Thursday, January 20, 2011

Things You Should Know If Your Breast Is Going Under the Knife and other Inappropriate Musings

A few months ago a lump was discovered in my breast and after further testing; a duct full of filling defects was also found. So the lump and the entire duct along with some normal tissue and ducts had to be removed for testing. As with any new experience I have a whole list of "firsts" from my surgical biopsy. I will spare my readers by omitting the more grisly firsts but some could be considered, in hindsight, comic. Of course I am not saying that the situation is at all funny; I have undergone a considerable amount of stress. Surgery aside, there is the potential issue of pre-cancer or cancer and all the concerns a diagnosis would bring for a young mom and caregiver. Looking back at the surgery though; keeping a light attitude was the best plan and laughter can be a way to cope. So here it goes; things I wish I had known before meeting a breast surgeon and before going under the knife.....

1. As for the initial consult with the surgeon; no wine and dine here it's all about second just whip them out ladies. Not that you will have to whip them out very far; your attire will consist of a flimsy pink paper that opens in the front.
2. Take a pre-surgery shopping trip to stock up on your favorite comfort foods, a sturdy sports bra **** with clasps in the back****.... not the over the head type!!!, and a BJ's size bottle of pain killer.
3. Make yourself a sling; not the type for your arm.... (see pic LOL) Put on your super comfy bra and then bind that baby tight because every wiggle and jiggle will hurt. Make a sling for home and one for under your cloths (out of heavy gauze) for public. Really, I am not kidding here...most mommies can't afford to spend much time in bed even when sick or recovering.... SO MAKE THE SLING!!!
4. Limit testosterone in the pre-op room. Wayne is awesome and supportive but he would have been better off staying in the waiting room for awhile. When the surgeon arrived and made the move to untie my gown Wayne practically jumped in front of him crying , "I'll do it"....whoaaa buddy... no tackling in the pre-op room.
5. Here is a first; having someone initial and draw a "roadmap" on my breast. The initials have not washed off easily but I am glad he operated on the right one....pheww
6. Bring a good magazine, book, or your Nook to occupy your mind during pre-op... and don't let your husband steal it....
7. The anesthesiologist is your friend; communicate well with him/her but be prepared for him to laugh at the things you say coming out of the anesthesia. After waking up I lunged forward calling "William... where are you, are you ok??" .... after being pushed back down the anesthesiologist was laughing saying, " Hey, I thought your husbands name was Wayne"...
8. You may be wheeled into the operating room while still awake and very alert. Prepare to be de-gowned and surrounded. If that in combination with the bright lights and equipment make you anxious tell your friend to hurry it up with the IV drugs. Don't ask nicely; just add a little panic and he will act fast ;-)
If you are like me you will be lucky enough not to remember the actual surgery and have a very numb boob until the following morning. You will wake up with it hurting like hell but until then have yourself a feast then kick back, and sleep. Wear your sling and make everyone do heavy lifting for you....

Although I am trying to make light of the situation; of course I am still very apprehensive about the tissue results. The incision is also still bandaged I have yet to see it. The breast is very bruised and swollen. Even after all is said and done; I will probably cry when I see the 3-4 inch angry red incision; if he followed his "roadmap". I am not a stranger to scarring; I have a total of 15 inches of scars on my body but this is the first for my breast. Am I vain? I like to think I am not.... but I will still probably cry in front of the mirror. Hopefully though when good news comes back from my surgeon I can look at the scar as a symbol of good health and strength. Even if the results show cancer; I know I am strong and have plenty of fight in me :-)


  1. Oh Erin, you make me laugh! I love this post. If I ever have to have my breasts go under the knife, this will be a wonderful guide. :) As for the scars, Ben had a shirt once that summed it up..."Scars are like tattoos but with better stories". :)

  2. You are too funny and it really is nice of you to share! I'm sure a lot of women can/will be able to relate to this! Hang in there... you are an amazing woman!

  3. I absolutely love this, Erin. Especially about the testosterone part. My kids have spent enough time under the knife that I understand, pre-op is not the place for a worried husband/dad. And as serious as this situation is, it is awesome to find the humor in it. I try to do the same for every aspect of my life.
    Kudos to u, Erin!!!!

  4. You are very brave and have a great attitude. I hope other women in your situation find this blog and get the same perspective you have.

  5. LOL! Thanks for the giggle. I can relate after having a lumpectomy a few years ago. The first thing I said out of surgery was, "It was just like ER... except George Clooney wasn't there." And while I didn't cry after taking the bandage off, I did almost pass out. It wasn't pretty, especially with the purple road map they'd drawn! I'll be thinking of you as you get your results this week.

  6. Thanks for sharing all of your tips and info! What a funny way to look at everything! I thought it was so funny that you called out for William when coming out of anesthesia...and the doctor's response! I'm sure you're nervous...thinking of you!