I met with my vascular surgeon yesterday (look in my nifty links to see his background) and I must say he was extremely thorough in telling me exactly what his role in my surgery is, what he is going to do and all of the myriad of complications that I could have (also how incredibly rare they are). I learned something new about the differences between arteries and veins. I didn’t know that veins were so much more delicate than arteries. He said that during surgery if he damaged an artery it could be sutured very easily because of the tough muscular-like structure of them. He said by contrast, if a vein needs repair “it’s like stitching 2 pieces of wet toilet paper together”. However he said that he is so careful he hasn’t had to stitch a vein because of his techniques to prevent it.
In 1500 procedures they have only had 1 fatality and that was from a pulmonary embolism or blood clot in the lung. This caused them to send every patient home with an injection kit of an anticoagulant called Desirudin that I will inject myself with once a day for 2 weeks after the surgery. The major complication that happens after these surgeries is DVT and Pulmonary Embolism. Both are blood clots, DVT is in the legs and PE is in the lungs. This injectable medication will prevent these for me. I probably won’t see him again, he will be doing about 5 surgeries that Friday so he will be going from one OR to the next without stopping. I felt very comfortable and confident in him.
There was one thing he told me that bothered me. Apparently I will have 2 incisions. One vertical incision about 4-5inches long to the left of my belly button and the other on my side horizontally. I wasn’t aware of this until yesterday and it hit me pretty hard. I don’t know why I thought they could get to both discs from 1 incision and for some reason I pictured it being horizontal so it would be invisible in a skin fold. I have been very lucky so far in my life and really don’t have any major scars so the idea of not just 1 but 2 fairly large scars is bothering me…… A LOT. I am crying on the inside thinking about it but am trying to maintain a strong exterior. I know that I have to have this surgery so I won’t have the pain anymore but I feel that these scars are disfiguring. He said “your bikini-wearing days will be over” and I wanted to cry, tears did well up. I told my boss about it this morning and she said “well who cares? You’re not 20 anyway” Wow that was a kick in the teeth, She also said “you should just get a tankini instead” I may be 46 but I have tried to stay in fairly good shape and quite honestly I do have a bikini and maybe I will just wear it anyway scars and all. I still have to look in the mirror at them everyday and believe me that thought scares me.
Here is an illustration of where my incisions will be according to the vascular surgeon. Tomorrow I meet with my orthopedic surgeon to finalize my surgery plan and he may tell me that they will be in different sites. I will let you know what he says.
***In the interest of full disclosure, I have had a very hard time quitting smoking, so today I am not going to buy another pack. Normally at lunch I would run to the store but today I will not. I hope……….although I admit that right now after writing all this, i really want one!