Wednesday, February 6, 2008

It's a rebuilding year.

Don't you just love when coaches use that euphemism? They could just as easily say, "We're gonna' get clobbered this year because we lost our star quarterback and every other starting player on the team." I prefer the hope and humility that come with the phrase "rebuilding year."

That's how I feel right now about my body. My cancer is in remission, but it's going to take some time to get back into shape. In spite of my grand efforts to stay fit, I've lost muscle tone. And, as you know, I'm underweight. My body mass index (BMI) of 16.8 puts me into the same category as an anorexic. But, so far, gaining weight has proven challenging. (Who said you can't be too rich or too thin?)

Most troubling is the continuing "slack skin" under my arms, on my back and upper legs. Every month, my crepe paper skin becomes more crinkly and grotesque. Ever since I found out that it's not a T-cell lymphoma, I've been in search of an explanation and a solution, but I've found none.

In September, I saw Dr. Sasaki, a plastic surgeon who makes the beautiful people of Pasadena even more beautiful. He recommended a non-invasive process called Thermage.

Today I met with my Pasadena dermotologist to see if she had any further explanations or recommendations. She saw me in August, but practically gasped when she saw my current condition, which she describes as "dramatic." Unfortunately, she, like Dr. Chang, had no explanation or solution. Her physician's assistant, who used to work with Dr. Sasaki, said that I was way past the point when Thermage could be effective. (The good news is that I just saved $10,000. The bad news is that I have no other treatment options.)

I agreed to let my doctor play "show and tell" with me by participating in the Dermatology Grand Rounds at the USC Keck School of Medicine in March. Local dermatologists bring in their "special diagnostic or therapeutic challenges" during the rounds. A panel of residents and full-time faculty members will examine our baffling conditions. Then the doctors will meet for "a didactic lecture and case discussions." It's the medical world's answer to "What's My Line?"

Other than the humiliation of participating in what could be a "dermatology freak show" and exposing the most hated parts of my body to a group of stranger doctors, I have nothing to lose. After all, it's a rebuilding year.


Karen said...

Let the rebuilding begin! :-)

Susan, you're a brave woman to participate in the medical rounds. All for science, I say!

Susan Carrier said...

Yea - nothing like being a guinea pig.

Anonymous said...

Have you visited any "alternative" medical consultants? It sounds like something for which one of those types might have some guesses. I've recently learned the bizarre forms some allergies can choose to manifest in and heard about obscure nutrient deficiencies that can stump traditional MDs. Perhaps a whole new set of fodder for blogging can emerge. - Abby

Lilli said...

I have no doubt that the slack skin is both irritating and troubling, and I don't mean to belittle your concerns. But, honestly, you look beautiful to me. Thin, yes. And I'm sure that will change. But still beautiful neverthless.