This journal was written in 2004 before I understood how blogs work, although some friends did try and hand me clues (to which I was oblivious). Thus the formatting is somewhat clunky. My apologies to anyone searching for information about the procedure, and I hope that you nonetheless find the information you might need.
My journal of a breast reduction mammoplasty
For those of you who have never met me, my breasts are enormous. I say this with no particular pride or satisfaction, it’s just a fact. Depending on the brand, I am either a GG or H cup. And I’m heartily sick of it.
The pressure on my thoracic and cervical spine from the weight of my breasts is enormous, so much so that the normal slight outward curve (kyphosis) of the thoracic spine has entirely disappeared and the spine between my vertebrae(oops) scapulae is absolutely dead vertical, which is beginning to affect my respiration during exercise.
If I leave it any longer I’m sure I’ll actually develop a thoracic lordosis, which will make breathing deeply even more difficult. And lately I’ve had almost constant low grade thoraco-cervical pain and stiffness – if I don’t act soon I’ll be arthritic.
I’m only just 40 – too young to be crippled.
Besides, it’s really difficult to find stylish clothes for breasts that are oversize by at least four dress sizes for the rest of my body. I’m having to dress like someone ten years older and two stone heavier
So it’s off to the cosmetic surgeon. Despite the fact that his office looks like the Queer Eye team have gone wild with leather and velvet busting out all over, his prices are competitive and his reputation is excellent. I’m confident his expertise will give me the best possible result – the weight off my chest and a pleasing proportion.
I’ve had the last pre-operative test today – a mammogram. I’ve been dreading it, because my first and up until now last mammo, about 10 years ago, was excruciatingly painful (the poor technician was crying as she tortured me, but she’d been told that she had to compress my breast tissue down to about 2 cm thick between the plates – owowowowow). I was teary in advance when I walked into the cubicle this morning.
But today the procedure was only mildly uncomfortable – either the machines have improved or the poor tech 10 years ago was misinformed. I will now no longer dread the occasional mammogram and will stop telling other women that it is an instrument of Satan designed by bastard misogynist doctors who’ll never have to have one.
Today was my second attempt this week to have the mammo done – on Wednesday (2 days ago) my scan was cancelled because there was some sort of gas leak in the cubicle, and they didn’t want to poison their patients. At the time I thought it was divine deliverance from demonic mammogram torture, and wanted to celebrate with some retail therapy.
So there I was in Edgecliff for the first time in years… with nothing to do. So I did… nothing. Edgecliff is mostly apartments giving way abruptly to Woollahra mansions with a very ordinary shopping centre over the railway station: no retail therapy worth the title there. But at least there was some unexpected street art which provided a whimsical distraction: Edgecliff was not a total loss. But someone had removed the kookaburra piece today. Some people have no sense of wonder.
Other pre-operative tests submitted to this week – full blood count, Hepatitis, HIV etc – more for the surgical team’s protection than mine. I have depressive tendencies so the anaesthetist is going to use a different gas from the standard which apparently is less melanchologenic. I have to buy my own anti-embolic stockings – apparently the hospital doesn’t supply them (!).
So, on Tuesday I go to the hospital. The operation should take about three hours, and then I stay on the ward for at least two nights, depending on how I’m feeling. There apparently will be wound drains for at least 24 hours. So I’ll sleep, I could read novels and perhaps tap away on the laptop on the second day if I have the energy. But maybe I’ll just relax and drift with the painkillers.
So, it’s all happening tomorrow. In other good news, the Physiotherapy Registration Board rang on Friday to say they’re renewing my registration as hoped. I haven’t practised since my son was born 10 years ago and had let my registration slip, so I had to go before a Board Panel and convince them I wasn’t a lunatic or drug addict or similiar undesirable. My registration will be conditional on having supervision by a registered physio 1 day a week for 6 months, which should be easy enough to arrange, so looking forward to that once the convalescence is over
Well, I got home yesterday. My chest is SORE, but my spine is throwing a party. You can see pretty much the incisions the surgeon used here: Reduction Mammoplasty
My doc (what a nice man) gave me a Patient-Administered-Dosage morphine pump for the first 24 hours post-op. I was a very good girl, and didn’t take too many hits at all after the first few hours, but damn morphine is excellent stuff. Too bad it depresses your respiratory centre and is outstandingly addictive and all that other awkward stuff. Day 2 was on to Digesics, which still give one a nice floaty feeling.
Packs of frozen peas are currently this girl’s best friend. They mold so nicely around sore, swollen, throbbing breasts. My second-best friend is my mum, who has come down to play chauffeur for the kids, as I’m not supposed to drive for at least a week post-op (Dai went back to work today). Seeing as she has avoided driving in Sydney traffic for many years, this makes her a *wee* bit nervous, so it’s just as well the car is fully automatic with power-steering, and that I’m going along as navigator.
*I* *had* *a* *bath* *today*. Bubble bath, warm and fragrant, although only about four inches deep so that my wound dressings stayed dry while I resisted temptation to slump and stayed sitting upright. Then I washed my hair over the handbasin with a hose tap-attachment (Mum helped). I felt sooo much better, I even went and put on some make-up.
I can’t quite actually skip! hop! twirl! yet, but boy am I working up to it.
Today, I drove (anticipating medical permission to do so). In fact, I drove yesterday to pick up the kids from school. I love automatics with power steering – there’s so little strain on the chest.
