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Category Archives: fear

The Great Nipple Debate Continues

As my regular readers know, I have been going back and forth about nipple reconstruction for this past year. Most of my worries have been based in fear. I realized a few days ago what another concern is.

I have these great breasts that are already a little droopy. I’m concerned that the nipple placement will make them look even droopier. If that happens, I’ll be back at square one with nipples that point at the ground.

Logic tells me that Dr. Elliott wouldn’t do that to me. He knows what I’ve been through. But because I want everyone going through this (or someone who might know someone going through this) to see that they are not alone in their feelings, whatever those may be, I’m writing it all down and sharing my fears and concerns with you.

I’ll know more when I see him for my one year-ish check up around the end of this month. That’s when I’ll talk to him more about what type of flap reconstruction he wants to do, what, if any revisions can be done to deal with the squarish shape of my breasts and placement of my new nipples.

As usual, I’ll report back when I learn more.

 

My Emotional Healing – One Year Later

In just a few days I will celebrate my one year breast reconstruction anniversary. It’s hard to believe that so much time has passed already. Yet here I sit with the Twins neatly filling out my  New Orleans t-shirt.

My regular readers know that the time before my reconstruction was  really bad. I talked honestly about feeling like a deformed, sub-human thing. I considered myself to be mangled and a not human being.

I also talked about wanting to kill myself. More than that: I had a plan for killing myself. I suffered from severe suicidal depression because of the mangled remnants of my chest. Once during the period that I had been hooked up to the VAC machine I called suicide hotline. She saved my life and I am grateful. She’s one of the reasons that I write this blog.

Unfortunately, the time period before the surgery was MUCH worse. I knew I was much more serious about it than I had been previously because I wasn’t talking about it at all. My performance was SO convincing that no one in the family had the slightest idea that I had a plan in place to end my life if financing for the reconstruction had not come through.

I’ve come a LONG way since then. I’m much more content. I have real periods of happiness now. I understand that the severe depression was solely situational. In a case like that, no medication would have worked.

I LOVE the Twins. They have some minor flaws and quirks that I will talk about in another post. But I am SO grateful to have them that the flaws are a relatively minor issue and are, for all intents and purposes, inconsequential.

As happy as I am to have them, I still have some unresolved anger issues. I’m not normally a violent person. Nor do I generally wish for harm to come to people. There IS, however, one exception. The surgeon. I still feel he was negligent. I think that something happened during the initial augmentation and lift that led to the subsequent necrosis and I wish him to suffer just as much as I did.

I will not cause him harm. I’m not that kind of person. But I would definitely throw a party if someone were to pulverize and powder the bones of his hands with a sledgehammer. That’s all. I don’t want him dead. Death is too easy. I just don’t want him to do to someone else what he did to me.

So, yes, I’m angry. I feel cheated. But I was so emotionally fucked up that I settled just to get the hell away from him. How’s THIS for screwed up? In the state of Florida no other plastic surgeon will even SEE you while you’re under the care of another plastic surgeon.

I have more emotional healing to do even after a year. I have these moderate anger issues to deal with and I still have sorrow surrounding the loss of my original breasts. There are times when I write a particularly difficult article here and it leaves me in tears.

Please understand that I do not blame this blog for my tears. Boobcast has been a haven of sanity. Writing these articles, being this open and honest, has kept me sane. I still just have brief periods where I grieve the loss of my breasts. I grieve for what I put my husband and family through. I grieve for two years of my life lost.

Yeah. I still have some healing to do.

 

The 200th Post

As the title says, this is the 200th installment of BoobCast. Today I am writing about you, dear reader. Today’s installment is all about the support and the stories that people have shared with me since I first started this blog on Oct. 11, 2008.

When I first started writing this, I was also fairly active on a website called All About Plastic Surgery (http://www.allaboutplasticsurgery.com). When I posted what had happened to me it didn’t take long before I was inundated by questions about various aspects of the surgery. You can find that entry here: http://boobcast.net/2008/10/14/questions/ People expressed a great deal of concern about how well I had checked out the surgeon, what indications I might have had and what legal recourse I might have taken. During that period so many people gave their support and I am grateful for it. So my thanks goes out to the women of the All About Plastic Surgery forum. They were the ones who inspired the idea for BoobCast.

