PROPHYLACTIC MASTECTOMY: HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR SURGEONS?

In the UK going private is the privilege of the rich and with a dad, and now a step mum as highly respected NHS Drs, not an option I would consider. Also, as much as everyone complains about the NHS, Brits don’t realise how lucky they are to have access to world class health care they don’t have to pay for.  But lucky or not, a free health service means you don’t get to choose your Drs. You may not like them, but you generally just go with it because Dr knows best.

In Australia however, unless you are going public, you get to choose your Drs. I found this fascinating at first. You mean I get to decide if this person gets to operate on me? But they have gazillion years of training and letters after their name, surly they know better than me? Who am I to decide?

But decide you can, so I thought it would be useful to put down a few bits of advice on how to find, and choose your surgeons to conduct your prophylactic mastectomy.

Location, Location, Location

I had some constraints in terms of who I could interview or audition for the role of chopping off and building my new tits. As my insurance covered me as a private patient in a public hospital, I had to find surgeons who operated in the public system. Not all of them do? Some of them only do private – so that was my first filter.  And it may sound stupidly obvious, but do they operate in the hospital you want to be operated in?  You may have heard about the best surgeon in the world, but if it’s Pete from The Real Housewives of Orange County, he’s probably not going to be much use to you if you live in Sydney.

Who does your hair?

If you want to find a good hairdresser, ask someone with good hair. If you want to find good surgeons, ask someone who likes their reconstructed boobs. And reconstructed is the key. Your mate, Gina, may have the best fake boobs, but if her surgeon doesn’t have any experience in building them from scratch, they are unlikely to be the one for you.

Wherever you live, there are lots of forums and support groups for high risk women considering prophylactic surgery.  Asking these women to recommend good surgeons is probably a great way to find good people and feel reassured that they have done a good job of this, at least once before.

In Australia Pink Hope have private forums on Facebook for the different states. Other forums on Facebook include Previvors, Young Previvors, Prophylactic Mastectomy and BRCA sisterhood. Aussies are pretty conservative and their chat is mostly chat, however the US groups are a bit more open and they may even show you pictures of their reconstructed boobs to prove how good they are. But you may want to decide whether you want to do this pre-op. However good they might be, they will look reconstructed and you may not be ready to face that before you go under the knife.

Respected colleagues

Another way to find good surgeons is through recommendations from other surgeons. I spoke to surgeons who I couldn’t go with because they only operated in private hospitals, but they recommended surgeons, who they rated, who fitted my insurance constraints.

Working together

Strangely, my step mother is a breast surgeon. Would I have wanted her to operate on me – no – a little close to home – but she was able to give me a great piece of advice in choosing surgeons. You want to a breast and a plastic surgeon that are experienced in working together, as a team. When the breast surgeon has done his thing he needs to seamlessly high five the plastic surgeon on his way in. They also need to be able to communicate with each other in your recovery so, you may have found an amazing breast surgeon, but if he has never met your plastic surgeon before, you may want to reconsider if he or she is the right choice for you.

Practice makes perfect

You may have found your ideal surgeon, but you want to do straight to implant and they’ve only done the procedure a handful of times in their career. Once you know what surgery you want, ask your surgeons how experienced they are in it. Surgeons have their specialities in certain procedures and will naturally lean towards conducting these so you also need to be careful that you don’t get pushed into a procedure you don’t want to do. If you want nipple sparing and your breast surgeon is pushing you to remove your nipples (or vice versa), it might be because this is what they are most confident and practiced in. Don’t feel pressured into changing your mind because it’s what your surgeon wants to do, not what you want to do.

Oooh sometimes, I get a good feeling

You don’t have to like your surgeon, but you have to trust them and feel as though they are the right people for you. Do you feel comfortable asking them what you need to ask? Do they answer you honestly? Do they do what they say they’re going to do? Are they clear? Are they responsive?

In short – do you feel like they are the right surgeons for you?  If your gut says no, trust it.  It doesn’t mean they aren’t great surgeons and they may be the ideal choice for someone else, but that doesn’t matter. This is very much all about you, so have faith in your judgement and you can be confident in making the right choice.

Let me know if anyone has any other suggestions for finding the perfect breast and plastic surgeons for your prophylactic mastectomy?

