I apologize for the blogging hiatus. I had surgery five weeks ago. I’m not sure there is ever really a good time to talk about things like this. People are curious as to how I’m doing so I think it’s worth some form of response or acknowledgement. I’m kind of beyond the awkwardness since many more people know about it than I had ever thought would. I went to a party a few weeks ago and a man I hadn’t seen in months was there. He made it a point to walk across the room and just stared at me. That’s when I realized more people knew than I was even aware of anymore. It just got to the point where talking about it was comfortable and I have already heard all the stupidity I thought was possible. This entire blog is about being real and having enough gumption to explain my stance so here goes.
So to cut to the chase- I had a breast reduction. My neck and back were continuing to hurt. I had lost weight but the “girls” were not going anywhere which has pretty much been the story of my life since 4th grade. Bras were $70 each and being shipped from Europe. I have divots in my shoulders from the weight on the bra straps. I am looking forward to returning to the chiropractor and getting my neck adjusted- but my shoulder blade pain is gone and I find it easier to sit up straight as my spine doesn’t seem to “catch” near the bra line anymore. It was to the point where I couldn’t make it through a dinner party much less run like I had wanted to so badly. Many ladies would love to have a C cup and that is what I am now still spilling out of after they removed four pounds off of my chest. I was spilling out of my newest 34 H cups prior to the surgery- That’s a D to the 7th power folks. If you took my measurements I was 32 inches under the breasts and 40+ over the bust line. Yes, it was covered by insurance. I have always struggled with store shopping- finding the right size of everything. I’m looking forward to lace- polka dots- well anything not beige, white or black with super wide shoulder straps. Most people don’t realize how large they were. I’ve been dressing in layers for years doing my best to hide this part of myself. I’m still having a hard time understanding that that’s not me anymore. I haven’t quite realized all the pieces yet.
I would say about 90% of the people who I spoke with said things like “How is John taking this?” “How does John feel?” “I’m worried about how this is going to effect John.” “Is John okay with you doing this?” “I feel sorry for John about you choosing to do this.” Yes, those are direct quotes. Many of these people asking about this before asking why…. Really? Once or twice I answered the questions, but eventually it got really OLD. Of course I checked with my husband- he’s known I’ve wanted to do this since before we got married. I was worried about how he would take it now that it was real, but I didn’t marry a jerk. He was scared mostly about the surgery and how I would react to general anesthesia. When the really rude comments came along he reassured me that I had his support and that I was to tell anyone who made such rude remarks that he was excited about this new perkier upgrade. His attitude has been hilarious and entertainingly fun. He’s cared for me so tenderly. The first week following surgery he hopped in the shower to wash my hair for me. He brushed my hair and helped me get dressed. He served me meals, opened and closed doors for me, and preset the coffee maker like a pro. He has helped run my business and taken time off to make sure things are running smooth on the home front as well. Mostly, he speaks of me with love and respect and it has been nothing short of amazing. This is what love looks like folks.
I stressed and stressed about how I was going to tell my children. I worried about effecting their self body image. This is plastic surgery and even though my children have nothing at this point they need to alter- I didn’t want them to start viewing themselves critically. I was walking on egg shells afraid to say what was really happening. I spoke with several people, but I went with the advice of the nurse of my surgeon. She said to tell them I was having surgery to help my back… which is true. I thought I would just hide the reality of the location for some time before I told them the actual truth. I was worried they would stress and not understand how the surgery would take place. So about a week before the surgery I was giving my daughter a bath and called in my son to have an important conversation. I told them, “I have something important to talk about. I’m going to have surgery. Do you know what surgery is?” My four year old daughter said, “Well, like when I cut my foot you’ll go in an ambulance and they will fix you.” My seven year old son interjected, “No, that’s not what happens. It’s when they go to the hospital but not in an ambulance all of the time.” I responded, “Right Alden. I won’t be going in an ambulance, but you’re correct Maggie. I will be going to the same hospital where they fixed your cut foot and they will be fixing me. They will be fixing my back and neck since it hurts so much.” Alden asks, “Will the surgery be on your back then?” I replied, “Well don’t stress about all of the details too much.” Maggie says, “Oh… so they are going to make your huge boobies smaller. They are very heavy.” Alden said excitedly, “Really! Mom is that what they are going to do?” I just kind of chuckled and confirmed it. All the stressing about their reaction to the wayside…. I went over the details of general anesthetic and how I couldn’t pick them up or lift things for a while. I explained that I was going to need a lot of help around the house. I asked if they had any questions about the surgery. Maggie asked when I could pick her up again- this seemed to be and has proved to be the hardest part for her. Alden wanted some clarification as to whether general anesthesia would put me to sleep like a dying pet- poor guy what a stressful thought to have. He asked me if there were any secrets I was keeping from him about the surgery and I said that there were a lot of details I was leaving out about how they would operate, but that I was being honest. His frank description of his fear that I was keeping this from him made me sad. They were satisfied with the conversation and didn’t say much after that about it. Children are amazing. Now Maggie asks why the “girls” don’t lay on my belly anymore and how they got all “stuck up” like that.
