It’s been nearly 72 hours since I came out of surgery. I had a bilateral mastectomy with immediate breast reconstruction.
The surgeries went well. I had two surgeons, Dr H who did the mastectomies and Dr W the plastic surgeon. They said it all went smoothly, nothing crazy happened. So all good then.
The next morning, the effects of the General Anesthetic wore off. Then reality sunk in. The reality that I was different. Let’s not beat round the bush. During the surgery they didn’t save the nipples. So that’s a bit weird right? Then they couldn’t put in the implants immediately, because there wasn’t enough skin left over. So they have expanders under my pectoral muscles. Over a period of 4-12 weeks, they will inject saline into the expander to allow my skin to stretch to accomodate the final implants. The process, is very uncomfortable.
I found that I couldn’t take deep breaths. Coughing or clearing my throat hurt. It felt so damn tight across my chest.
Then there was the excruciating ache from my back. I was told that during the surgery they had me arched over sand bags, to open me up for the implants. No wonder I’m sore. Sleeping was excruciating.
I also have four tubes draining fluid from my chest. Two bottles on each side. I have to walk around carrying these bottles for the next fortnight. I’m getting used to them though. It’s a bit freaky when I can suddenly feel a gurgle in my chest then see fluid rush into the bottle. It’s morbidly fascinating.
The second night though, I was in tears. I was depressed. Not only did I have to deal with the physical pain I was going through, but I was also having to accept the emotional turmoil of my new body. I’d always said I never cared about losing my breasts, that I was completely ready for the mastectomy. And while I believe that I was ready, still, you can’t be human if you don’t feel some sense of loss and the realisation that I’ll never be the same again. The silver lining of course, is that my chances of living have gone up tremendously.
I felt that I was a freak, a non human. The Rock kept saying how proud he was of me, and I’ll be honest, I was fed up with being told how strong I was; how I was doing such a great thing; What a great role model I was. I was so tired of holding it all together.
I just wanted to cry, cry and cry some more. I had cancer. I never wanted to go through this in the first place. 6 weeks ago, I was probably the fittest I’ve ever been. I was on top of things, I had these big plans, and I was just smashing it. Up to the day before the surgery I still felt pretty good. Now, I’m stuggling to tie my hair. Brushing my teeth is a tricky maneuver. I can’t open doors. I can’t push myself to sit up in bed. Yesterday I couldn’t even have a pee without a nurse by my side. That’s when I cried. I felt so degraded, so humiliated that cancer turned me into a patient that was dependant on other people to help me. I hated that people were pitying me. The woman who had her breasts removed.
Then, yesterday afternoon, not quite 48 hours after surgery, I had a little nap and when I woke up, The Rock was by my side and we had a normal chat. About normal things. Then I took a sleeping pill, lots of pain meds, and went to bed. And had the best nights sleep. The soreness and stiffness in my chest and back didn’t keep me awake. When I woke up today, I felt a different person.
Now, I know who I am. I am Alisandra. Aly. Al. Lis. Mummy. I am a woman. I am a mother. I am a wife. I am a daughter. I am a sister. I am a friend. I am a pilates instructor. I am a writer. I am a survivor.
I am someone who is going to beat cancer.