I went to have my little procedure done yesterday and the surgeon looked and looked at the wound on my breast which had become even larger in the last couple days and said the words I dreaded hearing but somehow knew were inevitable;
“I cannot close it. I am not even going to try. The skin is too far gone. You are going to need surgery.”
I am devastated.
Here are my three choices:
1. Get my boob rebuilt through a very involved surgery called a Latissimus Dorsi Flab.
2. Get the implant removed and the bad skin removed and be without a breast entirely on my right side.
3. Get the implant and skin removed now and have the Latissimus Dorsi Flap surgery at a later date.
I did not get my choice of just leaving things as they are and having no more surgery at all and never having to see another doctor ever again. No matter what I choose I have to have surgery of some type. I am freaking out.
I have a little bit of time to make this decision and this is a great gift as I am now operating purely on anxiety and fear and having to make an important choice while overwhelmed by these feelings sucks. The thought of having more surgery, my 4th operation in the last year and a half, literally makes me nauseous. I only had my last surgery less than six weeks ago. I wish I could put it off for a while but it is one of those surgeries that has to be done very soon. In fact my surgery will bump others from my surgeons’ schedule.
The Latissimus Dorsi Surgery is about 4 hours long and will require me to stay 2 days in the hospital. I will have a few drains to deal with and about a six week recovery. The scaring with be extensive on my breast as well as on my back. You can read about the procedure here and here. Obviously nobody would really want to go through something like that and the whole thing triggers my anxiety disorder in a major way but the alternative is losing my breast and all that entails emotionally.
Interestingly I have had a lot of strange and conflicting thoughts about being without my breast. Part of me believes that if I was not a single gal and was, in fact, in a wonderful relationship where I felt loved unconditionally I might just say, “Fuck it!” and not have the major surgery but go the lesser implant removal route. The fact is that I do feel incredible pressure to fit into the beauty mold. I worry about how future potential boyfriends would deal with my lack of a breast. I know that a superficial guy is obviously not the right one for me but I am also brutally aware that guys are visual creatures and that I already don’t fall into the ideal deluxe package parameters. Do I want yet one more major strike against me? Guys think of their girlfriend’s breasts as ‘theirs’ and I can only wonder that unless a love bond was already there a guy might not want to ‘do without’. Why would they deal with all that when there are other fully boobed fish in the sea? Then I think I sound so shallow and that I should give myself and the male part of the human race more credit. I shouldn’t care what others think of me. Beauty is not all in the boobs.
The fact is that deciding whether or not to have a breast reconstructed is very different from feeling pressure to follow the latest fashion trend. There is a very complex emotional element to this. We are talking about a major part of the female identity. I honestly don’t think I have even ‘gone there’ as far as considering the entire emotional ramifications of being without a breast. I wonder if I am focusing on the superficial aspects because I don’t want to even go that deep. I honestly don’t know.
What I do know is that I am feeling very sad.
The doc expressed his remorse that things went this way as he too was also very pleased with the look of the implants. He assured me it was nothing I did and only that my skin was too damaged by all the radiation treatments. We had a great talk about my anxiety issues and how I say dumb ass things when stressed and he very kindly offered to do everything in his power to make whatever decision I came to as easy for me as possible. I can pick whether I have my surgery in the morning or afternoon. I can have a private room. I can even possibly go home a day early if my pain is under control. He is open to whatever I need. He was very sweet to me.
So no matter what my decision is I am feeling very anxious about it. At this point I am thinking that I will stay the course I started on and get the reconstruction done. I know I could always get it at the later date but that means 2 surgeries instead of the one and probably just prolonging my anxiety. But, fuck, I am really scared. Just scared. And second guessing myself. Even thinking about it…..*shudder*
Obviously I am a complete control freak because as soon as things go off course I am totally thrown for a loop. But when you go through months and months of nasty treatment which is very unpleasant and painful and uncomfortable and frightening and then you see the end in sight and you believe all the major stuff is over and finished with and you can FINALLY think about getting on with things it SUCKS ASS to suddenly find out that is, in fact, NOT THE CASE!
I am trying to keep things in perspective. This is not a cancer reoccurrence. This is not a life threatening situation. I’m going to be ok.
And clearly I must now be eligible for some really good happy drugs.