What gets my goat? My hair. But since you all are sick to death of self-absorbed stories about my hair, I have decided to move on. Besides, this morning I cracked the code on styling exceptionally frizzy hair and transformed my Don King fro into a cute Hillary Clinton bob. Typically, looking like Hill is not a good thing, but it is a radical improvement over looking like Don. Even better news: Knowing how to do my hair is going to free me up--emotionally, spiritually, physically--and allow me to explore exciting new topics.
Old topic: my hair. New topic: my boobs, whoo hoo! I know, it sounds like a tired, old topic, even when packaged so smartly, but continue reading because you’ll see that I’ve got a whole new groove. A whole new boob groove. Honest.
Quick boob update: I had my reconstruction in July of this year. It was deeply disappointing and threw me into a total funk for about four months. Until today. This morning, I made an appointment to see Dr. Loren Eskenazi, the San Francisco plastic surgeon who co-authored “Reconstructing Aphrodite.” I came upon the book one night at the Community Breast Health Project in Palo Alto, where I went every other Wednesday night to write with a group of writers/survivors. I got there early one night and decided to look through the organization’s well-stocked library. I had done lots of online research looking for before/after photographs of women who had had reconstruction with implants, TRAM flap, DIEP flap, lattismus dorsi flap, and I found very little. So I looked on CBHP’s shelves for books on reconstruction. I found “Reconstructing Aphrodite,” and it was exactly what I needed.
The black and white photographs in the book were lovely. The women in the photographs obviously had been through a great deal, but there was something about each one of them that struck me: Each woman looked happy and whole . As I was a couple of months away from my own reconstruction, the photos in the book gave me a big shot of hope.
When I decided to get a 2nd reconstructive surgery, or at the very least to explore my options, I began asking other doctors for plastic surgeon referrals. Dr. Eskanazi’s name came up three times. I looked her up on the Web and was beyond thrilled to discover that she was one of the surgeons who helped create the Aphrodite book. My appointment is in less than two weeks.
I think it’s important to restate that while I am hopeful to be seeing someone of Dr. Eskanazi’s caliber, I am not looking for perfection. I’m not even hoping to look like I did before, which--and I say this with a lot of self love--was unspectacular, although I think the clinical term is unremarkable. I was on the phone one day with my friend Tori after my bilateral mastectomy. I was reading to her my pathology report, which was describing my removed breasts: …tan skin, unremarkable…nipples, unremarkable…. “Those certainly sound like your boobs,” she laughed.
I also understand the limitations of having had radiation. Radiated tissue is less flexible and resilient, which makes reconstruction much more difficult and limiting. In fact, implants can be tricky with radiated tissue. They tend to become encapsulated.
Expectations in check, what do I want? I believe I owe it to myself to look and feel as good as possible after breast cancer; to be able to look at my body and say, “I not only can live with this, I can be content with this.”
I'll report how the appointment goes. Until then, I feel like I've been given another shot of hope, and it feels good.
But, truth be told, it wasn’t just the phone call to Dr. Eskanazi today that lifted my mood. It was a phone call last night with Sam. I was talking to her about my hair and my boobs and abrupt-onset, chemo-induced menopause.
“It all just gets my goat,” I lamented. “But then again everything gets my goat these days. In fact, my goat has been gotten so many times that when I actually do get it back, it’s going to be one tiny, little goat.”
“I think it’s time to decide to be happy again,” Sam announced. “You went through a mastectomy, chemo, radiation, reconstruction, a new job, single-motherhood, a new relationship…and you made it through it all. You have what’s important: fabulous kids, good friends, a guy who’s crazy about you, a head full of bouncy curls and a clean bill of health. Ditch the goat, already.”
Sam’s right, little goat. I think it’s time, finally, to cut you loose. So, go! Run free! Oh, but, hey, before you leave completely, could you stop by the neighbors to munch on their meticulously manicured lawn? You know . . . the neighbors who catch their magnolia leaves before they can fall to the ground and sully their meticulously manicured lawn? The neighbors who tucked an “anonymous” note in my mailbox, telling me that I’d left my garbage cans out on the curb longer than they thought was appropriate? The neighbors who called the police for that same infraction while I was at chemo? Yes, those neighbors. Stop by there first, if you would. And, while you're at it, you might want to ask them if they could use an experienced goat.