4 weeks till top surgery

About 10 days ago, my breast tissue started to feel inflamed and tender.  It wasn’t in line with my menstrual cycle, and it hurt way more than that would, anyway.  As it got worse and not better, I wondered if it was some strange manifestation of a psychological reaction to my upcoming surgery.  I wasn’t feeling stressed or anxious about it, but was this psychosomatic?  Then a patch of skin below my left armpit started to really burn and sting, as well as the skin around my shoulder blade.

Then 3 days ago, I broke out into a rash in those areas… and my boooobs still hurt a lot.  I was able to get in to see my doctor yesterday, and… it’s shingles.  She said that would also be causing the breast tenderness, because of where it is.  Shingles flare up along a line of nerves starting at your spinal cord, and wrapping around to the front of your body – so that you only get it on one side, within a range of area.  It’s like chicken pox, redux.  Everyone I’ve mentioned this to says, “You’re too young to get shingles!”  All I know about it really is that Carrie Brownstein got shingles while on tour (from reading her memoir, Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl,) so I guess I’m in good company.

I got 2 prescriptions to help with the pain and the duration.  We’ll see – it should start clearing up within a week…  I’ll be going back in 2 weeks for my doctor to take a look.  If this had happened close enough to my surgery, it would have had to have been postponed.  That would have made me really upset!  According to this timeline, I should be OK.  It’s just so mind bogglingly coincidental that this suuuper painful inflamation occurred right in the area I’ll be having surgery. I’ll let you know which ends up being more painful – this or surgery!

Other than that, I feel relatively prepared.  I just had my pre-op appointment via phone call a week ago, and that has put things into motion for getting everything ready.  I got a huge packet in the mail of things to sign (informed consent), directions for when to do what, etc.  I made a checklist to make it easier.

Pay surgeon – I still have to do this.  I exhausted all info about my insurance plan, and there is no way insurance would pay for any of it.  I expected as much all along, so, no big blow there…

Get parking permit – In process.  My spouse and I will be in Ardmore, PA for close to 48 hours, and we need a temporary parking permit to park in the municipal lots.

Get therapist letter – In process.  My therapist just sent me her draft last night, and it looked good to me, so she should be faxing it at some point today.

Get prescriptions filled – Done.  This could be done well in advance, so your meds are ready for you when you need them.  I needed to get a pain med and an antibiotic.

Get lab work – Done.  I did it yesterday  morning.

Go through a pre-op appt. with primary care physician – Done.  I did it yesterday morning.  I killed 2 birds with one stone – this plus shingles diagnosis all in one.  She will be filling out a form to clear me, despite the shingles, and faxing it in.

Send in consent forms and everything else that needs a signature by me – I gotta get this together.  I think I need to re-print certain pages and figure out what I still need to read through.

Take photos of chest – I did this for the surgeon already, but I might want to re-do it.  Not while I have these shingles though!

I feel ready for surgery, mentally.  Emotionally, I’m wondering if something is going on (shingles are brought on by stress, which I’m not actually feeling).  I set up an appointment to see my therapist (who I haven’t been seeing lately), just to cover all my bases.  It can’t hurt!

24 Comments on “4 weeks till top surgery”

  1. Ouch! I hope it clears quickly. Melissa and I are only about an hour south of Ardmore, so if you find yourselves in a pinch or need anything, please reach out and we’ll do what we can.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is going to sound morbid, but do the paperwork for health care proxy and a simple will if you don’t have one already in place.


  3. I got a case of shingles in my 30’s. It was way more painful than the surgery!!! U r almost there.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hart says:

    I got shingles in my early twenties, and the docs had no clue why. I still have phantom pain ocassionally in the spot where they were. Speedy healing!


