Monthly Archives: August 2008

Update!

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Thanks to Paula, I’m posting an update. Just didn’t feel like it last week, I think I just wanted it to be over. I had ups and downs, incredible sensitivity but continued healing. Foot and knee still hurt from the fall, but I started doing all my normal activities including light yoga and Yamuna ball rolling on my back. Saw Dr. O yesterday, fresh from vacation, and got the A-ok. Healing still continues. It’ll be a two month recovery because of the problem on my right. But doc said yesterday it will heal perfectly and be fab. After I complimented him on the perfect symmetry he achieved, (obvious even with the healing issues), he nearly exploded with pride. “I think it’s the best work I’ve ever done!” Nice to know I’m setting the bar for boobie prizes.  I ordered some bras online since I wasn’t up to trying things on in a store. I’m somewhere between a 40D to 42C at the moment. I’m opting for the larger bandsize right now due to tenderness.

Next week he’ll do some clean-up work (for the large, God I hate this word, scab). So lots of fluids (I don’t think he meant martinis) and regular activity. Woohoo! One of the upsides of this adventure: my appetite is half what it was. So that’s going to help me get something resembling an hourglass shape again! There is a God(dess)!

The Boobie Prize?

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My friend Paula is so funny. Even she says so (paulajohnson.com). She’s right, I’ve won the boobie prize! It really is a blessing to be able to change a body part that has such a huge influence on you. The grandiose breasts served me in some ways but now that there’s so much less of me, I can’t wait to be more active. That is, after I recover from that incident yesterday.  

I was a bit cavalier about falling out of my house. It was very scary. I immediately grabbed my chest to make sure my boobs hadn’t popped off. Then I realized my white pants were stained with driveway tar and both knees were scraped. I knew I was gonna be a hurtin’ unit today. I changed my clothes and still did a couple of errands and got my nails done. But I could feel the pain coming.  I saw Santokh (my yogi/chiropractor) yesterday to re-adjust the new kinks I’d induced in my ankle (which blew up and turned purple), knees, thighs, lower back, shoulder and neck. I iced everything yesterday and last night as I lay watching the Olympics. Lizzie brought disgustingly good pizza over and we wallowed in that. I moved only to get in my bed and stayed there until 8am.

I’m moving today, but slowly and deliberately, still taking time to ice varioius body parts. Yesterday I was pretty shaky most of the day. I did manage to buy a pretty pair of sparkly — yet comfy — sandals to make myself feel better. So at least my pedicure will look good. I’m doing nothing but puttering and resting and waiting for my afternoon tea date. Afternoon tea in August. Am I crazy?

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Today I woke up feeling great. Healing is progressing. After a few false starts, sent my husband off on his Monterey/Carmel trip. He was as excited as a little kid. Then it was time for me to do some errands. Instead, I fell out of my house. I mean it. I opened the door, carefully taking just one thing to my car so I wouldn’t be overloaded, and bam! ankle twisted off the edge of the welcome (fuck you) mat and I went down on all fours on the asphalt (is that ass fault?). Skinned my knees, wrenched everything, ankle hurts, but stitches are still in place so all is ok. Took a Darvocet, packed on the ice, took a nap, and I’m going for a mani/pedi at 3. When life kicks you, you just gotta breathe deep and kick back.  Thanks to my pal Gail for writing to me today or I never would have written this.

It all comes down to communication

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Yesterday was a classic emotional roller coaster. When I woke up and saw my skin in shades of yellow and purple areas cold to the touch, I freaked. The word that kept coming to mind was necrosis — dead tissue. My husband, poor guy, hadn’t yet seen me. “Should I look?” “I think so.” So I revealed the bruises, stitches, and purpleness. He could hardly breathe. “Call the doctor now.”  I was on the phone to the doctor’s office at 7:30. I wasn’t going to wait around til my next visit on Friday to find out what was going on. Since my surgeon was out of town (don’t have surgery in August — nearly every doctor goes on vacation), I was going to see the backup surgeon. By 9 am I hadn’t heard back from the nurse or office staff. I called again.

