158. A new shape

There's a new shape to this blog - 8 years after starting to write it, I reckon it's time for an update - and a new shape to me. Both are (I hope you'll agree) a positive development.

The chest binder arrived as soon as I pressed Publish on last week's post.

This was, you may remember, designed to hold in all that superfluous fluid. I wore it for exactly one day. It was the first comfortable day in weeks. Did it live up to its promise of making my chest look flat? Well, sort of. Flatter, anyway, and feeling all the better for it. Was it also flattering, in line with the assurance that it would make me look cool? COOL is not an adjective usually associated with me, but I'll let you be the judge of that. But either way, this look was yesterday's news almost before it got going.

The Chief did a one-upmanship on my increasingly creative efforts to stop my chest from sloshing about.

It was the first time he'd seen me since performing the mastectomy surgery, eight weeks earlier. It's like having another breast! he exclaimed. Well, yes, tell me about it. In fact, I had been trying quite hard to tell him about it, first via the nurse who assessed my wound a week post-surgery and then via the junior doctor a week after that. Both pondered draining the wound, given its size, but word came back from the Chief that they only drain it if there's a problem.

Isn't size a problem? I asked him during the telephone follow-up last month, but the current wisdom was Grin and bear it, as the body would do its own job. I guess it's like the toss-up of whether or not you should pop a blister.

Perhaps there's a drawback to telephone consultations.This time, seeing me (and the extra bit of me) in the flesh, it took the Chief exactly two seconds to pass verdict.

Let's put a drain in it.

I could have kissed him. They'd extracted significant amounts of infected fluid twice, and each time it had started filled up again before you could say "Flat chest". With all the concern about introducing germs into the wound, I hadn't dared suggesting leaving a drain in, but it seemed eminently sensible. As an armchair scientist, it seems to me that having a permanent lake in situ does nothing to encourage the skin to stitch itself nice and flat to the chest wall, so anything that keeps the lake dry is good news in my book.

The Chief spoke nicely to Dr Ultrasound, who made time to fit my drain the same morning. Another hour lying in the ultrasound room (as they need to see that they put the needle and then the drain in exactly the right place), and hey presto, tube and bag attached, with a promising flow. It drained 300ml straight away and has been a steady trickle since then.

That was a week ago. It's been keeping my chest wonderfully flat. I went back to the clinic this morning, ready to campaign to keep the drain a bit longer (probably not a plea they often hear from patients). The nurse was already busying herself with drain-removal equipment, but I asked her to send for the Chief, so off she went. He didn't need to see it, but simply sent word that I can keep my drain for another week. Hurrah.

For the many of you who cheered me on, having stripped off to show you my scars last week, here's another pretty picture. (The lower dressing is just to protect my skin from the pressure of the drain). 

The Dolly Parton option is definitely off the table.

I am taken aback by my enthusiasm for flatness. In fact I've given the two un-used softies (fake breasts to insert in an empty bra) back to the nurse. After weeks and weeks of carrying a frontload of fluid, I want to carry a frontload of exactly nothing. All I'm willing to carry right now is a bag for my drain. As you can see, it's more Primark than Prada and definitely not coolbut who cares.

A bright & bra-free future beckons.

Thank you all again for your concern, for your understanding of my limited contributions to work and friendship, and for all your messages, cards and gift. I continue to be taken aback by how wonderful and thoughtful people are. I'm tempted to make a promise that I will be back soon, but that might be tempting fate. Let me assure you that I am beginning to see some shapes through the fog.