It's Good Grief O'Clock in the morning, and I really should be asleep. I have a big day coming up. At 11:30 this morning, I will be back in surgery having the dead skin and tissue removed from my mastectomy sites--it's all dead, every bit you saw in my last post is dead--and a latissimus dorsi flap procedure done to repair the gaping holes that will be left.
It's a fascinating procedure--the latissimus dorsi is a back muscle, and my doctor will take a piece of skin and the muscle from here, both sides in my case. From Medical News Today "During latissimus dorsi flap reconstruction surgery, the surgeon makes an incision in the back near the shoulder blade and passes the oval section of skin, fat, blood vessels, and muscle through a tunnel under the skin and arm to the chest." The muscle remains connected to its blood supply, and this is what will supply my new tissue patch with blood and oxygen. I'll be in surgery nearly four hours and in the hospital at least overnight. I'm told the recovery will be a little bit tougher, but hey, the last week has been tough on its own. We're in recovery mode, so we decided to jump on it.
Yes, this did come together very quickly after my appointment yesterday.
Warning: Photos down below that some may not want to see. Leave now if you don't. And if you didn't look last post, you won't want to look now.
My friend, Sandy, encouraged me to document every step of this, and I've tried. I'm a photographer, so photos are a natural way for me to do this. I had a plan before my mastectomy--not knowing at the time exactly what all we would have to face, Jamie and I decided we would do a portrait together at every stage of this, beginning with the Before Mastectomy and including everything following. Even if it was chemo and/or radiation, it would be included.
I've not shown our Before portrait before now because, honestly, even though I LOVE this portrait, I was shy to share it and Jamie isn't enthusiastic about the world seeing me like this. (Forgive me, Jamie. But it's even more meaningful to me now than it was when we took it, and I love it, and I'm proud of it and I want to share it.)
I planned the next portrait to be when my bandages came off after my mastectomy, but I had zero idea that I would look like what I look like. I thought we would be documenting my stitch lines. Life is full of surprises, isn't it?
This has been a tough stage to look at, and surgery in the morning will move us in to the next stage. I started to skip a portrait for this because I didn't have any idea how to photograph us in a way that would be something we'd want to look at and remember. I couldn't let it slide though because I would have documented a chemo or radiation stage had there been one. How could I NOT document this. So I set up the camera on a tripod & used the self timer, and we just started taking photos. We let the little session evolve as it would, and when I saw the photo below, I knew we had The Portrait for this stage.
This man makes me feel so stinkin' beautiful all the time, even now in this most ugly stage. We've cried a little, but we've laughed way more. He's told me every day, even as he's gently doctoring my wounds, how beautiful I am and how much he loves me. Tonight, as we were taking photos, he said, "All I see is beauty." And tonight, while we were taking photos, I felt beautiful! And I felt & feel so much love for him; it's multiplied exponentially in the last two weeks. That's what I'll remember about this stage!
I'll see you all in the next stage...