Two Milestones

Quick but exciting milestone post!

1. I graduated nursing school!! Just one more exam to get me the two letters I want most, RN 🙂 No pressure. In all seriousness, I am pretty proud of myself for finishing school on time and not missing class/clinicals throughout my surgeries.

2. Adam and I went to Disneyland to celebrate! This was especially exciting because for a long time after my mastectomy, I couldn’t go into crowds and I definitely would not have been able to go on any rides. It was a really fun day!

The Little Things

Like I said in my last post, things have been super busy this quarter in school and I haven’t been able to blog as much as I want to. But luckily my schedule will clear up more starting next week! In the meantime, I wanted to celebrate some of the little things. They may seem little, but are actually pretty awesome milestones for me.

  • Hung out (literally) all day without wearing a bra. After having to wear surgical/sports bras 24/7 for 6 months, this feels amazzzzzing
  • Stopped having to take Aleve every 12 hours! Now I only take it when I have clinical shifts
  • Prepping for our first vacation in forevz. Even though it’s just a short jaunt to Colorado, we are really looking forward to some much deserved rest & relaxation
  • Finishing up my preceptorship in Labor & Delivery. At first, I was worried about being able to do so many 12 hour shifts after surgery, so it feels great to have accomplished it
  • Been going to cardio pop/Zumba classes multiple times a week. It feels great to be back dancing!

Milestone Monday

I had a follow-up appointment with my reconstructive surgeon today and it went really well! Everything looks good and I don’t have another appointment for 6 months, and then I only see her annually. This is a huge relief since I’ve had some appointments that were supposed to be routine but turned out scary. Interestingly, when I asked her how to prevent capsular contracture – in addition to moving around/massaging the implants, routine dental care is one of the most important aspects. I never realized that before, good thing I have a dental appointment tomorrow 🙂

In other news, I’m finishing up my 300 hour preceptorship in Labor & Delivery. 4 more weeks left and then the hubby and I FINALLY get to take a much needed vacation to Colorado to just relax. In the meantime, tons of school stuff to catch up pn before the quarter ends in a month!

In celebration of my appointment and one of my favorite moments from last night’s Oscars, everything is awesome!!

PT Tomorrow

Things have been super busy with clinicals, school, and life in general. Plus my physical therapist got sick, so I haven’t been to PT in 2 weeks. I’m officially cleared to not go to PT anymore but I like going because it is really helpful in loosening up my neck and back, which can get tight because of the mastectomy, exchange surgery, and all that time with my heavy rocks aka expanders.

Luckily, my plastic surgeon prescribed me PT after my mastectomy and exchange and referred me to a breast cancer specialist. It really does require a special level of expertise to work with patients after a mastectomy, especially if there are any lymphedema issues. After my mastectomy, I had cording even though the surgery was preventative and no lymph nodes were removed, and PT helped a lot. So, the moral of the story is: if you’re having a mastectomy and your doctor doesn’t offer these resources, I would highly recommend researching to find a PT breast specialist.

Is This Real Life?

bed.pngThis may look like a pretty boring picture, but for me, it’s something I’ve been looking forward to for 6 months – our bed without a giant pregnancy pillow and underarm pillows. I’ve had to sleep on my back since my mastectomy in August. Since I’m a side sleeper, the only way to ensure I slept on my back was with a pregnancy pillow. The pillows were incredibly helpful and I’d recommend them to anyone having a mastectomy, but they are also HUGE and took up so much room on the bed, my poor hubby barely had any   room.

Last week marked 6 weeks since my exchange/reconstruction surgery, which means I can finally ditch the pregnancy pillow and sleep on my side! It also means I get to sleep without a sports/surgical bra and I can now wear a normal bra during the day. At first, I had to get used to sleeping on my side because it felt different than it did before (you can feel the implant when you’re on your side). But after about 5 minutes, I was sound asleep. It’s so nice to be able to cuddle with my hubby and not have this giant freaking pillow in the way. The funny thing is, I end up waking up on my back a lot now – I guess I got used to it over the past 6 months. But being able to sleep on my side and without a surgical bra feels amazing. Another great step to feeling back to normal!

