Life in the Slow Lane

Life in the Slow Lane

Monday, November 06, 2006

Seeping Beauty

I know I promised you all a photo of my new hooties (you bunch of pervs!) and I do intend on fulfilling my end of the deal (I am such a ho-bag!). Eventually. The truth of the matter is that I have been experiencing some complications from my surgery which have been very gross and discouraging. I am also a doofus.

The problem is that my skin on my right side (the cancer side) was radiated and therefore somewhat damaged. When I had the expanders in my surgeon was very pleased about how much the radiated skin stretched and how soft and supple it was. Basically he didn’t expect to encounter any problems. Famous last words. This summer, out of the blue, an open sore came up on my boob (and so the gross part begins!). I thought it was probably a skin infection and went to my regular family doc as my surgeon has a long wait time for appointments. I figured if it was something my surgeon should see I would find out then. My doc agreed with me that it was an infection and gave me antibiotic ointment which helped a lot but didn’t it heal up completely.

When my surgeon saw this little sore thingie the day of my implant surgery he said it was a hole in my skin due to the fact that the skin was so thin and damaged it was unable to heal. He cut that bit out so it had new clean edges when I went in for my last surgery and taped it up expecting it would heal up.

Well, it didn’t. As a result I have a bigger hole in my boob since my surgery. It went from under ¼ “ diameter to about an inch long. Then on top of it all this open wound started seeping (high gross factor alert) and I was forced to wear a bra 24/7 stuffed with Kleenex to deal with it. Along with this I have been feeling rather crappy and fluish over the last month too. I am a real mess.

So I called my surgeon’s office and they snuck me in and I had it looked at. The conclusion my surgeon came to is that my skin is just too damaged and thin and unable to do whatever skin does to close up and heal a wound. He said that this is unusual and concerning for him. FABULOUS!!!! I am on nasty antibiotics again and feeling less icky so I might have been fighting an infection. The seeping has stopped, which is nice, but the bad news is that I have to go into the hospital for another procedure this Thursday where, under local anesthetic, he will once again cut new margins and tape the wound up hoping that it heals.

There are good parts and bad parts to this. If it does manage to heal that will be good but I will not be able to have a nipple reconstructed there as everything is too delicate. That means I will be a one nipple wonder. If the wound doesn’t heal I will have to get another very major surgery done where they take skin from my back and bring it around to replace the skin on my front. This is very intense and painful surgery requiring 4 hours in the operating room. However I may be able to have a nipple reconstructed with the new skin.

I have found myself very upset and nervous about this new issue. I guess I just didn’t expect to get through cancer treatment with no problems only to encounter trouble on the reconstruction part. I have had three major surgeries and really don’t want another one. I hate that once again my body has failed me. I just want all this over and done with. I am sick of doctors and appointments and hospitals and all that nasty stuff. I don’t understand why the main implant incision which is just an inch above this wound healed just fine but this little thing won’t. It isn’t fair! I am feeling very picked on by the universe. Fuck, fuck FUCK!

Then on top of this I was a total ass at my appointment and completely embarrassed myself.

One of the many things I have learned over this whole cancer adventure is that I have a very hard time expressing to people that I am sad and afraid. I fall into this very glib and snarky mode when I find my heart and mind are racing over new stressful information or situations. I don’t know if I am trying to be funny or just don’t think about what I am saying and how I am coming off to others. Most of the time I come up with witty one liners but this time I totally bombed. I could say I didn’t know what I was thinking which would be the truth as my brain was just overtaken with thoughts of surgery and infection and blah blah blah. You know what I mean. I was not thinking straight.

So I was standing at the reception desk with my surgeon scheduling this new nasty procedure with his receptionist and I asked him if I could take an Ativan for the procedure. Well, that is what I really meant to ask. What I actually said was, “Can I take a whole shwack of Ativan?”

