Fall seven times, stand up eight.

I’m sure most of you think I have been off getting on with my life and enjoying my new perky breasts and forgetting about this blog.. If this is the case, you are wrong.

I decided to give myself a break from Internet life to try find myself again and rely more on reality and where my main source of support lies.

The last you heard from me was mid January – thats about five months ago. So I am going to write a rundown of whats been happening with some images.

The expansion process continued every 1-2 weeks till my implants became a large C cup size, which was completed around mid March. I went to Melbourne for a weekend with Adam and on the last day I woke up with a sharp stinging pain in line with my left breast but under my armpit. When I first felt the pain I thought I had been bitten by a spider or stung by a bee. Everytime I lifted my arm or touched this swollen, red spot, it felt like hundreds of bees were stinging me at once and the pain lasted for about 15 seconds each time.

Faux pony tail + 2 x awesome boobies
Proud new owner of 2 x boobies

Once I returned home, I went to see the surgeon again (as I was seeing him 1-2 times a week still) and he said it looked like either a bite or that something was lodged inside me (this sore spot was close to one of my drain hole wounds) OR that it was severe nerve pain. I had the option to lay on the bed and let him cut me open whilst just under local anaesthetic to see what was inside it – or start nerve pain medication. If I took the medication and the pain went, then it would narrow the option down to nerve pain. As I didn’t particularly want this sensitive area injected then cut open infront of my eyes, I chose the medication.

The pain slowly started to subside over the next couple of weeks which was great but then my IV port wound/scar wasn’t healing – again. It was puffy and full of pus and now, experiencing a similar pain to the nerve pain. So both my left and right side were extremely fragile and I could barely move 24/7. We tried several things for this. The nurse would remove the scab each week and squeeze the deep wound and little plastic swing tag looking stitches would pop out. (a swing tag is one of those clear plastic annoying things that hold price tags/labels to new shirts). I was in tears and excruciating pain each time she had to do this – though it had to be done..

My back scar on the right hand side was also still not healing up. It looked like a large open axe wound in my back which had to be covered in bandages that I had to change every couple of days for so long. It even became infected a couple of times but ended up getting there four months later. The surgeon hasn’t been happy with the way my scars have healed, so he will be cutting each one open again and re-stitching it again in my next surgery. Thanks to my body for having an allergic reaction to the dissolvable stitches!

Open wound back scar almost three months after reconstruction (RHS)
Close up

April came along and before we knew it, it was Easter Saturday. I woke up that morning screaming in pain. I couldn’t get out of bed because both my right hand side of my chest AND back were experiencing the worst pain I’ve ever been in. After Adam literally picked me up out of bed, I walked to the bathroom mirror to look at what was going on.. My right armpit was so, so, so swollen and I couldn’t lift my right arm. The expanded breast was bright reddish purple and just looked like it had gone up another cup size in swelling. By this point, because I was having so many complications after this operation – I had my surgeons mobile number and given permission to text or call him at any time. I felt so bad calling him on Easter Saturday but I was an absolute mess. He said to meet him at the office in 10 mins, so Adam raced me down and he ended up taking 70mls of saline OUT of the right breast to release some pressure. Straight away I felt a bit better but I was now on 2 x heavy dose of antibiotics, pain killers and probenecid. He told me that if the antibiotics didn’t work, he may have to remove the implant. This was the ultimate nightmare. It meant that I would be back to one breast for a minimum of three months, then have to have the surgery all over again on that side.

At this point, the surgeon and both of my nurses had a chat to me in a private room. They were concerned about me still working a full-time job (I had been working full-time from home since late January) and my immune system was barely existing. I had severe acne, dark bags under my eyes, my vibrant bubbly self had gone and I was just so exhausted. They advised me to either cut back to part time work, or to finish up all together. I got upset and said I had to pay bills and needed money to live off and they didn’t understand etc but it really did come down to my health being number one and the quality of life over rules all. I ended up trying to cut back to part time, but it wasn’t really an option with my demanding position so I had to quit.

Within 10 days – on Wednesday 18th April, the redness, swelling and pain had come down a lot which was unbelievable! All my meditation and positive thinking had definitely helped keep me calm and stress-free. Adam and I actually had a 4 day trip to Bali booked on the following Monday (23rd April) so we were really happy we didn’t have to cancel our much earned trip..

