Thursday, June 7, 2012

Prosthetic Breast

Today I woke up feeling great.  I was thinking about how this hard time in my life is an opportunity for me to grow.  I was thanking God for this opportunity to become stronger.  It sounds ridiculous, I know.  I may sound like some kind of holier than thou, life is a bowl of cherries even though I have cancer, take everything in stride kind of gal...but that's just not the truth.  I have faith and I have hope but at the end of the day I am still just a weak and broken human.  The perfect example of that is the last 4 hours I've spent in tears or holding back tears.  Even now as I type this I have to stop to dry my eyes.

It started off as such a great day.  I spent the morning with my sister and my mom.  At 12:30, my sister, Cyndi, my husband and I headed up to Santa Barbara for my teaching appointment in preparation for beginning chemo on Monday.  This appointment is where they go over all the side effects, what to expect, prescriptions needed, reasons to be concerned, warning signs to watch for and so on.  They also went over the cost of treatment.  It will cost approximately $4,500 every time.  Thank God for insurance!  My part will be close to $500 due at every treatment.  I also picked up three different prescriptions to help with all the side effects like nausea and vomiting.  They sent me on my way and said, "See ya Monday!"

In my last post I said I was seeing a new plastic surgeon.  Yes, that is still true but he couldn't get me in until the end of the month and I needed to get my expander filled ASAP while my skin is still soft and still has it's elasticity.  I really didn't want to go back to him but after talking to some people about it, I decided that I would just go ahead and have him fill the expander.  I mean...what could go wrong.  All he has to do is stick a needle into the port and inject some saline.  SIGH...  Fortunately my sister got called into work and wasn't able to stay for the appointment with the plastic surgeon.  

I laid down on the procedure table.  The doctor took out a permanent marker and marked the spot where the port is and where the needle would need to be inserted.  He put on his gloves, cleaned the site, injected the area with a local anesthetic, and inserted the needle to begin filling the expander.  As soon as the needle went in, I flinched from the pain on my ribs.  I told him it hurt my rib and it felt like too much pressure on my rib cage.  He looked at me like I'm stupid and began to inject the saline into me.  The pressure on my ribs was horrible.  I felt like I couldn't take a breath because breathing would cause my rib cage to expand and the pressure and pain was too much.  The pressure continued to increase and was spreading to the surrounding area.  I told him several times about the pressure on my ribs.  He stopped injecting the saline  I looked down and saw blood in the end of the syringe.  I know nothing about medicine but I have enough common sense to know that if he had inserted the needle into the port there wouldn't be a back up of blood in the syringe.  The doctor then says exactly that to me.  Try number two... new needle, the doctor actually put pressure on my skin around the port to hold it in place and make sure the needle went in the right place.  He began filling the expander.  I felt my upper chest below my clavicle begin to expand.  I looked down...he kept missing breast stayed concave and my upper chest continued to grow.  300cc in I asked if there was a point in having an expander if it isn't expanding the skin where my breast is supposed to be.  He started to tell me about how he didn't want to use this expander because it doesn't attach to anything and he usually uses a different one with metal in it that attaches to the rib cage.  Blah, blah, blah... excuses...excuses...  He said he needs to go in and fix it surgically.  I told him he can't because I'm beginning chemo on Monday.  He asked why not.  I thought to myself...Aren't you a doctor?  Shouldn't you know the answer?  He told me we could leave it partially filled and see if that would help.  He began to drain the expander.  With 100cc left in the expander, he asked me what I thought.  I told him to go ahead and drain the whole thing.  I don't need to look like I have enlarged pectoral muscles and a concave breast.  He drained it and I left.  

I started to cry on the way home.  I kept thinking about the difficult decision I had to make in deciding to extend the surgery time by an hour in order to have the expander put in.  That was a difficult decision to make while I'm pregnant.  I thought about the beautiful work Dr. Grafton (my general surgeon) had done to rid my body of the cancerous breast and to prepare it for the implant.  I am so angry and disappointed!  I paid to have a breast and now I'm not going to get one for at least a year...because of incompetence!  And to have that happen right after I had to hear about my upcoming loss of hair, nausea, vomiting, dehydration, etc...  Poor me.  Poor, poor me.  I should be allowed to feel sorry for myself without feeling guilty for at least one evening, right?  Nope...I feel guilty.  I am blessed and I need to focus on my blessings and get over this self pity.  Self pity never did me any good other than to bring on depression.

Tonight I went down to the local corset shop and bought myself a new prosthetic breast.  Four hundred dollars worth of fake boob.  The only problem...the bra sits right on top of the rib where the port is.  It's quite painful.  I guess that's one more thing that should have been considered by the plastic surgeon.  He screwed up in giving me an implant and the other alternative of a prosthetic breast is extremely uncomfortable.  The only other alternative is to strut my stuff with one breast and I say no thank you to that option.

The biggest blessing of the day... the rib came between the needle and my lung.  It could have been so much worse!

1 comment:

  1. You should just be you and for right now that is just with one breast. I understand that eventually you want one and it sucks having to wait and deal with incompetant doctors but you should care so much at least for now you still are alive. You are allot stronger than you think and no you are not weak by crying. We all do it for what ever reason. Half the time I'm an emotional wreak and it's just because I watched some sad touching movie. Continue to hang in there and be strong not only for you but for your family who needs you. Prove to yourself that YOU CAN BEAT CANCER. Know that you are not alone!!!