The people that are around us have been amazingly supportive. I have been blessed and continue to feel blessed by so many people. We’ve had so much help, but mostly by my father in law and his wife Ruth. I have so much to be thankful for this year. The list is endless truthfully, but for the first three weeks family and friends helped me run my business. Neighbors, coworkers, church congregants and many other friends and family helped transport my children to school, took my kids out on play dates, made three weeks of dinners for my family, took me to doctors appointments, checked on my well being and prayed for us. We are heading into the sixth week of people helping and it still simply amazes me the generosity of others and their desire to help us along the way. Who needs Christmas presents after the blessings our community have bestowed upon us?
The surgery itself took place at 7 am and lasted about 4 hours. As I said before, they removed not quite four pounds. I didn’t have liposuction or anything fancy done. I just wanted those puppies off of there. I had never had general anesthesia before and I was not sure what to expect so I was nervous. I was given fluids through the IV and the surgeon drew all over me and did measurements prior to going in the OR. My father in law (Bob), John, our pastor (Joe) and my mother were all there at the facility. Ruth was running the business and my kids were at school. While waiting for the surgery to begin John and I were getting nervous. When he gets nervous he jokes and tries to be funny and I pray- the combination doesn’t go well together. I eventually told him to shut it because I needed to pray. The nurse putting the IV in was asking a ton of chit-chatty questions and said I looked really nervous and I told her I was, but I was just trying to pray and I needed to not talk. She zipped up quick. I prayed for strength and a successful surgery experience. The surgeon drew all over my chest to make his incision lines. He was kind of awkward and cold in the office, but while prepping for surgery he was on it. I got the sense that the OR is his playground and he feels most confident and secure in that space. I gave John kisses and was wheeled down the hall to the OR. They told me they were giving me calming meds on the way there, but I was already calm since my prayer session. I remember a lot in the OR- I was awake longer than I had anticipated. It was weird listening to all the surgeons directives, but I was amazingly calm. I was amazed that prayer had brought me such calm and peace. I even asked the nurse what she had slipped in my IV to be sure she hadn’t given me a sedative and she said she hadn’t. I am so thankful for prayer.
I awoke about four hours later. I remember my eyes not really opening fully, but I was ready for a diet soda and some jello. I was really calm and out of it. My husband came in and I don’t really remember that. My pastor came in and I remember being clear thinking and I remember he prayed, but other than telling him a few people to contact for me I don’t remember a word he said. Bob came in- don’t remember that. Mom came in and all I remember is her helping me get dressed and us taking this lovely picture-
I was sent home shortly after I woke up and I had a few visitors throughout the rest of the day. I slept a lot over the next few days and watched a lot of tv. I watched the entire Once Upon a Time series on Netflix and caught up on the new shows on HULU. And White Collar… I had so much help and so much food. I tried to walk a lot and get out on my feet. I wasn’t on any pain medication other than over the counter stuff as I’m allergic to so many medications. The surgeon and I felt better just taking the usual tylenol and ibuprofen rotation. I wasn’t allowed to lift more than a fork or phone the first week, more than 5 lbs the second week, more than 10 lbs the third week, but was told I could walk all I wanted.I am still restricted to lifting and running. I was also on a cooking restriction and still restricted from cleaning much. I have been really tired and on top of this recovery I’ve been sick with two separate viruses. The first was a bout of bronchitis then followed by another evil evil cold. I’ve been miserable trying to get back on my feet from that. The not sleeping at night is exhausting in the days that followed. John was sick, our son was sick and our old dog Luke isn’t doing well. We are constantly putting out fires around here.
