Monday, May 18, 2009

Waiting sucks...

...Since my doctor still can't tell me when my surgery is actually scheduled for. At this point, we've narrowed it down to either the 8th of June or the 29th. Good times, friends. As soon as I find out, which will hopefully be this week, I'll contact my boss and make arrangements to come back to work for a couple of weeks or a month. I can't afford to be without the income, and there's no reason for me not to go back, at least physically now. Apparently, the major holdup for Melissa, my surgeon's amazing, intrepid nurse, is booking an operating room. Thoracic rooms are special (and crazyfish high-tech. seriously, it's oddly comforting to get wheeled into such a complicated-looking place for surgery) and since we have to do the surgery at a different branch of the hospital to accommodate the neurosurgeon, who we'll probably only need for about ten minutes of the darned procedure, things are complicated. Man, I can't do anything the easy way.

In the mean time, my back is hurting increasingly often, and the twinges in my side are becoming more frequent. I'm only allowed to take low-grade pain killers, and Laslow-Mitford laughs at my Tylenol. When I spoke to my surgeon last, he mentioned that the nerves this tumor is wrapped around are going to be removed. Thankfully, they're sensory nerves, and so I'll have all my usual motor skills and there's no real risk to that. The concern I have is that they're not sure how removing these nerves will affect me. These nerves control a strip of my chest from my armpit to about halfway down my ribs, and there are a couple of possibilities. I could end up numb. There are different types of numbness, from total lack of feeling, to the tingling, uncomfortable type of numbness. The other option is that I could end up in pain. Basically, my back and side may never stop bothering me, and may only get worse. Since the pain has been debilitating a few times already, I'm truly not looking forward to that. But, I'm crossing my fingers, because all of these are only possible outcomes. There's no way to find out what will actually happen until after the surgery.

The other thing I found out is that I'm definitely going to have a frontal incision. What this means is that the incision is going to start a few (maybe two to four) inches below my neck and continue about halfway down my ribs and wrap around to my side. My sternum will be cracked (i get pins to hold me together, jim's jealous, he thinks it's the first step to me becoming bionic) and I will have a lovely, charming scar straight down my chest.

I'm of two minds about my future scar. I know it's frivolous to worry about, but pondering the cosmetic aspects keeps me from worrying about waking up with not one, but two full-sized chest tubes (that was the worst part of the first operation, those things hurt quite a bit), or the possibility that I'll need a second operation (because my lung has been squished for so long, there could be a layer of scar tissue built up that will have to be removed. the removal may happen at the same time, or it may happen later. either way, this will suck quite hard, and require longer use of chest tubes.) or any of the dozen other worries I have. Vanity is much more fun. Much, much more fun.

So, the future scar. I was rooting for a backal incision (that's the technical term, so far as i'm concerned), since that would be easier to keep covered while it heals. On the one hand, I have definitely earned any and all scars I take away from this. They're battle scars, and I'm strangely proud of that. On the other, ewwww! Big ugly scar right on my chest. I'm a moderately attractive young woman. Finding any kind of shirt that will cover me up to the neck without making me look like I'm either being pretentious about my modesty, old, or has a turtleneck (i have a thing about tight stuff around my neck. it makes me flail) can be pretty difficult. And I'm not in the market to make my own clothes. I've decided that I'm going to treat myself to another tattoo, when I get my tax return next year or if I find a decent job before then. It'll be pretty ambitious, and I may drag Momolla out with me, but there's no way to make it cover my whole chest attractively. See, I'm going to get a tree of life, with the words I am never broken down by the roots, and the branches reaching up, hopefully covering the scar. It'll be off-center, more on my side than on my back, really, and I'm kind of excited about that. And a little wary, because I had never really planned on a large-scale tattoo before. And so, I'm opening this up for discussion. If it were your body and your scar, how would you treat it? Would you wear it with pride? Cover it up? Act like it wasn't there?

And that, my darlings, is about all I have to offer you today. I'm all anxious about when I'll hear from my surgeon, so there's nothing else of note going on, except for whatever is eating the leaves on my beans. When I find it, whatever it is, I will kill it. Dammit, something in my garden is going to grow and produce if it kills me and all the neighbors!

9 comments:

Galad said...

I'm thinking numb is sounding preferable at this point!

Nicole checked in to having a tatoo put on her spinal fusion scars (back and side) She talked to several tatoo artists who said they could do the back but the scar tissue on the side wouldn't work right.

I think you should do whatever feels right to you. Whether you get the tatoo or not, we all know you are not broken!!

Roxie said...

How about wearing your battle scar with pride, and tattooing, "I am not broken" like a bracelet on your wrist? I know you need to leave scars alone for several months before getting a tat.

Use vitamin E oil on the scar as it heals, and start loading vitamin E internally as well to get smooth, stretchy scar tissue.

Bells said...

wow. lots to absorb here. I really hadn't imagined you'd need to be opened up that much. L-M is a bugger.

Me, I'd wear the scar. As is. It's a mark enough (not that I am anti-tattoos - i have two of them myself) but I think the scar will just become part of you. both my sister and sister-in-law have reasonable scars on their throats from surgery and they both just wear pendants that don't actually cover it up but just sit alongside the scars. They are just a part of them.

That said, I don't have to make the choice so it's easier for me to say. But as someone who gets to LOOK at their scars a lot, I think they have become just another part of what makes them beautiful.

Bells said...

that said, the tat and words you describe sound amazing. Love the Tree of Life. One of mine is a small ToL on my ankle.

Olivia said...

Your justification for focusing on vanity makes perfect sense. As for the scar, yes, vitamin E is good and give it time to settle down. I think there is laser treatment that can reduce some kind of scars too. I imagine it might be hard to hide the scar with a tattoo but perhaps you could incorporate it as part of the design (and therefore wear it with pride, like you say).

I can't stand wearing turtlenecks (skivvys) either.

Rose Red said...

I love the idea of the Tree of Life, and have it sort of twisting around you (I guess the scar could be like the trunk, with tattoo lines down either side, and the branches and roots coming up (or down as the case may be) from it??).

On the other hand, I think you should wear the scar with pride (it will certainly always give you a conversation starter, should you need one). I don't think scars make one ugly, but rather are marks of character, and of life. Think of all the excellent stories you could make up about how you got it (quite apart from the truth, which is a pretty amazing story in itself).

I also like the idea of the words as a bracelet...

Donna Lee said...

You know how I feel about tattoos but I think the idea of a good story to go along with the scar isn't to bad, either. Something like being on space station and fighting off aliens and taking one for the team.....or being part of a scientific experiment that you aren't allowed to talk about.....

I admire the spirit you've shown during all of this. No, you're not broken, maybe just a little dented here and there but dents are nothing.

dr k said...

hi em, i have been hearing about your battles from others and thought it time to check in personally. your bravery is amazing. i say wear your scar anyway you like, but yes you should be proud. hope the waiting ends soon xx

Galad's gallant daughter said...

I would go definitely go with numb over permanent pain on that one. And after a while, you don't even notice that you can't feel it anymore. I haven't been able to feel my right hip for almost ten years. It does lead to a lot of bruising though.