Monday, April 17, 2017

Where did this emotion come from???

When you're diagnosed with breast cancer, it's customary to see your oncologist, radiation oncologist and breast surgeon at periodic intervals throughout the first 5 years after diagnosis. The visits start out being every three months, then every six months, and then if you're doing well, stretch out to annual visits. Today was my annual visit to the breast surgeon. Although I haven't reached the 5 year mark, she'd moved me to an annual visit because I was doing so well. Today, not so much.

I waited for almost an hour to see the doctor. She's an excellent doctor so I don't mind waiting for her. I know she gives her patients her undivided time and attention. When she came into my exam room, she greeted me like she always does with a big smile and a "What's up?" I shared my concerns and then she began the exam. She found a place on my chest wall that caught her attention. As she began palpating it, I winced in pain. "That hurts?" she said. I nodded and asked what she thought it might be. She said she wasn't sure but definitely wanted to check it out since it was outside the surgical field from my last operation. She instructed her assistant to schedule an ultrasound and then turned back to face me. "So, when are you going to have your reconstructive surgery," she said. I was puzzled. I had never mentioned anything about reconstructive surgery and in fact, had never even considered it. When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, all I wanted to do was get that nasty stuff out of my body and fast!

The doc sat there a few minutes and waited for my response. I told her I didn't know I was even a candidate for reconstruction since I'd had both breasts removed. "Oh, yes!" she assured me, " You can always have reconstruction even years after surgery. I highly recommend it and in fact, it's important to your overall health." When I asked her what she meant by that statement, she explained, "When your body is missing the weight of your breasts, your shoulders and spine try to compensate for the loss and begin to protectively curve forward. When that happens it can cause back problems and spinal misalignment. If you do the reconstructive surgery, you'll be replacing that weight and your body will respond accordingly."  As I listened to her, I felt this overwhelming emotion rising from the depths of my being. It was as if I was being handed a silver platter with hope sitting in the middle of it. I didn't understand what I was feeling but I knew I needed to process it. The doctor must have noticed I was dealing with something because she rolled her stool over closer to me and as she put her hand on my knee, I began to weep. I apologized after crying for a few minutes and she told me not to worry about it. She said she could feel my pain. At that point, I shared about the difficulties my surgery had caused in my marriage and the dam burst. I couldn't contain my tears any longer. The doctor grabbed a box of tissue and gently placed it on my lap. She instructed me to get dressed and said she wanted to give me a little time to regain my composure. I was thankful she'd left the room.

I removed the white linen robe and placed it on the chair in the exam room. As I gathered my clothing and began putting them back on, I wiped the tears away. I looked in the mirror and saw smeary black streaks running down my face. I made a mental note to wear waterproof mascara to my office visits from this point forward just in case I was caught off guard by another sneaky emotion.

The scheduler was kind enough to allow me to sit in her office for a while so I could calm down. She got an appointment for my ultrasound tomorrow afternoon. I'm not too concerned about the suspicious place the doctor found, but I guess I should be. I'm more concerned with whether or not I want to go through another surgery.

The doctor had given me a booklet describing the D.I.E.P flap reconstructive surgery. Basically what the surgery involves is removing abdominal tissue and using it to build and reform breasts. It's like getting a tummy tuck and boob job all at once. It's about a ten hour surgery and requires about a month of recovery. It's not an easy surgery. I tucked the booklet in my purse so I could read it when I got home. I needed to talk everything over with my husband and I wasn't sure I was up for that discussion just yet.
DIEP Flap reconstructon

Thankfully, the doctor assured me that my insurance would completely cover the surgery should I choose to do it. Even though it would be a delayed reconstruction, by law, the insurance company had to cover the surgery since I'd had bilateral mastectomies performed.

Now I face a huge decision. Do I have the surgery to replace my breasts or don't I? If I do the surgery, I will have a lengthy recovery period. It seems I've just finally started to feel good after my last surgery. I'm going to do a lot of research and give this matter a great deal of prayer. I'll keep you posted. If you would, please say a prayer for me to have clear direction on this matter. Thank you in advance.

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