Bra Binning: One night to Surgery

In the 1960’s the woman’s rights movement was well-known for supposedly burning their bras as a symbol of liberation. This originated on September 7th, 1968 when a group of feminists gathered to protest against the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City. http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miss_America_protest

What grabbed the media’s attention at the protest was the ‘freedom trash can’ into which women symbolically threw ‘instruments of female torture’ including false eyelashes, make-up, girdles and bras.

bra burning

Now I don’t feel like my bras are an ‘instrument of torture’, I think they are an incredibly useful piece of clothing that make your boobs look infinitely better than they do sans-support. However, as I have less than 12 hours left with my current boobs, I am marking the occasion with my own freedom bin and liberation movement from the threat of breast cancer.

We’re all friends here and have already discussed my reluctance to buy nice underwear.  I have nothing against nice underwear, it’s just nice underwear is expensive (especially in Australia) and I really like nice, but cheap clothes. Given the choice between a trendy top from Sports Girl and a lacy intimate from Elle Macpherson, I’ll choose the top every time.

Having known I was going to undergo this surgery for about 6 months has also exacerbated the standard of my bra portfolio.  There’s been no point in buying any new ones, but as a result, my brassieres are about to disintegrate. But, the time has come, and they have treated me well, so before they go in Trisha’s Freedom Bin, I want to pay them a little tribute….

favbra

This is my favourite and most recent bra. I thought I’d only bought it a year ago. Mr F says it’s about two. Whilst it looks nice from a distance, look how fake tan has muddied the colour of the baby pink straps.

WhitebraMy only, kinda white bra whose underwires are about to break through the material. I didn’t even purchase this one and was a hand-me-down from a friend.

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An old bra from the UK – only one of the hooks still works.

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My oldest bra, it doesn’t fit and the straps are way too long.

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What looks like a teenager’s bra, way too small and my nipples always break-free .

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Dingy, used to be pink bra, maybe my first Australian purchase. I’ve been here four years.

So whilst I’m not sad to send my bras to my Freedom Bin, I would like to thank them for their support. Thanks guys, your work here is done…

 

ANSWERED: I’m not going to have any boobs – do I really need a bra?

Some of you may remember my post that asked the question, if I’m getting my boobs lopped off, do I really need a bra? http://www.imgettingmyboobsoff.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/

Despite having done quite a lot of research, at that point I did not have a definitive answer. So as I went to my last pre-op appointment with my plastic surgeon, I was keen to get the answer.

I like my plastic surgeon, as much as anyone needs to like their plastic surgeon. He’s pretty straight up, honest and seems to have my best interests at heart. As a result, I trust him and that’s what’s important for me. However, am I going to invite him and his family over for dinner? It’s unlikely. Does he laugh at any of my ‘I’m a really positive patient’ jokes? No. Not even one.

I arrive at my appointment with my bra questions printed out on a piece of paper and wait for my cue…

Plastic surgeon: “So Trisha, do you have any questions?”

Me: “Yes, do I need to wear a bra after surgery?”

Plastic surgeon: “No”

Me: “Oh, I thought you might give me one?”

Plastic surgeon: “No”

Me: “Oh, I see. I read somewhere that I won’t ever need to wear a bra ever again?”

Plastic surgeon: “No, you don’t.”

Me: “I’m not sure about how I feel about that. I quite like wearing a bra.”

Plastic surgeon: “You can choose to wear a bra, but you don’t need to.”

I probably cracked a bad patient joke here and that was that. I’m not going to lie, I was a little bit disappointed. As we have discussed before, whilst I haven’t been the best lingerie buyer to date, I was keen to treat my new boobs a little better. So I left with the answers to my questions, but a little despondent.

That was until I received a call a few days later from one of the breast nurses at the hospital. She was calling to introduce herself and let me know that she’ll be getting me a bra to take home with me from the hospital.  HURRAH!

She explained that whilst you don’t need to wear a bra, lots of women want to, and so they get you a bra for when you’re ready to wear one. What’s more, as I’ll have the chest of a prepubescent girl during the beginning of the filling process, they also give you some soft foam to fill the bras with to give you some shape and confidence until the new boobs come into play.

With the encouragement to go forth and wear a bra, regardless of whether I need one or not, I am ready to go lingerie window shopping again.

