Last week’s blog left you when I woke up in the recovery room after my double mastectomy.

Desiree stayed with me overnight at the hospital and the next ¬†morning she was instructed in the care of my dangling drainage tubes and how to empty and apply suction to them in the morning and evening. She was a great nurse and I couldn’t believe she was so faithful in taking care of me when she was facing health challenges of her own.

There was no additional cancer found, and the lymph nodes they took were also found to be free of cancer. The cancer they did remove was estrogen reactive, so I was going to have to reduce estrogen in my bloodstream.

I failed the trial with the estrogen reducing drugs. I could not function with them – whether due to my fibromyalgia or some other reason, the drugs sent me to bed with bones and joints aching so deeply I could not function. I finally settled on Calcium D-Glucarate and DIM supplements. I get my estrogen tested periodically and so far it has been too low to measure.

When the surgeons operated, there were flat expandable inserts placed behind my pectoral muscles. Over the next few weeks I returned to Dr. Steele’s office every ten days or so for an injection of saline into these inserts. By doing these injections over time, my pectoral muscles were allowed to stretch and make room for my reconstructed breasts. It was a bit like going through puberty again, except for the hormones, of course. I grew slowly until I was approximately my pre-mastectomy size.

When the doctor and I agreed on the final size desired, we scheduled an outpatient surgery to replace the expandable inserts with “permanent” silicon inserts of the same size. I put quotes around permanent because at any point where there is a problem with the silicon implants they will be replaced.

So now I had the shape, but my breasts looked somewhat lonely or as I called it “blind” without any form of nipple on them. They reminded me of those cave dwelling fish that have no eyes at all.

Anyway, after the implant surgery healed we scheduled a nipple surgery where flaps were cut and folded around on each other to create a raised “nipple” look. There was no color, but the shape was there. Mine did flatten a good bit but not enough to make me want to go through another surgery.

More than a year after the surgery I was able to get areolas tattooed on the skin around and including the raised areas. I am well pleased with the outcome, especially when compared to my fears of looking deformed or maimed like some victims of the early years of mastectomies. To quote Meredith Baxter (the mom to Alex Keaton on “Family Ties”) after her reconstruction “I now have the boobs of an 18-year-old girl. Now how many ladies over 50 can say that?!?