Daily Wisdom With Dr. Boob

Photo: doodlekisses.com

Photo: doodlekisses.com

As you recall, I told you about my witty repartee with the plastic surgeon in yesterday’s boob update. At today’s post-op appointment he was in rare form.

First, I have to say that I feel so much better than when I had the tissue expanders inserted in March. I’m almost scared that I’m headed for some colossal steroid crash and burn, and this is the calm before the storm. I’m just much sleepier today, so let’s hope that this is the extent of it.

There is, however, one very odd remnant of the surgical experience. I have a fat lip. Just on the right side. Now, I work beneath the OR floor, and let me tell you, it sometimes sounds like they’re tossing midgets up there for amusement. Bam! Crash! I’d love to be a fly on the wall some days.

So, when I graced Dr. Boob’s office this morning, neatly coiffed of course, I wanted to ask him what in the world had gone on the day before.

Me: So, take a look at this lip. Do you know what happened while I was under?

Dr. Boob: You probably bit your lip next to the trach tube, that’s all. (Really! that’s all you’ve got? Quid pro quo, Dr., quid pro quo)

Me: (sure that he was off his game and it would be an easy victory today) I’m thinking that the anesthesia dude, Dr. Hopper, Harry Potter, whatever his name was, got miffed when I told him they screwed up last time. He probably smacked me around a little.

Dr. Boob: Nope. He only hit you lightly, not enough to leave a mark. I saw it.

Me: (he’s back) You mean, you saw me being physically abused and you just stood by and let it happen?

Dr. Boob: Well, I was kind of tied up doing surgery.

Me: I understand, but the least you can do is show me some sympathy now. (I put on my best puppy dog face)

Dr. Boob: (with a totally straight face) Do you know where you find sympathy in the dictionary?

Me: (feeling victory slipping away) No, where?

Dr. Boob: Somewhere between “shit” and “syphillis”.

Dammit! Quid pro quo. It puts the lotion on it’s fat lip, or it gets the hose again.

 

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It’s D-Day…No Really

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If it looks like I’m slightly off-kilter in this picture, it’s merely a temporary unevenness caused by the drugs, making it somewhat difficult to stand in place without listing to one side (and to make sense, according to the number of times I’ve had to re- type words).

This morning I had surgery to exchange my breast tissue expanders for the permanent implants which will call my chest home. This will be almost the last step in a breast cancer treatment odyssey that began last March. The surgery itself lasted only an hour and a half, but I had to be there as the roosters were standing in line at Starbucks, getting coffee before crowing.

Nothing to eat or drink after midnight, blah, blah, blah. I didn’t eat, but I did have a few slugs of java and a little water. I know, I know.  Poor listening skills. I was simply trying to avoid the all-out tactical assault that was involved in starting my I.V. last time due to dehydration. I have to say that went stunningly better this go round.

I had to bring my new front-zip sports bra into the OR with me so they could bend my arms backwards and jam me into it lovingly slip me into it to hold the new cleavage down and reduce swelling. My post-op appointment is tomorrow morning, and you better believe I’ll fix my hair before I see the doctor this time.

When I came in after my last surgery, he asked “Did you even comb your hair today?” Now, mind you that I had been throwing up for the previous 24 hours due to anesthesia, and he was really lucky I made it at all. But Dr. Boob is a character, and I really love his smart-ass dry sense of humor (perhaps because I share it), so I had to take it in stride.

Here’s an example of an exchange we had yesterday:

Me: I think your medical assistant screwed up. She said something about a bilateral testicular implant.

Dr. Boob: Yes. We’re throwing that in as a promotion.

Me: (reflecting for a moment) Well, I have always felt like a man trapped in a woman’s body.

Dr. Boob: And now we’ll be making that a reality for you.

And this is how we roll on any given day. It’s a game to see who has to think longer before replying.

Right now, I’m feeling about a thousand percent better than after my last surgery, but it realize that part of that is the rather large dose of steroids they gave me through my I.V. I brought my anesthesia records with me so we could go over them and come up with a better game plan for nausea. I got Emend, like they give before chemo, and a Scopolamine patch behind the ear. So far, so good. Always be your own best advocate!

Apparently, from what I’ve read about implant reconstruction, there is a “drop and fluff” period of a few weeks, which sounds like you brought some dirty towels to the dry cleaners. What this means is that your implants will settle and look fuller as they begin to heal.

