Monday, March 26, 2012

The unfolding of wings

So much happens here on Planet E. in such a seamless manner. Unfortunately I gave up journalling a few years ago, so the moment-to-moment revelations and integrations are out there as part of the sonic frequency background in deep space.

I am back at work at my regular schedule now.
The first two days just about had me on the mat, but gradually I am coming back into my own essential energy.
My pain is very mild now, and, often, non-existent.My gratitude is profound.

Life has been gifting me with so much that often comes in the form of great challenges with those I love, but listening to Tracy Chapman and running across this saying  below have really allowed the winter feathers to molt and I am feeling very in-the-breath-of-spring. (Even though it is already feeling like summer much of the time.)

"Dwell not upon the past. Use it to illustrate a point and leave it behind."

I wish I knew who to credit for this wisdom that is shining through me like western light through stained glass, but it was an anonymous repost on FaceBook.
The effect, though, is that I am finally standing in front of the mirror without wincing.
The inner life I call "mine" is kissing the nape of my neck.

I am still not being responsible with my time.
 The  methadone of FaceBook is a hard detox to begin, but begin I shall, as I am feeling the need to create and my time is spent being inspired (which definitely has its value!) rather than acting on that inspiration.

The reflection on the last visit with my plastic surgeon a week ago, has brought about an important realization cum decision: I am not doing any more surgical intervention.
We talked at length about the asymmetry of my breasts and what it would take to make it better, but I really don't want to wait 9- 12 months (my call, so that my immune system can really rebound after two big surgeries in six months) to then have the excess tissue under my armpit removed, wear a drain for a week, not work for another month.
Now that I am accepting that this is the visual representation of my body, that just seems like way too much for what ultimately will be seen only by me and any soul-and-body lover that may present himself.
I would rather spend that time actually doing things that feel nourishing rather than sleeping for most of my days for a while again.

I have even decided not to do the "minor" surgery of nipple reconstruction on the left (though the origami of creating nipple shape from the skin that is there is quite fascinating!) including the nipple tattoo.
I have a nice breast shape, though implants are temporal things and I will have to have replacements once or twice, depending upon my exit age, and, goodness gracious, I have a diagonal six inch scar there.
That would then be an arrow pointing to my nipple origami-and-tattoo??
That just makes me smile, it seems so silly.

The Adventure continues.
To quote Alfred Lord Tennyson: "It is not too late to seek a newer world."

Sunday, March 11, 2012

March is just the name of a month, not a mandate

Two thoughts:
One I just posted as my status on FaceBook: "What if 'spring forward' isn't just about the time change?"

And secondly, from artist Elsa Mora, on her blog recently:
"Before we are ready for doing certain things in life we need to get prepared. We need to go through a process. Just like when the fruit goes from green to ripe. Some ideas need to get into the ripe state before we can turn them into reality. Time is key here. So is patience."

I started back to work on Thursday.
It was not as I expected it to be.
My son used to have a saying about his body, which has been true of mine as well; he said that he had a Tonka Toy body~~that you could throw it down the steps and just keep playing.

Usually, no matter what was going on with me, on any level, I could/ would show up for whatever I had committed to do & just power through.
This is a different season.
My two days of work last week spontaneously cleared out to a great degree, via cancellations, which was a profound grace, as I found that my body is still very much in active healing mode.

I am grateful to be able to notice (part of being Tonka in life is just not noticing what is right there in front of you...) & also noticing that my anger at the surgical outcome is now revealing the deep grief just under the soil.
So, as it presents itself, I am allowing myself to feel that which we all resist: that something happened "to" me.
And feeling the sadness rather than the veneer of outrage that, for me, anyway, usually presents itself first and most convincingly.

I am adjusting my upcoming schedule so as to honor my healings, inner & outer.
I am also feeling that change is calling me on many fronts.
I want/ need to be more physically active, to write more, to quilt & do fiber art...
But I don't have the essential energy to try to make a hard left at the corner.
I may have to drive around the block a few times.

It is a new season, after all.
In every sense.

Friday, March 2, 2012

In like a lion--in 28 days I am sure I'll be a lamb!

The mysterious quality of Time. It, in fact, does heal all wounds (should we, indeed, be desirous of healing).
Since last we spoke I have had the three month check-up with my breast surgeon, who, miraculously & gratefully, is finally off his mission to get me to take Arimidex.
I've also seen the plastic surgeon, who is still gliding around me as though I were a hammerhead, leaving a respectful area between us & never taking his eyes off of me.