  5. That sucks. My wife got shingles in her early 30s, so I don’t age has anything to do with it. Have you looked at how the Affordable Care Act affects your insurance policy? It’s my understanding that insurance companies can no longer legally deny transition related health care. A friend of mine went through the same thing with her insurance company for bottom surgery, and after telling them over and over that they legally have to cover it, they did. Anyway, I hope you feel better!


    • janitorqueer says:

      The consensus seems to be it’s more common in older folks – people over 50, but not uncommon in people in their 20s and 30s too… That’s amazing that your friend got coverage! I’d looked into it and it seems like there’s a lot of contradictory information, gov’t vs. private health care, etc. I think private insurers will slowly get on board, but as of now, my insurance provides no exclusions for transgender surgeries. There’s no way to build a case about the medical necessity of it, no way to appeal… I guess theoretically I could fight for it and be a trailblazer, but I’m not sure it would be worthwhile at this time…
      Thanks for the information though!


      • If you do choose to fight it you need to cite the parody law which is the law that is supposed to make insurance companies cover mental health issues the same as physical. One could argue trans issues are physical of course but until it’s out of the DSM entirely were are stuck. At any rate I have heard a few cases where it was covered when pushed in this way. Still a fight and a lot of paperwork.


      • Have you looked at any of the LGBT activist organizations? Someone from Denver came down and put on this big informational presentation for this trans group here, and they offered legal assistance for people denied and everything, so maybe there is an activist group like that near you that could help?


      • Here’s the website from the group that spoke to us, maybe it has some helpful stuff or they can link you to a sister organization in your state:



  6. Amy says:

    woah, shingles!! hope it clears up soon. i’m impressed with how well prepared you are for your surgery! I always have a hard time motivating myself to do grown-up stuff like that. 😛


  7. Kris says:

    Take care of yourself, Kameron.


  8. witlessX says:

    I hope yer surgery goes well and fits you well, and that any residual pain or sensitivity loss are minimal and unconcerning! One of my sisters is recovering very well after her breast reduction a bunch of months ago. She discovered that folks tend to not talk about the negative side effects of the procedure. For most folks – anecdotally speaking by the nurse at a follow up visit that is – the improvement in quality of life outweighs the loss of sensitivity. However, for some folks, that could be a deal breaker. She is not happy about what might be a complete loss of sensation in one nipple and partial loss under her breasts. But, on balance she’s confident she made the right call.

    I haven’t posted about it yet, but I also had a surgery, two weeks ago! bilateral orchiectomy. Woohoo! Bye bye boys, let the door hit you in the ass on the way out! *smiles* I am very very very happy.

    Good luck! be safe be well…


  9. Jamie Ray says:

    Hope the shingles clears up, and that your top surgery goes smoothly. I ultimately ended up paying out of pocket also – I was going to go through the appeals process and then Donna went in for her heart valve replacement and I dropped the paperwork because I didn’t have the psychic energy to go through with the appeal (although politically I thought fighting was the right thing to do).
    In NY State your insurance really should cover it – they are required to – but you have to decide if the fight would be a good/satisfying thing for you to do, or a debilitating thing to go through. Either way, I hope you are happy with the results.

    Liked by 1 person

    • janitorqueer says:

      Thank you! I hope they clear up without scarring – I have a friend who works for a laser company. She was able to borrow one for the weekend, and she lasered the area last night and I’m going to do another one today! I heard that should help although I don’t know anything about it.

      And yeah, I’m thinking I will contact my local gay alliance and see whether they can help me with the insurance process…


  10. Lesboi says:

    Good luck with your surgery and I hope the shingles clear up quickly and painlessly.


  11. Yikes! I had shingles at 39 :(. You can’t get them unless you’re run down so I would recommend doing every thing you can look after your immune system leading up to your surgery. Best wishes Kameron.


    • janitorqueer says:

      thanks so much! Yeah, I’ve been taking lots of precautionary measures – sleeping lots, going to a chiropractor, getting in to see my therapist, getting a laser treatment, taking prescription meds for shingles, applying an ointment to help with healing…


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