Archive for November, 2011

Ada McEwan                                                                                            By A. McEwan

A Onset Still’s Disease, AOSD, Still’s disease aka my living hell… What is it, exactly? Stills is a very rare, systemic, inflammatory disorder. Doctors are very hesitant to diagnose a person because of its rarity and most will go through their medical careers and will not ever see a Still’s patient. Even then, they will test you for just about everything under the sun and it can take months, even years to be properly diagnosed. Still’s disease is technically a disease diagnosed by exclusion as there are no specific tests for Still’s disease, but most have high inflammatory markers like ESR, ferritin and high white blood cell counts. One out of every million people may be diagnosed but recent studies and surveys believe it is closer to .65% for every millionth person.

How does Still’s disease and its symptoms affect me and my daily life? This one is tough as it has touched every aspect of my life. Five years ago, I had a pretty successful career in management, and then I got sick, I had a sore throat for days, I was exhausted, I hurt everywhere, I felt like I had the flu but I blamed it on the stress of my job. Then I had a lymph node in my neck swell up and it didn’t go down despite treatment with antibiotics. My white blood cell count was still abnormally high and I was referred to a specialist who wanted to remove it and have it biopsied. Two days later, I went under the knife and waited impatiently for the results. It came back as lymph node hyperplasia, meaning that I had an abnormal amount of cells within the lymph node causing the swelling, but no real answer as the “what” caused it.

I went back to work, I tried to get back into the groove of supervising employees and pushing paperwork, but I still couldn’t seem to shake the exhaustion or the joint pain, I kept having these weird rashes that would pop out of nowhere, funky fevers that would have me running amuck, one day about an hour into my shift, I broke down, I couldn’t take it anymore. I decided to take my vacation and see if just resting and sleeping would help me get over the funk I was in. I went back to work and still yet these symptoms persisted and I desperately wanted them to go away. I went back to my doctor, who referred me to a pain specialist, she insisted I needed a rheumatologist consult so within a matter of days I had been tossed from one specialist to the next.

My first rheumatologist told me I had Fibromyalgia and Chronic Myofascial Pain Syndrome, I was so relieved to have a name for what I was feeling, and then maybe I could get my life back. Treatment consisted of trigger point injections, muscle relaxers, a medicine called gabapentin, narcotic painkillers. I was so hopeful that it would work. I gave it a few months, while the medication dulled the pain, it didn’t help the rashes and fevers or my fatigue and it was at a level that was unbearable. In desperation, I went back to my rheumatologist; I showed him the pictures of my rashes because they were so bizarre and always gone by the time I could get into his office. I was referred to yet some more doctors, infectious disease, internal medicine, heart specialist, endocrinologist, even a neurologist and I went through test after test after test.

The internal medicine doctor I seen was the most helpful, after some labs came back, she agreed that it could possibly be something other than Fibromyalgia or CMP. Then the great debate began, one wouldn’t agree with that because I didn’t present with this or that, the rheumy didn’t want to officially diagnose me because he personally had not seen my rashes even though I had shown him pictures, the internal medicine physician seen them. I had over 19 qualifying factors to officially diagnose me with Still’s and yet, they wouldn’t give it to me. On a routine lab, my already high white blood cell count had jumped even higher, and I was immediately admitted into the hospital and having a full oncology consultation. I needed to have a bone marrow biopsy to make sure I didn’t have leukemia, but I already knew it wasn’t, it was the Still’s. What was found in my biopsy that a childhood virus, Parvovirus B19 had mutated my cellular structure, which now is believed to have been a factor with me, coupled with the E-coli I was exposed to in our drinking water a month before my initial onset of Still’s disease.

After that stay in the hospital and the days, weeks, months following that, I decided to I needed to find a different specialist, one that would be with me on this journey, not one who refuses to see exactly what was in front of him. I had been in what some people call medical *Limboland* for about a year and a half by then. I was sick, I was tired, I was in so much pain, I was pissed at this “thing” that had taken over my body, I was done with medication, and I was done with doctors and their “expert” opinions. I was done with just about everything.

It took me six months to wean off all the medications that I was on and under the close supervision of my regular family physician. He understood my need and reasons to be pill free. I chose to do this to find out what actually helped and what didn’t and I did great for a long time. We also were still on the lookout for a new specialist and I was lucky when a conversation with my uncle who was a retired family practitioner mentioned one of his colleagues who was a clinical researcher as well as a rheumatologist. With one phone call, I was scheduled for a consultation, just like that!

