tomorrow, we’ll have another go at making me physically whole. tomorrow, we’ll hope that the radiated and thin skin on my chest holds strong and doesn’t retract like an old-school shrinky dink and result in an infected mess. tomorrow, we’ll aim to recreate a breast that is softer and doesn’t feel like duct tape strapped across my chest.
after my surgical incision split open and became infected in 2014, i had a temporary tissue expander put into my chest, along with part of my back latissimus muscle, tissue and skin (that included moving some moles and birthmarks from my back over to my breast in an odd and amazing feat). i knew this expander was only temporary, because according to my surgeon, “even medical grade plastic bags can disintegrate or pop in your chest, and then we’d have to start from square one.” no thanks.
but there’s never a good time to have surgery, right? like, “oh cool, let me just hop on into the operating room and be unable to lift more than 5 pounds for a few weeks, and be unable to poop for a week from pain meds, and be unable to sleep for more than a stretch without said painkillers, and be unable to shower and wash my hair and move unencumbered without a surgical drain, and be unable to peak under the bandages for fear of what lies beneath and whether it matches what is in my head.”
instead, there is life to be lived, jobs to be worked, new bosses to engage with, trips to be traveled.
and there is medical reality.
the surgeon gave me a stern lecture and the surgery got scheduled, january 14.
i’m grateful to have some time off work to both mentally and physically prepare for a 4-hour surgery, and then to recover.
i get a sense about the relative meaning, to others, of this surgery when i hear that it’s “just reconstruction.” “just reconstruction” means a lot to me though (and to insurance companies–they, thankfully, have to cover it because it’s considered a treatment still from breast cancer). it means every day and night when i change clothes or shower or look in the mirror, my breast cancer is less glaring, less traumatic. i can fit into clothes. buy bras that don’t look like ugly medical garments. rest easier about what might pop out or float away when i’m in a swimsuit. not have people notice and wonder about the big divet at the top of my chest.
i know the surgery could go wrong, the skin could fail, infection could come around again. and in that case, i’ll cross that bridge if and when i get there.
see you on the other side –