What you should know about radiation prior to expanders…

Last Thursday morning I woke up with the sharpest pain I hard ever experienced in my life. I couldn’t breath normally and I was in a complete panic. I was sent home after seeing the doctor with changes made to my medications, hoping it would all go away. However, at around 7pm that night, my mother rushed me to the ER for the same pain and shortness of breath I had experienced earlier that day.

2 of the drains located under my left armpit

My general surgeon removed the 2 drains located under my left arm pit hoping it would decrease the pain with no success. A CT Scan was then ordered and results indicated  had a small pulmonary embolism (blood clot) in my lower left lung. This must be the cause of my pain right?

As the days went by, it was clear that the pain was not coming from the small blood clot that was found. I was put on blood thinners and will be treated for several months with them to prevent any others from forming. It was an accidental find while on a quest to pin point why I was having the pain.

My visit to the ER
My visit to the Emergency Room.

After a visit from the plastic surgeon, it was determined that the pain was coming from the expander in my left Breast. I understood I would have pain and discomfort while recovering, complications with healing of the incision and discomfort at the time of each expansion, however, I was not aware of the amount of pain I was going to experience due to the radiation I had previously received in the left Breast. The muscles in that Breast had scared making every breath difficult to take. This also makes it harder for the plastic surgeon to work with.

I wanted to share this with anyone that is planning on undergoing a mastectomy with the use of expanders for reconstruction. The truth is, if you’ve had radiation in either Breast you are very likely to experience more pain than you would if you hadn’t.

I have a small frame and had very small breasts but my right side doesn’t hurt nearly as much as the left which had been radiated a little over a year ago. I don’t want to discourage you from reconstruction, instead I want to better prepare you for what you too may experience.

Doing my part to eat healthy and stay strong

If it weren’t for the many great doctors, nurses, friends and family who have taken care of me and provided me with so much support, I don’t know that I coud have made it this far. There have been many tears and sleepless nights, but they have been my strength when I was weak with no judgement. I am beyond blessed and grateful…

Stay tuned,

Elizabeth 🙂

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