This week I went to the specialty shop to get my "post mastectomy bra".
I was surly, I admit it. I told the woman I didn't know how she would be able to fit me, since now I am different sizes AND shapes. (*low growl*)
She, of course, was non-plussed. In that business she has had far more challenging patients than I, I do recognize.
She spent an hour with me, and we finally found a bra that felt comfortable AND looked pretty.
She looked at my insurance paperwork at one point & said that this insurance company required that the physician sign the paperwork on the same day that I had my fitting.
(Looking for ways to not pay much? Grrr.)
I suggested to simply fax it over, but half an hour later she said that my plastic surgeon had driven over on his lunch hour and was at the front desk signing my paperwork, "looking very uncomfortable".
He, plainly, does not want any extra phone calls from me!!

Today is the first day that I have actually felt a reduction in my pain, which I am very relieved at.
I thought I might also finally break the Nap Barrier but, no, I still needed to cuddle up with the animal tribe for two hours this afternoon.

I go back to work a week from today.
I feel like I actually need another week, but that's not going to happen...

Onward and upward!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Snoring my way into wholeness

Here in the physical universe we are all about dichotomy: up/ down, in/ out, hot/ cold, male/ female...
Or, in my recent particular case, Kali energy/ weeping wimp.
For all of my clarity & fortitude last week, I had the coin land on the other side yesterday.
Part of that is the fatigue.
I am completely honoring my body's need for rest, and understand that the deepest healing happens during sleep, and my normal daily pattern is: sleep for 10-11 hours overnight, get up for 3 hours, sleep for 3 hours, on a cycle until I go to bed again.
And part of it is the discouragement at the pain in my right breast.
It hurts the majority of the time, and any activity (walking...etc) has me bumping into the little football shape under my arm = pain = discouragement at what it will be like to go back to work in two weeks.

So, I basically wept my way through the appointment.
The nurse, once we were alone, was very sweet and encouraging, as she has been through this exact journey a few years ago.
The doctor said what I expected him to say: that this is normal, it will heal, the wad of tissue will shrink, and if it doesn't, he will remove it.

All in all, no great news to report.
Thirteen days until I begin work again...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Wherein all cards go on the table

Otay, Buttwheat.
The visit yesterday went well, albeit difficult for Doc & me.

He came in the room w/ his resident (not the one who assisted) & said "let's take a look!" & when I dropped my gown "Great! That looks great!"
My face (always known for my ability to *not* hide what I'm feeling/ thinking despite those decades in theatre) did a big ol' huge "WTF??!!" look, followed by me saying "REALly??!"

Thus it began.
In brief, up front, I must state that he took almost an hour out of his clinical day to stay & talk with me, which I know from my own career, wreaks havoc on one's scheduling that day in the clinic.
But he didn't want to walk away until we had come to some understanding without animosity.
And he had absolutely none of the ego & deflection that I had been pre-projecting onto him.

Over the course of our talk I said everything I wanted to say, &, actually, a bit more.
I wasn't planning on sharing that I am not going to be taking the belly dancing lessons I bought on Groupon because I didn't want to be seen in a costume looking like this. (nor was I expecting to tear up when I said that)

He was honestly shocked at my response. He said he has done almost 400 of these procedures & I am the only one who has had this bad a reaction to the outcome.
I responded by saying yes, I am sure that's true, but most women don't see as many women's breasts as I do.
For years I have worked on women post implant, to decrease encapsulation, post all kinds of breast surgeries, to decrease lymphatic stasis, post lift/ reduction surgery to minimize appearance of scar tissue, & that I had never seen scars as extensive as mine.

At the end of the day he apologized twice for not communicating more clearly.
(I suggested that he draw the scar-to-be on women in the office, before surgery, to let them look at it head on in the mirror, to decide if it is something we can live with.
If I see it & say yes, then it's all on me.)

He *assured me* that the head-of-Stewie shape will drop over the next 3-6 months & match the left shape.
Ok. Possible.
But I was/ am very concerned & the football in my armpit. He says it will drop medially, back into the breast tissue proper.
I expressed my strong doubts about that, to which he replied that he was sincerely sorry, again, & that if I was still unhappy with the appearance by August, that he would go in on the last 2 inches of the scar, near my armpit, & remove the tissue, at no cost.
He said "I will work with you until you are pleased with the outcome. Of course, a scar is a scar; I can't remove that..."

