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.