New Baby Boobies

I took my last Percocet at 6:45am yesterday morning.  For a mere three days post-op, I’d say I’m doing pretty well.  Yes, I absolutely have pain, but it would be weird if I didn’t and Tylenol is doing the trick for now.  Still, I vastly underestimated this recovery.  I thought I rocked the last one, the major part of my double mastectomy.  I figured that the actual removal of my breasts was way worse than simply swapping tissue expanders for implants.  I was kind of right, but also kind of wrong (isn’t that par for the course of my life?).
The experience of this second surgery has been much less intense, emotionally.  I said goodbye to my little ones and my parents in the morning and sat on the couch with them again that same evening.  My husband and I drove into the city to my plastic surgeon’s office, I kissed him goodbye and went into one of the regular exam rooms that I’ve been in so many times.  It was a familiar setting in which to be drawn on, like a human canvas or block of clay, ready to be shaped and molded.  Pre-op pictures were taken while the office manager and I joked about the latest celebrity nonsense.  As they left me alone once more, they asked how I was feeling. “I’m good now, but I’ll probably be crying when you walk me back to the operating room.”  Their smiles told me that was normal, typical.
To my delighted surprise, I didn’t shed a tear.  I guess I was more ready than I thought.  Well, it was that and the slight shock I felt when I saw what was behind curtain number two. Behind the otherwise normal door that I’ve passed so many times in the office, there was a very high-tech, sterile and, dare I say, beautiful operating room.  I couldn’t help myself when I blurted, “This is some Bruce Wayne stuff you’ve got back here.” This Bat Cave was much brighter, fancier, and cleaner looking than the operating room from my first surgery (and that had been in one of the country’s best hospitals).  I did not look closely at anything in there; I didn’t catalogue the room, I didn’t take any mental snapshots.  I just went in, sat on the table and laid back with my head on the oval cushion, my arms out in the now familiar crucifix operative pose and most notably, I laid back on the sterile pad that was beneath me.  Although I was trying not to take everything in, knowing that pad was there to catch copious amounts of my blood was not lost on me nor soon forgotten.
One of my biggest fears heading into this procedure was the anesthesia.  I had no reason to be particularly concerned, I’ve been put under several times in my life without incident.  Nevertheless, I was worried about whether or not the anesthesiologist would be competent.  Indeed, she was; and she was also personable and funny.  She had the drip in my arm on her first try and I was knocked out in no time.  I never had to count backward, I never had to hear her say “check ya on the flip side”; we were chatting and then I was out.  Seemingly, in the next moment (not the actual 2.5 hours that had passed), I was in the recovery room.  I know I asked the nurse if my husband could come in yet and if I had said anything stupid while under anesthesia.  “Soon” and “no”.  Exactly what I wanted to hear.  After about an hour of coming to from sedation, we got in the car and headed home.
I am sporting two drains this time.  They are annoying, but I also have two new implants which are already feeling much cushier than before.  It really is like a weight has been lifted.  Most fortunately for me, I still have no feeling in my breasts so the incisions that run across them do not bother me at all.  My pain, however, exists on the sides where my surgeon did a lot of “lateral tacking.”  Apparently, this is the reason why my new boobs don’t point East-West and instead stay where they are supposed to, facing forward like good little soldiers.  I remind myself of this benefit every time I reach for something and wince at the ramifications of such a simple action.
I keep thinking, “This feels worse than last time.  Is this recovery really harder?” But I think I’m forgetting that I had two days in the hospital after the last surgery with a lovely IV drip of pain meds.  And when I got home, I was, indeed, in pain.  It’s like when you have a baby.  After you’ve given birth and you go through the nasty, painful recovery “down there” you wonder if you’d ever be able to do it again.  And after some time, of course, most do.  How easily we forget the agony for the joy.
Although my first surgery was only six months ago, I have conveniently forgotten how to reposition myself on my recliner using only my feet and stomach muscles or how the nausea after 48 hours of Percocet feels similar to the first trimester of pregnancy.  I forgot because I was so relieved not to have breast cancer looming over me.  And I know I’ll forget again when this is all done, because already I can tell that these new boobies are soft and comfortable. They are my newest babies and I will forget this discomfort once more feeling nothing but happiness as I move on breast cancer free and with fabulous fake boobs.

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