I was heavily guarded and full of apprehension with that first appointment. I went armed with my medical records, labs, pictures of my rashes, charts depicting the regularity of the fevers, about two full pages of questions and rebuttals, if needed. My new rheumatologist was everything I could wish for in a specialist, we connected immediately and for the first time, I was seen as a person, and not the almighty dollar sign or a doctor who wanted to be known for diagnosing the girl with the mystery illness! We spent over two hours going over everything. He made it official, I had Still’s disease! I was relieved, I was happy and finally I was vindicated! The relief was immediate; the world felt right again, he restored my faith with the medical community. Now came the hard part, treating it.

Treatment consists of high dose steroids, anti-inflammatory drugs, disease modifying drugs that affect the inflammatory process, and in my case the chemo drug, methotrexate. Yep, I willingly ingested chemo in hopes it would get my life back. I had to stop treatment in July when I was hospitalized for a GI bleed caused from the prescription anti-inflammatory meds. I have yet to go back on treatment and at this point and to the dismay of my specialist, family and friends, I decided not to continue treatment. Treating or not treating Still’s is a personal decision and it was a decision not made lightly. I don’t miss being sick from all the medication, I don’t miss my life having to revolve around taking pills or feeling like I want to rip off heads with the steroids. Yes, my disease is very active and it may one day kill me but I live each day like it is my last and smile through all the pain. After all, pain is only subjective, right and I live my life on “my” terms and nobody else’s.

For more information on Ms.McEwan, go here.   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Raven-Hollow-Candles/156897001069974


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Happy week end everyone.  Happy Thanksgiving. I added nearly 2 pounds on me last Thursday. It was great being with family and friends.

Thank you all for coming by, participating and taking an interest in my blog, and my story. I am thankful to each and every one of you.  My last guest blogger,  Ressa Empbra was an enormous success. Ressa had more than 120 hits on her post. Hits continue still.  Part 2 of Ressa’s story about her plastic surgery nightmare was equally successful.  My next and last guest blogger will stay a surprise. She is a writer and artisan. Many of you who skulk about the groups I frequent will instantly know her. Here is a hint… Not only does she write, she creates.

As many of you know, my health has deteriorated these  past weeks, and the day to day effort to keep the guest blog and the week end update is to much for me. After Monday’s guest blog, there will only be me. I will chronicle the days preceding my entrance into the heart transplant program. I will also provide you with an up close and personal look at what it means to be in “advanced end stage heart failure”.  I hope the blog will be informative and entertaining.

The schedule will be:

Whenever I get the strength to post and if something interesting happens.

I encourage all of you to tune in and subscribe to the blog.  Participate too. Comment,  and if you like, ask questions as well. I will answer all questions.

Get to know my guest blogger better!  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Raven-Hollow-Candles/156897001069974

Give the gift of hope for the holidays. My book, “Death:Living To Talk About It” makes a great gift.  For excerpts, my bio and links to Amazon and Barnes and Noble along with other interesting stuff, check out my web site.  http://www.brianhayden.com/ My book is available in paperback, Kindle and Nook.

You may also go there directly here:   http://www.amazon.com/dp/1456060953/  While you are there, read the great reviews my book received.


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Happy Thanksgiving everyone. For me, this holiday season is different from the last few. Over past five or six years, holidays were met with trepidation. Will this be my last Thanksgiving? My last Christmas? We never really knew, and I was always thankful that I was able to experience another holiday with my family. 

Today I am sitting in my office, in front of my computer. I have my oxygen pumping oxygen into my nostrils. Also, new this year I have an inter-venous line hooked to a pump and feeding me medicine that helps my heart pump blood. My heart has never been in such poor condition.  My outlook for life has never been stronger. It is true that I am in, well…let’s just say I am out of time, and out of options. The road I must take to survive is that of transplant. But I needed to be in this condition before I could take this final journey. I am thankful that I am now in such poor health that my option for transplant is now available to me.

