My body looks like I caught shrapnel in battle and the medics have made hasty field dressings out of maxi pads taped to my chest. I laugh at the reflection in the mirror and my husband/medic looks up with a piece of tape dangling from his teeth anxious to see if this is a precursor to more sobbing.
We have been doing battle with the swelling in the site surrounding the expanders from hell. When my last drains were pulled the serous output in each was 25ccs in a 12 hour period. That was high in my opinion, Nurse Ratchet once told me I wouldn't lose my drains until output was 20ccs in a 24 hour period. My current output was borderline in my Doctor's opinion, but we were going to allow that swelling to create more expansion before it petered out. A classic Two-Birds-With-One-Stone gameplan. I did mention my nurse acquired knowledge, and was quickly told the number was 30ccs not 20 and that he felt OK about this. What could I say? Nothing could be worse than those drains anyway.
I was wrong about that. The swelling around the expanders went on and on. I was in terrible pain, my frankenboobies were distended, purple and hot to the touch. I immediately went back on drugs and straight to my recliner.
Two days after having my drains pulled I was changing clothes and was shocked to find one half of my camisole wet with warm pink fluid. I pulled the clinging fabric from my breast to find that I was draining from my recently pulled drain site and a small part of my mastectomy site which had become unstuck. My right frankenboobie had popped.
I called the doctor and he reassured me that this sometimes happens and many women use maxipads to absorb the flow. "Better out than in" he says, "keep taking your anti inflammatories and I'll see you Wednesday." two days later I was on my 10th maxipad and more comfortable due to the drainage when my left frankenboobie erupted through it's second drainage site.
As my husband expertly stops up my leakage with sanitary napkins affixed to my chest with trainer's tape. I want to say to him: "Don't look at me, I'm too ugly." I firmly believe that once you see something, you can't unsee it. That's why I don't watch horror movies, I don't want those images flavoring my thoughts. And here I am, mutilated, leaking, with maxipads taped all over my chest and I laugh "did you ever think we would be doing THIS?" I ask. "Never" he replied with tired eyes and a sweet smile "not in a million years." What I'm really asking is: are these images going to make us stronger, or eventually pull us apart? We are both in unfamiliar territory here. Will we survive this new environment? I am changing, you are changing, our roles are changing what will "We" be when this ride comes to a full and complete stop?