This morning, I finally had a consult for my reconstruction surgery. My mastectomy was in December 2015, but they told me to wait until a year after my subsequent radiation treatments were finished so the skin could heal. That year was up in March, but I wanted to do some theatre before doing the surgery, and then it took a while to be able to get an appointment. Anyway, on to the appointment: in a nutshell, it was disappointing
I liked the doctor a lot. She was very realistic and candid. Just the right personality for me to consult with on something like this. However, because I had radiation on that area, the skin and muscle are kind of ruined. This limits my options for reconstruction, although there still are options. There are basically two. One involves taking fat and skin and muscle from my abdominal area to create a new breast. I had thought this sounded like a great idea--a tummy tuck and a new boob, all in one! Wrong. First of all, they have to take muscle as well as fat, which would impact my core strength. I could rebuild it to some extent, but it would never be what it is now. Secondly, there are several risks that could end up with a bad, irreversible result. She said most people in my situation who got this surgery end up being unhappy with it.
The other option is to take a flap from my back, where there's a muscle we don't use that much and probably wouldn't have an impact on my regular activities. "Probably." This surgery is less risky, but would require one surgery to put in the flap and an expander to start stretching the skin, then another procedure later to swap it out for a regular implant. And then that implant would need maintenance and probably replaced a couple times before I die.
In both cases, the surgery is several hours long and I would be in the hospital for several days. She described each one, and it was overwhelming how much they have to do. It is serious major surgery. The first would have about a three-month recovery time, and the second would be about two months. And that's just to stop feeling crappy from the surgery. Then I'd have to rebuild myself AGAIN because of being cut up and rearranged and then doing nothing for a couple months. Of course, with any surgery, there's always risks of bleeding, tissue death (in which case I'd have no boob and the flab would be gone), the risks that come with anesthesia, etc.
All of this for...what? A little vanity? When I'm not even that invested in my physical appearance, and I've been walking around with one boob for almost two years? What's the point? In the end, I still won't have a spectacular rack, and I still would be limited on the clothes I can wear because of the scarring. I have a divot around my port scar that will never go away, nor will the scar itself. And, my ability to dance and swim and whatever else could be compromised. What would be the point, exactly? It doesn't even bother me any more to have just one, and Michael loves me no matter what.
So, I said I'd sleep on it, but I'm leaning toward just not doing it. Who knows, with medical science today, there could be a new procedure in a few years that would be less traumatic to the body and have better results with fewer risks, and I'll revisit. At first, the thought of being like this forever made me sad, but it's not like having the surgery would make me perfect or undo what cancer did to me. I can never be the person I was before cancer, physically or mentally.