Published by pam on Fri, 03/09/2012 - 3:49am


I think I've got it all under control.  Until two days before the surgery, I look like a rock.  Then everything falls apart.  I panic.


Implants?  What was I thinking?  I'm not an implant kind of person.  The kind of people I respect would NEVER put in implants.  So why am I getting this skin sparing procedure.  I'll just need to have the skin cut out later.  The scars will be worse.  There weren't any pictures of the skin sparing technique, and my mind goes nuts.  I'm going to look like I have elephant skin waddling from my chest.  It's going to be hideous.  It's going to wiggle when I walk and I'm going to hate it.  Besides, implants fail.  Some people say they fail A LOT.  The last thing I want is to survive all this only to become a slave to my chest.  


And that is when I do the one thing I know I should never do.  I Google.


Should you ever find yourself sitting on the couch at 10:30 at night wondering what kind of mastectomy to get, here's a little advice:  DON'T LOOK FOR ADVICE ON THE INTERNET.  From what I can tell, the mastectomy pictures posted on the Internet mostly document one of three things.  1) procedures done in the Australian Outback with sharp sticks and thick black twine, 2) procedures that result in horrendous infections.  The kind of infections that turn black and ooze fluids that belong in a haunted house, not in the human body, and 3) plastic surgeons posting before and after photos claiming they can undo any of the above disasters.  It is not pretty.  I become obsessed with finding a single picture that will clear my mind of the nightmare mastectomy results I see.  But the longer I look, the worse the pictures get.  I should stop, but I can't.  My daughter calls down from the landing, begging me to come up stairs.  She tells me I'm driving myself crazy.  She says I should call our friend in Palo Alto who is a breast surgeon rather than rely on the internet.  I cant call him, I tell her.  Not at this hour.  My body temperature soars.  My heart feels like it is about to beat right out of my chest.  Of course, my heart dropping to the floor, would make the mastectomy decision unnecessary.  A definite upside.


For some reason I can't identify, the fear passes.  It will be fine, it tell myself.  My gut instincts were probably good.  Save the skin, put the decision off until later, and trust the surgeon to do her job.


It passes.  But there will be another decision.  And another one after that.  I will always be relying on partial information.  I will always be trusting the surgeon, oncologist, naturopath, pathologist, etc, to do his or her job.  It is the new normal, I remind myself.  I used to believe I had control over my life.  It was, for the most part, an illusion.   Just as it is now.