Day by day, not particularly well framed, but you get the idea.
September 14th – 15th?
What can I say? Chemo has really been kicking my ass… I seem to have a harder time than many with the reality. Interestingly enough, after chemo the breast incision is much more painful, and the cording (though much less severe) and left arm tenderness has recurred.
These are from August 18th.
O, and last week the sad remains of my pubic hair fell out -it had been thinning unpleasantly, but there was a mass exodus of the survivors last week. Now I look like the rest of the aging Lolitas, muffin top and all (ten pound gain on chemo).
It’s not particularly comfy. Don’t mind the look so much, but without pubic hair to act as a cushion, all my tender and sensitive bits are directly against my undies, and I’d prefer them not to be.
Ah, well, this too shall pass. And the regrow should be fun… I’m guessing since it just *fell* out, I’ll be escaping the itchy season. Small mercies, eh?
I went through my first round of chemo, and took a break from self documentation – chemo kicked my ass. My body continued to heal, though…
After this, there’s a break in photos, as I entered chemotherapy, and body distortion took back seat to simply getting through the day… and things kept changing. I’ve been using ScarAway on the incision almost constantly during the day and vitamin E at night, as well as using light massage to help minimize scar tissue formation.
The cording and seroma have almost completely vanished, the breast still feels a wee bit tender, but I’ve been able to revert to my normal braless state (thank ye gods and little fishes).
It’s known as cording, or ‘axillary web syndrome’. It’s not uncommon, though it’s more common in women with more extensive surgeries than I had. Depending on where you read, it self resolves in a few months, or it lingers on forever with flareups possible years after surgery. It’s best treated with ice, or warm heat, or gentle massage, or by stretching, or rest. It’s caused by over exertion too soon after surgery, or it has no known cause but tends to appear a week or so after surgery, after an otherwise unremarkable recovery. Developing a seroma can predispose one to developing AWS; AWS can predispose one to developing lymphedema – or there’s no connection. Radiation can aggravate the condition, as can any of the myriad other things that can lead to lymphedema (insect bites or stings on the affected arm, cuts, scrapes, sunburn, over exertion, etc etc ad nauseum). Women with lower body weights are more susceptible to AWS; it’s just not as apparent on heavier women.
There seems to be a dearth of real research on the syndrome – it’s been recognized for years as a possible effect from surgery, but I guess it just wasn’t *interesting* enough to merit research.
It’s decidedly odd, this extra tendon like thing in my armpit, the pulling of it down my arm, the extreme sensitivity of the skin in that area… yet another aspect of my body changing out of my control, and I do feel rather bitter that I wasn’t warned about this; I wasn’t warned about the seroma; it’s all been word-of-mouth and “what-the-fuck-is-this?” and quick web research on my part.
A lot of the original post -op swelling has gone down, though there’s still some to go. I developed a seroma (a cyst like pocket of lymph fluid and blood draining off of the incision site) in my left armpit – fairly common and, for me, fairly painful (that part isn’t that common).
As the swelling’s gone down, new distortions in the breast architecture are visible. There’s still changes to come.
The marks from the 24/7 bra are also pretty evident – I’m back to sleeping with an ice pack and bra always on, in an attempt to reduce the seroma and associated pain (aka ‘discomfort’ in medical speak). Lots of cornstarch to prevent sticking, but the bra tends to slide up my breasts.
In some positions the damage is more evident.
the skin itself seems coarser, oddly enough… and it seems that there’s still enough swelling to create a distinct difference in the size of my left breast. None of this is visible with a bra on – it’s an intimate view only.
O, the thing that looks like a pimple on my left breast, about 10:00? That’s a scar from one of the biopsies – I’ve ordered ScarAway silicone sheets, and I’m going to try those to see if they’ll reduce the bumpiness of the scars.
It’s an evolving process.
Second day of having the bandages off, and I’m filled with buyer’s remorse… I’ve been altered. My nipple pulls in to the scar, the shape of my breast is changed.
I am not the same, this is not my body. I want it back.
by the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, and there we wept, for we remembered Zion…..
‘A Glancing Shot from Cupid’s Arrow’
Steri-strips still in place, gauze and Tegaderm off – I think it’s looking pretty spiffy, myself. Everything will change as it heals, of course, but so far there’s no divot in my breast, and I don’t mind the scar at all.
The largish square of reddened skin is from the Tegaderm itself; you can also see the marks from both the needle biopsies and the vacuum assisted biopsies.
Here it is again, slightly different view:
The tiny wrinkles are just from the Tegaderm, and are probably gone by now. It’s kinda interesting that my ribcage below the breast appears bruised – I don’t notice this myself, but it’s clear as day in the photos. Gravity is a harsh mistress.
Other than that, the bruising is extremely slight, any swelling is pretty minimal, and everything looks clean and is doing well. I’m impressed.