In the book I talk about an incident that happened while I was being prepped for my top surgery. The nurse who was going over my chart said to me, “You’re here for a double mastectomy and”—waving her hand over the paperwork—“all that other stuff.” I surprised even myself by stating quite matter of factly, “Okay, I want to be absolutely clear that I am getting male chest reconstruction.” Do not let them get away with being vague. Speak up if you have to. You’re going under, and you want to know beyond a doubt that everyone involved is on the same page. Though nice enough, this nurse was obviously uncomfortable to the point she couldn’t verbalize my procedure. That is not okay. I have tried hard to teach diversity in hospitals, and occurrences like these are inexcusable. They can really shake a patient’s confidence.
My friend Lee reported that, “I was fine with the procedure itself it was just that right before surgery was the time he [the surgeon] said “oh by the way it won’t get rid of this” and I was a bit to groggy to actually talk about it. “This” turned out to be a pocket under each armpit of basically fat, since I was overweight at the time, so instead of ending up with the classic “man boobs” I ended up with a very flat chest and then the two dangling pockets of extra weight under my arms. So, had I known I might have asked him about lypo or something like it to just correct it.” This surgeon was talking about what is commonly referred to as “dog ears,” and this should have been discussed way before the day of surgery.
On the day of surgery, be sure everyone is on the same page, make them say it. You can say “halt” if you are not 100% comfortable and say you need a minute or you want to talk to your support person. Get clarification on anything that doesn’t sound or feel right.
Do you have any stories of episodes like this that happened on your day of top surgery? Please share!