Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fakey Fakey

I love my husband more than I ever thought possible. This says a lot since I grew up romanticizing life, marriage, and the happily ever after- my dream was to marry Superman. I got something better.   The key to a happy marriage is throwing all those expectations out the window and loving what you have. I'm not saying give up the dream or trying to make things better- I'm just saying you will make life a lot easier if you appreciate what it is instead of holding on to what is coulda shoulda woulda been.

The past 6 months have been really, really, really, really tough. Really tough. The toughest parts were not having a gigantic chunk out of my arm or a breast removed- the toughest part is watching what it does to my family. There are people everywhere who have cancer. Before you have cancer- you say- I've seen what cancer does- it's a monster. When someone you love gets cancer- you get angry and think about kicking butt and taking names. When you get cancer- you just want it out and realize- no one gets it unless they have been there but mostly it's agonizing to watch your illness affect the ones you love. So you take a family like mine- who has literally faced cancer for decades and you have a tough time relating to "normals". There is an ebb and flow. There are the calm years where it is easier to pretend that the normal BS doesn't bother you and that you give a shit- and then there are the ever present cancer years where you want to tell people to stick a sock in it- no your 80 year old grandmother having cancer does NOT give you insight into how this whole thing is.

I watch people. Not in the creepy- I will fiiiiind you kind of way- but when I am out- I notice people, their mannerisms- I read body language. I pay attention. I have noticed that since I had a mastectomy- people look at my boobs. Before my mastectomy- guys looked at my boobs. In my mind plays the thoughts they are having- well it couldn't be too bad- she still looks like she has a boob, I wonder which one? Well it's foam. It's hot, it's annoying and it's for everyone else's comfort- not mine. When I am home- I don't wear it when I want to be comfortable. When I work out- I wear a lightweight one to protect the area. It's sensitive- not in a painful all the time way- but like when you have a fingernail that gets broken and the skin under it gets exposed and it feels really strange and vulnerable. The other problem is balance.  One side is weighted different now and I have already noticed some back and shoulder pains. I saw an amazing lady in downtown Honolulu who was an oncology nurse for years and now she takes care of mastectomy prostheses. She is good. She gave me some comfy cotton coverlet bras after the surgery and the foamy boobs and a bra with a special mastectomy pocket to stuff the foamy in. She said we had to wait until I was healed to add some weighted prostetics.

This summer, while I was travelling in Denver- I felt better and wanted to start walking and working out. I found that Nordstroms had mastectomy supplies. The salesgirl was really nice, albeit like 12 years old and found me a sports bra that worked. I looked at the other mastectomy bras and they were ugly or impractical or lacy- which I don't do. I have enough things rubbing me the wrong way- I don't need lace.  Over the past four months- I have taken to washing my bras in the bathroom sink every couple of days. It gets old. On humid nights- sometimes it doesn't dry fast.

We took the kids to the mall the other weekend and we parked by Nordstroms in Honolulu. Phil asks me if I want to look at bras- I say sure- it wouldn't hurt to have another sportsbra- maybe they have better bras here. As soon as I get to lingerie- a saleslady asks if she can help me find anything. I ask if she has Amoena bras(that's THE mastectomy bra to have)  and she looks at my boobs. I admit- I'm a little touchy and it's technically her job to do it- but come on. She takes me to the very furthest mastectomy fitting room and tells me how lucky I am that she is on today- she is certified in mastectomy fittings. I tell her I just want to look at the bras- I already have a sportsbra and would like another one. She decides she needs to fit me- all the while telling me her aunty is a survivor.  She goes to get try on bras and I know I don't like any of them and tell her so- she says it's just to get my size. You and I both know that depending on the make, model, manufacture- bras run different. Pants run different- shirts run different. She is on my nerves. I pull the foamy out of my bra and she recoils. What is that? Why are you not wearing a silicone form?  Well I told her I had to leave town right after my surgery and hadn't gotten a new form yet since I hadn't been back to the doctor. She said she wouldn't fit me without a decent form, I was far too cute to be wearing that. Gag. Wow thanks for making me feel even better about this shitty situation. Strike 2. She grabs 3 different size forms and comes back and we try them on. They are not the right size. They are out of the right size but she is going on and on about how wonderful they are and how she has no boobs and a client once offered to buy her a set because they were so fabulous. Are you flipping kidding me?  SO I say great- whatever- Can I get a sportsbra? She says they are expensive and she doesn't want to sell it to me without a proper form and a prescription if we can bill insurance. Are you kidding me- I got one in Denver? Long story short- an hour of my time wasted and no bra. I called my prosthesis lady the next day and made an appointment. Went in- she gushed that I lost weight- got me a bra and a sportsbra and a silicone form and I was on my way in 30 minutes, zero cost. Lesson learned.

Last night when we were watching monday night football, I take out the new prosthesis and toss it to Phil. It's heavy. He makes a funny comment. But how are you going to play a pick up game of cornhole?  See one of my original foamy boobs had silicone beads inside for weight, much like a boob shaped bean bag. There may have been an evening or two that I got tired of wearing it and took it out and tossed it at him. It became a joke- oh are we gonna play cornhole now? That's how we roll...

We have had the reconstruction talk. Specifically last week at my surgical oncology follow up. The surgeon was pleased with how scrunchy face former boob area looks- I said that's good- I would be really freaked out if you came in here and gasped at how awful a job you did.  Yeah- I keep it real. So he starts smooshing the skin around and says- this would be really easy to reconstruct- there is plenty of skin here. Said the surgeon. Phil says- I think we're good.  The surgeon looks at him- really? I say- well let's just wait and talk about it when the other one goes bad. New resident is not sure what to make of me- although he's on notice because I had to correct him and let him know I had Li Fraumeni and not BRCA so I wasn't technically at an increased risk for ovarian cancer.  But I digress. He then looks at my arm and starts smooshing it all around- you know the plastics guys could probably revise this. Phil- Really- we're good. For a surgeon's son- he is having some quality aversion to me having surgery- I have to say I rather appreciate it.

I love that he loves me for me. I know what that feels like because I love him the same way. It breaks my heart that he is so worried about me.  He felt compelled to point out later that if implants would make me feel better, he would support me but he loves me and has never been a fan of anything fake. That means the world to me. It means even more because he is genuine and sincere.  That and I know how much he enjoys the tatas, or in our case now- the ta. In this day and age of fake tatas every which way- it's refreshing. Mostly I feel that life is too short to waste feeling icky and recovering when you don't need to. I'm all about efficiency. I'm sure with time my feelings may change- I hope they do. Until then I appreciate what I have and let the rest go.

Lily Kay Monkey

Lily Kay Monkey
November 2008 Photographed by Shelley Detton (7 Layer Studio)