The days following my surgery were hit and miss due to the adverse reaction I had to the anesthetic. I spent a lot of time resting and dealing with nausea, dizziness and fatigue. I was fortunately able to manage my pain with extra strength Tylenol and didn’t need any pain killers.
I was advised to keep the bandages on for 48 hours, then I could remove them.
Here is a very big, very important note to anyone undergoing surgery for removal of cancerous parts:
You will not look the same after surgery as you did prior to surgery, and you will not look the same 2 days after surgery as you will in a week, and in 2 weeks, and in 2 months…
DO NOT DESPAIR!
Sadly this advice was not dispensed to me prior to my removing the bandages. I was devastated.
While it is true that nothing can adequately prepare you for the first sight of your body after it is mutilated for survival, a little warning would have been greatly appreciated. I knew there would be a scar, but I was not prepared for what a change I would be looking at!
My breast was very deformed from swelling. The nipple was still there but it was in a complete different location and everything was just swollen and contorted, and devastating to look at. I immediately started crying. Luckily, and thankfully some amazing, strong women who have been through breast cancer reached out to me online to console me. My mother, bless her heart, tried her best but really didn’t understand what I was going through and so couldn’t help calm me down. I am very thankful I shared my journey because it is what helped connect me with other survivors who could relate. They shared their stories with me and it is what helped get me through it all. I can tell you now, as I type these words, that my breast looks much better and in fact, I plan to have surgery to make the left look more like the right! Now that the swelling has gone down and the scar tissue has softened slightly, my breast looks like one that has never breast fed! I don’t mind the scar at all. If they could just point in the same direction, I’ll be a very happy woman!
Then came the Axillary Web Syndrome also know as cording. Cording is essentially scar tissue that grows along your tendons. It is quite common and specific to lymph node dissection. No one seems to know why or how it happens. There are options for treatment such as physio and massage. To deal with my case, I massaged the arm in the shower, did a lot of fascia stretching, and when this wasn’t working fast enough for me I booked a massage. I wished I’d have booked sooner because after one massage session the cording was completely gone!
With that in mind, I urge you to keep calm. Everything will be alright! In a few weeks or months you will be looking back a memory.