Brace yourself everyone. This one is going to get uncomfortable and you are about to get all too well acquainted with my chesticles. So stop reading now unless you are in it for the long haul.
Let's talk about nipples. Let's face it kids, they are important. I personally am very attached to mine. Haha, pun intended! I didn't realize how important they were until I was at a major risk for losing them.
Ok, here's where it is going to get serious. If you've had a mastectomy, you get it. If you haven't and you want to know, Google images of mastectomy/reconstruction. Now you get it. During a mastectomy, your breast tissue is removed. Your nipple contains breast tissue. Mind blown, I know. Ok, so you are going to chop off my breast and put a fake one in its place. I'm cool with that. But you are going to take away my nipples? Not only am I going to have massive, Frankenstein scars, but I am going to have a tattooed nip for the rest of my life. Whoa, whoa, whoa!
Thank goodness for amazing doctors and research. While it really sucks to have cancer, I am truly blessed to have the most amazing, cutting-edge team of doctors watching my back and I am learning a ton in the process. My surgeons allowed me to proceed with a nipple-sparing, bilateral mastectomy in which they kept the Frankenstein scars to the barest of bare minimum. Now, with anything this whole process was hit or miss and I want to reiterate that there is a risk of recurrence with that very small remainder of breast tissue, but it is less than 1%. It's a risk I was willing to take. Post-surgery, I could lose them at any time. So far, so good, but it has been a rocky road.
In the hospital the nurses would come in periodically for what they referred to as "nipple-checks". I am not shy. The word, the actual object, it doesn't bother me at all. Now when you are completely drugged up and surrounded by your friends and family and the focus is on your goodies, it is absolutely hilarious to watch everyone try to tip-toe around the subject. They send you home with no surgical garment, no tape, no gauze, no bra. One rule: DO NOT RESTRICT BLOOD-FLOW and just deal with it.
The next days are spent watching and waiting. All eyes on the nips to make sure they are alive and kicking. I have never heard the word nipple so many times in my life. If you weren't comfortable with it before, you are now. If you are in my house, we are talking about it. Sorry, not sorry.
Right one is great, going strong from day one. Lefty has decided to be a royal pain in the ass. That sucker was really giving me a run for my money, but I was not going down without a fight. Doctors, nurses, PAs and everyone in between have been staring at this little bugger for 3 weeks wishing and hoping that it would miraculously recover. I swear that one doc actually pinched and just stared quizzically then said, "Give it another week." Hit and miss people.
Three weeks out and I am one lucky girl. I have two successfully retained nipples and scars that are not ginormous and that are healing quite successfully. It's not for everyone, but this was the decision that was right for me. I need them, I talk about them, I'll show them to you if you want. Just beware the Frankenstein scars!!
Oh and ladies, I'm sorry about any nightmares I may have caused by having you check out photos. Hold onto yours tight and don't let anyone take what is rightfully yours!! : )
Thu, March 7, 2013
by Kara Ward