My life is fast becoming a life-size irony. I think I like that. This is the first holiday season that I meet with hope, not trepidation. As I greet each holiday, I will do so with the hope that it is one of many yet to come.  I will cherish each gathering as a gift. One of our traditions at Thanksgiving is to go around the table and say one thing to be thankful for. This year is easy. While I am always thankful for having Denise in my life, I am especially thankful this year. She is taking lessons on how to care for me from the home health nurse. She changes out the bags of medicine, and helps me in a hundred ways throughout the day and night. She is amazing and I hope all of you have found your own angels to be my your side this holiday season.

Our life on this earth is so short. One barely has time to realize it, and while your back is turned, you turn forty. Don’t blink. Fifty years of life have passed faster than you realize. I am closer to 58 than 57 now. Grown children, growing grandchildren. I am nowhere near ready to stop living. The road to transplant is a dead-end. It ends with my getting a new heart…That is all. No options. I will not discuss the alternative. Not yet.

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by Ressa Empbra

Please excuse me as I’ve left out a huge part of the problem here, and that due to a my advanced stage in my medical conditions, memory loss plays a huge role in everything I do, or don’t do…

Also, if you didn’t see it in the comments from last week, I even put the wrong decade in part 1! I’ve since fixed and double checked my dates and facts, so hopefully this time it is be correct.

Let’s rewind back to November 27, 1992 – my twenty-fourth birthday – I delivered auto parts for a living and was in a major auto-accident on my first run of the day. Over the next couple years I began to suffer headaches, lower back pain, just different pains in various part on my body.

My awesome Dr., at the time, diagnosed me with CMP – Chronic Myofascial Pain – which means the film holding your muscles together – much like the super-thin film on skinless chicken – takes on different forms such as; it gets harder, softer, can even liquify, etc., whenever it feels like it. In effect, that causes your muscles to shift, kind of like they’re fighting with your bones. It’s all hard to explain, but easy to Google or Bing, if you’d like to check them out.

About a year later, my same awesome Dr., diagnosed me with FMS – Fibromyalgia Syndrome – which is more of a muscular-skeletal condition. It wages war on your sensory nerve system, and, especially at night when you try to sleep, kicks your adrenal gland into overdrive. The powerful combination makes sleep almost impossible. And truly, for one who used to sleep like the dead, this really pisses me off.

I’m doing good to fall asleep at all. I’m doing great to sleep a full-three or so hours all at one time. If I sleep and someone wakes me up (usually for something stupid) I cannot go back to sleep. So yeah, I’m talking roughly two to four hours of broken, horrible sleep a night, maybe four or five nights a week. The remainder of the week? Nil. Nothing. Nada. No dice. No sleep for me.

Ever heard of The Princess and the Pea fairy tale? Well, that’s me. At least for the last several years, it has been. My skin is so hypersensitive, anything on it hurts, burns, and worse. I can’t wear regular clothing much or for very long, so at home, (where I spend the majority of my time) and much like a taco, I wrap myself into a small quilt my Mama handmade for my oldest son. Thank God he left it here when he moved out!

Any crease, bump, seam, just anything at all feels like it’s actually cutting into my skin, or feels like my skin is on fire, or both. I hate it, but so far I’ve found nothing for it; all-in-all, just another part of my awesome daily life! *smiles*

The relevance of that info? I’d already been living with those conditions for many years and they had rapidly progressed by the time we first met my surgeon. I gave him my complete medical history, along with a list and reasons for all the meds I take, and more, so he knew everything about me, medically. I would’ve been irresponsible not to. He noted it in my chart, and that was that.

Little did I know – again, all that hindsight stuff comes into play – people with my conditions, and others, should never, ever have these types of procedures done. Ever. He, as a renown surgeon, should have known this. Me? I didn’t consider that in my research, because all I’d ever seen were successful, happy-ending plastic surgery stories.

He took ‘before,’ pictures and I thought he’d take ‘after’ ones, too, but apparently they only do that for their successful outcomes. The cool, good, easy cases. I had many ‘after’ pictures which were taken at my home, and I gotta say they made me cry every time I saw them. It was a boon from God above when I lost them after one of my laptops crashed.

Okay, August of 2004, we scheduled my third surgery since January of 2004, this time to see about that second implant that still hadn’t ‘dropped.’ At least the pain wasn’t as bad when I came-to, because he’d shot me up with lots of numbing-juice while I was under. He only had to make two incisions this time, the same ones he’d made twice before when he had to cut me open from side to side at the base of each boob. Can you say ‘scar tissue?’ Well, I’m getting to that. Again.

