Last week I did a really big thing. In retrospect, it was much bigger than I anticipated. People I spoke with who did the same thing stated, “it would be life changing”, “the results would be amazing”. Naively, I thought since this was a standard procedure it would be eazy peazy.
I’m here to tell you it was not, and I’m also giving you fair warning that this blog is not for the weak hearted.
On Thursday afternoon, I had a reduction mammoplasty, i.e., breast reduction.
For those who read my blog “Boobs” from a few years back, I have always been fond of my girls. However, as time marched on, even as I maintained the same weight over the last few years, they seem to be like my ears and my nose AND my feet – they just kept growing. I met with a highly recommended plastic surgeon almost five years ago. At the time, John and I had only been dating a few months. When I told him what I was considering he looked at me abhorrently and promptly stated that if I had the procedure done he would “put me back on Match.com”. This was his introverted way of telling me that he liked me and my accompaniments just the way we were. So, the consultation was pended.
This might be a good time to state that my boobs have been with me for decades. They have done certain things that other boobs probably have not done for their owners. For instance, my boobs literally saved my dad’s marriage. In my 20’s, when the girls were young, perky and spry, I always wore Victoria Secret bras. Always. I happened to be missing one of my bras one year and just chalked it up to a travel trip where it may have been misplaced. I was married and having children, it wasn’t like I was leaving underwear behind at strange places like I potentially (or allegedly) might have before.
Fast forward a few years and I receive a call from my step-mother. She was not very happy, in fact she was quite angry.
“Jaye”, she says. There are not many people who use my name like it is a bad word, but when she says “Jaye”, I cringe.
“Hi, Marilyn,” I answer.
“I need to ask you a question,” she says.
“Ok,” I say.
“What size bra do you wear?” she asks.
“Well, that depends,” I say.
“If I’m pregnant, not pregnant or nursing. It changes.” I say.
“Well.” She says (just like she says “Jaye”).
“I found a bra at our cabin in the hide-a-bed and I presented it to your father and he states he has never seen it.” She says.
“He thinks it may be yours because you were the last one to sleep in the hide-a-bed (two years ago).” (That’s quite a memory – but my dad is a Peterson, so we’ll just let that sit here.”)
“But if you don’t know what size it is, that won’t help me.” She heatedly exclaims.
I throw out a last minute statement, “Well, regardless the size, if it was mine it would be a Victoria Secret bra.”
I hear her cover up the receiver end of the phone and a muffled, “what brand is that bra, Ron?” (She says “Ron” like she says “Jaye” and “what”.)
I can see my dad with my stepmom’s Sally Jessy Raphael signature red reading glasses perched on the end of his nose looking at the tag on the suspicious evidence in question, “Victoria Secret.” He says.
Case closed. Who would have thunk that a girl, her breasts and a Victoria Secret bra fettish could solve an alleged love affair case. I mean, I could have been the next Perry Mason….but I digress.
Fast forward to 2017. I brought up the idea again and, surprisingly, John was on board. He wasn’t on board because he thought I needed it, but because he knew that they were getting in the way of my lifestyle. When you are wearing a double jog bra (both were special ordered) to your boxing impact class and they are not doing the job, it’s a problem. I couldn’t button my shirts. My bra cup had advanced 4 additional sizes in the last 3 years.
Back to my doctor I went. After my more recent consultation, I went back and looked up my doctor’s bio. He was a bit on the spectrum, not in a bad way, but I wanted to know more about him. It turns out, before my doctor became a doctor, he was an ENGINEER. THAT explained a LOT.
While I knew my chest had taking a beating after nursing 4 children, I still considered certain parts of my breasts to be top notch. Like my nipples. I always thought they were perfect – not too big, not too small. The doctor — eh, not so much.
He, in a very matter of fact manner, showed me where my nipples should be in relation to my arms, they were approximately 4 inches too low. My nipples sagged. Sagged? Sagged? My nipples? Who knew nipples could sag. I got a B+ for symmetry. Which is more than I would have gotten when I was 16 and one breast was larger than the other. Funny how things even out (Ba dum bump!).
I put in my request for time off from work. This surgery is considered an out-patient surgery, right up there with the mastectomy. Rotten HMO commie bastards. Whoever thought an invasive surgery such as a reduction mammoplasty or a mastectomy could be done on an out-patient basis should have their own mammary glands removed.
I show for my pre-op appointment Thursday morning. John sits with me and the doctor comes out with what can only be described as a rudimentary wooden math compass and a purple pen. This must be one of those times when a math class pays off in your profession. Walking through his markings, explaining my overstretched nipples and my too low appendages out loud. I threatened John before the doctor came in, “You laugh, and I’ll put YOU back on Match.com”. The only words out of his mouth were, “You are going to feel so much better.” By the time the doctor was finished, my chest looked like a play drawn by a football coach on a dry erase board. His engineer was showing, for sure.
This might be the time to point out that I thought my surgery would be 1.5 hours. Nope. Four hours. I’m out for four hours. A few years back as I dressed for a black-tie dinner, I joked that it would be a lot easier if I could take my breasts OFF, put the dress on, and then tuck the breasts firmly into their respective spots in the dress. Well, that is a great description of what a plastic surgeon does with your breasts during a mammoplasty. Nothing is added, but because they take everything apart and put it back together, it is a step by step procedure.
