May love and laughter light your days, and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours, wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world with joy that long endures.
May all life's passing seasons bring the best to you and yours!
~ Robert Frost


Welcome to my blog. This is my story of how I faced my risk of breast cancer, the decisions I made, the support I received and my week by week recovery from surgery. I chose to have a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy with immediate DIEP reconstruction at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston (March 2010). For more information on my 'Medical Team' please see tab above. I also have a wonderful circle of friends who have supported me throughout. They have provided us with lots of delicious meals and desserts. Many of those recipes are included above under "Feed the Flap" recipes. "Feed the Flap" is a term I coined when trying to increase my abdominal (fat) flap to ensure that I was a good candidate for the DIEP procedure. This was not something recommended by any medical professional, it was just something that made sense to me. I think it worked!! Feel free to join me on this journey and feel free to post comments.

Select the tabs on the left side marked Week 1, Week 2, Week 3..... to go immediately to the surgical/recovery part of this blog.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Stage II DIEP - done!!

The build up to Stage II DIEP and my fear of anesthesia was actually worse than the surgery. I showered with my special soap and worried about coming out of anesthesia. I walked the 5 minute walk to the surgical check-in desk and worried about anesthesia and then I met with an anesthesiologist and let her know about my fears due to my past experience. My confidence level didn't change until a wonderful CRNA and day surgery nurse said that they had never seen anything like that happen on Day Surgery. My fears seemed to leave me immediately. That was the last thing I needed to check off my list. Okay, so I will be alright.

For those who may be reading this post first and have no idea what I am talking about, I'll make it quick. Back on March 29, 2010, I had a 14.5 hour DIEP Stage I operation. When I woke up I was combative and a danger to myself and the staff. They put me back under. Then when they brought me out I couldn't breathe due to mucus or a large phlegm ball in my throat. Between my inability to breathe and a newfound sensitivity to morphine I had a rough two and a half days when I saw and heard things that weren't really there and thought I was just going to die. Anyway, when the phlegm ball disappeared and the morphine pump was removed I became myself again, but not without concerns. My concerns were for future surgeries.

So, now I know that future surgeries will be okay. I wore an orange bracelet that warned the staff that I had an allergy/reaction to a medication, in my case morphine. Whatever everyone did, it worked. This time I woke up just like everyone else does.

Back to Stage II. Dr. Tobias came in about 6:40am and marked me up with his famous purple marker. He drew circles in all the areas where he would do lipo, fat transfers, revision of my incisions and nipple reconstruction. He was very focused. After he left, the CRNA came in and put in the IV line. We took some pictures, then she asked if I was ready for the sleeping medicine. By now I wasn't worried at all. I knew I was in the best of hands and was very ready to have this surgery behind me.

Waking up was very different than Stage I. I just kind of woke up. It's all a bit foggy, unlike last time. They offered me some juice and crackers, then I think they moved me to another area. Again, this is very foggy.
But I do remember feeling fine.

Once I got to the new area, Mike arrived along with Sara and her mom. For those who don't know Sara, she had the DIEP on October 25th. Sara, along with Kristine, who had the DIEP on September 8th, have been my support system. Last week were all able to meet in Boston (see earlier blog post). Anyway, the nurse sent Mike down to get the car, while Sara and Barb stayed to help me get dressed. I might still be there if they hadn't been there to help. There didn't seem to be as much concern and follow-up on the nurse's part following day surgery as there had been following DIEP Stage I. Probably for good reason. This procedure was only 3.5 hours long and relatively minor in comparison.

I was given the folder with post-surgical instructions and two prescriptions. We should have been told to FILL THE PRESCRIPTION IN BOSTON, since when we got back home to Maine we couldn't get it filled until Monday. They had to call Dr. Tobias' office to get approval to fill it. As it is I am still waiting for WALGREENS to call me back after I left another message there this morning. Not a big fan of Walgreens about now. Because I couldn't fill the pain med presription I went light on the pain meds that I did have. Unfortunately I didn't get ahead of the pain and paid the price. For the first time pain hit about a 4/10 and the first time around it never went above a 2/10. My advice, fill your prescriptions in Boston and take them.

I've gone on too long with this post, so will post again later about my actual recovery.


Anonymous said...


I've been keeping you in my prayers. Glad everything went fine.

Jane B

Joanie said...

Thanks Jane!!! Hope we see you soon!!

Shavonda Duarte said...

Hi Joanie! I am glad that your surgery went well this time. You look like a really cool patient in your pictures that it didn’t seem you were nervous at all. It is great that Dr. Tobias and the attendants did a great job in taking care of you during the entire process. I hope you have recovered already.

Shavonda Duarte

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