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!
I am counting my lucky stars. Really I am. For although I have misplaced and deformed nipples from breast cancer interventions (written previously about here… Nipple Ripples) I am lucky.
In that post, I went to the trouble of drawing an annotated diagram as to the degree of nipple wonkiness which I was having to face.Then another time, obsessed by my lack of symmetry and by the cancer trauma that I had endured, I photographed a wonky cup cake at a school fair because it reminded me of my chest.
This post was so offensive to a person that they complained to the head of the hospital where I was being treated, who rang me and asked for my blog to be censored.
What was I thinking writing truthfully about events that occurred as a breast cancer patient, writing purely from my heart and conveying my own warped, personal narrative with a dash of cinematic lilt? Crazy right!? Some people take themselves far too seriously. They really do!
Anyway, I digress.My point here, despite my wonky arsed (8 o’clock and 2 o’clock facing) nipples, despite my you-know-those-plastic-Ikea-bowls-people-feed-their-children-with tissue expander boobs, despite my stunning transformation into George Costanza with permanently thinned and balding hair, despite the humongous weight gain I have experienced since two mastectomies, four surgeries, chemo, rads and Tamoxifen, despite the recent battles with severe mood swings and my cry me a river sessions as I enter chemically induced menopause from my newly acquired Zolodex monthly injections, despite all of this I am LUCKY!!!
How? I hear you ask?
I am lucky because (as well the obvious win of presently being cancer free), my partner, my love, my husband, the man of my life, the father of my children, is nothing like the man mentioned below.
I was astonished last month when I read in the news a story that came out of Canberra. The title… “I wouldn’t have married her if I’d known she had deformed nipples’: ex-husband”. You can see the article here.
I read all sorts of classy stuff. It’s true.
So, a pair of deformed nipples single-handedly doomed a marriage and ended one husbands affection for his wife. Apparently, he
IS A DICKHEAD! had been unhappily married to her since 1975 but had stayed with her for the sake of the children, despite living as man and wife through to the late 2000’s. The excuse “I wouldn’t have married her if I’d known she had deformed nipples” was used by the man seeking to reduce the amount owed to his wife in divorce proceedings in Canberra.
He said that.
In a Court of Law.
What a repulsively stupid, wonky donkey he is!
*Apologies to any donkeys that take offence. I love donkeys. I really do.