Monday, June 25, 2012

And it's 1, 2, 3 - what are we fightin for?

I'm sure you've heard the old adage - One day you're rejoicing about JP drains being removed and the next you're septic and in the hospital again. (Or was it don't count your chickens before they hatch? - I'm always getting those two confused...) At any rate, that's pretty much what happened.

My JP drains were pulled Wednesday (much rejoicing, yadda yadda). Thursday I had a follow up appointment with my general surgeon where he noticed an ever so slight pinkish hue on the lower part of my right veal cutlet (that's what the expanders remind me of). He prescribed antibiotics and over the next 24 hours I proceeded to get "sicker than snot".

I'm still amazed by how fast it can happen. Though I've seen it as a nurse many times, I've never been on the receiving end of such a severe infection. Fever of 101.9, chills, pain and overwhelming fatigue - it should have been obvious to me that I was in over my head. But, due to the fact that I may or may not be a little bit stubborn - it took my husband coming home early from work and forcibly dialing my doctors phone number for me to begrudgingly agree to go in to the Emergency Room.

It's a good thing he knows me as well as he does. If not, I probably would have expired right there beneath the soft glow of the Netflix screen, with my last words being "let's just give the antibiotics a little more time to work".

As it was, my plastic surgeon met us in the waiting room, rushed us to ER and then up to surgery where he performed an incision and drainage of the right breast and removed both of the veal cutlets.

*This photo was taken from before my first surgery. This time around I looked the same but sobbing hysterically and more "sepsis-y"    

And that's how I ended up having my third surgery in a month, receiving my second pair of designer TED hose and a matching set of plastic water mugs with scrunchy straw included - and also deciding that I need to change my priorities. I will not be pursuing reconstruction again in the future.

I came home from the hospital yesterday and will have to receive outpatient IV antibiotics for a few days until my blood cultures come back clear. The infection was staph - but thankfully not one of the super-bugs like MRSA. I will walk away from this one - but I would be kidding you if I said I'm not shaken from the experience. And for as much as I thought I wanted the C-cup at the end of the rainbow - it turns out that what I really wanted to know that was that life is going to continue after all this madness. It will. I have enough risk and enough battles up ahead of us without adding to it. I'll get used to being Skipper instead of Barbie. Some things just aren't worth the risk. And after this weekend, I've learned that veal cutlets are in that category - at least from my perspective.

It also turns out that I'm strong enough to be able to reinvent myself, to still see myself as a strong, beautiful woman in spite of whatever physical changes I must endure. Who knew? And thankfully, I have a strong, amazing husband who is helping me to learn that about myself. Because, it turns out, C-cups weren't the most important thing to him at all. It was me all along. (Plus there are some super hot mastectomy tattoos we've been looking at that don't involve follow-up MRIs. There is nothing sexier than that!)

I grew up with a musician father and the the soundtrack of my childhood would be eerily similar to the Woodstock soundtrack. But for those of you not familiar with the Country Joe and the Fish song I reference in this blog entry title - it goes a little like this: (Everyone else - I expect to hear you singing along. But before we start, you should know there is a warning label on the brown acid circulating among you.)

And it's 1,2,3 What are we fightin' for? Don't ask me I don't give a damn.

Next stop is Viet-nam.

And it is. Well, maybe not THE Vietnam - but mine. So, lace on your combat boots, folks, with chemo just a couple of weeks away - It's about time to start round 2.5 of this fight.

(And for those of you out there still singing along in your head - just stop at this verse. Nobody's coming home in a box in this story.)