Although I had a skin-sparing mastectomy, I was unable to keep the areola etc.* because they contained the ends of the milk ducts (in which the cancer cells were sitting). However, because of the very fact that the cancer cells were contained in the milk ducts, I was able to have reconstruction at the same time as the mastectomy. I didn't want to have implants - they have to be replaced every ten years or so. I wanted something permanent and more natural (i.e. something that will realistically droop!), so the new breast took shape using muscle from my back. When the muscle was in place, they patched up the areola with a circular piece of skin taken from the back as well. It's my theory that the skin graft is to blame for the hole.
Now skin is really stretchy (the lycra of the body, if you will) and I am sure Mr A sewed it up using his best blanket stitch. (Ok, I made that up, but it reminds me to ask him how they do it.) But because of all the stress and tension on that area as I began to use my muscles again - carrying children, awkwardly trying to shoehorn them in and out of car seats, weeding the garden, and so on - the hole opened up and started oozing. And it hasn't stopped. Mr A tried to sew it back together. It opened up again. Over three months later, it is still oozing, and now, joy of joys, it is infected. I'm on antibiotics now though, and the lovely tissue viability consultant and Mr A are due to take another look tomorrow. Thankfully, I think the wound is drying up. I'm on the home stretch. What a relief.
There's a hole in my back, dear Liza, a hole.
*Nipple. See post above for context.