Now you’re probably asking yourself, “Gee Maria, why do you call it BoobCast? Were they wrapped in plaster or something at one point?”

No, dear reader. There are reasons this site is called BoobCast.  In 2007 the podcasting community lost a precious member by the name of Joe Murphy. He died of a vicious type of cancer that took him quickly. During his medical treatments he talked in vivid detail about what was going on, the testing and all of it. His strength inspired me. I wanted to be as strong and as brave as Joe Murphy. So I planned to podcast what was going on with my breast necrosis. The name of that podcast was going to be BoobCast.

I never met Joe but his life inspired me. It just turns out that I’m not that strong or that brave. To honor that bravery I have kept the name.

I also owe thanks to a very dear friend, Tee Morris. When I was trying to find the strength to create BoobCast, He was there for me. He gave me mental and emotional support by letting me know that I *could* do it. I’m sorry I disapointed you Tee but want to thank you for being a friend when I needed one.

In the time I’ve been writing BoobCast I have had people email me directly for advice. Of course, after reading the email, my advice was always “Contact your PS (plastic surgeon) and ask for [fill-in-the-blank]. Whether it was about bruising, skin texture or pain, I advised talking to their doctor. If they couldn’t get a decent answer from that doctor, talk to another one.

The one that really broke my heart was the husband of a woman who, a few days previous the email,  had the same procedure I had. According to her husband, the pain pills her PS had given her weren’t doing much and she was in constant pain. She couldn’t eat or sleep and she was suffering. I told her husband to call her PS immediately and insist on different pain meds and not take NO for an answer. i explained that, right now it was his job to advocate for his wife since she couldn’t do it herself.

A couple days later I got an email from him saying that her PS had changed her meds and she was doing MUCH better. It’s emails like those that made BoobCast well worth the emotional pain of writing those early posts.

I also want to thank everyone who talked to me about BoobCast at DragonCon last year. Being told in person that I’m making a difference means the world to me. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me.

Finally, my thanks to Carol Montoya, Lolly Daskal and the Woman At Denny’s. I promise that once I’ve had nipple reconstruction and recuperate from that, I WILL write the book. The foundation is in the works already.

My thanks to you all for reading, commenting and talking to me. Here’s to another 200!

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2010 in anchor breast lift, Anxiety, barter, boob job, Bra Fitting, bra sizes, Bras, breast, breast cancer, breast health, breast implants, breast lift, breast reconstruction, breast size, breast volume, Cash fees, checkup, chemotherapy chemical, clogged surgical drains, communication, complications, compression bra, compression dressing, cortisone, cosmetic surgery, cryotherapy, debreiding, debridement, deformity, dehiscence, Depression, Drain, Drugs, emotional healing, emotional scars, Excise, excise fluid, fear, Flashbacks, flourouracil, Fluid, granular tissue, granulation tissue, Healing, Hospital, Hospital fees, Hosptial Costs, implants, Incisions, Infection, Insurance, interferon, Invisibility, keloid, keloid scars, laser, Latissimus flap, latissimus flap reconstruction, malpractice, mammogram, mastopexy, Medical, Medical Insurance, memory, Nausea, necrosis, negligence, Nipple prosthetics, Nipple reconstruction, Nipples, Pain, Pain Management, plastic surgeon, plastic surgery, Plastic Surgery Disaster, podcast, Post surgical depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Prescription Drug Addiction, Prosthetics, PTSD, radiation, Reconstruction, Recovery, Scars, Seroma, serous fluid, Sex, silicone sheets, situational depression, Sleep, slow healing, suicide, Surgery, Surgical complications, Surgical drains, Surgical Fees, Ta Ta Tuesday, Uncategorized, V.A.C. machine, Vacuum assisted wound closure, wet to dry bandages, wheelchair

 

The Movies In My Head

Originally Drafted on 9/24/08: This is another post in the Flashback series.

