Thursday, January 25, 2007

Surgery Date Moved Up

It's only two weeks earlier - to March 8 - but it is sooner than originally thought. Part of me is excited to get going already. Part of me is terrified.

This is a big surgery. Not only will my chest be cut, but my butt, too. How will I possibly get comfortable enough to sit - much less sleep - until everything heals? I will also be unable to run/lift/train in karate for a month or longer, which is not cool. It will be really hard to go from working out six days a week to doing, well, nothing. At least with my other reconstruction surgeries, I could walk or bike/use my lower body after two weeks or so. This time, I don't think I'll have that option.

In the grand scheme of things, not being able to work out or a while probably shouldn't be a big deal, but to me it is. Training - including doing very physical things in karate that I'd never even attempted before - was the one constant during treatment and reconstruction. Whether I had expanders, no boobs, one boob or whatever, I was always able to work out. I'm already mourning the inability to do that and I'm still six weeks away from that becoming a reality.

But onward, ho...

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Plastic Surgeon Consult #3

Yesterday, I met Dr. Levine. Another trip to NYC, but no anxiety this time. I figured things couldn’t have gone any worse than last week. But, just to be safe, I pulled into the first parking lot I could find.

I was greeted by Tasha when I walked in. She was pleasant and friendly and asked if I’d mind if her sister, who is a pre-med student at Penn State, sat in on the consult with the doctor. She told me it would only be a few more minutes until the doctor would see me and she even offered to hang up my coat for me.

Dr. Levine greeted me in his office, which means I didn’t meet him for the first time in a front-open medical gown. We talked about my surgical history and about my breast cancer saga. He took his time explaining the different techniques available – including ones he doesn’t even perform. I felt comfortable; I liked this guy!

After the exam, it seemed like an I-GAP (Inferior Gluteal Artery Perforator) Flap – where skin, fat and blood vessels are taken from my butt, shaped into a breast and microscopically implanted onto my chest - was about my best option. I’m skinny, so there isn’t a WHOLE lot of fat to work with, but there is enough for a boob although it would be smaller than the other side (which still has a C-sized implant). I’ve had enough of being uneven (been that way since the right implant was removed in August), so I decided to have the left side done, too. The bad news is the new girls be smaller than before. The good news is I’ll get to shop for all new bras soon :o)

The surgery is tentatively set for March 20. Dr. Levine said I wouldn't be able to workout for a solid month, so I might miss karate promotions in May, but we’ll see…

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Plastic Surgery Consult From Hell

December 26, 2006

Continuing the "Reconstructing Felicia's Chest" saga, I had an appointment today with yet another plastic surgeon - the third since my breast reconstruction adventure began two years ago. I was feeling a lot of anxiety about the visit - especially about having to again recount the story of the breast cancer diagnosis, mastectomies, expanders and the radiation that caused the expanders to fail. Of course I’d have to flash my mangled chest and pretend like having photos taken of me with no top on aren't a big thing; thinking about all that almost made me turn the car around and go home. But, being that today was the second day of Kwanzaa – Kujichaagulia – which means “self determination,” I decided to drive to NYC to keep my appointment and see what could be done about the mess that was once my right breast.

As soon as I stepped into the office, I wished I’d stayed home. The place was super busy and the receptionist didn’t even look up when I told her my name and the doctor I was there to see. The forms she gave me to fill out me barely had a sixteenth of an inch between questions for answers so I ended up having to go to the desk and tell her what I'd written (so much for patient privacy). Manhattan isn’t the easiest place to find street parking, so I arrived a half-hour late trying to find some place to leave my vehicle. I still had to wait over an hour to see the doctor.

The nurse who took me to the exam room didn’t say a word to me. The doctor is the only person in the place who even made eye contact. Still, after explaining my story and telling him what I DON’T want (absolutely NO muscle compromised, so TRAM and Latissimus Dorsi flaps are OUT), the only option he offered is something I’ve never even heard of – and believe me, I’ve done my research.

I took his card before I left so I could email or call with questions, but I already knew I wasn’t coming back. And, to add insult to injury, I had a $115 parking ticket when I finally got back to my car. Sigh…