29 February 2012

A bicycle pump would just be inappropriate

The day after I received the all clear from Dr. Surgeon, I went to Dr. PlasticSurgeon so she could survey the damage. But before she could gasp in horror, her minion had some fun with a magnetic stud finder. The device is basically a magnet suspended in a little plastic holder, with which the minion was able to locate the metal marker indicating the injection site of the expander. Of course the site was under the tape Dr. Surgeon used to hold my boob together, which meant that after a week of dread, I finally got to see the extent of the horror.

Much to my dismay, the scar is about five inches long, and mostly horizontal. While the spot indicated by the stud finder was marked, I poked at the scar, trying to make it go away. I failed.

A piece of medical tape with a daub of topical analgesic was placed over the mark, limiting my poking range. After about five minutes, all poking was ceased as the numbing goo had taken effect. A white surgical drape was placed around the area, which was cleaned with an iodine drenched swab. Dr. PlasticSurgeon further sedated the area with an injection of some sort. Then came the scary needle.

While I watched with a fascinated horror, a two inch needle pierced the muscle and entered the expander. To confirm the needle was in the correct location, the doctor drew out some blue liquid. When she filled the expander during the first surgery, Dr. PlasticSurgeon mixed the initial saline with methylene blue. Bright blue liquid is generally not naturally produced anywhere near the boob, so the blue liquid gave her reasonable assurance that the needle was in the correct location.

Having verified the needle's insertion, it was time to start filling. A 200cc bag of sterile saline was hooked up to a bizarre pump. When released, the pump filled with saline from the bag. When compressed, the saline travelled down a tube, through the needle, and into the expander. Oh, and it made a loud and highly disconcerting noise after every compression.

After only 100cc, the pressure made it uncomfortable for me to breathe on my left side, so she stopped for the day. That more than doubled the size of the expander to 170cc. Though the expander has a maximum size of 500cc, Dr. PlasticSurgeon expects to reach the correct size around 450cc. This will be accomplished over four fillings, though it could be done in just one. By spreading it out over weekly fillings, the skin is less likely to develop stretch marks. Also, filling it at once would create even more pressure, preventing me from breathing easily or comfortably.

The expander is fairly football shaped, though it's not particularly obvious yet. With the latitudinal scar, Frankenboob will look particularly footballesque once fully expanded. While clearly not the ideal shape for a boob, it does the best job of readying the surrounding muscle tissue for the permanent implant. Sadly, I will be stuck with a malformed Frankenboob until approximately six months after radiation is complete. At that point, the expander will be replaced with the permanent implant and a 50cc implant will be inserted under the muscle on the right side. I'm a big fan symmetry, especially when it comes to personal pillow perkiness.

To relax the muscle holding the expander in place, as well as to immediately knock me out, more Valium was prescribed. In other words, I spent the rest of Thursday and most of Friday slipping in and out of consciousness. On the rare occasion that I woke up long enough to be cognizant of my surroundings, I spent most of it begging Matt for pain medicine. Just think, I'll get to repeat this process after each inflation!

Right before leaving the office, I was given an implant card. It has my name, the type and serial number of the expander, and the doctor's information. While I don't have to carry it with me, some people choose to keep their cards in their wallets. Since I had a few empty slots in my wallet, I figured I might as well put it there. Just in case they find my charred body in a ditch. With my wallet. And all the other cards are melted.

For whatever reason, the card made me think to ask about MRIs and other magnetic scanning devices. Shockingly, they are no longer a good idea, assuming I don't want further damage to Frankenboob. Also, the TSA's nude-o-scopes may be able to detect the implant, though the operators are supposed to know what they look like and to not cause a problem. Since I refuse to go through one of those machines as a matter of principle, I guess I'll never find out.

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