Things that are different since having a mastectomy: #5 Pumping up tires

When I was a little girl my brother would make tunes in the sound of farts via his armpits. I thought this was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen and was unbelievably jealous.

However hard I tried and closely I copied his actions, I could never make the same sound via my armpit.

Fast-forward 30ish years and I decide to take advantage of Sydney’s amazing autumn day by going for my first, post-op bike ride.

Any road-bike rider worth their salt knows that pumped up tires = a good ride. My poor bike had neglectfully been sitting in my work for the past 3 months and both tires were in need of filling.  So obviously the first thing I decide to do before getting back on the saddle is pump up my tires.

The motions and process of pumping up the tires is the same, albeit a little tougher than it was pre-mastectomy.  The main difference was the sound my armpit made, every time I inserted more air into the tire and my expander made contact with my pit.

Yes…it was the sound of a child-like parp.

So you see, child-hood dreams really do come true.  As long as you wait long enough and decide to get both your breasts removed…

If this is just a creation of my warped upbringing and imagination and you have no idea what I’m talking about, here is some kid on the internet mastering this skill:

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COMMITMENTS TO HEALTH: PROGRESS REPORT

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Last week I made a couple of commitments to help me get out of my post-mastectomy fug and cheer the heck up.

They were to;

–          keep my stress levels to a minimum, stop sweating the small stuff and meditate once a week

–          go see a Dr about my painful periods, and

–          be grateful

This week I  have;

–          been ridiculously stressed and not particularly easy to work or live with. I have been impatient with people, snapped at a few others and upset one person (in my defence, I wasn’t mean. I just had to have a difficult conversation with someone, which was upsetting. Still, it’s not nice to see someone upset as a result of something you’ve said)

–          not mediated once. I worked late on the night I was going to go to meditation class. Viciouscircle.com.au

–          I got my period… It didn’t hurt for two days then BAM. In hospital after the op the nurses would ask me to rate my pain levels on a scale of 1 to 10. I always replied that it was less than my period pain. Mr F has very little sympathy for me as he says I get them every month and know they are painful so I should a) be used to this by now and b) be more prepared and take pain-killers before the pain comes

–          Been miserable and full of ugly self-pity

Progress report? Must do better.

I have all weekend to rectify this situation.

Jobs to do before Sunday evening;

–          Meditate before the end of Sunday if not today? Maybe go to yoga? Whatever, just chill out!

–          Cheer up and stop feeling sorry for myself that I work so hard and woe is me… (Read- smash up my tiny, scratchy violin)

–          Take painkillers repeatedly and think about making an appointment at the Drs at some point before the end of June

–          Smile

I’ll let you know how I go.

 

Signs I’m ready to go back to work

working girl

As the old saying goes, time flies when you’re getting your boobs lopped off. Or something along those lines. Whilst some elements of the last 4 weeks, such as hospital food, seem a lifetime away, it feels like only yesterday when I was waving goodbye to Mr F as they wheeled me into theatre.

But as I prepare to hang up my slippers, here are my top 10 signs that show I’m ready to re-enter the world of work.

  1. I am feeling better. Still get pretty tired, like someone has turned off the lights unexpectedly. But much better.
  2. My arm movements are pretty good and I’m lifting things, including my friend’s 18 month old daughter. I realise this wasn’t wise, but she reached up to me, my ovaries gave a little yelp and I instinctively picked her up.
  3. My day revolves around The Bachelor; Ben’s Season, and I already know that nasty Courtney wins, they are now broken up and my favourite, Kacie B made a fool of herself going back on the latest series.
  4. I am repeatedly purchasing clothes to wear to work despite not earning a wage.
  5. I have lots of new clothes to wear to work.
  6. The final episode of The Bachelor, where Ben chooses Courtney, airs tomorrow.
  7. My brain is the consistency of papier mache and I struggle to use the right words for everyday items.
  8. I find it hard to make it past 5.30pm before eating dinner.
  9. I should be able to go sans plaster on the total eclipse of the nipple by Monday.
  10. I’m fully back up to speed with Hollyoaks.

So that settles it, back to the grind on Monday.

But just to make doubly sure I’m good to go, I think I’ll head off for a luxurious spa and wine weekend….

ben-flajnik-bachelor-abc

Shopping for a post-mastectomy bra to wear during the expander process

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We’ve chatted before about whether you need to wear a bra after a prophylactic mastectomy. To save you reading through my previous musings, I will summarise my findings. Do you need to? Not technically, no. These bad boys, especially during the expander phase are rock solid and won’t be going anywhere. Could you if you want to? Yes, of course.

