I required immediate lifesaving surgery to remove infected tissue and muscle with the result that I lost significant amount of tissue from my right side torso, upper right arm and shoulder, including most of my tricep muscle and approximately 25% of my right breast. This left me with significant disfigurement on my right side, arm, back, shoulder and breast. There was no option except to have this surgery and even then my life was only saved due to the speedy diagnosis and extraordinary skill and dedication of the surgical team at Concord hospital. In total I had about a dozen different surgical procedures, ranging in duration from a couple of hours to many hours. I was in hospital for several weeks and required extensive and ongoing physical rehabilitation.
My recovery period from this massive surgery was very long and even today continues as I learn to deal with the loss of strength and mobility in my arm. I am also having some professional help handling the psychological problems this shocking and unexpected disease caused.
I had not given much thought in the couple of years following all the necessary operations to improving my appearance, given the fact that I could very easily have died and was just focussed on rehabilitation.
When I began to ask about possible reconstructive surgery I was told that any hope of significant improvement in the way I looked would necessitate major surgery involving among other things, cutting the latissimuss muscle, augmentation of my right breast and corresponding reduction of my left breast to achieve symmetry. I was not convinced of the wisdom in undergoing what was explained to me as complicated and difficult surgery. My reluctance was mainly due to the many operations I had already undergone, many of which involved general anaesthetic, IV drips and all the intrusive things that are involved.
Additionally, I was very aware of the physical and mental scars I had suffered and was very apprehensive about further issues. My husband was supportive of whatever path I chose to do and put no pressure on me either way so it became a big decision that I had to make.
Dr Ellis Choy took on my case and after many meetings where he went through all the issues, potential side effects and likely outcomes, both physical and psychological, I was eventually convinced that the likely benefits would represent a worthwhile improvement to my self-image.
The confidence that I gained from Dr Choy was what finally convinced me to go ahead with the operation. The procedure was fairly lengthy and the recovery has been quite slow. I have had a couple of minor setbacks along the way but Dr Choy and his team have been really fantastic in the post-operative care. Apart from the professionalism they have shown, they have always been very sensitive and supportive and I have always felt that they fully understood what I was going through psychologically. I couldn't be happier now that I've come through the surgery. I know that it's early days yet but even now I look so much better to myself that I feel I'm also happier and looking better to others.