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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Nothing to Worry About

Sometimes, I don't know how scared I am of something till it's over. Sometimes hearing that right now,  I'm okay is was makes the tears run hot.

So I had surgery Friday. Routine-ish -- more fat grafting to help heal the tissue damaged by radiation, with hopes that in a few months it will finally be ready to stretch again.

But the story goes back a bit farther. Two weeks before, I felt a telltale pressure under my skin on my left chest. I'd had a seroma (a collection of serous fluid, common post-op) there for months, and it seemed to be back. I went to see my surgeon, and he drained it in the office. We chatted about patients who have no boundaries (um, hopefully not me) while I kept my eyes carefully trained on the ceiling and not the giant needle he was using to drain pocket of fluid under my skin.

When he finished, he asked me if I'd hurt myself. I shrugged. 

"You didn't fall or anything?" There was blood in the fluid.

I remembered that I fell in February (and December and January, and probably March -- I fell around seven times this winter. Thanks Effexor!). Flat on my face. I toppled like the statue of Saddam, was how I described it later to Matt. I told my surgeon.

"That's what it is, nothing to worry about."

So when the seroma reappeared a few days later, I didn't worry. I showed my surgeon in pre-op, he said they'd address it in the O.R. I walked in, got on the table, stared at the ceiling, tried to remember to breathe and imagine the place I wish I was, and a while later I woke up and Matt was telling me the fluid in my chest had been sent for cytology. To see what it was made of. To see, I deduced, if it was not good news.

"Oh," I said, casually. Then I asked for pain meds and nausea meds, and got a bunch of fentanyl and fell back to sleep.

In the following days I spent some time with Dr. Google trying to figure out what could be happening with that fluid; mostly I found clinical studies from before I was born, saying awfully scary things, but not relevant to me. 

Side note: I feel grateful that I now have the knowledge base to separate the relevant from the not relevant. That part of my brain has become stronger than the anxious little imp in there, and that was no easy feat.

So mostly I just waited, and told no one. And today when he texted me and told me all was good, I smiled and texted back "Yay!" and he said "It made my day," I stopped smiling and cried at my desk. Because he was worried, even if only a little, and I realized how scared I'd been without knowing it. Sometimes you don't realize the narrowness of the ledge, the length of the drop, until you take three long steps back.

And you realize, again and again, that it's pure luck, and not because you're special or did anything better than anyone else, that you didn't slip, that the ledge didn't crumble, and that for a moment the air was still. It's pure fucking luck.

I know someone who didn't get that tonight. She didn't get ideal conditions, and now she's facing a whole new drop. Send her your sweetest comfort, loves.

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