Monday, April 21, 2014

Diep Flap Reconstruction - Week 3 - Recovery Can Be Boring

Even animals get bored....

I saw my surgeon again on April 1. He removed the 4 stitches and glue glob from my belly button. He also said I could start peeling off the surgical glue from my other incisions when it hangs loose.

Medically, here is a list of where things stand as I head into week 3:
Two more weeks of baby aspirin every day.
Two more weeks of the abdominal binder, although I can start taking it off at night if that is more comfortable.
Two more weeks of sleeping on my back. (My surgeon says after four weeks the transferred flap will have grown its own network of blood vessels, and will not be as fragile any more.) The body is pretty amazing!
Four more weeks until I can participate in vigorous activity.
No lifting more than about 10 pounds, no strenuous housework. Light housekeeping is okay.
Gentle stretches and motions with my right arm are okay.
Walking, walking, walking is good. Just nothing too vigorous.
Still avoiding caffeine (caffeine restricts blood vessels). I confess when my friend brought over amazing chocolate-marshmallow cookies, I indulged! So far, my flap is alive and doesn't seem to have suffered any ill effects, and those cookies were to die for!
I am still not quite standing up straight, but I am getting close.

I will follow up with my surgeon in two weeks, and then probably after a couple of months. The earliest touch-ups can be done would be 8 weeks after surgery. I think that will be too soon for me.  There isn't any rush. My doctor says the flap will shrink a little, as it doesn't have as robust a blood supply as it had when it was attached to my stomach. He says everything needs time to settle before we do any procedures to improve symmetry, create a nipple, make any corrections on the tummy incision, etc. Revision surgery is done on an outpatient basis, and the recovery is relatively short. I am almost done! When I think back to when I first met my surgeon in 2012, this day seemed very far away. Knowing I have made it--actually made it to reconstruction and took the plunge with a DIEP flap-- really makes me smile! I am also grateful to have worked with an amazing surgeon through this whole process.

Mentally, week 3 seems harder than week 1 and week 2. Those weeks I was pre-occupied with just getting through the surgery and the initial stages of recovery. Now I feel pretty good, but I am getting pretty tired of convalescing.  I am not in a lot of pain, but have twinges of soreness in my stomach and I have some random nerves that fire off occasionally in my newly created breast. This nerve pain is always weird, as my breast area is numb. However, this happened after the mastectomy, and I am assuming tampering with the pectoral muscle and removing scar tissue from the area has re-irritated those damaged nerves. I am still moving pretty carefully. I know I should tackle a few of those things I never have time to do (draw, cross stitch, etc.) and use my down time wisely, but I feel scattered and can't seem to concentrate very long on anything. I am reading a lot, but am bouncing from book to book (I am currently reading two non-fiction books, one novel, and listening to another novel on audio book). I wish I were standing up straight so walking around the neighborhood would be easier, and I am really, really sick of sleeping in the same position all night long on my back, and am finding it hard to get comfortable. Now that I am partially healed and the drains are out, I just have to wait patiently for my body to finish the healing process. And waiting patiently isn't my favorite thing. I know it is only for a few more weeks, and I also know I really want to protect my abdomen and flap after all I have gone through. It is important I take this time to heal, but it is sort of a boring process! I am not yet to the point where I miss doing housework...but I may get there...just maybe. I am very grateful that things have gone so smoothly, and that I am healing just like I am supposed to, so I really shouldn't complain.

But I might complain...just a little.

My Diep Flap journey:
Diep Decisions! Diep Flap Reconstruction
Diep Flap Surgery & Recovery - Week 1
Diep Flap Reconstruction Recovery - Week 2


  1. Ok to complain...just a little. You are doing AWESOME!

    1. Thanks so much! Too much complaining is a bad thing, but once in awhile it helps!

  2. Not being able to do ANYTHING is the worst. God Speed!

    1. Thank you, Chris! I am happy to be driving and getting around much better now.