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Welcome to the DebiLyn Smith blog site. If you like what you read here, check out her website at

Friday, July 26, 2013

Bad News About the Re-Con Boob

...and just like a balloon, except it didn't fly around the room, my beautifully rounded saline filled boob went flat overnight.

For those not keeping up, I am a breast cancer survivor in the process of breast reconstruction. An expander with a fillable bag was inserted into my right breast through surgery and now it is to be gradually filled week-by-week until it matches the healthy breast's dimensions. Then this is removed and a solid silicone implant replaces it and I will be finished with the surgeries.

I was in for the third re-fill last week. It was a struggle to find the metal port the needle was to be inserted into on the aerola so that Dr. V could push more saline into the soft gelled bag recently sewn into my breast. As we were slowly having to expand the breast tissue, adding another 50 cc's every three weeks, I had been watching my breast swell larger and larger as the wrinkled lines in my skin and bra disappeared. I was loving the results!

But a mishap during insertion missed the portal and the needle plunged through the bag. "It's quite common, I'm afraid," the receptionist told me.
"We'll get your usual doctor to try again with 100 ccs of saline (when she returns from holidays) and if that doesn't hold, you'll have to be booked for another surgery to replace the expander and bag. I am so sorry..."
She's sorry? I'm sorry about how sorry my doctor is going to feel That's the worst of it.Really. To me it's more time, more healing, more learning the role of patience to get the things we want in life. Like becoming an author, a mother, a mother-in-law and one day a grandmother. It's all worth the wait, as this will be I imagine.

I am wearing a thumb splint as we speak on my left hand as I managed to give myself tendonitis by over-compensating for the post-surgical right arm's soreness. And I get to go through that again. More surgery, another four weeks to repair, another ten weeks of filling before a third surgery to remove the hardware and replace it with a permanent bag filled with silicone.

And like the balloon and my boob...I have to admit for a few minutes I was deflated once again.

SO... realizing the symptoms, I gathered myself and went shopping. First to the Farmers market for fresh kale and beet tops, to the A&W for a twister soft ice cream, to Field's to buy a relaxing pair of exercise pants before a long walk to clear my head.

It's working, although I'm determined not to look down or in a mirror again for quite some time.

In the meantime, I'll have to wait another month or so to continue with the breast recon saga.
Maybe I will start blogging about another part of my body.
 How about the burn on my butt from too much skin and not enough bathing suit material?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Part Three of Breast Recon- Third Fill

Picture a rubber balloon that is inflated. It's nice and firm from all sides. Round and bulbous. Now picture 1/2 of that balloon all shrivelled and deflated while the other half remains full and hard. That's the before and after of  a partial mastectomy surgery to remove a 9mm tumour.

As explained in  parts one and two, I had been through surgery to implant a breast tissue expander that would stretch the skin slowly over various "fills" so that eventually a permanent implant could replace it and my breast will look closer to what it had before this nightmare.

With the expander in place, the instant Dr. V inserted the needle into the portal (and we heard the faint "click" when that happened) my breast began to fill out the rubbery, wrinkled skin to a nice taut balloon surface again.

Size-wise, this blue plastic contraption sits in the palm of your hand. At the far right you see the magnetic "head" that slants straight up when the metallic portal in the expander implant is directly below. Dr. V marks the spot before inserting the syringe full of saline.

There was a slight problem finding the exact portal hole this time. It required a second freezing deeper into the area and a slight joke about putting me out for the two minutes this would take to empty the syringe into my breast, but the moment passed. The right spot was found, my toes uncurled and I held the gauze to my areola until Dr. V covered it with a band-aid.
As I pulled up the sundress I had arrived in, I noticed how my breast filled the sewn-in cup much better than it had ten minutes ago. The nipple that faced my armpit had begun to swing straighter, facing NE instead of due north. The wrinkles were gone! One more fill, another 40 cc's and then we waited for it to "settle" before removing it with another surgery.

I will have to get myself measured before that happens to see if I need any more saline or if that is enough. The skin has to stretch far enough to contain and close in the new implant, a real one that will stay firm and round for as long as I live. What a sweet deal! I'm telling you, I am so wonderfully happy with the entire process I could cry.

I came out of this experience on the plus side, I would say. It only cost me a few years of my life, but hey- the girls will be looking better than ever before.
Now if they could do something about the wrinkley balloon issues elsewhere on this 50 year-old chassis!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Patience Please

Today I had my third fill of the right breast. It was a bit of an ordeal, so I'll have to take time to fill you in. BUT, I am up to my armpits in the final edits of the mystery Not Just One, coming out in September. If, that is, I get this edit done and get it to the typesetter before she quits waiting on me and takes another job. Stressful and we know that's bad for I promise to get the next blog up on the boob as soon as I'm able. I have more pictures.
It's all good though. It's getting bigger ...and bigger....and...