But a friend did suggest some laser therapy later, which is a good idea.

I left the office, feeling satisfied that he had really heard me.
I ate lunch with my friend who went with me, then went home & slept like a rock for four hours.

Later that afternoon, Doc called me at home to say that because we had spent our time talking about what we needed to (good for him!) that he did not address that fact that he was a little concerned about the left scar reddening a bit.
He told what to keep an eye out for & to call immediately if I saw any changes.
Than, before signing of he said "I am glad that we talked today, Ms. Daniels. Are you ok?"

My opinion is softening.

Yes, as I told him, it will take a while to rebuild my trust in him, but I see that he is truly sorry and wants to do the right thing by me *in my eyes*.

Meanwhile, I am still on massive decompress mode: exhausted as all get out.

It is a nice, cold, rainy day.
Perfect for napping on the couch.
 Au revoir, my lovelies...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

What hath man wrought

Hello, lovelies. It is I, your errant blogger, in to tell tales of amazement.

Ohhhhhhhh yeah...

So, on Jan 23rd I met with my plastic surgeon to sign papers for surgery & choose my implant.
The silicone had a very breast-like feel, but the recommendation by the manufacturer is that one get an MRI two years after placement & every three years after that.
If a saline implant ruptures it is, literally, a water balloon breaking & you go from busty to flat in a couple of minutes. (And I had a friend who had that happen when an air bag deployed. It's true!) But a silicone implant can rupture, & since it is a gel, your tissues can entrap it, so that it looks like your implant is intact but it is not.
Well, I have a titanium screw in my leg from an earlier orthopaedic surgery, so MRI's are off my personal menu for this lifetime. (The magnetic pull is so strong that it will begin pulling the metal right out of the middle of your bone! Ack. And, yes, I have verified this with an MRI tech)

So, I chose the saline implant. Which had absolutely no give at all. Like a barely liquid baseball.
But, ok. Fine.
Then we talked about the other side. Since the largest non-specialty implant they make is 800 cc's & he estimated my natural size was 1100-1200 cc's, he recommended a lift & reduction.
I said yes to the lift, but no to the reduction.
I am probably 35-40 pounds overweight & breasts are fat, and so they rise & fall with your body weight.
I intend to begin some form of regular activity which (one would hope) will result in some lost weight = losing breast volume as well.
So, I said "Just do the lift. I know it will be larger, but that's fine. That's on me. If I don't lose weight it's my call, but if I do lose what I want to, it should be about even"
He said ok.
We signed papers & that was, ostensibly, that.

On Feb 8th I checked in to the hospital at 7:30 a.m., my trusted & trusty friend, Missy, at my side.
He came & marked me for the lift, said he had the saline 800's ready to go.
I had long conversations with the anesthesiologists, asking that we change up the meds we used for the last surgery, as I threw up for 2 days afterwards.
Drugs in the IV & awaaaaaaaaaay we go.

I woke up in recovery & stayed there most of the day.
I (boo!) started throwing up around 8:00 p.m. but they sent me home at 9:00 p.m.
Well. Ok. I guess I'd rather be hurling in my own house for two days, rather than at the hospital.
Which I did.
(BTW, my brother took *such* good care of me! On Thursday at 3:30 a.m. I texted him
~in the other room~
& asked if he would drive out to get me some Sprite & vanilla ice cream. Which he did. He is just THE BEST!)

On Saturday my oldest niece, a very gifted singer, was doing a concert downtown at the Vidora for her 28th birthday, but I was still too sick and weak to attend. *pout*
When my brother left I decided to do the unvieling and take a shower, as it had been the requisite three days in the compression garment.
I went into the bathroom and slowly undid the garment, peeled away the layers of gauze...
And stared.
And stared.
And stared.

I showered, looking at myself from all angles, as I have a large mirror built into the shower wall & also across the room, over the sink.
I dried off, gently, & stared some more.

Then I got dressed, called a dear friend & cried like a lost soul for an hour.

My left breast, the side of the implant, is perfect.
The saline implant has the drop & movement of a normal breast (!) & a small, perfectly executed 6 inch scar, utilizing the same scar as the original mastectomy scar.

