Sunday, November 20, 2011

Building Boobs...

This phase of dealing with cancer certainly has led to some interesting experiences.  As part of the double mastectomy, tissue expanders were inserted behind Anna's pectoral muscles in preparation for the reconstruction process.  Here is a picture of tissue expanders similar to the ones in Anna.

As you can see there is a small disk, this is how they gain access to 'fill 'em up' as we call it.  When Anna goes in for a 'fill up', 'enhancement' or expansion (to be more technical) the nurses have her lay back on the table and they add about 60 ml of saline into each expander.  Anna can only feel the needles go through her skin on one side as the port is closer to the top of her chest, where there are still some nerve endings, (with the mastectomy her nerves were no feeling on top of her skin).   The only other pain associated with this is the feeling of added pressure from the expanders getting bigger, except for one side had a drain in for about 5 weeks which added to the discomfort.  Since that drain was removed the expanders haven't been too bad, considering.  The expansion process had to be completed before radiation could be started as once her skin is radiated it doesn't expand as well.
Here is Anna with her for each side.

A little relief

As you may remember during Anna's surgery the muscles in her back became very tight and uncomfortable.  After talking with the doctors they suggested Anna visit a physical therapist to help loosen her muscles up.  The other important aspect of meeting with the physical therapist was to understand how she needs to deal with possible lymphedema.  Anna had about five visits with the physical therapist in which she was given a massage and her muscles were 'shocked' to help with the tension in her back.  The therapist also put on something called Kinesio tape.  The idea behind the tape is to trick her mind into allowing her muscles to relax by the feedback the tape is sending through her skin.  Anna was skeptical at first and took the tape off after a couple of days after which she noticed a big difference.  Her next session she kept the tape on almost the entire week.  Meeting with the physical therapist was a good experience.