One of the most common questions that I was asked after coming home from the hospital was “Are you happy with your surgery?”
Maybe it’s a lack of understanding of the process that I going through, but some who’ve asked seem puzzled by my answer. My reply has been that I’m healing well and I know that wasn’t the answer they expected or wanted.
Most are inquiring whether I’m pleased with how I look.
I refer to my “process” because that is – indeed – what it is. And I haven’t reached the end of it – not even for reconstruction. While the major parts of “surgery” are done, the end-result can’t be judged now.
Radiation makes tissue of all types draw up. That means that my skin, muscles, ligaments and tendons on the left breast side will draw up – shrink. To make things right in the end, the right side must be re-constructed to match what the left will be. After all, radiation will only happen on my left side.
Believe it or not, the plastic surgeons who are good at this can estimate this VERY accurately.
So coming out of this surgery, my left and right sides don’t exactly match. But I can see where my surgeon is going with this. So being “pleased” with my surgery at this point depends on the faith that I have in my doctors.
I’ve learned throughout this process, that faith in my doctors is critical to my comfort level in undergoing procedures, surgeries and treatments. I have to believe in them or I wouldn’t be able to sleep a wink.
I feel like I have the “dream team.” I can’t imagine how my doctors could be better or have more compassion for my situation.
I know, for instance, that my plastic surgeon actually loses sleep over this phase in the reconstruction process because of the thoughts that will go through patients’ heads when they look in the mirror for the first time. Changes are coming from the final really active treatment phase of radiation, but many think that after last major phase surgery, they should look even and matched up because they haven’t come to the reality of the situation that it’s just one more step in the process and they have to reserve their expectations for post radiation.
My doctors have given me the information to understand (and not to expect) to look normal until far into 2016.
My hair, eyelashes and eyebrows, my nails – and my boobs (size and skin tone) – will take quite a bit of time to reach their future state.
Maybe that’s why I can sort of watch this process unfold with interest and amazement instead of fear and disappointment.