ABCD…

Breast-Surgery-200x300

Last week, I went to my requested plastic surgery appointment. It was the only time, besides the blood test, when I’d see her before the surgery itself, and I didn’t want to be standing in the hospital right before my surgery asking what size she thought I’d come out as.

I was extremely nervous- I don’t really know why, since the only thing I figured we’d do was chat, no examination or anything. I think it was because I am so scared that the insurance is going to pull their coverage and I’m going to wake up on the other side of surgery with awesome but expensive boobs that I now have to pay for.

But my PS assured me that that’s not usually the case. I had a chat with the insurance company a few weeks ago, too, who also said that the only way that they definitely won’t pay for it is if I get a different procedure entirely or in addition to my reduction.

At my initial consultation with my PS, I felt like she kind of rushed me along, and that bothered me. But she really took her time with me during this last appointment, making sure I got all of my questions answered and bringing things up herself, so that settled my mind. One thing I had been feeling pretty secure about was her skill level- she has excellent patients reviews for not only her breast surgery, but her speciality, which is hand surgery. While in her waiting room, I was looking around at the other people, wondering if they were there for their pre-op visits, only to find out that they were a few months to a year post-op from hand surgery. I never would have guessed.

In the end, she told me that what a lot of doctors and websites and patients (in the world in general) say is wrong: you can’t go to a plastic surgeon and say “Make me a DD.” ¬†Especially with reductions, and especially if you’re like me and want to go on the smaller side, issues of safety come into play. I can request to be a C or a B all I want, but it all comes down to what my PS determines is safe when the procedure is going on. And, as I said, I can’t even request to be a C or a B, because the PS doesn’t bring a bra in and hold it up to your in-progress breast to check the sizing. They’re more concerned with taking out a certain amount and making the two breasts generally the same shape and size. So my PS said I’ll probably end up a C or D when going bra shopping. I so desperately do not want to be a D. I want to get out of D territory forever. But since I’ve been squeezing myself into the wrong bra size until a few months ago, my idea of a D, and what a D actually is is skewed, and anything will be an improvement.

The prospect of the surgery is still really really scary to me, but it has never once crossed my mind as the wrong choice. Almost ever part of my life, from daily activities to passing my reflection in a window, reminds me that what I’m doing is right. People- doctors and non-doctors alike, save for my therapist, seem really concerned that I’m not concerned that I might not be able to breastfeed when/if I have kids.But to be honest, breastfeeding is never something that I’ve felt the need to do. Maybe I will regret it if/when I have kids, but it’s not like there is no other way for me to feed them.

I also know that a lot of women wait until after they’re done having kids to have the surgery, but I can’t wait. Besides the fact that I want to have it now, for all the reasons I’ve already discussed, I can’t imagine the disappointment I would feel if I ended up childless (by choice or not), knowing that I could have had this relief decades earlier. Yes, if I were at a point in my life where I thought I was ready, or almost ready, to start a family, I would probably wait, but I’m not at all. It will definitely be a frustration if I do have kids and I swell back to the size I’m at now, but I’ll cross that bridge if I come to it again.

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Aside

Sweet Relief

Today was a big day: my neurology appointment and my headshots.

I don’t know why I scheduled seeing the neurologist for 9 am. I think I was just so happy to get an appointment sooner than July that I snatched up the first time they offered. So I dragged myself out of bed at 7:15 and was on the subway an hour later. Even after getting lost (why do so few buildings in Philadelphia have numbers on them?!), I was on time. As I was waiting to be seen, I saw I had an email from my headshot photographer. It was supposed to storm around the time of my session, so she was wondering if I could come in earlier. I said that that was no problem; my appointment would probably be over around 11. Perhaps she misread my message, because she wrote back, “Great, see you at 11!” Still- my appointment was only supposed to take an hour, tops. But, you know… doctors. I don’t think I got into her office until 9:30.

She was awesome, though. She was very thorough and nice and made sure I understood what she was saying. I also wasn’t embarrassed/ashamed answering her questions like I am with some doctors. Then again, she’s probably the first doctor I’ve seen in the last year and a half besides my eye doctor who I’m seeing for something besides a stigmatized illness. My migraines are pretty much out of my control. I don’t really do anything to trigger them, since I know what my triggers are and, as the ¬†doctor said, in order to stop those, she’d have to control the weather and the population.

I knew from my reading that if my “only” problem was migraines, there wasn’t much that could be done. Very little is known about migraines even today, but I wanted to make sure that mine weren’t the result of something more serious. It doesn’t seem like they are, which is good, but I’ve still been put on a new prescription medication, which doesn’t make me happy. At least my previous prescriptions have been written by a single doctor; I’m afraid of what mixing them might do. However, my therapist had mentioned that the medication I ended up being prescribed, would probably be the one they chose, which was somewhat reassuring. But it does make me nervous that I’m taking medication for epilepsy that could slow not only my speech, but my thoughts. We’ll see what happens; I’ve been able to deal with side effects in the past, and I don’t get many in general.

There was only one uncomfortable part of my exam (well, besides my reflexes being tested. That will never stop being weird), which was that a medical student was observing the process. She was nice and very professional and just sat in the corner, but I could feel her watching my physical reactions to everything, and it was kind of weird when the doctor completed the final part of my tests and immediately turned to the student and said, “See? A full neurological exam in five minutes. All of that, in five minutes.”

Despite the exam only taking five minutes, the full appointment was long enough that I knew I’d be cutting it close to make it to my shoot on time. As the subway slugged along, I knew I’d definitely be late, which stressed me out. Kim, the photographer, had told me there was almost always parking on her street, so I wasn’t worried about that… until I saw that there was some sort of market going on, which apparently attracted all the car owners in the city. I ended up parking in a paid lot three blocks away from her house and was sweating in the warm weather by the time I knocked on her door. But as the testimonials reported, she put me instantly at ease, assuring me that my being 15 minutes late wasn’t a problem, since she had changed the time so late.

