I am recovering. Surgery was done on 13 December. It was a surgery to debride an abscess caused by necrotic breast tissue due to radiation. As I said before, it was day surgery at Presbyterian Rust Hospital in Rio Rancho. I have had several surgeries there and always feel safe and well cared for.
There was not much in the way of post op pain, so the start of my recovery was good. The scary part, especially with breast surgery, is when you take off the bandage for the first time to see what you have left. It is not like it is in the movies where you are seen lying in your hospital bed and the doctor gently removes your bandages. He looks at your wound in a reassuring manner and you feel that you will be okay. You are home. Alone. In your bathroom. You have a blue binder holding you in.
You also have the addition of a drain that must be managed. The drain is called a Jackson Pratt. It is a plastic bulb attached to a tube that goes to your wound. It had a pop up cap. My job was to empty it daily and record the bloody drainage. Next squeeze the bulb. Replace the cap and gentle suction would do its work. The tube is secure. I don’t have to worry about it falling out.
I take off the binder. I start to remove the dressing. I was told by the surgeon that my surgery would remove my nipple. I did understand the need. My cancer had been very close to it. Even so, it is a part of my body I have always had. I am being taken apart piece by piece. Mutilated.
I finish taking off the dressing. It looked like my breast had been held up and half had been loped off and then stitched up. I avoided looking at it after that.
The drain came out. I seemed fine. Then I saw an opening in my incision and as I leaned forward blood started leaking out in a good stream. Oh, dear. That was when the irrigations started. I was instructed to inject 10 cc saline with a blunt nose needle into the wound opening twice a day. This was starting to be discouraging.
I was worried that I was going to need a mastectomy and they would finish the job. No more breast.
One day I spiked a 102 temp. The second wound culture came back positive and I had developed a bad cellulitis. The irrigations continued. I was on a 10 day regimen of Keflex. Finally, I began to make progress. During all this I had gotten used to my new breast and became okay with it.
It is 5 January and irrigations continue. My breast looks much better and I feel like I am going to make it. This was difficult to go through. The surgeon put me to work. It was not easy for me to do but I did it and I think I am getting better because of it.