Post Surgery Bra Shopping

Before you start, this article is a good checklist for what you need to bear in mind when buying a post-surgical bra. http://breastcancer.about.com/od/lifeduringtreatment/tp/bras-camis.htm. Key points are, focus on comfort and look for wide bands on the shoulders and beneath the breast.  Underwires are a no no until your surgeon says so, avoid seams and choose front fastening, especially for the months immediately following surgery.

Across the pond, the great British institution that is Marks and Spencer, has pulled together a video lingerie guide to post surgery, which is good to watch before you buy anything:  http://www.marksandspencer.com/MS-TV/b/311612031?intid=emtv_2_42_1375671779001

They have quite a good range of bras, very reasonably priced, but their post-surgery ones do look a bit like my grandma would wear. It might be worth looking at some of their non-wired options, which are much prettier, for a bit further down the track.

I like this Carefix Post-Op Bra, Alice that I found on http://www.undiewarehouse.com.au (which has loads of options BTW). It does up at the front, is wireless and recommended for post-operative stage, immediately following surgery.

alice-_front_

Another one from Carefix that I found on Westfield is also pretty cool. Again it does up at the font, holds dressings in place and says it’s great for use in the recovery stage after breast augmentation, reduction, reconstruction, mastopexy, lumpectomy or radiation. Sounds pretty comprehensive to me? http://www.westfield.com.au/au/search?sq=post+surgery+bras

CarefixWestfield

This Berlei wirefree post-surgery cotton bra looks a bit ‘surgical’ and asexual, but I like Berlei and you can trust they’ll probably be good. It has both front and back opening and cotton inner pockets to accommodate prosthesis. http://www.berlei.com.au/bras/shop-by-range/post-surgery/

Berlie

Finally, another great site for Aussies is Zodee http://www.zodee.com.au/search/?w=Post+surgery. They start from just over $25 for a basic wire free bra, and go up to around $60 for something more special.

 

Giving My Boobs the Send Off They Deserve: Boob Off Bake Off

Having a party to say goodbye to my boobs may seem like a strange idea to some people. But, I have spent 33 years making people uncomfortable, so when I had the vague idea of having a booby send off, I put any thoughts of other people’s awkwardness to one side.  Then I thought, if I did this to raise money for http://pinkhope.org.au, even if it makes people feel really uncomfortable, it will be for a great cause.

Originally I had big ideas for the Boob Off Bake Off – the amount of games that can be made better with the addition of a breast, are infinite.  First I considered boob darts, until the question of sharp implements, my friends, a lot of booze and my house came into the equation and that was canned.

sexydart-b

My boyfriend talked me out of playing ‘Hot Boob’. For those of you who are not familiar, this is where a group of people pass a prosthetic breast fillet around until the music stops. A bit like pass the parcel. However, we did feel the levels of awkwardness + organised fun would be a little too much.

chicken fillets

Pin the nipple of the boob was also on the cards. First of all we were going to get big nudie magazines and give people stickers, or ‘nipples’ to pin whilst blindfolded. Then it was downgraded to a big sheet of paper with boobs drawn on them where people had to find the correct place with a pen.  I know what you’re thinking, this sounds awesome.  Yes, but I got really busy and forgot about this. http://www.connect2mason.com/node/1177

pin

What my wonderful boyfriend did manage to do was make a giant booby piñata. I think this is a great addition to any party (boob related or not), so we’ll talk you through how to make one in a separate blog post. However, all you need to know for now is that he spent ALL week on this. He kindly tried to get me involved stating that couples who partake in arts and crafts together, will stay together… This was essentially a lie to get me to finish the thing. Which, I did by painting the beautiful monstrosity. Please don’t judge me on the colours, Mr F bought the colours so I worked with the tools I was given.

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More about the piñata shortly.

So, with grand plans scaled down somewhat, we got to the task at hand.  We decorated the place with pink balloons, pink cups and napkins.  If anyone was confused as to where they were going, we also mounted a plastic bust on our front door.

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I woke up ridiculously early to bake two different types of cupcakes.  Having contemplated how I was going to develop the nipple all week, I had the incredibly good idea to make them out of marshmallows and giant chocolate buttons.  So yes, they didn’t look much like nipples, but they tasted delicious. http://www.cookrepublic.com/recipe-archive/strawberry-jam-cupcakes

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Blessed by the good weather gods, our lovely guests started to arrive and soon our house was FULL of boob related baked goods. I was bowled over by the effort everyone went to, they not only looked great, but tasted unreal. The piece to resistance was this wonderful bust cake that I loved so much I hid it under the table so I can take it into work and ask people to pay to eat it.

