11 June 2008

Health Wealth #6 (final for this series)

Moving along in my series, I'm going to give you a run down of events during my initial recovering process.

After coming home, I had to do light exercises to maintain strength in my right arm and to avoid tightness and other complications that could arise. I saw the reconstructive surgeon on Labor Day even though his practice was closed for the holiday. Yes, he actually went into the office just for me. There aren't too many doctors like him left. Anyhoo, he too the bandages off and changed the dressing and viewed the drain. It was at that point when I saw my breast for the first time. It was a little scary and I was immediately self-conscious about my appearance. He explained that a small amount of saline was in the implant to initiate the inflation and I would undergo inflation about every two weeks or however my body tolerated it. The skin had to completely heal as I had some external abrasions due to the scraping of the breast tissue, which over the next couple of weeks increased my self-consciousness and I found myself wearing button downs quite often.

When it was time for the first inflation, it hurt like heck. The tightness in my chest and the strain on my skin was quite unexpected. I took some ibruprophen to alleviate my discomfort and decided I would take one before each inflation just in case. Over the course of the expansion process, I found myself trying to get used to this hard foreign object that was residing in my chest, which wasn't an easy thing to do. It was hard to get comfortable in bed or while driving, so I used small pillows to cushion myself. I had a total of 3 inflations until the tissue expander reached the size it needed to be and then I was in wait mode.

The doctor had to be sure that my skin was ready for me to undergo the next surgery to remove the expander and put an implant in. In the interim, I saw the breast surgeon for an exam and get his feelings on which implant I should chose. I initially was going for saline, but after talking to him and a woman who had saline, they both recommended silicone. With their endorsement, my mind was made up and I'd done all the reading necessary when trying to decide which of the two to use and I felt comfortble with the combined decision.

Fast forward to January 11th, 2008...
Mum came up again for me to have my next surgery and again stayed at the hospital with me. My recover from anethesia was easy this go around and I felt much better a lot sooner. My unaffected breast was lifted after the implant was placed in the affected breast to provided symetry and better asthetics. I wanted a small implant in the unaffected breast, but the doctor wanted to wait for another chest x-ray and mamo before he felt comfortable doing it just in case there was a problem. I went home the next day and was out of work for 4 weeks. The first go around I was out for almost 8 weeks. I felt pretty good, but still had to take it easy, which I did.
I went through all of my post-op appointments and was back into the swing of things.

In March, 2008, I saw the breast surgeon again as well as the oncologist. Another chest x-ray and mamo was ordered and it was later determined that I was completely clean and could now schedule my final surgery to have the small implant put into my unaffected breast to finalize the reconstruction and symetry.

In May, 2008, I underwent the final surgery and took a week off work to recuperate. It should have been at least two, but I didn't want to go through the disability paperwork drama and I had enough comp time to be out for a week without having to use leave. The pain was actually more than I expected it to be and found myself wondering how women increase their breast sizes because they can. My procedure wasn't for vanity and on a couple of occasions, I wondered if I should have done it. Of course, I know I needed to, but shit, that pain is something.

So, here I am now almost a year to the date of my diagnosis, stronger emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. I feel empowered for being so proactive in how I had to get through it all. Trust me when I tell you that I had some pretty shitty days. I allowed myself to feel whatever I was feeling and then I moved on. I refused to allow myself to wallow in misery or pity. Some very good things came out of it and I'm happy for those blessings.

The moral of this story is to listen to your body; I can't stress that enough. Had I not listened to my uterus acting a fool and continued popping pain pills, it would have been October before I saw my GYN because that's when I would have been due for my annual. Had I not listened and also had a doctor who took advantage of the time he had to examine me, my diagnosis and treatment options could have been a lot different.

I hope my story serves a means to encourage all of my female readers to ignore the discomfort of a mamogram and get it done as you're required. In fact, get all of your tests done! My male readers, please encourage the women in your lives to take care of themselves and get to the doctor when they need to. It's a known fact that women in committed relationships are often the second to know when lump is discovered.

Men, you aren't off the hook here. I implore each of you to get your health checked; know your familiy's medical history; where necessary and able, please ask; and don't ignore your body when it's doing something odd. Ask questions and do your research if you're unsure of what you're being tested for and do not settle for inadequate care.

Thank you all for reading my story, for sharing your heartfelt/heartwarming prayers and good wishes with me, and most of all for seeing me as a resource and testimony for why it's so important to be healthwise.



Terry said...

I'm just glad that you're doing better and that you're okay.

You put a bit of a scare in me there for a while I must say.

jus butterfli said...

thank YOU for sharing your story and for opening up allowing us to live inside some of your most personal moments, jus so we can understand the importance of taking care of ourselves. you're awesome, toots! always KNOW i think that about you! :o)

peace! love!

Wendy said...

Thank you again Blu. Knowing firsthand what you were dealing with and your being able to write about it is truly a blessing for us all. My prayer is for God to continue to lift you up emotionally, spiritually, mentally,and physically. And that we all come away with a valuable lesson from your post. Love! to you. Stay Blessed.

Blu Jewel said...

Terry - gave you quite a scare? Imagine how I felt...lol!

Jus - it took a lot for me to decide to post about my experience, but it was necessary. As I move and grow, I continue to celebrate the strength and life God has given me and if I can help someone else along the way, then that's an additional blessing.

Wendy - Thank you so much for all your kind words. If nothing else is gained, I hope a sense of promoted awareness becomes paramount.


Roddykat said...

Thank you, indeed. I know a couple of people that I may send this to put them in the know. I also know of a co-worker has had a similar experience. I've not pried enough to know how much similar hers was, but that's not so much my business.

For myself, I've had the problem of listening to my body, but not doing anything about it. That is slowly changing. This is definitely speeding the process.

Much love to you, Blu!

T.C. said...

you are truly an inspiration! thank you again for sharing your story with us! that's how we get better by sharing, through sharing we are teaching...you are teaching a lot of us, women and men, about how serious health needs to be taken! thank you!

Believer 1964 said...

Your final post in this series inspires me. Thank you for the up close and personal view. Praying many will be more aware and make better decisions. Keep on keepin' on!

Anonymous said...

Very inspirational Blu.....I'm sort of speechless which is rare for me...You are a very strong women. I've seen what this disease can do, but you didn't let it beat you, you beat it!! Sometimes its very scary to go have that breast exam or pap, well at least for me but as a women I know it must be done....Kudos to you for getting your symptoms checked out and staying brave and strong throughout the entire process!!

GOD Bless & Love Live Life!