Two appointments were scheduled for today: Dr. FixIt, and Chemo 101 class. I’ll save the Chemo class for a separate post.
I am completely loving Dr. FixIt and his staff! My appointment with him was scheduled before I signed up for the Chemo 101 class, and the timing was not going to work. So, I called his office yesterday to see if they could adjust the appointment time. The scheduler was super friendly but she was struggling to find a time slot – sounded like he was overbooked all day. But she shuffled things around until she could make it work.
I had high hopes for this appointment and it did not disappoint. Much to my horror, I rushed up to the check-in desk at 10:05am – five minutes late! I HATE being late always, and especially when they just did some tricky scheduling to accommodate me! But they did not miss a beat. After waiting for just a few minutes they called me back. The nurse was already in the exam room fiddling with some ominous-looking syringes. I asked her what she was doing and she said she was prepping for a “fill.” With my excitement for having the drain removed, I’d forgotten about getting my expander filled. Looking at me dubiously, she said, “Um, what’s your birthday…?”
During my mastectomy, after the breast tissue was removed, Dr. FixIt had placed a breast expander. The idea is to install the expander in a mostly “deflated” state, to allow the skin to heal in a relaxed state. A little at a time, the expander is filled with saline, until the breast is at the desired size. This appointment is my first time having the expander filled.
So, after confirming my identity and taking my top off (wooo!), Dr. FixIt arrived along with a second nurse. He numbed a small patch of skin on the top of my breast stub and then inserted the needle. I barely felt it, but I’d looked away anyway. I always have mixed feelings at these types of procedures; I handle the pain and discomfort better if I’m not watching, but I’m always so damn curious about what they are doing. Dr. FixIt was clearly in a hurry (as we know, he was overbooked today), but next time I plan to ask him how he knows where the expander’s port is – how does he know where to put the needle? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll find a YouTube video that explains it.
After he left and the nurses put a bandaid on the injection site (it didn’t hurt but it sure bled a lot), they removed all the stitches from the main surgical incision that cuts horizontally across my breast. Next, they started the work of removing the drain. The portion of the drain that is under the skin is a perforated tube that is about the same diameter as the tube that leads to the collection bulb, but flatter – so, effectively narrower than the opening. The nurses were very gentle, but the stitches that held the drain in place were overgrown a bit with my skin, so removing those did hurt a bit. Once they had that taken care of, they instructed me to take a deep breath, and they pulled it out. It was very quick and really not that bad. And, most importantly, the goddamm drain is now gone, wahoo!!!!