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It’s truly anyone’s guess as to what size you will end up when all is said and done, as there are so many variables of chest width, body type, height, etc. Dr. Boob told me to go by the tissue expander on the non-radiated side, so I hope that’s what I get in this odd box of Cracker Jack boobs. All I can say is that I was fitting into a 34D before surgery, and that’s the size of the sports bra you see.

I’ll post some pics as the “drop and fluff” progresses. As for now, I have to go was my hair and style my hair so I’ll be ready for tomorrow!

An Unexpected Confession

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I was privileged to witness an unexpected and very touching seen at work today. It was one of those moments that catches you off guard and makes you reflect deeply on your own life. It probably lasted no more than ten minutes, but I’ve thought about it all day.

As I was finishing up some last minute paperwork at my desk before heading home, the pathologist came into the office to talk to my co-worker, who is the pathology department supervisor. He is a lovely man with a thick Charleston drawl and a great sense of humor. I’ve always admired the fact that he is humble and easygoing. Many doctors forget that they are human after a few years in practice.

The two talked shop for a few minutes and then the conversation turned to family. Dr. P told her that his son, who is the youngest of 4 children, will soon be moving to Austin, Texas with his girlfriend. He said it would be the first time that his children were so far away from him; he’s always had at least one at home. My co-worker suggested that it might be a nice break for him and his wife to be carefree. What he said next shocked and saddened me.

“No, I think it’ll be sad and I’ll miss them” he began. “I realize now that I didn’t spend enough time with the kids. I’ve always been so busy. Between work and doing the things I wanted to do alone, I really screwed up…bad.”

I was purposely eavesdropping now, riveted by his poignant honesty.

He put his head in his hands for a moment, then continued. “You think that you’re kids are going to be there forever because that’s your life. There’s plenty of time later. Then, one morning you wake up, and they’re grown. And they’re busy doing their own thing that no longer includes you.”

He hesitated, perhaps realizing how much of himself he had revealed, and tried to lighten the mood. “Oh well, I guess all parents wish that they had done something differently at times.”

And then it was over. My co-worker excused herself and Dr. P followed on her heels. I was left sitting in my chair, alone in the office, to ponder the weight of his words. I feel like I spend a good amount of time with my kids, but there is room for improvement. Sometimes we’re physically in the same house, but we’re definitely not together. Instead, we’re all engrossed in our individual electronic devices, our solitary pursuits. I need to make a conscious effort to get everybody “unplugged” more often and to find things we can do to make happy memories.

The universe has a funny way of getting just the right message to us when we need it, if we’re willing to listen. We only get one shot to be parents. With all of the frustrations, expenses, and heartaches that our kids bring, there is no greater love in life. And there is no greater loss than knowing that you have squandered an opportunity that will never come again.

 

If You Unfollow Me…I’ll Unfollow You

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I was casually perusing my stats page today, and I noticed that I have been unfollowed. Yes, I have few enough followers that I notice these things…so. This has happened a few times in my fledgling blogging career, and I know that it’s really stupid, but it kind of bothers me.

I started this project like many of you out there, to have a place to express my feelings and my creativity, to have an outlet, maybe to help someone in a similar situation. It was all hunky-dory. I wrote freely, cursed occasionally, and the words flew out like bees out of a broken hive.

Then I discovered this monster they call “stats”. Now I could actually get instant feedback on how my posts were being received. Uh oh. Just give me a pipe and sell me some meth. I wrote about my first encounters with the stats demon in “From Breast Cancer Blogger to Stats Whore”, where I undoubtedly lost some followers who were offended by the title.

Of course all of this is a product of my dysfunctional childhood longing to be loved in jest. I’m not really heartbroken or anything. It just makes you wonder. Did I write something that was so boring you couldn’t tolerate another post? Did you blindly follow me along with 1,000 others that day to see who would reciprocate? That last one doesn’t work very well with me. I actually read all of the material from people I follow, so I don’t follow everyone back who follows me. There aren’t enough hours in the day.

Most likely, someone either liked one of my photographs or poems and then got tired of hearing about breast cancer, or vice versa. I realized a while back that I may have to split my blog in two. I find myself trying to please two completely different audiences, and I have begun censoring what I write as a result. And that kind of defeats the purpose of having a blog in the first place.