I am five weeks post op. I’ve put on a few pounds from the delicious food provided by our generous friends and followed by Thanksgiving. It didn’t help with my restriction from activity either. It’s okay really with being sick too it is hardly something to stress over at the moment. I will be off all of my restrictions on Christmas day. After that, I can begin running again! I can’t wait to go see the chiropractor and get my neck adjusted. I’ve been sleeping so weird with this recovery and cold. The hardest part is not cleaning or cooking full time and yet my arms have been so sore. It was the under arm muscles- triceps or something that connects to the chest. I feel like such a sissy. Lifting all of these kids all day normally and now nothing… I am used to lifting 20 to 50 lbs multiple times a day. My walking is very slow, but has been improving with time. Recovery on the incisions has been great. There were a couple of rough patches, but they have all healed up now. I’m having trouble getting ready for Christmas so I’ve pretty much decided that it will be more simple than ever before. Many people are getting a bottle of wine with a bow on top and for many years I have sent Christmas cards with the kids on them and we’re not in a position to do that right now. Sorry folks who tell me they have collected all of them over the last eight years!
I went to a dinner party back in the fall and sat at a table at my pastor’s house. Before the dinner was over, my shoulder blades ached and my spine, right at the bra line, was aching. My neck was tense and driving me crazy the following day. I went to our pastor’s house last week. I sat at the same table for almost just as long and I left without hurting that night. I used my sewing machine the same day and wasn’t aching with pain afterwards from leaning over driving the fabric under the needle. I’m starting to recognize things are improved. I’m really looking forward to that run- anticipation! I am also looking forward to gardening and cultivating the front yard, playing puzzles, sewing, and painting. All of these hobbies I haven’t gotten to do much of over the last few years as I’ve gotten used to not being able to doing them. I had gotten so used to not doing it I had forgotten why I wasn’t doing them.
Some of my favorite conversations and statements over the last few months-
“How do you feel now that the weight has been lifted off your shoulders?”
“May your boobs never reach the door before you again!”
“Now you can shop at Victoria Secret- How exciting!”
“Wow- you have ribs!”
“I was worried they’d look too small, but you just look like a proportionate person now.”
“You mean they took four pounds off and you’re bigger than I was even during all of my pregnancies? You suck.”
“Okay, can I just look at them and get it over with? (Me opening my hoodie and saying sure get it over with) Oh- wow. That IS way more proportionate.”
“Are you huggable yet?” My response- Absolutely- just no chest bumps!
“You carried that burden around for so long and now you just sit up straighter.”
“I must apologize. I hope it hasn’t bothered you, but I haven’t looked you in the eyes for months. Crap- I’m still not even now.”
“Are you feeling perkier now after surgery?”
So I don’t have a lot of pictures of myself showing what I looked like before the surgery- Most photos are blocked by a child or a handbag. It is in very rare photos that you can see what I really looked like. They are truly hard to find- I think my body image was so bad I probably cropped or deleted them over the years. I wish that I had taken more photos for comparison, but alas I didn’t. I’ve been asked just about everything at this point. I know I didn’t really write about the actual surgery itself, the logistics and the anatomy of it, but feel free to do your own research on that. Make sure if you get a chance you take the time to tell my husband how awesome he is, because he deserves it.
Someone once said to me- “You are so brave. When you left your job and started your own business. I thought you were crazy, but really you’re just brave. Then your blog and how open and honest you are…. you are just brave.” Several months later the same person said- “This surgery just further says you are more brave than I even thought you were.”