My DIEP Flap Reconstruction Surgery

DIEP Flap Reconstruction Surgery

July 7, 2015  (11 weeks post-op double mastectomy)

For information on DIEP Flap reconstruction surgery you can read about it here on the American Cancer Society website.

If you are in the Jacksonville, FL or surrounding areas, you can read about what the Florida Plastic Surgery Group says are the advantages of breast reconstruction here.

Dr. Fallucco, my plastic surgeon wants me to donate 2 units of blood because of the loss of blood I will have during surgery.  I tried.  I went to the blood bank, but during the screening process it was revealed that due to having lymph nodes removed on both sides, I was not eligible to donate.

I met my oncologist, Dr. Jason Starr yesterday.  Because I tested positive in estrogen fed cancer, I will have to have hormone therapy–this is treated with medication.  I will be taking Femara.

July 20, 2015

Today was my pre-op appointment.  Surgery is scheduled for July 31, 2015.  No tests were run–just answered a lot of questions.

July 31, 2015

Today is surgery day!!  I am so excited to get these expanders out of my body.  I bathed last night and this morning with the same special soap that was used for my double mastectomy.

My surgery was scheduled for noon.  I checked into the hospital at 9:30a.  The plastic surgeon’s office called to see if we were on our way.  Dr. Fallucco himself met us in the waiting room.  Surgery was being moved up because he finished his earlier procedure.  I bypassed the prep area and went directly upstairs to the holding area to prep there.  I gave a urine sample, changed into a gown and footies.  The holding area was a very tight space!  We went through all the necessary questions, blood pressure and insertion of the IV.  Dr. Fallucco came in.  He had me stand up.  He did his purple markings on my chest and torso.

The anesthesiologist came in.  I signed the consent.  A seasickness patch was placed behind my ear for nausea.  I tend to get sick after anesthesia.  The patch increases heart rate and causes dry mouth.  The anesthesiologist assistant gave me an injection in the IV.  She said it causes you to forget, but you can still move and talk.  I will be able to move myself to the surgery table.

The rest of my family came in for a quick visit.  We said our goodbyes.  I was wheeled to surgery.  I do remember not wanting to know this part.  I do remember getting onto the surgery table.  I remember these kind eyes looking at me!  Alana, the PA from the plastic surgery group was wearing a cap, glasses and a mask.  She knew I was looking at her and she acknowledged that it was her.  What a comfort!  That was the last I remembered.

Surgery started at 11:30a.  At 4p Dr. Fallucco went to the waiting room to tell my family that I was going to recovery in ICU.

I woke up around 6p.  I woke up very differently than last surgery.  No tunnel.  No numbness or lack of speech.  There were six people tending to me.  I was told I couldn’t go to my room until my body temperature warmed up.  The had a warming blanket on me.  My face felt cold.  I asked if they could pull it up over my face.  It worked!!  Finally, around 8p I was wheeled to my room.  Oh to see my husband’s and Mom’s faces!!  Visiting hours were over.

I was tended to all night.  Blood pressure.  Heart rate.  Arterial sonar–this measured the blood flow to my reconstructed breasts.  A wand-like doppler was used to listen.  It sounds like a heartbeat.  The ICU staff were amazing.

I was moved out of ICU to a regular room the next morning.  I was able to have liquids.  The catheter came out and oxygen was removed.

Day 3 the IV came out.  It was a relief to go to the bathroom without pushing that IV stand with me.  I was using a walker to walk the halls.  My appetite came back and I was able to take care of my personal needs.

Day 4 Dr. Fallucco and Alana showed up.  My pain pouch was removed from my belly.  The two wires reading the arteries were removed.  It was unpleasant—and of course, this was all in the middle of my lunch.  It was then that I learned my belly button was in a new place.  Thank you, Alana!!  They told me I was going home.  Of course, this took all day!  We left the hospital at 5p.

Ready to leave the hospital!

I am ready to leave the hospital!!

August 9, 2015 (9 Days Post-Op)

I was assigned a home health nurse.  She came only a couple of times.  I didn’t feel like I needed her with all the help from my family. 6 days post-op I washed my hair with my Mom’s help.  Tremendous improvement in how I felt!  I still wasn’t up for visitors.  Today was so much better.  Juan, my husband, washed the sheets and helped me wash my hair again.  I cried because I was feeling human again!!

I don’t really hurt anywhere. I would call it more of a discomfort.  My six (6) JP Drains itch at the sites.  There are two in my pubic area and two in each reconstructed breast.  Even though they are empty, they are heavy.  You can imagine the weight when they fill.  I have them in a fanny pack around my waist.  My abdominal incision itches like crazy.  I feel a pull in my belly button area.  The JP Drains in my pubic area are so uncomfortable.  They tug and just gross me out!! It makes me queasy.  My back aches from walking hunched over trying to protect the drains and my tight tummy.  This was unexpected.

This is a long post.  I am trying to be real and to bring awareness to those of you who may be seeking answers, or who made need to have an outlet to discuss what my experiences were.  Of course, yours will be unique to your diagnosis and to your body.

Please comment or send me an email if you would like to connect.

You can do this!



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