Thursday, April 26, 2012

Why I Did What I Did


My recovery from a Bilateral Mastectomy with immediate reconstruction has not been smooth sailing. Because of chronic pain and concerns regarding my final outcome, I elected to have revision surgery prior to my exchange from Tissue Expanders to Implants.


BEFORE
Evidence of the sloppy workmanship of
Memorial Sloan Kettering's Head Plastic/Reconstructive Surgeon
 (aka DicDoc).



AFTER


Day two, post surgery.
Surgery performed by Dr. Sandra Margoles.


DicDoc assured me that revisions could be made during the exchange from Tissue Expanders to Implants but that I should not expect to be symmetrical. 

Three separate opinions recommended that the revisions be made before the exchange and that I had the right to be symmetrical. 

For the record, the government agrees that cancer patients have the right to have symmetrical breasts, which is why insurance companies must pay for revisions and breast lifts to a non-cancer breast to match the breast that was reconstructed due to cancer. 

It was a gamble but I'm glad I did it. I am in more pain then I anticipated but I know its temporary.

I will begin receiving saline "fills" in two weeks.  The fills stretch the skin and the muscle so that the implant will fit under the muscle. 

Once the exchange is complete, I will focus on nipples and then... areola.  Areola is achieved by tattooing and I'm entertaining options other than boring, brown and round. 

Suggestions welcomed and encouraged! 



xo,MonkeymedicatedME



52 comments:

  1. Love the idea of tattoos. Think how awesome that would be at burning man. showing off the new you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And if I'm not ready in time for Burning Man 2012, New Orleans for Halloween will be fun!

      Delete
    2. I have lots of tattoos, and ya know maybe a design is a great idea ..lol and I think ur incisions look great compared to mine .. mine still look dark and black .. but I know we each are different , thank you shannon for your support and help and understanding .Lisa

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  2. You have given me so much.
    Taught me so much.
    I'm delighted at how good
    you are looking
    and how good you
    WILL look.

    As one who has knows
    post-surgical pain,
    I know it is forgotten
    afterwards.

    Be good to the she-ro
    you are.

    Fond Aloha from Honolulu
    Comfort Spiral

    > < } } (°>

    ><}}(°>

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 0h......((((HUG)))))) thank you Cloudia!!!

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  3. I am so sorry you had to go through this and so glad it's dealt with. And very glad there's a symmetrical breast rule insurance companies have to follow.

    I'm not very helpful with the tattoo part of things. I keep thinking of various people I know and what I could imagine them getting (astrology charts, a spiral of stars, a hand grabbing, pretend pasties with tassles ...)

    See? No help.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HA!!!!!!!!!! well you've got me smiling Em! :))))))

      Delete
  4. Wow, the federal government has some control over insurance companies. Who knew.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm including a link: http://www.insure.com/articles/healthinsurance/mastectomy.html

      But there are loop holes - you have to find a plastic surgeon that is covered under your insurance plan (many aren't).

      Delete
  5. Those tattoos are beautiful!

    And yes, the federal government would have say in that because the majority are men, and men are visual. So yip. The boobies should be perfect for the frickin' government. *sigh*

    The above statement is not to mock your symmetrical-ness but more to show my disgust with the stupidity that is the federal government, who wants to control my right to choose, but allow my right to pleasing boobies.

    So happy you are doing well. Did you get our crazy gift? (I know, we're weird. You don't have to like them, it's okay, my feelings won't be hurt.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Juli... your "crazy gift" was waiting for me when I got home from the hospital. It's sooooo fantastic I'm doing a blog post about it! and....also, not a bad idea for tattoo!

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    2. Just as long as it made you smile Miss Shannon. Youngest and I had fun coming up with names for them. :)

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  6. GREAT IDEA!!!
    jDc

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think so too jDc. I don't want to go BIG (on boobs or tattoo), but why stick with the same old same old.

      Delete
  7. Well now, that is something I had never imagined....tattoos on the boobs. I think that is a very cool idea and worthy of serious consideration:-) Glad you are post-op again and on your way to pain free!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am in much less pain now that the surgical tape from under my breast is removed. I keep looking at the new and improved "mounds" - the old ones made me feel like a freak!

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  8. I have a friend who opted for a beautiful butterfly over each breast, absolutely gorgeous, delicate looking, and she is very proud of her breasts.

    No matter what you chose, you rock.

    Love you,

    Monkey Gurl

    ps. Do you want to go out?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. love YOU monkeygurl! YES, YES, I want to go out! Let's go out! Let's do it!!!

      Delete
  9. Ooh, ooh, how about one purple and one green areola? Them's Mardi Gras colors!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am so entertained by looking at breast tattoo's - the possibilities are endless!

      Delete
  10. I vote for tatoo embelishments. multi colored !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YES... and bejeweling in place of nipples! Love you Inky!