I was supposed to get fitted with a supportive sports bra at the surgery, but seeing as most of the Eastern Suburbs matrons to whom they cater are apparently stick insects getting upsized rather than zaftigs like me being downsized they didn’t have D cup bras in my size. They ended up wrapping me in an elastic bandage in a figure 8 pattern, so feeling awfully Amazonian Mum and I went off into town to the nearest prestige department store David Jones, to pillage the less dainty end of their lingerie department. Sports bras apparently come in black now. What next – Goth exercise videos?
So, bra purchased with perfunctory rummaging through new scanties fashion we got some grilled fish from the Food Hall and took it into Hyde Park, calling my dearly belaboured on the way, as his office overlooks said green swathe. Companionable munching ensued, and then it was time to get Mum to the train station for her trip home to the mountains.
Evening: New sports bra has more mesh ‘for breathability’ than old style, and with new upturned nipples no longer needing wound dressing according to Nursey in surgery this is resulting in a bit too much rubbing. Eeooahee-ee. The upside is that it appears the possible surgical complication of reduced nipple sensation is not going to be a problem. In the meantime I have purchased cotton sleeping bra to wear inside sports bra to remedy rubbing problem.
Lots of people commenting about me losing weight without them realising that it’s all come off the chest, which just goes to show I was right about them being 4 sizes larger than the rest of me. It has been a struggle to not purchase many nice things off the rack, but luckily my blancmange belly is an incentive to wait until I’ve been cleared for exercise at a fat-loss level and can buy in a size or two down after a month or so of toning. Blancmange belly is a result of my latest depressive bout, where I just gave up exercise. But now I have a new black sports bra to show off, so there’ll be no stopping me.
Back to the surgery: my dressings are now minimal – a non-stick dressing square placed in a diamond orientation over the T-intersection of the anchor incision, held in place by the bra. Heh – I’m wearing pasties (oversized and slipped down a bit) -where’s my pole?
Here’s the first “after” shot. There’s still some swelling, but such an improvement ergonomically and aesthetically. I’m really pleased.
I shoulda known better – yesterday I felt really good – strong and energised. So I did too much – I hung out clothes (carefully winding the clotheshoist down so I wouldn’t have to lift too much, and only hanging the light stuff while my mum did the sheets etc. I used my knees and hips to reposition the sofa in the living room (sometimes furniture just has to be moved). I picked stuff up off the floor in my kids’ bedrooms.
Owowowittyow. Icepacks (frozen peas) and codeine are once again my bestest friends, and I have had a couple of literally breathtaking shooting pains of the sort I laughed off before my operation (Ha! – I menstruate! – a few breast pangs won’t even make me flinch! or some similar grandiosity). Silly silly girl. Ow.
After a weekend of concern regarding shooting pains, I saw the nurse for my check-up today and she removed a stitch close to the point of the breathtaking pains – immediate relief. I had hypothesised over the weekend that perhaps the stitch I felt was rubbing on a nerve-ending to produce those particularly egregious pangs, and it seems that was the case (Update: 2 days later still no more severe pangs, looks like hypothesis strongly supported).
The left incision seems totally healed and sensation is coming back nicely: the right side is more swollen, the incision is puffy and there’s still a few soft weeping spots. I think I may be trying to do too much with my right arm. I’m also concerned that there seems to be some diffuse redness over my right breast between the nipple and cleavage, it seems warm to touch and generally more tender, except for the nipple which is not nearly as sensitive as the left one. I’m worried. So I ask for some prophylactic antibiotics in case there’s incipient infection: the nurse and doc are initially a bit sceptical, but then after shining the bright light on the breast and a bit of comparative palpation, I get my Keflex prescription.
Addendum Sunday 3 April: At least the redness and heat seems to have gone away with the antibiotics, but the swelling, weeping soft spots and puffiness round the incisions on the right side is still present, so I’ve sorted myself out with an arm-sling for my right arm. I find I’m so right-handed that I just don’t realise when I reach for stuff with my right arm until I’ve done it. Wearing a sling will make me use my left, and my general Left-klutziness will ensure I don’t attempt anything too ambitious.
Go me! The antibiotics have done their stuff and just 2 days of sling-wearing have brought down the puffiness round the incisions hugely. The right breast is also less swollen and hard, and the weepy soft spots are nearly totally dry. Don’t have to come back for 2 weeks now for the next check-up.
Spent yesterday on my feet all day at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, an enormous agricultural fair with carnival rides and sideshows. This annual event is a Sydney family must, and we hadn’t taken the kids for a few years. I didn’t wear mysling, as a week’s wear had got me pretty much into the swing of leftiness. I wore my good walking boots with shock-absorbing heels, and did OK. By the end of the day I felt that the gentle jarring of pedestrianing around the grounds on concrete paths had made my poor boobs a little bit more tender than usual, but certainly not agonisingly so. And who cares? They had puppies! kittens! ponies! big bloody bulls!
My kids are so urban. Farm animals smell, apparently, and in a properly organised universe this ought not to occur.
Boobflash: Soft spots on right incision now completely healed. Now my right wisdom tooth has decided to emerge, so I’ve got a tender, swollen, puffy cheek instead. Bugger it – I can go swimming tomorrow!
Everything’s good. No more dressings. This is my last appointment for three months, when I come back for the “after” pics to be taken for the doc’s scrapbook. They’re tender, but only like breast-feeding tender instead of meat-mincer tender. I have bought lots of new bras. Wheeee!