I should preface this bit saying that since I was diagnosed with cancer a pre-existing anxiety problem has gone through the roof causing bad panic attacks. When I was undergoing cancer treatment by docs recommended Ativan to cut down the anxiety. It really works wonders but in high doses can really zone you out. It is one of those drugs that one develops a tolerance to over time so I have always only taken one low dose pill and only if I was going to appointments etc so I didn’t build up a tolerance and have to start taking more and more for the same effect. I have found that one pill will drastically reduce the likelihood of a panic attack (even though I still feel anxious it just isn’t overwhelming) without sedating me at all. Anything over than that knocks me right out. The reason I wanted to take an Ativan for this procedure is that if I didn’t and had a panic attack I would get the shakes which is something not very cool when somebody is cutting you with a sharp scalpel. What I wanted to know was if taking a single Ativan would interfere with the local anesthetic etc. Pretty simple right?


The surgeon seemed taken aback by my question and said that I wouldn’t be able to drive myself home if I was under the effects of a lot of Ativan. And I said, in a smug and flippant way, “I can totally drive!” What I meant to say was that I can drive no problem if I take one Ativan. I couldn’t and wouldn’t if I took more. He then said in a very angry voice, “That is against the law!” and walked away from me.

So instead of saying I was only kidding (or more accurately sad, afraid and upset) I compounded my stupidity by turning to the receptionist and saying, “I guess he means no?” What I meant to say was, “I would never drive while stoned on tranqs. I am a very responsible and good girl.” The receptionist who is normally the most smiley and gregarious woman wouldn’t meet my eyes and with disgust on her face said, “It is really bad to do that.” And then turned away to ignore me rather than chat for a minute like we normally do.

It was only when I was in the elevator wondering what happened that my brain stopped freaking about my new bad news and I realized exactly what I said. I basically accidentally portrayed myself as an irresponsible prescription drug junkie to my doctor and his staff.


Now I don’t know why I can’t just laugh at my idiocy (it is not like I am never acted like a moron before) and move on. Instead I find myself very upset that I came off this way. I think the issue is that in reality I actually don’t do recreational drugs and I don’t drink alcohol AT ALL. I don’t even eat meat, for crap’s sake. My life is very boring and straight-laced. I would NEVER do anything so irresponsible. It goes against how I live my life.

So along with thoughts of upcoming medical procedures I have wondered if I need to dig myself out of this hole. Do I bring it up again at my next appointment and explain that instead of saying I was scared and upset I incorrectly stated that I basically was a drug fiend? Do I just let it go and pretend I never said anything so assholic?

So that is why you haven’t seen my new tits. Because I am scared and upset and icky and perceived as too stoned to hold the camera straight.


alan said...

You are not icky!

And it's not your body that has let you down, it's this world we live in! Whether it's the above ground testing of nukes in the 40's and 50's; the chemicals in the foodchain or whatever, there is something causing all of these cancers that no one saw 60 years ago!

That you are nervous and upset about all of this is completely understandable; I would think your surgeon could see that and will figure out it was just a nervous reaction when he thinks about it. If you have to explain it to him, then do; I'm sure he'll understand, especially if you remind him that you were put on the Ativan for this condition.

You were beautiful before this last surgery, inside and out. If you were to end up with only one nipple, you would still be beautiful. What to do is entirely your decision; just know that you are loved very much, cared for and worried about. If I could make it me instead of you I would...

And no, I'm not sick of your cat!


lawyerchik said...

Hang in there, Krank. Understand that doctors and their staff are missing the humor module that allows them to recognize snark as fear/anxiety, because they think they have to take themselves so seriously to do their jobs.

Besides. If the doctor really IS doing his job, he should already know about your anxiety and panic issues, and you can remind him about that when you go back.

Just tell him that you need to plan for your surgery to have someone drive you back and forth, and that you want to be sure that the (whatever milligram dose of) Ativan won't cause complications with the other anesthestics you will be taking.

Just for giggles, you can ask him how long you will need to be in the recovery room because you need to let your driver-person know, and that you want to be sure that 5 mgs of Ativan on top of the anesthesia won't interfere too much with your ability to function because you aren't used to more than that! ;)

It's going to work out. Really. :)

Circe said...

Aw hon,

You were scared and stressed and they didn't laugh it off. Geez, can they not put themselves in your shoes? I would give a brief explanation the next time you talk to them so they don't think you're some kind of drug addict, but really, they should understand your fuzzy mental faculties after hearing what major steps may come next.

happy and blue 2 said...

