I am at my parents’ house at last! I’m a day later than I expected because I had to stay in the hospital for an extra night, for reasons I’ll explain below.
Thursday was the big day. As I wrote, I thought I’d be nervous, but beyond a few butterflies here and there, I wasn’t. I was cool as a cucumber the entire time, and that was without drugs. I think I had done so much research, and all of the doctors and nurses explained things to me well and respectfully, so I felt secure.
I got up at 6:30, washed my hair and used the antibacterial soap. I don’t like using a hair dryer, but I didn’t want to be dripping all over the hospital, so I did that, too. Around 7:50, my mom and I headed over to the hospital. We were able to walk there, which was nice.
It took a really long time for my pre-op stuff to start. I was so surprised how young most of my nurses and doctors were the whole way through the process, but then I reminded myself that a lot of my friends are nurses and are the same age as me. The younger, male nurse was great and was able to draw blood (my first time) without pain and was fun to talk to. There was a older female nurse though, who wasn’t as great. She kept reiterating that she was just helping out and that everything on her usual floor, the third floor, was done WAY better than on the crummy old ninth floor. They needed a urine sample from me to make sure I didn’t get knocked up in the two weeks since my pre-op appointment. I’m bad at peeing on command in general, but the nurse kept coming over and hammering on the door, making me tense up. I didn’t know it was her and finally abandoned the single-occupancy bathroom, thinking someone needed to throw up or something. She made me feel super guilty for not producing the sample an I eventually got it to her, emphasizing that I needed to be left ALONE.
In between all of this, my plastic surgeon and another doctor came in and talked to my mom and me about the procedure, and my PS drew all over my boobs with a pen and a measuring tape, showing where she was going to, essentially, cut and sew. I think that was the weirdest part of the whole experience.
After I was finally pronounced without child, I climbed onto a rollaway bed to be taken to anesthesia. This was probably an hour and a half after I’d arrived. The anesthesia was the part I was most worried about, but again, there wasn’t any palpable worry about me. I waited forever for the anesthesiologist to come talk to me, and he was really nice and explained stuff very well. I got my first IV, and my entire IV experience wasn’t nearly as uncomfortable as I’ve read about other people’s being.
A long, LONG time later (maybe a bit after ten?), I was wheeled to the OR. My plastic surgeon was sitting in the corner, casually on her phone. She and everyone else helped me onto the operating table and they gave me some heated blankets, which I thanked them for. I think those were probably the last words I said, or at least the last ones I remember saying. The anesthesiologist told me he was putting some relaxing medication into my IV, and I must be a super lightweight, because the room almost instantly went blurry, and I was out seconds later. I didn’t experience being told to think of a nice place or to count backwards; I don’t even remember falling asleep. Night and day experience from my terrifying one in ’98.
I woke up feeling like I’d had a long nap, and the first thing I noticed was that I didn’t have a tube down my throat like the doctor had told me I would when I woke up. Again, maybe being I am such a lightweight, I was supposed to wake up then and didn’t, but I had a nasal cannula on my face when I did wake up. I also noticed that the right corner of my upper lip was painful and swollen. They must have bumped it with the tube. That has actually been one of the most painful parts of recovery so far! The recovery room was super understaffed, so I had time to wake up before anyone was asking me any questions. When a nurse went to get me some ice chips, I looked at the clock on a column near my bed. I’m bad at reading analog clocks anyway, but there was also a glare on the clockface, so I couldn’t tell which hand was longer, and I panicked when I thought the clock read 10:30 pm. Between that and the cannula, I started tearing up, sure that I had died briefly during my surgery or something. But I asked what time it was when the nurse came back it it wasn’t yet five. My surgery took four hours.
After awhile, they took me up to my room and my mom and (surprise!) my dad came up. My pain level through the whole process has in general been pretty low. I figured I would have some nausea, since my twenty-minute surgery in ’98 made me dizzy, and I ended up vomiting four times that night. I had a catheter in, and it didn’t really bother me, though it felt weird when they removed it early the next morning. My first night was pretty easy. I didn’t sleep much because I kept having to get my vitals checked, or I just had some pain. For a stomach-sleeper, though, sleeping on my back hasn’t been as hard as I expected, but I’ll definitely be using the recliner here, not a bed.
The next morning, they told me if I could pee by 12:30, I could be discharged, since everything else looked good. So, as instructed, I drank lots and lots and lots of fluid.. but no matter what, my body wanted to keep it. It got to the point where they had to straight catheterize me (VERY painful) to empty my bladder, and the time was reset; if I peed by 8:30, we could leave. And… I couldn’t. Before 8:30 even arrived, they decided I was going to stay for another night. I cried a lot at this point, because I couldn’t do something I have been able to do literally since I was born. After a second bladder ultrasound, they put in the Foley (a.k.a the longer-term catheter) for the night. Again, REALLY painful. Like, seeing the lady doctor x10.
The next morning, I did more rounds of meds. There was a huge mixup with my everyday meds, which was kind of annoying; my schedule got thrown off, and at one point, they tried to give me the full dosage of Wellbutrin all at once, which can cause seizures. I watched tv, slept, talked to my doctors. They took the Foley out and I started drinking like a fiend, and FINALLY,my body worked like it should. I was so relieved. Even so, I didn’t get discharged until about 2:30 or 3; one of my drains was taken out (not painful at all. I still have the left one in), I got another bladder ultrasound, more meds, and then I got to put on real person clothes!
The drive home was a bit rough. I get car sick anyway, but add in recovering from surgery, being on several strong medications that made me dizzy, and not having sat up that straight in over two days, and I was really nauseous. But we made it home without incident, and hopefully I won’t have to go back to the hospital for any complications.
I think the thing that surprised me the most about having surgery in general was how tired it makes you. I’ve heard it does, and you always hear of hospital patients sleeping a lot, but I didn’t think I’d be doing that. I thought I’d be watching TV or reading most of my time there. But I would fall asleep constantly, no matter what time it was or what was happening. The entire time my parents were there on surgery day, I kept drifting off on them. I’m not a napper, but I’ve taken at least two naps today. It’s very weird.
From what I’ve seen of my new breasts, I like them very much! I look like I’m in my twenties, finally, instead of like I’ve had four children. As soon as I woke up, I noted that my neck pain was completely gone, and it still hasn’t returned. I haven’t been without some degree of neck pain since 2007. The tops of my breasts aren’t bruised, but my doctors say the undersides are. Right now, they’re swollen and covered in bandages, but I’d guess they’ll probably be D-cups when they get to their true size.
I am so happy I did this!