Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Plastic Surgeon

Whoever said new boobs would be awesome - no more sagging, the perfect size, no more period pain, obviously didn't know the pain involved in the process.

I met Dr. Havard today and he was wonderful as is his Assistant Anca. I think they treat me better because they know I have breast cancer so they are softer, more engaged, if that makes sense. Anca shows me to the room, asks me how I am, I smile and say as good as can be expected but the sun is out so it could get better. She smiles.

She hands me the gown, oh how I love the gown. I know the drill, say thanks and strip it all off from the waste up. I sit and wait for the doc. Dr. Havard comes in, I get up on the table, asks me the questions like everyone else, how, what, when, wow and amazing you caught it so early. We discuss the new research about women waiting until even later than 40 and how the medical world was upset about it. I nod. Then, he says open it up. Really, just flash you, while you stand there with Anca and stare, what? For those that really know me, I am very modest and have difficulty even peeing in the stall next to someone I know - stage fright. I grin and bear it, he does the usual feel test like all the other docs, taps my leg, get dressed and meet me in the conference room.

He has a big book and gel silicone boob in hand when he comes into the conference room. Strange, I wondered if he could see me turning red. Somehow just carrying a fake booby around seemed wrong, who does that? And he wanted me to touch it and I dabbed but it just felt weird like I was creating some sort of seducing circle of the gel boob, strange.

We talk, well he talks, I listen. He was very thourough and went through everything.  Was I sure I wanted both done even though only one had cancer detected? I told him I wasn't going lop-sided and didn't want one boob to shrink or enlarge with my weight while the other stayed perky. Nope, this girl was going all the way. He continued.

A full reconstruction goes something like this - He will follow behind the sugical oncologist and place temporary saline implants behind my pectoral muscle, they will be about 100cc's. Then you will have a catheter for pain meds that will live outside your body and you have control of for five days (are you thinking pain, because I was thinking god awful pain at this point and went to a happy place),  and it will be removed. You will also have a drain tube that will be removed at the same time. Then after 3 or maybe it was 4 weeks, can't remember, I go into his office once a week and have 50cc's put in to the implant to enlarge them and push the muscle more, and continue to do that until they are where I want them to be. Then an in-and-out surgery and the permanents get put in, and we are done. And then when you heal we make your nipples. He got into this a little but not much, that comes later. Easy? Are you kidding me. There is no easy to it. The explanation sounds great, the real path from start to finish sounds awful.

I will be off of work for three weeks, I won't be able to do alot with my arms for awhile, and I will be different. I thought going in I wasn't attached to my breasts, I could choose life over a physical part of me, no problem. Maybe it hadn't hit me yet, maybe I was still in awe of all this news, maybe I thought I was dreaming and at any time I would wake up. No...... just pinched myself..... still sitting here.

I saw pictures, I thought about the entire process and I got hot, and just started filling with tears and it wouldn't stop. The doc was great, just sat there, and I was filled with an overwhelming bit of emotion. I apparently am attached, and can't fathom not seeing something in the mirror that I have seen for my entire 36 years of life - my breasts. That is kind of scary. Not the kind of scary like walking through a haunted house, but rather the kind that you don't know. The kind that is unknown scary - how will I react, will I  be able to stare at my disfigured body, will my husband love me anymore, will I always look this way, can I handle the emotional state of it? But I have my life, I lose the burden of what if it comes back, I don't have radiation, I have perky boobs again like when I was 20, but they aren't boobs at all, just a muscle forced to enlarge to create an image of a boob. And the buts continue - if this, but that, and however.....

This decision is mine and I am taking what my husband said to heart very much so. He said, "Go ahead, have the lumpectomy and then radiation and the possible chemo. You will be out of work a week and back in the saddle. You will continue to have mammograms, and continue to worry constantly. Then in 20 years it comes back, how old will you be?"

I say, "56."

"And you will have a full mastectomy then, older, how will your body take that?"

I answer, "Not as well, as it would if I were 36."

Silence.....  I cried...... he did his best to console me through the telephone. He is right sometimes, and cares and loves me all the time, and I appreciate his honesty with me - he knows I can take it, and deserve it.

So, tomorrow my husband and I will meet with the surgical oncologist one last time, for my own piece of mind, and make my deicsion - lumpectomy and radiation OR full mastectomy. I think I have already made up my mind, but somehow saying it out loud and committing to it, I am not so sure. I guess I keep thinking the lumpectomy will paint me a better picture..... the brush must be broken.

My husband can be right sometimes..... did I mention that?

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