Tuesday, February 2, 2010

These Have Cancer, Take Them Away

Not 3 days after I find out my hormones are back to normal, Laura visits. For real. Who knew a 35 year old would be so excited about getting her period?? It doesn't mean I can have another baby because chemo affects the viability of eggs, but at least it's a start. I've never been a believer in PMS (controversial, I know, but there are entire societies of women who exhibit no signs of it and my opinion is that it's cultural, but I digress) but have heard that acupuncture is good for any symptoms so I take the opportunity to schedule an appointment with Jacob Traners (name changed to protect me from a defamation lawsuit even though it's all true!), the acupuncturist who does massage that Dr. McAndrew recommended. The tightness on my left side bothers me 24 hours a day so I'm curious to see if whatever he does makes a difference.

Jacob Traners' office is small but quaint. I hear the cliche sounds of a water feature trickling away in the background. I sit down to wait but before my bottom hits the seat a man in his 40s enters the waiting room and introduces himself. "Come in," he says as he points me towards another door. The trickling water sounds continue in the private room and some chimes softly clang away. I want to laugh but don't. Jacob, or Traners, as he calls himself for some strange reason, sits down next to me with a clipboard in his hand. He looks up. "Wow," he says. I smile but am totally creeped out. I'm not sure if it's "wow, you're so young, or wow you're cute," or what. But it's creepy. He tells me that his wife had breast cancer and that his 8 year old daughter knows terms that most children don't. I nod my head in agreement. A few days ago, Boris was putting Miles down for his nap and left his room with a perplexed look on his face and a chuckle. "What happened?" I asked. "Miles just stuffed 2 monos (his monkey loveys) up his shirt then yanked them out saying 'I have cancer, take these away,'" he said. I wasn't sure if I should laugh or cry.

I lay down on the table and he begins to massage my feet and legs. He explains that even though he's going to primarily work on breaking up the scar tissue in my left breast, it's important to do some work on the entire body. Sounds good to me. Only sadly, it's not. It's clumsy and untrained and when he massages my neck I have to tell him he's ripping my hair out. Who fucks up a neck and foot massage? The massage to my breast is pretty excruciating but tolerable. He repeatedly asks if he's hurting me or if anything is too firm but I remind him that I've had chemo and a double mastectomy. I'm basically super woman. He comments that expanders are the last modern form of medieval torture and I couldn't agree more.

When he's finished, it's hard to even tell whether my left side has better range of motion or feels better at all. He asks me what part felt best. "None of it felt good," I respond. He looks a little surprised so I continue "I wasn't expecting it to feel good." He tells me that I should come once a week until my exchange surgery and that I should come post surgery as soon as the area can be touched. I want to feel less tightness and certainly want to prevent my implants from hardening once they're in, but I never want to see Jacob, excuse me, Traners, again.

He calls me a few times after my session to ask how I'm feeling and whether I experienced any pain as a result of the massage. I don't call him back. I do however tell Ashely (my trainer) about his weirdness. "Lay down and give me your boob," she says. She starts massaging. "Is this what he did?" she asks? It is. Traners finally sends an email checking up on me and at the end of it he writes "when asking if there was any part of the session that you enjoyed and you answered that no part of the work felt good. I was touched by that." Um, what? Creepy. Thank goodness I can have Ashley take over a few times a week. The other people at the gym give us some pretty interesting looks, but whatever. It seems to relieve the tightness slightly.

A few days later I have a routine appointment with Dr. Botnick. I show him how the left breast has risen up and is much tighter and firmer than the right. As usual, he's friendly but flippant. "It's not that hard," he says. I'm sure he's felt worse but it's in my body and to me, it feels really fucking hard. And it just hurts all the time and I'm constantly try to stretch out the left side of my body because it feels so tight. "I'm afraid it's just going to get worse once I have my implants in," I tell him. As usual he tells me it will all be fine and that I'm beautiful and that the goal is to be alive. So true, except if I'm going to be alive I'd like to not be in pain all the time. Plus, I want cute boobs. Too much to ask for? Dr. Botnick says that there's no evidence that massaging the breast does anything to prevent contracture. There is apparently a drug that thins the blood and might help prevent scar tissue from building up. No guarantees of course and I don't really want to be on drugs (especially ones that might not do anything for me).

So for now, I'll just have to wait and see what my body does to the implants once they're in. Just a few more weeks of the modern medieval torture that I've been living with for the past 6 months. And hopefully this is my last surgery until my c-section with baby girl (still working on convincing Boris that we should have her)!


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