Thursday, March 8, 2012

Breast Cancer, Month Seven

So . . .  this morning I went in for my one-week post-op check, the follow-up to what was, as is obvious at this point, only my first reconstruction surgery.

Let me preface this by saying that my plastic surgeon is the  chief of the division of breast plastic surgery at a university hospital.  He's out of town today, but his fourth year resident took care of me, and he's no slouch either.

Having had two complicated pregnancies, I learned early on not to waste my time with doctors unless they are affiliated with major medical centers and are also kind, funny, and relaxed. I have no complaints with my doctors as experts in their field and as human beings.  And I am very fortunate to have health insurance that covers both of the major medical systems down the street, one of them being the Cleveland Clinic and the other being University Hospitals, so I have good choices available to me.

I told the nice young resident exactly what I would have told his boss: that I am 100% horrified by the results and that I feel like Frankenstein's sister.  We had a lengthy conversation and he seemed to hear everything I said and he responded very appropriately.  And explained that there is still lots of healing to happen before we make a decision about what's next.

But he also said, "This is a pretty good result."  (I have also learned that these doctors at major medical centers are very reserved in their commentary.  They never say things like, "That was genius quality work," even though it often was.  So "pretty good result" means "outstanding.")

And I thought: Wow.  Followed by many silenced expletives.  Have we been on different pages, or what?  In different books?  On different planets?


  1. Wow, this really makes your point that we don't know much about the reality of breast cancer and reconstruction unless we're literally intimate with it. I keep praying for you, Robin.

  2. I just had lunch with a friend who's also had reconstruction (a different version). I think our consensus is: they dangle it out there, this promise that it won't be so bad and you'll be pretty much the same -- and it IS really bad and you are nothing close to the same. Certainly there are women who are pleased with their results. But those of us who aren't -- I guess we aren't out there in sparkly pink t-shirts on October magazine covers, and we are not much heard from.

    It's quite a shock, to be a person who never in a zillion years would have considered BC or plastic surgery (although, thinking about it, the former would have seemed a much greater possibility than the latter), to have had both, to look at your body and want to throw up, and to realize that it will be many more months of medical encounters before your very own self doesn't make you want to vomit.

  3. One gets the sense that the standard of "acceptable" for this surgery is "Any breast is better than a crater and a scar, and twenty years ago, you wouldn'thave been fortunate enough to get even this." Why does a woman have to be left with wondering whether she is too vain/not grateful enough?