We all have these movies that play in our heads: Telling off the boss; That comeback we *should* have thought of 10 minutes ago; Kissing your favorite movie star. We all have a million “what if” moments we stockpile and replay on a regular basis.

My movies go something like this:

FADE IN on our bedroom. DH sitting on bed:

DH: I’m sorry. We just can’t afford to pay for your reconstruction surgery.” FADE OUT

Scene 2: Location: Bridge at Night. Camera follows human silhouette plummeting from bridge. FADE TO BLACK

Yeah. Really stable.

From a logical standpoint I know that we’ll be able to get the financing for the surgery. As a last resort we can take the money from our investment account. So it IS going to happen.  But thanks to the latest release from What-If Studios, I’m still imagining being stuck like this for the rest of my life.

I’ve been dealing with this for 14 months now and I’m looking at another five months before the first surgery.  Then probably another three months before I have nipples again.  After all that, there’s at least a year of healing. Fortunately there are good drugs and I’m getting in shape. I’ve already lost 12 pounds.

I’m just emotionally wrung out and more than ready for this to be over with.

Why May? Scheduling conflicts abound. December is obvious. January is my birthday. February is my youngest son’s birthday. March WOULD be okay, BUT April 4 is our wedding anniversary and April 25 is DH’s birthday. Then, we have BaltiCon in May. That gives me 11 weeks to recover before the rigors of DragonCon. So THAT’S why I’m waiting until May.

In the mean time I’m trying not to buy tickets to more of the What-If Studios productions.

 

Better

My right eye is feeling better. No one is dragging barbed wire across it anymore. So I think I’m going to start making plans starting this week for my new project that I’ve been talking about.

But first…a bit about nipples.

I know I’m not mentally ready for another surgery. I don’t even want to think about planning for it. Even after nipple reconstruction I’ll have to have them tattooed. After all nipples aren’t the color of Pale White Chick.

I also have to consider that if I DO have nipple reconstruction am I going to be looking at nipples that point at the ground again?? The Twins are big and they hang a bit. Dr. Elliott feels that a lift won’t do much of anything unless I lose at least 30 pounds. But then the Twins will shrink. That thought still freaks me right the fuck out because I still equate shrinking with losing them.

Yeah. I gots me some issues to work through still.

As it stands, I’m still debating the nipples vs no nipples debate. I may want the surgery eventually. I don’t know if I’m going to go back to looking at prosthetics for a temporary fix. I’m starting to feel like I’m sliding backwards.

Again.

It took us 5 years to decide that we’re moving to Orlando next year. I don’t make serious decisions easily. So I’m waiting again.

Maybe I’ll get the fake nips just to see. But then I’d know they’re fake and I feel like that would be lying and kind of demeaning to what I’ve survived and conquered thusfar with the plague-level botch job the HiQ did on me.

It’s times like this when I’m in free form blog mode that I wish I could reveal that quack’s name so that others don’t get hurt by him. Maybe if I just reveal the latitude and longitude of the practice?

I really need to find that agreement I signed and figure out a way around it.

My point in this rambling diatribe is that I will eventually figure out what to do. In the mean time I’m still wading through a bunch of mental crap. Wheee!!

 

Zombie

While I was doing the wet to dry bandages before the debridment, I frequently felt like I was a zombie. No, I didn’t want to eat brains, though I DID want to severely damage the HiQ.

***WARNING! GRAPHIC CONTENT AHEAD***

No what I mean is that when I would peel off the wet to dry dressing and pull away bits of dead flesh, I couldn’t help but feel like I was, at least in part, an undead zombie. Here I was dropping bits of flesh. And that’s what zombies do…walk around, eat people and drop bits of their body.

Instead of eating people, I felt like this situation was eating me alive. And not just in the literal sense. I began losing myself to this situation. I WAS a bouncy, vibrant, spur-of-the-moment type of person before I became Zombie Maria.

It has only been in the last month or two that I’ve come back to myself. I’m not there yet. I still shamble a bit, though there are no brain cravings. And unfortunately I still haven’t gottten past the point of wishing the HiQ ill. I really couldn’t actually do anything myself. I’m not that kind of person. But you can damn betcha that I wouldn’t be feeling bad if he were to accidentally get his hands crushed.

