That’s what my reconstructive surgeon said to me today. I am 5 weeks post op and in a lot of pain. The swelling under my left arm is the worst it has ever been and the pain is affecting everything I do. I have been prescribed muscle relaxants and pain medication but I don’t like taking them as they make me feel dopey. That’s fine before bed, but not during the day. I am working hard to get back on my feet and back into the swing of things at work. I can’t do that if I’m taking pain meds.
My surgeon told me today that post op inflammation peaks at six weeks and will take an additional six weeks before it subsides. No one told me this before, so when my swelling started to increase over the last two weeks along with the “pain”, or according to all the cancer sites “discomfort”, I got concerned.
Upon examining me, my surgeon started to point out areas that he is not pleased with. One side is higher than the other, the scars are puckering and creating points where things should be round and the silicone implants that he used are spreading more to the side than the front. Together these imperfections are creating a look and feel that is well, worrisome and aesthetically not great!
“We need to schedule the first surgery to remove the hematoma and the bulge/scar tissue from your left side,” he said while poking and prodding me. “That will be preformed in one of my clinics under local anesthetic, while you lie on your side. It’s a bit of a gruesome procedure, but I need you awake so we can move your arm around and check your mobility. Sorry, I wish I could spare you this but it’s out of my control. After that procedure heals and the swelling subsides, we will tackle the rest. I do think though, that you should really consider switching out the silicone implants for saline. I can manipulate them more to fill the gaps in your chest from the mastectomy. I am going to have to open up the incisions to “fix” things anyway, so I would really like you to think about it.”
Think, think, THINK! I have done nothing but think since being diagnosed last April. I’m tired of thinking. I “thought” I had made the right decisions, or at least the right decisions for me….but maybe not. I thought the silicone implants would give me more of a natural shape and feel versus the saline implants that tend to look unnatural and feel more like water balloons placed inside your chest.
“Over my years as a surgeon, I have learned that every patient and every situation is different…and that most patients will need multiple surgeries to achieve the best results that we can provide. It will never be perfect or even close. But we try to at least get to a place that both the patient and myself are satisfied. Everything else is out of my control.”
There it was again. The word CONTROL! Once you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, you learn very quickly that there are many things you can’t control. All you can do is try to plan, research, prepare and brace yourself for the journey ahead. You try to manage your pain, your recovery, your energy and your outlook. You try to remain as positive as you can and to look for and celebrate the good in every day. You try to take each day as it comes and make the best of it. You focus on looking forward and not back and you try to not be too hard on yourself even though you want nothing but to have a “normal” day again.
I don’t know when my next two surgeries will happen, I can’t control that. But what I can control is how I prepare, how I react and how I let these setbacks affect me. I’ve learned that you can’t control everything. Sometimes you just need to sit back and have faith that things will all work out.
President of As You Like It Marketing & Communications Inc. Award winning speaker and author. Breast cancer fighter and blogger. I’m sharing my journey…the good, the bad and the ugly. Hoping to help anyone else that has been touched by breast cancer be it you or someone you know or love.