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With a house full of cakes, combined with copious amounts of fizzy wine, our guests were bouncing off the walls on E numbers by 6pm.  Which, seemed like the perfect time for the piñata?

I warn you, please conduct this game with space and a safety barrier. I kicked off proceedings, but was a bit of a wimp and passed the stick pretty quickly.  My friend’s boyfriend then took over and whilst he only made a dent in the left breast, he almost took out my frangipani tree out as well as 10% of my guests.

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Mr F then had the job of destroying his beautiful creation to release the contents of Celebrations and Ferrero Roche left over from Christmas.

I had a great day and even allowed myself a few glasses of fizzy. The celebrations continued until 11.30 (which is about 2 hours after my pre-operation curfew) until the hard core guests continued into the night and I retired to by bed.

We raised around $600 for http://www.pinkhope.org.au and my current boobs are grateful for their soiree.

If you are in a similar situation and can face it I would strongly recommend throwing yourself a booby send off (you can even do it once they’ve gone if that’s easier to stomach). Does it make the situation easier to deal with? Not really. Does it make light of the mammouth undertaking I’m about to take. Yes, kind of. Was it a lot of fun in a very serious time? Yes, and if it raised a little bit for a charity that has been incredibly important to me, then brilliant!

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How will I remember my boobs…? With my arty nudie shots of course!

Believe it or not, before it became all I ever really thought about and started a blog in their honour, I’d never really been that fussed about my boobs.

I did spend my early teens longing for something! As a late developer, they didn’t show up for a while, and when they did, I was small anyway so they too, were small. Alongside occasionally being referred to as an ironing board, I realised I had to work a little harder on my personality and accepted them for what they were.

To-small-breasts

During my 20’s, as an exercise nut I actually enjoyed having small boobs.  I’m ashamed to say I didn’t wear a proper sports bra for years, even during my training for the Berlin marathon.  It wasn’t until afterwards I realised that gravity hits even the most modest of boobs.

But as the date when I will part with my boobs for eternity looms ever closer, I’ve realised that as boobs go, I’ve been blessed with pretty decent mammary glands that have served me well for the past 33 years. And on this realisation, I begin to wonder how I’m going to remember these things.

small boobs

It was Mr F who last week suggested I get some nudie shots done. Black and white, arty and tasteful, but nudie shots all the same.  It seems it didn’t take much convincing and I contacted my lovely and talented photographer friend, GM and asked him if he might be able to fit in a photo shoot before the chop.

A look at my Facebook page may imply that I’m a big fan of the camera, but I promise the opposite is true.  Unless I have a chance to turn to the side, dip my chin and plaster a cheesy smile, I’m not interested.  It is with this feeling I turn up at the studio, more nervous than I feel about the actual operation.

GM shows me some examples of some amazing shots of very arty looking boobs in soft lifting and black and white, and without a second to spare, I’m down to my briefs and the shoot is on (vomit).

My lovely photographer friend is very good and puts me at ease taking a few shots with my arms strategically placed and subtle portrait shots. As we progress I feel like I’m on a turn table as I gradually turn from one side of the room to the other.

After about 5 minutes it’s actually less confronting than you’d think. I can’t see GM’s face as I’m looking at a camera-lens, and let’s face it, what have I got to lose? My boobs? Oh right, we’ve already got that covered.

the_man_behind_the_camera_by_arikujiri-d3687j7

After 30 minutes I have a new-found respect for models.  My body has been contorted in all sorts of holds, my hips feel like an 80 year old and I’m a little sweatier than I’d like to be.  It’s not dissimilar, I imagine, to topless yoga.

At about 40 minutes GM tells me to freestyle, which I’m really not that comfortable with. I dig deep to try and to will my inner Jordan to make an appearance. She apparently has another engagement so I just move a little more than I was previously and hope for the best.

katie price-1594079

After an hour’s shoot I’m tired, hot and not anywhere near as self-conscious as I was when I walked in the room.  GM shows me some pre-airbrushed shots and quite frankly I’m bowled over.  I don’t look that bad and I now have a living memory of my two, soon to be departed friends, for the rest of my life.

Whatever the sacrifices, my current situation has pushed me out of my comfort zone a trillion times over and today was something I never ever thought I’d do in my entire life. Am I going to post my pictures online? Definitely not. Am I going to blow up one of the shots and hang it in the living room? It’s unlikely. But am I grateful that I will have some beautiful shots to help remember my boobs? Absolutely!

