The New Year normally brings hope. Hope for good health, less struggles, financial freedom, and for me, that Dr. Z could rebuild the problematic left breast without any additional complications; and secondly, to finalize the Shower Shirt in hopes of bringing the product to the US market. I really didn’t feel this was too much to ask for. However, in an overall pessimistic world, one should be wary of being too positive for too long.
While waiting for the Shower Shirt changes to be updated with our manufacturer, I was still working part-time, and anxiously awaiting my next surgery. This third surgery would be the second attempt at implanting a tissue expander in the left breast. It was hard to believe it had been seven months since my mastectomy, and exactly six months from when the Staph corroded left breast tissue expander had been extracted from my chest wall. Before this surgery, my primary care physician gave me a strong dose of prophylactic antibiotics in hopes of preventing another infection.
Right before surgery, I had a short consultation with Dr. Z. He repeated that if this surgery resulted in another infection, he WOULD NOT try rebuild my breast again. Again, I felt his verbiage was of a scolding nature. Interestingly enough, I was actually learning to better deal with him; my strategy was to stare with no emotion, flare my nostrils, and act as if I had no idea as to what he was saying.
So to make a long story short, the surgery went fine. However, with much redundancy, exactly two weeks after surgery, I began feeling fatigued, cold and nauseous. I phoned Dr. Z to say I did not feel well. With his arrogant, and painfully disgruntled voice, he said, “Come into the office if you feel you should.” Phil came home from work early, picked me up and we went straight to Dr. Z’s. Similar to his comments six months earlier, he stated, “There is no reason for me to believe you have an infection, but if it will make you feel better, go to the emergency department.”
Within minutes of the emergency department staff testing my blood, they stated, I did, in fact, have another infection, but this time, my white blood count was 12,000 (versus 18,000 as it was with the previous infection). Essentially, the clinicians had all of my medical records so knew my history and said we had made the right decision in coming directly to the hospital.
Luckily, Dr. Catena, the infectious disease doctor, was in the emergency department. He commented, “This is exactly how hospital bugs react. Once introduced into the body, they lie dormant and don’t normally rear their heads until cut into again.” Not a comforting statement in the least. I was surprised he was so forthcoming about the hospital acquired infection, seeing I was the media strategist/ spokesperson for the hospital system, and my significant other was sitting next to me, and an attorney.
At this point, I was so fearful and disheartened I could not even cry. The thought of being in the hospital again with a second infection was overwhelming. I believe my subconscious took over to protect my emotions, and as a result, my brain shut down. So much for hoping the worst of my battles with infections were over. I had essentially given up.
Lisa F. Crites
Shower Shirt Principal/Inventor Corporate Healthcare Consultant Health/Medical Broadcast Journalist