Supporting women whose lives have been touched by breast cancer

Diep Reconstruction

by Mollybobs1

Bits and Bobs
Following surgery in 2006 – WLE, no clear margins, Mastectomy, full node clearance (lots involved), chemo and radiotherapy – I am now having a elective mastectomy and bilateral recon, obviously one delayed and one immediate.
I also took the decision to have my surgery in Norwich – a five hour drive away – simply because I wanted Elaine Sassoon to operate.

Friday – Day before Op
Up at 5:15 – need to be in Durham to catch train at 6:10, travelling 1st class! Decided I was worth it....(it only cost an extra £5)! So, after a train to Peterborough, train to Ely and bus to Norwich, Anna picked me up from train station and took me to the hospital. It was wonderful to have someone to talk to on the way in – and she showed me her belly and boobs, so something to look forward to, too!

Settled into hospital room. Had bloods taken, went for medical photos. Just had to take off top half, kept jeans on, then had 3 pics done. Face on, left side, right side.

Went for scan so that blood vessels could be marked on belly. This took about half an hour, and is just like the scans you have when pregnant, except that when the doc finds a good blood vessel, he marks it up.

The room I am in is very warm and they have just rolled in an additional heater.......overwhelming heat, but I can have the window open a little for some air, so not too bad....yet...
Had a visit from Anaesthetist – lovely man, and very reassuring. So, now I know that when I wake up I will have 4 drains – 2 breast, 2 abdomen, a drip and a catheter.......lovely.

Surgeons came to see me in the evening. I will have two working on me at the same time, which cuts the length of op and hopefully gives good results! Richard came first and after a ‘getting to know you’ chat, drew all over my boobs and belly with felt tip pen. I have never seen ‘Nip Tuck’ but have seen the trailers for it and they really do draw on you like that! Elaine popped in ten minutes later and made a couple of tweaks then left me to settle down for the night.

Everyone told me to ask for a sleeping tablet to get a good nights sleep. Not me, I was zonked out and snoring by 10:00pm.

Saturday, Day 0
I was woken this morning at 6:30, due to go down to theatre at 7:45 for an 8:00am start. Not feeling much at all at the moment. My wobbly bits came last week, and then I was seriously wondering whether I was doing the right thing. This morning, I just want them to get on with it.

Dressed in gown, paper knickers and sexy surgical stockings I am wheeled down to theatre. Have a chat with Anaesthetist about veins being rubbish, then woke up, operation done!

Lift sheet to peek and instantly downhearted – teeny tiny boobs! Tell nurse it was not worth it – hardly anything there! She did then point out that not only was I flat on my back, but my tummy was swollen too. Oh well, will see later, but have to admit I am a bit concerned....Look a bit lower, and admire my abdo scar – very impressive! Being checked every 15 minutes, so just drifting in and out of sleep really. Operation was over by 1:30pm and they reckon they have broken all records for a mastectomy and double diep. Probably because they did not put much stuffing in, I think, feeling very sorry for myself.

During the night I was sick a couple of times. Just pure water, but wonderfully projectile. Very hot in room, feeling tearful, but know I will be okay in the morning, so just try to sleep it off.

Had morphine pump for pain. Used it twice, last time about 4pm this afternoon.

Being checked every 15 minutes, day and night to check that vessels are still working. They use a small ultrasound wand and gel and when they find it, it sounds like a heartbeat They also check blood pressure, temp, pulse etc.,

Sunday – Day 1
Got out of bed and sat in chair for three hours this morning. Major performance though! Got 2 drains in breasts, 2 drains in abdomen, a drip going into cannula on back of hand and a catheter. Sat and read papers, then back into bed at lunchtime and dozed on and off all afternoon. Not feeling too bad.
No need for painkillers

Being checked every half hour.

Monday – Day2
Slower to get moving today, but had a lovely nurse who helped me wash and said to her that I cannot believe that I will be walking out of this ward under my own steam in a few days time. I can hardly stand up!

Had the physio around today and started on arm exercises, Very hot in room, keep begging for window to be opened and tell them that Elaine (PS) said so!

Felt really down and depressed this afternoon. Decided the whole thing had been the biggest mistake of my life and wished I had not had it done. Just wanted to curl up into a ball and weep pathetically. Luckily – I was ready and waiting for this moment! It always hits me 48 hours after surgery, think it must be the anaesthetic. I was the same with WLE, then mastectomy, and now this. Ah, well, it will either pass, or I will have to live with my mistake.

Being checked every hour

Tuesday – Day 3
Hooray! Got drip out, catheter and three drains, all removed, just one drain to go! Popped the drain in shoulder bag and off I went on little walk. Well, more like a shuffle.

The weepy bit passed as predicted and the sun came out for me this morning – feeling good!

Enjoying high protein strawberry milkshake thing....mmmmm. NOT enjoying Heparin injections in thighs twice a day!
Feeling a bit constipated. I really want to go, but just can’t. Eating loads of bran and fruit, drinking lots of water. Fingers crossed.