 

What Happens Pre-Admissions Clinic?

Just over a week ago I received a letter from the hospital asking to confirm my presence at my operation, BY FAX!  Who has a fax machine anymore? Well it turns out Mr F does, which is good because the thought of going to the post office during my lunch break is not dissimilar  to shopping in Argos on Christmas Eve.

Anyway, Mr F saved the day and yesterday I went to my ‘Pre-admissions Clinic’.

fax-amarys

Weights and measures

I first met a lovely nurse who measured me; 161cm, which is good to know as I still work in Feet and Inches. She also weighed me.  I wanted to tell her that I’d just had lunch and I have a rule about going to the toilet before stepping on the scales… However, it seemed frivolous so I got on there and ignored what they said, safe in the knowledge I’m at least 1KG lighter when I follow my own ritual. Finally she sticks a thermometer in my ear and sends me on my way.

Mind my mouth

I am sent back into the waiting room – Twitter is a wonderful thing to pass the time. After a while the anesthetist comes to see me. She asks me a few things, like am I allergic to anything.  I’m tempted to crack my joke about the horseflies (which is true) but the audience doesn’t seem right at the moment. She then asks how much I drink.  I am really smug at this point and harp on about how I’ve been sober all of Feb and March.  She doesn’t seem impressed and probes as to how much I drink normally.  I fess up that it’s quite a lot, to which she looks relieved and scribbles something down.  Apparently one of the drugs may tip me over the edge if I’m not used to alcohol   It seems my indulgence has some benefits.

Finally she asks if I have any crowns or caps.  I do, I have lovely teeth that I paid a lot for having knocked them out at 18 months and gone without any until I was 12, when some wonky brown ones grew back.  She informs me that they might chip them… Urm… no you won’t! I ask her if I’m able to claim if they do? It may be nothing in compassion to how much it’s going to cost to chop my boobs off, but I could do without the expense of new teeth. I think she picks up on the fact that this isn’t a joke, and kinda says, yes I can. Mmm, I will be reiterating this point on the day of the operation.  I clearly have everything in perspective.

Dougie Howser

Doogie_Howser_MD_neil_patrick_harris_kid_doctor

More waiting and a bit more Twitter until I am met by a young Dr, who I know must be about 27, but she looks about 12. We go into a room and she starts by saying she’s not looked at my file.  Oh, that’s OK then. She sees that I am having a prophylactic nipple sparing mastectomy with tissue expanders and so starts asking when I found my lump. So I tell her I have no lumps, I instead in possession of a faulty BRCA2 gene. She looks a bit blank and starts asking about my family history. (Insert much repeated family history wrap up here). She still seems confused as to why I am having this operation. It’s at this point I realise she has no idea what my lovely gene mutation is or means and so I begin to relay that statistically I’m pretty likely to get cancer of some sort at some point, that’s why they screen me, and that’s why I think this is a pretty good idea.  She seems to get this now, and is not surprised at my negative reply when  she asks if I have any questions for her? Only how old are you and would you like me to come with you on your rounds? (I didn’t say this I promise).

Puncture wounds

A bit more waiting, I’m even checking work emails now (kidding work. I was doing this all along) until someone decides to tell me to give blood.  I am given a map to navigate the hospital and find the blood clinic. On arrival I am lucky enough to see a man move an Oreo from his forehead to his mouth on Minute to Win It before I am introduced to a nice Indian man.

Oreo

Once you have been to hospital a few times you turn into your Dad i.e. tell the same stories with the same lame jokes over and over again.  When it comes to blood, I always insist on telling people how tiny my veins are and how they look good but I’d make a rubbish junkie AH HA HA. Anyway, the nice man simply smiles at me as if I’m an idiot (fair call) and in what seems like 3 mili-seconds produces 3, perfectly formed vials of my blood. Ah, thanks.

So quite a few bad jokes and a little bit of annoying, I know everything Trisha later,  I am sent on my merry way. And that s what happens during a very long, pre-admissions clinic.

Post-Mastectomy Commitments

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It’s really important for me, as the countdown ever looms, that I make commitments now about how I want things to be after my mastectomy.