Well, it dropped, and oh, boy did it ever! Then they both just kept going, down, and down, and down… Even though the surgeon did something while he was in there – he vaguely explained after I came-to – something about strengthening and securing my flesh, inside and out at the base of each boob. And this time, all-in-all, they weren’t horrible, per se, but they definitely weren’t the results I had so hoped and prayed for. Either way, I left them alone and went on my merry way in life…

About a year later, a friend of ours told us one of his daughters just graduated from a tech-trade school here, and would do in-home massages. OMG! That sounded like the best thing since peanut butter (not to be a cliché, I really, really love peanut butter).

After my thirty-minute slice of heaven, and in the privacy of my own home, I rolled onto my back while the girl washed her hands in my kitchen. Lying there, I glanced at my chest and thought, ‘Hmmm, that looks really weird. Oh!’ Then it hit me. My right boob was gone! That’s right, just gone. I must’ve looked like a real loon as I was frantically feeling myself up! I checked everywhere, including my armpit, my arms, my neck, my waist, my back, everywhere in my quest to locate my missing boob.

I’d always been happy with my decision to go with the saline implants. The surgeon had explained that if one were to rupture, the body would absorb the liquid, and they could simply go in and remove the empty, silicone-made shell. Easy-peasy, right? Sure…

We were not about to go back to SLC and that credible-second-generation surgeon. Hubby and I both felt he’d taken more than enough of our hard-earned money (all expenses to-date came close to twenty-thousand dollars). Besides, by now I’d been seeing and hearing that many locals were using our local surgeons, and their prices were finally more inline with the mainstream prices, such as the original price we were quoted in SLC. Timing is everything.

Next day, I called and scheduled an appointment with one of our local surgeons. I’d had more than enough and was sooo over the whole mess. By surgery number three, I’d already regretted ever even giving thought to my foolishness from January of 2004, not to mention, following through with that insanity…

We had one consultation, and it sure beat the crap out of driving four hours to SLC and four hours back. Then, I was scheduled to go back and just have both my implant and my empty implant shell removed. There was no reason and no way I would deal with the debacle any longer. Chalk it up to bad decisions, and lessons learned the hard way.

When Hubby took me in, I was promised to be knocked out and the surgeon would do as agreed; remove both banes of my existence. But, I was not knocked out, wasn’t even given a Valium. They did give me a few local shots to numb the incision under each boob. The same exact incisions that were now to be reopened for the forth time.

I got to lay there and hear and see everything. I remember turning my head to the side because the tears that couldn’t cease streaming from my eyes were pooling in my ears. And, having my arms restrained so I wouldn’t accidentally move and cause the surgeon to mess up, I was unable to wipe them away. I didn’t say a word, didn’t make any sound at all.

Once that procedure was complete, the surgeon told me he didn’t want to find out I had gone into a tailspin. It was obvious to everyone that I was an emotional mess. I berated myself then, for even thinking, then doing what I had done. I’ve beat myself up since then. As for that tailspin? Yeah, it came, and in true-to-me-form, I did it well.

I was depressed, not eating, not responding much – which for me is a biggie – for several days. Finally, after my Hubby, and all three of my kids had come upstairs to visit me in my bed, and speaking to my Mama, I realized I had to snap out of it and get back to the business of living. Loving. Being.

Moral of my story is; Stick with what God, your Mama, and your Dad gave you. If you really ‘need’ bigger, more plump boobs, do the less evasive procedure they didn’t have back then. Get some of your own body fat shot into your boobs. It’s all you, so your body will never reject it. And, ya never know; wherever they extract that fat from, it just may skinny-up the area, if you’re looking to do that. No recovery is just a bonus…

Alas, as the saying goes; ‘Everything happens for a reason,’ I guess was true, at least in my case. I began reading while recovering from my first surgery. What did I read? Twilight, of course. *smiles* I would never have become an avid reader, wouldn’t have even thought of writing, nor would I have met my many, supportive and wonderful fellow-readers and writers had I not gone through my personal plastic surgery nightmare.

I even wrote my first novel based on me. Well, kind of… It’s about me and my health situation, and being offered a ‘healing’ if I agree to time-travel to an another time and place, with a speaking-owl. Oh, and yes, the owl is based on a real owl who, along with his family, have taken up residence in ours, and neighboring trees over the last few years.

