I vaguely recall waking up after my PBM. (Prophylactic Bilateral Mastectomy). Despite my grogginess, there was an astounding feeling of relief, and pride. I’d made it through to the other side!
Family and friends stationed themselves by the hospital bed, and I was connected to an IV, tubes, and a compression bra filled with an enormous amount of gauze. The compression bra was more like a vest, which Velcro-ed up the front. The gauze spilled out of the top and once in a while would need to be adjusted.
I wasn’t in much pain initially, I felt pressure and tightness, and tired. I peeked into my bra, and was surprised to see little perky "breasts", about an A cup.
Expanders had been placed under the chest muscle, and a small amount of saline was injected into the expanders to start the “stretching” process.
My brother and friends stayed close, sleeping on the floor or in my bed with me, and there was a constant flow of people bringing food and “air hugs”.
I was prepared to have limited use of my arms, and was advised by other women who had previous experience with this surgery to accept help with kids and daily activities, and boy was I glad that I took that advice!
The pain increased, and I struggled with side effects from pain medication. Once medications were under control, I was able to rest.
The first week after surgery, I was exhausted. I had tubes to drain the fluid from each surgical site, and they needed to be emptied and the drainage measured twice a day. Regardless of my work in the medical field, I couldn’t stomach doing this for myself. My best friend calmly and efficiently stepped in to help every time, as if she had been carrying out this task for years.
My world was foggy, but I was lucid enough to know that I was safe, loved, and becoming stronger every day.