However, as is often the case, the real questions don’t come until after the event. I know I don’t want to be splashing out on fancy lingerie before I get my final Foobs. I’m a little cheap and what’s the point, they’ll change size each week? But as I prepare to head back to work very soon, the following concerns have arisen:

Wearing a bra post-mastectomy: The real questions!

–          To pad or not to pad? Or to put it more succinctly, do I want to wear padding to go back to work so people can’t see how little my current boobies are? Or do I want to just show my baps as they are, regardless where I am in the expanding process?

–          Do my nipples show through some of my clothes?

–          Do I want my colleagues to be able to see my nipples?

To pad or not to pad?

Padded Bra

I was given a bra in hospital. It’s a decent one by Berlei that does up at the front. Yes it’s beige and extremely non-sexy, but it was free. It also comes with generous pads that are much better than any of the rolled up tissue paper I used to use as a pre-pubescent teen.

But do I want to pad my bra? Mr F thinks I do and I’d have more confidence when I go back to work?

For me, I don’t know if I give two stuffs? Surprisingly enough I’ve been pretty open about what I’ve had done, so people aren’t expecting me to return with a full rack. So returning wearing humungous padding feels a little disingenuous, as though I’m denying what I had done.  I also think it would draw more attention to my chest than not having anything.

What’s more, contrary to what most people think when they’ve seen me for the first time since the op, I’m not concave, or completely flat. There is some shape there and in the words of my friend, I just look like a sporty, small chested girl.

So, to pad or not to pad?

Nope. People can see the progression as and when it happens.

Do my nipples show through some of my clothes?

Yes, they really do. Seemingly more so now as the left one is in a permanent state of not erect (that function is now defunct) but not flat.  The right one is currently sitting underneath a bandage, which is also showing through clothes.

Do I want my colleagues to be able to see my nipples?

Hell no!

So what to do?

Well I found my solution yesterday in these very, tween-like cammi-bras from Ambra http://www.ambra.net.au/. They are soft, have no wires, will stretch as my Foobs grow, and most importantly, WILL HIDE MY NIPPLES FROM MY WORK COLLEAGUES!

They do look a bit like ‘my first bra’, which essentially they are, but they were tres cheap at $19.95 and are exactly what I need for now.

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firstbra2

 

Things that are different since having a mastectomy: #4 Reaching for avocados

avocados

Have you ever noticed how supermarkets hide the ripe avocados at the back of the shelves, underneath all the other avocados?

No?

Neither had I until today when I thought I might dislocate my arm from its socket. You know, how you accidently used to do to your Barbie doll after you’d made her do a load of somersaults….no…? Just me then.

You’ll be pleased to know that a) my arm is still in its socket and b) I got the ripest avocado in the house! Go me!

Barbie arms

Things that are different since having a mastectomy: #3 Hanging out the washing

Washing line

I have never considered hanging out the washing an aerobic sport. If I had I might have done it more often.

I don’t really consider it a sport now, but boy, is it harder than it was before. Especially when you’re a short ass like me. I felt like I was on one of those torture machines used in medieval times to stretch people.

Well, if it helps me grow any taller, I might just keep doing it.

stretchingrack

Post-Op Follow-Up with Silver-Fox Plastic Surgeon

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Yesterday I had my first post-op appointment with the silver fox, plastic surgeon.

I had no expectations for today and quite frankly, just expected them to look at my baps and be done with it.

We arrive and the lovely nurse cleans my stitches. We take off the plaster on the recently butchered, artist formerly known as the total eclipse of the nipple (TEOTN) and all looks well. We give that a clean too and that was pretty much it.

However, what the appointment lacked in activity, it made up for in information. So here goes:

–          I can shower! My current washing routine involves me inserting one leg in the shower, removing it, inserting the other leg in the shower, removing it and so on. The ability to have a full on shower without the aid of ‘bath in bed’ wipes is amazing news.

–          As soon as I feel comfortable, I can drive. The nurse’s quote was “as soon as you can be sure you won’t run over a child because you’re worried your boobs hurt then you can drive.” OK, kids over boobs. Got it!

