Monday, May 22, 2017

Fanny Packs

If you saw Nicole after her surgery, your probably noticed her bitchin' fanny packs. Arguably cancer's hottest summer fashion trend of 2017.

(If you are from a country where the term "fanny" has an impolite meaning, pretend I mean it that way. I bet it will make this post much more fun for you.)

Not only did her fanny packs look incredibly good when paparazzi would catch us in public, they also served her great utility. Along with her phone, fruit stripe gum, slap bracelets, and pencil erasers, she used her fanny packs to store her drains. 

Drains are racquetball sized bulbs at the end of surgical tubing designed to pull out any excess liquid from her recently excavated chest cavity.  Why drains? I'm glad you asked. Let's take a journey. A gross journey.

Breasts need support within the chest, it's science. Google "Boobs" if you don't believe me.  In lieu of Nin's own breast tissue that she grew all by herself, she now has a layer of "Alloderm" between her chest expanders (temporary fake boobs) and her chest skin. Alloderm is essentially cadaver tissue that has been repurposed to replace removed tissue.  From what I understand (I'm not even a little bit qualified to explain medical things so please feel free to quote me to any major publications) Alloderm serves two purposes: First, it gives the patient a flesh/tissue later between their skin and implants. Second, it is anchored to her rib cage in a way to provide support for future artificial breast tissue. I like to think of the Alloderm as a hammock of tissue for her temporary and future permanent foobs.

It may serve other purposes but I didn't learn about them at Not A Dr University.  Back to the purpose of the drains. The Alloderm tissue will connect to Nicole's chest skin. It starts with her skin sending tiny blood vessels to the tissue. Think space station docking.

If excess liquid gets in between the Alloderm and her skin, it could compromise the tissue and connection.  If the blood vessels do their job and everything goes well, her body accepts the tissue, supplies blood to it, invites it to meet her family, and the rest, as they say, is history.  That's why if you saw Nin these past couple weeks I warned you not to get near her chest and to refrain from boob touches. 

The slightest bump to her chest could break the connections of those tiny blood vessel bridges. It wasn't at all stressful having two small wiggly children around Nicole most of the time. Luckily, everything is connecting and working well so Nin was able to get her drains removed last week! I recorded it for your viewing pleasure. In this clip, starring Nicole and Dr Crofts, you'll see the drains being removed. This is from her viewpoint. Well technically it was from my viewpoint. I was standing at her head looking towards her feet for reference. That bump under her skin is the port that would be used during chemo. Think of it as an auxiliary cable port directly to her veins, we'll talk more about this in next week's lesson.  This drain is being pulled from her left breast.  

Warning: there isn't any blood but the video might gross some people out. Here it goes:

A few minutes after the drains were pulled out, blood started to fill the space where the drains were. The Dr said, "I've never seen that before," which is what we look forward to hearing after medical procedures. It wasn't a big deal but I wish someone would have taken a picture of the Dr, his assistant, and myself all putting pressure on different parts of Nin's breast to make sure the blood didn't interfere with the Alloderm. It was very romantic. 

For a timeline update, we are doing another round of IVF (to harvest eggs for future Schweppe's) which will be done on May 27th-ish.  Chemo will start on June 1st.  More details to come soon.