Last night was a sleepless night with pre-surgery anxiety. I am 100% sure that the surgery to remove the implant and damaged skin, scheduled for tomorrow, is absolutely the right decision. Yet I spent the night, tossing and turning, deconstructing every aspect of reconstruction and deconstruction. Part of me wishes that I had originally chosen not to reconstruct at all, saving myself a lot of pain, surgery, and struggle over the past year. On the other hand, I’m not convinced that I want to spend the rest of my (long) life disfigured in that way. Seems a petty thing to worry about after all I’ve been through this past year.
What I do know, is that the implant has to go. Timing is everything, and, sadly, I may have postponed this surgery a week too long. This week was a struggle with searing pain in my chest and back and lymphedema in my right arm. My skin is unable to heal itself, and I’m on my third course of antibiotics to keep the infection in check. I am counting the minutes until I can get the surgery over with, and allow myself to heal. I wanted to be sure before doing anything so I wouldn’t second guess my decision. My PT said, “you can second guess yourself all you want, but it won’t do any good. You may have second guessed a decision to do the surgery earlier, too”. She has a valid point. All I can do is choose options and stick with them.
Again, timing is everything, and happily, I got to spend last weekend (Valentine’s Day) in Chicago with Andy at the motorcycle show and pizza meet-up with friends. (As my good friend Mary said, “combining romance and motorcycles – brilliant!”). Absolutely! We had so much fun at the motorcycle show that I forgot all about the troubles I was having. It was worth postponing everything so I could fit that rejuvenating road trip in. I may have found my next motorcycle, too…
Ironically, tomorrow’s surgery (February 23rd, 2015) is one day short of last year’s mastectomy (February 24th, 2014), marking my cancer-free-versary and, with it, a lot of emotion and difficult memories. It took a year to (not quite fully) recover from the pain of the mastectomy, suffering the side effects of axillary web syndrome, radiation fibrosis, and lymphedema, along with the painful process of filling the tissue expanders to stretch my skin and muscle to make room for an implant. Then another surgery to exchange the tissue expander for the implant, and now another surgery to undo all that, removing the implant and damaged skin to be left with a flat chest wall. It’s way too much trouble, really, just to have the appearance of breasts.
So, even though I have a fear of facing another surgery tomorrow, another recovery, and the disappointing setback of losing another “breast” (or foob, as those of us with fake boobs refer to them) I remind myself, as I approach the one year mark, that the important thing is that the cancer is gone. All the rest of it is just hurdles to clear on the road to recovery.