Great Article!

Many people don’t realize that you can’t breastfeed after a double mastectomy. When I decided to have a preventive mastectomy, one of the hardest aspects was knowing I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed. I know that many women can’t breastfeed for a variety of reasons, or choose not to, and that there is nothing wrong with formula – but it still was a big decision to make. But, since my BRCA2 mutation breast cancer risk would have been especially dangerous during pregnancy, the decision to have the preventative mastectomy before ever getting pregnant made a lot of sense to me.

This article in the Washington Post really spoke to me. Please take a few minutes to read it, it is a great educational piece and will hopefully make people a little more sensitive about just assuming everyone can/wants to breastfeed.

Going Well!

I had my 1 month post-op appt today and everything went really well! The tissue damage is still healing nicely and everything is looking good. I got cleared to exercise and the 2 week countdown to side sleeping begins tomorrow. I also learned exercises to prevent capsular contracture (aka hardening) of my implants. I’ve gotten used to wearing a sports bra 24/7 but am really excited for when I can sleep without a bra and wear wireless ones. I can also cook again, as long as I’m super careful not to burn my numb boobs lol, so I’m planning on a lot of crock pot dishes. I start my clinical rotations this week, I’ll be doing around three 12-hour shifts/week this quarter.

I also had my first physical therapy appointment last week and it went really well. My range of motion and strength are great and even better than they were before I had the surgery (those expanders were definitely preventing me from using my full motion). I only have to go to PT once a week for 3-4 more weeks and then I’m all done.

Another recovery highlight was that Adam and I went out w friends on Friday night, and I was able to dance! I love love love dancing, so it was really fun to finally be able to after basically 5 months. I am so excited to be able to go back to Zumba and Cardio hip-hop. My next post-op isn’t for 6 more weeks, and I am definitely enjoying feeling more normal each day 🙂

3 Weeks Post-Op

Today marks 3 weeks since my exchange surgery. It’s super exciting because I was able to finally lift my arms above my shoulders, switch from a surgical bra to a sports bra, and drive on the highway! My mom met me at the mall to help me shop for sports bras, which was really helpful. Some of them I couldn’t even pull over my own shoulders so it was really nice having her there to help me out. We ended up finding winners at Lorna Jane, and the staff was super helpful, even bringing out a yoga mat so I could make sure the sports bra would be comfortable while I’m sleeping on my back. It’s also awesome to be able to lift my arms above my shoulders (or as BeyoncĂ© says, “Flexin’ while my hands up My hands up, my hands up I stand up with my hands up.”

Yesterday, I had orientation for this quarter of nursing school, which is the immersion/preceptorship portion of the degree. I won’t have class next quarter, but will be in a maternity unit for 300 clinical hours and 60 project hours. I am super excited because I looooove clinicals and working directly with patients. Then one last quarter and I’m done! The other exciting part of orientation was learning all about graduation in June, taking the board exams, applying for jobs, and getting my RN license.

I’m really excited to move on from recovery mode into feeling more like myself. I start physical therapy tomorrow and only 3 more weeks until I can sleep without a bra, wear a normal bra, and sleep on my side!!!!

Tony the Tiger

I had a bunch of tape all over my chest from surgery and it was coming loose in a lot of spots, so I got the okay from my nurse to remove the tape. Luckily my friend (who also happens to be a nursing student) was coming over today, so she was able to help me remove it all and did an awesome job. I’m sensitive to tape, so I have crazy looking blood blisters all over that almost look like tiger stripes – but other than that everything looks great! I had the same blood blisters after my mastectomy too and last time they went away in a few weeks and they should this time too. It feels so nice to have all the tape off! Now I just have a bit of tape over the incisions to help with scarring.

One more week until I can lift my arms above my shoulders and switch to a sports bra instead of my surgical bra, woo-hoo!