Point here is, my writing takes me away from my own painful existence, and brings me to my fantasy worlds where I create amazing characters who play out the stories in my head. So, as much as it is fiction, the beginning is true-to-life about me just with a different name. *smiles*

Still, those incisions at the base of my boobs still hurt every day. Had I only known that a body with something such as FMS would reject anything foreign, I wouldn’t have done it. And to think, it all started as a result of being bullied in the sixth grade, because Mother Nature decided to grace me, prematurely, with all my womanly-stuffs.

Thank you for your time, I hope my story will help even one person. And remember, timing really is everything.

Read more Ressa at Ressa’s blog  http://ressaempbra.wordpress.com/

Contact her on twitter too.  http://twitter.com/#!/@RessaEmpbra

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Happy week end everyone.  With Thanksgiving time just around the corner, I want to begin by wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving. There certainly is a lot to be thankful for this year. Thank you all for coming by, participating and taking an interest. May the  weather you are in put a smile on your face. Here in San Antonio, thee weather is perfect.  My last guest blogger,  Ressa Empbra was an enormous success. Ressa had more than 120 hits on her post. Hits continue still.  Part 2 of Ressa’s story about her plastic surgery nightmare will be posted on Monday. I know many of you are looking forward to reading the rest of the story.  As a reminder:  My guest bloggers will be published each Monday. That is if I can get enough people to contribute.

All of the guest blogs will be health related, as that is what I do. I felt the need to keep the guests in the same…genre, if you will.

The schedule will be:

Weekly Update Saturday’s

Guest Blog Monday’s

My blog Thursday’s

I encourage all of you to tune in and subscribe to the blog. There are some very interesting stories on the horizon.  CALL TO GUEST BLOGGERS. If you would like to write a guest blog, let me know.  Follow this link for the details.  http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=246784205353709   Participate too. Comment on them, and if you like, ask questions as well. I will answer all questions. I will do my best to get the guest blogger to answer  questions you may have for them.

Get to know Ressa Empbro better!   http://ressaempbra.wordpress.com/

Give the gift of hope for the holidays. My book, “Death:Living To Talk About It” makes a great gift.  For excerpts, my bio and links to Amazon and Barnes and Noble along with other interesting stuff, check out my web site.  http://www.brianhayden.com/

You may also go there directly here:   http://www.amazon.com/dp/1456060953/


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Early Monday morning, my wife Denise and I were preparing for the trip across town to the Methodist Heart Hospital. I needed to be there by 7 a.m. for a procedure called a right heart catherization. It is a procedure where they put a sheath into my neck, and advance several instruments. The instruments measure things like lung pressures, right heart pressures, cardiac out put and other things. The idea was to give the transplant doctor the missing pieces to my heart’s puzzle. We knew the left side of my heart was shot. Was the right side failing too? The day for us was planned. We would be there from about 7 am till 1 or 2 p..m. Then, we would go home and await the results.

As they went through the testing process I heard the team and the doctor talking. After all, they do this procedure without sedation. The doctor kept saying that they expected this. Cardiac out put was at 3 liters per minute. I asked them what is normal. They said my heart needed to be at 5 liters per minute. At 3, I get tired fast. I just can’t get enough blood to service my body.  The doctor told me they would leave the instruments in my heart and bring me to ICU for the next couple of days.   They would introduce a medicine called Milrinone Lactate. The stuff is very interesting.  Check out more about it here.   http://milrinone.com/       It is a class of inotropic drugs.  Basically, if your heart won’t pump enough blood to take care of you, the drug will help increase the blood flow.

As soon as I go to the ICU they started giving me the drug. Slowly at first. It is, for people like me a double edge sword. Good, in that it helps my heart pump, but bad too because just a bit too much can put me into a deadly V-Tac.

Almost as soon as the medicine started going in me the numbers monitored by the cath still in my heart began to improve.  By the end of Monday, the doctor declared that I am responsive to the medicine. He wants to put a P.I.C.C. line in me tomorrow. P.I.C.C. stands for “Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter.” They numbed up the inside of my upper arm between my elbow and my arm pit. Then they inserted the devise. Slowly moving it forward until the top three inches falls smoothly into the Vena Cava. The tip will release medicine directly into my heart.

