Continuation of my DIEP Flap Reconstruction Journey (read part 1 here)…
Where did I leave off? Oh yeah I’d basically given my surgeon the only option I was willing to give, do the surgery. I was scheduled to have my surgery on December 11, 2017 at a local Legacy Hospital. I knew two things, one I was going to be in surgery for up to 14 hours and two I was probably going to be in the hospital for 5-7 days. Other than that it wasn’t really clear what life was going to be like. You can read stories, ask the surgeon, ask other people who’ve done it but until you actually go through this surgery not much can prepare you.
I’m happy to report my high BMI did not kill me in the operating room, nor did I throw a blood clot and almost die at any point after the surgery. All in all my surgery went fairly well. My radiated boob, the right one, did have some issues getting good blood flow during the surgery and they had to re-do the attachments but other than that it was fairly straight forward. I believe from the time I was wheeled off to surgery, to being discharged into recovery I was gone 12 hours…maybe less. I woke up in my room in the ICU. This was part of the plan. Not because they were worried about me dying overnight but because this surgery is a micro-vascular surgery and the “flaps”, as they are called, needed monitored at least every hour for the first 24 hours. I remember my husband being there, I remember my dad and sister showing up, I even remember eating…
Then the puking started…I can’t even remember when but I’m pretty sure I was in standard care when this started which means it had been about 24 hours post-surgery. Let’s just say I don’t do well with certain pain medications and even though I routinely tell them this they never seem to get the anti-nausea meds pumping fast enough. The next few days were a blur…I literally do not remember anything Tuesday or Wednesday. It wasn’t until Thursday that I was actually lucid enough to make conversation. My grandma and grandpa were mainstays while I was in the hospital and while Danny was at work. I am beyond blessed to have them in my lives. I did have some other visitors, my best friend came on one of my particularly bad days, my surgeon visited multiple times and my dad came back around to check in once I’d stopped throwing up.
While in the hospital I received some really great care. I also lost all modesty given that I could barely dress myself and once I was able to be up moving I needed lots of help getting to and from the restroom. I spent most of the time watching Food Network, sleeping and gagging every time I thought about food. I wasn’t in pain, even when we moved to Tylenol, I really only felt discomfort in my abdomen. Granted I did have an incision from hip to hip right above my pubic bone, a new belly button and two big chunks of stomach fat stitched to my chest. I definitely looked like I had been cut apart and pieced back together by an amateur seamstress. While in the hospital I had amazing support and love from all my friends and family. Having a toddler and a husband that needs to be at work makes these surgeries especially stressful, however, from the amazing support system I have it was never an issue.
I was discharged on Saturday, 6 days in the hospital. I had 6 drains, two on the side of each of my new foobs, and one on each hip. I had gauze stuck all over me, I had adhesive from tape all over me, I had small puncture wounds from where they pinned back skin during surgery, I had a blown vein in my right arm and a wire sticking out of both foobs (this was from the Doppler they implant in my chest at the initial surgery to monitor the blood flow to the flaps). I firmly believe our mind is able to block out unfun experiences, like child birth and intense surgeries, because I don’t remember feeling a lot of pain. I remember being sore, stiff and uncomfortable but not in pain.
Ready for part 3??? I know you want to know all about my recovery at home and the fun adventures that healing after a major surgery entails!!