My last Blog was extremely revealing; emotionally, psychologically, and obviously visually. I thought long and hard about sharing those photos, and hope I did not negatively affect anyone’s decision whether or not to undergo mastectomy surgery, if needed.
I want to start this Blog by first saying I would make the same decisions all over again, even though my issues with surgical infections did not stop at that first infection. I had more, and will explain those encounters soon. However, even given the complications, I would again choose to have a bi-lateral mastectomy because that ‘course of action’ was psychologically acceptable to me, and for the first time in my life, through science, I was able to actually see what the future would have held. (You will understand that statement in my next Blog.)
I hope the fear of an infection will not keep breast cancer patients from considering the mastectomy route. As written previously, the American Hospital Association states five-percent of all breast cancer surgery patients endure infections of one type or another. I can’t say if this is higher or lower than infection rates of other surgeries, but it stands to reason all surgeries have the chance for infections and complications.
But back to my story, after 48 hours of convalescing in the hospital following the removal of the infected tissue expander, I was discharged. That infection absolutely sucked the life out of me, for the first time in my 42 years I had no energy. I would get up in the morning, have breakfast and go back to bed; up for lunch and back to bed; and normally did not eat dinner.
I was still on leave from work, with little to do except recover from these two major surgeries. I kept thinking about showering with that darn trash bag, how difficult it was, and what it would take to create something which would work for my situation, as well as fellow mastectomy patients.
Before I was really able to focus on that project, I had an appointment with Dr. O’Linde, the wonderful surgeon who performed my mastectomy. Since this was only the first time I had seen him post-infection, we reviewed the results of my pathology report from the mastectomy surgery. The breast cancer had been diagnosed in my right breast only, however, after reading through the pathology report, it was obvious something was also problematic with my left breast.
The discussion during my appointment went like this: “Dr. O’Linde, per my pathology report, it says I have atypical lobular carcinoma in situ in my left breast. What does that mean?”
He said, “Yes, that’s something that would have eventually shown up on your mammogram.”
What? Something that would have shown up on my mammogram, when? He didn’t seem to want to discuss as it was technically a moot point since the left breast had been removed. I pushed a bit further but got no additional information from him. For my own mental state, I had to know what this terminology meant, and what could have happened if I had chosen not to remove that second breast proactively. Would I have been diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time?
Lisa F. Crites
Shower Shirt Principal/Inventor
Corporate Healthcare Consultant
Health/Medical Broadcast Journalist