Monday, 1 June 2009

63. Did you want nipples today? Sorry..we cancelled

I am thankful for my strength of composure and character in what has been the farce of organising my tidying up surgery after my breast reconstruction op. I could have lost the plot by now otherwise. If you remember, this was brought forward by two whole weeks which left me with just one week to get mentally prepared instead of three!!

A couple of weeks ago my nipple reconstruction and tidy up date was 8th June. I organised my pre-op appointment for 3rd June and then I go away for a weekend, come back and it's 1st June. So I cancelled my pre-op and tried to arrange another in time as I literally had days to get in and get swabbed for MRSA, blood test etc. I couldn't get hold of them all day one day and then when I got through the lady who organised the appointments was away from her desk. Then when I got through they told me I could arrange it anytime, even just turn up and wait. So I called my surgeon's secretary just to advise her that there may be a problem if I couldn't get seen in time.

Please note that it is Friday..

Me: "Hi there, I'm booked for surgery on Monday and I am concerned that the appointment was moved without pre-op being arranged in time. I think I am going to have to cancel."

Sec: "Let me just check the diary."

I can hear her flicking through pages.

Sec: "..erm..we haven't got you booked in for surgery on Monday. You wanted to speak to Eric about nipple reconstruction before you had the surgery done so the appointment was rescheduled."

Me: "Right. When was I going to be told that I wasn't having surgery on Monday? I was prepared to go in at 7am! And my husband has taken the afternoon off from teaching to pick me up. Eric was going to call me as time was short so we could discuss the surgery rather than coming into hospital. He hasn't."

Sec: "No, I am so sorry. I can only apologise that he hasn't done so. He has a note to call you. He is on annual leave for 7 days."

Me: "This is the second time he has rescheduled my surgery because he is going on holiday. I am not very happy really. He's enjoying himself and I am preparing to go under the knife. I don't enjoy being messed around, this is my life!"

She apologised some more and insisted that she would be on him first thing on Monday to explain what had happened.

Me: "Sorry Sandy, I'm annoyed as you can probably understand. You said the surgery has been rescheduled, when for?"

Sec: "22nd June."

Me: "Oh that's great. That's my birthday. Anyone check my file? After what I have been through in the last six months I would like to spend my birthday doing something nice, not getting chopped up again."

I didn't raise my voice, I was just blunt. I can't believe that they can be so insensitive. I guess it's just a task to be done but me, on the other end, I have feelings and life to deal with.

On further discussion Sandy explained that the surgery method was a semi-circular cut for the nipple which is then twisted. It creates a button-like nipple. I explained that that kind of method flattens and has to be redone. I was not in for multiple surgery. I also asked her a few questions:

Why, upon breast reconstruction contemplation, was I not asked about my nipples and what I would like to do about them.
Why was I not offered a mould of them so I could consider prosthetics as an alternative to surgery?
Why have I not be talked to about the various methods of nipple reconstruction?
Why was I not offered different kinds of surgery with different surgeons who specialise?

I expressed to her that I felt I had just been pushed through the NHS machine and I had been given few options, even though Latissimus Dorsi reconstruction was the best option for me and that I was happy with the outcome, even if we had talked about implants on threat of making me smaller - which happened, yet no implants were used. I am happy that Eric did a fantastic job. I said I wanted to see some alternatives to the 'button' nipple option. Sandy said she would speak to the BCNs (breast care nurse) and see what they recommended and that she would call me back. Which she duly did and told me that she would get me referred to the Plastics team for consultation.

Why didn't this happen initially? Why didn't I go to see a plastics team to discuss ALL the surgery options for everything and then decide? Why is everything so damned complicated and irregular? I have some issues to raise with my genetic counsellor about what a person with family history of cancer needs when considering surgery. I am annoyed!

So..I wait some more. Will it ever end?


Anonymous said...

Keep you chin up I'm sure the plastic surgeon is much more capable than a breast surgeon at recreating nipples anyway :o)
Was lovely chatting with you last night. Hope you are out enjoying the sunny weather we are having (mini heatwave) roll on summer.

Loads of Love
Karen xxx

Caroline said...

Leigh-Ann - lucky you are who you are as someone else probably would have blown their top!! I can totally see why you are frustrated as I would be too! You are a real inspiration to me as I am such a doormat and never complain about anything but you are teaching me to be a stronger person. Your journey is also helping me with mine so I know what to ask and when!!! I hope they sort their act out soon!!!!

Teri Smieja said...

It does all sound so frustrating. I feel selfish, as I've been feeling overwhelmed by all of the choices I have to make, picking the doctors, deciding on the best reconstruction option for me. I guess I should shut up about all of that, because frustration over a lot of choices has to be better than what you are dealing with, where you don't seem to get much choice at all. Hope it all works out the way that you want it to, and that it doesn't have to be on your birthday..