I’m so scatter-brained Piscean, I scare myself sometimes. My mind has always been this way. I think horizontally, and my blog reflects that. I have many different interests, and even I never know which will take precedence on any given day. I’m sure this confuses my poor readers at times. I know this because sometimes in conversation I have to stop mid-sentence and explain to people how I arrived at the thought I’m sharing, which to them seems completely random and irrelevant, but to me makes perfect sense if you’re inside my head.

So what do you think? Do you feel like my blog would be more effective if I split it into two…one strictly about breast cancer and daily life, and another for my more creative side (photos, writing, poems)? You can be honest….just don’t unfollow me.

The Butterfly Effect

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This little fellow has been visiting my flower boxes on the porch for the past few days and was kind enough to pose for a close-up. It’s the strangest thing, but I seem to be having almost surreal encounters with butterflies these days.

Take last week, for instance. I went out for a jog on the path behind my house, which backs up to a nature preserve. As I was running along a straight section, under a canopy of trees, a butterfly appeared beside me. I didn’t think much of it, but he continued along the path, staying right next to me. Occasionally, he would fly ahead and I would think that was the end of it. But then he would make a big circle and come back to me, keeping me company.

This went on for at least a quarter of a mile, until he finally tired of the game and moved along. For a brief moment, he was a companion, almost like a faithful dog. I’ve never seen a butterfly behave that way before. I felt protected in a sense, like I had a guardian angel.

I’m not usually one to go in for mystical, crystal-healing karma trips, but I’ve had the thought several times that my son has been reincarnated as a butterfly. I can’t explain why or back this up with anything logical, of course, but I just get a feeling when these things happen that he’s trying to let me know he is still with me and that he’s checking in.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Room

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This room represents so many things to me in a strange way. It was taken in March of 2013 in the Rotunda at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. I was having a grand time exploring the campus and the city during a brief business trip. Just a short week later, my life would change forever.

In the Winter of 2013, I had just taken a new part time job teaching laboratory procedures to nurses. The job would allow me to travel across the country and visit large medical centers. Free airfare, free meals, and great pay. It seemed like an exciting new adventure. This particular trip was only my second, the first being to Nashville, Tennessee. When I arrived at the hotel, I was pleasantly surprised to find my room overlooking a lovely pond inhabited by a pair of swans. A paved jogging trail meandered around the water and adjacent university buildings.

I only taught for a few hours during the day, so I either had mornings or afternoons to myself. The city of Charlottesville reminded me a lot of Asheville in some ways, yet it was steeped in a rich history that was palpable walking down the cobblestone streets where Thomas Jefferson and his contemporaries once stood. I thoroughly enjoyed the small shops and quaint hole-in-the wall restaurants nestled among venerable brick buildings and proud monuments. It was so nice to get away from everyday responsibilities, if only for a brief moment

Before the sun went down each day, I would try to get in a run. The path was very steep in spots, and I noticed that my endurance was flagging as I struggled to reach 3 miles. I chalked it up to needing more hill work, but in the back of my mind, it bothered me. After all, I had finished a half marathon only 4 months before with little trouble. Shouldn’t my endurance be improving?

After 3 wonderful days, I left for home feeling accomplished and rested. I had navigated a huge, unfamiliar medical center and done a really good job teaching. I had enjoyed the city so much that I planned to come back with my family and spend more time, including a visit to Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson.

As it turned out, that would be my second and last trip. A week later I was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and had to give up that job to go through treatment. It’s bittersweet when I look at the pictures now. I remember exactly what I was doing, what I was thinking. I remember how excited I was to embark on a new adventure once I finally made the difficult decision that I needed some time for me and that my kids would live if I left them with their father once per month. It wasn’t to be.

Funny, but situations like this always remind me of a quote from one of my favorite movies of all time, Out of Africa. There is a particularly pulse-pounding scene where Meryl Streep is nearly attacked by a lion while crossing the savannah with wagons and oxen looking for her philandering husband, who has been away for weeks on safari. Her servant Farah turns to her and says, “God is happy m’sabu…he plays with us.”

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Split-Second Story

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I took this picture at the North Carolina Arboretum. I thought it was a very pretty water feature, but I was pleasantly surprised with the result. The flow seemed to be frozen for a “split second”, the water actually separating and forming holes that weren’t visible to the naked eye.