Then I could be on the medicine until I get my new heart!!    Yes, you heard right.  My heart is officially messed up enough to qualify for a heart transplant. Now they still must make sure everything else is alright. They wouldn’t want to put a new heart in a guy that will die from something else in a year. I can’t blame them.   This process will take from three weeks to three months. If everything goes well, I will be on the transplant list by the end of the year. And if I am really lucky, perhaps I will get a call on my birthday to come get my new heart. We’ll just have to wait and see.

But having the Picc line isn’t easy. It requires an RN to visit me every other day. I also need a compound pharmacy to specially mix my blend of the drug. And then,, I need infusion pumps, tons of batteries, a journal, a special scale, a blood pressure monitor and a bunch of other things. I found out today that I am also getting a physical therapist come to the house to help me keep up some strength. In addition, it can not get wet, the medicine makes me feel poorly, I need help doing some of the most rudimentary daily activities, and sleeping with it is a bit tricky.

I am not complaining though. I am both thrilled and terrified at the same time. Thrilled at the prospect for finally maybe getting a new heart. Do I dare think for a minute what life could be after 60? Until now I didn’t dare. Terrified though at the prospect of having a heart transplant. Cutting your chest open and removing your heart!! Can you imagine? Life does not get much better, does it? As always, I will keep you posted. Oh, just wondering: as a sequel to the first book, how does “Road To Transplant” sound?


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by Ressa Empbra

Growing up, I was labeled with tacky nicknames like: ‘Big-T,’ ‘Boobs,’ ‘Stacks,’ (incase you don’t recognize that, it’s from a busty-blond on the 1970‘s TV show ‘BJ and the Bear,’) along with others I can’t recall now.

I ‘matured,’ at the ripe old age of eleven. Yep, got ‘Aunt Flow,’ big boobs – pretty much overnight – and all the unwanted, unwelcome stuff that came with it. Girls accused me of stuffing my bra, boys merely wanted, “Just a little peek? Please? We’ll make the rumors go away and they’ll stop picking on you.” As enticing as that sounded, at age eleven, I was adequately terrified to give anyone “just a little peak,” so I suffered.

The taunts, the physical abuse, the emotional and mental terror, it was more than any child should have to endure. And for what? Going through puberty early? Not my fault, but alas, there was nothing I could do to change the past.

Suffice to say, I changed…

We moved across town to live with and care for my elderly grandfather, and I got to attend a new school. This time, I lived life on my terms, nobody else would ever do that to me again.

I started smoking cigarettes, pot, drinking, doing other drugs, was rude and disruptive in class – when I went, that was – just your all-around, everyday rebel… But by now, I was a whole twelve years old, so I handled everything like a pro!

Fast forward four years, and enter my first born, my little girl. Born on November 11, 1985, I welcomed her into the world weighing in at a whopping five pounds, nine ounces. She was born with a low immune system, and now at almost twenty-six years old, still suffers those effects. From what? From me, at least partially.

To be somewhat fair, she was born two weeks late, and the Dr., said she lost some weight in the womb. Also, during my pregnancy I cut way back on smoking, and didn’t drink or do drugs anymore. My husband – who was a whole year and a half my senior – was a busboy at a nice restaurant, so we had to survive off his tips. We didn’t have much food, or anything else, for that matter. And, I was only sixteen years old. The fact that neither of us were really ‘big’ to begin with, lent to her small size, but I’ve always blamed myself.

But hey! My boobs were still big and my waist still small, so I was in good shape! Not that I dwelled on it then, I was and still am a very committed Mama, and honestly, I didn’t worry over things like that back then. I didn’t have time with a sick baby twenty-four-seven.

Moving on to February 23, 1990, I gave birth to my third and last baby. A bouncing-baby- boy, weighing in at eight pounds, six ounces. Guess I became a pro at having babies also. My middle child, my other son who was born August 11, 1988, came into the world at six pounds, twelve ounces.  

I was relieved that they got bigger and not smaller. Oh, and I was now twenty-one years old. Super mature! But, at least I was still committed and took care of my babies instead of pawning them off onto someone else like so many young moms do. I always played relatively well with responsibility…

After having my third baby, I had gained and held on to an extra thirty to forty pounds. Busy as I was raising babies, I didn’t have time to let that bother me. Not until they were all finally going to school all day, and I had alone time to reflect on ‘me.’ Not always a good thing…

I’ve always put my kids and family first, so I waited until my daughter was about to graduate high school before I made one of the biggest, costliest mistakes of my life. My boobs, my legacy, had fallen. They were still ‘there,’ but much lower than they should have been.

