Sorry for the graphic photos but these expanders are taking over my life! I’ve never been so comfortable being naked because honestly, they don’t feel like a part of my body right now. I even catch myself rubbing them in public when they hurt. Gotta remind myself not everyone knows I have expanders in because I had a double mastectomy!

I knew the expanders would be painful. I was told they would get hard as rocks and I would feel a pressure/tightness in my chest. But no one could have prepared me for the fact that they could be lopsided! Last week, I went in for my first fill exactly two weeks after my surgery. I was excited, but nervous. I had some pain in my left side but was hoping the expansion would alleviate that by moving the expander up a bit. Boy was I wrong.

Locating the metal valve of the expander.

First, they use a magnet to find the valve at the top of the expander. I knew it was on my skin but really couldn’t feel it. Then the needle comes out. I have given blood a lot over the years and needles don’t bother me, but that thing was HUGE! That was going into me?!


Righty gets the needle! (Love the red marks from my drain “holster” as my Plastic Surgeon called it!)

It is a very surreal feeling to know a giant needle is inside of you and you feel nothing. I mean nothing. There could have been 10 in there and I may have kind of felt one or two of them based on where I still have any feeling. But I felt nothing when the needle was inserted on either side.

Next, they aspirate a small amount of blue liquid which is inside the expander to make sure they are in the right spot. Then, they push in a certain amount of saline. Because I’m smaller, we only did 50 CC. I could feel my chest getting bigger and everything moving up.

Lefty gets the needle.

I felt ok once we were done until I stood up and walked out. Everything hurt, but my left side was so much worse. Over the next few days, it got bad. Couldn’t walk across my house bad.I even started taking the Vicodin again which I’d been off of for days. Nothing helped. It felt like either a stitch was pulled or something sharp was jabbing into my side. I tried to restrict my amount of movement but that made the rest of my left side ache. I checked myself in the mirror about 10 times a day looking for signs of infection (redness, swelling, bruising) and took my temperature constantly. Knowing my Plastic Surgeon would be out of town the following week, I finally called on Friday and was told to come in immediately. Scared I’d done some real damage or that things were really wrong, I explained how bad it felt to both him and his awesome Physician’s Assistant. They checked me out and determined the edge of the Lefty expander was pushing into either a nerve or a portion of the tender area where my two Lymph nodes were removed.  The only option was to remove some of the saline from the Lefty. Only the Lefty. I was nervous about being lopsided but they assured me it was totally fine and that I wouldn’t even notice. The pain went from a 9 on a scale of 10 to a 3 almost instantly. I could walk again. I could do my dishes. I could take a shower and WASH MY OWN HAIR. But I was also feeling scared that I would never be able to fill sad little deflated Lefty again. Righty was happy and healthy and fuller. It was like night and day comparing the two.

Yesterday I went in for my next fill. I’m happy to report that while Lefty is a bit behind, we are on track for evening out. The pain is still there on my side but is not debilitating. I go in weekly for fills and while I can’t imagine yet how big and hard they will be, I have even more trust in my doctor’s and their ability to put me back together.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Sabine says:

    Oh man!! You poor thing. Glad you got some relief. ❤


  2. Ariel Maglinao says:

    Gina, you are incredible. Thank you so much for sharing your cancer story. I can’t imagine how incredibly personal and difficult this journey must be, but you are so kind to share it and encourage others to check their own health. I was jealous of your hard work and work ethic in grad school, and now I am jealous of your bravery, strength, and humanity. Keep on truckin’, lady!!


    1. Gina Grosso says:

      Hi Ariel! Thank you for your kind words. Sharing my story gives me some of my power back. I honestly can’t remember if I replied to you or not but I really loved hearing from you and love seeing your pictures on Instagram–congratulations Mama!


  3. Jacinta Tran says:

    Girl – you are amazing! Your story had me crying, laughing, then crying all over again. Your journey has a purpose, and I’m grateful that you write so well!!

    Jacinta (JT)


    1. Gina Grosso says:

      Oh JT. You wonderful human you! I am so sad we didn’t get a picture together so I can shout your praises on this blog. We will just have to meet up someday so I can give you a hug and make that happen. xoxo


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s