Kevin and I took off early last Sunday morning for a long-awaited return trip back to Jamaica. We just love it there; we love the people, we love our resort, we love our time there. We can truly get away from everything and take a deep breath and relax. I was taking a respite from breast cancer and didn’t want to hear about it, deal with it, or think about it for 9 days….but there are a few blogs coming about that later. Interesting stuff!
During the landing process in Jamaica I had really sharp pains inside my left ear – which I have had before, but not every time I fly. The difference for this trip is that I also had severe pain in my left armpit and the side of my left breast. Horrible pain. We landed, got settled at the resort, and the pain in my breast did not go away. That night I was very uncomfortable and the next day my breast was beginning to swell. By the next day my breast was very swollen, hot to the touch, and turning deep purple near my mastectomy scar. The purple part wasn’t so big but was very scary looking. As the day went on, the swelling and purple part worsened. What in the world do you do in a foreign country with all of that happening? I was getting very nervous and compared to the other breast – it was freakishly hot. I wasn’t sure what do to – but I knew I had to get word to Dr. Appel. He is my breast reconstruction surgeon.
Dr. Appel, hands down, is the best surgeon and doctor I have ever had….and I have had quite a few over the years. I have had a bazillion surgeries: jaw surgery (3 times), back surgery, heart surgery, cosmetic breast implant surgery, a C-section, a partial hysterectomy, 2 DNCs – and this was all before being diagnosed with breast cancer. I have met a lot of doctors along my rocky path of medical issues and I really cannot convey how fabulous and caring Dr. Appel is.
So I facebook messaged Dr. Appel’s nurse and told her to please let Dr. Appel know that we have sent him a text (just in case he changed his number or something). I was debating about going to the nurse at the resort but I kept thinking “what can they do here?” and then I kept thinking “what if the swelling continues and the purple part keeps spreading?”….so I began to think it was an infection but I didn’t have a fever….hmmm…..so I was on my way to the nurse in the resort to have her check for a fever again so I would have that answer when Dr Appel texted me back. I was sitting in the nurse’s office and he texted me. He actually apologized for not texting back earlier that morning because he was in the OR. I wasn’t even thinking like that – I was relieved to see his name come across the phone and actually knew we were in contact. Dr. Appel asks the questions you would assume (fever? chills? Any infections lately? Etc) and I sent him a picture of what was going on. He immediately texts back and tells me to ask the nurse for one of three different antibiotics he recommends. The nurse goes over all of my details and then she tells me they have to call the doctor in for this. So I go back at 5 pm and meet with a very pleasant and very caring doctor. I show her the info from Dr. Appel; she examines me and is very surprised at the heat coming off of that breast. She asks lots of questions and she gives me one of the scripts Dr. Appel recommended. Then she tells me to check back in the next day.
So I ended up checking back in to the nurse’s office each day as they watched the progress of this breast issue. Dr. Appel’s nurse sends me another facebook message and sets up an appointment for today since we got back from Jamaica last night. So, Dr. Appel thinks I have capsular tear in the area around my implant. Could this happen from the pressure on a plane? He isn’t sure. He has seen three capsular tears so far and they have usually been the result of strenuous activity – and we all know I don’t have that in my life. He thinks I might have torn it the day before or that morning and the plane aggravated it. I just am not sure about that, my gut still thinks it happened during the plane landing – that’s how much pain I was in. I do know this has been very uncomfortable and very scary to have happen in a foreign country. I am so very very thankful that my surgeon gives out his cell phone number to his patients and he actually responds back to calls and messages. He is extremely busy with breast cancer reconstruction surgeries and yet, he takes the time to take care of me while I am on vacation. His staff is super supportive and I love them all. The city of Charlotte is very blessed to have this doctor taking care of so many women with breast cancer. So very blessed.
When we landed last night in Charlotte I was nervous but I didn’t have pain in my breast, armpit, or ear. Last night my breast was warm again – not matching the other one which always feels like an ice-cube, but today they were back to normal, in body temperature anyway. I go back in two weeks and in the meantime I watch for progress each day. If it worsens or stalls in changing for the better, I am to go back and see him right away. He says that capsular tears usually heal – so now we just wait…and watch…and hope and pray this heals. The thought of having my implant removed and starting this process over (which was my concern while I was in Jamaica since my breast was turning the color of a purple grape) is just too much for my mind to even comprehend, so when he told me today that they heal, I was very thankful. Who is lucky enough to have a doctor that takes care of his patients no matter where they are? I am – and so are a lot of my friends in Charlotte. I cannot tell you what relief I felt knowing Dr. Appel was on the other end of those texts and he was reachable when I needed him.
It’s always something – this time just a little plane drama.