Thursday, March 8, 2012

Expansions #2 & #3: Really?!

Dr. Soares & the 'Magnet Port Stud Finder'
My inner Sagittarius decided to combine these previously two separate posts into one, because quite frankly, it's pretty much the same gig. Or do I mean gag - because this is most definitely a joke gone bad. And since the saline expansion process is such oodles of fun, why relive these patient pilgrimages twice?

Feeling like a VooDoo doll experiment from a 1970's slumber party, I headed into my plastic surgeon's office in Santa Barbara on Monday with my hopeful and ritualistic frame of mind in tact (AKA, Nervous-Nelly Mentality). Sleek yoga attire-check. Meditation-check. Word inspiration of the day ('calm')-check. Half a valium-check. Film crew/chauffeur (AKA, Hil)-check.

I arrived and walked through that office door with my brave-patient-attitude and ended up waiting for 45 minutes in the waiting room due to the backlog of cancer patients flooding into the office. All at different stages from pre-op to post-op and saline fill-ups to post-mastectomy graduates, I watched the patients roll in and out like a ping-pong match. As for me, I'm halfway through my journey yet not new to the breast cancer arena all the while starting to nod off due to the now, poorly timed valium I took on the drive up from Ventura.

Finally, the nurse took me back to the room to prep me for my bi-monthly 'fill-up' and proceeded to talk my ears off for at least 20 minutes before the doctor came in.  I did my usual peruse of the room through squinted eyes at what I've previously tried to avoid - the metal tray. Syringe-check. Three inch needle-check. Pictures of my old breasts-check.

As I'm directed to sit in the reclining patient chair, in walks my sweet plastic surgeon with his usual smile on his face like we're heading into a fun cocktail party. Yet again, I cannot find the mini-bar in the room that I desperately need as that damn valium is all but out of my system now as evidenced by my renewed nerves.

140cc's later, I felt as if I had two new water balloons inserted into these bad-a$$ expanders. "Are you full?" he keeps asking me through his serious doctor expression. As always and through my bubbly grin, I say an emphatic 'YES!' and act like I can handle it like a champion cancer survivor. But underneath it all I can't help but ponder - 'me thinks this ain't so fun here in Cancerland.'

And then the surrealness of it all hits me as I smile, say my goodbyes and shuffle back out to the car while thinking that I can hardly believe the reality show that I've been dropped into the middle of. Trying desperately to distract myself, I read the Facebook newsfeed on my iPad about how my friends are going on beautiful bike rides, hitting top-notch concerts and sharing travel pics from around the globe. All the while, I'm holding and massaging my new water balloons in the hopes of relieving the fullness on the 45 minute drive back down the coast to Ventura. But by the time we pull into the garage I can barely get out of the car due to my newfound pain!

The past two expansions went fine but that night, I found myself asking what the hell just happened with this expansion and final fill? The 'overfill' as I've heard it called, is supposed to give the final implants the proper room and space. But, it just doesn't feel right and the memories of that night 7 weeks earlier starts flashing in my mind. Is it supposed to hurt like this? Are 'they' too full? Should 'they' feel this hard? Can 'they' explode? Someone, please answer my urgent line of questioning!

Well, as you can imagine, the evening didn't go as expected or planned. After attempting to eat left handed downstairs, I was finally hand fed until I was fed up. Shuffling my way upstairs to bed at 6:45, all I wanted to do was to lie down with a box of kleenex. I couldn't get in or out of bed by myself and was moving like I was 2 weeks post-mastectomy and 98 years old. So, we examine the bedroom tray of meds to decide what might help me through my Monday night misery. We pull out the big guns and hit the pain pill reserves and Voila! - we settle on a pain relieving cocktail (thank you leftover Norco!).

Eight hours later and two slightly settled water balloons, I woke up able to get out of bed with only a little assistance as the pain was on it's way back down from being the 10+ level of agony it was the night before. And, glimpses of my previous hopeful attitude began to show up again as the light at the end of the very dark tunnel was finally lightening up.

So, even though I've missed a full week of work, I'll suppose I'll just chalk this up to a blip on the cancer radar screen. Next plastic surgeon post: 'The Implants are In!'

One could only hope.


  1. 4 wonderful and magic words for a brave woman!

  2. I'm so sorry you have to go through this sister. It makes me sad and I can't do anything to make it all better. You're my hero ya know and I tell anyone that will listen.

    I love you two biggers and a whole lots!