‘Oh yes Mrs. Patrick, hold on just a moment.” Time passes. “Mrs. Patrick? I’m sorry, the nurse was calling the referral doctor but she is with another patient right now and instead of keeping you waiting can we call you back as soon as we have some information for you?”  I wait. “Mrs. Patrick? Just call Dr. V and they’ll get you in right away.” I call. “We can see you at 3 p.m. tomorrow.” “Wait, I was told you’d see me today. I don’t want to wait until 3pm tomrrow.” “We’ve got a full schedule today and we can’t get you in without throwing everything else off.” “But I was told you’d get me in today.” “I’m sorry, we can’t.” Fine. My mistake was I didn’t call back my surgeon’s office to rattle the cage. Instead I emailed my yogi sikh chiropractor to get his opinion. I wanted to call my doctor who referred me to the surgeon who did the operation, but guess what? He’s on vacation. So I also called my gynecologist who I’ve seen since 1981(!) and is the greatest doctor I’ve ever had. We had often discussed this procedure. I knew he would give me sound advice. Except this time. “I’m sorry, he’s on vacation til Monday.” But the office manager wanted to know what the problem was, and God bless her, she had worked for a plastic surgeon for seven years. “You absolutely should be seen immediately.”  She also wanted me to let her know what happens. By then my nerves snapped and I was crying by the time I hung up. I was not going to wait another day without some action. I called up my primary doctor’s office and asked to see whoever was covering for him. I got an appointment for 3p.m.

At that point I took a nap, and then proceeded to take a shower. I’d just gotten undressed when the phone rang. My friend who’s had a mastectomy and reconstruction. I just started downloading the day’s events as I stood in the bathroom. Then I hear the front door open. Steve’s come home unannounced. “Flori, sorry. Steve’s walking int he door, the shower’s running and I’m standing here naked.” Then the phone beeps. “Hello maam, National blah blah blah for Firefighters, can we count on your support?” “No! I’ve got my own crisis!” and hang up. I get out “Flori, can I call you back?” and Steve walks in. Geez. “I just wanted to change my clothes.”  Oy. So I shower, we eat lunch, and he goes on his merry way. My pal Jennie came over at 1:45 to see the new boobs.  Very funny how interesting new boobs are. Then I had to leave to get Steve for the doctor visit. In some ways I wish we hadn’t gone at all.

 

Let’s just say a general doctor is not a plastic surgeon, and is certainly not a plastic surgeon with heavy experience in breast reductions. He had the bedside manner of a robot. when the word “necrotic” left his lips I felt faint. “There’s nothing to be done now on an emergent basis. See the surgeon tomorrow and they may have to put you in the hospital and redo that flap.” And out the door he went. Shit.

 

I was crying again. Steve is due to leave on a fun trip to the Monterey Historic Auto Races and Pebble Beach Concours Thursday morning, supporting his pal who just built his own car to take to the races. If I go in for surgery, Steve won’t go on his trip, his pal doesn’t get to take his car on its major debut after three years of work. This sucked.

 

“I’ll call the backup surgeon when we get home and see if I can get in earlier.”

We got home to a message from the nurse in my original surgeon’s office checking on how I was doing. I called her back immediately. I brought her up-to-date and sensed she was very upset with the backup surgeon’s office. While she spent 20 minutes talking me off the ceiling, now finally really explaining the process of what was happening, and that the purple area is simply surface skin that may scab over or be trimmed off with new health skin taking its place, my tears changed to tears of relief. “I want to be relax, being upset isn’t good for your healing, and trust that this will turn out fine. I’ve been with the doctor for 10 years and I’ve never seen someone not heal perfectly. If Dr. O were here he’d tell you the same thing. I know you want to see Dr. V., so we’re trying to get you in earlier than 3 pm tomorrow. We’ll call you back as soon as we have a new time.”  I hung up and felt much better. Steve wasn’t better yet. The phone rang. It was 4:25. Dr. O’s office. “Can you get to Dr. V. at 5:15 today?” We were off to Glendale.

 

Dr. V. was charming, genuine and reassuring. “There’s nothing catastrophic here, just top layers of skin are affected. We will manage that, remove anything necessary and it will just take a little longer to heal.” Now, so far, photos of my breasts were taken during consultation, then at the pre-op visit, again on Monday to document the healing, and now Dr. V. wanted to take more and email them to Dr. O, so he would know the situation (me) was being taken care of. “Man, pictures of my boobs are everywhere now, and in this condition of all things! Damn.”  Steve and the doctor cracked up. The tension melted. My shoulders lowered from around my ears.