      Delete
  11. Great decision! They look so much better now. I am sure you will decide on the Perfect tattoo for you. Why not design your own? You are very creative.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. :) if nothing else, it gives me an excuse to doodle :)

      Delete
  12. I am so glad that you have the courage to say what you need, and to write about it! Usually, I think breast tattoos are an abomination, but in this case, beautiful!
    Jesse

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks jesse :) xoxo Jelly's tattoo is what got me thinking.... honestly, I want it to be subtle but interesting - use shades of pink and brown and a hint of green. maybe the nipple should be green jewel - a green tourmaline!

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  13. I know you will come up with the perfect, unique design for your breasts. Hope the pain is over real soon.

    Thanks for sharing this process. I'm learning a lot and it helps me to grieve my mother with even more respect. She had a her left breast removed about 30 years ago. We never talked much about the pain of loss or anger at disease.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Myran, thats so validating to hear. My sister things I bring negative energy to myself by posting pictures and talking about how the cancer has effected me. I see it so differently. It empowers me. It validates me. It encourages me. It inspires me.... I often remind myself, what people say to you is more about THEM then YOU.

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  14. Oh, let's see. There's tribal, Chinese characters, cartoon characters, MOM, with the O in the middle, sports teams, pictures of family, or even a national symbol. I'd be inclined to tattoo BOOB across it, but your much too classy for that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. WAIT! BOOB? Can the O's be the nipples???? Please oh, please???

      Delete
    2. Curmudgeon, love the way your mind clicks!!! ( BO ) ( OB ) perrrrrfect!

      Delete
  15. Thank the Lord for good surgeons!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Shannon,

    I am so glad you are sticking up for yourself! and I hope you dont make um look like the last set at the bottom of your post;-)

    Wander

    P.S. I wrote that story about my dad...the one from the email to you...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Chris, I changed the picture. In my mind, instead of trying to recreate a nipple, why not design something more interesting. A friend of mine, Jelly, has a tattoo that is inspired by Ernst Haeckel. Check out the link, tell me what you think.... http://draves.org/pix/kdn/

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  17. I just found you from Renn's blog. I can NOT believe what dic-doc (aka pc) DID to you. I am an MSK patient (not one of his but I had TE's and now "gummy bears"). I am so glad you found a wonderful surgeon to fix that mess.... and yes... it was a mess..... Now? Looks awesome! And good for you for posting the pics. You are brave...brave.... BRAVE.......I'm a chicken when it comes to some (ok, really very little) stuff... but I haven't had the guts to post my pics which I coincidentally found in a medical abstract. Written by dic-doc. Weird, right?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. its a funny, funny thing. I have always been so hung up about my body. My breasts in particular. But these mounds have taken on a power of their own. The say a lot about who I am. My weaknesses and my strength. But mainly, what I have overcome. I am very proud of my mounds, especially now that they're even. NEXT... I'm looking forward to "squishys" and tattoo's and jewels.

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  18. What a difference! Good for you and for not settling. I KNOW you will choose the right tattoos!!! Can't wait to hear about your choices!

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  19. I give you credit for want to do something different (COOL). Me, I hate needles, surgery and doctors!!! Great for a cancer patient :/ I am just keeping my horrible scars.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. some say scars, I say badge of honor! we are brave women.

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  20. So glad you got more opinions and the revision was a success! Your courage and strength continues to inspire me. Thank you for sharing your story.

    I hope things go well with your recovery and the rest of your procedures. Hugs and healing energy to you...:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Jamie!!! I am feeling better every day!

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  21. Just found your blog from BCO. So sorry you had such a bad experience. I'm at the same cancer center as you, with a different doc. You look FANTASTIC now! The difference is absolutely stunning. Best wishes for continued successful results!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. THANK YOU! I am feeling very proud of my decision to have revision surgery, with a new, compassionate, competent surgeon and also feeling proud of my new symmetrical mounds! Even happier to hear you have a different doctor. When I think about the additional pain I am in because of his carelessness, I...... well, I try not to hold onto it, but it makes me angry and I hope my story (and pictures) will help other women decide what the best choice is for them.

      Delete
  22. I too had a bilateral mastectomy. I had it in July of last year (2011). I got an infection behind one of the tissue expanders. I blame the plastic surgeon for it. I was on chemo at the time of the fill and I couldn't fight off the infection so I spent 18 days in the hospital and eventually had the TE removed while there. Mean while I was neutropenic (sp) and had kidney failure as a result of an over dose of too much IV antibiotics. Not a fun time.

    After all of that was over I had to wait a month and then continue with chemo. My last treatment was 12/19/11!!! I have since switched plastic surgeons within the practice because I lost faith in the original one. I feel bad about doing that but I have come to realize I am responsible for my health to a certain degree and I don't feel comfortable or don't agree with what is going on with my body I need to speak up. Since I have come to that "state of mind". I feel so much better!

    You have also been through a long journey with cancer and it looks like you are also taking charge of your health care. You are awesome! I love reading your blog and will continue to do so.

    What doesn't kill you makes you stronger! That is such a true statement. I have never felt stronger than I do now. Maybe not physically but mentally.
    Today I have my first fill since surgery 3 weeks ago to put the TE back in. Not looking forward to that!
    Thanks for your blog!

    ReplyDelete
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Shannon E. Kennedy

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