But today's visit left me cold. I think it's me, but might be a little her fault, too. First off, I felt something akin to mild panic as I made my way to suite 9A again . . . the last time I was there was when my dear Dr. Y. told me and DI that he was a mastectomy advocate. And the time before that was our 5 hour, one room ordeal. I had to rush like a madwoman to make it there for my appointment early this a.m., only to wait over 1/2 hour for the doc today. My blood pressure and my ire were up already, going in.
Then she arrives to do the exam. She doesn't remember "the rash," and passes the buck to anesthesiology to get a copy of the inter-op report over the the allergists, and then proceeds to tell me that things look, "really, pretty OK" and that "if you prop them both up into a bra, well, I bet you can't see any difference." And although, yes, I know that I am not the proud owner of a perfectly matched set of breasts (thank you, Cancer Round I), hearing your surgeon say something like this is stinging. Guess what? I'm not going to be in the book she shows to women contemplating this surgery. I'm only an "OK" outcome, cosmetically.
Whatev. Moving on. Not new news. Topless dancing career is over, anyway. I tie my Johnny back up and she sits down to debrief me on the plan going forward. 1% chance of recurrence. No screening at all, ever again. That's right. She says no mammos, no MRIs. Ever, ever again. All the breast tissue that remains in me has been pushed forward to the surface - it's what makes up the wafer-thin envelope she left behind that encapsulates my implants. So if something's there, she says, I'll feel it. Like a "mosquito bite" that "won't go away" she says.
OK, that's nice. But I've had 2 cancers, one very serious one, that were never palpable. And that 1% she's quoting is for DCIS patients, and my first cancer was a crazy invasive wild-woman. Maybe my risk of mets is the same from that, but now I'm down to 1% because I've had the amputations? I'm waiting to check in with Dr. Y. on this one. I see him in a couple of months.
So I'll follow-up with her in a year, because "breasts are dynamic" - and although I know she means "changeable" and that's what my PT has told me, too, I smile inside to think of my super-hero implants and how now only do I have a dynamic personality, but dynamic tits. Yeah!
But then there's this - "down the road," she says, "we may need to replace your implants." "You have a pretty good life expectancy," she went on, and I'm thinking "Pretty good? Why not excellent?" And she goes on to explain how they "might, at some point," need to swap out implants. I replied, "Well, I should HOPE I'll need them replaced as they've only got a 10-15 year life-span and I hope to be at least 80 before I kick the bucket." And she said "We have no idea how long they'll last," implying that they might last my lifetime. What the what?? Maybe I'll get lucky and get 20 years out of these things, but freak, I'm 42, can you IMAGINE that these'll last for 40-some-odd years? I've never heard such a thing, even from the rose-colored-glasses-wearing implant manufacturers themselves. I think that's just plain dreaming.
And that was it. Schedule a follow-up with her in a year, seeyalaterbye.
And yet again, I came out of there with mixed feelings:
- Excited, because I don't have to have any more routine screenings if I don't want to;
- Pissed, because I feel that some of her information was inaccurate, and if I were not a woman who researched things to death, off I'd go hoping that I'd have these water sacs in my chest for life, and thus be woefully disappointed when, in 10-15 years, I have flat boobs;
- A little sad, because I've gone through all this and ended up with less than spectacular foobs; and
- Set adrift.
I'll find my way, I always do. And chatting w/Dr. Y. about real recurrence numbers and whether MRIs might really be helpful will put my mind at ease. But I guess what this a.m. did was pull me back by the collar a little . . . to say "Hey! Your head's not all wrapped neatly around this latest episode yet." It's a reminder that I'm fresh out of the box, still. A newly-minted "two-time survivor."
And that I don't know what this means, yet.