I’m not naive. I realise that many things will be out of my control. Whether I’ll get an infection, how much pain I’ll be in or how quick my recovery will be.  I know that all of these things are out of my control.

What is within my control is my state of mind and how I respond to my situation.

Believe it or not, these past 3 months have been some of the happiest of my life. I’ve been focused on something much bigger than me, it’s easy to see what’s important and what’s not, I don’t sweat the small stuff as much and I’ve reconnected with friends I haven’t spoken to in years. Above all, I’ve had an amazing reminder of how wonderful the people in my life are, as well as the kindness of strangers.

But I’m keen that I don’t lose sight of all of this when I’m so desperately tired, or my chest feels like it’s in a vice, or I’m frustrated that I can’t do everything I was able to do before the op. So this is why I’m sharing my post-mastectomy commitments.  To serve as my promise and a very public reminder for how I want to, and how I should, think and act once my boobs have left the building:

I will not forget why I choose to remove my boobs and that it is the most positive decision I could have ever made

I will commit to progress!  Not measured on how I was before the operation, but to how I was yesterday

I will remember to smile at least once a day

I will relish in the kindness of others and thank my lucky stars that these people are in my life

I promise not to get frustrated and take it out on Mr F because he’s the closest person to me, but will remember how much he has sacrificed for me and supports me

I will not fall into a funk and will commit to expressing gratitude, for the obvious and the hidden, every single day

Shopping for a Mastectomy: Part 2

Welcome to the latest installment in the series, ‘Shopping for a Mastectomy: Part 2.’ Otherwise known as my way of asserting some sort of control over my situation through the process of buying things. Now I’m no expert on shopping for a mastectomy, not having had one yet, but I have gained inspiration from my blogging friends laurennicole333 and Mogatos, and I have read A LOT of sources. So whilst some of these items are, I’m sure, very useful for someone undergoing a mastectomy, some may be a little frivolous and nice to haves, not need to haves.

Detachable shower head

Whilst my boyfriend has very kindly offered to hose me down in the garden, I think the best way for me to wash, without getting my bandages and dressings wet, is with this nifty, hand-held device. To be used in the comfort, and privacy of my indoor bathroom.

Check out the picture of someone washing their dog in a bowl. Comforting image for things to come…

Shower

Facial wipes

Before the hosing, I’ll be washed with the help of the nurses, a sponge bath and what is also known as a Glastonbury shower.

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Dry shampoo

And without the ability to wash, my hair may become increasingly shiny, but I’m afraid that will be down to grease, not healthy vitality.

Dry Shampoo

Instant hand sanitizer

Infection is a real risk me for post-operation so I will be uncharacteristically particular and insist that any visitors, as well as Mr F, sanitize before enjoying my post-operative, drugged up, yet stimulating company.

sanitizer

Digital thermometer

On the subject of infection, chief temperature taker, Mr F, will make sure all is well and I am hopefully staying well within room temperature.

Termometer

Comfy pants!

I don’t know why, but I am keen to wear brand new knickers, each day, during my stay in hospital. So I have bought 8 pairs of comfy and brightly coloured Bonds underwear for every night I’m in hospital, to brighten up my day.

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Ugly pajamas

It makes sense that I’ll need button up pajamas when I’m in hospital as I’m unlikely to be able to lift my arms over my head. However, the majority of button down PJs are toweling  and believe it or not, Australia has a tendency to be hot so toweling is definitely not an option! Outside of that, my options were pretty slim.  None the less, I did find these relatively lightweight, yet ugly pajamasfor just $15 from our trusty Kmart. I have supplemented them with 2 singlets with big arm holes, in case I feel like I need to break out.

However, on first viewing of my night-time apparel, Mr F has insisted I spend a decent amount of money to get real silk pajamas that may stand more chance of a) looking OK and b) letting my skin breathe.

PJs

AMAZING slippers of love

Look! They have hearts on them! Something for me to spread the love as I escape from my hospital ward to the posh coffee shops in the private hospital on Level 9. A mere $8 from Target.

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Adult sippy cup

This one’s amazing. I don’t even have to tip it and it’s got a special little gizmo in it that cools the water as you drink. Oh, and it’s pink.

Sippy

So I think I’m pretty much sorted. What’s more, I even managed to tick off another item on my ‘Mastectomy To Do List’, with a fabulous new haircut. Yey me!  I’m going into hospital, not hiding, after all!