Friday I saw the surgeon again as a precaution after coming off the antibiotics – making sure no sign of infection was still lingering around or coming back. He said to me as I walked in the door ‘you look FANTASTIC!’ Once he had a look at my breasts he continued.. ‘congratulations, you look the best I have ever seen you, now go to Bali and celebrate! We will be booking your final surgery for the 22nd May for the permanent implants to be put in and we can then leave you alone for a while!’ I had tears of happiness, everything was now finally going to plan.

The rest of that day was going so well for me, I felt the happiest I had felt in a long time and so excited for our little getaway, until that night. I was driving to my mum’s for dinner and very suddenly, my back and chest on the left side seized up. It was CHRONIC pain. I didn’t know whether to pull over or just keep trying to drive to mum’s so I could work out what was going on and so that I could try rest. I was screaming in tears when I pulled up to her house and had to call her to come help me get out of the car. I dosed up on some pain killers and had some of my family members help me with a bit of a back rub.

Saturday I wasn’t much better so I contacted my surgeon – who unfortunately was down south for the weekend. He advised I started another course of the antibiotics and probenecid as I did. I just HAD to get better before I flew to Bali early Monday morning…. My positivity couldn’t have been any more intense at this stage. It got to 4am Sunday morning and I still had not slept. Adam was at work still so I rang my mum and she took me to emergency. It was hectic in the emergency rooms but I was taken straight through because they suspected I was going septic. I was admitted to hospital till 9:30am and all they had done was dope me up on more drugs and take some blood tests. My Leukocytes were up high meaning yes, I had a bad infection. I contacted my surgeon again and all he could do was tell me he was going to be home that night and to see me first thing Monday morning. BALI = CANCELLED.

Infected implant
Infected implant again (looking like basketballs at this stage)

I tried not to be upset when I saw him but I couldn’t hold my tears back. Before I showed him the left side infected breast, I said ‘you will be surprised. I think its worse than you thought it was…’ both the nurse and the surgeon gasped. ‘Wow, this is bad Rach.. It most definitely is worse than I expected, you have also turned Jaundice’ (yellow coloured skin) the nurse was holding my hand and also crying. He then said ‘what are you up to tomorrow?’ I kind of laughed through my tears and said ‘ummmm nothing – resting I guess?’ and he continued with ’12pm, meet me at the day surgery. We are taking this out urgently or you are going to become a very, very sick girl. I need to you to call me anytime today or through the night if you start to feel sick or anything gets worse’. I nodded whilst quietly crying. My worst nightmare had now begun. I had to face the fact that one of my implants was going to be removed and I would be left yet again, with one breast.

Tuesday came and the surgery was quick and effective. I woke up a little bit grumpy and depressed, wouldn’t eat anything the nurses brought in acted fussy… after all I think I should of been allowed to feel that way. When the results came in from what went wrong in the first place, it was one of your ‘typical garden infections’ apparently this is very mild and it was just unfortunate. He said the amount of puss inside my body was extreme. They even gave the IV port a good push whilst I was under general and they said lots of gunk and stitches popped out. Apparently I was one of the 3 out of 300 patients that has a contaminated implant. I was so devastated, how on earth did I deserve this to happen? Wasn’t having cancer enough!? For fuck sake!

Day after surgery – looking and feeling SO much better

Having Diabetes and an Hypothyroidism has not helped these horrific situations in any way either. My healing process is very slow and always has been. I do believe that maybe I went through my reconstruction too soon before my body had time to completely mend itself and if I had a second chance to go back, I would have put it off for longer. I try to tell myself that the reason the left side became septic was because it was the cancer side and it was pushing its last bit of crap out of that area to be able to heal itself even more than it already had.

I now have to wait a minimum of three months for the area to completely heal up, then I will have to undergo the big op again for the left side and start the expansion process again. I will get there, one day.

After a couple of days I just told myself that it was all going to be okay. After all, I have an angel of a fiance who is there for me through EVERY single step and cares a lot, makes me happy everyday and thinks the world of me. The pain was lessening really quickly and I started to think, well at least I’m not in excruciating pain any more? If I was going to have implants I want them done right and if its time thats going to be the hardest thing, then I’ll do it. Positive mode was switched back on instantly.

I now have realised that no matter how strong I have been throughout everything, its the after effect that is really the hard part. Things have been really tough with the people close to me. We all have needed to talk to others with experience and everyday, in its own way, is still a struggle. What you see from the exterior doesn’t always match the interior and you never know what anyone is really going through. I believe in dealing with situations in the right way and not pushing anything to the curb or bottling anything up. It can be really hard to confront each other but being able to communicate with those you love, is a very special thing to be able to do to make you feel as if you are resolving something that could turn into something even bigger.

Fall seven times, stand up eight.