Early this year I met with my local GP after I noticed there was something different about me, or more specifically, my chest. I’m not entirely sure
how it came to my attention but I think it may have been after either my school friends or my parents saw me without a shirt on, and pointed it out.
I suppose at this point I should probably explain what it is that I’m talking about.
Pectus Excavatum is a chest wall deformity caused when the cartilage that connects the ribs to the sternum grows in the wrong direction, creating what
appears to be an almost comical hole in the chest. The odds of being born with this ‘problem’ are around 1 in 1000 and I’ve been told it is more
prevalent in men than women. PE is usually present at birth, but in my case it only developed as I went through the early stages of puberty; pictures
of myself as a kid clearly show me with what could be considered a normal chest, but now I have what seems to be a medium-extreme case of PE.
Now being different doesn’t really bother me, I’m already different from everyone else anyway, (for reasons I don’t really feel comfortable
going into on an open internet forum) and as for the few people who choose to make fun of me, I simply couldn’t care less. But when I go to the
beach or the pool or just get changed at school, there’s always a few people who can’t help but stare, and a few who ask the one question that
shouldn’t need to be asked; “what’s wrong with you?”. I’ve dealt with this for most of the year, a new person at school noticing it almost
weekly and apparently being amazed by my chest and I’m getting rather sick of it.
I’m sure most of you could understand my desire to ‘fix’ this by now, but this was not the reason I chose to undergo the procedure of having my
chest reconstructed. The reason I want it ‘fixed’ is mainly due to the medical issues related to this deformity. There is a long history of heart
problems in my family and I also suffer from Asthma which, according to the specialist I am seeing, may be relieved by undergoing the procedure.
‘May’ being the key word.
It is because of this that I have made my decision, though the social benefits are a bonus. I have two options now; The Nuss Procedure, or the Ravitch
technique, both of which result in significant pain. The first, the Nuss Procedure, is a minimally invasive surgery which entails two metal bars being
inserted into the chest cavity through small cuts in the sides, forcing the ‘hole’ out of my chest. These bars are usually taken out after 2-3
years, but I have been told they may be left in forever, as it does not particularly matter. According to the specialist I have seen (who has only
conducted the Ravitch technique) these bars provide the same amount of flexibility as the ribs themselves and do not inhibit movement at all. I am
seeing this man’s colleague early January, who will hopefully go into more detail, as this is the procedure I have chosen and you’ll understand
why in a minute.
The Ravitch technique is far more invasive. It involves cutting down the centre of the chest, and removing all the connecting cartilage to the
sternum, and lifting the sternum up, placing it on a metal bar and allowing the cartilage to grow back and attach to the sternum in the right
position, usually over a period of 6 months. Though both are apparently excruciating, and the Ravich is more effective, I prefer the first, as any
scarring will be on my sides, and thus less obvious.
The funny thing is, in spite of all the stories I’ve heard and videos I’ve watched of people being in really bad pain, that’s not what I’m
worried about. The worst thing about this for me is the idea of an epidural. The thought of anything going into my spine is terrifying for me but it
is necessary to cope with the pain.
I guess my point in posting this here is to make this my own little journal, and hopefully help anyone who feels uncomfortable about the way they
look. I’m eventually going to post ‘before and after’ photos here and any new information or developments that present themselves.
I’m not entirely sure why I decided to post this here, I suppose I just needed to get it off my chest. (Let the face-palms ensue
edit on 17/12/2010 by roswell1 because: (no reason given)
edit on 17/12/2010 by roswell1 because: shutup, that's why