My name is April Bhattacharya and I’ve created this blog to keep family and friends updated with my journey. I hope that others out there that are facing these same decisions find my blog encouraging and informative.
After losing multiple women in my family, including my mother, to breast cancer, I chose to have genetic testing. I found out in March 2010 that I tested positive for the BRCA2 mutation. This does not mean it causes breast or ovarian cancer, but it leads to an increased risk for its development. I have an 85% lifetime risk of breast cancer and a 40% lifetime risk of ovarian cancer. The general population’s lifetime risk for breast cancer is about 12% and less than 2% for ovarian cancer.
After doing much research, discussing things with my husband, talking with doctors and genetic counselors, I came to the conclusion that a prophylactic (preventative) bilateral mastectomy (removal of both breasts) and reconstruction would be my personal best decision. By having this surgery I reduce my risk of getting breast cancer by 90%. I have also taken on a vegan diet. At 23 years old, I am empowered to take steps to prevent breast and/or ovarian cancer from taking my life early. I am grateful to be a woman with options that could change the future of my family.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Goodbye Tissue Expanders, Hello Foobs!
Starting on Wednesday I had to take an antibiotic twice a day for three days. It's called Sulfameth. The bottle said nothing about causing headaches...just says it can cause diarrhea...which it didn't thank goodness! But it did give me the worst migraine of my life. Sameer looked online and saw that a lot of people had the same problem. Some people wouldn't even finish taking it because it made their head hurt so bad. I powered through and drank tons and tons of water. I've been in my bedroom with curtains closed and all lights off since Thursday evening. When I got up to use the bathroom I wore sunglasses because of the light shining through the bathroom blinds. I was drinking so much water that I got up about every 2 hours to pee. The meds even dried out my skin. I finally came out of my room earlier this afternoon. It's now to a normal headache and hopefully I'm all better by tomorrow. I was able to take a good shower and lotion up so that was nice. I refuse to ever take this antibiotic again!!
Now let me back up to Tuesday morning when I got my lovely foobs (fake boobs)...
I got up at 7:30AM to take a pill called Emend. The surgeon prescribed this for me to take to hopefully help with nausea after I wake up from surgery. I had gotten so sick last time. Then I took my time showering and got ready to go to surgery. I checked in at 9:30AM. I got into my gown and tons of nurses were just coming in and out of the room for a while. Until finally one nurse comes in and says that my pregnancy test from that last Friday came back "uncertain". Are you kidding me?!!? So I had to get dressed and walk over to another building to have my blood taken for another pregnancy test. It was about 10:30AM when I did this. I hate getting my blood taken and I usually pass out or come close to it. I hadn't eaten or drank anything since midnight because of the surgery, so I was dreading this test. I was already so nervous about the surgery and then to find out my test was "uncertain" and I need blood drawn! hahaha It definitely wasn't how I expected the morning to go. I got back to my room and changed into my gown again around 11:15AM. Me and my husband just watched TV and waited for the results and to see when surgery would be. They came in close to noon and said that the pregnancy test came back negative...Woo Hoo!! And that my surgeon had to go into another surgery but that I would be next.
So the nurse got my IV in and the anesthesiologist came to discuss what all was going to happen and my nausea problems. They put another one of those patches behind my ear that I had last time. It's called a Scopolamine Patch. It's suppose to help with nausea, but it makes your vision blurry and you become very forgetful. I had one of those last time so I knew what to expect. It stays on for 3 days and then it takes several hours for it to wear completely off. They also decided to use a different drug to put me under. They used Ketamine or also known as "Special K". It's suppose to also help with nausea. I guess the combo of the Emend, the Scopolamine Patch and the Ketamine worked because I never had nausea or threw up after surgery!!! I'm so happy about that! It was horrible last time. Now we know what works on me for the future.
Anyways...they finally took be back for surgery around 1:30PM. I didn't get anything in my IV to make me loopy before I went back this time. Other than the Scopolamine Patch beginning to kick in I was pretty wide-eyed and alert. That was a little weird because last time I was so out of it I don't really remember getting wheeled down the hall to the OR and I only remember seconds in the room before I was knocked out. This time I remember talking to the lady wheeling me down the hall...I remember moving myself from the stretcher to the operating table...I remember talking to a few people in the room for a bit while they were getting me ready...and when the mask went on I didn't go to sleep as fast this time so I was just looking around the room thinking..."Oh my gosh, go to sleep April, go to sleep!" haha I guess I was out shortly after that.
The surgery lasted about 1 hour and 40 minutes. It took me about 2 hours to wake up and I headed home around 6PM. When I woke up from this surgery I didn't have any horrible pains like last time. I kind of wasn't even thinking about my chest...I was just seeing double and triple of everything from the drugs and Scopolamine Patch behind my ear. I just remember trying to keep my eyes open so I could get up and go home. I remember telling Sameer to look at the all the birds playing outside the window and he laughed and told me there was only one bird out there...and then I was trying to drink from my spoon handle that was in my cup thinking it was a straw haha I was pretty loopy for a while!
The surgeon came in to see me before I went home. I vaguely remember that happening. He said that I needed to wear a underwire bra as soon as I felt up to it...and that I'm on restrictions for 6 weeks of no pushing/pulling/lifting anything over 10lbs. Also no soaking in a bath, hot tub, swimming, getting in the lake, etc for those 6 weeks. Just like the last surgery. My next appointment with him will be on May 31st.
I had a follow up appointment with the PA that did my expansions on Thursday. I went home from surgery with my chest wrapped, so at this appointment she unwrapped me and checked everything out. It was a very brief appointment and all went well. I was a little freaked out at first because everything was very swollen so my cleavage was touching haha But the swelling will go down over the next couple of weeks. A lot of it is already gone by today. My foobs are no longer smashed together haha She told me to wear a sports bra until I felt comfortable to get into an underwire bra. And she went back over the weight restrictions and that I can't stretch my arms all the way up, but that it was okay to touch my head to wash my hair. She also said I was able to take a shower that day, so that was awesome news! I'm still wearing a sports bra at the moment since my migraine kept me in bed, but I hope to go buy a bra on Monday.
I haven't taken any of my pain killers other than Ibuprofen since Thursday. I have soreness mainly in my armpit area, but I'm a little tender all over my torso. My daily life with tissue expanders was more uncomfortable than what I feel like right now. Occasionally I'll have a shooting pain, but it's not too bad. Sometimes I have a burning feeling too...like a bee sting. I sneezed today a couple of times and that was the worst pain I've felt so far. Overall, I'm very pleased!! I didn't know what to expect. The hardest part of the next 6 weeks will be reminding myself not to exceed my weight restrictions because I feel pretty good. I've already had to stop myself a couple of times today from doing things around the house that are beyond my limits. I'm having some itching and a little rash/redness, but it might be from the medication so hopefully that goes away in the next day or so. Sleeping has been difficult, but that's because of the migraine keeping me up all night. Maybe tonight I'll get some good rest. The weather is absolutely beautiful! I went on a short walk down my street this evening. It was nice to finally get out of the house. I'm hoping everything continues on well and I only feel better from here.