The backstory of the vacuum attached to my boob, it sounds worse than it is, I promise.
1 week post abscess . . .
Since the eruption of the abscess it was a week full of anxiety and anxiousness I couldn’t pull myself out of. I was just so worried and kept checking the wound (like every 5 minutes) to see how it was doing. I felt like I had to constantly keep my mind occupied or I would continue to obsess about what was happening under my shirt. It made me sad, angry and frustrated and I was sure I was making myself crazy.
It’s been a while since I posted as I have been dealing with this abscess. It has been a roller coaster AGAIN!
This is what went down . . .
After the hematoma, I felt better for all of two days then my boob started to swell up again. Little by little it was getting bigger and more painful. I was like, “Has the hematoma returned?” I called my doctor and asked if that was normal, they said yes, but still deep down I felt like something was off. Man were my instincts right! The next day I noticed a small clear liquid escaping from the recently sewn (for the second time I may add) wound. I blotted it leaving a light red smear on the gauze. Oh F, here we go again! But this time I knew it was infected, it was a little yellow and a little red, not like the dark red color like before. I just hoped and prayed the antibiotics I was on would do the trick and it would go away. No such luck! That night, 3 a.m. to me exact, I woke up to a small puddle of liquid on my sheets. It was official the wound it fucked/infected. Not knowing what else to do I slapped some gauze on it, taped it in place and hoped for the best until morning. I called the doctor first thing and they told me to come in that afternoon. By now my boob was super swollen and so sore I felt like it was jumping off my chest. But luckily it wasn’t oozing like with the hematoma so I thought, it can’t be that bad . . . Boy was I wrong again!
That afternoon Corey and I went to see my surgeon and he was prepared this time in case he had to do any impromptu procedures. I started disrobing and explaining what had been going the past few days. He just nodded and said, “Monique a picture is worth a thousand words, so let’s just take a look.” I proceeded to remove the bandage slowly, and before I could even get it off fully a yellowy red liquid started oozing out from all sides. My mind was racing, “What the F was going on???” The bandage had created a suction like effect and as soon as I pulled that bandage off it exploded all over the exam room. It was disgusting and more importantly I couldn’t stop it! By now this yellowy reddish liquid was oozing all over my chest, neck, down my side and on to my pants. Corey was rushing around grabbing paper towels, as was the doctor - I was just trying not to barf.
Doctor: “I need to open it up.”
Me: “What the hell is this?”
Him: “I don’t know until I get in there.”
Then he had to throw a gown around me and rush to a room down the hallway because there wasn’t a suction machine in that room. Argh! Get it together doc! There he cut open the wound he had just stitched less then 5 days prior and the suction machine went to work. I could feel it sucking out the liquid like I was at the dentist, and it sounded horrible, so I squeezed my eyes shut and told myself to go to a happy place in my mind. I kept picturing Corey and I on a beach somewhere in Spain, me in some hot new shades and him in a stylish fedora. The doctor had decided he didn’t want an audience and had pulled the curtain so I couldn’t see Corey’s reassuring face.
I don’t know how long it took, I just squeezed my eyes shut and stayed in Spain until I heard the suction machine come to a halt. For a minute, the room was just still. I opened one eye and peeked down at the hole in my breast (Agh!) then over at the doctor who had his eyes closed. WHAT THE F is he doing?!
Me: “Doc. what are you doing?”
Me: “About what??” I mean I know he is a good doctor but right now he is making me question his capabilities!
Him: “How to tell you I cannot close it back up.”
Me: “What are you talking about?”
Him: “If I close it back up it will just do this again, it’s infected and it needs to drain on its own.” Me: “What about the antibiotics?”
Him: “That won’t help, it’s an abscess, it needs to stay open.”
Me: I hate you – No I didn’t say that.
Now Corey had come around from the curtain and I looked at him in horror.
Me: “So it’s just going to stay open, I will have this hole in my chest? That don’t make any piece of sense.”
Him: “We are going to pack it and you will come back in a couple of days and see the wound specialist. But this is going to take some time to heal.”
Me: “How much time?”
Him: “Up to 2 months and the scare will not look nice, but you can see a plastic surgeon later to talk about that.”
Me: “2 months?! What about my radiation?”
Him: “That will need to wait.”
Me: “Doctor(blank) I am not very happy right now.”
Him: “I know.”
Me: “What caused this?” Me secretly thinking he botched my surgery
Him: “No way to say, it’s bacteria.”
Me: Death stare. Later I would spend hours on the internet trying to find someone to blame, but would come up empty. It appears he is right, there is no explanation (that’s not infuriating or anything, is it?!) My system is weak from the chemo, end of story.
I left that office feeling totally defeated and angry. I had an hole in my chest and that I couldn’t comprehend. At least I wasn’t in pain anymore, after he suctioned out the liquid, my boob had gone down to its regular size which was reassuring. However, it wasn’t until I saw the wound specialist (I didn’t even know this profession existed), that I found some peace.
Me: “Do you see this sort of thing often with breast cancer patients?”
WCS (Wound care specialist): “Hmmm I wouldn’t day often, but I have seen it a lot with women who have surgery and then go through radiation and it’s the radiation that opens the wound up. So, I guess it’s a good thing you haven’t started radiation.”
Me: “I was supposed to start this week.”
WCS: Yeah, I would hold off if you can, consult your radiation oncologist. The body will heal on its own, but radiation will prevent that, although sometimes radiation trumps wound healing. Me: “So it just stays open like that?”
WCS: “Yes, the wound needs to stay open so while the infection drains out the cells can regenerate from the inside out.
Me: “It makes sense . . . I guess.”
To that end she proceeded to hook me up to a pico vac, which vacuums out the infection through a thin tube hooked up to a battery pack that runs 24 hours a day, (lucky me I get to carry it around until it heals). At first, I was really pissed, then I was like, at least this vacuum thing allows me to move around and I don’t have to be bed ridden. She really knew what she was doing and I am happy my surgeon referred me to her.
The pico vac vacuums the abscess onto a bandage taped to my boob and is changed every 3 days. It doesn’t hurt, it just vibrates and has to go where I go. So, no I won’t be wearing any tight dresses or sexy v necks any time soon, but I am getting more creative on how to hide the battery pack under my clothes.