Full Hearts and Leaky Scars
He was relentless.
He sniffed around my “breast”. I put that in quotations, because if you have been following along, you know what I really have is just a skin-pocket with a temporary water balloon.
“Murph”’ I said with exasperation, “what the hell…stop it. That’s annoying”.
Little did I know, Murphy, my 8 month old German Shepherd knew something I didn’t. I was about to bust a leak.
It actually didn’t happen until the next morning. I was sipping a long awaited cup of coffee, having been awake since 3:45am, because, who knows. Actually now that I think about it, Steve says he heard me say ‘OUCH”” at some point as I tossed in my sleep. I truly don’t remember this.
So Friday morning, I am sitting in my favorite red chair after a fitful night, and I happen to be talking to my husband on the phone, teasing that he left his lunch on the counter. As he is giving me the proper amount of shit back, I happen to see a wet spot on my shirt.
I think “huh” then say out loud to my husband “Crap, I think I just spilled my coffee”.
I pull my shirt up and shriek, “OH MY GOD! OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD…shit shit shit!”
His tone has gone from ‘kidding around husband’ to ‘concerned husband’.
“Are you okay?” he asks, “Babe! Are you alright??”
I am in a full blown panic.
“I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know.”
It appears I repeat myself when in crisis.
“I’M LEAKING!! I’M LEAKING!!” and a third time for good measure “I’M LEAKING!!”
My husband, who is the perfect mix of calm, cool and rational in a time of freak-out, says “Call your doctor. I’m coming home”. Seriously, how does he do it? Can someone let me in on the secret, because it would very useful when I am losing my shit.
Meanwhile, I have gone from soaking through paper towels to my fourth hand towel. Every time I look to see, the dripping is worse than a backwoods motor-lodge bathroom. I move one of the towels, and the pressure shoots the liquid across the room. If I wasn’t in panic mode, it would have been pretty friggin’ funny.
I look closer and realize the leak is pouring through my mastectomy scar.
As I hold my hand to my pretend boob, trying to stop the gush, I get ahold of my surgeon, who placed the tissue expanders back in January (You can read about that fun experience here).
Dr. Paige calmly explains it sounds like my left ‘breast’ has weakened at the scar, busting it open and causing the leakage. He says it’s because the left side is where I had all the radiation during my breast cancer treatments, and the skin is very thin. We agree I will come in right away so he can reopen the incision and check the expander.
Pacing laps around my house, I have my right hand over what looks like my heart as if I am doing a crazed performance-art version of the Pledge of Allegiance. I am doing everything in my power not to flip the fuck out.
Steve gets home, helps me gather my purse and my wits.
By the time I am in surgery, it’s been less than 2 ½ hours since my pocket-boob-dam burst.
As I chit-chat with the nurses, the doc is slicing away. Did I mention I am AWAKE for this surgery? I can’t see what Dr. Paige is doing, as a draped barrier is in place, which leaves me to picturing him as a mad butcher trying to butterfly a chicken-breast.
He is narrating as he goes, and says the area looks ‘pristine’. The expander is intact; the fluid was from the surrounding area. He drains it, puts in a temporary drain like the kind I have after mastectomy and says it should hold. He did say there is a possibility it could happen again, and if it does, the expander needs come out for good. Dr. Paige assures me it shouldn’t have any effect on the reconstruction DIEP-flap surgery we have planned for later this summer.
Meanwhile, I spend Valentine’s weekend recovering from an unexpected surgery, keeping my left arm locked to my side like Bob Dole and his pen during a photo op.
But my heart is full, thanks to a husband who brings me coffee and pain meds.