I indulged in “if-onlys” in the months after the nerve injury.
If only I hadn’t had the mastectomy, I would still have my arm.
If only I hadn’t had an implant put in, my arm wouldn’t have been positioned for 3 hours in a way that caused the brachial plexus injury.
If only I didn’t have the brachial plexus injury I would be able to get on with the rest of my cancer treatment.
Having taken the decision, after two years of pursuing complementary therapies, to go the allopathic, conventional route with surgery, what happened was a cosmic slap in the face.
My breast surgeon tried to jolly me up with his brand of British stiff-upper-lip positivity: “glass half full, glass half full.” But he wasn’tthe one who had to live with a paralysed arm. Imagine how he would feel if he lost the use of his arm and couldn’t practice surgery, or couldn’t play a round of his beloved golf. Would he be able to smile at me and say his glass was half full?
What happened shook my faith in the world as a beneficient. Someone commented that I was negative. I guess I was. My life up to that point, had been uneventful, even boring. Oh, I wished for my boring life again. Suddenly, I was plunged into some sort of nightmare, without the emotional resilience or skills to cope with such a setback. So yes, I apologise if I wasn’t jolly and positive and singing New Age affirmations. Because that’s not the way I am.
Before the mastectomy, I was the poster girl for dealing with cancer using complementary therapies. After the mastectomy, I couldn’t even look either camp in the face. I felt as if I’d failed by abandoning complementary therapies (“look what happens when you embrace the allopathic”), and going the conventional route.
And I didn’t have the faith that the allopathic camp have in conventional cancer treatment any more. If this very rare complication can happen to me, during what was fairly routine surgery, what next?