Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The truth about it all~

This is a post to share the details of my decision to have breast reduction surgery.  I have written it in response to the multiple private FB and e mail messages I have recieved from women with questions about my decision and my experience so far.
You can probably imagine that telling people you're having a breast reduction is, well, awkward.  I felt it easiest just to put it out there.  After all, leaving in a HH bra and returning in a C cup is bound to be noticed. And certainly, I did not want folks to draw the conclusion that I was unwell.  Immediately following my October consultation, I started sharing my decision.  Everyone was kind and encouraging.  Not surprisingly, there were a few people that couldn't understand  why in the world I would want smaller breasts.  After all, large breasts are the cultural standard of beauty and sexiness, right?  Some even went so far as to warn me not to go "too small."
For those of you considering this surgery or just curious about my decision, allow me to share a little insight. 
Large breasts are heavy.  I don't know the final numbers of my surgery but the expectation pre surgery was a minimum of three-four pounds of tissue was to be removed from each breast.  If this doesn't seem significant, a gallon of milk weighs about eight pounds.  Carry a gallon of milk with you 24 hours a day and let me know when it gets tiresome.  For me, thirty years was the moment when I was ready to put that gallon of milk down. 
Large breasts cause physical issues.  I had a constant back ache in my mid back, between my shoulder blades.  If I had a particularly tiring day, I would put three pillows on my bed and lie on my back with my head hanging down to realign my spine and relieve the pain of the forward arching pressure.  I have "trenches" in both of my shoulders from bra straps that may never go away entirely.  Even drawing a deep breath was difficult.
Large breasts can cause skin issues.  Regardless of your weight (I am 5'5" and have been as small as a size 8,) larger breasts will rest on your upper abdomen and cause skin irritation if you are not vigilant.  On warm days, I have used deodorant under my breasts to control the moisture.  Every day I would use talcum powder.  After a day outside in the summer heat, I have had to apply Desitin under my breasts to relieve heat rash. 
Large breasts are inconvenient!  With two adult sons, I could not go without a bra in my own home.  If someone was at the door and I was in pajamas, I had to quickly put on a bra to answer it.  I wear a size 16 jeans but prior to my surgery, had to wear an XXL or size 18/20 top because of my bust.  Bras were not available in most stores so had to be ordered online for about $75/each.  Bathing suits were out of the question.  Even having purchased one for over $100, I didn't feel comfortable in it.  Button up blouses are always a gamble regardless of how large the size because my bust would pop the buttons so I would hand sew the button holes shut over my chest. 
I don't particularly enjoy sharing the often humiliating aspects of my presurgical self, but I do think it's information that needs sharing.  These are just a few of the daily problems I encountered.  While I'm not at all offended by the joking that surrounds this topic, there is a serious side to the issue as well. 
Regarding the warning, "'Don't go too small!"  Believe me, this was a concern.  I wanted to feel feminine and womanly.  In order for insurance to pay for the surgery, there is a minimum amount of tissue that must be removed so I didn't have the option of saying, "Make me a D cup please!"  The surgeon asked me what I was hoping for before the operation and I said a D or a C and he promised to do his best.  But I had to decide if it was right down to it, was I willing to be a size B or would I prefer to remain in that HH?  My decision was, make me a B cup.  Yup, it would be too small and completely change my body image.  Although I am not yet healed and don't know what my final bra size will be, I believe I will be a C or a D.  And I'm relieved that I didn't end up smaller.  That said, having lived for so many years with the problems I've shared here, and some I haven't, I would rather be flat chested.  That's my opinion and not one I'm trying to spread to everyone.  Maybe you are large busted and love love love it.  Good for you!  As long as you are comfortable and well inside your body, I say you go girl!
As for me, I still see healing incisions when I look in the mirror.  There is nothing pretty about my breasts at the moment.  Every day I take my surgical bra off for one hour and stand in the bathroom with a magnifying mirror trying to see every inch of incision praying that the lines are not pulling apart and there is no nasty discharge or redness indicating infection.  My incisions start at the middle of my chest, go up and around my nipples (which were reconstructed and moved) and wrap around my sides to behind my armpits. Over time I will have less swelling under my arms and the incisions will become scars.  The scars will fade and I will have to decide whether or not to have the second scar revision surgery that is the norm.  My chest hurts and the tightness of the compression bra irritates my skin (sports bras this week!)  I have limited range of motion in my arms, especially my left and there are faint bruises still lingering across the top of my chests and both of my shoulders.  I will be living in low pony tails for a while because I can't hold my arms up long enough to blow dry the back of my hair.  I still have to sleep on my back with my arms elevated on pillows because of pain.   I can't wear scrubs to work because I can't lift my arms enough to pull on the tops.
It's not easy, this post breast reduction time.  But already I am so glad to have done it and feeling that the weight of the world has been lifted from me.  After all, it has. 


Diane said...

Your courage and open way of sharing such a personal experience astounds me. You are a rare jewel in God's crown and a blessing all who are privileged to have you in our lives. I know your openness will have positive results in more ways than you can imagine, in more lives than you can imagine. I continue to pray for you as you continue to heal. Thank you for being my sister/friend. You are a treasure in my heart and life.

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