Why don't you just send them the part of this post that concerns the Ativan. You explained it clearly on the post.

Hope the surgery goes well and it's over on the first attempt.

Take care..

Candace said...

Option one: you don't discuss it the next time you go in and therefore spend a lot of time over-thinking it and getting anxious about being anxious.

Option two: you mention it to your doctor (in terms just like you wrote), apologize, and state the question again. You talk to the receptionist, something along the lines of, "Geez, I don't know why my mouth kept going on and on the last time I was here. I guess I was just scared about this new surgery," and then go on. You might feel stupid while mentioning your gaffe, but man will you feel better afterwards.

I say go with option two.

And, I totally know what you mean about going all snarky in these situations. I did the same thing when I found out about my surgery.

Chick said...

Oh, kranki, I totally identify with the "insert foot in mouth when upset and anxious" tendency.

I second H & B and Candace about sending them a note with the explanation you posted here. It'll create an opening in the conversation if needed when you go back, with most of the groundwork done, and reduce your anxiety. If you send a note or email or fax, be sure to ask that both the surgeon and the receptionist are given the explanation, so that you know you covered the bases with the parties present.
This post was beautifully written, and you really do a good job of giving background. It would be good that you remind them of your perspective of this whole ordeal, just so they remember that you are not just a patient, you are the human that they have gotten to know over time.

hemlock said...

Kranki: I think many people act like asses when they're scared. It's some wacky self protection mechanism.

I'd let your doctor know about your concerns... he'll totally understand.


Another straightlaced gal

Misty said...

(((((Kranki)))) You have every right to have said some "off" things. You've been through a lot and this is just not fair.. I agree. If I were you I would just tell the doctor the next time you see him, "Hey..sorry if I seemed silly or out of character when I was talking about driving etc. I was scared..and sad..things didn't come out the way I meant them to."
If he has any sense at all--he'll completely understand. sending good vibes that all will improve soon..!

mrtl said...

hugs Kranki
I'm in the FIM club, too. gah

Sharkey said...

Oh no--I'm so sorry you're having to go through all this.

I would think the surgeon is used to dealing with people who are scared and upset. I would probably say something along the lines of what Misty recommended.

headless cat said...

kranki - im really very sorry to hear about the skin problems you are having - do talk with the dr, he will understand where you are coming from

you can get through this!

and thanks for dropping by my place lots :-)

katietoyboy said...


Normally, I'm too lazy to comment. But I could't leave this one pass.

"He said that this is unusual and concerning for him."

Ummmm, so how does he think it might feel for you, for the love of all thats holy?? Its easy to be relaxed and witty whilst at the local deli purchasing nice food but a doctors reception can be a very scary place.

For your own peace of mind, it might be a good idea to clear the air, even by a quick phone call to the doctor and receptionist. Then you can concentrate all your energy on healing those boobiespoos.

By the way, we love you with one nipple or three!!


Nerdgirl said...

I'm sorry to hear about your appointment :(

I think that if your doctor is doing his job properly he should know you have anxiety issues.

Considering the type of patients your doctor would see, I'm sure you're not the first person to put "foot in mouth" in front of him. I agree that maybe a brief word when you next see him should be fine to quell your concern.

Sending you big hugs and get better vibes across the pond, x x

LadyBug said...

Oh, sweetie, we all have those foot-in-the-mouth, what-was-I-thinking moments.

That being said, this IS your doctor your talking about, and a good relationship is important there (in my humble opinion, anyway).

If it were me, I think I might write him (and his nurse/receptionist) a well-thought-out note, explaining the anxiety, the fact that your brain was a little overwhelmed with the news you had just gotten, and that you really just (still) need to know if taking (one) Ativan will interfere with the anesthesia.

I like notes because they can be read at the recipient's leisure (as opposed to interrupting their busy schedule with a phone call) and because I can think through what I want to say AND edit it if I don't get it right the first time.

(I didn't have time to read comments today, so I hope this wasn't a repeat.)

Love and hugs to you, Kranki. I hope everything heals well this time.

