Tomorrow is my double exchange surgery. One thousand, one hundred and thirty three days after my first mastectomy. Finally.
Tomorrow has the weight of three years of expectation behind it.
I’m at sixes and sevens. Not sure how to feel, not sure what to expect.
Im scared. I’m scarred. My mind is scattered.
How will I look when I wake? Will I have surgical drains? How long till I can drive a car? I forgot all the details.
How long till I can hug my kids and my husband properly. Like one of those hugs where you squeeze so tight and don’t let go. Where it feels like two people might just possibly melt into one.
Will I be able to move forward from this breast cancer world I’ve been immersed in for three years and two months?
What would happen if I give myself permission to let go of this whole journey and try and forget about all this?
This will be surgery number five. It won’t be the last if I want to correct my disfigured breasts and nipples. What will come of the sixth? Will there be a seventh?
I’m a physical and mental mess today. See you on the other side of it.
Imagine my surprise when I received a letter today that said “Your treating doctor requested that you be placed onto a surgical wait list to undergo BILATERAL EXCHANGE FROM EXPANDERS TO IMPLANTS”
Placed onto? What the fark???!!!!
The letter continued … “We aim to deliver the best and most timely care to all our patients as quickly as possible.”
Most timely? Quickly? Pfft.
I understand the issues with public health, I really do. But Pffft!
You see, I was PLACED on a surgical waiting list back on the 1st November 2013. True.
It’s been nearly three years since I had my first expander jammed in my chest. And 2.5 years since I met the second one. I was so appreciative of the work of my surgeons. They removed my cancer and gave me an instant chest. I went onto the surgical list a few months later. And there I have sat with these uncomfortable, lumpy, rotten things since.
For all of this time, its been too painful to lay on my stomach. So I’ve neglected visits to the chiropractor, the massage therapist, and bodyboarding with the kids.
I guess I’m supposed to feel lucky that I’m still alive and even need my reconstruction finished. There’s plenty who didn’t get this far. Plenty!
So after I mustered up enough strength to hide my disappointment at this letter and not get prematurely upset, I rang the hospital. Turns out, the lovely Elective Surgery Access Manager felt my pain and put me on hold.
When she returned to the telephone, she offered me an apology for having me wait on the phone so long. Then she gave me a Plastic Surgeon surgical consult date (I’ve had two of these already) and an implant exchange surgery date. I didn’t know what to say.
So I said “Wow! Thankyou so much!” or some similar drivel.
Now the question is, what will they look like when finished? I’ve spent so long in this body that doesn’t feel like my own anymore. My rock hard, contracted, scar effected mounds, with nipples that point in such grossly different directions will need a lot of work to look reasonable.
And what will be of the 28kgs I’ve gained through hormonal treatment and chemically induced menopause since these Asian sized expanders were inserted? At least they were in proportion when all of this cancer treatment lark started.
What I’m looking forward to most will be the delight for my children when they snuggle and discover my chest is no longer like hugging a concrete freeway bollard. That will be the best!
Happy 41st Birthday to me. It would appear I’m (actually) having exchange surgery!
In today’s news, a London based plastic surgeon called Patrick Malluci, often seen on the British Channel4 show Embarrassing Bodies, did a study of 1300 people and found that 87 percent ranked breasts with a scientific 45:55 ratio as their favourite. This measures the percentage of breast above or below the nipple line. That’s 45 percent of the breast on top and 55 percent below the nipple. The study surmised that this ratio depicts a 20 degree upward angle and produces a “beckoning breast”. I kid you not! And it is this beckoning breast that people in the study equated with attractiveness.
Go on, Google it and shake your head! Our world has well and truly gone mad!
Since a world of women have only just recovered from the advent of the “thigh gap”, along comes another pathetic study for fragile women folk to measure their inadequacy against. Here’s an idea? Let’s put money into into cancer research, mental health programs, education and the environment!
Despite not yet completing my cosmetic surgery to restore my breasts, I think it’s too late to say to my breast surgeon and plastic surgeon “Please save my life, and by the way when you rebuild my breasts can you give them that beckoning look?”
After three breast surgeries including a lumpectomy and two nipple-sparing subcutaneous mastectomies with insertion of tissue expanders, with a dash of radiation to my left breast, my meridian ratio goes a little like this.
That’s two measurements for me cause I’m special! Catch you later. My perfect orange beckons.
I think I am in love.
Today she listened to me. Smiled at appropriate times. There were even outbursts of laughter. I know she would have brushed my hair from my face if I had any.
For this consult she had researched some literature for my individual case. “I know that you like statistics so I’ve done some research for you” she said.
See, she is thinking about me even when we aren’t together. She even answered all of my questions in great detail. Time stood still.
There was an acknowledgement that going straight to implant with this next mastectomy might be difficult. “You fit types with strong pec muscles make it hard for plastic surgeons” she said.
Oh she does make me blush!
She again said “We want you to be around for a very long time.”
Let’s not kid ourselves. She wants me to be in HER life for a long time. That’s essentially what she meant. No illusions necessary here.
We lingered longingly, even though other women had already waited too long in the waiting room.
There was an apology about her criticism of my nipple position at our last consult. “I was getting ahead of myself” she said. She is just beginning to truly appreciate my uniqueness.
This was by far our most successful encounter yet!
I wouldn’t be surprised if I get a post date text message tonight. If only I wasn’t living so far away and wasn’t married, maybe, just maybe we would have a chance. Another life perhaps.
She is mesmerisingly and extraordinarily impressive and out of respect for her privacy, I’m not posting a picture of her shoes today.
Can’t wait for our surgical date! August 13th is just so, so far away.
The image below depicts installing a zip to the side of my breast, criss crossing it with black pen, and watching black arrows explode from my nipple. Well not really. More like location of the incision site, removing all of the breast tissue and scraping the inside of the nipple to test for cancer while still in surgery, and taking it off if it tests positive for cancer. That my friends is a nipple-sparing subcutaneous mastectomy right there.