I seriously cannot believe that tomorrow marks one month since my prophylactic mastectomy. As weird as this may sound (since having a prophylactic mastectomy is a pretty big picture decision) – I am normally not that way. Yes, I’m great at planning, but it’s sometimes hard for me to look at big picture things. Luckily Adam is the opposite, which is part of the reason we make such a great team. I am also not the most patient person in the world (once again, luckily Adam is way more patient than me). All of this info is to give you some background on why it is hard for me to step back and look at how far I’ve come in the past month. I’m trying to do more of that, because right now, I can see myself focusing on some of the negative aspects of the surgery rather than how far I’ve come. Maybe it’s because of the loss of my natural breasts and the current uncomfortable nature of the expanders.
So, let’s focus on some milestones. I started showering by myself for the first time last week. That is a huge step for me since it took 3 people to help me shower when my drains were in and 2 people until I could lift my arms above my shoulders. It was really nice to be able to wash my own hair (although my friends and Adam did such a great job before that)! I will no longer take for granted things like being able to shower. Ultimately, I think this whole experience will make me a much better nurse, especially since I want to be an oncology nurse.
Also, I drove for the first time this weekend! I was cleared to street drive at 2 weeks and highway drive at 3 weeks, but I didn’t feel comfortable until this weekend. My pec minor muscle is pretty sore so I was a bit worried, but I did great and even tried u-turning to make sure that felt okay and it did.
I’ve been off prescription painkillers for over 2 weeks! I only take painkillers now on the day of expansions, and next week will probably be my last expansion.
I started physical therapy last week. My range of motion is perfect on the left arm and only 10 degrees off on the right due to some swelling which will go down. My resistance is stronger than it should be at this point thanks to the personal training I did 6 days a week the month before surgery. I also have done 3 mile walks with Adam a few times over the weekend.
Finally, I had my post-op with my breast surgeon last week and from now on, I will see another doctor in her practice, since I am no longer high-risk for breast cancer. She said that as sad as she is to lose me as a patient (even though she is always here for me if I have questions), she is so happy I am now at less than 1% risk of breast cancer instead of up to 87%. I also will have a 6 month check-in with their office for a breast exam and ultrasound, and then only every year after that. No more yearly mammograms and breast MRIs, woo-hoo!! That is what really hit home for me more than anything so far and reminded me why I chose to have this surgery in the first place. Yes, there have been some dark moments in the last 4 weeks, but being in control of my health and being a proactive BRCA previvor is who I am at my core.
Yes, there are some weird things like my rock hard expanders feel super heavy when I lie down, I feel like I have a constant underwire bra on, and I am still not 100% independent, but I have come such a long way. I am medically cleared to start my clinical rotations on time in 3 weeks and to start up with class again next week. Thanks again to my support system, which really helps me to focus on the positive.