Monday, July 07, 2008

As good as they get

And that's not saying much.

I'm on my way home from the city after a fine yoga practice and a fabulous haircut with Jody at Bumble and bumble (aka Theo, if you're looking for him there) and a most sobering consult with the most dour of plastic surgeons, who I shall not name although I would very much like to, along with a string of expletives, because I haven't thought all of this through and it is still possible that I will determine that he's merely the messenger and not the message.

The message is not dire in a life or death sort of way. But it does put to death my fantasy that it is possible to put me back together again in a way that will survive the rigors of my yoga practice, and in a way that would produce results worth the sacrifice of my yoga practice, for six weeks, twelve weeks or forever, as the case may be.

I went today to Dr. Inscrutable to see if perhaps he could fix my reconstructed breasts once and for all. They are lumpy and kind of square, and higher profile on top than on the bottom, unlike that perfect Jennifer-Aniston-teardrop shape. And with each passing month, they seem to get worse. I assume that this is a function of the stretching of my chest muscles that my yoga practice is effecting; the implants are under the muscles and are likely getting squeezed and shifted by the vigors of vinyasa practice and the stretching of second series asanas.

Dr. Inscrutable: The only way to improve the look would be to remove your implants and start again with expanders under the bottom half of the breasts. Six weeks of recovery time - no yoga. Then three to four months later, we replace the expander with implants. Six weeks of recovery time - no yoga. And then if you want to maintain the results, you'll have to give up the yoga poses that are extreme stretches of the chest muscles.

Me: Well, how about...

Dr Inscrutable: No.

Me: Well, what about....

Dr Inscrutable: No.

Me: Wh....

Dr. Inscrutable: No.

Me: Um?

Dr. Insrutable: No.

Me: Okay, so, it sounds like this is the end of the line for me, as far as aesthetics fitting into my lifestyle go. (Wistfully) You know, it's funny, this is the first time in the six years since my cancer diagnosis that I have actually mourned for what I've lost.

One might think that Dr. Inscrutable might have dropped his act at that point, shown a shred of empathy.

One who thought that would be wrong."I'm not the only plastic surgeon in town, Dr. Inscrutable intoned defensively (defending what though?) "You could consult with another if you don't like what you're hearing."
.
Me: (flabbergasted) I just meant that I never thought twice about double mastectomy, and I thought it would all turn out fine, somehow, appearancewise...I...

Dr. A-hole: You have a lot to think about. Alone. You and your brain alone in a room. Bye.

Cut to Kindly Physician's Assistant opening a book of Before and Afters to show me what I might look like if I choose what is still behind Door Number Three: Implant removal, no further reconstruction.

I took note of the fact that the Before pictures - showing a straigh scar and a boyish (as in pre-pubescent boy) pancake-flat breast - looked okay to me. But KPA reminded me that Dr. Fuckface had said that I would look worse than the Befores, because of excess skin (why he couldn't remove that, I am still not clear on; see above dialogue for why that might be).

I also took note of the fact that every single woman in the album looked far better After than before the Before, as in, each of them had horrifying pendulous, stretched out, droopy breasts before cancer, but after cancer, they had the perky adorable stripper quality breasts that I used to tell myself that would be my gift from the breast cancer.

Well, clearly, that was not the case, and now, it has come to pass that the guillotine has dropped on the delicate neck of my dream that someday it WOULD be.

Sure, I'm alive! Yeah! Yay! I am thrilled and greatful and joyous that the "End of the Line" is about aesthetics today, and not about something far more unpleasant than loss of the dream of nicely resurrected breasts.

But I won't lie: I am grieving. I feel a painful, empty hole where that dream was. That dream was always there to accompany me wherever I went, whatever I wore, however I felt when I looked in the mirror. And now, nothing.

I have had a sudden shift in attitude, one which I was not prepared for. I have to make space for that in my life now. And it will be okay because it has to be.

Breast cancer brought me many gifts, the first and greatest is an appreciation of my life, which could have been lost long ago. Then there's the yoga. Then there's my dog, my love of gardening - both of which are a way of rejoicing in the life-ness of life. On a more trivial level, I got a tummy tuck and a nose job out of the deal, indirectly in the latter case. And I have made scads of friends, again indirectly, by way of the yoga. And I was given a reason to stop spending my life in a law office, can't forget that.

But the gift of the rejuvenated breasts? That is not to be.

YC

5 comments:

lgr said...

I am sorry your consultation turned out so poorly. I think I know who you saw and he is an asshole. And he is consistently an asshole, over the years. Evidently he does good reconstructive work, in the right situation.

And he is correct - there are other doctors in NYC to see - other very good reconstructive breast surgeons with more empathy and a heart beat. Do NOT get discouraged, but get 2-3 other opinions.

Carl said...

Doctor Inscrutable is constipated and he recently got his kid's 18-year old nanny pregnant so, consequently, his demeanor is quite unprofessional right now. Go talk to a different reconstructive surgeon who'll want to talk to you and not brush you off.

susiegb said...

I agree with lgr and carl. Get more opinions before you make any decisions ... It's not just looking around til you find an opinion that you want to hear, because you may well not. He may be right.

But then again, he may not be. And if you do get other opinions that confirm what he says, then at least you'll know it's not just his grumpiness! And anyway, I'd be wanting to go to a doctor who has some empathy ... :)

Good luck YC, and like you said, there are worse alternatives. Maybe it is time for you to do that grieving anyway, I don't know. I'm not a breast cancer survivor, but I am a cancer survivor, (as you know) Whatever I've lost/been through, the greatest gift (life) is still there to be enjoyed and lived. (god I hope this isn't getting too corny!)

joy suzanne said...

I hope you'll get some more opinions. Sorry that doctor was such an asshole.

DebPC said...

How much does it matter to you? I know that on some levels it matters a lot. But is there any part of you that can begin to let it go, maybe as part of the grieving? Not make yourself crazy and go see 5 more docs and then still have to take a huge chance and then (let's face it) still probably be disappointed by the results? And if that is the case (you get another surgery and once again end up disppointed), where do you go from there?
I mean, not everyone can have perfect breasts like Jennifer Aniston and me. And mine are like that after nursing 2 kids for 16 months each. Go figure! (Kidding about everying after mention of JA, except the breastfeeding part).

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About Me

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Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.

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