Allergan, Breast, cancer, carcinoma, caregiver, implants, lumpectomy, mastectomy, Mentor, skin-sparing
“You two are my favorite patients.”
Well our second visit to the PS was a little longer than expected. More because he was busy. By 9:30am he was running an hour and a half late. For the first time it seemed as we waited there that the patients all seemed older and more sick. Many of them were asleep and to be awakened by the nurses as they were taken to the back. My wife and I just held hands as we saw all these lonely people. My wife later said that she was happy I decided to be with her as waiting in that room for 2 hours would have been real depressing although it is probably one of the more upbeat waiting rooms you could probably find in a cancer clinic with inspirational quotes from patients and pleasant music.
Having visited the breast care clinic several times I have decided to contribute to their library of magazines. Although I’m not sure many of the women want to read about golf, sports, photography or travel, I hope that the occasional husband or father or son who decides to go the extra step in this journey with their spouse, mom, or daughter can feel comfortable in doing so.
When we finally were called, Andrew, took my wife’s vitals. He laughed and joked with us regarding my wife’s normally low blood pressure and how she wanted to be weighed on the “pound reducing” scale. We actually notices one scale adds 5 pounds in the office. Our respect for this office practice has grown so much. While these physicians deal in a very “flashy” part of surgery, they have to deal with many real world situations that aren’t so glamorous. Sitting in that room watching a 70 year old bald lady walk in by herself in a very expensive suit, she still looked refined, but the sadness on her face was visible. The chemo and the wear and tear of this journey had taken its toll. When Andrew greeted her before us, he put on his best smile with a , “Nice to see you again, you’re looking strong”. She finally emitted a smile.
Our situation seems so minor compared to others and I’m sure emotionally seeing all of these sick people does affect the staff as well. It did make us feel good though to hear Andrew say to us out of earshot of others, “You two are my favorite patients.” Whether he meant it or not, we actually felt good that we were able to put a smile on his face.
As we waited another 20 minutes in the procedure room, the resident came in, then the fellow, then the nurse, then finally our PS. My wife had forgotten her questions she had for him, but I was able to help her remember them all. It was good to ask. They have so many patients it probably is hard to keep track. We have to get another appointment so we will still need another 3 after the one we had. That will make five visits post surgery.
He added another 100cc (total 350cc so far ) and gave my wife more recommendations for care and comfort. My wife upped her dosage of her meds and felt much more comfortable to sleep and rest and was not awakened by the children this morning although she is still stiff. The PS again was able to smile. He is such a serious guy, but even making him smile made us feel better. He definitely had had a tough morning. He had a better picture of where he was going with my wife and drew more pictures on her file. He’s not a bad artist. I think that is a good thing in his profession. He told us enough to make us think we’ll have an exchange (barring chemo) sometime around mid-November.
The real light hearted moment was when my wife asked him about implants – what kind, what size, etc? He told her he won’t know until she’s in surgery again. Depending upon the rib cage (the expander is currently sitting on the rib cage), any adjustments he decides to make depending upon what she tells him, etc. he will put what best works at that time. When my wife asked him how he does that, he told her that they have this big storage room at UCSF just outside of the O.R. that has the largest consignment selection of implants in the US. With the vision of this magical golden room full of implants my wife skeptically questioned, “Even more than they have in Beverly Hills?” He proudly said that they have every imaginable size and selection readily available and approved in the US with more options than any other clinic in the country.
My wife’s eyes lit up, “So kind of like a shoe store, where you try on a few”. She knows I hate shoe shopping.
He chuckled at the analogy, “Well we theoretically get one shot at this, so we try and get it right and there aren’t a selection of colors. So if the shoe fits, that’s the one we’ll give you. You might even have two different ones, but we try and match them.” Great, we have an orthopedist and a comedian for a PS.
In the end the light conversation took my wife’s attention away from the growing discomfort that she was feeling in her chest. She was too tight to drive home at that point, so it was fortunate I took her to this appointment.
As a side note, my wife has had a cough almost since the day of her diagnosis. The day the drains came out, it magically went away. I always thought it might have been brought about by anxiety, but this almost proves it. Interestingly enough, I think I developed a sympathetic cough. My cough went away too. I think last night was the best sleep we have had since this whole journey began. Her chest still aches, but the exercises are helping and the higher dosage of pain killers is working.
On the way home, we decided that no matter if Andrew meant it or not, we would try to brighten the days of our medical team. His comment of being his favorite patients meant a lot to us and reminded us that they are human beings too. Each time we visit we would try and do something whether through nice conversation or a small gift of appreciation (more magazines for the waiting room, etc.) to let them know we care about them and appreciate all that they have done or are trying to do for us. My wife reminded me that he referred to me as a patient as well and so did the PS. Yep, we’re in this together.