Saturday, July 23, 2011

Under the Knife

A year ago today, I went under the knife.  I did not go under the knife for cosmetic reasons but for a more frightening reason a lung mass.  In March 2010, I went to the emergency room for abdominal pain.  Although the pain went away, the CT scan revealed abnormalities to my lung.  I was to follow up with my doctor and have a full chest CT scan.  I met with my doctor who assured me that it was probably nothing, but ordered the chest CT scan nonetheless.  This CT scan revealed the same lung abnormalities and a mass about the size of a fifty-cent piece in my lung.  I’ll be honest I was scared.  I thought the worst thing immediately – Cancer.  I kept envisioning myself dying and leaving my husband all alone.

I made an appointment with a pulmonologist at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida.  I was happy that such a great hospital was located in my town.  I met with the pulmonologist who assured me it was not cancer, but probably something fungal since I have had bronchitis and pneumonia several time throughout my life.  He scheduled a bronchoscope the next day. 

The bronchoscope procedure was not too bad.  They numbed my throat and stuck a tube down it with a camera to view the mass and take a biopsy.  During the procedure the mass appeared to be surrounded by inflamed blood vessels so they could not take a biopsy.  Instead they swabbed the mass and waited for cultures to grow.

I had to wait several months before learning that the results were inconclusive.  This left me with several options.  I met with an infectious disease specialist the Doctor House of Mayo Clinic and the pulmonologist.  Their thoughts were to wait and see if the mass grew or meet with a cardiothoracic surgeon to have a lung biopsy.  J and I decided we would meet with the surgeon and make a decision after that.  After meeting with Dr. Richard Agnew, we decided that the surgery was the best option.  We would learn what the mass was and I would not be so stressed any more.  There was still a concern with the surgery 1) it was surgery which brings a lot of risk and 2) I could lose a portion or my entire right lung depending on the type of mass. 

On the day of the surgery, July 23, 2010 my husband, mom, dad, step mom, and aunt arrived at Mayo Clinic for the surgery.  The nurse took me back for the surgery prep alone.  As I sat waiting for the iv and epidural, I started to get scared.  What if I didn’t make it out of the surgery?  Had I said my proper goodbyes?  Was I happy with my life? 

Luckily, I made it out of the surgery just fine (I guess you realized that).  The mass was removed and I got to keep my entire lung!  That was a shocker.  I was diagnosed with arteriovenous malformation (AV Malformation).  Basically it means that my veins and arteries do not communicate correctly and pump too much blood thus forming the mass.  I spent 6 days in the hospital recovering and another month and half really healing. 

I was left with a 7-inch scar on my back and a scar on my stomach from the chest tube.  I use to be the girl who got bronchitis 3 or 4 times a year and this year I never got it.  I am the healthiest I have ever been. 

One thing that took a long thing to get use to was the scar on my back.  I avoided halter dresses; open back tops, and was really self-conscious on the beach.  I was worried what people would think when they saw the scar.  It has taken me a year to fully embrace the scar. 

We all have things about our body that we hate.  It used to be my nose and thighs and then became the scar.  But without these things I would not be who I am.  If there is something you don’t like about yourself remember without that item you wouldn’t be who you are today. 

After a year of being under the knife, I am fully embracing my scar. 

Cobalt Blue Halter Dress - J.Crew Outlet (not available online) - Similar Item
Open Toe Beige Pumps - Liz Claiborne (not available online) - Similar Item
Silver Earrings - Forever 21 (not available online) - Similar Item

I hope you embrace who you are even if you think something is a flaw it makes you who you are. 


J9 said...

What a great post! What you went through sounds so scary and you handled it so well. Congrats on being healthy for 1 year!

LV said...

I was touched by this post. I know exactly how it feels to go through something like that. I blogged about my experience with a Leukemia diagnosis a while back. I love the blue dress. Gorgeous! You are very brave and resilient. Here's to you Doll!!!!!

Amber from Real Girl Glam said...

Thank you for sharing your story! SO glad to hear it was nothing serious. You are brave to embrace something you didn't like about yourself. Blogging (basically taking pics ALL THE TIME of myself) has really made me more self-conscious of things I don't like about my looks. But like you said, they are what makes me, me. So I'm trying to embrace them. Glad to see you are doing just that!! :)

Fashion By Alicia said...

Thank you all for the wonderful comments!

I am so glad everyone was supportive of the post.

Lia said...

Thank you so much for sharing such a personal story, Alicia. I know this took a great amount of courage, and I've got tears in my eyes still. Please embrace your beautiful scar; it's a huge part of YOU and YOUR life!

Alyson said...

Wow, so glad you shared Alicia. What I think is so interesting -- and why I do the Pour Your Heart Out posts like this -- is that so many of us, myself included, battle major issues on a daily basis yet we never talk about them. I love knowing more about you and think it's awesome you chose to share this with us. Rock that halter dress, hot stuff (and so glad you're healthier than ever)! xo

Fashion By Alicia said...

Thanks Lia and Alyson! You both are so sweet.

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