 Me

Two Weeks to Mastectomy To Do List

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In two weeks today, I will be (if all goes according to plan) lying in a hospital bed having had both of my breasts removed. I will also, hopefully, be drugged up on pain-killers and/or in and out of sleep.

With the operation looming ever closer it seems I have much, much more, and not any less, to get done. As a rule, the more I have to do, the more I feel the need to write a list. So, ladies and gentleman, in no particular order, I present you, my ‘Two Weeks to Mastectomy, To Do List’.

–          Finish all my work or convince someone else to take on my 9 – 5 to do list

–          Get my hair cut: it’s already looking a bit ferrel so I think a trim is in order, especially as I won’t be able to wash, let alone comb may hair for at least a week

–          Dye my hair: I’m at the stage where my grey hairs will soon stop looking like flecks of light, and start looking like real life, genuine grey hairs, so a quick dye job is in order

–          Buy a lot of stuff! I would go through all the items with you but that is earmarked for its very own blog post

–          Tidy the spare room, or what is soon to be my recuperation boudoir. This room is currently serving as my second wardrobe or dressing room so this action is all mine

–          Weed the garden: I’d quite like to be able to spend at least some of my recovery time in the garden, not dodging red back spiders or whatever deadly insects they breed here in Aus

–          Load a stack of books onto my kindle

–          Get Mr F to download the rest of Downton Abbey and season 4 of Being Human onto my laptop

–          Make at least a week’s worth of food to put in the freezer so Mr F doesn’t make me put on half a stone eating meals where the main ingredients are butter and cheese

–          Start drinking prune juice: Apparently the pain killers I will be on may lead to constipation so it’s best to get things lubricated ahead of time. And finally…

Stop eating chocolate: I come from a family of medical people who take health instructions quite loosely.  We were never allowed to stay home from school and instructions on medicine bottles are generally open to interpretation. BUT, I have read that you should cut down on coffee and chocolate (that has loads of caffeine in it) as it potentially thins the blood that will need to clot during the operation and in healing.  So with my loose interpretation of instructions, combined with the fact that I have no intention of giving up coffee, the chocolate has to go.

With two weeks to go, tonight I enjoyed my last and wonderful, dark, chocolate Lindt ball.  Farewell my creamy friends, I’ll see you in about a month and a half.

lindtball

So I’m not going to have any boobs – do I really need a bra?

The answer is I don’t know just yet.

bras

I’ve never really been one for fancy lingerie. Every once in a blue moon I will buy a pair of matching underwear, which very quickly becomes non-matching when I wear my new favourite bra 50 x more than the new matching pants. Much to my boyfriend’s dismay, I’m a little partial to big, comfortable pants and knowing I’m about to undergo a radical change in breast size, I have held off buying new bras to replace my existing ones that are pretty much falling apart.

However, I am a planner and so questions as to, do I need bras for after surgery and how soon do I need them, are currently on my agenda.

What I do know?

  • I know I can’t wear anything with under-wire because of the wounds and stitches
  • I know I should get one that does up at the front as I’m likely to have limited movement in my arms

What I don’t know (and this is the long one)?

  • Do I wear a bra straight away? Some sources say you do and that I’ll need to sleep in one for a while? Other sources say it depends on the individual and what the surgeon advises
  • Will the hospital give me a bra or should I have a couple ready for the hospital?
  • Do I need to get a bra the size of where my reconstruction will end up or do I go conservative for more support?
  • And the one that’s flummoxed me: Once all is well and I have a new set of boobs, do I need to wear a bra ever again? Christina Applegate, who was diagnosed with cancer and then found she had a BRCA gene mutation made this claim on Oprah and I don’t really know how I feel about it. http://www.oprah.com/health/Christina-Applegates-Breast-Cancer-Battle

Part of being a woman is wearing a bra and you never forget how happy, not to mention relieved you were when you could finally justify wearing one. And whilst I am a big fan of being able to go sans boulder-holder to the coffee shop on a Sunday morning, I’d don’t know how I’d feel about doing that on a daily basis. You never know, having my current boobies taken away from me, I may treat my new ones a little better and invest in something nice to carry them in.

Myself and Mr F are off to the plastic surgeon next week so I will endeavour to find out as much as I can.  In the meantime, I am impatient and love to be prepared, so I’m going to buy a couple… just in case.  I’ll come back and will show you what I decide upon and where I’ve found some good options.

Exercise