Wednesday, August 25, 2010

another operation

Hi there everyone
This blog is one that I have tormented over for a very long time, ie whether or not to write it.
However since I have always seen this blog as both an accurate update on my medical situation as well as a means of explaining medical issues as they arise, to further the readers medical understanding, I feel compelled to also share my current situation with my readers. I will be having an operation in about 2 weeks for a problem I can only describe as "self induced". I am sharing this only with the hopes that I might spare someone else needless procedures and pain.
It is a very personal situation, but I feel I have shared a lot of stuff thus far, why not this?

Part of the reason for my trip to Canada next week is to have surgery to remove breast implants, one of which has ruptured and is leaking silicone. I was advised over a year ago that this needed to be removed, but with being on chemo, and also having a low blood count, I opted to delay this until now.

I am telling this with the hopes that someone might read this and perhaps opt NOT to do this.
10 years ago, whilst training to do that Boston marathon ( this is a marathon that you have to qualify for, which means you have to have achieved a certain time in another marathon), I subsequently lost a lot of weight. In doing so lost what small breasts I had (or so I saw it).
At the time, being inundated with Victoria Secrets catalogues etc I decided I wanted to look like those models, well at least be able to fill out the clothing. ( I should add here that I have long believed that Victoria Secrets is likely responsible for MUCH of the whole breast augmentation craze)(just a thought)
I found out that having a breast augmentation (breast implants) was not a huge procedure. I went and saw a surgeon and he also agreed that I could have the procedure done under local anaesthesia (not how it is usually done, but hey, I did not want to risk my life with an anaesthetic). I had saline implants put in and immediately developed capsular contraction of the worst kind.
AN EXPLANATION: When a foreign object of any kind is inserted into the body, the body forms a capsule around it. Capsular contraction is when this capsule shrinks and forms a tight constrictive wall around the implant, making it as hard as a rock and quite painful.
Now I should have learned at this point that perhaps I was not meant to have implants, however I felt still that I wanted to have breasts....
So I found a surgeon in Portland who would repair this, and since I had had capsular contraction, I would qualify for silicone implants.
Again I had the surgery under local anaesthetic. He removed the capsule around the implant and the implant and put in silicone implants. I should add here that this is all placed under the muscle of the chest wall. True breasts sit on the outside of the chest wall muscle, but to get a better effect, often breast implants are placed UNDER the pectoral muscle.
Well things went well for 9 years and I really had no problems..

Last June amidst chemo and the fears of this cancer, I went to see a surgeon about having a bilateral prophylactic mastectomy, (my mother AND my grandmother had breast cancer and I was NOT wishing to go through this cancer thing again) I was quite emotional at the time.
The surgeon said that at that point, I was more likely to succumb to the endometrial cancer than breast cancer, so she would not consider the surgery until at least a year after my treatments. She did order an MRI because she felt a lump.
The MRI showed that the breast implant was ruptured, but that it was still contained in the capsule.
I was in the middle of chemo and radiation at the time, so nothing I could do about it.
I did see a plastic surgeon in the fall about removing it. He advised removing them and replacing them. I found that he was quite dishonest about the whole situation and decided not to have the surgery. He had described the surgery he was going to perform, and I signed the consent. I later went for my presurgery appointment and in reading the consent in detail, I found that the surgery he had described to me was NOT the surgery he had put on the consent.

This was around the time that my radiation problems began so I did not do anything about it. I DID start reading though.
I found that the ONLY way to totally get rid of the silicone was to remove the implant AND the capsule enbloc which means to remove the whole thing as one. This not at all what the surgeon here had planned.
To make a long story short, the closest plastic surgeon that removes the implant AND capsule as one is up in Vancouver BC, and that is why I am going there for the procedure.

I thought I would also outline some of the things I have learned about breast implants that I think more people should learn.
Over 50% of women who have breast augmentation (breast implant insertion) require another operation. Bear in mind that the surgery is expensive and many women save up for the operation and cannot afford to have surgery to repair whatever the problem is. The other situation that often comes up is that while someone might be able to pay for the surgery, when the time comes that they need it repaired, they are in a different financial situation..... ie retired.
Of asymptomatic women (women with no symptoms), at 10 years 50% of breast implants have ruptured. (saline implants deflate immediately when they rupture, but silicone implants remain as a gel inside the capsule) So my situation is not unusual.
Once ruptured the silicone can leak out to various parts of the body.
The studies done years ago disproved that breast implants have anything to do with rheumatological problems, HOWEVER women with ruptured implants were never studied, so it is unclear what happens once they rupture.
After you have had breast implants for a long time the shape of your chest changes somewhat in that having them removed you will be much smaller appearing than you were to begin with.

