Thursday, June 23, 2011
Stress affects my health more than it probably should. So the stress at work adds to the downward spiral of my health & vice versa. So the more stressed I become about having no time left (for doctors appointments or, heaven forbid, a vacation) the more I need the time off to recover my health. The more time I take for my health, the less time I have at work and therefore the more important every hour is. The more work time I spend, the more I stress and feel unhealthy. Its just a vicious cycle.
I went to my plastic surgeon again Tuesday with my increased pain. The answers I got were/are not promising. Dr. S's 'solution' is to do another surgery with capsulorophy (shrinking the pocket the implant sits in) and using smaller implants. The theory is that this might help the pain in my upper chest, neck, and shoulders. However, the issues that cause that pain (retracted pectoral muscles, lack of muscular support of the implants, super stretchy skin, and difficulty fitting bras) will most likely not be fixed. The only thing the new surgery will fix is the additional weight since she's recommending I down-size from 700ccs to 350-400ccs. I'm not concerned about the smaller size. The concern I have is that without fixing the musculature issues I'm having, the pain will continue. Even Dr. S admits that there's a good chance the smaller implants will do the same thing these larger ones have (stretch the skin and bottom out). Another surgery that may or may not actually fix my issue may also cause other issues. The more times the skin covering my foobs is disturbed the more likely it is that I'll suffer from loss of circulation -- leading to skin death and/or capsular contracture -- leading to another surgery to correct it.
One of her other fixes for my situation is to send me to a pain management doctor for trigger point injections in the juncture of my breast-bone and ribs. Since I turn 30 next week, I'm not a big fan of already having the necessity of a pain management doctor being among the first things recommended. That implies, to me, that for the rest of my life I'm going to have this pain to deal with. I know people live with pain for much of their lives on a daily basis. However, most people I know don't deal with a pain level of 7-8 on a 1-10 scale on a constant daily basis that is exacerbated by normal activities like stretching, getting something off an upper shelf, or (heaven forbid) picking up a child at this age. I also have the fore-knowledge that typically I don't react to pain medications as expected. Strong pain medicine may block a portion of my pain, but the major effect it has is to make me drowsy. If medication is only going to make me drowsy I cannot function well enough to work... Thereby circling back to paragraphs two and three above.
To defend Dr. S, I did call MD Anderson to see about speaking to another plastic surgeon since mine moved away from MD Anderson. His opinion -- relayed to me through a very nice patient advocate -- was that a) without seeing me they can't say anything, b) plastic surgery is unlikely to reduce my pain, and c) a pain management specialist may be my best option. The very nice patient advocate did give me the names & numbers of two recent Fellows from MD Anderson that have since moved closer to KY. She also advised me to contact my original plastic surgeon -- the other Dr. S -- that did my initial reconstruction. He has moved to John Hopkins, but has maintained his speciality of reconstruction.
I'm also checking with a theraputic massage practicioner. I've had a really difficult time finding any documentation of the pectoral retraction problem Dr. S indicates I have that is probably causing my pain. That disheartens me. I'm hoping that the theraputic massage masters have heard of the issue and have come up with some way to alleviate some of the pain without resorting to crazy medications. Overall, the stresses of daily life, work, & health have put me down for the count. I'm trying to get up, but feel like I get kicked while I'm down or trying to get up. Hopefully something will give soon. I appreciate prayers, thoughts, words, etc. So please keep them coming. I know without God's support present through you I could not have made it this far. I'm struggling to live up to the expectations I've given myself and that I feel I owe everyone else.