• Reconstruction (Part 6) – A Fine Line Between Reaction and Overreaction

    I’ve been taking the triple cocktail of antibiotics since last Friday.

    They suuuuck.

    They made me dizzy at first. They still make me tired. They come with a low grade nausea. I vomited once. My appetite is in the shitter.

    But they’re doing their job.

    The redness in my breast has faded to a pink and after some initial tightness and swelling (which might also have been a product of the drain removal), I’m not in any pain.

    On Thursday I went back for a follow up with my plastic surgeon.

    He examined me and said he’s not overly concerned about the remaining redness. It’s contained in one area on my reconstructed breast (which means it’s not spreading) and it’s fading. If it gets worse, he said I could go to the red breast clinic but they’ll start weeks of antibiotics and he wasn’t sure that was warranted (which, thank God). He said if my reconstructed breast gets bigger then to come back in.

    “But it is bigger than it was before the drain came out. Now it’s bigger than this one,” I said pointing at my left breast.

    He gathered his thoughts before speaking. “You’ve been through a lot and I don’t want you to think I’m not taking this seriously because I am, but,” and here he made a face like he was choosing his words very carefully, “you’re walking a fine line between reaction and overreaction.”

    I felt my face go hot and I knew I’d just turned red. I felt like a complete fool.

    “The implant isn’t swimming in fluid,” he said kindly. “It just isn’t. Every implant will have fluid around it. The redness could just be a post-operative reaction to radiated skin. Finish the antibiotics then check back in on Tuesday. You can just send an email with a picture to the nurse.”

    To reassure me he was taking me seriously he gave me his personal cell phone number in case things got worse over the weekend. I felt awful taking it and I vowed to myself I would never use it. I mean, how many patients does he have and he’s giving me his personal cell? I know part of that was him trying to soften the ego-blow, but still, the gesture was nice.

    So that’s it. I’m okay. I don’t have to go back. This was all good news. I’m happy about this news.

    It’s just . . .

    For almost two years I’ve been hit with some pretty heavy medical shit. I’ve ridden this roller coaster as well as I can. I’ve always focused on getting through ‘this’ step in the process, whatever step that might be. I’ve finished chemo, a mastectomy, radiation, and, now, reconstruction. I’ve always known another step was on the horizon. Now there are no more steps. This is the end of the process.

    And . . . well . . . it just takes a minute to put the cross down, ‘kay?

    The conversation about reaction and over reaction, while humiliating, was necessary. It was as clarifying as a bucket of ice water dumped over my head. Maybe everyone who goes through cancer treatment has this conversation with a doctor at some point. After everything I’ve been through, I’m not sure how else I could have reacted except with fear and anxiety. It’s really hard to see that line; really hard to see when I’m reacting versus overreacting.

    Here’s the reality:  I don’t have cancer anymore. I’m done. I get to go live my life now.

    And I think I need a vacation.



5 Responsesso far.

  1. mom says:

    My darling daughter, YOU MADE IT! You are still a very beautiful, and funny woman. But then I’m prejudicedand I don’t care.. Be free!!!! We love you in every facet. Mom and Dad too!

  2. Karen says:

    Sweetie, I am so glad everything is finally getting okay for you! It is so fantastic. You have made it up a huge mountain and now you’re on the downside. If you have anymore “bumps”, on the downside, that is all they will be, bumps. Remember your reconstruction will take @ least 6 months for the swelling to reduce and everything goes back to the “new” you. You can be excused for wigging out occasionally. I imagine you’ll have a few more. Go with the flow dear. You have been so strong. Stronger than you know. ENJOY YOUR NEW LEASE ON LIFE!!.Aunt Karry

  3. Nora Napier says:

    Meghan, you said it yourself. Two years of riding the most “hellacious” roller coaster that no one without cancer, could ever possibly imagine. Your fear and anxiety is absolutely warranted. I am truly grateful that your doctor is so compassionate and did not try to “pooh-pooh” your feelings as childish. I am incredibly happy that your nightmare has come to an end. Take a deep breath (or 20), kiss your husband, hug your children, have a glass of wine (or 2), have a really good frickin’ cry, and then tell cancer that you kicked its fucking ass!!!!!!! More power to you, dear Meghan!.

  4. Flash says:

    No vaca for you’

  5. Tina Gower says:

    It *would* be difficult to transition from knowing that the doctors were wrong before (and the doctors at the time convinced you it was not a big deal when it turned out it was). It will take a long time to build trust with the medical community again. Overreaction seems normal in that context.

    And vacation is a good idea!!

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