I didn't grow in especially early, but they came...
Two years ago I was in a car accident that caused bulging discs in C4, C5, C6 and triggered degenerative disc disease in T6 and T7 (basically the level where your bra band wraps around your chest). I spent around 6 months doing twice weekly PT sessions, 6 months of weekly massage, more Chiro than I can begin to quantify all in an effort to make the pain go away. I eventually got discharged from PT with them saying, 'there's nothing eel we can do for you' and found my way to a Pain Management Specialist. I was rather unhappy with the prospect of being on daily pain medication for the rest of my life, so I started with Chiro. He couldn't say with absolute certainty, because his specialty is bones, but for every 1lb they take off the chest it reduces the strain on the muscles of your back by 10-12lbs.
I went ahead and had a consultation with a local plastic surgeon (I'm not going to say who at this time as I still have mixed feelings about it). I honestly went into this a bit blind. I chose my surgeon, because he did a consult with my daughter and was referred to him by our dentist of all people. He's a board certified plastic surgeon that is generally highly regarded. I went into the consultation and he was nothing, but confident about the whole thing. He said it would be no problem to get preapproval from my insurance with my documented history of back problems. The only caveat was that they don't 'accept' the insurance company's reimbursement rate for facility or anesthesia (this will be a point of interest shortly) and I would have to pain for that directly before they would schedule it. I wasn't excited about paying $3800 up front out of pocket, but I've been desperate to reduce my back pain so I figured it would be worn it.
We paid the fee and waited my journey to the other side. Like many I read these stories religiously in the weeks before my surgery and, hindsight being 20/20, not a one prepared me for the experience. I had to check in at 6:30am the day of my surgery, December 23rd. I was pretty nervous, because I just wasn't sure what recovery would be like with an 18 month old. I woke up at like 2:30am even though it was a 10 minute drive to the surgical center. The pre op stuff was pretty mild and actually did help put me at ease. My husband and daughter stayed with me for a little over a hour while the surgeon came and marked me up. He reiterated that he was very optimistic about the outcome and it should be a great birthday/Christmas gift (my birthday was surgery day). Just before walking me into the OR the nurse gave me a shot in the butt of Demerol and Phenergan.
We walked into the OR and the nurse did the surgical prep with me standing beside the table. I was actually quite calm, probably the Demerol and sleep deprivation. When she was done she has me climb on the table and tells me she's going to start restraining me. I'm a registered nurse by training, so I wasn't in the least bit concerned and just kept right on talking to her. After another minute or two I begin to feel warm and sleepy, so I tell the nurse, 'I'm definitely feeling that Demerol.' The next thing I know it felt like I had long nap and I'm kind of groggy and I can, ouch, ouch, feel him doing stitches on my left breast. I'm groggy, can't open my eyes and think, 'this must be the end and the anesthesia is wearing off early.' I start to panic, because it REALLY hurts and I can feel him start working on the right side. Suddenly my focus is on communicating the intense pain I am experiencing. I start thrashing on the table and I can feel them grabbing my shoulders to force me back down on the table. They're saying my name trying to get me to calm down and the last thing I remember is deciding to cry to let them know I was in pain. How could they not know I'm in pain if they see tears? My last real memory until later that afternoon is that sensation of your throat closing up when you're about to sob HARD, feeling like my chest was on fire and that I might die by listening to them. The surgeon called me that night, as he said he would, and the first thing he said was, 'WOW, WERE YOU HARD TO PUT UNDER!' That's when I realized whatever it was I felt it was NOT the end.
The healing and recovery has thankfully been uneventful. I don't think I could handle it if anything else had happened. They are quite a bit biggie than I was hoping for. During my last pre op appointment I said I wanted my post op over bust measurement to be 37" down from 43". At 6 weeks post op I'm 40". Other than a tear on my left nipple, aesthetically, they look great. They're fairly symmetrical and far perkier than they've ever been. BUT, it hasn't helped my back pain as much as I would have hoped, they're bigger than I wanted and I had to endure one of the most traumatic experiences anyone can have. I wake up in a panic several nights a week and have just been a mess mentally from this. Oh, and I got to pay $3800 for the privilege!
It's a rare risk to wake up in surgery and not in my wildest dreams did I think it would happen to me. I posted a pre op of me marked up and one with me a few days post op. I'll post a current one with nipple tear soon.
Let's see if therapy helps
I consider myself a realistic optimist. When contemplating how stressed I should feel about something, I usually do some form of gauging the odds, as many others do to. Getting over pre procedure anxiety I had to do it more. You know what we nurses and doctors always say, 'You'll be fine. It's extraordinarily rare for anything to happen... I've never seen/known of anyone it happened to'. So much of everything we do in life is the calculated choice that it's VERY unlikely to happen to you. Now I've had this experience that, as my regular doctor told me, is pretty much the single worst experience a person can have in healthcare. I can't help but, wonder what's next? Plane crash? Struck by lightening? Maybe it can go the other way and I'll win a million dollars! I just feel primed for freakish things to happen to me now.
funny follow-up with my pain doc
Not sure what I should say to the plastic surgeon
Here are some current pictures. I have scar strips on them now. They scarring is actually pretty decent and I normally get horrible scars. Not keloid, but they stay raised and dark for at least a year usually two. The close up shot is of the nipple tear. It's very fine and he did a good job of having the edges meet well, but you can see where the circle is a little lopsided where the edges of the tear meet the larger boob. It's not evenly round like the other side.
Getting better, but not enough
I know this is a side issue, but it's indescribable the anger, grief, and frustration at knowing I'll never return to the woman I was 2 years ago. Moreover I worked with kids for 10 years before becoming a nurse so my adult life is filled with experiences with other people's kids that, best case scenario, I will experience in intense pain now that I have my own. There's a lot of things, like cradling my newborn, that just weren't doable. It's like the mom I had planned on being died that day and I'm left patching holes that I can't necessarily identify.
He's a good surgeon and the aesthetic results turned out fine. Planning or responding to changes in anesthesia is a bit light. I'm disappointed that they didn't work with me better before and after the surgery in addressing anesthesia issues, but apparently it's alright by them that I preface his good work with, "I woke up in the middle of it in pain, thrashed around on the table and started to cry in an effort to communicate my pain, before they were able to put me under fully." He gets three stars, because I didn't die or have any significant post op complications, and my new boobs are mostly symmetrical, even with the small tear on my left nipple.