Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Diep Flap Reconstruction Recovery - Week 2

Compared to my mastectomy surgery a year and a half ago, this surgery has seemed easier. I know I don't have the same emotional stress and anxiety that I had at the beginning of this cancer experience, and that really helps!

Drain cups on the bathroom sink.

I had surgery on Monday, March 17, and my first follow-up appointment with my surgeon was on Tuesday, March 25.  I named my three drains after track and field athletes, and the race was on to see which drain would be pulled first. Usain was clearly ahead, and FloJo and Carl (the abdominal drains) were a bit more productive. Before my appointment, I steeled myself to keep all three drains a few more days if necessary. My physician, however, reviewed my records and said all three drains were close to coming out. He decided to pull Usain and Carl! I was a bit surprised to keep FloJo, but her drain output had not been consistently going down. My doctor said there was some overlap with the abdominal drains, and that pulling one sometimes increased production in the other, so he told me he would leave FloJo in. If the production went down below  30 cc for 2 consecutive days, I could come in and have the nurse pull the drain.  Good news!

Track & Field star Florence Griffith Joyner - "FloJo"

Week Two had the excitement of drain removal, and I was standing up straighter. I did not take the walker to my doctor appointment, and soon abandoned it for use around the house. I sat up more during the day, still worked on walking around the house, and was generally feeling better.

I did have a couple of days where I felt icky. Not really nauseous, but I felt like I wasn't digesting foods very well, and felt bloated from the swelling. I ate carefully for a day or two, tried to get rest and fluids, and I much to my relief I started feeling better.

I had my third drain pulled on Thursday the 27th, 10 days after surgery. This really made me more comfortable! And, without drains, I was able to start wearing normal clothing (jeans and my own blouses rather than sweat pants and my husband's shirts).  Over the weekend, I even felt well enough to sit in locations other than my own home. I attended a play on Friday night, and went to church on Sunday. It was good to get out of the house! I am still using Tylenol and ibuprofen for "pain," but I feel more like I have a lot of discomfort rather than pain. I am usually more sore by the end of the day (and more swollen as well). I am still wearing the binder for compression on my abdomen. My doctor says I am a couple of days ahead of schedule as far as healing goes.

Week Two was also the first time I really took a look at myself to decide if I am happy with the results. I am starting to agree with my doctor that my stomach contour really will be nice (although I can't help wishing I had lost some weight before the surgery so it would be even better!) My belly button has some stitches in it and a bunch of glue, so it looks like it is filled with a dark glob right now. My breast mound where the flap was transferred has a good contour and looks pretty similar to my natural breast, even without the "touch up" surgery. There is an elliptical patch of skin in the front that looks a bit patchwork with the incision around it. That skin is from my stomach. Once the incision heals, it won't be nearly as noticeable. Right now it is ringed with surgical glue, which really accents the patchwork effect! I cannot get over how soft and natural my flap feels in my chest. I really do not miss that hard, full, saline tissue expander that has been my companion for over 19 months. I am really glad I had this surgery!

Surgery date:  March 17, 2014
Week 2 - March 24 - 30th

See my other blog posts about this journey:
Diep Decisions! - Diep Flap Reconstruction
Diep Flap Reconstruction Surgery & Recovery - Week 1

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