Hey...guess what? I have two boobs. Seriously. This isn't joke. This is the real deal. Rebecca Raymond finally has two boobs!
On August 6th, I went in to the hospital at 7:00am. I drove myself, much to the dismay of my mother who said it just isn't right. For me it is right. I am stubborn and strong willed. When I'm afraid or going through something difficult in my life, it's easier to keep it together if I'm alone. When I'm alone, there is no one else around that I have to be vulnerable to. Being vulnerable leaves me weak. I must be strong...and my strength comes from deep within where I can be quiet and know that God is holding me steady and I can just breathe deeply. The time before surgery starts is always easy as long as I'm taking those deep breaths. It's the part where they wheel me into the cold sterile operating room...that's the part where I can feel my heart begin to race. I feel alone. The room is filled with people in masks. There are no smiles. There are no soft eyes looking into mine, reassuring me that everything is going to be okay. I'm going into an 8 hour surgery with two surgeons. They are going to cut into my stomach, dissect blood vessels from my abdominal muscles, remove skin and tissue, cut into my chest, reattach those blood vessels and create a breast. EIGHT HOURS with TWO surgeons. My entire adult life has been traumatic experience after another. I was scared. They wheeled me into that cold, sterile operating room. They strapped my arms down to the table. A nurse came up to the table, leaned against it so her hip was pressed against my side. She laid her hand on my arm and rubbed my arm with her thumb. She didn't say a word. The warmth of her touch in that cold, sterile operating room is something I will never forget.
I met with the plastic surgeon 4 weeks before the surgery. He told me that my homework was to do sit-ups every day. He wanted me to send my abdominal muscles into a "state of shock". Working them hard would get the blood flowing and open up the blood vessels. This is important for this surgery because The fat, tissue and skin he was going to harvest from my stomach needs it's own blood supply so they take those blood vessels from the abdomen and then transplant them along with the tissue and skin to my breast. They reattach the blood vessels and we pray that it all takes. The normal number of blood vessels that are taken from the abdomen for this surgery is between 2 and 5. My surgeon gave me homework and I did extra credit. I was doing sit-ups, leg lifts, plank, and any other core exercises I could think of, trying to focus on my lower abs especially. Dr. Watson is my new plastic surgeon. He was proud of me and my work on my abs. He only had to harvest one blood vessel. The blood vessel was 4mm...which I guess is pretty impressive.
I woke up from surgery with a second boob and an incision from hip to hip across my stomach. I was in the ICU for over two days. This is because that new boob with that 4mm blood vessel supplying life to that newly transplanted tissue have to be monitored every hour. The nurse would come in with a doppler and place it at the center of my new breast and every time I heard the woosh woosh of the blood flowing...it was music to my ears. It brought a smile to my face...success.
I was released after 4 days in the hospital. I came home and all I wanted was my kids. I had missed them so much. I spoke to them a few times on the phone while I was in the hospital but phone calls just aren't enough. My babies bring me joy. They are the greatest blessing. I have a marriage that has failed but I received the four greatest gifts from that marriage.
Oh...one big boob...the title. I almost forgot. When Dr. Watson (the most amazing breast reconstruction surgeon) met with me for my follow up appointment, he told me that he made the new breast bigger than the old (saggy from breast feeding 3 children) boob because not all the tissue will be soft and supple. Some of it will be hard and he will remove that tissue when he makes me a new nipple in three months. I looked in the mirror...I thought it was just swelling but that new boob is HUGE!! I was thinking...maybe he should just leave it and make my old boob just as big. Just a thought...
I've mentioned several times that cancer is not the hardest thing I've had to endure. It remains true. Before it was my marriage that presented a greater challenge. Now it's divorce. Life has become a battlefield. I'm realizing that it's a lot like that cold, sterile operating room right now. I feel alone. I need to breathe deeply and allow God to heal my heart that keeps getting broken over and over again...and the littlest touch...the smallest amount of warmth can impact my life so deeply. I'm working on my deep breaths and every once in a while big tears. Tonight those tears are extra big... with deep sobs. These past few days I have been in mourning. With the conflict between John and I...it's a lot. Sometimes I just want to cry out...I want to search for that man who I thought loved me. I want to say...don't you know how much I loved you? Don't you know how much hope I had for our marriage? Don't you know how much I saw the potential you had to be an amazing man...an amazing husband...an amazing father...just because the marriage is over...it doesn't mean that man needs to completely disappear.