It’s been almost two months since my surgery and sometimes I forget that I had a mastectomy. Who does that? And who does that at age twenty-seven without even having cancer? I thought I would feel brave and mostly I just feel crazy.
The thing is, nothing about my experience was what it should’ve been. I know, I know: the best way to make God laugh is to make plans or whatever. But I’m a planner and I had my ideas of what I wanted, and got none of it. I chose my surgeon because she was the only local surgeon willing to do immediate, direct-to-implant reconstruction and I ended up with no reconstruction at all. I fervently hoped and prayed she could do “delayed immediate” reconstruction, inserting the tissue expanders after two weeks instead of three months (which is typical delayed reconstruction) and that was a no-go due to my dying skin. I started banking on three months, trying to prepare myself, but then my skin officially turned necrotic and had to be debrided so reconstruction is put off until some unknown time far in the future.
Not to mention the seromas and potential infection I dealt with a few weeks after surgery. Now I’m left mostly healthy, but with scarred skin and a bunch of unknowns. I may be able to begin reconstruction in six months; my skin may not be viable for reconstruction and that would require a lat flap procedure. The fact that I opted for a nipple-sparing mastectomy may soon be irrelevant as I’m likely to lose a nipple, again due to the skin necrosis and debridement.
In short: everything is a mess. I’m done being sad about it, as there’s no point. I was angry for awhile, but there’s no point in being angry if there’s no one to be angry with. This just is what it is. This is the path my life is taking and I’m still undeniably me, even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes.
There does seem, however, to be somewhat of a divide between those who had a normal procedure and… me. Or those like me. I think a lot of it is in my head, but I have a harder time relating to people whose surgeries went as planned. I know it’s not easy even if things do go well, but it’s hard for me to really see that because I would give anything for things to have gone normally for me. I would never wish my problems on anyone, but I feel like it puts me in an entirely different category, like I’m separate and “other” in a way I didn’t expect. There aren’t many twenty-somethings with massive complications.
I didn’t plan on being one, either, but here I am. And this is my life now so I’m trying to learn to embrace it.