Thank God for the internet, nobody would ever lie on there, right? I did my research, checked out several ‘great surgeons,’ blah, blah, blah… Finally found one in Salt Lake City with an awesome reputation and excellent credentials. He was a second-generation plastic surgeon, so of course, he would be a perfect fit for me.

Geographically speaking, going to SLC was cheaper and they had more experienced surgeons than what we have where we live. Although our town is now considered a ‘city,’ and has gone crazy, not many people were having plastic surgery then, and those who did went elsewhere. The local surgeons were twice the price, so we went the SLC surgeon route.

I had plenty of support, even my kids urged me to “Do what makes you happy, Mama. You deserve it.” Hubby wasn’t for or against it, always reminding me that he loved me no matter what. Boy, hindsight really is twenty-twenty, isn’t it? Shoulda listened to him.

January 19, 1994, hubby drove us to SLC from Western Colorado, for my first surgery. It’s about a four-hour drive, and we’d already been a couple times for consultations and such, so at least we knew where to go. SLC is huge!

After checking into our hotel and getting settled, I had a light dinner as my surgery was an-all-clear early that next morning. We’d already picked out my implant size, and the procedure I would undergo.

My surgeon was to go in and make an ‘anchor’ incision on the lower half of my boobs; cutting my from side to side at the base of each one. Then, starting in the middle of that incision, he was to go straight up to the nipples. (Oh, forgot that fun little bit! I chose to have implants and a lift.) So, he was also to cut all the way around the nipples, removing them temporarily. After cutting away some extra flesh from the bottom of each boob, he was to reapply the nipples.

This would give the ‘affect’ that I didn’t sag anymore, when in reality, the nipples were just moved up, and excess skin had been removed.

When you get implants (mine were inserted through a tiny incision in each armpit) The surgeon makes a ‘pocket’ for them to ‘drop’ into. Usually, this takes a couple weeks or so. But for me? Never happened. I had boobs way up high, and they were rock-hard. This was due to my body healing too fast, which caused a bad case of ‘Capsular Contracture.’ (What the hell? You ask) Well, it’s when the body knows something is wrong, and creates a Band-Aid – of sorts – around the injured area. And-or; the body detects ward a foreign object that’s should not be on the inside of the body.

In my case it was both, and it happens more than people realize. There was now a thick layer of scar tissue completely encasing each implant, not allowing them to budge at all. The pressure was almost unbearable, and all of it was extremely painful.

Recovery time from my first surgery was over two weeks. One of my roughest parts – apart from the pain and pressure from the CC – was due to having over two-hundred internal stitches, and I don’t even know how many external ones. Hubby had to feed me, clean me, change my dressing all the time, and in general, do everything for me. He was amazing, and if he couldn’t care for me, my daughter would come over and do it. They were really great to me.

At this point, it had already cost us (including gas, hotels, food, meds, etc.), over twelve thousand dollars. Not counting at least three previous trips to SLC and home… After four months of calling, back-and-forth-emails (with an office/nurse assistant) sending pictures, etc., my surgeon told me to come back and he’d operate again. But he was ever-so-accommodating by saying he wouldn’t even charge me his surgeon’s fee. The only things we had to pay for – again – were the anesthesiologist, the facility fee (even though he owns the facility as it is literally next door to his office) and of course, the trip itself.

That May, we were in SLC. Again. My surgeon went in, cut out the excessive scar tissue, remade the ‘pockets,’ and closed me up again. Did I say how much it hurt the first time? Oh yeah, this was my ‘choice,’ almost forgot *smiles* so I guess I deserved the hell my life had turned into.

About two or three thousand more dollars into my ‘choice,’ I was super excited this time. It would work, it had to! Then, lo-and-behold, a couple weeks later one of my implants dropped! I felt it happen and was so happy, I couldn’t believe it was finally going my way! The other implant? No such luck…

That August, we were back in SLC, only no freebies this time. He went in, removed the implants, extracted a mass of new scar tissue, put in ‘new’ implants, (God forbid they clean up the old ones and reuse them!) and sewed me back up. Again.

Part 2 will post next Monday.

Read more Ressa at Ressa’s blog  http://ressaempbra.wordpress.com/

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