Steve and I collapsed when we got home, smiling in emotional exhaustion as we ate a beet salad with chicken and opened up a satisfying bottle of Petit Syrah. I know, shouldn’t drink much alcohol, but this glass was truly satisfying. Lizzie came over when she heard to offer more moral support.  Iput on the pretty caftan that several of my pals bought for my recovery and Lizzie took a couple of photos. I’ll see Dr. V. next Tuesday and in the meantime practice perfect hygiene and try not to be overly active.  I re-learned what I already know — I need to know the realities of a situation so I can deal with it. I don’t like veiled language or carefully chosen words that don’t say anything. It’s easier for me to have faith and rise above when I know the truth. The nurse was just trying to keep me calm and prevent me from worrying. But by not telling me the whole truth, my imagination and desire to know went on a mission until I got results.

 

Today’s mission? Play with my digital photo files and get a massage. And take a nap.

Update: Good, but Cautious

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Meant to write yesterday, but just couldn’t seem to get to it. I felt much better than Saturday when I seemed to sink into aches and sluggishness. Being taped up with pads and the surgical (aka sports) bra had made me feel like I couldn’t relax for fear of popping a stitch or two. So my shoulders, neck and the spot between my shoulderblades were just screaming. I tried some yoga moves, some breathing, some Yamuna ball rolling on my back. Steve massaged them and I pulled out the hotpad to help. At the same time I’m using ice to keep swelling down. Alternate, alternate.

 

Sunday I woke up ready to roll. Steve and I walked Fozzy up to Cheney Trail and I felt fine. Couldn’t get that far Saturday without feeling dizzy. I have managed to wash my hair every day, and even refresh the color, even though I couldn’t shower. If my hair is clean I can tolerate a lot. As soon as it feels the least bit oily I’m scratching at the shampoo. Sunday was a little tough because I felt good and wanted to do things. Of course, at this stage, you have to keep the activity down. I can walk a bit, putter a bit, but nothing strenuous. And it’s funny what becomes strenuous. Laundry has to be done in small batches. Bending over is out, knee bending is in. Opening sticky windows is out. Asking for help is in. Way in. Thank God for Maria my amazing housekeeper.

I’ve had to get used to sleeping on my back, and only my back, semi sitting up. This is not my favorite thing.  Lunesta, however, is a lovely thing that overcomes all. I’ve been drinking so much iced tea I’ve had to get up several times a night to take care of that, but fell right to sleep again. Last night I didn’t wake up once. All of a sudden it was 6am. Heaven.

 

Today I feel great. Saw the nurse and she removed the drains, or grenades as we began to call them. The tubes end in a plastic pouch that looks like a grenade, and these were pinned to my shirt or pants. I never did come to name them anything in particular, I just wanted them to go away. As thrilled as I was with this step, it wasn’t without some warning. The nurse chose her words carefully, so I would keep a positive attitude, but things aren’t healing as well as they could. “I see some areas are struggling to heal,” she said. So they’ll get some TLC this week, even some free time — no bra, no pads, just Vaseline and air. Can I tell you what a thrill that is after carrying around pounds of breasts for years? Talk about liberation! So I’m good, but cautious — and positive that all will heal. And on that note, I’m off to do some yoga and healing meditations.  Haven’t been doing as much as I need to. Ra ma da sa. Sat nam.

Results?

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Well, went to the doc yesterday anticipating that he’d remove these drains so I could have a relatively normal weekend, but no luck. Didn’t like the amount of swelling and bruising, so he left them in til Monday. They’re relatively out of the way, but did have some lovely “leakage.” Ugh. I am in a bra instead of dressing and ace bandage, however, so that feels better. Size? No idea yet. I did find out that the doc removed two pounds of tissue from each breast. Oy. Wish I felt like I was that much lighter, but with the bandages and all, i’m not feeling it yet. And it’s funny that my shoulders still want to ride up. Can’t get them to lower after being so stressed for so long. It was like they were the sentries keeping my body erect and they can’t give up their charge. Took a short walk with Fozzy my poodle today, with Steve holding the leash (didn’t want to get pulled).

Back is hurting from the odd sleeping positions, stomach is a little crampy today. Taking my antibiotics, vitamins, and not too much pain meds. Only took a darvocet last night and aleve during the day. Going to see Santokh, my amazing yogi, sikh chiropractor who works wonders in unusual ways. He’ll help remove the effects of the anesthesia and ease my aches. I’m able to do light things, like embroider, hem pants, type, water plants. No lifting. Very glad the Olympics are on. Was that opening the most luscious visual display ever? Stunning.