kept asking if I was ready to leave, I was not. I wanted a bag to puke in, I did not want to move. I heard something about needed to pee before they would let me go. I had not been allowed to drink since midnight and it was now after 4pm, where was I going to find anything to fill my bladder? I started to sip water.
After an hour of having the hubs by the gurney, I calmed down, the shivers stopped and I didn’t feel so sick. My balance was not there yet, but I was ready to go home. I had been in recovery longer than I had been in surgery.
The drive home was uneventful and I was in my recliner by 6pm. Everything was still numb and I was starting to feel hungry. I didn’t pee before I left the hospital, but after a full glass of water at home I did