Sharlene from Orlando, Florida
DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction
To all the ladies beginning their journey, I wish you the easy path and trust that you have been fortunate enough to land in the office of a group of professionals at PRMA Plastic Surgery. From the receptionist to the doctor, I truly was in a place of safety and caring; something I had not experienced ever before.
My journey is a long one beginning way back in 2005 when I was diagnosed with a disease called Acromegaly. Since then, my life has been one of constant doctor visits, fighting for medicine the insurance does not cover, and just a complete nightmare. I was able to work two jobs about 70 hours a week and finally our last chick left the nest and financially was just beginning to breathe.
After a long battle with a blood clot in my leg, I decided it was time to do the annual woman stuff.
This was December 2015 and I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It did not come as a surprise as it was only a matter of time before it came out somewhere else because after all - this was my third round with the beast.
I live in Orlando, Florida and went to a surgeon that came highly recommended. I was not willing or prepared to do chemotherapy or radiation at any cost as I have too many unknowns in my body from the disease I have because very little is known about it. The surgeon agreed to do the mastectomy I opted to remove both breasts. I was not going to do this journey twice.
I had my mastectomy February 2016 and with three months sick leave in my pocket figured I would be fine. I worked for the school and I would have the summer to heal from implant exchange which was done July 2016.
My nightmare had just begun right after surgery I was in agonizing pain. Each time I returned I was told to come back in three months. Well, at the nine month mark I could not continue and had to apply for an unpaid year of medical leave, and lost my benefits of 15 years
I then decided I had to do something. My sanity was slipping away each day. I researched and after many hours on the phone and over a period of months saw six different plastic surgeons. “You look fine with a t-shirt on. What’s the problem?” they would say. “I don't see the point of exchanging implants, they look fine.” The blobs on my chest were fine, but the pain that was slowly stealing my sanity. I cannot tell you how I made it home I cried the entire way after the final plastic surgery visit.
Finally, through an online support group I noticed the acknowledgement of woman dressed in pink cap and gowns and thought how touching.
YES!!! It was PRMA and it was 2AM. As usual I could not sleep, so I figured I would send them a text and get a reply in the morning. NO - I received a reply instantly. True to their word I received a call the minute their office opened and from there on I knew that I had finally found a group of TRUE PROFESSIONALS.
After collecting my medical records I was informed Dr. Ochoa was prepared to take on my case, however with all the stress I know had diabetes and heart issues which needed to be stabilized before he could do anything. I received a call personally from Dr. Ochoa explaining the procedure he intended to do which he believed would relieve the pain. In all the years of dealing with health issues I had never received a call from a doctor and never mind one who had studied my medical records.
I got my health where I was instructed to be able to go for surgery, but due to loss of my job and disability that did not even pay for medicine, I spent many, many hours researching agencies, charities and anywhere I could get assistance as I had to stay in San Antonio Texas for surgery.
I was blessed by total strangers opening letters with money, with just a note sending kindness and now I wish I could list all the organizations that helped me. I am forever grateful. I was even able to get a flight through Mercy Flight for myself and my husband.
With the final days drawing near we still needed to cover two weeks of accommodation and again we were blessed by total strangers who had done a collection at my husband’s work which was just enough to lift the burden off our shoulders. We could head for surgery and focus on the healing and not the stress.
On meeting the staff at PRMA I felt like I had known them forever. Each and everyone went above and beyond to make the process as smooth as possible. Never have I been in a doctor’s office where so much kindness, efficiency and care was given.
In August I met Dr. Ochoa and my mind was at peace. I was meant to get to this place where there was care and hope for relief from the agonizing pain I had endured for a whole year after not one of the six doctors I had seen previously were interested in helping.
The surgery was a great success! The pain I had lived with for so long is gone. I still have pain, but it is different each day as the healing takes place.
Thank you does not begin to say how grateful I am for having the honor of working with PRMA. They are SURGICAL SPECIALISTS! I constantly tell patients on the support groups of my experience and encourage them to be their own ADVOCATES. Please do your homework and research. Be comfortable that your doctor has the experience and qualifications to do your surgery, and if you aren’t comfortable ask for education.
My experience with PRMA was truly a gift and made my revision surgery a breeze. I wished I lived closer and could be involved in their program outreach. To ALL THE STAFF, ESPECIALLY DR. OCHOA, I AM FOREVER GRATEFUL.
From a Tired Pink Warrior who now has hope and a future.