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Pam’s DIEP Flap Surgery Experience


Hello, my name is Pam Leslie, and I am from San Antonio, Texas. Five years ago, it was discovered that I had a gene mutation, called CHEK2. As a result of that, I spent the next five years trying to decide what to do. I was told about PRMA and came and visited with one of the surgeons and found out that I was a candidate for the DIEP flap reconstructive surgery after my mastectomy. 

So in November this past year in 2020, I came for that surgery. Before the surgery the morning before, it was suggested that I take some medicine that would help with the pain management. It was wonderful. It was ClearFast and a Celebrex. Both of those things helped so that when I woke up from the surgery my pain was manageable.

I know that some people wake up, and they’re fine. But for me, my pain tolerance isn’t that great. So I woke up and needed narcotic pain. Since I had that mastectomy and the DIEP flap at the same time, I wasn’t sure what I would look like. But when I woke up, what I saw wasn’t horrifying. It wasn’t scary. I looked as normal as I did before, and the nurses that were there at the hospital and part of PRMA were gentle and, and just helped me through the pain that I had. 

By the next morning, I was up and walking the hallway. I was there for two nights, I was alert and ate meals, and was able to kind of regulate the pain with the nurse’s help. By the time I went home, I could walk the hallways, shower, and sit down in a chair with a little bit of help. So when I left the hospital, I no longer needed the narcotic pain management that I had as an aide in the hospital. I was able to follow the plan that PRMA had suggested.

When I got home, the thing that helped the most was having a recliner. I feel like it’s just a necessity. Although the stomach muscles weren’t compromised, I still needed help getting up. The chair I used had an electric button I would press that just kind of took it to a different level in terms of being helpful. I slept a lot, I walked a lot, I tried as much as I could to get up and walk. 

One thing that I did learn was that I am a person that likes to push myself hard. So I wanted to hit these milestones. I would get up and walk to the end of the block and go get the mail. Because I’ve had four C-sections before the surgery, I think that caused some extra stretching of that area where my incision was, and so my incision came apart and ultimately resulted in me having another surgery to revise that. Part of that could have been the four C-sections and part of that could have been me just pushing too hard and not listening to my body. All in all, after that revision, the incision went back perfectly. 

My scarring is so minimal. I don’t have any pain anymore. So at the time of this video, it’s May and my surgery was in November, and in April, I had my stage two surgery where they did fat grafting and liposuction, too. To cosmetically I guess finish everything and while that was painful in a different way, it wasn’t an incision pain. It was more of a bruising deep kind of pain, it was also very manageable. I am about two and a half weeks out from that, and back to normal with a minor numb feeling and body tenderness. 

Overall, I would say that I am so happy with the results and my leap of faith to not be fearful of my mutation. Go seek help and counsel through PRMA, it has been the best decision truly I have ever made. It took away the constant worry that I had daily. I initially thought my body would be so different in a negative way. In the end, I feel like there have been some great side benefits to being almost 51 years old. After having four C-sections, being able to tighten the abdomen through the DIEP flap and lift the breasts, in the end, was amazing. I’m a very modest person, and so standing before a team of physicians and nurses looking at my body and trying to decide what to do with it in terms of how it would look better, was scary upfront. PRMA made it very natural and they were humble about it and did not make me feel insecure about my body. I was extremely encouraged. I would highly recommend PRMA to anybody I know and I wish you the best on your journey.

The nurses at PRMA were gentle and helped me through the pain that I had! By the next morning, I was already up and walking around the hallway.

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