Thursday, July 19, 2012


Me thinks that moving body parts, and rebuilding body parts, and even replacing body parts might not be the way to go.

I am so very tired of this body of mine - tired of the constant pain for 38 years now - tired of seemingly never ending surgeries.

It's been two and a half years since this breast cancer saga started, and I'm apparently healthy, so far.  But there are so many things about this adventure which leave me very unhappy.

Nine, count them, nine operations since this all began.  The breast reconstruction process, and the reduction of the leftover, have not been satisfying.  
Supposedly all this trauma to my poor abused body was going to create a 'matched pair' - these don't seem remotely 'matched' to me.
I'm not meaning to sound as cranky as I do, because there is no question that this new 'pair' is waaaaaaay better than these two.

Of course, my dear Doc Hollywood does say he can do some 'tweaking' but that means one or two more operations.  I am soooooooooooo tired of going under the knife.  Don't think I'm gonna do it ever again.

In fact, I'm wishing I hadn't even started any of this back when it was first diagnosed.   Two and a half years of mostly miserable days...for what?

Yeah, I'm not very chipper these days.

I'm so tired.  So tired of pain - all day, every day for 38 years!  So today, I'm going to whimper - I don't do it often.  But I'm hurting.

Start at the bottom?  or the top??  Let's start at the bottom.

My right ankle - crushed in a car accident 38 years ago.  I was grateful they didn't cut it off, as I was told they expected to do.  But what I was left with was mush - that pretty much froze that way.  I have almost no movement in the ankle at all.  And every step I take feels like I'm stepping on live wires.  Hurts.  A lot.  Every step.  One doc told me he could fuse it completely, but couldn't say it would solve the pain problems - in fact, he told me it probably wouldn't.  So much for that option.

My left knee - also mangled in that accident.  Knee cap crushed, all ligaments and tendons torn.  Seven operations later, it's still a piece of shit.  Because of the non functioning knee and unbending ankle, I haven't been able to kneel or squat or even cross my legs, for 38 years.  Always hurts and is a great weather prognosticator.  'They' want to do a knee replacement - another operation?  I don't think so.

My right knee - because of walking funny for so many years, it finally gave out and needed to be replaced...about a year and a half ago.  It worked great for a while, but for the last couple weeks it feels like it wants to pop out of joint, if that's even possible.  No stability, feels like it could give way at any moment, and when it's being cranky, it hurts like a son of a . . . Colorado River Toad aka Sonoran Desert Toad (they can poison dogs and cats).  I don't even want to hear a doctor say it could be replaced...built-in obsolescence?  at a year and a half?

My left hip - replaced at Christmas of '07 after I missed a step and fell, landing hard on a concrete embankment, snapping the ball off.  It was a partial replacement - a titanium ball only, because they considered the bone socket itself to be in very good condition.  
You may have seen recent articles saying 'they' are finding that metal against bone is not necessarily a good way to go on replacements.  I'm thinking my hip might be going along with that finding.  Because the hip is now feeling like it's trying to pop out of joint with no warning too.  Oh goody - another operation.  Not.

My right hip - this is the healthy one.  It only has osteoporosis.  One of the benefits of major joint trauma is arthritis.  Severe arthritis, which spreads all over the body. . .or as one of my many doctors called it - chronic severe degenerative traumatic osteoarthritis.  So with all my lower joints being unstable, I'm very concerned about falling and breaking this hip  (actually, I fall quite often, but have learned to fall gently, usually).

All of these little complaints mean I walk funny.  I try my damnedest to walk so people aren't aware of my troubles.  Which may not be the smartest thing to do, of course.  I can't stand for more than 5 minutes or so, before my left leg goes numb, which isn't terribly conducive to stability.  And I can't walk more than a hundred yards or so without the leg going numb.  Needless to say, this limits my activities considerably.

And all these little complaints, and my desire to walk as tall and straight as I can, means my back is always killing me.  Oh, well.

Then there's that slash across my belly - the scar from hip to hip from the TRAM-flap surgery, necessary for the breast reconstruction.  After a year and a half, I still have no feeling in my lower belly, due to all the nerves being cut.  Which means I don't have much control over my tummy muscles (or lack thereof!).

I haven't subjected you, my sweet readers, to my recent bout with a blocked colon.  If you haven't experienced it, I strongly recommend you drink lots of fluids and eat lots of fiber.  As it turned out, neither of those were my problem.  It appeared that, maybe, my scar from the TRAM-flap surgery was somehow involved.  I went through the whole ordeal of my first colonoscopy (which wasn't anywhere near as horrible as I was lead to believe!), to be told that my guts are in excellent condition.  Great - so what caused the blockage?  No idea, but perhaps it was adhesions from the belly scar.
Saw my plastic surgeon, Doc Hollywood, shortly after that, and asked him about adhesions.  I had researched it some online, and it didn't seem likely, and he confirmed that it wasn't really possible to have adhesions from his surgery.  This was because he had taken muscle and fat from outside the abdominal cavity, and adhesions usually form from incisions into the abdominal cavity.  
So what caused it?  He suggested it was possible that there was a collapsed muscle, which could have been caused by the TRAM-flap operation, and if so, it could be repaired by another surgery.  Oh, good.

The boobs - obviously, they don't match.  Not even close.  The reconstruction is still the little teenage boob I wrote about months ago, sitting high on my chest.  A reasonable size, but a bit misshapen due to the scars, but supposedly the scars will grow and even things out.  There is an odd extra little soft boob off to the side that needs to be repositioned.  But the scars are fading nicely, and it feels relatively normal.  
The reduction?  As you can see, it's still a big boob.  He took out pretty much all of the post-menopausal bulk, the part that hung down to my waist, and it's now sort of the size back to when I was 45 or so.  The scars are pretty pronounced still, mostly because of the nasty infection that developed in there.  And perhaps there is still some swelling yet to shrink, since the nipple and areola are kind of inverted.  But it hangs like a normal boob, as opposed to the pert youngster on the other side.

As I mentioned earlier, my doctor says he can make them more alike, with another operation or two.  Just what I need.

Then there is the arm - the lymphedema.  I hate it more and more everyday - in case my regular readers have not been aware of that before.  The swelling from the lymph fluid is worsening, and after 6 weeks of therapy, it really didn't in maybe a tenth of a millimeter.  That's not even noticeable.  So we've ordered me a new daytime sleeve and glove - a heavier stronger fabric.  Of course when it arrived, it was a left arm sleeve instead of the ordered right arm sleeve, so I'm still waiting for the new one.  But even with the new sleeve, the therapists are telling me I should be wearing the nighttime club at least two full days as week, as well as just to bed at night.  I don't just hate this thing - I despise it.

Being constantly under compression, I've lost a lot of muscle and strength.  And my hand simply doesn't work right anymore.  I can no more sign my name than I could when I was 2 years old.  Typing this post has taken me way more time than it should.  Lots and lots of typos to be fixed.

And then - headaches.  I've had a constant headache since that car accident so long ago.  I can live with a headache, but it has a life of its own, and some days it just lays me out.  I have one med I can take on those days that puts it back in its normal cage, but it's always there to some degree.  And it's getting worse.  My local neurologist suggested it's probably caused by scar tissue from the accident (I really beat up my head too - lost an eye, had more than 300 stitches in my face to rebuild my nose from nothing, concussion...), and I understand arthritis sneaks into the skull too, so...

Anyway, I'm pretty miserable - as a friend says, we don't have to practice being miserable.

The flowers?  The monsoons are having fun with Southern Arizona, and the flowers are loving it.  Thought a little color might add some nice-nice to this depressing report.

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