You cannot get private health insurance if you have breast implants. I was refused because of mine. I have long said that the reason I was refused was because of the vaginal bleeding, but what happened was that the vaginal bleeding made the insurance company look closer at my files, and the fact that I had breast implants made me uninsurable. Fortunately being in Oregon they have a plan for those refused insurance for a medical problem.
Most states do not have this.
SO there it is.... I have revealed all.
I hope that in reading this someone else can pass on this info. I will more than likely add other info about this as I remember it.

The cheapest way to deal with all of this is to throw out all the Victoria's secret catalogues. Kind of funny, after my sons became teens, somehow the VS catalogues just disappeared on their own.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

my garden

I saw the ENT doctor yesterday, and he said that the redness at the back of my throat/tongue, had pretty much resolved and that he did not feel that this was a cancer, more an inflammation from the sinus drainage. This is my basil garden.

Crook neck squash, green beans, apple tree

Monday, August 16, 2010

August update

Hi Everyone.

Been awhile since I wrote, life has been hectic, with many back and forth trips to Bandon etc. Ken and I are finally back together in the same place AT the same time.

We are on our way to Llamapalooza, which is a small "festival" some friends of ours have out at Middlecreek (east of Coquille). It is at the studio that we recorded our first cd at. We are looking at recording another cd out at this studio in the fall as well. We are performing again at Bullards Beach amphitheatre on August 21st at 7pm.

As far as my health, last time I posted I described the increased takeup on the PET scan from the base of my tongue. One of the faithful readers of this blog just happens to have a husband who has just completed chemo and radiation for tongue cancer, so she urged me to at least have it examined by an ENT (ear nose and throat doctor)

So I did.

In order to see the base of the tongue, you need a special scope that uses the same technology as for a colonoscopy, fiberoptics.

They numb the back of your nose with spray, then insert the tube down the back of your nose. ( its not as bad as it sounds). I had the same thing done a few years ago, to make sure I was not abusing my vocal chords with my singing.

He looked down and said that the base of the tongue and the area around were red, but he said it did not look like cancer. (he could not say for sure)

So he basically gave me 4 drugs to treat the problem (whatever it is) and then suggested he have another look in a few weeks (this next Friday)

Well the drugs were an antibiotic, a nasal steroid, an oral steroid and mucomyst which thins secretions.

I took the antibiotic for 4 days and developed severe diarrhea, the nasal steroid gave me nosebleeds.

We went out for dinner the 4th day of the diarrhea and I stopped at the pharmacy on the way to pick up some lomotil to stop the diarrhea. It occurred to me that this whole story is somewhat like the song:

There was an old lady who swallowed a dog, I don't know why, she swallowed the dog, she swallowed the dog to catch the cat she swallowed the cat to catch the mouse, she swallowed the mouse to catch spider that riggled and jiggled and tickled inside her.............

SO hard to know when to say "enough already!!!"

I have noticed that I do wake up during the night often with what seems to be drainage down the back of my throat. I have never thought that I had allergies, but perhaps I do, after all Eugene is the allergy capital of the country apparently.

If this is due to allergies, then what I have is what is known to most as post nasal drip and the constant drainage from the sinuses causes inflammation at the back of the tongue and throat.

So I have started to take the allergy meds, just to see if this improves the situation and clears up the redness at the back of my tongue, so I can forget all about cancer.

On the endometrial cancer front, I had a followup CA 125 done 6 weeks after the one that was a bit elevated and it was back down to 7, which was a huge relief to me.

The rectal bleeding is pretty stable, it is not getting any better, but it does not seem to be getting any worse. I have not heard back from the hyperbaric doctor yet, but he DID say he was going on holiday. That suits me well, as Ken and I have a trip up to Canada planned for the first few weeks of September.

My garden really is a dream come true, I just love watching all those different things grow. I recently purchased a canner, more as a defensive move than anything, seeing all of those tomatoes starting to ripen. I just know that one of these days there is going to be dots of red all over my yard and I am not going to be able to keep up. I have used the canner once, as we had so many green beans, we decided to situate ourselves squarely amungst the group known as canners BEFORE the tomatoes ripen. SOoooo much harder to perform new tasks under pressure. So the beans were the dry run. We pickled them.

I feel that I am at least at "a tie" with the zucchinis finding many recipes to use them up with all the basil I have grown. The zucchinis I have are seeds from Italy (where they can guarantee no GMOs) and are much more tender even when they get to be huge. The skins are still tender too. Monday I have set aside to make zucchini/turemeric bread. Hope it is not too hot.

I have been meaning to post garden pictures, but with all the back and forth between Bandon and Eugene, the camera always seems to be elsewhere when I am ready to take a picture.