JP said...

Bad hoot experience. I'm hopeful it'll all turn around for ya! Doctors do not think like the rest of "normal" people, which enables them to do what they need to do, but a bit more understanding and some comedy wouldn't hurt! Hang in there Kranki!!

Nerdgirl said...

When I said "considering the types of patients your doctor would see" I meant people needing reconstructive surgery after cancer, as in people who have been through hell and are having to deal so much.


kalki said...

Oh sweetie. I just want things to be smooth sailing for you. You so deserve that.

If it were me, it would be easier to provide an explanation to them over the phone. Or with a note, I guess. Plus that would resolve this thing now, rather than waiting for my next appt. That might be how I would handle it, which isn't to say that's the best way for you.

And surely, once you explain it, they'll understand. You have every reason to be upset and to not be able to express exactly how you are feeling.

Much love to you, Kranks.

Squirl said...

I'm so sorry that your skin isn't healing as it should. No wonder you were upset.

Normally I wouldn't want to say anything more about it. But since this is your doctor, who's in charge of your medication, I agree with everyone in saying that you need to communicate your nervous reaction. Maybe in writing is a good way. Just do a nice copy and paste from your well-written post here.

Good luck and many hugs, hon!

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry this is happening to you, Kranki. I'm sure if you wrote your doctor a note as has been suggested, he would understand. I have done much the same kind of thing - I am forever making an ass of myself - so I just wish I could hug you in a way that would not hurt your boobs, and tell you it's going to be okay.

Anonymous said...

Awww crap! Your tits took a turn for the worst. Ugh. Weeping sore and everything, that is grim. Hopefully the new surgery will eliminate this little gem from your life once and for all. And I hope you don't have to do that other skin transplant thing...sounds horrible. But if you do, you WILL get through it with grace and courage, as you always do, even though you are scared and sad.

As for the doctor, he should know that any self respecting drug abuser would never say out loud that they wanted a shwack of anything, let alone claim to be able to drive on the stuff! A true drug abuser is all about secrecy, hiding and lying. You do none of those things.

You are brave.

Hang tough.

Mrs. B

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Jeannette said...

I'm so sorry to read about the problems with the hoots. I hope this next procedure is able to help you out so you can just be done. Just done with it all.

I wouldn't worry so much about the doctor. Doctors, well surgeons in particular, are known for not having a sense of humor. Who knows, maybe someone in their office had a little Ativan or other px'd drug problem and something happened. He could have been not laughing at that situation rather than not getting your humor. It is like my sister and I remind each other, "it's not always about you." Sometimes that helps and other times it saddens me. ;) Kidding -- totally kidding!

"I fall into this very glib and snarky mode.." Oh, I so get this. It is nice to know I'm not alone!

JessicaRabbit said...

Write up a note that says, Please excuse my daughter she has a touch of foot in mouth disease. Love, Krankis Mom.

It will be ok honey, you have made it this far,and any doctor should understand that people with bad anxiety can have trouble expressing themselves when they are freaking out. You should hear the stuff I say during panic attacks. Pffft. Crazy lady time over this way I tell you what.

eclectic said...

I'm sorry for the experience, Kranki. But he's got to know that that kind of news is likely to cause momentary lapses in understanding and judgment, even without an anxiety disorder.

Marit said...

I'm sorry Kranki. I find it very unfortunate that most doctor's are unable to find a sense of humor. I'm sure it left more of a mark on you than it did him though--i bet he's already forgotten your comment. But, if it's really bugging you--just tell him that you didn't mean to sound like a drug head. We all know you aren't!

LadyBug said...

Just stopping by to check on you, sweetie. Hope everything's okay.

misshellbedlam said...

Um, Kranki? Okay, I don't know you or anything, I'm just a lurker on your blog. However, I don't think you were AT ALL in the wrong here. It's motherfucking cancer, and painful operations, and oozing sores, and (at least seemingly) neverending mental anguish -- good for you being able to have a sense of humor about it. If you did anything wrong it was *asking* for anti-anxiety meds instead of *demanding* them. Fuck those assholes making you feel bad about that! I want to punch them in their throats. That is all.

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