Well, things haven't really turned out as I had hoped since my last post. I am far too exhausted, physically and even more emotionally, to go into every detail - but let's put it this way - last Thursday was one of the worst days I have had since the initial days of my diagnosis. My ultrasound was completed but then when it came to having the needle aspiration, literally, all hell broke loose. The few hours spent at the hospital ended up being in a small exam room accompanied by my mom, 3 physicians, a radiology tech, and my plastic surgeon on the phone (who thankfully stepped out of surgery to call me and acknowledge my frustrations, and try to reassure me that he will take care of me and figure this out).
What set this entire drama in motion was when the tech informed me they wouldn't be doing the aspiration because there wasn't enough fluid - before the radiologist even looked at the report!!! I simply lost it...I felt blown off...I felt that I wasn't being taken seriously....I felt like I wasn't able to voice my frustrations...I felt angry, upset, furious...I felt like, once again, the exact department that told me nearly 3 years ago I was fine and had nothing to worry about after my initial ultrasound and mammogram, was once again failing me. I could have screamed....and nearly did. I was so angry and frustrated that I couldn't help but sob.
If I hear the words, "the chances are rare that this is anything serious" or anything to that affect every again, I will absolutely lose my mind. I am so sick of those types of words. Those words and that mentality from the medical community is how I even got in the stage IV position. I feel like the medical community failed me and that if they took my concerns seriously and didn't blow me off because of my age, I could have been diagnosed at a much earlier stage. I blame them for my stage IV status and I blame them for what will likely be my shortened life expectancy. So, to make a long story shorter - upon feeling those same emotions once again, I unravelled and voiced my extreme frustrations through an uncontrollable stream of tears. I ended up literally storming out of that room after we talked in circles and realized there was nothing else they would be doing for me that day.....needless to say, I didn't make it back to work as expected.
So, today (well, actually yesterday - now that it is 1am) it was back to Dr. M, my plastic surgeon, to figure out where to go from here. The ultrasound showed some fluid accumulation but not nearly enough to account for how swollen I have become. The swelling is actually in the tissues and cannot be aspirated. Dr. M is fairly confident that my body is having a reaction to the collagen mesh piece that he had to insert during the surgery in May to help support the left implant. The most likely cause of the swelling is an irritation or sort of rejection of this mesh piece, rather than my body recognizing it as it's own and absorbing it into my own tissue as intended. There is still the chance that the swelling could also be an infection, a rare lymphoma or some sort of lymphedema that has developed in the mastectomy pocket.
After discussing the various options, and after more tears of frustration, this is the plan....I will complete a course of steriods to see if that takes care of the swelling. I started the steroids today and will continue taking them for one week. Bring on the jitters, uncontrollable snacking, lack of sleep and all the other fun that comes with 'roids. ;) I will see Dr. M on 9/24 to see what the result of the steroids is. If the swelling persists, surgery is scheduled for October 4th. This will be an outpatient surgery to remove the collagen mesh tissue and to take out the existing implant and replace it with a new one. A sample of my tissue will also be taken at that time and sent to the lab to determine if everything is A-OK or if there is any sign of lymphoma.
I am obviously hoping that the steroids help, but I feel like surgery is a very real possibility this time. I once again broke down at my appointment today just out of pure frustration. I am just tired. I am tired of the constant issues and although I am aware that things could always be much worse, I just really wanted a break for awhile. I am grateful that these issues aren't directly cancer related and that I am still stable as far as my disease is concerned. Speaking of which - I will head to Karmanos tomorrow morning for my 8 week follow up. My oncologist, Dr. F is on vacation so I will just see Lynette (his nurse practitioner) this time and have to fill her in on all the latest and greatest drama.
I will obviously keep everyone updated and let you know what the plan is after my appointment with Dr. M on the 24th. Please keep me (and especially Mike and my mom) in your prayers. We are all just feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and exhausted - not only with this current issue but there are always other things going on too and it all piles up sometimes. I pray that whether I just need medication or if it has to be surgery, that it will be effective to deal with this problem and that there won't be any other complications or side effects.
Thank you for your love and support.
ps. We had an amazing weekend up north at Torch Lake with dear friends and I am so grateful we had that chance to get away and decompress. It was much needed!
Our precious Goddaughter, Alice....
Sweet Miss Emma enjoying the gorgeous Torch Lake summer day!
My blog to keep you all