Breast reduction followed by ten weeks of infection and open wounds. Three stars.
I debated between two and three stars because on one hand, it's such a massive relief not to have Double G watermelons hanging off my spinal cord, and so fun to be able to go out in public without shame or a bra! On the other hand, I'm pretty sure I have PTSD from the gaping wound in my chest I had for months and the way I was dismissed and ignored by my surgeon.
To recap: on August 20th, I underwent a breast reduction and armpit lipo to get the weight of my breasts of my chronically sore back/neck/shoulders and get my armpits looking FOIN for all the strapless evening gowns I wear on the couch. The breast reductions itself went well enough, it seems-they’re a little bigger postop than I wanted, but swelling can last a year, and a little weight loss should put them where I want them to be. At the surgical center, I went out and woke up like I was supposed to, and lotsa boob and pit was removed. I was poured into my husband's waiting car while still drooling on myself from anesthesia, but that's normal for out-patient life. I healed at home. The pain wasn't too bad, even though the bruising was epic. I was mobile, I was wearing the sports bra-like compression garments and using ice packs and trying to follow all the showering/caring for the incisions rules. Then the infection began with a fever that wouldn't quit, and the wound started opening. Over the next two and a half months, I drove an hour into the city countless times to have my surgeon tell me it was "almost an infection" and "not a big deal," (the $10 parking for a 10 minute visit was a drag, but the deli on the ground floor of the building made fantastic veggie sandwiches- 5 stars), I went to urgent care convinced I was dying, I had to pack my open chest wound with bandages daily, was strapped to a beeping machine (wound VAC) for several weeks, and completed four courses of oral antibiotics. I ended up insisting on seeing a second surgeon- a General Surgeon wound care specialist- despite being told "I really don't think this is necessary" and "I can take care of the problem myself." Once I saw her and got the treatment the wound needed- radically different than what I'd been advised by my plastic surgeon- things improved quickly.
Thankfully, in late October, by the time we left for a trip we’d been planning for a year, the wound was closed enough that it only required a BandAid. I avoided getting in the ocean, but otherwise it didn't slow me down at all- we hiked, sweated, ate, looked at volcanoes, made out, etc.
In the weeks since, it's gotten better still. There is a wide and gnarly scar and the shape at the bottom of the boob is more like a cloven hoof than a lovely teardrop, but I doubt very much that I'll trust anyone to put sutures in my skin again, so I'll either leave it the way it is or get a massive tattoo that incorporates it. (Needles don't bother me as long as they stay shallow)
So, physically, that's where I am. Oh, and the back pain I'd been dealing with for years initially was gone but it’s creeping back now. I'm trying not to blame it on the weight I gained while couch-bound and healing and not to tell myself that all of this was a waste of mental and physical anguish and oodles of money. I'm trying to stay positive, but, you know, where’s the fun in that.
Physically, I'm recovered, and somewhat better than where I started. Mentally, I'm still feeling defeated. My husband says I should be proud that I advocated for myself, but man, it felt like too little too late. It would have been nice to have just received the care I needed up front, to not be talked down to, to be able to trust the person I’m paying to not only do the thing but have the skills and self-awareness to manage the ugly aftermath. I was dismayed by my surgeon’s lack of creativity and know-how in handling the wound, and in how little he seemed to listen to me. Like, my body may have rejected the sutures and there’s nothing anyone could have done differently intraoperatively to prevent the wound from breaking down- but if you’re gonna poke holes in people, you need to be able to fix them.