 

Debridement

It sounds scary. I was terrified when the HIQ said that at the next appointment he was going to “remove the dead tissue”. I anticipated pain. I even had a panic attack. As if I wasn’t enough of a basket case as it was. I didn’t even get an explanation as to how it would be done.

By this time I was crying at least once a day. It had finally sunken in that things were really bad. I had lost both nipples and areolae. The tissue was completely dead. The tissue itself was blackened and rubbery. In some places it crackled when I pushed down on it. So it had to be removed.

Dead tissue is a breeding ground for infection and if it wasn’t removed, it would have caused infection that would have gone systemic and eventually killed me. So debriding, even though it sounds terrifying, is actually a good thing.

When we came back for the next appointment, the HiQ STILL didn’t explain exactly what would be going on. Thankfully his nurse did. She explained that this wouldn’t hurt because the tissue he would be removing was dead so the nerve endings were dead too. Because the nerves were dead, there wouldn’t be any sensation except for a pulling sensation.

I sat down and kept my eyes closed the entire time. I do know that he cut the tissue off with surgical scissors because I saw the instruments before the procedure.  All I felt was pressure and tugging. No pain aside from the emotional grieving of having lost an intimate part of myself. I grieved for the loss the same way an amputee or breast cancer survivor would.

It still freaks me out some that he was cutting tissue off my body. It sounds like something out of a horror movie, doesn’t it? Just the concept was enough to freak me out. Yet through all of this I explained calmly and in clinical terms to Hubby what was going to happen. He was, again, not allowed in. I refused to expose him to it and I was determined that I would do my best to maintain a facade of normalcy.

I failed about half the time by this point. But I tried, by damn. I tried.

The most important thing to take away from this post is that if you have to endure debridment, it is NOT painful. It sounds scary but what’s scarier is what will happen if you do NOT have it done. So have it done and do something really nice for yourself afterward.

 

Pins And Needles

During the first few weeks after the initial surgery, there is another incident that stands out strongly in my mind. Personally I think that I spent the first 2-3 weeks after the initial surgery in shock. Like the kind of shock they talk about on ER or House, MD.  That and the fact that I really don’t want to remember, might have something to do with this.

So why am I doing this if I don’t want to remember? I’ve talked before about how silent people are when it comes to botched plastic surgeries. People need to know and understand that even with an amazing surgeon, things can go wrong. Plastic surgery isn’t an instant fix even when it DOES go right.

So here I am, talking about it.

It was the appointment after the HiQ gave me a cream that was supposed to improve circulation. I left Ken in the waiting room because I was bound and determined that I wasn’t going to expose him to what was going on unless I absolutely had to. Quite honestly I was also terrified that if he saw what was happening to my body, he would leave me and I would be alone because I had insisted on having this done.

I still have a small part of me that blames myself for the entire snafu as regular readers know. Even two years after the fact I carry a part of that blame. I don’t know if I will ever shake the idea that, on some level, this was all my fault.

I remember sitting in the exam chair. The HiQ took a long needle from a steripack and stuck it directly into the blackened nipple tissue on my right breast. It didn’t hurt. I didn’t feel anything. I also didn’t really understand what was going on. The HiQ never said why the needle stick. All he said was “I’m sorry.”

I understand now that the reason for the stick was to see if the necrosis was just topical or if it had affected the underlying tissues as well. If the necrosis was topical, there would have been a droplet of blood from the stick. There wasn’t anything.

I didn’t understand what was going on. I wasn’t being told anything. I didn’t know what questions to ask because of all that. So I was just my usual, kind, cheerful self. It’s amazing what ignorance can do. It’s also amazing how rapidly the old defense mechanism of avoidance popped in. For the last 10 minutes I have been looking at how to create a website on iWeb so that I can finally get the BoobCast website up and running.

That may not seem like avoidance from your perspective. Trust me. It is. I was avoiding talking about what happened at the HiQ’s office that afternoon.

