Quick Update (What An Inspiring Title)

Sorry, I’m just too tired/exhausted to blog inspirationally or cleverly or even in an interesting manner. This is a shout out to the blog-o-sphere on my current well-being and a chance to express myself.

Which to write about first, breast cancer surgery or food… That’s easy. I am 3 days post-op from a surgery to revise my bilateral mastectomy incisions and remove dead skin. Even though I now have external stitches (a la Frankenstein) my chest looks so much better! Two drains still hang from the sides of my chest, draining the space under my pectoralis major muscle where my foobs lie waiting to be inflated to adult-like sizes. Yesterday, much to my surprise, the plastic surgeon injected 120 cc of saline into each foob (now a total of 420). I didn’t hurt – until later. Just imagine someone stretching your pecs for you – from the inside! Hopefully adding the saline now will fill up the space, slow down the drainage, and on Monday I can get the darn drains removed. I hurt, yes, I do. Some women go through this with minimal pain. Some say it is worse than childbirth (wouldn’t know except from having delivered many babies). There is constant pressure, as if wearing a too tight bra. The sandpaper-like feel under my skin, which has no sensation, is much less.

Hey, as long as I am moaning like a little ol’ lady… I am exhausted. Good thing since the surgeon won’t let me exercise except to keep some degree of shoulder movement. A walk around the block after the temperature drops below 95° does me in. After the second surgery, I was told to do nothing for 3 days. We were out and about for almost 4 hours yesterday (on the 2nd post-op day) seeing the doc, grocery shopping, pet shopping, medical supply shopping, grabbing me some protein at a wonderful breakfast joint. I was grateful to be out of the house but collapsed into bed at 8.  (See, little ol’ lady) Who knew healing could be so exhausting?

Food – I am focusing on protein, but my appetite grows less and less. Eggs, whey protein shakes, Greek yogurt and cheese continue to be my main sources when I can choke them down. I nibble on almonds and pumpkin seeds when I feel a sag coming on. Throw in some grapes, berries and the occasional green veggie, and – hey, sounds pretty healthy except the amounts are way too low for someone trying to heal. Even coffee doesn’t taste very good – sob. Don’t look for updates on my weight because I’m not stepping on the scale. Drains, dressings, medications, weight loss of real boobs, weight from saline in the foobs – the scale is irrelevant now. (Hey, I can wear size 12 jeans, who the hell cares about the scale!)

My plastic surgeon has turned out to be a real winner. Not only is he the artist and technical expert that my breast surgeon assured, but his dry sense of humor is great. He treats me with tremendous respect, freely accepts Sue and me as a couple, and can pull out a joking attitude that I really appreciate and need. He never rushes through office visits. The office staff is tremendous. (Many doctors lose patients over their office staff members.) The icing on the cake (cake – gag) was right before the last surgery when he was marking up my chest again. My wonderful Sue made a comment about my weenie-ness, which I freely admit to having. He whipped around and said, “Don’t talk about my patient like that.” The he was back to his usual demeanor. I wanted to kiss him, but it was probably the pre-medication drugs hitting.

So now you are up to date. Although this is written without much censoring or even editing, I must add that I continue to be forever grateful that my breast cancer is essentially cured, that the love of family and friends can never be underestimated or undervalued, and that overall life is wonderful.

Now I’m off to find that bottle of Valium…

Post-op Day 1

Who could have imagined that my biggest source of frustration so far would emanate from… other physicians. That is, if surgeons are really physicians and not just technicians.

A physician is respectful of her/his patients – does not make jokes about their age, refer to them as ancient, nor sneer when speaking to family members. A physician does not ignore standards of care when managing postoperative pain – the very pain she/he inflicted. In fact a physician cares about the well-being of his patient beyond the organ or disease or injury he is trying to treat; listens to input of others involved in the patient’s care (nurses, therapists, even lowly family members who know the patient’s baseline health care status best); and takes time to conduct more than cursory examination of the wound site (perhaps then he could recognize the signs of significant blood loss).

Yes, it is a rare surgeon who also is a physician. Fortunately for Dad, my not-so-subtle involvement in his care has brought a hospitalist to his bedside so I can sleep tonight without worrying that he is suffering needlessly or at risk of complications because a real physician is not available 24 hours a day during his recovery.

Closing rant summary:

A surgeon at a top ranking medical facility is not necessarily a good physician.
Families must be ever vigilant in their loved ones’ (and their own) medical care.
No amount of health care reform will make a good physician out of someone with a medical degree.