I can take it

Today I met up with my Castle Connolly, top rated plastic surgeon, for the 2nd post-op visit. She asked me how I was doing with the pain. I was honest and told her that when I was able to rest whenever I wanted during recovery, I was down to taking the pain meds from every 5 hours to every 8 or so, which was a big improvement. Yesterday I had some appointments and errands to run downtown, so it was kind of my test run day to see how I’d do on the metro, walking all over the place and generally having a more normal day than I’ve had since surgery. As I informed my Dr. this pushed me back down to needing the meds every 5-6 hours again. I told her that I had been doing pretty well but refused to suffer in pain when I didn’t have to. She quickly agreed that there was no reason for me to suffer through it needlessly and that I was smart enough to figure out when I didn’t need the drugs again. I also told her that I’d been taking some darvocet that I had left over from severe back pain that I was experiencing this summer which seemed to knock me out and make me feel a little more out of it which let me sleep (otherwise I would wake up in the middle of the night for meds, or sleep very badly and wake exhausted). So she gave me a prescription for that as well.

Since I was still in pain, she said that she’d wait to fill my tissue expander until next week. I said, “No, no, no!” as I had geared myself up for it, had taken some anticipatory drugs and had the rest of the day off. She asked if I was sure, and I said, “Absolutely – let’s do it!” She called my favorite nurse, who gathered the needle and the saline bag and then used a magnet to find the metal valve in my expander so the saline could be inserted. When she got to 100ccs she asked me if I wanted to stop – I told her, I’m ready, I’ll take as much as you’re willing to give me. She stopped at 150ccs, which, according to my understanding is quite a large expander fill and if I have the conversion correct it’s about the equivalent of about 5oz. So now there’s essentially just over a serving of juice that’s been injected to a silicone container which sits half under and half over my newly split pectoral muscle supported by alloderm, and a whole lotta stitching. orange juice

To give you an idea of what this feels like, it’s as if someone has placed a concrete block on the left side of my chest, and occasionally pokes the outer perimeter with an ice pick. The actual filling process is less intense, but still increases according to the amount of fluid being inserted. If you’re familiar with the Peaches song Operation, where she all but screams, “I can take it!”, that’s what was going through my head towards the end of the fill.

Now I’m safely at home with a nice cocktail of valium, vicoden, and darvocet-n coursing through my veins, and thanks to Joanna, sushi waiting for me in the fridge. You should be impressed that I was able to type this out at all.

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2 comments
  1. Amy said:

    I know it sounds weird, but the expanders are more tolerable the larger they get. I just had my exchange surgery, and except for the drains coming out of my side it is easy. I’m going back to work 3 days later…

  2. m00se said:

    Thanks for the encouragement, Amy. I’ve actually had one expander in since April, and I agree, they’re more comfortable as they’re filled and as your body gets used to them. Although I still experience some pain from the right one which is fully filled, especially when I’m trying to get comfortable sleeping, and getting out of bed, it’s nothing like the pain of getting these suckers filled.

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