I come out of surgery feeling like I had been hit by a semi-truck. The anesthesia is heavy, my chest is heavy, my head is fogged with pain meds. John is there and stays with me until I’m ready to ease back into a heavy sleep that takes me through to the next two yours. (Remember the John McCain joke after the election, “how did you sleep?” “like a baby, I woke up every two hours, cried, and went back to sleep.” This was me without the crying.)
Staff was in checking my stats regularly. What if I was at home? No one would be checking my stats at home. I mean, John would be there, but that would not have been instructed to him. HMO commie bastards at work again.
I am home by 3 the next day (Friday). My chest is wrapped tight. I have a glamourous fanny pack of pain meds that automatically distribute a regular dosage of meds from the pain pump appliance inside the nylon bag through thin wires. I have two drainage tubes that lead to clear plastic grenades that are taped to each side of my body. They need to be drained twice a day. I will not go into this any further as I’m sure your own imagination has done a super fine job of what this may be like. I can’t shower, I can’t wash my hair, I’m on triple-prescription pain pills which, thankfully, are doing their job. I’m ok with this as I knew this would be the drill. Saturday was literally the most painful, miserable day. Everything hurt, my hair was a mess. I knew I couldn’t shower and had anticipated having someone else wash my hair, but this no longer seemed feasible. Worse, I was terribly constipated from the pain meds which made it literally impossible to eat. I should have planned better – I knew this about pain meds. John runs out to get the stool softeners and he gets me into his hair dresser who has at least my hair looking like a functioning human being for the next several hours.
Something else you may not know about me — I am terribly afraid of stool softeners. After the birth of my first child, the hospital was giving me one three times a day for the two days I was there and I promptly came home and shit the carpet. Nothing could be done. I learned the hard way (ba dum bump), that they should be taken with caution.
I’m in bed by 6:00 PM and awake the next day feeling almost human with the exception that I still had not pooped. I attempt a day of only Tylenol and hesitantly take one more stool softener. I take a two-hour nap, then get up and sit in the pool with John, on the steps, water up to just below my pain pump. Given the 107-degree heat, it was a much-needed treat. My hair is back to its pain med sweaty sleep mess and back in a ponytail. I watch a movie with my son, start a new HBO show and at 5 o’clock pour a delicious glass of chardonnay. It’s been a good day – a poop and wine. It had been three days since both and I am happy to report I am feeling more like myself.
Today, John wrapped me in saran wrap. My bandage is concocted like a halter top with a tie that goes up and around my neck from the middle of the top. So, I now have a saran wrap covering and into the shower I go – it was D E V I N E. Hair is washed, lipstick on and now waiting to go see the physician for post op appointment. I’m on the downside of a wicked mountain.
I am not thin skinned and I have a high tolerance for pain. Having been through this surgery, I am dumbfounded at the amount of people who do this for cosmetic reasons, not just breast surgery, but sculpting, liposuction, face lifts. These are major major surgeries that seem to be taken so lightly and they take such a toll (really, a trauma) on the physical body. When you hear about work done on actors/actresses in Hollywood – WOW, just wow. I am not going to tell you that there was no vanity in my decision. Yes, a reduction was needed – but, yes, I was looking forward to having a more youthful appearance. Wearing tank tops or being able to button my shirts. Buying swimsuits at a normal store and a bra that doesn’t have to cost me $65 (each), my neck and shoulders relieved of the extra weight.
As the doctor stated, large breasts give the impression of being “matronly” vs. “youthful”. That may be true. It may not. I think there are more women out there who go in for breast implants than those that go for reductions. I guess the grass is always greener and beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
On my worse day, Saturday, I seriously had regrets over having my surgery. I had NO idea it would be this difficult. A girlfriend of mine, who had the same surgery a few years back said, “It gets better. Once the drains are out and the sutures are removed, it will all be fine. Oh, and take water and aloe vera gel tablets for the constipation.”
Also, the drainage tubes and accompanying pouches that I had are used for all different types of plastic surgery. So, please don’t think that just because you are having a different procedure that they will not be present. Lastly, these services are literally blunt force trauma to your body. I am literally black and blue from under my arm pit all the way through my chest area. I had an acquaintance who had work done from her arm pits to her knees. She literally could not walk right for over two weeks and her compression garments (where they wrap you tight) were still present after a full week of surgery. Her bruising was equal to mine, only on a much larger scale.
I thought long and hard about including photos and opted not to. First, I would not have done them of myself (Children and my employer, you are welcome). Second, they are quite graphic. If you would like to see photos, you can google “post op breast reduction photos with drainage tubes”. Don’t be surprised to see pictures of men in these photos. Men also have breast reductions done. I’ll tell you, it makes the “moobs” jokes a lot less funny.
I will never forget how hard the last few days have been and how helpful John has been as well as my youngest son. This is not a decision that should be made lightly and, in fact, I am glad I waited the five years. I would like to merely suggest that you proceed with caution, your eyes wide open with a very clear understanding of exactly what the procedure entails and what your recovery really will look like. I’m also not going to lie – while I’m looking forward to not carrying the extra bulk around, I also can’t wait to see my unsagging nipples at their appropriate prominent place four inches higher than they were before, fitting into a nice normal cup size!