–          I have been told I can go on a stationary bike. I took this to mean that I can go to a spin class. Mr F said that I have grossly misinterpreted this sign-off and there is a big difference between a stationary bike and sweating my new tits off in a spin class. I have another appointment on Monday. I can wait that long to check.

–          Oh yes, I have another appointment on Monday. Filling station number 1 (the process in which they make the new boobs get bigger). I didn’t think they’d start so soon, especially with TEOTN, but it soon begins. I already have 100 cc of saline in there so, come next week, it will be 150 cc on each side and I will be back to my 17 year old rack, once again (I was a late developer).

  • For the inquisitive among you, here is a short and pretty straightforward video about how the plastic surgeon goes about filling your expanders with saline. I’ll explain more next time. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esHztsX-uFE

So this may not seem like an exciting appointment, but for me it was ace. Oh, and silver-fox plastic surgeon has a new beard. It really suits him.

silver fox

Muted celebrations of the simple things in life: Day 12

simple things 2

Over the last few days I am acting a little more cautious and my celebrations of ‘get Trisha the heck out of hospital milestones’ are somewhat muted. It is within this context that we recount Day 12 (yes day 12) since the operation (hurray, smiley face. I don’t really like emoticons outside of social media), and day 12 in hospital (really, 12 days? She must be going out of her mind? Correct).

Health Rating: 6/10

Mental Health Rating (where 1 means sane and 10 means mental): 8/10

Day 12

–          CPS (Child Plastic Surgeon for any newbies) comes to see me at 7.30 am. He is either a) scared of me because I shout at him all the time, or b) punishing me because I shout at him all the time.

He says the left drain that has been in my body for 12 days (yes 12 days!) can come out.

–          I go get a coffee in my hospital gowns, pushing my IV and carrying my drain bags. One of the drains is so long and the fluid inside is so yellow it looks like a catheter. Everyone smiles at me. Pity smiles!

–          Silver-fox Plastic Surgeon comes to see me. He is sporting a healthy, tired look that can only have been achieved through water sports and beach walks with chilled white wine chasers on the veranda each night of the Easter break. These tired eyes are brought out by a deep, mahogany tan that even Australian’s wouldn’t frown at.

He confirms that the left drain can come out and switches my IV antibiotics or oral. Main benefits of this:

  • I can walk around without pushing my 6 foot friend (the IV)
  • I can take off the gowns
  • I can wash

Downsides:

  • People will invariably stop pity smiling at me and just wonder why I’m wearing an adult baby-grow?

–          The nurse comes to remove my left drain. The incision site looks like an angry, inflamed, teenage piercing (I had plenty of these so I know). She then goes to take it out and I swear it’s grown feet the thing’s been festering in my body for so long (did I mention anything about 12 days?). So she has to give it a good yank, I feel its claws dislodge, it comes out. I never want to see it again.

–          MT comes to see me. I have a smaller visiting pool now as I’m too tired and unpleasant to entertain anyone who doesn’t have to be my friend due to longevity. When I wake up, high on the news that Hollyoaks is coming to Aus, we both watch a round-up episode that introduces me to all the latest characters and their story lines. See below footnotes for more information on Hollyoaks.

–          Mr F comes to see me – HURRAY! He brings Vietnamese. We watch the first episode of Game of Thrones Season 3.

And those are the highlights of Day 12. There is a lot of talk of ‘home’, but this is causing me different levels of optimism and distress for reasons I’ll discuss in Day 13.

p.s. one of the search terms that led someone to my site yesterday was ‘Intimacy hot boob play’. Ah ha ha ha! How disappointed they must have been. Ha ha. Insert smiley emoticon 🙂

Hollyoaks

Hollyoaks is a UK soap opera set in the fictional town of Chester.

It only features incredibly attractive actors between the ages of about 15 – 28. They may be attractive, but on the whole they are very common. For those in the UK (who probably know Hollyoaks anyway) by common I mean chavvy, Australians, I mean bogan.

Anyone who is not attractive or falls outside the above descriptor is what is known as a token character. Examples of token characters may include:

–          Not attractive people

–          Overweight people

–          Ordinary looking people

–          Old people

–          Crazy people e.g. cult leaders or murderers

When I was in the UK, Hollyoaks was on about 5 nights a week, which was then re-shown as an omnibus on Sunday morning. Hungover, me and my friends, or my brother’s friends, or just me, would eat a bacon sandwich and watch Hollyoaks for the majority of Sunday morning. It was ace.