My right breast, my natural breast is ~~and I am not being melodramatic, here~~ ruined.
He did the lift, but...Well it is higher than I was when I was 16.Higher than the left side.  And.
It is football shaped. Well, actually, it is the shape of Stewie's head from Family Guy.
No. Really.
And it is smaller.
What the hell?
Oh, no. There was no reduction. He just dragged the tissue laterally. So I have a smaller football shape of tissue, like one of those little kid's play footballs, under my armpit.
And the rest of the tissue was dragged even further back. Into my back.
The nipple is mine, but doesn't look like any nipple I have ever had on my body.
I have 13 inches of scar, running from my sternum past my armpit underneath my breast.
Two inches of scar from the bottom of my nipple to the Joker Smile scar underneath, and, by the tape measure, 7 inches of scar around my nipple.
Yeah. Really spread out.
TWENTY TWO inches of scar.
And the head of Stewie, a baby football, & major back fat.

Fuck. Me.

So, I have been crying a LOT. Raging or depressedly telling a few people, taking pain killers not for any physical pain (I have virtually none! Cool.), but because I am a child of the 70's & drugs are my friend.

I see him on Thursday. And ya know, it doesn't matter what he says because I am now a product of his work. (??? Really? I think he must have turned the lift over to an intern; the quality of "work" side to side is so different.)
Insurance in Texas will pay for "one trip in" to surgery on the non-mastectomy side to (said with Heath Ledger as the Joker voice) make them match.
Any more work is out of my pocket.
Some day.
When I save enough to redo this botched job + the month off I have to take, due to my work.
And that is after I find a surgeon (NOT THAT GUY!!!) who can, hopefully, give me a breast that hopefully looks like a breast.

That's the bad motherfucking news.
And I am still very much grieving & pissed as wet hornet whose nest just got whacked with a broom.

And/ but. You know me.
Even in my devastado I seek the "What good is here for me?" mode.

So here is what I have located so far.
Number one, I must admit, I have just "not gotten" all the women bloggers in the cancer community who have banked on feeling like a woman/ feminine again for after their reconstruction is complete.
I really was saying "Huh??" inside a lot, though I honored that is the truth of their feelings.
I just couldn't relate.
Even when I was expecting to live flat chested on the left, before I found out insurance will pay for reconstruction, my take on it was "OK. Well, fine. I'm alive." And honestly, it didn't bother me.
Even after the cellulitis & all the distortion, inflammation & purple welting of the scar, as a bodyworker I was, honestly, just fascinated.
That's why I had those photos made.

I figured well, I'm alive. It's fine.

But this. This is a disfigurement of tissue that was healthy & fine.
Yeah, gravity had had its way with me, but I was okay with that too.

So. I understand. And have deep compassion for what all those women have been speaking to on all of those blogs.
Yeah. It sucks. Hard.

Second thing. (I am smiling. Really.) Plainly, boys & girls, I have had *just a few layers* of attachment to form/ appearance that I was unaware of.
NOT to say that my doctor doesn't suck. 'Cause I think he does, now.
But, hey, I am very Buddhist in my heart of hearts, & am all about finding & healing all that I have attachment to, or resistance to, as much as I can locate & clear, in this lifetime, I am up for it.
I truly have no interest in being enslaved by concept & told the Universe decades ago that I want to wake up in this lifetime.
Well. No hitting the snooze button on this one!!
And. *Deep sigh*

That's the latest.
I think I'll go pop a painkiller & check FaceBook.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Strike four??

My poor sweet computer, which I have recently named Lazarus, because it keeps going to black screen ("no server can be located") & comes back after a hard shut down & a few hours of rest, has been quite cranky today...

Earlier this afternoon it went into a coma just as I was about to finish a long, chatty post, catching you up on the first one twefth of my year.
Then, just a few minutes ago, on three attempts to post, it highlighted & deleted what I had written...
And, yes, my tech innocence knows no bounds, but I swear I didn't touch anything to make that happen! ':-/

So, sadly, I am on blog-post-burnout.
I do want to let you know, in fortune cookie format (brief & hopeful) that all is well with me.
On Monday I signed all my presurgical papers, chose a saline implant (which has a less natural look, but less safety requirements to stay abreast of. So to speak.) & will be having surgery early in the morning on Wednesday the 8th.

Oh, lawzy, mama! My computer keeps changing the blue "Save now/ Preview" buttons on my blogspot menu board to black & back to blue, so I am going to make a mad dash for the "Publish Post" button before the wormhole closes.
(Have you noticed how I love the sweet/savory flavor of mixed metaphors? Yummy!)

I shall return with news post surgery, if not before.

Mazel tov, y'all!