4/11/2007

Linda's story

Procedure for tram flap was performed following mastectomy.

Cancer came as a surprise to me. The same day my right breast was remove, Plastic Surgeon Dr. Brian West performed the reconstruction. It was an operation, I was told, had a low risk for infection--less than a one percent chance. The recovery time was expected to be three weeks then I'd go in for cancer treatment. I was told it was very important I had chemo and radiation.Weeks after my operation, instead of a healed wound, I was infected. My incision turned green, purple and black. Treatments continued; however, despite concerns by visiting nurses, nothing was done to determine the nature of my infections.Without anesthesia and without warning Dr. West took a scalpel to my sewed up incision and cut me open. You're coming apart. You're seeing parts of your body, you're not meant to see.I was left to heal but the infection kept growing, tunneling through my body into my new breast, and deep across my stomach. Then, instead of diagnosing the type of infection Dr. West turned hostile. He didn't want to deal with it; he would be very harsh when he would pull the sutures out. This went on for 5-months. My gaping wounds expanded to leave this massive hole in my stomach and breast. My decaying flesh and tissue made my house smell like death. I could smell it on the bandages. It smelt awful.

Depressed, feeling ignored, seeing my body waste away, I carried out a plan at my next doctor's appointment so Dr. West would listen. I grabbed his tie and he said, “What's the matter?” I said ‘I'm dying.’ And he said, “What do you want me to do?” And I said, “Put me in the hospital. I need to go in the hospital.” I was near death.

I was admitted, and that's when I found out the scope of the infection. It was so bad that I had to be given a blood transfusion. A test showed “hospital staph,” only (1) antibiotic registered effective for my infection. It took over 3 weeks in hospital and 6-8 weeks of a pump to cure the infections. While I was in the hospital Dr. West was shaky. One morning he seemed very hung-over and he smelled like he had a big night. I never questioned him.I eventually recovered. But remember that cancer treatment I desperately needed? When I had the infection, they couldn't do it. I needed to be healed so I could have the chemo or radiation. I would learn the cancer did spread. I was given two years to live. So far, I’ve beat the odds but I know it's just a matter of time. I was so angry to learn it had spread.I begged Dr. West to never allow anyone to suffer the same infection. I asked Dr. West to never let this happen again and to be more vigilant with infections. He said I was the only patient who had this problem. He promised me that he would never let that happen again. That was a promise Dr. West didn't keep.

I was Dr. West’s Humpty Dumpty.

When I take a shower I still fear my stomach is going to drop open.

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