I checked my photos and unfortunately I don’t have anything for the four week span between October 9th and November 11th. I wish I had taken some pics during that time period. That way I could have better chronicled this story.

See? I’m doing it again.

So… Here I go. After the needle stick, I THINK that’s when the HiQ first mentioned debriding. That thought terrified me. I kind of knew that it meant having tissue cut off, and I anticipated a great deal of pain. I’ll talk more about it soon. It’s emotionally really rough but physically there isn’t any pain at all.

He said that he wanted me to start doing wet to dry bandages. He didn’t say why though. I had to figure that out on my own. Wet to dry bandages gently pull off dead or dying tissue. What you do is you take a gauze bandage and pour saline solution on it. Then you squeeze it out so that it is damp and spread it on the area to be debrided Then you put dry gauze over the top so that you don’t get your clothes wet.

I did that all on my own for a week. I forbade Ken from being in the bathroom when I was changing dressings or showering and I ALWAYS wore a surgical bra when I was around him. To my mind, I was not ever going to expose him to that as long as I could help it. Unfortunately, that would come back to haunt me in about a month.

 

A Ring and A Date

I once listened to an episode of Dr. Laura in which she told a young woman that her engagement wasn’t real until she had a ring and a date.  Friday morning I booked my “engagement”.

Of course this was after a long, heartfelt discussion with Dr. Elliott.  As you all know I’ve been freaking out.  As Ken and I were waiting for the doctor to come in, I broke down and he walked in while Ken was comforting me.  So the interview starts with me talking about how terrified I was about complications after this surgery.

He proceeded to tell me that what I was feeling was perfectly natural and that it was completely understandable that I would feel this way.  HOWEVER he chose the specific Latissimus Dorsai Flap (http://www.emedicine.com/plastic/topic137.htm)  reconstruction because there was a lower risk than the Tram Flap or Tummy Tuck style procedure.

He also explained that with someone my age, that a standard anchor style breast lift was a bad idea because it thinned tissue that was already stretched by breastfeeding and age.  Then add to that the pressure of putting an implant in to make an area larger that the lift made smaller, plus the lack of drains in the incisions and it wasn’t surprising that I developed necrosis.

If you follow the link you’ll see that what happens is that sections of muscle, fat and skin are removed from the back and then rotated around to the front and molded into a breast mound.  I have always wanted what I refer to as ski slope breasts.  They’re the ones that are rounded on the underside and the top slopes down to the nipple.  Dr. Elliott said what I requested as far as breast shape is actually the ideal shape for me.  Because of the way the V.A.C. machine healed my chest, I have no bottom roundness so that is going to need to be completely constructed.

Of course I’ll have scars but honestly I’ll just be happy to have breasts again.

Then, once that part has healed, I’ll have one more surgery to reconstruct the nipples.  After that, all that’s left is the medical tattooing.

After the consultation I spoke with his scheduler and I’ve set a date.  The surgery will be May 29 2009.

Why so much time between now and the surgery?  I really don’t want to be laid up over the holidays.  This is our busy season for our business.  Plus I have schoolwork that needs to be completed.  My birthday is the end of January, our youngest son’s birthday is in February, our anniversary is in April and Balticon is the end of May.  Then I have about 11 weeks to recover before DragonCon.  It’s a helluva schedule which doesn’t even include family issues that we’re dealing with OR the move back to Atlanta that we’re planning once we get the house sold down here.

All that aside, my “engagement” is real.  I have a Ring and a Date :-)

 

Interview

While I’m at Dr. Elliott’s office I’m going to be doing an interview with him about the process.  I’m also going to be asking about the reality of complications, how frequently they really happen and what really causes them.  Once RoyallMedia.com has the new site up next month I’ll be posting that interview.  it will also be in one of the future episodes of BoobCast.

I’ll let you all know how it goes :-)

PS: After a brief conversation with Hubby, I feel a bit better.  I’m still overwhelmed, but as long as I remember that we’re taking it one step at a time, it’s easier to handle.

That, and remembering to take deep breaths when I start to freak out…  Also a major helper.  Oxygen: it’s a GOOD thing!

 
 
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