Being checked every 2 hours

Wednesday – Day 4
Final drain gone!!! Looking forward to shower tomorrow. Told to wait 24 hours between drains out and shower, and must be careful not to soak belly and boobs (guessing more infection related than melting the glue)!

Met next door neighbour today – she is a day ahead of me. Lovely lady, and just nice to chat to someone in the same situation.

Okay. No pain, just discomfort, still hurts to sneeze and cough unless I bend myself over. Now that I am standing, can see breasts are a decent size – just wish I could have had an immediate recon last year – that breast is superb, I love it to death. The delayed side is okay, nice to have some shape, but it is higher than the immediate, and looks a little smaller. PS says it is because of radiotherapy, and it will drop. Think it is an optical illusion that it looks smaller (yes, the difference is that small)! Because of the oval of skin that has been added, and having no nipple. Quite upbeat today. Still having injections twice a day – yuk!

Still very constipated. Not allowed Senokot, was given a suppository, but did not wait long enough....

Being checked every 2 hours through day, and every 3 hours at night.

Thursday – Day 5

Had a shower....bliss! AND woohoo, had a towel wrapped around myself and caught a sideways on glimpse in the mirror. CLEAVAGE! I have a cleavage. I have not seen that for over a year now – and hardly paid it any attention in the preceding years! Cannot get the stupid smile off my face.

Went to lunch in the restaurant of the hospital – a real walk, with real people (not hospital staff) and real food (thank God, at last). Met with two wonderful women who had already been through the whole diep business and my next door neighbour. Felt as though I had escaped......

So, no pain. Walking well, a bit stooped but not too bad. A couple of hundred meters is enough though , then ready to sit down.

Very busy on this ward, so I am being moved back downstairs. Saw PS and got her to take me off Heparin injections now that I am moving around. Hooray!

Not constipated now. Found the solution – very strong filter coffee from restaurant! Oh yes. Life is good.

Being checked every 3 - 4 hours through the day, once during the night.

Friday – Day 6
Wish I was going home today. Feeling ready now, and just passing time.

No pain. Walking reasonably, still ‘fragile’, feel like a little old lady, but spent a couple of hours reading the paper in the restaurant over a couple of cups of coffee so getting there!
Apart from a couple of blasts of morphine and 2 paracetomol for a slightly raised temp, I have not needed any painkillers at all.

Mind you – I was told that having a diep was easier than giving birth – I think not! Would rather have triplets several times over than have a diep! Ah well, each to their own......for me, having babies was like shelling peas, slight twinge, a pop and oh – there is the baby!

No checks!

Saturday - Day 7
Out of hospital and in apartment. A bit knackered today – just had the journey, checking in and pottering around but ready just to sit around and do nothing more today!

Sunday – Day 8
Steve brought clothes down for me for this week. Usually, I am a size 10 bottoms and 12 top, but bought some size 14 jeans in readiness for this week and they STILL DON’T FIT! Can’t believe how swollen my belly is! Ah well, stick to trackies.

Had an hour in Cromer, gentle little walks around town, then into a pub for half an hour, lunch in a restaurant then home for the day! That is about my limit at the moment.

Sleeping not too bad, starting to sleep on side a little, tucking pillow under me for support.

Monday – Day 9
Had a good day today. Again little walk. No pain, tummy still swollen, sleeping well.

Tuesday – Day 10
Saw PS today. She is very pleased with progress, thinks I am very upright and doing well. No bra to be worn for the next six weeks or so and no big knickers either. I am to tape the scar when the scabs come off to keep it nice and flat – just use micropore. Can’t believe how much different info is out there with surgeons. I expected to be laced up in girdles and sports bras, but Elaine says no and as I have total faith in her, I will obey!

Wednesday – Day 11
Travelled home today – 5 hour journey. Lovely to see my son who has been pet sitting, Molly, my beautiful dog and Max – demon cat.

Wonderful to be back in my own bed. Despite journey, feeling fine.

Wednesday – Day 18
Will just note things on a weekly basis now, as not much happens daily! Feeling really very good now. Tummy STILL swollen – think that is the only gripe I have really! Walking Molly every day and going further and further. Obviously not hoovering or ironing – doing very little housework, but enjoying cooking again and pottering around. Much straighter now, scars still scabbed over. Get occasional darts of, well, not exactly pain, just ‘oohs’ in breasts and scars getting itchy. Must be a good sign! Probably feel well enough to walk around the shops for a good hour, enjoy a family gathering for a few hours. Planning to go to college on Tuesday for my reflexology class which lasts 3 hours. Cannot wait until I can have a bath.....

Feel now as though I can see the light at the end of the tunnel – things can only get better!

I took a suitcase full of things into hospital with me, knowing I had no one to bring things in that I had forgotten. True to form, I needed less than half of what I took. I wore the hospital gown until I got the drains out, and then just wore tracksuit bottoms/pj bottoms and a vest top through the day and pj bottoms and vest for bed. My dressing gown never saw the light of day!

Mollybobs is happy to answer questions about her experience on the forums.