I’d met Kim before when she came to one of my classes my junior year to give us feedback on our musical auditioning. Obviously I couldn’t know everything about her from watching her for two hours and interacting for five minutes of that time, but I did remember she was super nice and made everyone, even the non-singers, feel good about what they had brought to class. I don’t need a photographer to fawn over me while I’m getting my pictures taken (actually… please don’t), but I do want to feel comfortable and supported by that person.

I definitely felt that today. Maybe because she’s an actor, too, she understands why it’s necessary to shoot for “type.” The last headshots I got were done by a guy who, besides making me feel very uncomfortable by shouting “Hot! Oh, that’s sexy!” while he snapped away, insisted on putting me in heavy makeup. Even after I spoke up and told him that he needed to take a lot of it off because I played children, what I ended up with was a glamour shot: I look pretty, but I’ve never ever walked into an audition looking like that, and I’ve never played any one who was supposed to look like that. Kim, though, did very natural make up that looked great in the pictures, and though she said nice, encouraging things to me while she was shooting, they made me feel good and confident as opposed to slimy and creeped-on. The best thing about the shoot was that, probably also because she’s an actor, Kim knew how to help me work the camera. Besides instructing me to do some tricks I already do so I didn’t feel like a Top Model wannabe when I did them, she basically gave me an action to play. “I want you to look down, and on ‘three,’ look at me like you know who the boss is and it’s you,” or “like if I were upset, I could come and talk to you.” It was really great and gave me something to do besides smile stiffly.

We shot outside for about an hour, and as we went back to her studio, she was like, “Now I can show you some of them!” I always hate this part of any photoshoot. I don’t enjoy looking at myself; I don’t spend a long time in front of mirrors, I avert my eyes when I walk past windows, and I never ever take selfies. But I actually didn’t cringe while looking at Kim’s pictures. I still didn’t enjoy looking at ME, but I could see past that and appreciate the quality and ME-ness that could be seen in the picture. I look my age, which is great, since in my glamour shot, I look older, which I rarely play. I’ll get the proofs in a couple of days, and I’m actually excited to see them! I’m sad that I can’t bring them to my audition tomorrow!

Now I’m Nervous for My Brain…

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I’ve been getting migraines and bad headaches since I was twelve, but besides home remedies, I never did much about them. But since seeing two doctors who are invested in what happens within the grey matter inside my skull, I started thinking about going to a neurologist for my still-very present headaches.

I can’t call it luck that I have an amazing therapist and an amazing psychiatrist, because I chose them after a lengthy period of research, but not everyone is who they seem on even a professional website. My doctors are, though, and because they are two caring individuals, they insisted that when I looked for a neurologist, I find someone caring.

My therapist said the same thing when I was looking for a psychiatrist over the summer: “Look for someone who cares. They’re kind of rare, but you can find them.” For all my past experiences with less-than-awesome doctors and the stories my mom sometimes brings home from the hospital, I shouldn’t have been surprised by this comment, but I was. Like… why would you get into healthcare if you didn’t like people, or at least care about making them better (which I assume, perhaps erroneously, would make you care about the people who have the problems.) But my experience today showed me that not only was my therapist right about that, she may also be right about being able to tell the quality of the doctor by the tenor of their receptionist.

I’d read through the information packet sent to me by the neurology office when it arrived a month or two ago, but since I am now just a few weeks away from my appointment, I wanted to read it over again. When I was confused by the circumstances under which you need a referral, I called the number the packet tells you to call if you have questions like that.

ME: (rattles off preliminary speech about when my appointment is and my confusion)

RECEPTIONIST #1: Um, this is Penn Presbyterian Hospital.

ME: I know.

RECEPTIONIST #1: So… you meant to call us?

ME: Yes, I’m holding medical papers from you in my hand.

RECEPTIONIST: Well, this is the emergency room number, I don’t know how you got it.

ME: It’s in the informational packet I was sent.

RECEPTIONIST #1: Well, I can’t help you. I’ll TRY to transfer you to the neurology unit.

(Extremely loud holding music plays, so loud that I have to put the phone on speaker and put it on the other side of my bed.)

RECEPTIONIST #2: Hello? (two second pass) HELLOOOOO?!

ME: Hi. (Previous speech.)

RECEPTIONIST #2: Wait, wait, wait- this is Penn Presbyterian.

ME: I know. I have papers from you in my hand.

RECEPTIONIST #2: Okaaaaay…when were you discharged from the hospital?

ME: I haven’t been a patient yet, my appointment is on the 22nd.

RECEPTIONIST #2: Uh, well, the emergency room told me that you had been discharged from this unit. If you haven’t, I can’t really help you.

ME: Okay… I was transferred to you after calling the number in my information, so I don’t know where to go from here.

RECEPTIONIST #2: I’ll get you the number of the operator. I don’t have the neurology number, but they should.

ME: Great, thanks.

(More incredibly loud holding music. The operator picks up and I give him the rundown.)

OPERATOR: Oh. Um… uh… I really don’t have that information, so I don’t know what I can do.

ME: You’re the third person I’ve been transferred to, I really don’t have any other way of reaching the neurology office.

OPERATOR: Well, uh… I GUESS I could maybe find the number for you… hang on.

(He figures out a way to transfer me, like an operator does. I finally reach the neurology office…’s answering machine. Awesome.)

 

Now the question is, will they call me back or will I go in without a referral, only to have them tell me (as the packet warns might happen) that they can’t see me without one and reschedule me for six months from now?

If my therapist is right about the receptionist reflecting the warmth of the doctor, I’m afraid I might just have an ice pick stabbed into my brain.