They’re even at last!

Monday was my final final final *crossing my fingers* surgery. Going into it, I felt a little like Veruca Salt. “I want perfect boobs Dr. Festekjian and I want them NOW!” “Festekjian…how much do you want for the perfect boobs? Name your price!” (I guess the answer to that will be arriving after the insurance adjustment in a few weeks!)

But really though. I did feel a bit…oh what should I say…spoiled? After all, I emerged from November’s implant exchange surgery with a pretty decent rack. After the swelling went down and I let things settle in for a month or two, I realized they were a good size and shape. But they weren’t perfect. And perfect is what I wanted, because, well–why not? After all of this–a mastectomy and an infection and reconstruction and all of these surgeries in the name of not getting breast cancer–I might as well get exactly what I want.

The main problems were the unevenness in nipple height and the rippling on the right side. But even the week before the surgery, when I sent an updated photo to a blog follower, she said they looked great and she thought I had already had the surgery to adjust the nipple height! For a moment there I considered canceling the surgery because I didn’t want to push my luck.

But…obviously I didn’t cancel it, and I’m sure glad I didn’t.

Per my usual routine, I spent all of Sunday chugging water like a crazy person to prepare my tiny veins to be poked and prodded. My mom picked me up from my apartment at 6:00 am on Monday morning. Jeani, bless her heart, had scheduled me for the earliest appointment because of the snafu that happened last time.

I checked in at the outpatient surgery center, changed into the sexy hospital gown and matching accessories, then chatted with a nurse. It’s kind of strange when you start to recognize the doctors and nurses…I’m pretty sure this particular nurse, who has been a vegan for over twenty years and always eats salad for lunch, has checked me in three times.

The most miraculous thing happened next. Brace yourself, because what you are about to read may rock your world and make you question everything you know.

A nurse anesthetist came in to talk to me about the anesthesia cocktail and start my IV. She was young, kind…unassuming. Little did I know of the POWERS SHE POSSESSED.

As is custom, my mom and I launched into our tirade about my horrible veins and the atrocities that have befallen me at the hands of IV nurses and anesthesia doctors alike in the walls of the UCLA Medical Center: the constant pokes, the unyielding veins, the need to “call in the big guns” and of course, the multiple PICC lines.

UNSCATHED by these warnings, the young nurse did persist with a smile. “I’ll have to numb you up then!” Haha, you fool! Numbing medicine will do nothing but make my uncooperative veins further retreat into the depths of my wrist/hand/arm/foot/every other part of my body, I mused as she left the room.

Moments later she returned carrying a tiny needle and an IV kit. As she stationed herself to my left, the noble Dr. Festekjian appeared, clad in a red track jacket. As we exchanged the standard hellos, the young nurse poked me with the numbing needle, warning me of a slight sting. “‘Twas nothing”, I murmured.

Then she started the long, daunting process of stabbing me with the IV needle to find a vein. I settled in for the long haul, turning my attention to Dr. Festekjian, when suddenly…within seconds…the voice of an angel rang out.

“All done! Your IV is started.”

A MIRACLE. It took her only ONE TRY, only ONE MEASLY POKE, to start my IV. I wanted to hug her, become her best friend, then follow her around from place to place for the rest of my life so she can always be the one to start my IV.

I was giddy with excitement at this point, but tried to remain steady while Dr. Festekjian played Connect the Dots on my chest with the pretty sterile pen. I figured that if I moved too much and the lines were uneven, it would be my own damn fault if my nips still looked lopsided.

A few minutes later the happy drugs were put into my IV, I was wheeled into the operating room, and then I was out. By 10 am I was awake in the recovery room, and I was discharged by 10:30 am.

Wisely, Dr. Festekjian warned my mom that I would be very bruised and very swollen for a while, possibly with some dimpling. I’m sure he was hoping to avoid the “WTF!” email he received last time. Even with the painkillers, I could definitely feel a dull soreness on my right side where he did all of the work. Even the arm fat near my armpit was super bruised.

I stayed home from work yesterday and today and took a shower this morning. I’m on antibiotics for a few days, and I’m definitely swollen; my right breast looks about one cup size bigger than the left breast, like I have a 1000 cc implant in there instead of 800 cc. And there is certainly some dimpling, mainly where the stitches are holding the skin up. But the nipples sure seem even and the alloderm seems to have gotten rid of the rippling, so I can’t wait to see how they look in a week or two!

My post-op with Dr. Festekjian is on Tuesday morning. I feel okay right now, still a bit sore, but I’ll be returning to work tomorrow. I did go on an hour-long walk this evening to stretch my legs, and that felt great. Hopefully I’ll get permission to head back to the gym next week. Interestingly enough, I am using my pit pillow again. It works well to support my arm when I’m on my computer and when I’m sleeping. Thanks again to my friend Kim who originally introduced me and my mom to pit pillows!

Pictures soon. Right now I’ve got them tucked up nicely in a sports bra so I don’t really feel like digging them out of there.

Instead, I leave you with a photo of the Chester Bug, keeping me company while I worked from home today. Isn’t he just the cutest little kitten? (Yes. I’m that person now. #instacat #catstagram #ilovemycat.)



10 thoughts on “They’re even at last!

  1. All hail the wonderful and talented Thao, UCLA Surgery Center’s Anesthesia Nurse, who I considered adopting on the spot so my spoiled daughter could have Thao at her beck and call for those times she feels she just has to have an IV. But logic prevailed because after all, this WAS Rachel’s final, final, final surgery in this year-long saga.

  2. So glad it went well. You deserve something to run smoothly! I have to tell you my 9 year old was over my shoulder when I was blogging last week – and was so taken by the idea of “Ticking Time Bombs,” it was hysterical (in a sad way – but you get it.) We had such a long talk about “the perfect title.” She is always thinking my girl. Make sure you stick around. While I didn’t let her read anything – we had lots of conversations. She will need role models like you when the time comes… (sigh)


    PS, glad the surgery went well…and thanks for your emails too to help field my questions. I think more will be coming soon – I’m meeting again with the surgical oncologist in a few weeks.

  4. congratulations Rachel!

    I’m also going back for some tweaking in April. Surgery no#7 for me.They’re going to suck some fat out from my right side – tweak my nipples a bit. my right is a bit too far to the right, but they’re even. Also, I had some fat grafting done before but it didn’t really hold and worse, I hate the way my thigh looks after they took the fat out. You can see where the canular/suction thing went in and there is a crater/hole where she took the fat so this time she’s going to even it out (I hope).

    I also have some rippling on both breast, towards the inside/cleavage but I’m not fat won’t stick there because there is not enough blood supply. Did they add alloderm to cover the rippling? where was your rippling?

    I LOVE having nipples. my dr. used alloderm and they look great. They’re a bit big but I don’t care and dr. says she can make them smaller if I want.

    thats so great about the veins! I struggle with that as well but thats because they have to use my foot. I’m seriously thinking about letting them use my hand. yes, I had lymph nodes taken from both sides, but less from the left and I’m told there is a greater chance of developing a blood clot when they use your foot. It’s all a gamble…

    • OMG surgery #7. Wow, I thought my five were a lot!

      Looking back on it, I’m glad my surgeon didn’t want to do any fat grafting. It seems like more trouble than it’s worth, from what you and other women have said.

      My rippling was on the right side, the top half. They added alloderm and it’s a bit better now, though I can still see some pokey edges.

      When is your surgery in April, beginning or end?

      • April 23rd. can the good doctor really fix my thighs?? we shall see. she’s also going to suck some fat from the sides – under my arm. and i might have her tweak my right nipple I’m not sure. when is enough, enough???

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