Tuesday, April 24, 2012

TMI Alert! TMI Alert! Disturbing Pictures!

There.  Nobody can say that they stumbled upon pictures they weren't expecting.  I'm going to show where the drain tubes exit my body, where my portacath is placed for future chemo, and even the  tissue where there used to be a breast.

I'm a very modest person, and would have NEVER thought I could post that, but it no longer resembles a breast to me because it is missing a couple of key components that make it so.  When this happened to me, I scoured the internet for images and videos and information.  Maybe this is one more place that will give honest information.

This is your last chance.  If you have a weak stomach, or it bothers you to go to work with me after seeing this, just click here now and don't look back.

We'll start mild.  This is my portacath.  It's still under a large, square, clear bandage, so it'll look a lot better in a week or so when that is gone.
They will use this to administer chemotherapy.  If you do repeated IV treatments, it is VERY hard on veins, especially something as aggressive as chemo.  The port goes into a very large vein, which helps the body absorb the medication more quickly.

The next image is the JP drains exiting from my side.  They drain after-surgery fluids away from the site to prevent complications.  When the amount gets below a certain number of CCs, the drain can be removed.
These are stitched in in case you're clumsy.  (I've dropped the drain bulb more than once.)  There is a bulb at the end of each drain tube.  I have to empty them 3-4 times per day and measure the output.  Drain one is playing nicely and could come out.  Drain two hates me.  It has output 80cc today, and we still have one more check.  Drain one has put out 17cc.  Sheesh.  I'm hoping to lose them at my follow-up on Friday.  I'm not holding my breath about evil number two, though.

Finally the one you'll regret seeing.  This used to be a breast.  They maintained most of the skin, which will help when they remove the tissue expander and replace it with a permanent implant.  I had enough tissue there that they partially filled the tissue expander (which is under the muscle and causing 90% of my pain.)  That is why there is a bit of mound there, instead of being flat against my chest wall.
Yes, gross.  I get it.  The loose skin will not remain loose as they fill the expander a bit at a time at a rate that my muscle wall can handle.  If NOTHING delays it, we should be done by August.  At that point, we make the other one the same size/shape/placement as the new one, and then we make the new one more "real."  Yes, they'll add the nipple and areola.  TMI?  I warned you.  How do they add these things, you ask?  Tattoo.  That's right.  Tattoo.

As things start looking closer to normal, you'll probably never see any of this again.  At some point, my sense of modesty will return.  Fortunately, until then, I have a prosthesis.  Oh, and I can change the size of it as needed.  Cool, huh?  Maybe that's another blog entry for another day.


Jim said...

Hey Rachel, thank you for posting the images. I have to admit, I was curious about what everything looked like post surgery, but, I didn't feel right actually asking. I also didn't want to Google the images because, well, you did and look what you saw!

Stay strong.

ingasmile said...

I read your Mom's blog but keep up over here too. Just wanted to say thanks for sharing your pics. They will help someone who is going down the same road some day. My Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1985 and there was no such thing as reconstruction. She had a scar from the middle of her arm pit criss cross to her mid/lower rib cage. What a miracle reconstruction is! She was always lopsided and had much back/neck/shoulder pain from it. I have had lift/implants and I know how much those things hurt!! We really take coughing and sneezing for granted! Inga

nerves05 said...

Thank you for sharing.
I had always wondered what this would look like.
But honestly it doesn't really look that bad considering.
I'm just so glad things are going well for you. And this will definately help others i'm sure of it. Dont' be embarrassed. Unfortunately this is a part of life.

Lindie said...

I found the pictures very interesting. My mother had breast cancer about 25 years ago and her reconstruction was not something she was happy about. (she did live a long life after that and died on her 85th birthday) I guess you can be happy that medical science has improved so much since then. I am happy that my heart surgery 10 years ago went well, my father was not able to survive his heart problems when he was 48. I bless our researchers and thank God for them.

Shell said...

Thank you for being you, Rachel. :)

Seriously, I had never seen photos, and like Jim said, didn't want to go Googling.

When I mentioned survivor tattoos, however, that ISN'T what I had in mind. LMFAO!

Love you!

Debbie said...

I'm glad you're a candidate for the portacath, chemo does blow the veins. Hopefully the other drainage tube clears up and you can get rid of it Friday.

Thank you for sharing the pictures and your honesty.

small farm girl said...

Hey! Now you and you mom will BOTH have tatoos! Lol. Seriously, thanks for the picks. Its gonna help someone out there.

Margaret said...

Awesome pics! I never knew how a tissue expander worked or that they put one in so soon. (only makes sense though) The dinner sounds wonderful and you are most certainly expected and allowed to have down times. We all do!! xoxo

Sonya Cox said...

I had read a lot of entries but missed this one. Thanks for sharing. I hate that it is so painful.

Donna said...

Wow, reading these old posts gives me the heebie-jeebies.