Wow, I have not posted here since April! Last year I thought it was a good idea to start a blog and talk about my cancer diagnosis but what I didn’t realize is that, after treatment is over, you don’t really want to talk about cancer. Or treatment. Or surgery. Or appointments. At least I don’t anyway. I want to think about anything BUT cancer. I’d rather be anywhere in the world than in a doctor’s office. Normal, routine medical things now fill me with major anxiety. I can’t be looked at and prodded anymore. I’ve become quite a baby about it, actually.
On June 5th, I had my final surgery, the last step of my reconstruction. And that was supposed to be it; that was the last step. I recovered and healed up just fine and was on my merry way. So when I woke up on the 4th of July feeling really crappy, I thought I had the flu. I felt achy all over, had a fever, and my chest kind of hurt. But I didn’t think anything of it until next day when I didn’t feel better and my chest really started to hurt. The right side was pink and swollen and warm to the touch. These are not good signs. It finally hit me: I had an infection. My plastic surgeon’s office called in antibiotics for me to start taking on Thursday night and I went into the office Friday morning to be checked out.
Of course, I consulted Dr. Google about what might be coming my way. Many people said that if you have an infection, the implant has to come out. Um, well that was no good. Others said they had to take a course of antibiotics. I hoped on the ride over to the office that they would look at me and tell me to take antibiotics for awhile and send me home. But what ended up happening was another surgery. That day.
This was not part of my plan.
To say I was bummed would be an understatement. I was supposed to be done with all this crap. How could I have an infection? Well, what I didn’t completely understand is that radiated skin/tissue and foreign objects don’t mix. Blood flow and circulation in radiated areas aren’t as good. We all have bacteria on our skin (like normal staph, which is what my infection was) but the body is good at keeping it in check. Except when you’re dealing with radiation and implants.
Prior to the surgery, the surgeon told me he was going to go in and see how bad the infection was. If it was super bad, the implant was coming out. If it wasn’t too bad, he was going to gamble and put a new one in and hope for the best. When I woke up, he had put in a new one. My chances for keeping this one are about 20%; time will tell if the infection comes back after I finish my course of antibiotics. In the event I get another infection, the implant is straight up coming out and then I have to explore the options of a different kind of surgery. This one would take tissue and muscle from another part of my body rather than using an implant (the body deals much better with its own stuff rather than an implant in this situation). A surgery like this would be a month out of work and probably about three months until I could get back to a regular workout routine. Not to mention another scar. And to all of that I say “No thank you.” So my plan for now is that this implant is going to stick and I’m going to be fine. In my mind, that’s the only option.