Tag Archive | exchange surgery

Adding and Subtracting Doctor’s Appointments

This week I’ve managed to remove a doctor’s appointment from my schedule, but I had to add two new ones. This is not the math I prefer to do when talking about visiting a doctor. At least the appointments I added are in my home town, so I don’t even have to drive far.

The cancelled appointment was with Dr. Li. I called in order to get my orders for bloodwork, which I had forgotten to ask for during my last Herceptin treatment. It really doesn’t matter where I get my blood drawn and tested, as long as it’s just before my appointment. I’d really prefer to do it locally than having to drive a half an hour for a five-minute needle stick. When I called to get the orders transferred, the nurse couldn’t find my appointment. That was curious. After doing a little digging, it turns out my visit to talk about Tamoxifen pushed back my three-month visit into October sometime. Great! Fewer trips to the cancer center! Except for the fact that I was planning on using the bloodwork I needed for that appointment as the bloodwork I need for my surgery on October 10th as well. The nurse just sent me the order so I can do the bloodwork when I need it.

The added doctor’s appointments were also associated with my surgery. Dr. Kang’s office called today to let me know they need medical clearance from my primary care provider before doing the exchange surgery. (Turns out, since this is essentially elective surgery, there’s a few more hoops to jump through.) Trick is, I haven’t seen my primary care provider since I was diagnosed (I figure I’m being monitored just fine without him) and the doctor I was seeing at my practice has since left. That’s OK, the nurses are still the same so they were able to hook me up. As a bonus, they can do the EKG I need before surgery at the office as well. It’s a separate appointment, since the doctor will want to see the results before giving me clearance for the surgery, but again, now I don’t have to drive across town to the Heart Institute.

So I’ve had a bit of a respite from seeing the doctor, but my schedule is filling up again as surgery looms. No problem – this is one surgery I’m whole-heartedly looking forward to.


Exchange Surgery is Scheduled!

I hope no one missed me too much these past few weeks. We went on our annual vacation to whatever city the Joint Statistical Meetings is at – Boston this year. It was great fun with lots of history, and just a few too many people for my tastes. Then it was back home and time for more doctor’s appointments.

I met with Dr. Kang on Monday to discuss my exchange surgery. It is an outpatient surgery (although it requires full anesthesia) with a pretty quick recovery time. That’ll be nice, but I still want to coordinate the surgery with my teaching schedule this year. Dr. Kang wants to wait six months after the end of radiation, to allow the skin to heal as much as possible, which means we’re talking the beginning of October. I wanted a Thursday or Friday so I wouldn’t miss any teaching days, so the earliest available date is October 10th. I got the first slot of the morning and scheduled a variety of pre-op appointments to be ready for the surgery.

I did ask a bit about the implant I’ll be getting. The room itself was full of options:

The variety of implants to choose from

The variety of implants to choose from

I reiterated that I wanted to go back to my original cup size. No more of this B-cup business, thank you very much. He’ll actually bring a couple of different sizes with him to the surgery and pick the one that provides the best symmetry with the other side. While they took out 200cc of breast tissue, he might need to put in something a bit bigger because the muscle tends to compress the implant, and sometimes the expander actually presses on the ribs enough to make a dent, so a larger size is required to get the same volume sticking out of the chest wall.

The other choice for the implant is the profile:

275cc implants - high profile on the left, medium profile on the right

275cc implants – high profile on the left, medium profile on the right. Notice the different in circumference

I’ll be getting a high profile, Mentor implant. The high profile aspect just means more of the volume goes to vertical vs. horizontal displacement. I’m guessing the medium and low profile implants are used to bolster someone’s natural breasts, instead of the complete replacement I’m getting.

Overall, I’m thrilled to have the surgery scheduled. I am so ready to get the expander out and something squishy in its place. I’m hoping with the implant it won’t hurt when I use my chest muscles like it does now. We’ll see in a few weeks!

Calling the doctor

Monday I called two of my doctors, which meant I was on the phone five or six times with one office or the other. Miss Adventure asked me why I was on the phone so much on Monday, and I had to explain to her the inefficiency of calling doctor’s offices and leaving a message with the nurse who calls you back to find out what you want and then needs to talk to the doctor, so they’ll call you back again…. Needless to say, the phone kept ringing.

I called Dr. Kang first. I wanted to find out when I could schedule my exchange surgery. I’m teaching in the fall again, so I’d like to be able to work around the surgery. From what I’ve read, I’ll only need a couple of days to recover from the surgery. If I can get the surgery on a Thursday or Friday, I won’t have to miss any teaching days, but who knows what his hospital schedule is. The nurse called back saying Dr. Kang wanted to see me to see if he could schedule the surgery before October. Really? Something happening faster than expected? That would be totally awesome. Now I just need to get this scab on my scar healed before I see him in August.

The second call was to Dr. Li’s office to talk about my Tamoxifen prescription. I’d stopped taking it because of the nausea. The nurse’s initial comment was just to take an anti-nausea drug along with the Tamoxifen. No, I don’t think I’ll be taking one drug to minimize the side effects of another drug that’s offering me minimal benefits for the next couple of years. The end result (after several phone calls) was Dr. Li wanted to see me because “nausea isn’t a typical side effect of Tamoxifen.” Great, now I’m all worried that the nausea is caused by the Tamoxifen interacting with cancer cells somewhere inside me. How to solve that problem – do a little research on the internet. Turns out, nausea is a side effect in 10-15% of women who take it. Some people just live with the nausea for years. In others, it seems to go away after a month or so when your body adjusts to it. I’m willing to try it for a month or two to see if the nausea subsides. We’ll see what he has to say when I see him on Monday.