Monday, February 14, 2011

Spring Remodeling

I wanted to get right back here the night after the plastic surgeon visit, but my husband and I decided last minute to go visit our granddaughter (and her mom and dad) who live about 3 1/2 hours away since I was feeling well and the weather was looking good.  There just didn't seem to be time to write before we left.  It was a great weekend, though, and so good to finally hug my granddaughter again.  Just to hear her say, "I don't want you to go, Me-Ma, I miss you.", both broke my heart and made it fill with love all at the same time.  There was much to be discussed this weekend between family and much to share...which we did inbetween visits to Hershey's Chocolate World.  What better weekend to be there (especially for chocolate) than the weekend before Valentine's Day!

Before we left, my husband and I were supposed to visit two plastic surgeons on the recommendation of my breast surgeon.  I did plan to see both but one of them was not on our insurance plan; and no matter how good he might be, we just can't afford to go "out of network".  Oh the wonders of our Health Care System! We ended up visiting the one that was on our plan and he happened to be right around the corner from the cancer center.  I know quite a few people who have been to him and they all gave him glowing recommendations, so we were feeling good about seeing him.  He did not disappoint us, and in fact, has a sense of humor, is very professional and answered all our questions.  He is well acquainted with my breast surgeon and has worked beside her on other surgeries.  He seemed glad to know that she would be the other surgeon there the day of my next surgery.  

He began by showing us pictures of other women who have had surgery done by him...before and after shots.  I kept thinking that someday, someone would be looking at my photos also...which is a little weird.  But do know that all the photos are from the neck down... there are no faces.  He then let me know "remodeled" breasts will never feel or look the same as my natural breasts.  Also, that there will be a period of adjustment but that eventually, I would be "happy with them".  He talked about the difference of working on radiated breasts and how it was more difficult.  I let him know that I was not having radiation, and was looking to have a double mastectomy.  Before going further, he wanted to know why and all about my journey.  Once I shared it with him, he said..."No one is ever going to try to change your mind about the double, since it is your body and you are the one that has to feel like you did all you wanted to do to ensure a good outcome.  But, if you want to ask me more about having just a single mastectomy, I am here to answer those questions to round out your decision."  Even his answers did not change my mind.  I just can't live with the fear of this happening again.  Although there are no guarantees, I want to "up my ante" for the best possible future.

He then had me undress and stand against a wall to take my photos (OK, I was starting to feel like a porn star!).  He made some lines on my breasts showing what he would do (and boy, I could see my husband squirming in his chair during this!), talked about tissue extenders, drains, the probable 2 day hospital stay, the first two weeks, how total recovery would be 4-6 weeks, and how he and I would be becoming very good friends as I would be seeing him often during that time.  We discussed and decided on the implants since the "flap surgery" is more complex and a longer recovery.  I told him I had a couple close friends who had been to him, and he remembered both of them.  One is from my church and also a part of the support group I met with a couple weeks ago.  She has even offered for me to go to her house to look at and feel the implants for myself.  The surgeon thought that was a great idea; and in fact, was happy to hear I knew her since he said she would be a very good support and informational friend to have during this time.

We talked a little more about the procedure itself and then he took notes and told me he was going to get in touch with my breast surgeon to discuss my case further.  He was glad I had come to see him when I did as he said I have time to get all the information I need and also can schedule my surgery in April for a date that would be convenient for me as well as my surgical team.  I told him I had (hopefully, as long as counts stay OK) 4 more chemo's, and then I would be meeting again with my breast surgeon.  He said to call him also about that time, but to realize that I would need 3-4 weeks of recovery from chemo before he would even do the surgery.  

So, spring is coming around the corner and just as families think about remodeling their own remodeling will begin then also.  Today was a warm winter day and I heard a few birds chirping this morning.  It was a "teaser" day of springtime and a reminder that this part of the journey is almost over and the next is almost ready to begin.

I'm feeling good about all this.  It is, of course, not what I would have wanted to happen to me...but it is what needs to happen now.  

One definition of "remodeling" is:  "to cause a transformation" and it seems to fit with my life now which has been transformed by this whole journey.  The blueprints are now out and the remodeling is being planned! Stay tuned for the next part of the journey to come.

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