Day 118: Interviewing a new plastics expert…
I have mentioned before that when it comes to my medical team, energy matters. This is a big deal, I mean, here you are robbed of the top half of your body and large portion of your femininity and when it comes to putting you back together, you really want that to be done correctly. I was lucky that a friend of mine has been through this process and she referred me to her surgeon who is located in Seattle, a few hours away on a good traffic day. As much as I am not looking forward to traffic and the drive, I am looking forward to meeting this doctor. My friend told me that this doctor has gone through this process. This is huge. Obviously this surgeon did not do her own reconstruction, but she gets it – really gets what it is to go through this process.
I brought a close friend along for the adventure and come to think of it, she is one of the few people to see my newly scarred chest. There are 8-9″ incision lines on each side of my chest where my breasts used to be and ample tissue bundled up along the incision lines. This is not mistake, this is a blessing, this a gift from my general surgeon who spared as much tissue as possible. However, it is lumpy and off putting and again.. I have the temptation to post a picture. For those of you who are thinking, “It can’t be that bad.”; I assure you, it is. One side is lumpy and the other concave, the concave side being the breast that we knew had cancer and as much tissue as possible was removed – unlike the right where the adipose tissue remained.
When the doctor came into the exam room, we had a great conversation and she asked me a few questions prior to completing an exam. Of course she asked if I was going through chemotherapy. I said no, and launched into my prepared speech and she just nods and says, “Ok, I understand.” Then she asks about radiation, I say “No.” she says “Good.”. She asked me how active or athletic I am. Of course this makes me lament the fact that exercise has taken a back burner as my body heals from its ongoing, seemingly never ending, invasions… but I tell her, I have been kayaking, canoeing, hiking, and trying to be as active and normal as possible throughout this process. She looks at me and says, “Ok then, we won’t talk about the tram-flap reconstruction because you would be out of your life for 4-6 months in recovery and it doesn’t seem like you would like that.” Extra points for the doctor treating the patient and not the disease!
So, we complete the exam, she measures my scars, looks over my mastectomy sites and is certain that we can get a great result from implants. We talk about the process of expanders, the overnight in the hospital, the surgical pain and the months long process of pain and discomfort. I have to admit, at this point, I have wonder if it would not have been better to stay flat and not replace my breasts… but I am young and if I don’t get breasts I will need to invest in a new wardrobe because clothes do not fit the same… after I finish up the conversation with the doctor, her medical assistant comes in to take photos. This seems so odd… but what part of this hasn’t been right?
Finally I make my way to scheduling. I like this doctor. I am comfortable here. Doctor is taking half the month of July off… the soonest they can see me for surgery is August 13… pre-op is August 4. I say to Valerie the scheduler, “I know that it has to be rare for someone to cancel their surgery, but will you please keep me in mind if ANY cancellations happen?” She assures me she will.
My friend and I head out for a fabulous ferry ride home. I decide to make lemonade out of lemons and talk with a massage therapist about massaging the pectoral muscles since I have two months before surgery. Seems like forever.
One thought on “Day 118: Interviewing a new plastics expert…”
“Ok then, we won’t talk about the tram-flap reconstruction because you would be out of your life for 4-6 months in recovery and it doesn’t seem like you would like that.” It’s a MIRACLE: A doctor who sees a patient as a human being with an actual life! Congratulations on finding this one…she must be one in about four million.
I’m sorry you’re having to go through all this. What a nightmare! I guess, though, that if I were younger I might have opted for the same. Every now and again I thank my lucky stars that I’m old and the presence or absence of boobs is now immaterial. I’m perfectly happy with my body as a New Ten-Year-Old. But probably wouldn’t be if I were in my twenties, thirties, or forties. Maybe even fifties, come to think of it., 😉
LOL! My doctors are wonderful, kind, and gifted women. But really, you’re right: they DON’T get it when it comes to the disruption of a person’s life, the time wasted when you have so much living left to do and so few years left to do it in, and the exigencies of living alone. Finding one who acts like she has some empathy is a real gift.